Prime Minister Thompson and the Barbados News Media Agree That Some Things Aren’t Worth Talking About: Like Integrity Legislation, Freedom of Information, CLICO Conflicts of Interest etc.

Just a quick note before I head off to work…

Prime Minister Thompson and the Barbados news media had themselves a little party earlier this evening where the conversation was as carefully scripted as a Broadway play. You can read about it in the Nation (Hotel Help) and the Barbados Advocate (PM discusses economy) – but that won’t tell you about the disgusting silence by media and the Government concerning the ongoing conflicts of interest by Thompson over CLICO.

Sure, Thompson says FOI and Integrity Legislation are “coming” – Thompson has been saying that since he failed to keep his promises to implement a Ministerial Code of Conduct IMMEDIATELY upon taking office – but the cowardly lapdog news media allows him to talk in generalities instead of saying, “Mr. Prime Minister: How much did CLICO and your friend Mr. Parris contribute to your campaign… and why should public funds be used to cover those campaign donations now?”

I have to run, but perhaps our friends at the old news media could take a read of what Journalism-UK says about Barbados’ press…

Trinidad’s tabloids scream loudly, but Barbados’ press could do with some balls.

80 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados News & Media, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press

80 responses to “Prime Minister Thompson and the Barbados News Media Agree That Some Things Aren’t Worth Talking About: Like Integrity Legislation, Freedom of Information, CLICO Conflicts of Interest etc.

  1. I Are Sheep

    Thank you PM for you press report last night, i am so dumb an uneducated and i can’t think for myself that’s why i come on this blog and read everything it says and agree with it.

    I should have completed school, the daily blogging from this blog has became my food and i can’t wait to see if a new post is up, why am i so stupid i let the newspapers dictated to me what is news also.

    But at least i’m not the only clown that feeds from this blog and newspapers , others agree with what they read here to and i think that is why i felt like i was really making a point when i made a blog here…oh well.

    Please PM keep those reports often as i can easily get caught up with this lovely blog… don’t mind i never seen the writer or know his agenda.

    i wish i were smart….. i are sheep… but my friend told me if i keep reading the same thing over and over and over and over it can make sense.

    i are sheep

  2. akabozik

    Thompy’s fireside chat was short on substance and long on his agenda of keeping a lid on the increasing realization that our economy is in desperate shape and it will not get better for a long time.

    The truth is that there isn’t much small governments can do. It may be the DLP’s bad luck to always come to power in a recession but that isn’t why Thompson will be a one term wonder. He promised to act with integrity and to enact FOI right away. So far he has been just as king-like as Owen Arthur. Nothing changed except a new bunch took power and are enjoying doing what they like without having to worry about conflict of interestblaws.

  3. Jack Bowman

    Dear BFP folks,

    Your source for this story is much too kind to the Barbadian press.

    He says of the local press that the “writing is prolix and not of great quality.”

    He says that the two main newspapers in Barbados are “stodgy, boring, dull.”

    He says that Bajan journalists “need to get themselves some more balls.”

    Without question, that judgement is much, much too kind.

    For any professional journalist from any non-totalitarian state, journalism in Barbados is nothing more than an unfunny joke. I should correct that, before the subs do it (do Bajan papers have subs?). What I really meant is that Bajan “journalism”, as represented by its two national newspapers, is something that makes you smile in bafflement and wonder.

    Depressingly often, Barbadian “journalism” is simply a brain-shrinking adjunct to the Barbadian industries of advertising and public relations. For how many years can these two “newspapers” print pages and pages of articles about a guy getting a certificate because he sold more Toyotas than anyone else in one particular company?

    The local economy is shrinking. People are losing their jobs. Why? And what is the government doing about it? On any realistic ranking of professional journalistic priorities, how do those circumstances score against the prospect of filling pages with “news” of what some elderly cleric said to a class of graduating schoolchildren?

    The concept of investigative journalism is entirely alien to the “reporters” and “journalists” of this island. To refer to the words of your source, there isn’t a single “journalist” in this country’s press who could even try to grow a pair of balls. Not one of them would last a week in a professional journalistic environment outside of Barbados. By now, they are institutionalized. They are not “reporters”. They are typists.

    I can read a story in one of the “newspapers” (a.k.a. a corporate press release) about a minister of state trying to put together a single coherent sentence about the government’s policy on immigrants and she will say something like this: “we have to put in place the mechanisms to ensure we can facilitate the tools to disaggregate the data and then move forward with a policy in place and the outcomes … mechanisms … tools … in place … policy tools in place … stakeholders …”

    And then I wonder: why didn’t a single “journalist” ask her: “That doesn’t mean anything. That doesn’t say anything. Can you say it again without talking utter bollocks?”

    I remember talking to a publisher of a Barbadian “newspaper” (a.k.a. a division of the national government and a department of the local advertising industry), and he told me that every week he waited to take delivery of the “readers’ letters” to be published that week in the “newspaper”—all of them written in the office of the PM.

    I have lived in many countries, but the Barbadian press is exceptionally infantile. I lived in Nicaragua while the country was just emerging from a brutal civil war, and the vibrancy of Nicaragua’s press then made the Bajan press now look like a loving letter to your mother.

    The “reporters” of the Bajan press have absolutely no concept of being members of a Fourth Estate. Indeed, I suspect that most Barbadian “journalists” would have to Google the term “fourth estate” in order to discover what it means. They are a disgrace to professional journalism.

