Big win, bigger expectations

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Minister of Works & Transport Jack Warner, Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Minister of Public Utilities Emmanuel George and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the People's Partnership's Victory Celebration - June, 18, 2010
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Minister of Works & Transport Jack Warner, Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Minister of Public Utilities Emmanuel George and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the People's Partnership's Victory Celebration - June, 18, 2010
By Raffique Shah
August 01, 2010

THE People’s Partnership has stamped its authority to govern the country over the next five years by convincingly winning two elections in as many months. Now, its leadership must be sensitive to the high expectations among a polls-drunk populace that was summoned to vote in six elections in ten years. The new Government faces the onerous task of governing a nation that can at times be overly demanding, somewhat fickle, and quick to condemn.

Topping the list of expectations is people’s hope that the Partnership will endure. They are aware that coalition governments tend to fragment in short order. Those who lived through the NAR debacle of 1986-91 will not forget how that cookie crumbled in less than two years. True, the main architect of the fiasco was Basdeo Panday, a man who had established his mala fides some 10 years earlier. I, more than most, knew what Panday was capable of undoing. Within a year of the ULF storming the political stage in 1976, Panday smashed the hopes and dreams of so many young people who saw in that party the potential for an integrated entity that, within a few years, would deliver us from the evils of racial politics.

It was not to be. Errol McLeod and David Abdulah can attest to what I have written. Mercifully for the UNC component of the Partnership, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar rid the party of its divisive yoke. However, there remain elements in the UNC who see the People’s Partnership’s overwhelming victory as theirs, not their partners’. That’s a dangerous path to tread. The UNC on its own could never have overcome the PNM, not even the wreck to which Patrick Manning and his minions had reduced the once-mighty party.

Now is not the time for preening. It’s a time to perform. The parties that together brought home last Monday’s local elections wipe-out of the PNM must refrain from one-upmanship. The East West Corridor might have remained PNM were it not for the images and hard work of the COP, Makandal Daaga and McLeod.

The second challenge the Government faces is delivering on its campaign promises. No one expects the coalition to deliver everything it promised—no party has ever done that, not that I know of anyway. But people expect the new Government to show good faith on several critical issues. PM Kamla has boasted of having fulfilled several of her promises within the few weeks her Government has been in power.

That is true, to an extent. Take the old age pension as one example: the Government has made good on its promise to increase the monthly stipend to $3,000. But the bigger problem most senior citizens face is they fail to qualify for this relatively small sum, often on spurious grounds. Officials charged with the responsibility must be closely monitored, even disciplined, if they are found to be acting arbitrarily. Too many people who have worked hard during their productive years are cast aside in their winter years. That’s an injustice that needs to be addressed in conjunction with the increased pensions.

The new Government must also learn from the mistakes of its predecessor. Mr Manning, in implementing what he saw as his legacy to the nation, dismissed those who insisted he was making huge mistakes. His wild-and-expensive building spree, the rapid rail project, the three aluminium smelters he vowed to build, his Otaheite offshore island—they were not dreams, but nightmares-in-the-making. Patriotic citizens warned him against going down those roads.

He adopted an air of omniscience, preferring instead to listen to the misleading echoes coming from his minions: yes, boss…you are divine. Now that he has damaged his party almost beyond repair, he has bequeathed restoration of the wreck to the one member who had the audacity to warn him of his errant ways: Keith Rowley.

The Government would do well to look no further back than Manning as it charts a way forward. Already, we are seeing some signs of intolerance, even arrogance. Jack Warner’s assault on Senator Helen Drayton, branding her “ah PNM” when she sought only to offer advice, was in poor taste. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan’s all-too-frequent intemperate pronouncements are cause for concern. Even the PM’s announcement at a political meeting that she had ordered the suspension of five UDeCOTT executives was a case of wrong time, wrong forum.

What was wrong under the PNM cannot be right under the People’s Partnership. As it unearths evidence of wrongdoing under the PNM, the new Government must take action, not just talk.

I am among many independent-minded citizens who were happy to hear Finance Minister Winston Dookeran say this Government will not pursue the establishment of an International Finance Centre. Warner’s statement that the rapid rail project will be “put on ice” was also welcome news. Jack should now tell us how much money Colm Imbert wasted chasing that crooked shadow. And the Works Minister’s initiative on banning the use of cellphones while driving was even better news.

In some ways, the new Government has faltered. In others, it has brought hope of good governance, which is what citizens are crying out for. Stick with the positives and stay together—that should be the People’s Partnership’s mantra. And never dismiss your critics as enemies of the party and the State. That is being Stalinist. Ask Speaker Wade Mark.

13 thoughts on “Big win, bigger expectations”

  1. Shah, much like Dookeran is wrong about the coalition though, as it is really about the UNC. None of the other parties Dookeran’s COP, Daaga’s NJAC or McCleod and Abdullah Labour posse can upstage the UNC. They should bow to Kamla every day for giving them a piece of a pie that she, and Jack of course, could have eaten by themselves. Dookeran even admitted such right after the elections. Added to this the PNM is so destroyed, thanks to Manning, that had the UNC gone solo their chances of victory would have been great. I am convince they would have won. So as to the coalition enduring I have no doubt as outside the UNC the other entities are weaklings who needs a breast to suck on. They know it, thank god.

