The Politics of Promises

Politicians in Parliament

Politicians in Parliament (composite photograph)

By Derren Joseph
July 12 2010

In the aftermath of the June 22 arrest of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, the alleged drug lord and leader of a Jamaican gang called the Shower Posse, there has been much debate on the role of politics. There is a particularly interesting analysis done by a Horace Campbell on the Pambazuka News website [Gangsters, politicians, cocaine and bankers] which speaks to the alleged connections between organised crime and political parties/governments. The author speculates that the situation in Jamaica is by no means unique, in fact–”From the streets of West Kingston to the hills of Port of Spain, Trinidad to Guyana and down to Brazil, gunmen (called warlords) allied and integrated into the international banking system had taken over communities and acted as do-gooders when the neo-liberal forces downgraded local government services.” If you have the time, I suggest you Google it and have a look as it makes for interesting reading.

One thing that struck me about the article, was a quote attributed to former Jamaican Prime Minister, Edward Seaga who stood on an election platform and promised that–”Blessings will shower from the sky and money going jingle in your pockets.” As we in Trinidad take part in the local government election campaign season, I have been reflecting on this politics of promises. On the Facebook fan page of the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, there is a speech made by Douglas Orane (CD) who is the Chairman and CEO of GraceKennedy Ltd. Orane, like Horace Campbell believes that the key is to break the link between politicians and organised crime which is at the root of the issue. To break this link requires three (3) distinct actions. The first action described by Orane is to stop the flow of money to corrupt entities and individuals through the award of state contracts.

In Jamaica, there are calls for greater transparency in the procurement process of state controlled entities and in this regard, there are calls to increase support for the office of the Contractor General to give that office more power to prosecute breaches of contract award guidelines. In Trinidad and Tobago, we have had the recent Uff Report which also encourages us to consider Procurement Reform. Perhaps there is a similar message to be found in the report coming from the inquiry into the Piarco Airport Construction, which has yet to be made public? The second critical issue is that of political party financing. Orane explains the need to insist on the passage of the draft legislation on campaign funding that has been on the table since 2006. Such legislation would require political parties to make clear and transparent, the source of their financial support.

Here in T&T, the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute has also consistently advocated for legislation that requires transparency in campaign financing. The third critical issue is the establishment of a system of integrity testing for persons who offer themselves for political office. We in Trinidad and Tobago have our Integrity in Public Life Act and our Integrity Commission. Not that we should just tick that box and move on, but we need to continuously ensure that this Commission has the necessary resources to carry out its duties without any undue political pressure. Orane makes three very solid points but I wonder if we should not be going deeper still? Our family was at church last Sunday (an activity we definitely do not do as often as we should) when the Pastor read the following quote that struck me as incredibly profound:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.

From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”

This statement is attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler from an 1801 collection of his lectures.

Professor Tytler may be correct to the extent that we cannot point fingers solely at our politicians. We as regular voters must bear some responsibility for sometimes being seduced by the platform speakers who promise us the biggest share of the treasury. It must be about more than mere greed, we must vote for those committed to making our country a better place for each and every one of us. My name is Derren Joseph and I love my country. As always, I end by saying that despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in this beautiful land. Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in our country, as we embark upon the next chapter in our nation’s history.

5 Responses to “The Politics of Promises”


  • As a Human Being, i would like to know something: Why all of a sudden these Politicians are so adamant about GUN CONTROL- Yet these GUNS are being Perpetrated right in our very LIVING ROOMS every day on demand.TV & THE MOVIES–
    Who is being Adamant to Address These GUNS in these Movies? SIC and Fed up with this DOUBLE STANDARD in SOCIETY. This is a State of Schizophrenic Mentality. Who Fooling Who?????. Yet Power and $$$$$ is all this World Have To Offer ???