  4. Anon

    Jack Bowman

    If you know so well what journalists should ask, then why do you not apply for a journalist position?

    You guys don’t have a clue what is going on!!!!!

  5. Jack Bowman

    Ah, a member of the local “press”/PR/advertising community has responded. How nice.

    Example question: “Minister, how many illegal immigrants are in Barbados?”

    Follow-up question: “Minister, how many illegal immigrants are in Barbados?”

    Follow-up question: “Minister, you didn’t answer my question. Do you know how many illegal immigrants are in Barbados?”

    Follow-up question: “Minister, I asked you if you know how many illegal immigrants are in Barbados. You didn’t answer. I have a question: how many illegal immigrants are in Barbados?”

    What a bizarre question you asked me. Do you even BEGIN to understand how professional journalism is supposed to work?

    All best wishes to you.

  6. Jack Bowman

    “Anon” said: “You guys don’t have a clue what is going on!!!!!”

    Somehow, “Anon” missed the class where you learn that a single exclamation mark always look childish. It’s understandable, therefore, that he never grasped that four exclamation marks make you look about seven years old.

    Hey, Anon!!!! We don’t know what’s going on!!!! We have no idea!!!! Want to enlighten me??!!!! Or would you prefer to spend the time trying to grow a pair!!!!????

  7. Anon

    Why did you not ask those questions to the Barbados Labour Party?????

  8. Me

    Jack Bowman, it is simple. if you ask the hard questions you will be labeled BLP or DLP; depends on the question, because there is noway in hell one could be asking a good question for the benefit of the country.

    see i think i just answered your question. can i be PM for a day or two?

  9. Anon

    By the way Jack Bowman it would appear that you missed maths classes because you can not count. They are five exclamation marks not four, count them after me, one,two,three, four,five. Now go and sit in the corner, dummy.

  10. Mongoose

    Anon: Jack Bowman is a lot of things but “dummy” is not one of them. Jack Bowman speaks in a way that the majority of Bajans are not acustommed to, in other words, clear, concise, intelligent, with integrity and certainly with a huge pair of balls. More of you should strive to speak this way instead of being a bunch of false-faced pussies who speak out of both sides of your mouths.

  11. West Side Davie

    Thank you Barbados Free Press for continuing to hammer away at ITAL and other issues that the Nation et al will not mention.

    I think we should start a campaign to demand the political parties of Barbados return the money given to them by Clico/CL Financial over the last 5 years. BFP is right. Why should we taxpayers have to cover those political donations.

    GIVE BACK THE POLITICAL DONATION MONEY.

  12. After you guys get through fighting amongst yourselves – let’s have a look at the numbers (if they are legit) and the books haven’t been cooked by KPMG in collusion with Governor Williams & Carrington et al…

    Based on 2008 audited accounts of the ANNUAL REPORT of the Central Bank of Barbados – these are the numbers in their simplest of form without producing a spreadsheet.

    See: http://www.centralbank.org.bb/WEBCBB.nsf/vwPublications/B16838BEAA8E86D6042575DD004854E3?OpenDocument

    Total Reserve of External Assets + Total Local Assets = Combined total: $1,486,417,974 (1.4… Trillion)

    Total Liabilities + Commitments and Contingencies $1,486,417,974.

    My question to all the BLOGGERS – is something “fishy” about these numbers and what does it say to the inquiring mind?

    To have a “poke” at a random guess would say to me that we are either broke as a nation – hence the scurrying about to get monies from under any rock or skillful manipulation of the numbers intended to show sound fiscal balance – which is nowhere close to the truth…

    It is time for the government to come clean…

    As I research the growing crisis, I am seeing where the government is not going to have money for essential public services and that includes monies to pay public servants and to meet its growing, mountainous debt obligations to its foreign creditors…

    So if you believe things are getting fiscally out of control – this is just the 1st Wave…

  13. Chicago

    That is a novel idea West Side. I’m not sure that demanding the money back would result in such a thing happening, but merely making the demand has the potential to create a movement. I like it.

  14. Mongoose

    Jack Bowman for PM!

  15. Anon

    Jack Bowman for PM!

    At least he can not be any worse than Owen Arthur.

  16. Jason

    I think you have something there Chicago. How about it BFP? Make it into a Caribbean-wide campaign. Caribbean political parties should return their Clico & CL Financial political donations. Public funds should not be covering this loss.

  17. paul sealy

    Well said Mongoose.

  18. paul sealy

    Grow some balls and quit with the broadway scripts already…sheesh..

  19. paul sealy

    THE FBI AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT BODIES AIN’T LOOKING FOR HE YET..HIS LODGE MEMBERSHIP KEEPING HIM FREE OR WHAT??

  20. Donald Duck, Esq

    BFP would do us all a favour if you ran the full transcript of the press conference

  21. King Dyall

    I was surprised that none of the journalist at the PMs press conference asked him about the recent lies posted by the Barbadis Central Bank. For example the Central Bank is claiming for the first quarter of 2009 construction is down by 4% – where the hell are these idiots living? Just drive up and down the island and see for yourself there is no way that construction only fell by 4%. And by publishing such lies the Central Bank undermines its credibility.

