Time for Change

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
February 15, 2012

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeI can still hear Kamla Persad Bissessar’s voice as it caressed the late afternoon air at the UNC’s Final Rally at Aranguez Savannah on May 22, 2010 as she offered the following paean: “Thank you to those who are here-thank you to those watching at home. Two days… We have been counting down together… And now it’s just two days until we together begin to forge a new Trinidad and Tobago…I can sense we are all ready for a change…Are you ready to change our country…?”

As lovely as those words sounded Kamla did not tell us whether such change would have been for the better or the worse. Twenty months later and change has mutated into rum-shop politics where mumblings are taken for wisdom and bombast is misrepresented as policy. All of a sudden the clowns are on display reminding us of the ole mas that comes alive at this time of year.

Just think about it. When it is not Jack it’s Gafoor; when it is not Gafoor, it’s Gibbs; when it’s not Gibbs it’s Goopeesingh; when it’s not Gopeesingh it’s Rambachan; when it’s not Rambachan it’s Ghany and so the gallery of fools continue to spin their fabrication upon the national stage.

Without endorsing Naipaul’s characterization of our people (he calls us a ‘picaroon’ society) everyone in T&T acts like a Big Sawatee showing little respect for himself or other members of the society. Each tries to get in his licks first and to hell with everyone else.

Take the latest manifestation of this behavior. Gibbs and his men raid Newsday’s office to gather information on Bagoo. The same day, Gafoor is suspended from her position in the Integrity Commission. Gafoor says no one informed her of her suspension.

Stung by what seems to be a slippage in the truth, the President replies: “In the interest of clarity, the Office of the President advises that during visits paid to His Excellency the President, beginning 9th January, 2012, the matter of disharmony within the Integrity Commission was discussed with Mrs. Gladys Gafoor.”

Feeling insulted Gafoor retorts: “He could do whatever he likes. He could contradict as much as he likes. I know things that I should not reveal now…Whatever His Excellency, the President wishes to say, that is his right and privilege. But I stand by my word—that I knew nothing about what his actions were going to be.”

Ah could say that Gafoor says that the President lying but how dat go sound. So I think it is better to say that Ms. Gafoor believes that the President misrepresented the truth.

But the matter does not end there. The President sends out his statement about Gafoor’s suspension to the Government Information Services (GIS) so that it could be disseminated to the public since the GIS falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The latter office takes it upon itself to replace the President’s letter head with its own letter head and even changes the President’s language.

Forced to retreat from this Orwellian world of manipulation and distortion, Suruj Rambachan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, assured the public that “nothing was changed in terms of content of the President’s release. Though it was restructured by an officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nothing of substance was altered in the release.”

As though this lopsided thinking was not good enough-we call it the fallacy of the mistaken reversal– Professor Hamid Ghany jumps into the fray and offers his scholarly brand of illogic. He says that Ken Gordon, Chairman of the Integrity Commission, should have been suspended after the latter and the Commission made “contradictory statements on a report on CNC3 morning talk show on December 20, 2011.”

Leaping into the absurd, Professor Ghany pronounces: “That now becomes the heart and soul of the [Integrity] story. That is what led them to go after Andre Bagoo and Newsday…If you are investigating one for a reported breach, investigate the other for the contradiction. The President should have entertained Gordon’s suspension at the very point the contradiction took place.”

He argues further: If Newsday and Bagoo were subject to raids, then the “Integrity Commission’s offices, commissioners and others should have been subjected to the same treatment.” Given the logical sequence, the only thing he forgot to say was that the President’s office should have been raided as well and just to complete the circle, then the AG’s office should be raided also since the AG’s office was enmeshed in all of this from the get go. The police corruption branch is under the AG’s jurisdiction.

Reading all of this nonsense, one could not but think of the following exchange in Alice in Wonderland:

“You should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.

“I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least-at least I mean what I say-that’s the same thing, you know.”

“Not the same thing a bit,” said the Hatter. “You might just as well say that ‘I see what I eat’ is the same thing as ‘I eat what I see…'”

“You might just as well say, added the Doormouse, who seemed to be taking in his sleep, ‘that I breathe when I sleep’ is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe.'”

