By Raffique Shah
March 14, 2022
I do not know the former chairman of the Energy Chamber, Eugene Tiah. Never seen, met or spoken with him. I know only that he appears to be well respected in the energy industries by his peers, and presumably by the overlords of the downstream and petrochemicals industries, a vast, multi-billion-dollar contributor to the national economy in which the State has significant interest.
Tiah was named president of Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd, one of the most important plants on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate, more than 15 years ago, after which he was scooped up by Massy Energy and named its president.
Such an impressive record—and I am sure I have omitted other achievements, since I wrote from what I gathered on the Internet, not from speaking with many of his colleagues whom I know and routinely talk with—is not to be treated with lightly. Whether or not one agrees with his modus operandi as a senior executive in large companies, his philosophy, his politics or his personal life that is really his private business, one would think that he would be given the respect he has earned.
I suppose such code of conduct holds good for most respectful citizens, especially our leaders and exemplars—but not for leaders of the Opposition United National Congress and their ill-trained spokespersons. That is asking too much of them.
They have adopted a code of destruction of anyone named to any position of apparent prominence or influence by the People’s National Movement Government. Such appointees are branded “PNM dogs” and pot-hounded out of the offices they had agreed to serve, most of them volunteering their valuable time to serve their country.
Mr Tiah was called to serve in the aftermath of the tragic deaths of four deep-sea divers who were contracted to undertake some work in the coastal area of the mothballed Pointe-a-Pierre oil refinery two weekends ago. The incident traumatised most of the population, and the Prime Minister named a committee chaired by Tiah to do the needful: investigate the matter and tell us what went horribly wrong in what ought to have been routine work, albeit one with high risk.
Before the committee could be formally appointed or hold its first meeting, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her ill-mannered mongrels launched a baseless attack on Tiah, claiming that he “had PNM connections”.
It was alleged that some ten years ago, legal action was taken by the Bissessar-led administration against members of the State-appointed board of directors of eTecK.
Tiah was one such member, and among the attorneys who represented him was the incumbent Minister of Energy, Stuart Young. Big deal. In a small, twin-island state like T&T, it is almost impossible to avoid cross-fertilisation when using the services of medical, accounting, legal and similar professionals.
But even that is a moot point when one looks at the clear and present intent of the UNC: it will obstruct any and every initiative of the Government—good, bad or indifferent.
In other words, stir up enough mistrust in highly qualified nationals, such that fewer and fewer will volunteer to serve on such enquiries or commissions. Government will need to turn to foreigners, who will understandably be expected to be paid enormous fees.
The Opposition will then slam the Government for wasting scarce foreign exchange, they will reject the reports, and nothing will have been achieved. Unplanned events that have emerged and which negatively impact T&T (Covid, Putin’s war), they will blend them with the cumulative effects of bad governance by both main parties (fuel subsidies that ought to have been removed when the economy was buoyant, the mess that is WASA, corruption, waste, rates, et al), and the many other ills that bedevil the nation, and peddle this unholy Witches’ Brew via all media, in a frenzied bid to unsettle, then unseat, Keith Rowley’s PNM from office long before an election is due.
Opposition parties in jurisdictions like ours have the right to use any and every issue to unseat the government. The UNC thinks it can win any snap election, which is also its legitimate expectation.
What disturbs me is this: when they lie, when they unjustly hound decent citizens such as Tiah, Madame Justice Judith Jones (Police Service Commission) and others, too many respectable and educated nationals say nothing. It’s as if Good is afraid of Evil. That’s a frightening situation.
Throughout history, evil has triumphed over good only when good men and women stayed silent. Such silence has brought the world much suffering, spilt barrels of blood and suffered millions of ordinary human beings to fates worse than death. T&T is under imminent danger from those bent on lying their way to power. We must stop them or suffer the consequences.