  22. Donald Duck, Esq

    The Minister of Finance should have been aware as to if the financials of clico insurance and clico mortgage and finance had been filed since the insurance act dictates that the financials should have been filed with the supervisor of insurance who reports to the minister within 4 months of the end of its fiscal year and the details made available to the public. This should have been done by april 30. This also applies to clico mortgage and finance who should have filed its accounts with the central bank which reports to the minister within the same time period and details made available to the public via an advertisement in the official gazette.

  23. Anonymous

    Jack Bowman will soon be deported from Bim for the crime of speaking plainly, clearly, concisely, demonstrating a command of something that is clearly a standard English, as in it is “there are five exclamation points”, not “they are five exclamation points”, and the other qualities noted by Mongoose, above. His real sin, however, is in not understanding that in a society as small as this one there is no such thing as an anonymous informant, none, not one, zero. With no anonymity it becomes very difficult for an informant to inform, which lack does considerable damage to the notion of investigative journalism. We do, in fact, have access to real facts. We just can’t find them on the front page. Instead you have look deep inside and read Puddin n Souse, Lowdown, and other such musings, AND you have to learn the code words used to identify particular people and particular events. There are no secrets in a society as small as this one. Here the media cannot play the role that they do in a larger culture because as soon as something big-time hits the pages the Red Queen will scream, “Off with their heads!” I think I can use an exclamation point there without appearing to be juvenile. Developing testicular mass may be a positive thing, but only so long as it does not lead to the loss of cerebral mass.

  24. Anonymous

    Without getting all hostile with each other, Jack’s point is dead on. The responses about “applying” for a journalist position shows the deadness of the current media. Journalism does not reside in media houses and feeding them press copy that is just edited and printed is proof of an industry that has no ‘professionalism’. There is no real concept of searching out the news. So drop the carping about ‘professionals’. Any body with a brain and a keyboard can pose questions that could be answered by those who hold power and care to read. The cosy fireside chat with a bunch of no hoper scribes is not proof of a profession in possession of anything but an unwarranted status. If the PM had sense he would open his ‘press conference’ to a few more than the anointed few, who look like models from Madame Tussauds.

  25. Anonymous

    It was so funny to watch PM Thompie in Guyana recently. The Bajan reaction to its own David Ellis asking a few awkward questions was “What you want to go and ask that for? It could embarrass the country.” Wuhloss! Let’s go get suited up for a few sheep costumes, then, and wait for Bo Peep to tell us what next to do. Slavery done? Ho ho!

    I guess what is so funny is that a lot of people in Barbados think that the world laps up the non news and cannot wait for the next anodyne episode of Emmerdale Farm aka “The Hard Life And Times of A Lost Isle”. Dream on!

  26. Anonymous

    I think the real story is that most intelligent people in Barbados dont give a fig what they read in the papers or what passes as news on TV or radio. They educate themselves about the real world via the good sources outside the country and make a view about what is going on in the country based on personal experiences and contacts. I have yet to see anything as laughable as the ‘deep’ analysis of issues that passes itself off in the form of the Advocate and Nation publications. Pity the English stopped using newspapers for fish and chip wrapping as there’d be a really good supply of usused copies for them here. Maybe that’s a new industry?

  27. Anonymous

    A balance sheet (balance, right) has to have equal sides. Shock, horror. The PM already spelled out in the budget that there is a big fiscal hole (deficit) and that the government’s inability to gain enough revenue or cut enough spending has contributed to a whopping debt stock. No secret. The PM indicated that all would become better by needing to run a primary surplus (current revenue minus current spending) over coming years, which means BELT TIGHTENING. Now, most people might have been asleep at the time.

  28. Anonymous

    As one Anonymous to another, who cares about being Anonymous (I’m only taking that option because I cannot be bothered to give my email, which if not published is still in the hands of some people I do not know). True, it seems that we have people quaking in their boots that there will be retribution if their name gets out. But the country is also so small and loose that if you want to play that game then expect the same in return. The PM does not live in a cocoon nor does his family, which means no one is really scared as there are no real threats. Just a lot of hot air. Ever been mauled by a toothless teddy bear? Awfully ticklish isn’t it?

  29. Mongoose

    Anonymous, with all due respect, you do not have to fill in the e-mail slot. Choose any handle you like and you can submit a post.

  30. Paul Barnes

    Anon – I’m not so sure that Barbados’ small size should be proffered or accepted as a reason for the lack of a local culture of incisive, investigative journalism, as a consequence of potential informers being reluctant to inform.

    Over the past few years, I have been living in Bermuda, a significantly less populous country than Barbados, and I can tell you that the level of investigative journalism is much higher in Bermuda than back home. Bermuda too is plagued by a general reluctance of members of the public to be whistleblowers (the Bermuda Police Service is always complaining about the lack of people prepared to provide statements in criminal investigations and prosecution proceedings), but somehow journalists in Bermuda, by and large, seem much more effective at getting to the heart of an issue than their colleagues in Barbados, and appear to be totally unafraid of mashing the corns of either of the two main political parties in the pursuit of a issue and the public’s right to be informed.

    I think the root cause of the failure of hard-nosed, impartial, keep-seeking-the-truth journalism in Barbados must be elsewhere, and should not be blamed on the society’s small size. I’m not sure where it is, though! Good journalism, in my view, should be largely an active vocation, rather than a passive one depending on the whisperings of whistleblowers of questionable motive before an enlightening and thought-provoking story can be written.

