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Politicians must stop being secretive and dismissive of the anxieties of citizens

President Paula Mae Weekes said there is a need for more focus to be placed on the concerns of citizens, saying it was her duty “to keep the people’s problems front and centre of the national agenda”.

In her New Year message, she said “While the government of the day may well have some of these matters in its sights, those in the kitchen are feeling the heat daily and are not sympathetic to hackneyed excuses, promises of action and sob stories of doing one’s best, which they have heard ad nauseum, with nothing to show for it,” she said.

She said assurances that better days are coming “ring hollow without some demonstrable proof that those who are charged with the responsibility of improving our lives and addressing our issues are on the job, working assiduously to formulate and execute plans, policies and programmes that redound to our benefit in the short, medium and long terms.”

She said open communication and total transparency are integral to such approach, adding, “Public officials have to stop being so secretive (except in the interest of national security), paranoid, and dismissive of the anxieties of our citizens. They make decisions and take action under our authority and on our behalf, and we are therefore entitled to be kept in the loop about relevant developments. Those in authority must, like Caesar’s wife, be above suspicion and reproach in all their dealings.”
She added: “We would all like to have cause to be optimistic, even if cautiously so, about our fortunes in the new year. Let us with urgency have those national conversations followed by the necessary action, or else although from today the dates on our diaries and cheques read 2021, we will still be haunted by the ghosts of 2020.”

The President asked if we can make good on our national pledge to work together with our fellowmen of every creed and race, for the greater happiness of all? The new year can indeed be happier with its promise, not only of a vaccine against COVID-19, but also of the opportunity to have learnt from the mistakes of the year past and to change for the better.

She said the wisdom of American author William E. Vaughan is that, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” Perhaps we can all benefit from being a little bit of each. I encourage all citizens, including those who find themselves in challenging circumstances, to stay the course. There is the possibility of better in every tomorrow. There is a reason that hope springs eternal in the human breast.