Here today, gone tomorrow

By Raffique Shah
September 26, 2010

Brigadier Peter Joseph“So, I expect you to tear into (Herbert) Volney’s anatomy in your next column!” many of my readers chorused all of last week. People were itching for me—why me?—to go after the judge-turned-politician, the greatest intervention since, let’s say, mouth-organist Cutty Joseph. Or Hardeo Hardath, a PNM “crapaud” who opened his mouth in Parliament only when he yawned.

Hear ye! Hear ye! (my detractors included): I don’t do St Ann’s’ outpatients. In fact, I’ve never mustered the courage to pop into the mental hospital’s manicured, inviting grounds. Some stories I have heard emanating from that institution tell me for my own mental balance, I should stay far from it.

Of course, I don’t know that the ex-judge is connected with St Ann’s in any way. But if I saw him walking the road in proximity to the hospital, I’d likely think he is an escapee, and promptly call all emergency services. Especially if he keeps muttering, “Mr Spea-kah, sah!” Can you imagine a mad man…’er, sorry, a man, repeating those words, in measured terms, as he makes his way to the Prime Minister’s mansion at the top of St Ann’s?

That’s cause for a national emergency, for calling on SAUTT to come in full force and sort out the man or the situation. If such were to occur, it won’t be the first time a mad man has stormed past security and taken refuge in the multi-million-dollar mansion. Hell, up until last May 24, we had a certified schizophrenic living on the premises. So, I imagine Brigadier Peter Joseph, upon receiving such report, may be minded to put my backside in some padded cell at the mental institution, and let “Mr Spea-kah” be.

But wait, Brigadier Joseph is no longer in charge of SAUTT. I almost forgot. Look at how I could have compounded my woes, calling on an SNLR for help. For the non-military mind, that acronym, coming from an institution that thrives on acronyms, means “service no longer required”. It’s quite different to SLR, which is probably uppermost of Brigadier Peter’s mind these days.

It’s one thing for a private soldier, or a mutinous lieutenant, to be hauled before the CO and given an SNLR, then unceremoniously find himself skating on his shorts (all kit confiscated!) on the street. I should add that an SNLR always trigger thoughts of an SLR in hand, magazines loaded, and dispatching the SNLRer and his sniggering cohorts to the hereafter.

Now, I don’t know Brigadier Peter, never met the man. But I do know the institution he attended, Sandhurst: faecal-hounds don’t make the cut at that military academy. I also know he won the “silver stick” upon graduating (“best stick” in my day), which meant he was the best overseas graduate in his Intake. Only two other Trinidad graduates can lay claim to that honour—Col Lyle Alexander, and before him, Lt David Brizan.

Had Peter remained in the military, chances are he might have risen to CDS of the Defence Force. How well I recall when his name surfaced as a possible Minister of National Security in 2002, after Patrick Manning won the elections. I counselled against that. It would have meant that Minister Joseph (not that one, stupid!) would have risen above the then CDS, one Brigadier John Sandy! Worse, Sandy, boss one day, would have had to salute his subordinate the next.

Anyway, Peter later accepted the offer to head this new supra-military-cum-police outfit, SAUTT. Its role was never clearly defined, nor was it ever legitimised—something for which Manning has to be blamed. How could you have an organisation at the forefront of gathering intelligence and leading the fight against crime, operate in a legal “black hole”? Worse, SAUTT was co-opting serving members from the Police Service and the Defence Force, and no one knew of their terms of engagement. We are now told that SAUTT expended $1billion-plus during its existence.

Worse for Brigadier Peter, who headed the unit from its inception, there were rumours to the effect that SAUTT monitored telephone calls of criminals and politicians. Admittedly, these two groups are closely associated, especially where plunder of public funds or private purses is concerned. The straw that broke Peter’s back was an allegation by Prime Minister Kamla that the unit tapped into her phone—after she became PM.

If that is true, it is unacceptable. While SAUTT, or any other arm of the protective services with responsibility for gathering intelligence, has the means, and maybe even the need to so do, at least a person who holds high public office should be informed of the surveillance, of the reasons for monitoring their phones.

Joseph denied that his unit “spied” on Kamla. Clearly, she didn’t buy that. She fired him in public, standing outside the airport, when she was en route to New York. Now, that was unseemly—much the way ex-Commissioner Philbert was fired by email. Some years ago, Manning fired one official by fax.

Politicians never learn. They wield power like battleaxes, their hapless victims powerless to respond. They don’t understand that political power is very finite, while institutions like those in the protective services are permanent.

