THE past two weeks have exposed issues that are difficult to overlook. Firstly, the Speaker of the House collapsed while on the job and forced a stoppage of the proceedings because there was no deputy to take over. Thankfully, she was discharged after being rushed to hospital and advised to rest. Her illness has unsurprisingly revived the seemingly dormant issue of a deputy speaker. Secondly, news of a nasty altercation occurring off-hours between the Director of Information Services and a journalist over comments about our filthy habits shows that we are continually under scrutiny and need to account for our actions.
If we can agree that anyone can make a mistake at any time, and further, that to err is human, then we are halfway to solving many of our problems. On the other hand, if we repeatedly compound our mistakes with further action, inaction, or loose talk, then we really are in a sorry state, and even optimists would have cause for concern. The well-lubricated and highly- spirited remarks made in a bar setting can be dismissed far more easily than the spectre of parliamentarians who stare repeatedly at a looming problem, citing convention or word definitions, until stopped by a highly-predictable collapse of circumstance.
When computer systems fail, there tends to be an urgent need to restore former operation and to avoid down-time, unless the failed system was unimportant, unnecessary or non-urgent. Have you experienced the anguish of waiting for a computer system to be repaired? Would you further agree that only a foolish person would waste time berating others instead of understanding and fixing an urgent problem? The focus of ICT professionals is on seeing through the smoke of the problem — and excuses, finger-pointing, and shaming — to overcome the cause of the system failure. Ironically and regrettably, our parliamentarians get to experience both the acrimony and the forced down-time because of their repeated refusal to resolve the problem of appointing a deputy speaker.
In a crisis situation, do normal people hold on to convention or do they take action? Thinking outside the box, a bold and wise move might be to race to nominate a deputy speaker before the ‘other’ side and, perhaps, however callously, claim the credit for doing this to prevent a repeat failure of the transaction of the people’s business. Otherwise, we reach the nasty conclusion and recognize the unimportance of our House, or representatives, and worse of all, our people.
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(About the Author: Dr.Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia, offering expertise in data management, systems design, and policy planning.)