Digging Out We Eye in Broad Daylight

By Dr Selwyn R, Cudjoe
June 15, 2021

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeA few days ago the Attorney General asked the Parliament to approve a supplementary vote of $118.9 million for his ministry. Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein asked (perhaps pleaded is a better word) how much money the lawyers (120 local and nine foreign) were being paid and the matters for which they were retained.

From the AG’s angle of vision, such a question was preposterous. He responded: “I would like to place on record that the request for the supplementation is driven by the fact that we are still in the course of settling $141.3 million in arrears from the period 2010 to 2015, during which $444.4 million was expended and arrears of $141.3 million left.”

This meant that “the UNC-led administration incurred $600 million in legal fees”. (Express, June 8)

This was a commendable effort by the PNM. UNC still has to tell us how much money it paid out in legal fees to attorneys. Still, I worry why the present AG did not answer Hosein’s question, or, for that matter, how many briefs his wife’s firm, Soo Hon & Al-Rawi, has received from the State.

In refusing to answer Hosein’s question, the AG prevented citizens from having vital information about our fiscal affairs. Every citizen has a right to know how public monies are spent, how much is paid to an attorney and why. I have never understood why our citizens (through their government) pay attorneys such enormous fees when the average citizen is making a minuscule fraction of what a lawyer is paid.

It cannot be denied that poor, lowly paid workers of the country have had the most exposure to Covid-19. Yet, they are hanging on to life by a slender thread. The precariousness of such a position is magnified when we consider the Government’s decision to cut the wages of 10,000 CEPEP workers and the inhumane decision of the management of the KFC restaurant chain to stop the $150 weekly stipend to their workers.

This decision by Prestige Holdings Ltd (PHL) is breathtakingly inhumane. Last month it gave its workers “two pies and a 20-ounce soft drink, in light of the hardships faced by the employees and their families.” One KFC worker told the Express, “We are now on the breadline. We are already struggling to feed our families, and even the little we got, now is being taken away from us” (Express, June).

PHL has since informed the workers that they could approach a financial institution for Covid-relief packages, the exact terms of which will be dependent on the specifics of each applicant and assessed by the financial institution.

In June the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reported: “The labour market crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over, and employment growth will be insufficient to make up for the losses suffered until at least 2023.” Although countries worldwide will emerge from the ongoing health crisis, the rate of poverty will increase.

ILO director-general Guy Ryder concludes: “Recovery from Covid-19 is not just a health issue….Without a deliberate effort to create decent jobs, and support the most vulnerable members of society and the recovery of the hardest-hit economic sectors, the lingering effects of the pandemic could be with us for years in the form of lost human and economic potential and higher poverty and inequality….There can be no real recovery without a recovery of decent jobs.” (June 2).

PHL has said the company cannot afford to pay its workers because it “has outstanding debts to pay off” and no revenue is coming in because its restaurants are closed. The company did not say how much money it made when the restaurants were open and how hard the workers worked to ensure that KFC was a profitable company. Its end-of-year financial statement will reveal the true story of the company’s finances.

The evidence suggests that the poor people and the working people will emerge from this crisis poorer than when the pestilence started. Only the rich and well-positioned will profit from this crisis and come out of it in better shape than when they went in. So while the AG fails to tell us how much money is being paid to the attorneys they retain and Prestige Holdings cries poverty, the poor people will continue to suffer until the third and fourth generations.

In April the ILO suggested that we could come through these perilous times by “stimulating the economy and employment; support businesses, jobs and incomes, protect workers in the workplace; and resort to social dialogue to find solutions”. (April 8).

The Government should follow these recommendations. If not, long after the pandemic has passed the poor and working-class people of T&T will be in an even more terrible place. They need to keep their eyes open so they do not lose sight of their deteriorating economic and health positions. Their lives depend on it.

27 thoughts on “Digging Out We Eye in Broad Daylight”

  1. Once again, Cudjoe describes a serious problem facing the country, but cannot provide a satisfactory, specific, detailed solution (“resorting to social dialogue” doesn’t cut it).

    In fact, he seems blissfully unaware of just how intractable the problem is.

