(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 23 Oct 2005)
One of my all time favourite quotes is by Mark Twain. He said, “Always do the right thing. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” I have generally found this statement to be true.
However, for the sake of honesty, it must also be said that doing the right thing is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it is down right hard! Take for example the perplexing situation that Raphael Trotman, Khemraj Ramjattan and Sheila Holder have recently found themselves.
These three Members of Parliament are in a simply delectable position. The trio has decided to form a new political party, Alliance For Change (AFC), and to contest the election next year. Much ado has been made about this new party. It is as if there is a tiny gleam of hope peeking out from the usually pessimistic eyes of the people.
This situation gets a bit sticky because the GAP/WPA, PNC and PPP are the ones that granted these seats in Parliament and since the MPs claim to no longer adhere to the thoughts and practices of their former parties, it seems they are now– by constitutional mandate – expected to resign their positions.
Further, the people expect these resignations too. It would go a long way toward proving the MPs have completely cut ties with their former parties and are ready to start something fresh and new. Consequently, the whole country is now watching to see if they will do the right thing and resign from their positions.
Indeed, this must truly be a very difficult decision for them. On the one hand, if they relinquish their seats and the legislative power attached to them, the result will no doubt be sad and torturous. It means they will no longer have the ability to positively affect decisions that will have an impact on the people.
On the other hand, if they do not resign, their actions will be viewed with contempt and their motives with suspect. This could mean the end of their new party before it even got a chance to get off the ground. However, one thing is for sure – the people of Guyana have a very long memory.
In 1992, Cheddi Jagan promised a government free of corruption. The results of Transparency International’s (TI) recent survey are proof that the PPP has not followed through with this promise. But we didn’t need TI’s survey to be aware of this corruption; all we need to do is take a stroll through Pradoville to see that something is indeed askew.
It is because of such a long history of government distortion and ambiguousness that the people long for leaders who are above reproach. It is not perfection being sought, but a clear indication that doing what is right is the highest priority, regardless of how difficult it may be.
This is why the three renegade MPs need to step down from their positions. The people need to know these leaders are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to retain their integrity. Transparency, integrity and honesty are the desired qualities of the next generation of Guyanese leaders. The people deserve squeaky-clean leadership, not sneaky team politics.
In reality, this sacrifice on the part of these MPs would be a great one since there is a high possibility that none, or possibly only one, of them would regain their position in the election next year. Therefore, if Trotman, Ramjattan and Holder do indeed resign their positions - the people can take a deep breath with the knowledge that they have no other agenda than to serve the people.
If they do not resign their positions, then it would be wise to reassess their motives to determine the driving factors behind starting a new party. However, I am hoping for the best. I am hoping they will gratify and astonish the people by doing the right thing.
Trotman and Holder have both said they will deal with this situation at the official launching of the AFC next weekend. It will take a great deal of internal fortitude to make a decision to do the right thing in this situation. However, it is exactly that kind of courage and determination that Guyana needs right now.
As for me, I am struggling with my own decision. I know the right thing is to ignore my craving for chocolate, but for some reason I simply cannot seem to stifle this craving.
Therefore, I have no plans to gratify anyone else but myself today, because I’m on my way to the store to get some scrumptious, delectable, mouth-watering chocolate. Maybe I’ll share with a friend or two – since that would be the right thing to do.