There is a malaise in this country. Indeed, we believe the ailment is endemic in the Caribbean.
The sickness might have developed through acculturation. It has possibly thrived as a result of our third-world status. Definitely, the virus has spread through a mixture of ignorance and indifference towards taxpayers, sponsors and ordinary citizenry.
Basketballer LeBron James was fined US$25 000 by his governing league in 2009 for refusing to talk to the media on a matter of public interest. Footballer Randy Moss was fined US$25 000 by the National Football League in 2012 for refusing to talk to the media on a matter of public interest. Basketballer Kevin Garnett –– fined US$25 000 by the NBA in 2013; footballer Marshawn Lynch –– fined US$50 000 by the NFL in 2014; both for refusing to talk to the media on matters of public interest.
They were censured within the context that the American public’s attendance at games and purchase of sponsors’ goods and services go towards payment of their huge sports salaries. Without the public and the sponsors there is no sports, no salaries, no industry. The people have a right to have their questions answered. Those sports personalities have an obligation to provide the answers. It is part of the culture.
Alas, in our neck of the Americas, there is no recourse for immediate punishment for politicians and other public officials who earn their living through taxes paid by fellow citizens, but fail to appreciate they are not the masters, but the servants of the people. We have no enshrined tenet of the “people’s right to know”. But perhaps the time is ripe to assist those crippled by ignorance by introducing guidelines, where, with the exception of matters of national security, they are obligated to account to their masters on national issues.
We have had situations where questions of national importance related to health services, public spending, education, environment, law and order, and other areas of social interaction, are often met with the terse response of “no comment”. Matters of public interest deserve better.
This week such a disregard for the public reached a disturbing level with the attitude of president of the Barbados Cricket Association, Joel Garner. We trust his integrity. We appreciate his intelligence. We are aware of the significant contribution he has made to domestic, regional and international cricket. But none of these absolve him from the responsibility of which we speak. However, Mr Garner is a product of the culture in the region that is crying out for change.
Perhaps Mr Garner does not understand the seriousness of the Jefferson Miller saga. Perhaps he does not appreciate the import of the BCA board’s hiring of someone who has absconded from supervised community service in the US jurisdiction to find comfort in the offices of Kensington Oval. Perhaps he does not recognise that cricket and the preservation of its integrity do not belong either to him or the BCA. Cricket belongs to generations past, present and future. It must neither be sullied by administrators who fail to protect its integrity, nor be treated as a personal plaything by those who stubbornly remain mum in the face of a public demanding answers and accountability.
Silence in the face of this massive dereliction of duty simply adds salt to a gaping wound and makes a mockery of the public’s trust. What has occurred at the BCA is scandalous. The attitude of the board’s leadership to the public is almost equally so. Should it be discovered that the board made a decision to hire Mr Miller knowing he had fled the US jurisdiction will open up questions related to financing that will take this sordid affair in a different direction.
Perhaps, Mr Garner’s tenure as president of the BCA needs to be reassessed.