In Trinidad language is not always the “persistent kind of creation and re-creation [and] dynamic presence and a constant regenerative process” that it ought to be. In the wrong hands, it comes over as a babble of fools who have lost their way and cannot tell where they are going.

But then it doesn’t really matter. Since UNC and its operatives don’t know where they are going, any road is likely to take them there.

And that is alright. But when the other intelligent members of the society begin to fall into the same trap one has to ask what Kamla had in mind when she declared on May 22: “Trinidad and Tobago our best days are ahead of us.”

47 thoughts on “Time for Change”

  1. Change starts with us….and it amazes me the way we scrutinize every breath our PM takes, perhaps if that same energy out toward our present PM was present with our past PM, who clearly hasnt done anything better, maybe Kamla wouldnt be PM …just saying….Fair is fair..By the way, what happend to Mr Monteil?

    1. Anna-San Rose, the challenge facing TnT, like that facing other Caribbean countries, Latin American, Central American and elsewhere is linked tangentially to the politicos and politics.

      Neither Kamla nor Patrrick, nor Portia Simpson in Jamaice for that matter can and will change the errant course of the TnT windjammer.

      This is because, it is not politics tat is the problem, or even the cause of the ptoblem, but that the institutions in the country; that is the vehicles through which either change comes, or continuity is maintained have become mal and nonfunctional.

      For example, the present Minister of Education is and can be no different from thgose of different administrations, except possibly those of the early administratioons after Independence.

      In fact, today’s crop of intellectuals, thinkers and doers generally came from that source. They were part of the same phalanx of learners who benefitted from the change in colonial education allowing more of the population to enter halls of learning from which they, because of race had been denied.

      In short, what hadd occurred is that the then institution of learning had been able to change with the new realitiess, and even with the newre technologies, for example, television.

      TnT is not the only country and the populace faced with politicians honestly seeking needed change. The institutions, created to develop policy and implement these have been unable to change to the newer realities; realities engineered by changes in technology.

      This why the police institutions even in countries as the US have been unable to keep up with the new demands from technologies as Facebook, Twitter in the untried ways these technonlgies facilitate the commission of crimes like identity theft, pedophilia, sexual slavery, etc.

      China, among a few countries which might include Sweden and Singapore, are those few countries whose institutional changes keep pace with the technological changes which make institutions obsolete almost semi-annually.

      It is this type of thinking based on rhese kinds of considerations that force politicians regardless of wwhat they might promise to fall into the same old same old of making promises they are and remain unable to fulfill.

      Plain and simple. Change has its own dynamic and one of these is institutional, and at that a dependent dynamic playing catch-up to the independent dynamic of technology as tools and as ideas.

      For these reasons, regardless of whether or not the maximum political leader is Black, Indian, Jamaican, American or else, the electorate who are usually no farther ahead intellectually or morally anyway–except to be at the receiving end of failed policies–continue to elect ‘leaders’ who, for example in the world of Scouts, while they want to run the Jamboree, would be unable to even enter, much more graduate from bootcamp.

      TnT at the least, is in the same troop as these others, except that, in addition to the political inanities, and inability to see a week ahead, is also incarcerated in the detention centers of race.


  2. Mr Cudjoe,what do you think of Mr Mike Jones statement ….said on AIR yesterday at 6 52 am ? mr jones said….´all dem damn stupid indian´…in reference to the Shivaratri celebrations on sunday. Now Mr Cudjoe, that has died very very silently and naturally…..I wonder if the shoes were on the other foot, what would have happened…The bible said ´let he without sin cast the first stone´…..Wade in the water was sung by the slaves as they united for freedom…this paparrazi that is scrutinizing the breaths of the PM and her party….clearly , clearly has hurts about her being in power and yes, look down at her religion…makes mockery of it etc…now tell me , if it was done to the other side…I wonder what would have happened …..just saying ( and now I guess Im a kamla supporter because I do not agree with your statements ) I think they are biased.

    1. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The people voted in Kamla for change and what has been given out is more of the same. We will continue to vote out politicians that don’t serve all of the people fairly and equally.

