By Stephen Kangal
October 26, 2007
There is widespread consensus among more than 75% of the electorate that indicated that the current PNM Administration has failed T&T again. With windfall energy revenues derived from our second oil bonanza they could not provide caring, effective, transparent and accountable governance to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. They are not up to the task of governing equitably in a plural society to the benefit of all the diverse people of T&T. South of the Caroni River, inter alia, is now isolated, endangered and neglected even though our patrimony comes from there.
Building White Elephants in POS
The PNM Cabinet continues to display a level of arrogance and disrespect for inherent community rights. It is riding rough-shod over the will and welfare of the people by embarking on several non-revenue-earning mega-projects that will prove to be white elephants when the inevitable cyclical troughs overtake us and consign us to an economic disaster zone as in 1985.
It is this approach that has produced bed less hospitals, water-less pipes, food-less tables, traffic grid locks, road rage, dispensaries without medication, emperor castle and 40% poverty (300,000 nationals).
From Blunder to Plunder
While our per capita income is in excess of $100,000, more than half of our people do not take home that amount annually. More and more of our people including the 150,000 pensioners are joining the poor under class as food price inflation escalates and eats away at their fixed incomes and savings. There is growing poverty in the midst of prosperity arising from the wanton and un-coordinated monetisation of our patrimony. Plunder of the treasury for fueling obscene, shameless and vulgar political advertising and widespread non-productive political patronage is what passes for governance.
The incoming COP/Dookeran Administration will have to clean up as previous administrations had to do post-PNM in 1986 and 1995 after the elections dust has settled.
T&T has always been saddled with a PNM Administration during times of externally-determined prosperity. But they have consistently consigned us to the throes of poverty, penury, depression and a collapsed economy through corruption, mismanagement and the mistaken belief that T& T is PNM country to be vandalised, plundered, pillaged and shared amongst its 28 % support base.
Security and Safety of People is Numero Uno
While the issue of the raging crime pandemic remains the number priority and concern for the people, Mr. Manning in his latest deception would have us believe that his crime consultation facade have removed this scourge from the national agenda. For him housing is the number one issue in spite of the contrary evidence shown by all the polls conducted hitherto.
The free-for-supporters, no down-payment, sub-standard HDC housing programme is the handmaiden for PNM voter padding in the marginals. It is the fore-runner that will trigger the collapse of our financial system that is now ruining world markets at present. The collapse of our housing market will run riot in our fragile energy dependent economy and depreciate the weakening TT dollar. Was not the demise of the NHA geared to wipe out huge debts from its books?
The COP maintains that the safety and security scourge is paramount in the minds of the electorate. A COP Government will formally adopt and implement its Crime Reduction Initiative based on its manifesto proposal of One Hundred Steps to a Safer Trinidad and Tobago.
COP is the Alternative Government
While the electorate for a fourth time, has already decided to vote out the PNM the question is who we go put up instead? Can you install a leaderless regime with a pick-up side electoral arrangement of convenience stocked with “fellow jail birds”? When they were elected into governance in 2000 with a clear majority they soon dashed our hopes, our blood, sweat and tears and gifted over the reins of government to those who have now oppressed, disrespected and left us in a parlous state of penury in plenty. Can you honestly return them when COP presents a more viable alternative?
It is that regime that imposed the PNM on us in 2001.They will self-destruct with infighting and implosion because the “great betrayer”is back in business and on our backs gain. That is a major issue for the electorate to decide.
The Mission of COP
The COP after toiling, tooling and consulting in the wilderness offers to the electorate enlightened leadership and an unwavering commitment to individual rights and community entitlements, to transparency, accountability, integrity as well as fiscal discipline and balanced development between the urban and rural communities. The COP is now a broadly based, participatory national institution that reflects and is driven by the rich vein of diversity of our unique cultural mosaic.
Getting the Politics Right
Our formula for getting the politics right is that COP will provide a responsible government driven by sound ethical principles and presided over by the enlightened and visionary leadership of our political leader Mr. Dookeran. COP will inculcate a culture in which effective public sector management will cooperate with a genuine and caring society; where citizens will be motivated and rewarded for practicing good and loyal citizenship. On this basis COP will guarantee the achievement of a quality of life that will be unique to Trinidad and Tobago but second to none in the global village. That is the paradigm shift that will radically change the prevailing political culture to a true participatory, welfare driven and caring democracy.
Constituency Development Programmes
Within the framework of getting our politics right, the COP is the first party in the political history of Trinidad and Tobago that has decided that each of the 41 constituencies should formulate their own sites specific development and enhancement programme. These will be amalgamated into a composite document and passed as official priority development programme of a COP Government. Our policy on strengthening local government will complement the implementation process. That is the road map for achieving balanced development, dismantling the center-periphery paradigm of distorted development and removing alienation and second class citizenry in 21st Century Trinidad and Tobago.
Empowering Local Government
PM Manning has presided over and is totally responsible for the collapse of local government on his own admission. He deliberately starved these bodies from resources and funding and set up parallel competing agencies. The COP will transfer responsibility from over-centralised Ministries to bring these Regional Corporations on par with the powers and resources accorded to the Tobago House of Assembly. Hitherto all we have had from the Manning Administration on local government is preaching deceptive empowerment and practicing tactics of demise and diminution.
Responsibility for community development, social welfare, housing, employment and training, recreation, environmental protection and transport is the normal remit of local government in developed societies. It does not lead to states within a state according to the “little mind” of Mr Manning.
Executive Presidency Via the Back Door
The most dangerous issue facing us is the fixation of Mr. Manning to regale and sanctify himself as Executive President; to have and hold unfettered dominion over us. The little incipient indicators such as the silver coat of arms on his car, the Presidential Palace and Diplomatic Suite, his own Divine Echoes and Symphony Orchestra, the cadre of novices in Parliament and the secretive second Draft Constitution are harbingers of impending doom and gloom for us from someone whose lust for power borders on the insatiable and demented.
Trinidad and Tobago is not, cannot and never will be exclusively PNM country. Let us not step up with Patrick to the next level for that will surely lead us to a creeping Latin American style dictatorship via the back-door of the Red House.