The concept of integrity cannot be defined, according to political analyst Dr Winford James. He said one can expect attempt to explain the concept in the context of what they would like.
He was one of the panellists speaking on the issue of achieving political integrity at the launch of the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Mt Hope, on Thursday. James said what people would like was to elevate the behaviour defined by the principles that are needed.
“We have have got to look at legislation to help us. We have got to look to some kind of consensus as to what are the higher forms of behaviour that we need.” He said if this must be worked out, there must not be holes. “We have got to thrash out our understanding from within.”
Former finance minister Mariano Browne said integrity is about what one does and not what one says. “It is how you act. I expect members of a political party who hold office to represent and reflect on what they do as opposed to what they say.”
Director of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies, Sunity Maharaj, said there were no good old days in TT, and there was no going back. She TT practises representative politics and questioned what was the requirement to represent the people. She said it was not government to government conversation.
“How do we imagine a framework that will serve the rights of everyone under the Constitution and put the framework in place in the system to achieve the objective to be happy wholesome people?” Maharaj said this was the main challenge and people are only being side tracked into a “lot of silliness.”
“We represent politicians, politicians don’t represent us. We do not hold them accountable. We accept responsibility, but the people are fed up. I am seeing more and more people giving up on government.” Browne said after politicians get votes they often turn their backs on the people.
He said there should be proper systems in place where the people do not have to go to politicians for help for a house, or proper health care, or to access a passport
“The system that the people have is meeting with the minister in his office on constituency day. They want an HDC house, water connection and good health care and the reality is that not ought to be so at all.”
Moderator Dr Kamla Mungal stated that all this country’s institutions were weak which caused a break down in representation. However, James asked her to be specific as to what institutions were and demonstrate how this was so.
“You cannot just generalise. You need to be more specific so I can engage. I am not saying I don’t agree, I just need you to tell me which ones are weak,” adding that crime was not an institution when Mungal mentioned the high crime rate.
He spoke about the education system was important in helping people to help themselves.
He said it was not ironic that the countries that scored the highest during the CPI analysis have the best education systems in the world where they leave no one behind.
“Education in large measures will make us not go to a minister to ask for help. How many young black men are turning to crime and not thinking for themselves?” James said he knew education as the tool that helped people empower themselves to work for their their wealth.