    2. And how does this comment tie in to Dr. Cudjoe’s piece? Such a statement made on the air is wrong,, crass and the “delay” button should have taken care of it. You should not let it distract from the issues Cudjoe raised. He did say “thinking Trinbagonians”; if you associate yourself with that group, focus on the issue, please. I am equally fed up of those who keep up the mantra that ” Manning did” , and “Manning didn’t”. We voted out Manning but the party in power cannot seem to get out of his shadow.They seem to be getting ready to blame thier non-performance on MAnning did, and Manning didn’t. Shucks!!

    3. Anna, there never is equal billing or footing. Trying to outlined the difference in government is useless. Living in T&T I feel the difference. And I will be always looking forward. If another group of people with new ideas come along and I believe they deserve a chance I will be open to their ideas. Do I want to go back to the old lost party, NEVER. I think that party should be disbanded and new ideas be put forward for the betterment of T&T.

  3. I need to remind Anna-San Rose that Kamla is the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Do we need to scrutinze each and every word that comes out of her mouth? The answer is a resounding YES!!!!!
    Do you know why? Because she is the Prime Minister. Do you know why it is of interest to everyone who has his or her country at heart to read into what the Prime Minister says? Because she is the Chief policy officer in the whole of the government and the country at large. Do you know why we have to interpret what the Chief Policy Officer says? Because she is first and foremost a politician who wants to win the hearts of her countrymen and she will do it in any way she can and more. Sometimes politicians make mistakes in their delivery, so when that occurs they are held responsible. The fact that you like her means absolutely nothing in the world of interpretation and analysis. Politicians are conveyers of truth and lies, diplomacy and mauvis langue, peace makers and combatants, challenger and the challenged, warrior and peace maker. Some where in your interpretation of her she connects in the foregoing BUT thats YOU. And nobody should challenge you on what you believe BUT Anna! please do not try to deny us our right to view, discuss, interpret, analyse, opiniate, criticise and yes JUDGE our Prime Minister. Nuff said.

    1. why now? why not when other PRIME MINISTERS WERE IN POWer lol

      1. Easy! Because we live in the here and now, not yesterday or the day before, the person you are hoping we would criticise is in a hospital bed in Washington, D.C. He has no hold on policy. Hope there is something you can learn here Anna-San Rose.

      2. She ran on Change! The was one of the key reasons she won. She was going to change politcs in TNT not provide the people with more of the same. It’s true that she isn’t doing anything more or less than previous administrations, but at the same time that is why they are previous administrations. She is leading her party to that title as well. Previous administration.

        1. Curtis, what TnT needs is not a newly elected coterie of politicians, but an informed electorate; in TnT’s case, a new type of electorate; one that values facts and honour more than mamaguy and mauvais langue.

          Not government that passes legislation which to later ignore and flout; but a public, empowered with understanding and appreciating governance by which to ensure, not only the parliamentary passing of proper legislation, but also the institutional means by which to ensure that the laws are upheld without fear or favour.


          1. True neverdirty. I repect your post. I thinkt hat in a way we have stated some of the same things. TNT needs politicians that are held accountable for their promises and their actions. I believe that if we don’t get that, then we will just change leaders again and again until we do.

      3. Anna how old are you. Every Pm get scrutiny in TT. Eric was called deafy. Georgie was called Duncy. ANR was almostkilled by Abu Bakr. Panday get good licks especially for Sugar aloes and Crocro. Pathos has his share and was challenged by Rowley and eventually voted out. Kamla will get scrutiny, just and unjust like all the PM before.

  4. Prof. Cudjoe, you are incorrect in describing Suruj Rambachan as being the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communications. In reality, he is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Miscommunications!




    2. You so right John Henry, he miscommunicated the idea that he had a doctorate. Ah waitig to see him apologize for lying on his resume, but ah not holding mi breath.

  5. Cudjoe writes about politics and politicians in T&T as if he suddenly made a new discovery.There is absolutely nothing new in any of this political j’ouvert.
    T&T is a nation of egomaniacs, from the fisherman to the senator. Everyone is totally engulfed in ego masturbation and self promotion,whether it is sexual prowess or political expediency.

  6. While the master slept in the night, the horse escaped from the stable.OUR Professor Cudjoe seems to be living in ivory tower cut off from the rest of the world. King is dead….Long live QUEEN Kamla.