    All I can say is that I agree with Errol Barrow when he said that the Barbados Advocate is the worst newspaper in the English language…

  31. Eagle Eye

    Well I never, BBC Caribbean is reporting that Denzil Douglas said in court today that he sought David Thompson’s advice on constitutional matters before deciding to breach a court order. LMAO. No wonder Douglas defied the court.

    The Hartley connection strikes again. Now if we had ITAL somebody would have to explain how it is that Hartley getting the salary of a PS and working for three other Caribbean governments doing the same job. He aint even in Barbados half the time. I have a serious objection to my taxpayers money paying a snake like Hartley Henry.

    What say you Jack Bowman?

  32. ericgairy

    I was making comments on another Barbadian blog and the people there seemed unable to deal with anonymous comments, and forced me to take a name. So, let me clarify that the anonymous comments at Anonymous July 30, 2009 at 4:34 pm, Anonymous July 30, 2009 at 6:03 pm, Anonymous July 30, 2009 at 5:19 pm and Anonymous July 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm were from me.

    The people on the other blog seemed to think that the name had meaning, and that I was as old as the original Eric Gairy, and even though they asked me to take a name they seemed to want to complain about the name I chose. Peculiar. They make a lot of noise about free speech but seem to want to control its use. I wish I had been imaginative and used something like Hakuna Matata.

  33. Rumplestilskin

    Barnes ‘root cause of the failure of hard-nosed, impartial, keep-seeking-the-truth journalism in Barbados must be elsewhere’

    How about the papers cow-towing to whomever is in power and those with clout, with a snip of their own ownership-partisanship thrown in?

    Peace

  34. Rumplestilskin

    By the way. We hear that things in T&T are done by the ‘know a man’ process.

    Here in BIM, ‘know a man’ is far more subtle, but just as strong.

  35. ericgairy

    ‘Know a man’ applies everyone that power exists, unless it’s on a desert island and only Robinson Crusoe is living there. What you call subtle is just ‘your way’, not something special.

  36. Sargeant

    Eric Gairy:

    I don’t know how old you are but perhaps you lack a sense of history. The name “Eric Gairy” is symbolic of a time of intimidation, corruption and brutality in Grenada. I suggest that you speak with some Grenadians about the “Mongoose Gang”. However as you say it’s a matter of “Free Speech”, so march on.

  37. ericgairy

    I know of Gairy. Some of the bloggers like to intimidate I found quickly and his name came to mind as a reminder. It’s funny that people intimidate and then talk of free speech in the same breath. I hope that Mongoose is also not a Gairy reincarnation. I may change the name to Hakuna Matata.

  38. Jack Bowman

    At least a couple of people have made valuable comments here. The problem is that you don’t know which is which because some of them prefer to call themselves “Anonymous”. Other people with the same name say things that are idiotic. It’s very hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Just to speak to the obviously-not-moronic “anonymi”

    Anon said that “in a society as small as this one there is no such thing as an anonymous informant, none, not one, zero. With no anonymity it becomes very difficult for an informant to inform, which lack does considerable damage to the notion of investigative journalism.”

    Anon said that: “most intelligent people in Barbados don’t give a fig what they read in the papers or what passes as news on TV or radio. They educate themselves about the real world via the good sources outside the country …”.

    I have no idea if the same person said these things, but both of them are excellent points that spur thought.

    To take the first of them … Do we really need anonymous informants for good journalism? Can we get by with journalists who simply ask questions? Can we get to the stage where, if a journalist asks a question, the focus of the national news/gossip is not that the question was asked [“Oh my Lord! He asked the minister THAT? He must have a HUGE pair] but that the question wasn’t answered.

    If you’re a journalist who asks an awkward question in this country, what are they going to do? That is a serious question on my part. Are they going to arrest you? Fire-bomb your house? Kidnap your kids? What? What are you risking? You want to try being a journalist in El Salvador in the 1980s (many of them my friends) or a journalist in Russia today? What is going to happen to you if you act like an actual journalist instead of being (at best) a passive mouthpiece?

    To take the second “Anon”, who said: “most intelligent people in Barbados don’t give a fig what they read in the papers …” That might be true, and if it is true it is a very sad reflection on an already depressing Bajan media. What you’re saying, in effect, is that Barbados newspapers are for the stupid.

    But now I have to make lunch for myself. I think I’ll make a tuna sandwich, from tuna that comes in a can, and I’ll eat it with a glass of milk. After that, I’ll get back to work.

    Worth considering, though, is how that might have been said by a minister of state if the question had arisen in a news conference …

    We are cognizant that we have put in place the mechanisms necessary to ensure that lunch can be eaten by ourselves. The distributive sector has delivered the tuna, the mayonnaise, and the bread.

    [In tone of exasperated patience]: Yes, we have put in place mechanisms that facilitate the implementation of the tools that persons need to engage in the opening of the tuna tin. The mechanisms are in place. The tools are in place. The can opener is there. The fork is there. What we now have to do, moving forward, is to ensure we can facilitate the utilization of the tools—the can opener and the fork—in a way that is meaningful to all stakeholders.

    [In tone of barely contained patience]: Yes. Do not forget that we are talking about the construction of a tuna sandwich. How long did it take Europe to build a tuna sandwich? We have held meaningful consultations with all relevant stakeholders [my cat, who always wants the juice from the can] and we have determined that the ongoing dialogue with partners will be conducive to the appropriate sandwich when conditions are not inappropriate. We have even engaged in the facilitation of meaningless dialogue with irrelevant stakeholders. Which, I trust, proves my point.