    At the time they were negotiating our political independence from Great Britain, our official representatives lacked foresight and expertise. It never occurred to them that it was crucially important to reimagine and simplify the legal system. Instead, they chose to rubber stamp an existing body of British law that, along with its North American offspring, is arguably the most antiquated, cumbersome and unnecessarily complicated system of dispute resolution on the planet.

    Lawyers have to study hard to achieve even minimal proficiency in their routine work — which is incomprehensible even to most of the educated citizenry — and therefore expect to be paid handsomely for their efforts. So “the law” has become prohibitively expensive and completely unsuited to the relatively straightforward requirements and financial constraints of an impoverished Third World country.

    A country that is being bankrupted by its legal profession is in an unenviable position. But there is nothing that can be done about this. With our politicians divided into bitterly opposed camps of approximately equal strength, no prime minister can muster the political resources to take on our overpaid but entrenched Legal Establishment, which has permanent control of many of the most powerful state offices in the land.

    We are doomed.

  2. “The evidence suggests that the poor people and the working people will emerge from this crisis poorer than when the pestilence started. Only the rich and well-positioned will profit from this crisis and come out of it in better shape than when they went in.”

    The Professor thinks that Massa has dominion over all things, and his vaccines will put the genie back into the bottle… and things will go back as ‘normal’..

    Imagine, The UK had to postpone the lifting of their Covid restrictions today.. despite being 80+% vaccinated… One must question the effectiveness of their vaccines, Professor..
    Meanwhile, Madagascar is planning festivities for their holiday in a week or so, as they are beating the South African variant with their herbal remedies..

    Thing are not going back to the way it was, Professor.. Dem days Done… Kamla may have a point.. here.


  3. “ …….his was a commendable effort by the PNM. UNC still has to tell us how much money it paid out in legal fees to attorneys. Still, I worry why the present AG did not answer Hosein’s question, or, for that matter, how many briefs his wife’s firm, Soo Hon & Al-Rawi, has received from the State.” State money spent should not be a secret…

    The record speaks for itself. Faris outspends Ramlogan but loss more cases than any previous AG. As a 4 year comparative.
    2011: $199 Million
    2012: $230 Million
    2013: $235 Million
    2014: 270 Million
    4 YEARS TOTAL = $964 Million

    2016: $376 Million
    2017: $303 Million
    2018: $317 Million
    2019: $318 Million
    4 YEARS TOTAL = $1.314 Billion

    “Victory for the state in it’s case matter against the former board of ETECK. Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, made the announcement during a news briefing on Tuesday.” Aug. 13th 2014.

    “ATTORNEY General Anand Ramlogan yesterday announced that the State has settled a more than two-year-old arbitration dispute with UK security and aerospace company British Aerospace (BAE) Systems, which will see BAE pay an estimated $1.4 billion settlement to this country”. Nov. 15th 2012.

    “An investigation is to be launched into the United States World GTL partnership with state-owned company – Petrotrin… to determine whether corruption was behind the multi-billion dollar GTL plant failure.
    Attorney General – Anand Ramlogan said so in Parliament, after revealing that Petrotrin won its London Arbitration case last evening.”—Apr.25th 2014
    “ A major victory for former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan against ILP leader Jack Warner. A high court judge awarded Ramlogan almost $1 million dollars in damages.” July 30th 2012

    Rawi loses:
    “Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi may have suffered another big legal loss yesterday in the matter between the State and international helicopter provider, Cobham PLC. According to a statement on the matter, the State is expected to now pay out over US $10 million to the company.” Jan 15th 2020

    “ On the Privy Council’s ruling in favour of Ravi Balgobin Maharaj’s quest to unearth details of Petrotrin’s botched World GTL (gas to liquids) plant worth $2.8 billion, the AG said it was just “a run-of-the-mill case.” Maharaj firmly disagreed” 22nd May 2019.

    Of course there are many many Faris lose. But look at the amount of money during a time of crisis and fiscal uncertainty this PNM AG wasted. Word is he rent space to lawyers and give them huge legal briefs. He is always appealing cases that loss.

    Ramlogan put back more money in the treasury because of the cases he won. $1.4 billion BAE settlement alone covered all legal cost with change to spare in his 4 years in office.