  • Sam you’ve got to take it easy. It is from this type of mindset that the infamous, other pseudo religious nut Abu Baker emerged, and nearly help destroy our country with the help of a few not so secret pals in high and low places. Remember ,one of the fundamental commandments of the most authentic Blacksungod Bible. It states as followsd:-” Give onto Caesar, the things that are Caesar…” It means therefore that if the folks that rules the roost feels that every Tom, Dick , and Bridgelal should have a weapon, like big brother America, to defend them selves , since our incompetent police for the time being , still cannot , then they are entitled so to do as a result of My 24th .
    If because of the precarious state of the treasury as claimed by Dooke our Minister of Finance , dey want to implement the PNM condemned land tax , may Blacksungod blessing be with them as well, Sam.
    I for one would be in full support of them Sam if they should initiate a decree that from this day henceforth, no Trinidad and Tobago citizen would be allowed to have any of that fictitious bestselling book call the King James pale man bible, as it is the cause of too much global mayhem , and destruction in our blessed land from the days of the Carib and Arawaks , and other peaceful Arima folks .
    I subscribe to the wise saying of my extremely wise grandmother Sam, who use to always admonish me to “take in front , before in front take you,” and you should too. I will therefore advise you to immediately dig a hole in the back of the house near the latrine ,and the avocado tree,where the Salipainter likes to sleep, and bury that pagan book , once and for all.
    While you are at it , send me your address , so that I in turn can get you the real Bible created by our Blacksungod who art in heaven ,and simultaneously on earth.
    What’s that, you no longer have a home you grew up in since a Guyanese stole the deed for your roach infested Nelson Street flat you had for 10 generations that Dr. Williams gave to your family in 1956?
    Too bad Sam, you make your PNM bed. Here are some passages to sustain you ,that I want you to recite after me, until you get your act together , as I cannot help you on that score.
    Love thy neighbor as thy self. Sell all you have and give to the poor.Turn the other cheek. If your right hand offend you , cut it off. Thou shall not covet your neighbors wife ,like that war mongering savage called David ,did to his young unfortunate captain , or use and abuse women , like his wild , playboy so called wise son Solomon did ,to our favorite Queen of Sheba,and well known mother of our Black Jesus, near Mt Kenya , SSE of Kilimanjaro Mountain , considered the cradle of civilization.
    In ending Sam ,remember that thou shall have no other Gods besides our Blacksungod.
    Warm regards, oh ye of little faith!
    Much luv. Leave the contentious Trini politics alone , my friend ,as it is dangerous for your soul. With the blessings of our Blacksungod ,Sam ,I am however looking to soon form a socially progressive volunteer program in my country , to help make a difference , welcome aboard if interested.
    Yours truly
    Black Israelite

  • This Blacksungod more sounds like a tribal racist god, one who is the true god.The problem here is: Every misfits of the Human Race thinks that Their Religion and Race are above all others.
    Now I see the Problem, it’s about the KING JAMES VERSION of The Bible. Bear in mind that the western worldview came out with this Text. All the Protestant Churches from the Reformation Days came upon the Majority Text.
    Check from 1517 A.D. all the way up to our time- The King James has always been around. To me the King James say it like it is. What Foolish Mindset cause the uproar in T&T with Baker. when you quote “Render to Caesar the Things that are Caesar’s” The Scriptures also went on to say” Render to God The Things that are His” The Point is Why only Caesar getting all this attention.
    Caesar has grown into a Giant Octopus that is Squeezing the very breath out of the Scriptures.They are receiving their Taxes, But something is Always wrong with the Religious Arm.
    To you I am In the wrong as always, and you are in the Right: I must Give up my King James That Lasted for All these Hundreds of Years and Accept Your Blacksungod.
    Gee!!! I wish I could see what was in my statement in the above that really sidetracked you. Don’t you think that a Double Standard, Double Speaking have been to long with us: “A Double Minded Person is Unstable in All His ways” Is this Double Standard that have this place so.
    T&T is not a Big Place Geographically – Neither is the Population that Big, whereas the one’s in Authority cannot deal with the in born issues, Check it: Coast Guard, Police, Army, Special Units, National Security, Police Commissioner, PSC, private security firms, Customs, Immigrations, Custom Guards, Now these are connected to Scotland Yard, Interpol, The US; FBI, DEA, What do they really need to deal with a small place like T&T ?
    To much Top Spinning in MUD- Get Real….. All This Yet We still Looking For outside Experts to come in and Help Us. ‘TEARS OR lAUGHTER. We Seriously Need HELP….

  • Uncle Sam said,”T&T is not a Big Place Geographically – Neither is the Population that Big, whereas the one’s in Authority cannot deal with the…issues….Too much Top Spinning in MUD. All this ……..Coast Guard, Police, Army, Special Units, National Security, Police Commissioner, PSC, private security firms, Customs, Immigrations, Custom Guards,…,yet We still Looking For outside Experts to come in and Help Us.”
    Great work Uncle Sam, I am certainly with you on this very astute observation.
    As long as you fervently love this beautiful Twin Island Republic , you are all right with me.
    Much love , and keep the faith, my brother.

  • Peace also to you : AKA: Uncle Neal

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