Civility allows us to disagree without disrespect. It facilitates social interaction which enables us to look past our preconceptions and arrive at better solutions.
In political discussions we provide information to persuade action. Unfortunately, some contributors seek to troll perceived adversaries; and personal attacks sometimes prove counterproductive, as they demotivate public political participation—although the intent may have been to consolidate one’s base and attract discontents in the first place.
With respect to the release of the telephone numbers of senior governmental figures, we should ask: does the public expect or have the right to expect access to the mobile numbers of our political leaders?
Implicit in serving the public as a career is that the usual right to privacy is more limited. We saw this in the release of health information on the late prime minister Patrick Manning and the incumbent, Dr Keith Rowley.
But this does not totally remove one’s right to control the flow of his or her personal information. While Dr Rowley indicated that his phone number was available to some people, there is no evidence that he campaigned for office based on free access to him via this phone number.
If he had, then he can be justifiably accused of hypocrisy. This is unlike Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith’s invitation to use his text-based phone number as part of his public persona in his drive to assert leadership of the change in the police service.
Our response to the disclosure of these numbers demonstrate the depths to which the base elements sink. It includes threats of murder.
It appears that the Opposition—whose political leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar has endorsed Maharaj’s releases—is attempting to pass the job it was elected to do on to the public.
The United National Congress (UNC) can confront the perceived sloth and misguided actions of the Government through the use of the Prime Minister’s Questions and Joint Select Committees. They can hold them accountable through parliamentary presentations, while their access to media resources should be better utilised to give voice to the public’s distress.
The Opposition’s focus should be ensuring equality of opportunity and social and economic justice for all.
Does Maharaj’s releases help this cause? Do they help us assess fitness for public office?
How does unleashing unconstrained comment help us get to good governance?