One-half apology to Farley

By Raffique Shah
December 13, 2021

Raffique ShahOkay, I am prepared to give the new governor of Tobago one-half an apology for writing last week that he is a fool. “Be nice to the young man, nah… he trying to put together an energetic team to first salvage, then turn around the island’s economy…”

I gather as much, I responded, listening to him speak… But you and I know talk is cheap and promises even cheaper… until we see hard evidence of his performance, I shall stick with the half-apology.

At which point we ended our conversation on the phone, this old Tobago friend whose judgment I trust. He remains one of the dreamers of the 1970s, young back then and full of energy. Most of us of that era were similarly eager to see our vision for Trinidad and Tobago, for the Caribbean, hell, for the whole world, materialise. We could not wait to incarnate as Shiva-knows-what to see Utopia.

I felt sorry for him. He had gone and declared his hand in the new configuration of Tobago politics, quietly promoting Watson Duke’s Progressive Democratic Patriots, which comprehensively chucked the PNM out of the Tobago House of Assembly. While I was not surprised that the PNM was beaten, as those who read my column last Sunday will have noted, the degree of the rout was what shocked most pundits. In retrospect, I recall Saturday night before the election, I quipped in disgust as my family watched the television news: oh Lawd… let Sunday midnight come quickly and deliver us from this oppressive advertising campaign mounted by the PNM. I know not who was the Goebbels behind such waste of resources, but I would be surprised if he or she still controls the party’s propaganda machine.

There were other factors, of course, two of which I identified last week: delivering on promises in the final minutes of campaigning, and apparent victimisation of non-supporters of the party. These will have turned off even supporters of the party.

The PNM has a huge task if it hopes to recover in Tobago. Thus far, 41 years after the current constitutional arrangement was effected, the two main contestants have each had 20-year runs. Pending a pattern change, it will be a long time before PNM controls Tobago again… unless Duke runs true-to-form and destroys the vehicle that he fashioned and built in his image and likeness.

Which brings me back to Chief Secretary Farley Chavez Augustine and why I agreed to give him half of an apology, not the whole hog. I should note here that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley seems to have set the nomenclature that goes with high office when, in the 2015 election, his middle name “Christopher” was revealed to the public, and his senior aides took to stressing the Keith… Christopher… Rowley. No more “Keithos” or “Rowley”. So Farley has brought into focus “Chavez”… and we’d better note it and use it, or else…

My reason for offering only a half-apology for referring to him as a fool—and I can say with confidence, Farley is nobody’s fool (he’d better not let me down on that)—I meant his almost blind acceptance of Duke as his leader, that in spite of the man’s past, hell, even his present. Sure he is flamboyant. He redirects his every move, be it the trade unionist engaged in protest or the statesman-on-the-wing about to take Tobago into its own orbit, as theatre where he is director, producer, actor, clown, buffoon, everything.

Many people support him because of these qualities, not in spite of them. My problem with Duke is the same problem I had with Jack Warner when he first parachuted onto the political stage, thanks to Basdeo Panday then, and to Kamla Persad-Bissessar now, except that whereas actor Panday had the starring role, Persad-Bissessar has to settle for a bit-part, play fifth-fiddle to the Jester, but the show must go on.

Now, I have a serious problem with people on the whole, and in particular with politicians who absolutely disregard allegations of serious corruption against persons with whom they fraternise, hiding behind the fig leaf of “innocent until proven guilty”, fully cognisant that the boardwalk between the two points is strewn with rusted nails and other toxic traps set for the forces of law, order and justice, and that the guilt of the guilty often never makes it to justice dispensed, leaving them to look lily-white while their hearts are infected with inflammation of extreme toxicity that invariably and inevitably contaminates everyone around them.

I recall a study that was conducted some years ago that showed that some 40 per cent of T&T’s GDP disappears in a maze of corruption. That is money stolen from the people of this country.

Farley, Persad-Bissessar, and whoever cuddles these criminals, God may forgive them; I won’t. I shall die poor but proud I never stained my hands.

5 thoughts on “One-half apology to Farley”

  1. “Farley, Persad-Bissessar, and whoever cuddles these criminals, God may forgive them; I won’t. I shall die poor but proud I never stained my hands.”

    It must be noted that it was KPB who fired Warner and the PNM immediately made a deal with him to not extradite him. If he was bad as this article seem to suggest why did the PNM immediately embraced him? One must note that it is a matter of record that Manning met with several criminals naming them “community leaders” and giving them multi million dollar housing contracts. He met with Abu Bakr whose son is most likely the custodian of those recorded meetings with Manning. Those meetings resulted in over 300 Indian businessmen being victims of the kidnapping and ransom business.
    I appeal to Bakr son to release those tapes with his father and Manning as soon as possible. Both men has passed on and it will be a matter of historical value.

    As for Rowley and criminals they are of a different kind. They are emptying the treasury, wasting money and taxing the living daylights out of the citizenry. When the wicked rule the people suffer. His band of criminals have pauperized the nations economy. They are the PNM Maduro style elitist who get foreign exchange, big government contracts and like the pigs they are at the feeding trough “gouging themselves”.

    But God is not sleeping and their day will come.

  2. The people of Tobago have spoken and even those of us who are not in favor of their choices for leadership of the island MUST respect and accept their wishes. But that does not mean we should be naive about who they chose, to administer services to the island that hopefully would better than what they already enjoy. Personally, I love Tobago and from what I see and know, they enjoy superior services to what we inTrinidad are accustomed to. As a matter of fact, Im building my dream house in Tobago. So, if what we are expected to enjoy is superior to what we have now (I would say wishfully) I LOVE IT! But dreams of a better life is what politicians everywhere offer the naive and unsuspecting wishers.

    Those of us who follow politics are not unaware of the charlatans emerging in every democracy promising ‘pie in the sky’ gifts of a better life that common sense tells us cannot materialize. Yet, many (if not most) fall for it. In the case of the new THA leaders, there are reports of them offering “$10,000.00 to every citizen”,
    a return to normalcy where “the beaches will be open for fun and pleasure”. Such silly promises are deemed ‘ridiculous’ by those who “live with reality”, but to the young, hip, get-rich-quick Tobgagonian, that is music to their ears. And so, the emergence of Farley and Duke becomes the political reality of what we will be dealing with in the near (and quite possibly) distant future.
    As for me, I will always be guided by reality and be on the look-out for shenanigans, who are ready and willing to exploit the naivety of these young politicians. I know without a doubt, that exploitation will be on the rise in this little beautiful island for the foreseeable future, until soberness and reality steps in. But for now, I will always be suspicious of what comes out of Scarborough.

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