Judge a candle in dark times


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Category: Profiles 03 Dec 06


The Hilton’s General Manager, Ali Khan, who has been honouring “icons,” famous and obscure people of this country—holding them up like candles in these dark times last week quoted the historian Edward Gibbon from the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, who identified characteristics common to dying cultures.


“An extravagant display of wealth and outward show; a growing disparity between the rich and the poor; an unhealthy obsession with sex; a decline in military discipline, the universal desire to live off the bounty provided by the state.”


Khan then asked the chilling question: “Do these characteristics sound familiar?” For that split second, the room caved into a dark space.


Yes, yes and yes. There is an obscene display of wealth in the form of spending in the public sector, leading to unprecedented levels of inflation and devaluation jitters.


The “growing disparity between the rich and poor,” is evident as oil wealth has not reduced the number of people who live below the poverty level, but increased it.


The “unhealthy obsession with sex” sounds puritanical, but is not. Nobody is denying that sex is the ultimate pizazz in a committed relationship, but it’s killing our state, because sex is the heart of our chutney, Carnival, gyrating and public humping to brain-dissolving music.


We can’t rouse ourselves to read in waiting rooms. We’d rather gape, hollowed out, where knowledge should be. Thousands are functionally illiterate.


When Gibbon wrote of the “universal desire to live off the bounty provided by the state,” he had an uncanny prescience of the psyche of this twin state.


Rotted Judiciary


This desire runs at all levels, including a million-pound refurbishment of our embassy in London and millions of dollars down the drain in make-work “programmes.”


“A decline in military discipline” translates to our collapsed rule of law, a useless corrupt police force, an army that contributes nothing to the state off which it lives, a rotted judiciary that runs like an ancient rusted clock that stops and starts at whim and rarely (except, perhaps, in the family court) provides justice on time.


Runaway crime is a symptom of that collapse and the widening gap between the rich and poor, as gated communities battle ghettoes.


Khan spoke about six pillars of corporate integrity, that of ethics, transparency, social and environmental responsibility, human rights, corporate governance and financial viability.


I would like to suggest Justice Myers in the next rounds of Ali Khan’s “icons.”


Why? Justice Myers has been as undeniably spectacularly tardy as he is volubly brilliant and passionate about the law.


I want him honoured, because it takes a big man to publicly admit: “It’s my entire fault. I can’t blame anyone.”


When last did anyone in this country in high public office do that? They refuse to go; they publish verbose defences; they stoutly deny wrongdoing.


Justice Myers is our candle.


Although the Executive is rooting out wrongdoers, the selective racial and political expediency, based on the targeted individuals, is perceived as witch-hunting.


Now it’s the Executive who needs to admit: “Sorry. We were wrong. We’ve spent like crazy, haven’t saved; inflation has skyrocketed; our murder rate shocking; our affiliation with underworld community leaders unacceptable.


“We need to fix it or go.”


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur