“Then go in, and shut the door behind you and your children, and start pouring into all these vessels; when each is full, set it aside.” – 2 Kings 4:4
Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson (December 16, 1926 – April 9, 2014). Tributes came pouring into Trinidad and Tobago on the occasion of the passing of a Caribbean icon.
“I mourn with my fellow citizens of Trinidad and Tobago on the passing of former President and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Mr. A.N.R. Robinson. He has secured a place in the history of this blessed nation as one who has served in public life over several decades, dedicating himself to the service of the public and making significant and impactful decisions over his tenure both as Prime Minister and as President,” said former Prime Minister Patrick Manning.
The lead quote from Marketplace Excellence’s Quotable Caribbean (with its new crisp, clean, creative logo design) on April 13 was as follows:
“I have no doubt whatsoever about the great future that (Trinidad and Tobago) is going to have. I see in my vision a united Caribbean region and I see (Trinidad and Tobago) as the helm at the top leading the Caribbean region. It is a dream I have held since as a boy and it is a dream coming true.” – The late A.N.R. Robinson, former President and Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad and Tobago Newsday)
I recall an invitation to A.N.R. Robinson from the Rotary Club of Barbados South to be the guest speaker at a panel discussion (after the 1990 attempted coup, circa 1993/4) on the Economy of Barbados at which I was the moderator. I had the honour and pleasure of being his aide-de-camp during this visit. A very gracious man! On a subsequent visit to Trinidad, I was invited to visit with him and his wife, Patricia, at their Ellerslie Park home. A very gracious couple. May they rest in peace!
What can we do to uphold the vision of this great leader? The feedback from my column “The answer is blowin’ in the wind” and its sequel “Stand together as one” continues to be appealing and razor-sharp.
(1) Caribbean Credit union leader: “I fast-read this article last week while preparing for a business trip to Montserrat and of course your incisive candour impacted me; with the passing of Professor Norman Girvan a few days ago, I reflected again on the fact that not only our media but also our intellectuals have been failing us by their retreat into relative silence over the past two decades….so I re-read your 10-Point analysis tonight. The game must be changed!!” I responded: “Had I received your response before the deadline, I would have included your appeal” to which he quipped: “No problem, Basil; the extent of comments already received underline the sense of urgency. Nice sequel”
(2) UK colleague: “Great article, glad to see you being a catalyst for an important debate”.
(3) Barbadian advocate for immediate change: “Perhaps we just need to get more debate about this and see what happens. Perhaps Barbados needs a reconciliation and forgiveness phase? We appear now transfixed in our current dreamlike state.
(4) Barbadian champion pleading to see something different being done: “It is so troubling that our Government is unwilling to lead with integrity. I recall a few years ago suggesting to a Minister that it was time to pull the covers off and let the people know the true state of the patient. His response was that the people are not ready for that level of truth! I was aghast then as I am now. Surely without integrity and open communications we will never really solve the problems, many of which run very deep. I keep coming back to my belief that our only solution is to develop a modern system of Democratic Governance that works relentlessly for the Common Good and that utilizes our God given talents effectively. Can we start examining what might work in Barbados? The current Westminster style model has proven to be wanting and needs major overhaul. Thanks for continuing to write about this. There is no more relevant topic”.
(5) Diplomat: “How you are going to get the patient to take the medicine, is the challenge”.
As I indicated in the first of the two columns, if the media were well informed and were more aggressively proactive rather than placidly reactive, then the media exposure will put pressure on the politicians and that will change the game.
To which a Caribbean consultant responded: “..the exceptionally feeble role of the local press aggravates the situation much more… calling a spade a spade … is what is so badly needed here”. I even suggested that “The Private Sector Association of Barbados must take the lead. They must convene a media conference to share with the media what needs to be done and solicit their partnership”. We must surely keep the populace informed, and we must stand together as one.
As far as the governance model for the country is concerned as I said in my column on January 13, 2014: “We need to learn from the successful Singapore Economic Model based on the CORE values (Connectivity, Openness, Reliability and Enterprise). We need to learn from the successful 1982 Malaysian Economic Model based on stakeholder bonding to speed economic development when Malaysia Inc. was established and Malaysia was run like a business. We need to learn from the successful governance model in Switzerland where you get the best resources in the country combining for the national good.”
As the gentle trade winds blow, let the enlightened responses continue to flow.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)