By Michael De Gale
September 14, 2007
It is a sad state of affairs when mediocrity is the highest standard to which a nation aspires. For as long as I could remember, the people of T&T have bemoaned the poor quality of service they receive from public health, police, education, transportation and virtually all government ministries. So I thought that people would be happy to learn about the poll which shed light on the dismal performance of many government ministers. Yes! A poll was needed to identify these slackers as much as a light is required to see the sun. Nonetheless, the pole confirmed what the public had always known – government ministers are incompetent, lack vision and are incapable of fulfilling the mandates of their ministries. Despite all appearances, they are trapped in a Third World mentality. How else can one explain the sorry state of social services in T&T?
As a young high school student, I once scored 45% in a test and emerged first among equals. While I felt like a horse in a jackass race, even at that tender age I knew that my performance was abysmal and I had nothing to be proud of. Imagine my surprise then, when Minister Raphael crying crocodile tears, announced that he will not be contesting the upcoming election. Apparently, he honestly thought that he was doing a good job even as the public is bombarded with news and disturbing images of medical atrocities in public health institutions on a daily basis that would not be acceptable anywhere else in the civilized world. Talk about delusional. What is even more disturbing are the members of his constituency who spoke out in his defense. Are Trinidadians such a narrow minded people that they will sell the nation’s health system for 30 pieces of silver? If that is the case, may God have mercy on the nation’s soul. I wonder how many of them will willingly go to the hospital if other options were readily available to them. The fact that the current and previous Prime Ministers have found it necessary to go abroad for their surgeries speaks volumes by itself.
Even if there were areas in which Mr. Raphael performed well, he is responsible for the entire health care system and it is on his overall performance that he must be judged. To judge him otherwise is to endorse mediocrity which to my mind is totally unacceptable. Trinbagonians must demand and insist on higher standards from their elected officials otherwise Vision 2020 will remain a “fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained”.
When the Minister of Public Works appeared genuinely peeved and apologized for the gridlock caused by construction crews who closed off the roads in rush hour without giving prior notice to the traveling public of impending construction work, he seems unaware that people live with gridlock in T&T every day. Evidently, he too thinks that he is doing a good job and this incident is outside the norm. He seemed genuinely shocked that this piece of road caved while oblivious to the numerous potholes that punctuate the nations’ roadways resulting in lost productivity, frustration and road rage to mention a few. It wouldn’t surprise me if he too feels that he should keep his job.
If you living up in Laventille for donkey years and you still don’t have running water, habitable housing, social and economic investment in your community and nothing to discourage youths from gravitating to a life of crime, your government and parliamentary representatives have failed you. If anyone should ask you to give them another chance, “Ya been had! Ya been took! Ya been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray”, according to Brother Malcolm who also said that “…all black men are not your brothers. Go figure.
This article could comment on the performance of every incumbent government minister and conclude that they leave much to be desired. This is not to say that a new constituted government will be any better or for that matter worse. Whether the incumbent government remains in power or are displaced by their rivals, it is the responsibility of the people to hold their feet to the fire and insist that they deliver on what has traditionally been false promises. In this election year vote the issues not the personalities. If current and previous politicians promised and failed to deliver before, it is unlikely that they will deliver this time around. It is only on the basis of the issues and an insistence on quality service that T&T could move beyond mediocrity. Surely you deserve better.