    1. Hear Hear—people living in ignorance to the fact that though she is human, she and her party has done alot more for this country than any other gment in power, remaining accountable ( something no other gment did)…….

      Kamla also has balls more than any other PM or leader in power because the pressure that woman goes under its ridiculous. That is the fact…I believe that people will never give her credit because of the obvious…..So with that in mind, Big up Kamla, God Bless.

      1. When Abu had the gun at Robbie head in the Red House, what was that? The play of the month for TTT.

  7. What we are engaging in here is called freedom of speech. I am sure those who have blogged here would rather me say how great Kamla is and what a great job she is doing, but that would be a LIE. Many of you were on the blog when Manning was there and not a good word was said about him. I’m sure most of you felt justified then and feel great now! SO WHAT? We call things the way we see them. Kamla? the worst.

    1. Kian,

      I joined this blog this week , FYI. No one is expecting you to choose …but it is blatant and Kamla will never please you and your people…because of the obvious, no matter what she does , you all will always turn a blind eye because of ignorance that dwells within the roots of Trinidad…..We are not the enemy….We are the future TNT….. Balance is a part of life .

      1. ANNA-SanRose
        You are are rose among thorns like Keith and Kian who are disgruntled, rose-colored pessimists in search of the PNM glory days when Africans controlled and dominated the political, economic and social life of T&T, spreading their corrupt and evil tentacles from North to South, East to West, in a desperate attempt to subvert and control the unaware population of T&T, using avarice, greed and plain vindictiveness to advance their evil agenda. And what is most disappointing is that dogmatic,brain- washed and loyal racists like Keith and Kian went along, blind sighted by their bull****.

      2. What do you mean “your People”? This is the sort of of statement that is creating the phobia that Kamla keeps feeding.

  8. Anna San Rose our people have never been given justice under Aryans. And Kamla is an Aryan in culture and attitude. No she will never plaese us, to the same extent that people like us never please you. You need to disabuse yourself of the notion that we are your Dalits and should be satisfied with rulership that comes in your Skin.

    What has Kamla done for T&T. How has her rulership affected the unemployment rate. How much has our exports and production increased under her watch. She might have bettered your life or others like you who are her kith and kin, but please, you are not T&T, and T&T is not an Indian or Hindu nation. Get a hold of yourself, please!!

  9. You are correct Keith. T&T is not an Indian nation and will never be.It is also not an African nation and will never be. It is a multicultural nation in which Indians are the largest ethnic group.Get that fact through your head and quit trying to deny the rights and emergence of Indians, notice I did not say Hindus.The emergence of Indians should not necessarily mean the denial of our African roots and heritage. Any PM or political group which advocate that denial will suffer at the polls. Do not underestimate Trinis. They are a resilient and fair group, unlike yoiu bloggers and Cudjoe admirers.

    1. Thanks to the laws regarding citizenship in TNT, it is difficult to get an accurate count on who is the largest ethnic group. You never know who will show up and reclaim their citizenship. Either way, if we don’t have a leader who can really move the whole nation forward without ostracizing individual groups, we are all in trouble.

    2. And are people of the Cudjoe Admirers group coming out in antagonism against Pagwa, building enormous murtees in front of your houses and such, the way your people are out to try to destroy CArnival? Look up the papers over the last month. Every Ant-carnival piece is written by an Indian, while one talks of legislating multi-culturalism.
      There is suddenly this year, an orgy of vituperation from those who foolishly believe they are in the majority.
      They are thus telling the people what they realy stand for.

      1. There are a number of fools who are anti-carnival, but they will never prevail.
        Carnival and in particular, the steelband are national treasures supported by a vast majority. Pagwa and tassa are appreciated by many but will never be truly nationally as significant as steelband.

