Columns

I stand with Carolyn Warren

Apologise and fight fair, Team PNP

Sharon
Hay Webster

Monday, July 16, 2018

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My son, now 30, has had to say to me in the past, “Mum, go back out and put down your work right outside the front door. Don't come in here with it; it's just not fair to us!” He was only 14 then. When one is involved in public service as a politician many things intrude on your personal space, and it is very difficult to manage them all. Especially as a single parent, you double up parenthood roles, eh? You choose, however, to serve as an advocate because you believe you can generate change and positively influence development for the social advancement of the people you are mandated to represent.

As a direct result of this my children have borne the burden of my service. My son has had many terrible allegations thrown at him about me because of the hard-core, inner-city nature of the constituency I served for three terms. To this day, out of respect, he drops his eyes and refuses to discuss them.

My 26-year-old daughter is reticent to disclose who her mother is where she works as she's afraid of the backlash of opinion and attitude. I have borne the burden of terrible front-page newspaper and editorial allegations and commentary. You know, if I didn't know me, I wouldn't talk to me when I reflect on some of them.

To serve the interests of the people we depend on the heads of agencies to anchor staff, deliver services, and meet the needs of citizens. These heads of agencies may have political affiliations, but they must run the agencies in which they have the privilege to serve in a manner which meets the requirements of any Jamaican who seeks service from that institution. To do their jobs efficaciously these public servants must feel secure, so that they can make the sacrifice of time and personal development as they proffer leadership to meet the interests of fellow Jamaicans.

As politicians we must respect the space of public servants to conduct the government's business. Some of these agencies demand high levels of presence and involve critical deliverables such as roads, light and water. In regards to recent events we need to be very careful how we, in seeking to gain political one-upmanship, attack the heads of these institutions.

I find it very interesting that Senator Damian Crawford, just last Friday, castigated the Government for not casting the Child Diversion Bill as a Youth Diversion Bill, and within a week Member of Parliament (MP) Phillip Paulwell, a senior member of his team and House Leader of Opposition business, makes claims on a leader of a public agency, which are incorrect. In doing so he exposes a mistake made as a youth some 25 years ago, and stigmatises this public servant who chooses to offer her management skills to facilitate development of policy and programmes of the current Government.

I am forced to ask, is the People's National Party (PNP) so hell-bent on returning to Government that it does not matter who is a casualty, so long as Team PNP wins? Is their intent to cause the Government to grind to a literal halt; as heads of agencies have become so timid they don't even accept invitations to attend events for fear of castigation? Must they politely decline and work continuously dotting every 'I' and crossing every 'T' in fear of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) or Public Accounts Committee questioning?

I find it interesting that this very same PNP was afraid of establishing the PAAC while in Government, and now, whilst in Opposition, use it not to serve the interest of citizens, but instead to score cheap political points.

MP Wykeham McNeill commends Carolyn Warren for exemplary service in his constituency and Opposition House Leader Paulwell subsequently exposes a very personal mistake, typecasts her as a lesser person, calls her character into question, stigmatises her, and spreads falsehood.

I called Warren, someone whom I've never met and had any interaction with, to offer my support. Why? I am ashamed that the party I once had association with could launch such a personal attack and wilfully misinform the public to gain political mileage. It is my understanding that Warren is willing to continue to deliver the excellent service which she was publicly commended for on camera across Jamaica, by motivating her team of engineers, technicians, electricians, pole linesmen, supervisors, and planners to bring light and improve the quality of life of ordinary people.

As an ordinary Jamaican, Warren admittedly made a mistake. Politicians also make mistakes; some of which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, but they have leadership that covers them and puts up an umbrella to provide security. Is Warren's stewardship in question? No it would seem, but to politically destroy Andrew Wheatley and Andrew Holness, can't catch Quako, ketch Warren?

I stand with Warren. She admittedly made a mistake and, having been given a chance, has made good. She is delivering services, as head of agency, in all constituencies, be they led by PNP or Jamaica Labour Party.

Back up, apologise, and fight fair, Paulwell and Team PNP. If you haven't had to account for your “youthful exuberance”, don't destroy a courageous woman's wish to serve because of an adulterated political agenda to ram down, destroy and castigate a fellow politician.

One love!

Sharon Hay Webster is senior advisor to the minister of education and former People's National Party Member of Parliament.

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