“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Electioneering is warming up in Trinidad and Tobago and CNC 3 TV has mounted a weekly panel discussion on issues to be considered as the election campaigns get into high gear.

During last week’s discussion, issues were examined by the panelists, Minister of Works and Infrastructure Dr. Surujrattan Rambachan, former PNM Minister in the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne and Seventh-Day Adventist Pastor Clive Dottin. One of the concluding remarks was that whichever party is in power the country has a management crisis which, if not thwarted, could spell pending disaster. It was concluded that this is a governance concern throughout the Caribbean.

Last week, columnist David Jessop, the Director of the Caribbean Council in the UK, in his Barbados Sunday Advocate column “The View from Europe”, discussed “Who will lead the Caribbean”.

Here are extracts from his column:

“Across the Caribbean there is a pervasive view that the Anglophone part of the region needs to find a new pathway to development, and a fresh narrative about its future. The sense is that the regional integration process has failed, and there is an absence of leadership, vision and implementation.

“As Professor Andy Knight, the Director of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Institute of International Relations at its St. Augustine campus so succinctly put it at the recent Forum on the Future of the Caribbean in Trinidad: ‘There is a hunger across the Caribbean region for change in the way we think of ourselves, the way in which we interact with one another and the way in which we are governed.’

“The conference, which could be viewed on-line, brought together figures from academia, the private sector, civil society, and government to debate the future of the region by encouraging participants to think differently, even disruptively.”

“At the heart of the Caribbean’s problem is the issue of leadership; whether in a pan-Caribbean context it any longer exists in a visionary and deliverable sense; and where it might come from in future.

“As matters stand, the elected leaders in the region seem on the whole unwilling to implement agreed common positions other than in relation to foreign policy initiatives that involve development assistance, security, the environment or public health. Even then the spur to action is all too often a response to external diplomatic encouragement or pressure.

“There are of course some notable exceptions, but by far the most common response is inaction, even when issues arise that relate to core Caribbean interests such as the future of its rum industry.

“If further proof were needed that the regional integration process has lost its way and there is an absence of leadership and new ideas, one only has to consider the matter of the Caricom strategic five year plan 2014-2019 agreed last year by Caribbean Heads.”

David Jessop’s column concluded: “The Caribbean’s shortcomings are well known. They have been exhaustively discussed. The issue now is about new leadership, be it technocratic, political, academic or from the private sector; how it might inspire future generations, and above all the delivery of practical results and prosperity that benefits all.”

I think that two parallel paths must be pursued in the region. Strengthen the national governance policies and practices across all sectors in each country while giving up some “policy space” to a regional federation or commission which has a mandate to implement decisions without continual reference to the national entities.

I refer to my weekly column of July 2, 2012:
The Malaysian Government introduced a policy labeled “Malaysia Incorporated” in 1981 when Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was Prime Minister. Malaysia Incorporated is about managing the country as an entity in which there is a willingness on behalf of both the civil service and the private sector to be more frank and friendly. It is about managing a country like a business.

In November 1993, at an International Conference on “Malaysia: Powerhouse of the 90s”, the Prime Minister stated that “the Government will continue to encourage greater private investment initiatives whilst ensuring that the public sector does not crowd out activities in the commercial and business sectors. Necessary support will be provided to strengthen and enhance the role of the private sector. The Government will ensure the machinery at all levels will work efficiently and closely with the private sector in the spirit of Malaysia Incorporated”.

The rest is history. Caribbean leaders should take note.
Dr. Wayne Dyer in his book, “How To Manifest Your Heart’s Desire”, states:

“0 in half it is the same. You multiply 0 by 0 you get 0. There is only one 0. There is only one nothingness that we call 0 in mathematics. Now think of something in your experience that is equivalent to 0. The only thing that cannot be further divided is silence. If you ever ask anyone in India how to seek this source, they will say meditate, meditate, meditate.

“Meditation is not something we do to become quiet and peaceful. Meditation shatters the illusion that we are separate from God, from each other, from the world. Meditation is the silence you are able to go to in order to reconnect with your source.”

May all leaders, amidst the turmoil of multitasking and complex problem solving, slow down the mental processes of thinking, planning, and analyzing. Let their minds become still; let their brains rest, concentrate and listen to the messages of renewal from God. Then, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead – press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us – Philippians 3:13-14.

Make it a blessed and productive week everyone!

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)