Today’s Opinion: Lie detectors

POSTED: 01/29/11 1:32 PM

Some people have a lot to say about Jamaicans but the following initiative ought to get even the harshest critic on his knees out of gratefulness for enriching the world with the most brilliant idea since the invention of the wheel.
The Ministry of National Security, we read in a report coming out of Kingston, has set up a Polygraph Unit at a facility of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
Just in case anyone thought polygraph tests were dead, or unreliable, we’d like to point out that they are very much alive in Jamaica. Even better, the Jamaicans have found a new use for it.
They will put their Polygraph Unit to work on fighting corruption in government. The first ones to be tested are high ranking civil servants. After that, the Sky is the Limit.
National Security Minister Dwight Nelson said that everyone in sensitive positions should be subjected to vetting.
We wholeheartedly agree, and even though we see a couple of human rights issues with this lie detector plan, we have to admit that it is brilliant in its simplicity.
Let’s look at the upside first and point out that the highest ranking civil servants in any country are the politicians – Ministers and Members of Parliament.
Had the lie detector plan been in place in St. Maarten, the boys and girls running the show recently could have asked questions like, “Did you and your husband sell the economic ownership of a piece of land for $3 million to a bogus company?” and immediately get the correct answer or a clear indication that this answer was a lie.
Though the lie detector plan seems to make fighting corruption look simple there are of course plenty of objections to think of.
First of all subjecting someone to a lie detector test ought to be regulated by law. It is probably easier to make the test a condition for getting a certain job than to establish the right to use it on a civil servant that has been on the job for thirty years.
There should at least be some kind of suspicion to justify using the test but the Jamaicans don’t seem too bothered about this detail.
The test might of course work as a preventive measure. If people know that there is 110 Volts on a wire they’re not likely to touch it. Those who are unable to resist the temptation will soon be dead.
Our young parliament has the right of initiative, so we may soon find out whether or not there are a couple of MPs eager enough to fight corruption that are willing to propose the establishment of St. Maarten’s own Polygraph Unit.
Our guess: it won’t happen, but you never know.

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