People’s Punishment

Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning
Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning
By Raffique Shah
May 30, 2010

I don’t know of anyone, from political analysts to columnists like myself, who accurately read the swing that saw the People’s Partnership barrel its way through PNM strongholds to win a resounding victory in last Monday’s general elections. True, new Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the COP’s Winston Dookeran were trumpeting from their platforms: there will be no safe seats for the PNM. But that call to arms was prompted more by expectations than predictions.

Most of us who monitored the campaign expected the Partnership to win, but by a narrower margin. We were wrong. What we underestimated was the extent to which people had grown to dislike ex-prime minister Patrick Manning and his arrogant cabinet ministers. Rage against a government that failed to heed the voice of the people was the decisive factor in the Partnership’s victory. When one adds to that Kamla’s appeal to people across race and class lines, and the hope that people have in the unity platform, maybe in hindsight (always 20-20!) the pummelling of the PNM was not unexpected.

So, congratulations are in order, first to PM Kamla, and to those brave souls who stood with her, who willingly buried their differences to battle the once-mighty PNM in what is now dubbed ‘the grandmother of all elections’. They stood their ground against an incumbent party that used State resources in a multi-million-dollar promotional blitz in a desperate bid to hold on to power. The PNM also descended into the cesspool of politicking in the closing days of the campaign.

On the abuse of State resources, I hope that with the parliamentary majority it now holds, the People’s Partnership Government would institute regulations that would ensure there is never a repeat of this by any incumbent party, especially in the run-up to elections. There is nothing wrong with a government trumpeting its achievements. But once elections are called, or for at least three months before any poll, no ministry or state enterprise should be allowed to go on any vulgar advertising spree.

Having dispensed with the formalities, let me now perform an autopsy on the PNM even as the party remains semi-comatose, groping for a way out of the grave into which it finds itself slipping into. The prime lesson the masses taught Mr Manning and his minions-and here I specifically refer to those who allowed the maximum leader free rein to bring his government to its knees-is that the people will punish any government that fails to pay them heed.

Mr Manning and his cohorts did just that. Oh, they will boast of ‘good governance’, of having implemented many programmes that benefitted the people. I don’t know about good governance, but I agree that the party initiated several good programmes that sought to mitigate poverty and promote education and skills training for the young. Must, Milap, Hype, Yapa and the CCC (to name a few) were well-conceptualised, and with some tweaking, they may yet save some of our young people from the hellhole of crime and poverty.

The PNM government also brought some relief to older people who, for one reason or other, found themselves unable to cope with the rising cost of living and their own deteriorating health. I should add that while I fully support these initiatives, I wholly disagree with the culture of ‘freeness’ that is embedded in many of them. Imagine young people being paid to participate in these programmes!

In like manner, I disagree with the Partnership’s platform promise of a laptop computer for every child who sits the SEA exam. Let us build a nation based on performance-based incentives, on meritocracy, on lending assistance where it’s needed. Freeness breeds ‘lochos’, and these we can do without.

But back to Manning, who was the architect of his own demise. Those who warned him about focusing on the capital city’s skyline, not on its base-lines (clean streets, good drainage, decent sidewalks, public conveniences), were dubbed detractors by the PM and his ministers. Allegations of rampant corruption were buried under counter-allegations of unwarranted persecution.

Some of my colleagues in the media unearthed vital information that the PM should have acted on with dispatch.

They all but wrote, ‘Something is rotten in the state of Trinidad and Tobago.’ Instead, he deemed the media enemies of his government. Informed citizens warned him against further expansion of the heavy industrial sector, suggesting we have reached saturation point. He branded these patriots enemies of the State.

As Prime Minister, he felt he was the fountainhead of knowledge. That led to unmatched arrogance which he chose to interpret as ‘strong leadership’. Worse, many of the neophytes who sat in his Cabinet felt they, too, could follow the lead.

It’s a pity some of the most offensive-Nunez-Tesheira, Abdul-Hamid-would fade from public glare, having lost their seats. But Manning, Imbert and McDonald will now face the wrath of the masses and even that of PNM loyalists. Manning got a taste of his own bitter medicine at Balisier House last Thursday. That is the people’s punishment. Never again, they cry. Politicians, including the now-incumbents, take note. Never again.

8 thoughts on “People’s Punishment”

  1. Martin Daly: Good-bye to the know-it-alls
    If our new Prime Minister and Jack Warner are still taking jokes I should let them know that they are serial killers because they killed off Panday and Manning and a few mocking pretenders in the space of three months. As a result, it was liberating to say good-bye to the know-it-alls and to get their collective foot off our throats, especially off the throats of the Judiciary and the media. I should add that no new threats to those institutions will be countenanced.