    1. The UNC would have never won that election if they run alone….just saying

    2. Ian,

      By adopting an overt adversarial position, ready to underscore who can’t upstage the UNC, you disrespect not only the COP, MSJ, NJAC and TOP but the UNC as well, as your comments contravene the spirit of the People’s Partnership.

      The UNC entered into a coalition agreement which ultimately saw a 29-12 victory for the PP. None of the opposition parties acting alone would have been able to gain even a simple majority in the elections. The UNC, the largest shareholder in the PP, would have likely emerged as the opposition and the PNM, far from being destroyed, would have been the government.

      Your comments are heavily biased and betray your fundamental misunderstanding of the mathematics of the situation.

  2. Raffique writes with more ‘fire’ when he opines of Patrick Manning that “He adopted an air of omniscience, preferring instead to listen to the misleading echoes coming from his minions: yes, boss…you are divine”. But he fizzles out, saying of the PP only that “In some ways, the new Government has faltered”. C’mon Raffique, you getting soft?

  3. I would like to caution the PM and the PP government on the similarities between the election win of the NAR government and now that of the PP government. The first was fueled by national discontent of the Party (PNM) in power and a cry for change that brought the intended result. The second was the idolizing and iconizing of the then PM as is being done now, allowing for no human errors in decisions making. Thirdly, was the great expectations that the nation’s people had of their government as it seemingly is now. Unfortunately when the expectation were not met by then NAR and disappointment step in we saw the resulting effect at the next national election.

    The population has given to this PP government an overwhelming mandate to govern Trinidad and Tobago through the national and local government elections, and everyone has accepted that fact. We are aware that the excitement of winning is still occupying the attention of many supporters and is causing them to make some derogatory racial statements that can be the start of divisions in the country and may even cause cause difficulty in governing, and for which you need to take counsel.

    The nation will only accept for a short time any witch hunt and blame syndrome of former government in their style of governance but will hold their elected government accountable for bringing to them result.

    You were mandated to change what needs changing, improve on those things need improving and begin to actualize the contents outlined in your manifesto and promised to the country. Remind your supporters that you are not an Indian government but a duly elected government of Trinidad and Tobago.

    1. Very well said! The poor turnout at the local government elections just weeks after the “landslide” defeat should be a sign to the PP that a lot of first time UNC/COP voters have woken up. The honeymoon is over. This Ish/Fergie thing maybe the straw that break the kamla back

  4. Yeah god doh sleep, we now have a case of an Afro Trini woman now being wanted in the US on similar charges, it would be interesting now to see how the AG and his minions(legal advisers) would try to make a case to send her and keep Ish and Steve here to eventually walk free, it will be very interesting to see what legal bullocks (arguments) they will try to use to DISTINGUISH the cases one from the other…

    Stay tuned…

    (Conquering lion of the tribe of Judah)

  5. How did the PP win the election? Jack says:He later thanks Lord Hanuman, the devotee of Lord Rama of the Ramayana. This deity (Lord Hanuman) is a provider of courage, hope, knowledge. “I want to thank Lord Hanuman for the victory in the General Election,” Warner said.

    He told reporters that before the May 24 General Election, he sat down with worshippers at this temple and asked them to grant him a wish — to remove the then PNM government from power. “I sat with you and I said it was my wish to remove the Patrick Manning regime and to talk to Hanuman,” Warner said

  6. Hey Jennifer,some would say to cut Uncle Jack some slack ,and learn to admire an often much maligned ,underestimated, political genius, at work.
    After all , if Madame Kamla, can put on a West African style Dashiki, and headbands, so as to conduct lovely Emancipation day celebrations photo opts with NJAC Kafra Kambon, or Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Gypsy ,then Jack our PM in waiting, can be forgiven for breaking bread with, and sharing some love for Lord Krishna, and fellow Hindu political brothers and sisters,that help put him in a position to be much closer to the promise land, yes?
    Let’s keep it real,shall we ?

  7. Neal
    Implicit in your repeated affirmation and endorsement of Jack Warner is a touch of tribalism and wishful thinking.Trust me when I say that Jack Warner is a team player who has no desire to usurp the PM.This is a man who has proven by his actions that he is devoted to helping the people and not himself.He is a breath of fresh air in a turbulent whirlwind of posionous gasses.

  8. Hopefully for your sake , your party, and transitionary PM , you are correct TMan. Political animal as I am however,this makes me think that you are dead wrong with respect to the Machiavellian Uncle Jack, my friend.
    We will see.
    What ever it is, surely it’s ‘no skin off my back,’ one way or the other, and I am certain yours as well- safe in your Canadian enclave in Manitoba, yes?
    I choose to take a page out of another Chaguarnas one time resident, in Trini English Literature expert V.S. Naipaul, and gave up on this ghastly country indefinitely.
    Well, perhaps until the next full , or snap election.

  9. I will continue to agitate for the descendants of those whose blood sweat and tears carved Trinidad and Tobago from mangrove swamps. We will overcome the ignorance and naivity that causes us to be taken in the patented deceit of those who are incapable of doing what so many of us did. Vote for a leader that is not of our ethnicity.

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