    Some partners in the ongoing facilitation of the engaged dialogue might say: “perhaps the tuna sandwich needs more pepper.” Now, I want to be clear about this. Those partners [my wife] are valued members of this community. We are all engaged in the ongoing process of putting in place the mechanisms and tools necessary to engage in a meaningful way with the Tuna Sandwich Making Enterprise (TSME).

    But recall that the Heads of the Household held a meeting just six months ago in the Kitchen. And recall that several Experts [the Cat] were also at that meeting. And there we reaffirmed the principles agreed at the meeting a year earlier in The Living Room, where the main point of discussion was facilitation of the ongoing dialogue about implementation of the outcomes of the Revised Treaty of the TSME as agreed by all the Heads (and Cat) in The Bedroom.

    And Protocol VII of the Bedroom Amendment to the Revised Treaty of the TSME stipulates in Article XXXIIVIQ that “the Heads shall determine, as circumstances allow, the proper time and place for the addition of pepper to the tuna sandwich.”

    Next day, in either of this country’s two “newspapers”, the headline: “DIALOGUE IMPORTANT IN TUNA SANDWICH”.

    [by our man on the scene with his ear to the ground, Phil Space]:

    First three sentences of story: “Dialogue is important in facilitating a tuna sandwich. Word of this comes from The Incredibly Honourable and Astonishingly Right Excellent Jack Bowman. At a Learning Workshop at the Accra Beach Hotel and Resort only two weeks ago, Dr. Bowman said: “Dialogue is important in facilitating a tuna sandwich.”

  39. ericgairy

    Jack Bowman, I made the comments “most intelligent people…”, and indicated that earlier today. The way this blog works comments are not listed in date/time order, so you perhaps did not see my point.

    I agree that the Barbadian papers are ‘depressing’ but I do not think they are for the stupid. My point is that they have little news content–often lifting press releases–and they often lack even the simplest analysis. So, it is not really worth spending time following them to stay informed in some objective way.

    I agree that anonymity is not needed for good journalism. What is needed is good journalism behind which a writer can stand because the groundwork in solid and the information is reliable. Then, if some want to challenge, they need to deal with facts plus opinion not just opinion piled on baselessness. Many bloggers, like on Huffington Post, are very visible and their stories are very much to the point.

    Even in Barbados there are bloggers who are not writing anonymously and they have different content; none pretends to be a true news source, though.

    No comment on the tuna melt issues.

  40. After we have deliberated and dissected, cogitated and regurgitated – what is remarkable is how the persistent slaughter of the English language has become a painful exercise in Shakespearean theatrics where the rantings and musings provide a form of cruel mirth to what has become nothing more than a political “peep”show which ultimately takes itself far, far too seriously.

    It would be poetic justice to have had some “real” comedians in our society (seeing that serious journalism is null & void) to dent some of the pompous, over-inflated, disingenuous egos flaying the last pound of flesh off the bones off the battered, decrepit carcass of the public purse…

    Clearly, history has taught us nothing!

  41. ericgairy

    Your remarks strike a chord as I spoke to some TT officials last evening about an absence of satire in the much journalism in this region. Calypso once did that and social commentary. But I heard that last week in Barbados lawyers had to vet songs for the Crop Over contest, which must say something about what people want to hear.

  42. Jack Bowman

    Terence was making a joke, Eric. Don’t worry about it.

    It wasn’t a particularly good joke, but it’s not something you have to worry about. Okay?

  43. ericgairy

    Jack, I got a hint of humour. But it may be like LIAT apologising for the delays…I’m thinking of a blog and something that is about poking fun at the all-too-serious-to-see-how-foolish-they-look may be just what is needed.

  44. PiedPiper

    Jack, you have summarized Barbadian politics perfectly.

  45. RN

    Jack Bowman wrote:

    ‘I remember talking to a publisher of a Barbadian “newspaper” (a.k.a. a division of the national government and a department of the local advertising industry), and he told me that every week he waited to take delivery of the “readers’ letters” to be published that week in the “newspaper”—all of them written in the office of the PM. ”

    All of them? Well, either this publisher was yanking your chain, or you’re trying to yank ours.

    The claim is sheer garbage.

    But wait: perhaps the men and women I know personally who often get their letters published (in both papers) are secretly working for the PM’s office…

    Joking aside: how long have you lived in Barbados? Not long, I suspect. Otherwise you couldn’t repeat (or invent) a silly observation like the one above.

    Your comments often display a blend of ignorance, bewilderment and arrogance typical of the recent ex-pat. You’re outraged by this, astonished by that. These Bajans, you seem to be saying, McEnroe style: they canNOT be serious!

    How about trying to be a little less snotty about Barbados (and for that matter, a little less infatuated – and you and I both know this is true – by your own merely average writing skills)?

    Most of us who live here are all too familiar with the failings you take such relish in trashing – the lamentable standard of local journalism being just one example.

    It’s not that we don’t care, or are too stupid, or too lazy, or too cowardly.

    Do you know the Jamaican term “runnings”? Well, we know the runnings here. We understand – in a way you either don’t or pretend not to – how and why things go down: all the complex realities, the strengths as well as the limitations, of life in a postcolonial small island state.