    1. And here i was, giving mamoo credit for being smarter than this…

      Former AG Arrested for Money Laundering

      DPP takes Ramlogan, Ramdeen case straight to High Court

      Former AG Anand Ramlogan arrested, warrant issued for Gerald Ramdeen

      Anand Ramlogan arrested, Gerald Ramdeen turns self in

      1. Yes I know but it just shows inconvenient how dumb you really are, although Birdie thinks you are the best beattle on the top of the dung hill.
        The PNM has made every effort to bring Ramlogan down. Tomorrow Inconvenient you can be arrested and charge for defecation on the street. It means nothing until you stand before a judge and declare that you really had to go because you took a broclax early in the morning. He would say “case dismiss” if he believes you.
        It is the same with Ramlogan, he went after the PNM bestie family of Al Rawi, Malcolm Jones. Al convince the Jamaican lawyer working on the case to give him “something” on Ramlogan. And he delivered. As a result Ramlogan continue to beat Al in court but have to face a judge in this case and on another matter. Both likely to go to the privy council.
        Al has been getting millions off the treasury from property rentals. Did Ramlogan do the same you would be singing a different song. Also his children used high powered rifles which was illegal. The soldier who took the pics have mysteriously killed himself at Teteron.

  4. I am astonished and saddened by the inability of Trinidadians on this website to engage in logical argument.

    Virtually every “debate” degenerates into an exchange of non sequiturs.

    So when Mamoo claims that AG TWO spent more than AG ONE and lost more legal cases, the only response he gets from Truth is that AG ONE is or was a CORRUPT OFFICIAL.

    Now all of these claims may be true or false, but logically they have nothing to do with each other. Mamoo never claimed AG ONE was NOT CORRUPT.

    In the same way, when I have argued that slavery and colonialism did not, in the overall scheme of things, enrich the Spanish, the Portuguese, the British or the French, I am accused of making all kinds of FALSE CLAIMS I never made.

    For example, Yoruba says I am arguing that the slave masters and colonizers ended up worse off than the slaves and the colonial subjects. That reparations should be paid to Europeans, etc. Sorry, I never said any of these things, nor can they be deduced from anything I have said.

    1. Quoting Chad Chen:

      For example, Yoruba says I am arguing that the slave masters and colonizers ended up worse off than the slaves and the colonial subjects. That reparations should be paid to Europeans, etc. Sorry, I never said any of these things, nor can they be deduced from anything I have said.

      Er… reductio ad absurdum is an entirely valid form of logical argument. It tends also to be useful when engaged by callow youth making silly arguments.

    2. Ahhhhh, that’s what i was waiting for. Chad is just another UNC deflecting, cherry picking Hack.

      1. I have no political agenda at all. When I criticise you or others on this thread, I’m trying to get you to be more careful about the statements you make, and more rigorous in the arguments you present.

        If only you could be more generous and high-minded. An attitude of bitterness and hostility makes life so unpleasant.

          1. Inconvenient:

            No doubt about that, after that gratuitous remark about “bewildered black Ph.D’s.” It is of a piece with that Naipaul quote I posted recently where he said he was glad to get away “from colony, clan, the Trinidad Guardian and negroes“.

            I have no doubt that this Chad Chen fellow was raised on a steady diet of “Indian Policy”:
            Item 2: “… we must not allow ourselves to be ruled by monkeys. …”

            And they come here to lecture the Negro “monkeys”, including “bewildered black Ph.D.’s” on not only what to think, but presume even to lecture on how to think, when he himself clearly has neither the requisite age, life experience, or necessary scholarship, to attempt either. Monkey at least know which tree to climb. This one doesn’t even know that. He is sent on a mission and must adopt a certain pose. He can’t even keep the pose, and blows his own cover!

            Anyway, at least he provides some entertainment, while the hindutva project continues to crash, here and internationally. That is not what I say.

            Romans 9:13 . “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

            The most High gives everybody a chance, but He hates, as a person hates. And if he “hates” Esau, it is because Esau and his confederates have become HAT-HA-TAN. They are the biblical heathen, going where they are neither wanted nor invited, invading, pillaging, plundering, looting. They are the colonizers and enslavers. They made their pact with SA-TAN (hence the Hebrew play on words with HAT-HA-TAN). Their kingdom is being brought down. Judgment time has come.

            Genesis 15:13-14. “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
            14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”

            This callow fellow cannot even begin to imagine that reparations will and must be paid. The most High ordained it. Esau would have served his purpose.

