Presidential dictatorship/pappyshow in T&T

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
May 16, 2009

President Professor George Maxwell RichardsThe recent domino-like collapse of the membership of the Integrity Commission brings to the fore the stark reality of the co-existence of dictatorship politics in the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the President of T&T.

The fact of the matter is that the decision by President Professor George Maxwell Richards to appoint Jeffery Mac Farlane as a member and co-chairman of the Integrity Commission suggests two things: either the President is totally incompetent in the highest decision-making process in the country or he has overtly exhibited the utmost “arrogance of power” in this regard or both.

Indeed, the appointment of Jeffery Mac Farlane was a simple CXC or SEA decision that any school student at that level could have made.

President Richards did not have to utilize any complex/integrated /simulated Einstein mathematical formulae or any similar engineering equations to make the only correct decision in this case. The President literally “blew it.”

The Integrity Act specifically states that no appointed member shall hold membership on any state board(s). That’s it in plain English — nothing complicated or vague. There is neither room nor need for legal interpretation. Keep it simple.

On the Curriculum Vitae (CV) that Mr. Mac Farlane would have submitted to President Richards, it would have been clearly stated in plain English that he had membership on more than one state board at the time of his appointment to the Commission.

In this regard, the following questions immediately arise: With all due respect, does President Richards, a former UWI Principal, understand plain English? Does President Richards understand/realize that NO means NO as in NO membership? Did President Richards wilfully defy T&T’s constitution, albeit laws, in making this appointment with the full knowledge and written information before that Mr. Mac Farlane was totally disqualified for such appointment? Did President Richards conclude that since he has the final/sole power of last resort in this decision that he can tell T&T’s constitution and laws “to go to hell”? Did President Richards engage in any third party collusion and/or consultation in his decision? And finally, do Trinbagonians think and/or believe that Prime Minister Patrick Manning will call on President Richards to resign?

Indeed, it is instructive to recall the apocalyptic admonition of social commentator, albeit Calypsonian, Versatile that “one tief doh like to see another tief with ah bag.”

Since Prime Minister Patrick Manning and President George Maxwell Richards apparently seem to be wrapped up in the same swaddling dictatorship clothes, himself will tell himself: Trinbagonians like it so — no problem.

In other words, President Richards played a Trini game on Trinbagonians in that the President knows that Trinibagonians would rant and rage and even misbehave for a while but at the end of the day, they would accept the status quo. “We like it.”

Hence, it need occasion no great surprise that President Richards announced his decision and then proceeded to leave the country “in less than a New York minute” afterwards in the hope that when he returns from vacation things would back to normal — that’s how Trinis operate.

That’s exactly how dictatorship politics and pappyshow, congosa and mammaguy operate in T&T.

On one hand, Prime Minister Patrick Manning is not only completely convinced that workers in the country’s labor movement may rant and rage and even misbehave against the PNM administration today but also the salient fact that if he were to call general elections on 15 July 2009, these very same dejected, disgusted and disgruntled workers as in citizens would still vote for PNM — it’s that simple.

Patrick Manning continues to capitalize on the co-existence of political immaturity and those people electoral politics in T&T.

On the corresponding hand, President Richards is also capitalizing on this real co-existence. He is totally convinced that since Trinbagonians have been successfully “hoodwinked, bamboozled and took” by the PNM government for the past 53 years and counting, then, why change this political modus operandi. “We like it.”

In the final analysis, as long as political immaturity and those people electoral politics co-exist in T&T, then, the eradication of dictatorship politics and pappyshow in the Office of the Prime Minister and/or Office of the President “will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained” in T&T.

However, in the interim, please “do the right thing”, Mr. President — resign.

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

11 thoughts on “Presidential dictatorship/pappyshow in T&T”

  1. I forget his name, but there is someone there in charge of the birthing of T&T in 2020 as a “developed” country.
    It would be in order for this person to accept or rebutt the author’s inductions.
    Cause this to happen in the interest of your readership.


  3. Travis said ,”HOW CAN A HEAD OF STATE BE ON VACATION AND HAVE HIS PEOPLE IN ASHAMEFULL STATE OF AFFAIR AND NOT COME HOME.” Perhaps we should stop putting “square pegs into round holes ,” as my good buddy Winston used to say back in the day around the late eighties. Remember Noor Hasanalli during our infamous Backer Muslimeen Coup? No outraged then as that Muslim thug laughed all the way to the Privy Council , and none now by the “good people” of your country. I feel your pain Travis.
    First we had deal with Ellis our dancing President, then Noor our absentee President, and now our Carnival Masquerade fanatical President in Richard.
    I was on the verge of suggesting something that could raise the ire or rather blood pressure of fellow Trinis. Yes ,band Carnival for five years -so that Jamaica can finally surpass us again on something inconsequential- and catch outraged reactions, but this just won’t be signed of by Richie ,would it?
    What a country ,and happy-go-lucky people! They won’t even know ,-much less care -if “Good Friday falls on a Monday.” Yet one cannot help but love them.