    Which brings me to my last point.

    You have some macho-man-posturing-on-a-computer fun above, arguing that ‘there isn’t a single “journalist” in this country’s press who could even try to grow a pair of balls’.

    Fair enough. But since you obviously value fearlessness and truth-telling so highly, let me ask:

    What company do you work for? Where exactly do you live?
    And is Jack Bowman your real name?

    Cheers,

    RN

  46. skinteeth

    came across an article by Richard Haass, a former Bush aide, in which there were 2 quotes that i believe that are so relevant to Barbados politics, media and the general population. The first is a quote is by President Eisenhower where he said that American should “never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion” and the second was by former senator Fullbright : ” In a democracy. dissent is an act of faith “.
    I believe that we fear dissent, hence one of the reasons for not looking at our systems in an objective manner hence a very timid press and a cowering attitude by the general population. And worse of for us the political leaders know this perfectly well and they do the utmost to feed us the line that dissent is unpatriotic.

  47. With all due respect gentlemen, I see nothing “LAUGHABLE” about the current morass we find ourselves in due in part to our own selfish machinations, a lack of true vision and discernment, notwithstanding our posturing and gesticulating as every wind of socioeconomic and political strife blows down hard upon us as more and more those cold winds are loosed from the 4 corners of a planet that is clearly running on vapor and its time has run out…

    The remarks made surreptitiously:

    “Terence was making a joke, Eric. Don’t worry about it.
    It wasn’t a particularly good joke, but it’s not something you have to worry about. Okay?”

    Bowman’s statement peppered with this nonchalant attitude of “just ignore the truth – it’s not really the truth” is endemic and systemic of the Biblical narrative of the 10 Virgins – 5 Wise – 5 Jackasses!!!

    Yes folks – go back to sleep!!! All is well!!!

    Trust me when I say this – Shakespearean JEST – is about to become Shakespearean TRAGEDY if the good folks up in here don’t wake up real fast!!!

    You guys know the truth but you live in a country where those in authority run amuck and all you can think about is your own skins… every man protecting his piece of turf!!!

    None of you bastards are willing to DIE* for what you believe – a pathetic exercise in verbal diarrhea day after day while absolutely nothing changes…

    The same bloody thing in the Church – men want a “Crown” without a “CROSS”…

    So everywhere in our society – recalcitrance, unending compromise, bending over backward (getting shafted), non-accountability, walking on the other side, (it’s not my business), apathy rife, disillusionment and fragmentation, disenfranchisement and marginalization, dead dreams and posthumous hopes, spiritual viscosity – need I go on guys???

    Y’all can say what you want – ignoring REALITY does NOT change the inevitable!!!

  48. ericgairy

    Skinteeth, your views on dissent square with what a lot of foreign people sense about Bajans, but they do not seem able to accept. Instead they see ‘dissent’ as dangerous in all ways, especially threatening when it is dissent about Barbados being all about positives. It’s a kind of national dishonesty that holds at bay dissension and criticism.

  49. ERIC GAIRY my brother (nice play on words if I may say so myself), when politicians are finally able to garner and muster the seeds of support (legally) to censure “Art-Form ” – we are dead in the water!!!

    NO B.S. – Straight talk!!!

  50. The next thing I am expecting is that my dearly beloved “couz” who is the Chief Immigration Officer will be told that I must be granted a “persona non grata” for being a subversive element and harboring notion of “REVOLUTION” and being an unpatriotic fantasist who wants to create mayhem in Barbadian society… Another Sydney Burnett-Alleyne!!!

  51. The British Government (MI5/6) I am sure already has a file a mile long on me as it is so as CLINT EASTWOOD would say – “Make my day”…

  52. livinginbarbados

    I am a foreigner (‘uppity educated newcomer’, in fact), have no affiliation or connection to any major political party, though I often take issue with the party called PDC and occasionally Hartley Henry over his articles on BU/Advocate, and I have publicly taken issue with Clyde Mascoll. I (under my true name, not my blogging title) have had letters and articles published often (well, at least 3-4 times). I hope that is because they make some sense and offer a contribution: one was even openly critical of what a paper’s former editor wrote. I have never been to the PM’s office, though I see it from my walks on Carlyle Bay. I hope the fumes from the PM’s office have not permeated my thoughts or some chemicals from DLP or BLP operatives gotten into my water.

    I think Jack was being taken for a ride by the publisher, who could be accused of being ‘economical with the truth’, to use a nice phrase. Maybe said publisher was playing a little jokey and Jack fell for it. Now that he knows better I suggest he goes back to the publisher and say “put up or…”.

  53. Hants

    Brilliant line in Colin Spencer calypso Inclusion in Reverse….

    “you will be prime minister of this country until the Opposition Leader marry and have a baby”.

    He should have won the title just for that line.
    OK I jest, but it cracked me up.

    Plastic Bag was again the best.

  54. reality check

    RN is right

    in our enthusiasm to positively criticize government to do the right thing, lets not massage the truth.

    The newspapers will print many of the Letters to the Editor but not all.

  55. Hants

    Recession will improve the health of Bajans.

    From the Advocate”Agricultural officials are concerned about reports of a decline in the sale of meat products.”

    but”fish sales have been excellent this year.”