    Selwyn Ryan: PNM ship sinks

    Peter O’Connor: What was in his head?
    I really agonised about what to write this Sunday: Congratulations to Kamla, for Rising to the occasion, from January 24 through May 24? Thanks to Jack, for removing Panday, Manning and for lagniappe — Ramesh Maharaj — from the political scene? Those would have been uplifting, forward moving themes. But all the while, stuck in my craw, and in my pen, there was Patrick Manning, and the apparent madness which has been driving him these past several months.

    Andre Bagoo: The Emperor’s new clothes
    THIS WEEK taught us important lessons in relation to our political landscape. The clear defeat of the PNM at the hands of an untested and novel coalition, led by the UNC/COP, was a clear sign that the electorate is now willing to get rid of deeply unpopular governments, regardless of appeals to race, base instincts and blind loyalty.

    Lennox Grant: When love is gone
    As the mighty fortress that was once Manning-PNM power crumbles, political archaeologists, sifting the dust and probing the ruins, may find evidence that the structure hadn’t been all that mighty after all. Great has been the PNM’s ability to project the image of Trinidad and Tobago’s pre-eminent political empire, which afforded climate-controlled superchariots to transport even its ground troops. The red shirts, descending from State-owned, luxury buses, were issued balisiers and balloons to wield and wave like tridents and truncheons, as martial soca music boomed.

    Judy Raymond: A prime minister past his expiry date

    Two PMs unseated in one year
    The year 2010 will surely go down in the history books of T&T as the year when two former prime ministers—Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday—were both rejected by the electorate.

    Kamla’s arrival
    As I spend the Memorial Day holiday weekend in The Bahamas, I reflect upon what in Trinidad is our Indian Arrival Day holiday weekend, which is made extra special, euphoric and exciting, because it is also the occasion of Kamla’s arrival to the highest elected office in the land.

  2. Hello Raff. you are experienced enough to say these.Panday and Manning were holding the country,at RANSOM.Then a woman came and swept,both off the scene.You experience it with Bas,with Robbie,when they were giving Printed papers to their own Media.You and sheppard,Fought.
    The time is now to review everything,contracts,and treatys,withGrenada,Jamaica,(CAL).PTSC (New BUSES)Govt.Radio and Tel.Operations.Keep on the heat,Pal.This just started.We need good Governance,more JAILS.for ALL Who deserve them FAIRLY.No exceptions .
    Thank You GS Deenan Central Florida.

    1. Hello Raff.
      Please send me your EMail Address,so we would communicate directly.
      Thanks. GS Deenan


  4. All that there is to be said of Mr. Manning has been said and that probably mean nothing to him at this point and time. There is a new reality that he once again made a booboo of himself by calling an election that he did not need to and being on the wrong side of history by riding a wave all by himself. It needs to be seen how much of what he predicted during the campaign will come to pass and to what extent he was on the ball. The task ahead is by no means easy for Mrs. Bissessar. She will have a much harder role to play in keeping this country moving forward than say Mr. Rowley will have in re-grouping the PNM to make it governable again. It is always a good feeling to be on the side of the winner and winning an election but governing takes a totally different set of skills and my hope is that the new government will deliver on their promises without fragmenting the country into segments of satisfied and dissatisfied citizens. It is easier for the government to screw up than for the opposition because whatever the opposition does at this point will have to come in the court of re-building while the government has to deliver on its promises. So, time will tell and we shall all be able to witness what goes on. Happy rebuilding for the PNM and good luck to the Partnership.