  4. I think that the problem in TNT is that there is no independence of the judiciary, as long as judges, the attorney general and the dpp answers to the executive there is room for the abrogation of the rule of law. If there was an independent judiciary there would be no need for an integrity comission and as such we would not be embroiled in this baseless dispute, I think it is time for a massive overhaul of the entire body politic in Trinidad and Tobago for it’s then and only then that we would see real progress as pertaining to the rule of lawin our society.

  5. You don’t say cousin Vaughn Lovelace, “no independence of the judiciary,” in sweet T&T aka Rainbow country? Explain to me then how a certain ex Cheif Justice can tell a Commissioner and his men to “take dey so and so , and get out my yard,” when they come to arrest him as directed by the courts for alleged acts of impropriety between himself and our Opposition Leader committed while in charge of his respected office?
    Care to give us some idea as to why some bombastic and high end political brasses – led by the Opposition leader -can continually defy every rule our House of Parliament, including subpar dress codes adherance , and laptop distracting shenanigans directed at our hardworking objective/ non- partisan Speaker , yet would proudly pull out dusty anacronistic wigs and gongs ,and abide by every British Colonial pomp and pagentry when they enter our courts to defend our local millioniare crooks, or protect selectively skewed business interest?
    You lost me and half of the nation buddy, enlighten us if you please.

  6. Sorry for this blatant typo sharp eyed Trini blogging editors, I obviously meant gown as opposed to gong. Unfortunately I was not born in Liverpool or went to school with Prince Williams,and any of the other dysfunctional British royals.

  7. Neal, people get lost when they have no sense of direction what is the matter have you lost yours? You see “cousin Neal” let us deal with facts which is in the public domain concerning an independant Judiciary in sweet TnT aka Rainbow Country as you so eloquently put it. Why is the Bar Association moving a vote of no confidence in the freshly minted Attorney General, is it cousin Neal because time and again this political appointee have tried to subvert the course of natural justice, you see Neal justice is a thing that must not only be done but it must also appear to be done. Mind you Neal, I carry no water for any of our present day politicians for I have come to realise in my Fall of my life somethings which my mother continually kept saying which turned out to be very true “in the land of the blind the one-eye man is King”, and always “who have the most corn will feed the most fowl”. Neal did Sharma ever get indicted or impeached? Did Rowley get indicted, jailed or even found guilty and given a slap on the wrist in the Landate matter, was the DPP wrong to rebuff John Jeremie’s advances in the Sharma/Panday matter? You see cousin Neal these are the questions that I pose to you that require a level headed unemotional response and I have not even gone into past history with cases against people like Patrick Solomon, John Ohalloran and others inwhich the natural course of justice was subverted by the political machinery. I only hope you were enlightened Neal, REMEMBER THE JUDICIARY IS ONE OF THE INSTITUTIONS WHICH MUST REMAIN UNFETTERED FROM POLITICAL MANIPULATION IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN A VIDRANT AND SUCCESSFUL DEMOCRACY. PEACE

  8. I stand corrected cousin Vaughn Lovelace. Thank you for putting me on the correct partway to enlightenment. How can one take issue with a man that listens to mom.
    So Johhny O joins our former Chief Justice Mr. Sharma ,and Uncle Panday on the victims list of vindictive , politically driven prosecution, eh? Don’t dare forget Abu Baker ,and “Michael X” Malick
    / Joe Skerritt of British heiress Gail- Ann Benson fame.
    Now that we got that squared away , the important question to consider is ,how can there develop a shift in the paradigm- in sweet T&T aka Rainbow Country -to ensure that new ‘corn throwers’, and ‘two eye Kings’, periodically ‘rule the roost,’ as is the norm in more advanced democracies?
    Some in the words of my loving grandmother unfortunately still believes that “if better cannot be done ,let the worst continue,” and no amount of cajoling, pontifications , denunciations ,and mixing of ‘old wine with new’ -as a catalyst for change -can inveigle them to pursue and or adopt new and progressive attitudes ,as to exemplary stewardship ,and the real end game of power balance /control in our blessed country.