    3. TMan if Africans were about dominace we would never support anything Indian. Shops parlour and yes all the rumshops. When I lived in St. Joseph, I never thought twice of going to Ms Peetee, Ms Vayo, Agustus Ramrickersing’s father’s shop near the old St. Joseph hospital because they were Indian. They just happened to be Trini of Indian descent.We supported them and they treated us well. Never a thought about race used to play. But I was young then.Eric would have never given Mootilal Moonan and the Seerram Bros some of the construction and highway contracts. If you want to know about dominance. Go to Fiji and Singapore

  10. look, I have been living and circulating within T&T for the last four months.Sure, there is political bachannal, but the people of every stripe and color are solidly in support of the nation.Often journalists and expatriotic bloggers like Keith who I suspect is Guyanese and Kian who I suspect is a displaced PNM hack living somewhere in North America, advance agendas based on foreign, outdated paradigms, agitate for some sort of African dominance, based on ancient truisms.Lte’s get real fellas, T&T is not what you think it is anymore.People are not hung up on the same Afrocentric agend which you guys sweat over.They are comfortable in their own skins.

    1. TMan why dont you speak in plain language, you are in Trinidad now because you now have an Indian government, you feel comfortable amongst your Indian people so North America is not home any more until “non-Indians” take it over again! Then you will probably run back to Canada and claim that your women are being raped!

      1. Kian, let’s not be so pessimistic. I am always in T&T. I have been doing business here for over two decades. As a matter of fact, my best years were when the PNM was in power.
        Let me pose a question to you, “Does it really matter who is the PM of T&T?
        Also, T&T, as well as Canada now allows dual citizenship. Do not cast aspersions because I choose to take full advantage of my legal and constitutional rights.
        Also,in reference to claiming that “your women ” are being raped,my women are the women of T&T.Your comment betrays you, as Neal’s grandmother used to say.

  11. These people are killing T&T. They are greedy, corrupt and avaricious!They want it all. T&T is more volatile than ever before.These people are bad for the country.

    1. You need to be a little clearer on who is “killing T&T” and who is the “They” that are greedy, corrupt and avaricious”.

  12. This is not about African dominance, you pretender. It’s about governance, and this miserable lot cannot govern. We are sinking, fast! The first thing you people talk about is race, then call others racists. You are the biggest racist of all, it’s in your gene pole! Afrocentric agenda, my foot. It’s all about T&T! You people are part time citizens; in when one of yours is in power and out when they are kicked out. Don’t worry you will be back in hibernation soon!

  13. Here we go again. The narcisistic cynicsm of nazi state reasonings.Not much has changed from the”we will take good care of you,” moribund corrupt state power,to now what one commentator call”cynism founded on Narcism…femme fatale” politics.T-mam you can circulate all you want like a blood stream swine.C all this oneGuyaneese and the other whatever.Let the people debate peacefully.You are really hung up on the word Afrocentric as its something to ashamed about.One can educate,yes from the North American Perpectives That yes when Keranga et al coin the term.They never entertained im ther heads African dominance in any North American uiversity or universality.That intellectual movement of consciousness had its contex.It never intersected with or contradicted Indian centric domination.This not an argument I suspect one ought not to make.
    Yes the the land is culturally multivarigated.
    Those who wish to imposed an Aryan programming on this community in the guise sociocutural mathematics stressing this community is more the other are running slipshod on accuracy.What area of this nation are indians denied rights histically.Did anyone hundreds of Indian men in jail the release without charge.Were Indian young men jailed as plotters to assainate an assinine vain dollish State head.All lies.Indians have been emerging ever since indentureship and will be blessfully emergent in the future.Any talk of a denial of rights is nothing but Nazi mischief.The only group in Trindad amongst Indians that are denied are dark skin and poor Indians who live in abject poverty thus denial by oiocultural ambivilence.All of you North amercan misplanted citizens seeking to clarify your new citizenship refrain from your pretense debate and naecalling.Lets the discussion assume its own ritual free of Aryan dominance or Back to Africa abeyance.

  14. And the racial stalemate continues, with NEITHER side LISTENING to what the other has to say.

    As an American colloquialism goes, “Nothing new to see here folks”

  15. Cudjoe Admirers u’d call the GOV’s critics? Judging from responses in this blog, I’d contend Dr.Cudjoe sure is doing a great job. He ha d place hot. When Gavascar was tearing into our bad bowling suspect pitch and favorable weather at d oval I wouldn’t agree the dem jumpin ind stand hated WIndies. They were just happy to see the visitors rise to the occasion, that’s until they reached Jamaica. So dear Anna-San Rose, Pam is in her crease and Cudjoe is in rippin form he din ask to be PM but we pick him.