  56. Sargeant

    That’s providing the fish is steamed or grilled but not fried

  57. Hants

    More health news…..

    July 31, 2009 – The FDA today approved Onglyza, a once-daily treatment for type 2 diabetes to be taken in combination with diet and exercise.

  58. Jack Bowman

    @ RN

    You’re quite right to take me to task about the “newspaper” publisher. In my haste to post, I omitted the crucial qualifier “former” before the word “publisher”. My intended meaning is semi-implicit in “waited” (not “waits”), but doubtless a qualifier was needed. Sorry about that. Please consider me contrite, and I’ll consider myself spanked.

    Of course, the man might have been lying to me. But he had nothing to gain by doing so and he certainly had been a publisher of one of the “newspapers”. In any case, I was simply recounting what he said.

    You seem to be labouring under several misconceptions about me, one of which in particular made me ponder.

    You said: “How about trying to be … a little less infatuated – and you and I both know this is true – by your own merely average writing skills?”

    That is a truly strange thing to say. Truth to tell, I don’t really think about my “writing skills” at all, and I certainly don’t feel passionate about them. You might not believe that, but I’m in no position to prove it to you and in any case I don’t really care what you think of me. I suspect (indeed, you and I both know this is true) that you don’t really care what I think of you.

    To the extent that I dwell on the matter at all, I probably think about my “writing skills” in the same way I think about my “driving skills”. I try to get from point A to point B by a reasonably direct route without hitting anything, driving into a pothole or running the car right off the road.

    So my writing skills are “merely average”. Fine by me. You’ll get no argument from me on that score. But still there’s something jarring about your sense of my “infatuation” with my own mediocrity. There’s a dissonance in your phrasing, something that rings hollow …

    “How about trying to be … a little less infatuated – and you and I both know this is true – by your own merely average writing skills?”

    Perhaps that says more about your response to my “writing skills” than about my perception of them. Perhaps you and I both know this is true.

    All the best.

  59. Jack Bowman

    @ RN

    I have been away. Sorry about that. It struck me only now that I failed to answer one of your very reasonable questions. An egregious error on my part, plainly.

    You asked: “Where exactly do you live”?

    The question itself—and you and I both know this is true—is a bit creepy. Do you want the actual street address? Do you want directions to my house? Would you like to know my favourite brand of tampon?

    I would prefer, as any mediocrity would, not to answer the question “where exactly do you live” on the grounds that the question might be posed by members of the slightly creepy community.

    I’m dreadfully sorry about that, and you and I both know this is true.

    Cheers.

  60. J

    Jack Bowman wrote ‘I remember talking to a publisher of a Barbadian “newspaper” (a.k.a. a division of the national government and a department of the local advertising industry), and he told me that every week he waited to take delivery of the “readers’ letters” to be published that week in the “newspaper”—all of them written in the office of the PM.”

    The publisher was lying to you.

    Maybe because he wants a favour from you and he felt it necessary to tell you what he thinks you want to hear.

  61. J

    Quote from Hants quoting Coln Spencer ““you will be prime minister of this country until the Opposition Leader marry and have a baby”.

    “So Hants if Michael Jackson married (twice) and had a baby (three times) why do you and Colin Spencer doubt that our Opposition Leader will one day do the same?

  62. J

    Jack Bowman wrote “Example question: “Minister, how many illegal immigrants are in Barbados?”

    Dear Jack: The media and the people know that the Minister does not know. We know that the 55,000 talked about is the number of Caricom nationals who entered Barbados for any purpose, for example for holidays or for U.S. Embassy interviews. We live in the real world (and it is a real small world here) we take the bus, we go to church, our children are in local schools. We talk to real people as we move around. We know that the number if illegal immigrants is not anywhere near 55,000. But Barbados like all other countries in the world will never have an accurate count of the number of illegal immigrants.

    Do the British know how many illegal immigrants are in the U.K? do the Canadians know? do the Americans know? Does anybody know?

  63. RN

    @Jack Bowman

    Deft sidestep, very deft. And witty too.

    But your entirely understandable reluctance to answer my “personal” questions actually confirms the point I was making.

    And I think (ahem) you and I both know that.

    Many people (not only journalists) are wary of speaking truth to power in Barbados. And for good reason. Reprisals can and do happen.

    Politicians and other members of the power elite can be vindictive, and have long memories.

    It’s not (or not just) a matter of being gutless. It’s a matter of self-preservation. Discretion, better part of valour, that kind of thing.

    I mean, why on earth do you think BFP has to take such precautions to be anonymous?

    And your writing? Relax, I was just winding you up. You write well. And I agree with the substance of much of what you say (both here and over at Barbados Underworld), for what it’s worth.

  64. Anonymous

    RN, are you saying that reprisals and vindictive politicians make Barbados truly a dangerous place, rather than its well touted image of being very safe? Are these dangers so great that only the foolhardy would openly criticize? Given the island’s size what does that tell people about the role of the police? Are these heineous attitudes saved for locals or would critical visitors also be targets?

  65. Anonymous

    What do these reprisals and vindictivness imply for the likes of Messrs Ramphal, Faria, Bourne, Singh, Henry, et al down the road? Is Barbados more akin to some rogue state, like Zimbabwe, than somewhere safe like Finland?