            That’s a bitter pill to swallow for many, but it’s the truth.

            Isaiah 51:22-23. “Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:
            23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.”

            Btw, I have some seriou issues with Nantambu’s piece, mostly because it is unlearned as to Scripture, and so gets much wrong in big-picture terms. I’ll address perhaps tomorrow God willing.


  5. Yoruba,

    You do not have a clue what “reductio ad absurdam” means. Another credentialed Trinidadian using words he does not understand.

    I have just explained to you that your statements to the effect that “Chad says European slavemasters/colonizers ended up worse off than their slaves/colonized subjects” and “Chad says we owe reparations to Europeans” are entirely new claims you created out of Whole Cloth that CANNOT BE DEDUCED OR INFERRED from my prior statement that “European countries were not enriched by slavery and colonialism.”

    In short, you simply have not been able to find any LOGICAL CONSEQUENCE of my statement that you can show to be absurd.

    Another bewildered black PhD who cannot think straight.

    1. Hey Caddy boy, you started off posing like some top class scholar, talking about “the enormous scholarly literature” that exists on various topics, now you have boiled down to displaying your racist resentment against black PhD’s. You sound like some racist, resentful, high school dropout. How pathetic. Now you are posing as a logician. How amusing. You started off a poser, now you are just a posy.

      1. PS.
        MTT may be more elegantly and compactly stated thus:

        If A then B (major premise)
        not B (minor premise)
        Therefore, not A (conclusion)

        Let A = European colonizer
        Let B = not enriched
        Consider the case of the British and the West Indies. And with that, the expression “as rich as a West India sugar planter” that was current in London in the 19-th century. This is factual evidence for a case of not-B, triggering MTT as a logical matter, but based on factual minor premise. There is such an abundance of not-B cases as to make entertaining the major premise in question silly.

      2. Birdie,

        You make him out long time… much sooner than me.

        What you say reminds me of another Birdie… What he sang then may or may not be on point… but it’s at least good for a laugh…

        … roun’ de corner, posin’
        bet yuh life
        is sumtin’ dey sellin’…
        — Sparrow, Jean and Dinah


    2. Reductio ad absurdum. That you can’t spell the word is the give-away that you are no logician.

      The distinction that you seek to make is in any case not a logical matter, it is a matter of who benefited, of who was “enriched”. If European countries were not enriched, then who was? That is the question that may be addressed by your opponent using the rhetorical device of r.a.a. See also the device of sarcasm. It is a device much used by barristers in court, politicians on the stump, and parliamentarians in Parliament. I use it here on this blog, without apology.

      Your point in chief is silly. In Haiti alone, Britain lost 80,000 men trying to seize it for itself, France a similar number trying to re-enslave the Negro there, and Spain a slightly lesser number. The cost in treasure was commensurate. Look at Viet Nam, look at Algeria, look at Kenya. Colonial nations didn’t venture all that because they did not enrich themselves so doing. Because when they succeeded at these slavery/colonization ventures they made HUGE fortunes. France extracted reparations from independent Haiti of today’s rough equivalent of US$30 billion in gold, enforced by naval blockade. That reflected some accountant’s reckoning of value lost. This was a huge amount that took Haiti over 100 years to repay. So your point in chief is silly.

      Taken to absurdity (r.a.a), it turns calls for reparations on their head. T&T might have to repay Britain, as Haiti to France. It is sarcasm.

      Now to complain that you never said that is your way of sur-rebuttal. It is not very effective. You have been stuck like a pig, and you’re still squealing. But it’s an interesting tack you take, appealing now to logic. It’s puerile, it’s pedantic, it’s unavailing ultimately, but it’s interesting. In my long career, I happened also to make a contribution to uncertainty logics. (It is of interest to engineers because we must deal with probabilistic and fuzzy uncertainty in all kinds of applications. So I’ve more than nodding acquaintance with logic as a branch of knowledge.

      R.a.a is not only a rhetorical device. In mathematics, as I learned in High School already, it is a method of proof in which a theorem, T , say, is proved by assuming its negation, not-T, and deriving from that assumption an absurdity (any statement incompatible with one of the mathematical axioms assumed at the outset). This disproves not-T, thereby upholding not(not-T), that is, T. That is r.a.a in mathematics.

