There has been much said and written about Minister Allicock and the legality of her swearing-in as a Member of the National Assembly.
Two elders, EB John and GHK Lall, added their voices. They both contended that the hullabaloo over the matter was unnecessary. They expressed the opinion that there might have been wrongdoing, but however contend that it was of no serious consequence and should not have distracted the Nation from matters of greater gravitas.
Without concerning myself with whether or not the swearing-in was illegal, I wish to address the view of the gentlemen: that the degree of gravitas should be a determining factor in addressing or not addressing such a matter, if found to be in breach of the Nation’s guiding principles (ethos)
Essential to the attainment of the much-touted democracy, good governance and civility are the cultivation of a national ethos (guiding beliefs or ideals that characterise a nation), at the core of which should be values such as honesty and upholding of the law, among other core values.
For such an ethos to take hold, our national leaders have to articulate and embrace it, as well as provide leadership by example. The treatment of, and regard for, the adherence to nationally accepted guiding principles provide an opportunity for the leaders to lead by example and demonstrate their commitment to a national ethos.
If they don’t, they would be undermining the existing or evolving national ethos, and would lose moral high ground on the question of right and wrong and the authority to call others out for wrongdoing. This inevitably results not only in moral decay, but in a breakdown in law and order.
We cannot have people in high office who are proven, or even perceived, to be patently dishonest not being called to the books and expect the people at large to subject themselves to the trampled-upon guiding principles.
Until we demonstrate unswerving commitment to our democracy and good governance, which are predicated on principles such as responsible conduct, transparency, the Rule-of-Law and being fiduciary, we will be perpetrating and perpetuating a farce.
On these matters, especially in a fledgling democracy where the national ethos is still in the making, and institutional approaches are still being developed, gravitas cannot determine how we treat with the adherence to our guiding principles. Every opportunity and effort should be taken to embrace and ensure that those principles are sanctimonious. That is the only way they would be institutionalised, owned and upheld.
In closing, may I reiterate that I am not commenting on the Allicock matter, per se. I have used the foray of John and Lall to extrapolate on a fundamental of national building, the establishment and enshrining of a national ethos.