Politicians are here today, gone tomorrow. Ask Manning—he fell from grace three times! Today, the emperor stands naked. PM Kamla should take warning…better do good…

12 Responses to “Here today, gone tomorrow”


  • Perhaps she share the views, and philosophical thinking of the two learned men listed below, or better yet her former boss Uncle Pday . “There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.
    Vladimir Lenin

    “Severities should be dealt out all at once, so that their suddenness may give less offense; benefits ought to be handed ought drop by drop, so that they may be relished the more.”
    Niccolo Machiavelli

  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to be sympathetic toward anyone in Trinidad and Tobago as a result of the continuing abscence of relevant governance. Just imagine, the allegations suggest that SAUTT an illegal instrument; has spent over one billion dollars of taxpayers money without any discernable level of accountability even as vagrants are shuttled from Tamarind square to parts unknown. Mr. Manning should be congratulated for successfully orchestrating that stunt in a Country where educated and civilized people allegedly live. And now they complain, what a bunch of asses.The rest of the world watches in amazement. Only in T&T.

  • Brilliant soldier just got trapped in the political quagmire. It was not his fault that the PNM government did not seek to legalise SAUTT. It was not his fault that wire tapping the Prime Minister cell-phone was not discouraged. SAUTT essentially failed to stop crime and that is where the fault lies.

  • Oh Yes Errol ,you got that right my friend, it is only in Trinidad that a group of people can comprise of half the population ,wish to convince the rest of the world that 99.9% of all the crimes that are committed in their country is done on a daily basis by the other half, as they are a noble law abiding tribe unlike those crooks and bandits that were left in Asia when they came to these shores .
    What do you know , HCU breakdown, Panday Airport scandals , Licensing corruption, CJ Sat Judicial abuse, and a myriad of other well know Blue and white color crimes ,are all the work of the folks from the African continent.
    It is why we are all excited about the future ,as we were since May 24th 2010 transformed from the verge of being a borderline fail state , to sudden emerging power house due to the advent of your ‘UNC/PP change brigade,’ headed by Queen K our savior.
    What folly indeed,my friend!

  • So Raf, you mean only newspaper columnists are here today AND here tomorrow?

    • Nah boy, Shah is goin to around for a long time. Same as Abu, both devout Muslims, both attempted Jehadi type insurrection.

  • “SAUTT essentially failed to stop crime and that is where the fault lies.”
    Tell us something we do not know khem. For your info,the crooks and bandits that make up your society , is very widespread, and entrenched, and for the record my fraudulent ,tribal , crime apologist friend, the disgusting characteristics is not limited to folks of the African Continent, as you and other country hating bellyachers wish to claim for anyone stupid enough to believe your diatribes.
    Let me predict that your Mickey Mouse Edmonton / T&T Police Chief import, would survive less than 6 month , before he too will leave with his tail between his legs , like a Manzanilla Zandolee,as the crime figures continue to escalate – including kidnapping possibly of those who finally thought we miraculously became safe because ‘Ah we gal,’ was now in charge.
    That’s not how things work in the real world buddy, and if you drew such conclusions due to any legal school in Canada since 1986 you migrated, then it is time you request a refund.
    Tell me folks , is there anything more despicable than a fraud,be they Airport/ Governmental , HCU financial , or online information driving ? Join me in flushing them out before they cause great harm like a dangerous computer virus.

    • “Tell me folks , is there anything more despicable than a fraud,be they Airport/ Governmental , HCU financial , or online information driving ?” Nealos

      Nealos the greatest symbols of fraud is the Toruba Stadium and the Scarborough General Hosp. Not the airport as you naively mentioned. The Airport is the pride of Trinidad and Tobago. Panday vision for T&T was an airport that would set the tone for anyone visiting Trinidad. Everytime I enter that airport as does millions of visitors (since it was built) I think that every dollar that was spent was well worth it, every dollar. From the relax atmosphere to all my African brothers employed in driving all those fancy lil vehicles. Especially to the one who give me a nice lil rub down to make sure ah clean. He is ah nice boy, Yoruba I think. To the sisters who smiles at me and in her mind she is saying “another Indian here huh”. I feel at home.

      I think tribalist as yourself Nealos should get off your rocking chair and stop repeating the PNM mantra of airport corruption. It is built, it is beautiful, it is the pride of T&T. and Ish should be released no questions asked. On the contrary, the Tobago General has not been completed depite millions and millions poured into it, the Toruba Stadium is no different.

      Nealos, there is one think I don’t like about the airport and it all those politicians displayed on that circular wall. I think it would be better if Penny is place there (first black woman to capture Ms.Universe title, Hasely Crawford (first olympics gold medalist), Brian Lara(for all the Indians from India visiting), Niapaul (ah know yuh eh go like dis one but it for our British visitors), Ria Ramnarine, Sundar Popo, Denise Plummer, amongst others. It does not have to occupy a large wall, just a 10 by 20 feet wall, with a picture of them in their event. A sort of nice collage covered with a nice glass frame. Placed where visitors can catch a glimpse of T&T…and learn ah lil about T&T. In fact, the minister of culture could launch a contest for the 20 most prominent Trinis of last century and from the list make a determination.

      And Nealos you must stop associating the best airport in the Caribbean with corruption. It was built beautifully and in time they will heed my advice and put in some nice lil things to occupy the minds of visitors. And show case Trinis.