  16. Of Course T-MAN wants the PNM to disband. He identifies it as an African party, so his motives for wishing its disappearance from the Political scene corroborates my view that there is a plan afoot to Indianize T&T, and relegate Africans to the roles of Dalits.

    Your Rose is not ours. To us she is just another Ann Coulture, getting praise for her convoluted but clearly ethnically prejudice from T&Ts local Bill OReilly.

    I will continue to state that it will take more than a couple of centuries to remove religious and cultural predispositions that give rise to racism based on the myth of racial superiority. Every post, every position, every opinion of the ethnic supremacist crew on this blog establishes that as facts. In their minds it is ok for them to criticize the black PM, but we should not exercise the same right with their Indian PM. They salivate over the possibility of seeing the sunsetting of what they determine to be a black Party, thus leaving only Indian Parties, and thus Indians to become national leaders of T&T. You guys might think that this is too harsh, well ask them Fijians what happen in the Islands they have been inhabitting from time immemorial.

    1. There is one major difference between Fiji and T&T. The Indians in Fiji were occupying leased land while the Indians in T&T own and hold legal titles to most of the land.
      Are you celebrating the removal of Indians from Fiji? The local Fijians are having second thoughts. Their economy is suffering without the entrepeneurial input of the same Indians whom they expelled.
      Why do you think Uganda reinvited the Indians to return?
      Also, your American political comparisons are lost on Trinis. They are simply not interested in the political comparisons or are unfamiliar with the players.
      Also, your comparisons to US politics clearly demonstrate your misunderstanding of politics and life in T&T.
      Your comments though are appreciated.

  17. I consider it amusing but more disingenuous, attempts by contributors and even the ‘professional commentators’ at objective analysis who in reality are oftentimes ‘covert apologist’… One of the good of regime change is to reveal hidden allegiances and benefactors who in former dispensations pretended to engage in objective & unbiased editorial and academic discourse only to become muted and inept in the new political order… Many of our illustrious institutions in law, business, media, NGOs and academia have all been guilty (in many cases of deliberate silence) of dishonesty and balance approaches to issues of national importance.

    I have been a keen observer of political trends for more than three decades and can attest that all politicians are disquieted and disturbed by open criticism of non-performance, broken promises, losing touch with the people the serve, the tendency to believe they are above reproach (Like Caesar’s wife) and they falling prey to the intoxication of high office… ‘All have sinned and fallen short’ including this present government, which unless we forget entered office on a moral platform of better governance, eliminating corruption and participatory government through consultation.

    So when apologists and supporters seek to justify & explain those who misstep, misspoke, misrepresent and mislead I take offense to insulting my intelligence through spinning the facts… I is my opinion that some in the present government have sought to fully maximise the gender factor as a means of fending off criticism & incompetence… A female Head-of-State or Government always changes the political dynamics and environment, because of the belief that they must be protected from ‘male aggressive behaviour’ and forgiven for ‘female lapses’ after-all it’s the nature of the beast.

    But all leaders must be held to the same standards… For leadership by sentiment & emotive considerations will lead us nowhere. The former Prime Minister and his government were very much maligned, and in many cases rightly so, but the argument of criticism leveled at the present PM and administration is reflective of an evolving democracy, greater access to information and a nation demanding higher standards from our leaders & exemplars…

    This is a global trend and those who aspire to high office better take stock of their promises and execution for they will pay a political price and the people will not forgive.

  18. I feel little or no comfort in wasting mine or other people’s time calling bloggers derogatory names (at least any fool can do that). As a public forum, this blog provides a valuable service where proponents and opponents alike get a chance to state their cases as they see fit. Inevitably, vitriol will sometimes raise it’s ugly head when strong opinions mitigate or irritate those with treasured values to their rhetoric. A free press evolves when information flow allow ideas to penetrate and agitate our sensibilities.


  19. The dysfunctional UNC led PP conduct themselves as though they are still in pre-election mode, so it seems as though they cannot believe they were overwhelmingly elected into office to govern and lead the people of Trinidad and Tobago. All the delusional UNC led PP has done exceptionally and exceedingly well since assuming office is exploit, pretend, deceive, misinform, misrepresent and fabricate. How long must they continue with this kind of conduct and behavior?

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