      In logic per se, r.a.a emerges as the Aristotelian “method of denying the consequent”, known in the Latin as modus tollendo tollens (MTT). For example, consider the logical major premise, “all A’s are X”. Find and assert just one “a” who is an “A”, but not an “X”. On that minor premise, the logical conclusion is to destroy the major premise. This is the method used in Science for disproving a theoretical hypothesis.

      Btw, no general scientific theory can ever be proven true, since all possible cases can never be tested to make sure. Popper (Philosophy of Science, ca. 1979?) made this point some time ago. In mathematics it is the same. Godel (ca. 1939) proved that the consistency of a mathematical axioms system cannot in general be proven from within the system. Something about the undecidability of certain propositions, at least in arithmetic. But clearly it would apply to Logic as well. Already in high school at pres the sixth form got caught up in such discussion.

      I mention it in passing because many “bright-boy” types put an undeserved faith in math and science and Logic.

      In any case, that is my disquisition on r.a.a. You may like it or lump it as you choose. Or continue to squeal like a stuck pig.

      As to the point in chief at issue, you bring nothing to the table. Even the carefully worded “not enrich” European countries is false in fact. You have no scholarship to back it up. And there are any number of historical cases that leap immediately to mind that make of your point in chief deserving of sarcastic, and yes, r.a.a rebuttal, both rhetorically and in Logic.

      Go read Eric Williams, Walter Rodney, C.L.R James, Frantz Fanon, just for a start. Oh, I forgot, they are “black Ph.D’s”, and therefore by UNC/SDMS definition, bewildered.

      What a joker. I’m sure Eric was not bewildered when he graduated with a double first from Oxford. Nor was I when I graduated at the top of my class, nor when I equalled the record for the fastest Ph.D (set by one before me) in the Department, at Canada’s premier university. CLR James I’m sure was not bewildered when he corrected Trotsky on Marx. I could go on. But this benighted soul is the sort of narcissist (thank you Inconvenient) that will get into Parliament, and convinced of his own superiority, talk about reductio ad absurDAM, like that other fellow that talked about para-di-GAM.

      Lord, put a hand!

      1. Yoruba

        I give up. (Eric Williams gave up on his fellow Trinidadians too).

        I feel like I’m in a mental asylum and a nut case just ranted pure nonsense at me.

        Or that I am standing in a landfill and a dump truck just buried me with its load of garbage.

        We are suffering through a pandemic. But anyone rigorously trained in economics or finance with access to a university library knows that you are completely misguided about the specific matters of colonial/economic history we have discussed. Your “authorities” are not credible. They were political activists or politicians with some training as historians (Rodney, James, Williams). Not economists. Fanon was a psychiatrist.

        You cannot be persuaded. I understand. Let it be.

  6. Yoruba, Truth, et al

    I am sorry. I humbly apologize for any and all unkind or insulting words I have written. I think you are both wrong about many things, but I should not have thoughtlessly said anything that belittles or disrespects a single human being.

    I was properly brought up, and in my better moments I wish the best for every Trinidadian.

    1. Chad, in these heated discussions things are said. Sometimes people like Incovenient brings out the worst in others. He is a poison pen guy…There is no middle ground or understanding for him. You both are on the opposite side of magnet. So dont let it bother you too much. Just some people are brought up from the garbage can.

          1. “Just some people are brought up from the garbage can”
            “ Incovenient brings out the worst in others. He is a poison pen guy…There is no middle ground or understanding for him”
            Here is poison pen “ His absolution of your repeated, vile, callous, racist, anti-african, hateful views is worthless!”…. Like I said Chen know where he is coming from.

  7. “The evidence suggests that the poor people and the working people will emerge from this crisis poorer than when the pestilence started. Only the rich and well-positioned will profit from this crisis and come out of it in better shape than when they went in…”

    Certainly those who understood the market and where it would be going benefitted enormously. The low paid employee already struggling, then out of a job join the lines of the unfortunate.

  8. It is one thing to have an opinion and yet another when opinions do not reflect the subject matter or the objective of the matter being discussed. No doubt, many are well intentioned, but when dogma trumps truths or facts, then our ability to understand reason diminishes. This conversation seems to be such a situation. The dogma and personality of Chad chen is dominant and they subvert any upgrade one might wish to add in order to advance any new theories.

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