  9. Neal, I am speaking of political interference in the judicial system, in the Ohalloran and Solomon cases, to ensure that there was no conviction and in the Panday/Sharma case, to make sure that there was a conviction, when you have political interference the cases are not adjudicated on the weight of the evidence which is before the court but rather on the political pressure brought to bear on the judicial system to bring forth an aquittal or conviction and as such rulings are tainted, cases are retried and won on appeal all because the natural course of justice has been perverted. For more enlightenment, in the case of Patrick Solomon he was accused of walking into a police station and removing his stepson from lawful police custody he was never tried or convicted for this crime because at the time he was the minister of home affairs in the Eric Williams cabinet, he was subsequently removed from office and later brought back under the External Affairs portfolio, in the case of Johnny O accused of widespread corruption while being the mover and shaker for the PNM government at that time there was solid evidence against him (eg Calder Hart) but because of political pressure brought to bear on the judicial system he was set free to live out the rest fo his life in Canada, he was ordered to pay back monies to the state but good old TNT, AKA Rainbow Country never received a red cent as a matter of fact they never sued against his estate to recover the money in his death. Neal these are clear cases of the political machinery manipulating our system of justice. In the cases of Michael X aka Abdul Malick and Joe Skerrit this involved no state corruption it was a clear cut case of murder with premeditation, nothing political about that Cousin Neal, and in the cases of Abu Bakr and the Jamaat al Muslimeen, this was a clear cut case of treason for which the death penalty should be administered if we were to abide by legal precedent. So Neal to try to lump political manipulation in the judicial system with extraordinary cases which come before the courts which may or may not have political overtones, is to try to compare apples with oranges. P.S. What really started me blogging on this site was your manifesto for change in TNT, I found it rather interesting, I seriously do not believe in putting old wine in new bottles or in, if better cannot be done then allow worst to continue. I still believe in and hope for a political body that will one day bring us out of this morass that we find ourselves in with this crop of square pegs in round holes. Peace

  10. Thanks for reminding me as well as the numerous poor struggling unfortunate ardent , adoring ,Eric Williams legacy fanatics as to what a phony , borderline dictator , uncaring , vindictive , neo- colonialist our “Father of the Nation” was. If you were this fools pal , then you could raid the hen house , Japanese Garden , or run rough shod over any Ministry that you like from Health to Agriculture – take your pick. If in contrast you fell on his wrong side , “then Craupad smoke your pipe,” as you are left to languish in Siberia or some similar global obscure ghetto political career ending enclave, unless prepared to prostrate and kiss his proverbial ring. Ask Stokley Carmichael , the Castaria Kid , Awe Boy Robbie ,and the late CLR James. This pseudo African like his other Caribbean brothers Norman, Grantley, and Forbes has rode the backs of African people continually until 81 so as to maintain his unwholesome stranglehold on power, while fervently neglecting them ,and pushing the narrow interest of fellow elites without the slightest fear of telling those who disagreed with him to “get the hell out of here.”
    I am most grateful as well for your useful Hugh Wooding/ Lincoln’s Inn like lecture aimed at enlightening me as to the real distinction between politically motivated judicial manipulation verses plain old Trinidadian bacchanal time wasting ,“extraordinary cases,” courts proceedings.
    I too share your idealism that we can find a “ political body that will one day bring us out of this morass …..with this crop of square pegs in round holes.” To do so however starts with unflinching , no holds barred ,honesty, and spade calling commentaries. As such , one should not hesitate in calling out both sides of the square pegs divide where warranted.
    Let me ask you while on the subject, suppose Malick was a Bostonian and not a miserable one time British subject, and his victim was not Gail- Ann the millionaire socialite heiress , but some inconsequential green eyed Westmooring local flower , or a Point Lisas , no teeth ,ugly prostitute , do you think the result would be the same from the objective law Lords, or the local arrest, trial ,conviction , and eventual hanging would be so efficient as vigorously pursued ? How about our local Muslim Imam Abu B the religious thug and coward, if he had done the same in Parliament Hill Ottawa , 1 Downing Street , or Buckingham palace, then do you think that “the legal precedent” would be adhered to and this fringe lunatic and his stupid bunch ,as well as concealed / protected collaborators would be convicted for treason and sent to the gallows?
    Listen my friend , let us not continue to ‘split hairs’ playing legal semantics , and simply agree on one thing – politics is always involve in everything especially here in Sweet T&T aka Rainbow country ,and one of the last bastions of true oxymoronic independent ,Republic ,British colonial fiefdoms. Our Chief Justices, DPP, Magistrates, Commissioners of Police ,Attorney Generals, Governor Generals and Presidents have all played their role in the useful manipulative game all in the interest of greedy social , economic and political elites from London to Charlottville, Couva to Diego Martin , Toco to Valsayn .
    I stand corrected , from one like yourself so well informed.
    Just keep them honest ,and stay focused on the real grand prize- our less fortunate and numerous unrepresented and or neglected people. Many of us can get our jollies off while doing what we are doing here via finger pointing,foolishly eying each other social and economic score cards,idle boast about lofty credentials , or bury cynicism and selfeshness in raising up the ante ,and by using our collective skills and energies to help elevate our beautiful country – if that’s the real end game.

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