  • “I think it would be better if Penny is place there (first black woman to capture Ms.Universe title, Hasely Crawford (first olympics gold medalist), Brian Lara,Niapaul , Ria Ramnarine, Sundar Popo, Denise Plummer.”
    Hey KHEM , Now that’s where you get me wrong my friend , only three names in the entire list I am going to support and that is our loving patriot V.S. Naipaul, cultural ambassadors Sundar Popo ,and mi guyl Denise Plummer, as none of those African bums you’ve listed,deserves any accolades, since they along with their respective African governments, and the other half of the disgusting population ,along with the 25% or more ,and growing ‘raped by product Douglas,’ helped to destroy our loving land. Replace Ria Ramnarine ,with Peace advocate Sat Maharaj, as I don’t know him or her from Jack rabbit.
    In the spirit of true understanding, the quest equal justice, ,and peaceful coexistence , let me put a smile into your face, by offering another fine suggestion my friend.
    I say snatch Patrick Manning , when he is on his way to work one day ,tie him up in a crocus bag, and drag him along the ground ,across all the PNM constituencies ,he and his party neglected since taking office.
    When we are absolutely certain that he ain’t breathing anymore, then make a public announcement over the media airwaves , that President Richard has been unceremoniously removed from office, and replaced by Baseo Panday ,then immediately demand a referendum on the matter, in keeping with our future Constitution changes.
    Let dem die hards take that in dey 2020 and smoke it ,for thinking Eugenia Charles, and Lady Thatcher were the original iron ladies , eh?
    Enjoy your Lebatt Blue , or Molson Canadian my friend. You are a good sport, for think how many more Shah’s 1970s , and Bakr’s Islamist 90s, might have occurred , if this forum was absent, agreed?
    Finally , I am hopeful no one is listening to you, for that would mean I am not going to see my loving country until 2014 , when the PP is finally replaced by anyone ,including Dr. Boe Tewarrie Tapia House, as I made a serious pledge to myself , never to set foot in my country until I see Basdeo Panday the crook,some day convicted, and sent away to Carara, to sleep amongst 7ft Angry Africans, lifetime rapist , and poor , rabid Indians, he pissed off , and or caused harm to ,via his anti national policies, and corruption misdeeds ,in and out of political power.
    Antigua , and Dominican Republic , here I come.

    • “In the spirit of true understanding, the quest equal justice, ,and peaceful coexistence , let me put a smile into your face, by offering another fine suggestion my friend.” Nealos.

      I am so glad you are seeing things my way Nealos. I am glad you agree with me that the Airport should no longer be tainted with the PNM corruption brush.
      I know you would agree with that those who were singled out for political persecution by the Manning regime should be cleared immediately.
      All agents of the PNM will agree like you have agreed with me that the Airport sets a high Trini ideal for those who are visiting the land of the Trinity. We should be thankful for local contractors taking up the challenge to build this beauty. Sure dey take ah lil but Cudjoe was advising African bandits to “take” from Indians also. So in the colorful world of law & outlaw, we find the beds of corruption and spiteful hatred propagated by the tribalist leaders.

      I will end by saying thanks for putting a smile on my face my tribal cousin. The world is a better place today.

  • I have read with interest the “back and forth” between Khem and Neal. Both seem to have great points but both have added a racial element into their exchanges. Guys. in the interest of our beloved country, I urge you to cease the race talk and replace it with good constructive and polite discussion.
    Another thing, T&T has produced good and bad people of every colour and race. So Afro-trini and Indo-trini join hearts and hands together for a better T&T.

  • Did I hear cousin Chong Sing well, when he claimed that “Khem and Neal both ,have added a racial element into their exchanges?” Tell me something cuz, when you you plan to graduate- from the politically correct school that is? Hey buddy , this information highway needs folks like us drivers. If you are mealy concerned with childish discourse about whose girlfriend looks cuter while sunbathing in papas Westmooring Yacht , then stick to Facebook, and Myspace.
    When however you are ready to up the ante and contribute to honest, no holds barred discussions , tackling subjects in an honest manner as possible , with out fear or affection, malice or ill will, then join grown folks on Trinicenter , and throw in your two cents with cousin Khem and Neal , eh Chong?
    Brother Chung for your information, if Sweet, Sweet , T&T aka Rainbow Country , is to seriously develop , it is imperative that both, and divergent sides of the divide ,know what irks the other, and all the perceptions, and misconceptions , in all their ugliness must be placed on the table, to be examined in minute details , in efforts to find tangible solutions.
    So let your yankee, Australian , and European friends, keep sweeping their long delayed historical affairs , and anomalies under the carpet. Likewise Asians, Middle Easterners ,Africans and Latin America can continue to skin and grin , then suffer in silence.
    Just continue to love country, and be part of the solution chong .Repeat with me , “If all the world was one ax , and the great man was to take the big ax, and cut down the big tree, and it falls into the big sea,then what a splish , splash that would be.” Love your neighbor my friend , and don’t ever confuse passionate efforts , for contempt of the other’s tribe. I can speak for neal by saying it is because he love , and adore his Indo brothers, and Sisters why he choose to talk about them, and vice versa.

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