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Cut this **** out

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There is a global pandemic affecting not just the health and safety of hundreds of millions of people all over the world, but posing a more lasting and dangerous long-term danger to their survivability in that it is undermining and crippling economic activity. This is the indisputable fact recognized by the world’s nations through their relevant institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

To make matters worse, in a world where almost 220 million persons have fallen victim to the disease, more than four and a half million fatally, there are new, more deadly strains of the disease spreading, and frighteningly, now affecting young people and children, who were once not the primary victim group of the Covid-19. In a world of modern communication where information is virtually at one’s fingertips, one would have thought that if there is a basis for common action throughout the world then this would be it.

However it seems that a more dangerous disease has reared its ugly head, being spread by a hodge-podge combination of disinformation specialists, desperate politicians, inexperienced trade union leaders and all sorts of mischief-makers and headline-seekers. That disease has been christened in some quarters with the name, “Pandemic of Disinformation” and it seems that such is its effectiveness that it is catching on rapidly among many persons who one would think should know far better, and thus be immune from its effect.

In the face of the real threat, governments and public health authorities all over the world have been taking actions in response to their real situations. Some countries have gone through various phases, sometimes imposing lockdowns then re-opening if they deem the situation warrants it. These measures do not always have unanimous approval and sensible objectors have stated the basis of their disagreement, presented counter-proposals and even taken governments’ regulations to court for judgement.

There are others unfortunately who take a ridiculous position. Some deny the very existence of the virus itself, others falsify casualties and even go to the lengths to encourage persons to reject scientific methods of combating the disease. They even encourage humans to take animal worming as a cure, placing the victims in even greater danger. It is as bad as that.

We in SVG have been affected like all our neighbours but whether by a combination of sensible approaches, though my own view is that we have sometimes tended to be too lenient, and maybe sheer luck, have avoided the worst so far. But global experience has demonstrated that the worst can occur overnight and one must always be on one’s guard.

When the pandemic first hit us, in the face of what may have appeared to some to be a somewhat timid response by the government, the opposition New Democratic Party had launched a scathing attack on the government, calling for a “tight lockdown” of the economy. While some may have considered it an extreme reaction, it was at least a response based on the party’s assessment of the situation.

However somewhere along the way, the leadership of that party seemed to have caught both the pandemic of disinformation and a fit of ignorance. Looking desperately for substance to back its ridiculously foolish call for “fresh elections”, and not finding enough flesh in the so-called Ashelle Morgan affair to back up its wild claim, egged-on by a wild rag-tag bunch, it decided that the party’s only practical policy activity of “protest” should be shifted to the public health sphere.

When government, recognizing the spreading danger moved to legislate an amendment to the Public Health Act, not only did the NDP leadership, call for “protest” but the Prime Minister himself was denied the opportunity to address the matter in Parliament, getting a “buss head” to boot, allegedly from one of the protesters.

One would have expected from a responsible Opposition which disagreed with government’s actions, a set of alternative proposals. After all, the NDP leadership says it supports vaccination, but rejects mandatory vaccination. It should then have some clear ideas as to how we can manage the crisis, maybe even better ones than the government itself! Couldn’t it have tried to convince those dissenting employees of the wisdom which the Parliamentarians obviously saw in getting their own families vaccinated? Or are there more nefarious motives?

Instead, in tandem with a union leadership which had tarnished the name of the union by taking a political side at the last election, the “protest” has now been elevated to a call for strike action. Where are we going in this line of action? Does it help us, our economy and the collective health of the nation? Couldn’t the union have done what several other labour unions in the Caribbean and abroad did, by challenging the government’s amendment in court? Is it afraid of a judicial review of the position?

In addition the Public Health Amendment approved by Parliament, is open to public comment and if approved, with or without amendment, will not come into effect until after a month’s time. Why then, without any sensible response, the call is for industrial action? Is rabble-rousing now the lodestar?

We are too mature as a people to accept such irresponsibility. Persons who desire political leadership of the nation must demonstrate to us that they understand politics and economics, have a grasp of commonsense and have the maturity and leadership skills to pilot the ship of state. Sadly, protest just wouldn’t do.
Cut this ****out!

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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