  5. Enough with this continual over the top gloating re a quite regular political transfer of power once more in my democratic country. Ms Kalma did not just win the position of President of the Siperia Seconday School PTA, but that of the Prime Minister of the entire country. Please guys , save us all the post election ruminations about Manning this, and Manning dat, and why he lost the elections.
    It is obvious that Manning made a deliberate and calculated decision to call election when he did ,as opposed to holding on for two more years. The self opinionated Dr. Williams stood in the way of his successor ‘Awe we Bouy Robbie’ aka the Casteria Kid, and he died dreadfully in office , followed by a PNM loss.
    UWI top notch geologist com politician Manning ,stood in the way of the extremely competent , and unsullied Mason Hall Kid Dr . Rowley, aka ‘de Rottweiler,’ and though still alive ,suffered a political death, while his party ended national power defeated.
    As far as the Island Ward goes,remind ‘dem’ for me folks to continually stand in the way of a culturally sturdy, though perennially neglected , Kinky Head ,‘Mandingo Nation,’ and there is a dear price to pay by all and sundry.
    Be forewarned , ehh? Nuff said!
    By the way , our historical political cry babies, were once more incorrect, as this May 24th victory by them simply proved what many of our more honest , and astute ,have been saying for those willing to listen.
    There has never been a single iota of evidence ,to substantiate the idiotic , and unjust claims, that any electoral impropriety , or fraud ever took place in our country through the decades when Massa left us on our own.
    It was one of the reasons why Nobel Peace Prize winner , and former US President Jimmy Carter, went on vacation, with his top notch NGO Electoral observers ,during the week past of our election.
    The electorate today, and the global community at large deserves an apology from the present victorious alliance , for many of it’s well known high list leaders that insulted their collective intelligence ,in the past ,each time they’ve fairly lost, outside of 86 and 95 when they placed their house in order.
    As Global Change agent guru Uncle Obama , might say if he was here today to help bask in your Indo Trini feminist glory , there is no Indo Trini , or Afro Trini,Euro Trini , French creole Trini, Arab Trini, or Dougla Trini, but only a United Trinidad and Tobago- at least so we hope.
    Therefore , get on with the business at hand Madame PM , as your honeymoon is already over. In case it slipped you, close handlers , ‘dem’ ‘Johnny come lately’ fans abroad ,and domestically- there is a manifesto to be quickly implemented, yes?
    Dem 10,000 or more Indo Trini women and their children that since independence were murdered at the hands of abusive , over jealous husbands, fathers , and boyfriends, would live to see justice for neglected others in the present and afterlife within their socially ignored enclaves. Similarly , the 20,000 or more single or once married Afro Trini moms and daughters , with babies ,and grown children that were abandoned by worthless African fathers ,or terrorized by illiterate gang banging kidnappers for hire in their communities , would like to see some legal and social action by a more concern, and sensitive , law enforcement and judicial system.
    Guess what,we the many unacknowledged, unpaid heroes of the People’s Social Media, unlike the usual, complicit members of the Corporate National 4th Estate, will continue to shine the lights into the dark ,unpopular and often taboo recesses, where others wish we will not.
    The reason is simple,Nation building ain’t easy ,and we must all pitch in to aid our underachieving nation where possible,as it got that way due to the subpar efforts, corrupted actions,and often uncaring behaviors of each and everyone.
    Here they are :- From the businessman who allowed his containers to be used to bring deadly drug poisons, -to continually harm our youths and vibrant, yet disenfranchised. To the others that chose to introduce destructive weapons via the same methods that resulted in Abu Bakr’s 1990 debacles,and the upsurge of gang bangers , and professional kidnapping criminals.
    The many that did not think twice to enhance their profiteering ways with the sale of substandard ,unhealthy, unregulated items that had long term ill effects on the weak and strong alike. How about you numerous lazy , incompetent civil servant,too busy abusing to so called power, while counting down the days to your possible pension 50 , 30 or 5 years away.
    Don’t forget dem so called above board spiritualist, that should be trying to build up the psyche of our people , but instead choose to be closet politicians , while remaining divisive, hate mongers.
    That disingenuous ,country hating national living abroad , in efforts to ingratiate himself to a naive ,gullible usually Euro centric official, that would sell his country out , and tarnish it’s name and image, simply for a paltry 2 to 10 pieces of immigrant silver.
    Most importantly, the two past recent nepotistic , neo colonial political rivals , that might if justice be served, be close bed buddies, at one of our growing high end ,maximum prisons, for all that they have subjected this country to over the decades.
    So there it is, Manning is symbolically dead ,so is Panday , and may the people continue to justifiably have real faith in their new leader.
    Warm regards.
    From Your Voice of Reason ,aka ‘deglobalpolitical animal.’

  6. Although I usually agree with and respect much of what Mr.Raffique Shah says, I am not in agreement with his aversion to lap-tops for students.
    Anyone who is in the job market these days, will know that computer skills are paramount, the sooner students tackle this technology, the better off they are, they will come out of school much better prepared for the job market.
    Computer skills are like learning another language and gaining another soul as someone whose name escapes me now said.

  7. Oh how well you said it Mr. Shah! Its a new dawn of politics in our paradise. No longer will the population take a dogmatic, arrogant leader! Great analysis!

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