  66. PiedPiper

    Anonymous, what it means is this: If, as a local, you decided to open a business, you would find constant obstacles thrown in your path. If you needed the electricity put on for your business, you would wait and wait and wait. If you required a liquor license for your business, it would be refused, health inspectors would be at your business everyday and would constantly find fault with your business. If you wanted to buy or sell some land, the necessary documents to do so will be with held just long enough to screw up the sale. In other words, there would be a well orchestrated and never ending plan to frig you up one way or the other. People got their families to care for and getting on the guvment’s wrong side in a small place if very foolhardy.

  67. Anonymous

    Pied Piper, the ‘gumming up of the works’ by public officials is nothing new or unique to Barbados, so of itself makes at best a weak case for anonymous blogging. But, if correct, it does beg questions about the level and nature of corruption. It would also suggest that non-nationals or foreign bloggers could have a field day
    rare to Barbados.

  68. livinginbarbados

    @Pied Piper, this argument is very interesting. As a foreigner, based in Barbados, I have not felt constrained to comment only favourably on things in Barbados. Nor have I felt it necessary or good to take the shield of anonymity. In fact, I think that by being visible I can argue with a certain credibility by standing by my views in the public gaze. One can also take the arguments to arenas outside Barbados, and that can be even more effective at times. Those who don’t like or disagree with the views have their own vehicles for contrary arguments.

    I think I am being objective–in the sense that I have no vested interests, here, but commentators–whom I presume are not all government supporters or opertives or public officials with any clout–see my views as variously ‘status quo’, too critical or generally negative (even though I talk about things as I see them and that does include positives). So, that suggests a willingness to have a sort of national censorship of critical views.

    I do not know if I should expect my ‘works’ to be gummed up. But, I read with interest just now the latest posting on BFP about a possible gumming up of internet access by local providers. This whole thing can seem curiouser and curiouser.

  69. livinginbarbados

    I’m not sure if a string of ‘wrong number’ calls to my home line counts as ‘gumming up the works’ (and again this is a private company that might be involved, not a public institution, and the line is in my landlord’s name not mine). I’m not the one really inconvenienced, but it makes me wonder how one would notice a gumming up if things do not generally work so well (observation, not criticism). On the same tack, is the extensive backlog in dealing with regularising immigration matters ‘gumming up the works’? I guess it might be for the non-national involved and for any national(s) who may be benefiting from the immigrant’s services.

  70. RN

    Reprisals can take many forms, as I’m sure you realize.

    Incidentally, why are you not using your real name?

    As for the people you cite above, three of them are powerful, well-connected.

    But I have a lot of respect for Singh, Bourne, livinginbarbados (don’t know his name) and others who write under their own name.

  71. RN

    Depends on the visitor, I’d say. How much money or status or influence you have, how many other options you have.

    But if you’re on a work permit, watch out!

  72. PiedPiper

    LIB, you have seen all too well how Bajans react to “foreigners” criticizing or questioning the status quo. No mind that you are a Wes’Indian who is clearly educated and intelligent and able to see things from a more objective stance from the position of looking from the outside in.
    It puzzles me that Bajans are one of the most traveled people in the world, have access to all media sources and yet, remain trapped in their insular little world.
    Lib, you could live in Barbados for thirty years and you would still not be accepted and always viewed with suspicion simply by virtue of the fact that you question the status quo and address issues that need to be addressed.

  73. PiedPiper

    Lib, I wouldn’t worry muh head bout that tuh much. Cable & Wireless jus ein up tuh speed.

  74. livinginbarbados

    @Pied Piper, in a general sense, the LIME/C&W service on land line, mobile and Internet is satisfactory; I don’t use entertainment much. Dropped Internet connections are rare where I am, though I know in other areas that is not the case. Never any real problems with mobile/BlackBerry on island or overseas.

  75. livinginbarbados

    @Pied Piper, on questioning the status quo and addressing issues. The sense of opposition to ideas from outsiders is not new to me, and was part of the job I had to do (for of all institutions the dreaded IMF). But one has to ask and answer certain questions. One is “Is change desired?” And it has to be addressed. I get a sense from reading about Errol Barrow that there was a desire for real change at some key point in the past, and he seemed able to catlyze it. But the related question is “From where will change come?” I do not believe that the first question can get answered properly if one only looks inward for solutions.

  76. J

    Dear anon:

    You asked at 10:51 ? “Is Barbados more akin to some rogue state, like Zimbabwe, than somewhere safe like Finland?”

    More Finland than Zimbabwe although the extremists at BFP would have you think otherwise.

  77. livinginbarbados

    @RN, ‘livinginbarbados’ is a blogging handle that relates to my own blog, http://livinginbarbados.blogspot.com. My name is Dennis Jones, but for simplicity on the local blogs I use the handle (or it gets shortened to LIB). I use my real name when I write to/in the papers or if I am on the radio.

  78. RN

    Yes, I knew LIB was a handle. Just couldn’t remember your true-true name (which I think I’d seen you mention before somewhere or other).

    As I say, I have a lot of respect for people like you and Bourne who don’t hide behind a pseudonym.

    Thanks for the link to your blog. I just checked it and enjoyed reading some of your posts.

  79. livinginbarbados

    @RN, feel free to offer comments. It’s a lot of free thinking. It’s good to know the writers and several of us who blog have had the accidental pleasure of meeting on odd occasions.

  80. Donald Duck, Esq

    anyone knows who is on the government oversight committee that is running clico barbados?