Point of No Return on Political Union

By Stephen Kangal
September 24, 2008

CaribbeanReasonable citizens and commentators are fast coming to the conclusion that PM Manning has pre-empted the yet-to-determined verdict of the people of T&T. He has now taken T&T, at enormous public expense, diplomatic hype and great bravado beyond the political point of no return on his proposed union with at least three other Caricom States. He justifies this cart-before-the -horse modus operandi on the basis that a private club of which he is the jefe, that is to say the PNM, some fifty two years ago invoked political integration as one of its bye-laws.

At the legal level PM Manning has no authority and has acted outside of his political and constitutional remit to have entered into contractual arrangements (MOU) the implementation of which will lead to the dissolution of the current state of T&T, abandonment of its Constitution and jeopardize the viability of the CSME. Any contract that violates the existing Constitution is void.

This is a clear case not of the coalition of the willing but of the foolish sub-regional unilateralists bent on repeating the mistakes of the political history of the Caribbean of 1958.

At the political and diplomatic level PM Manning has assumed such a high and determined leadership profile evidenced by the frenetic pace of his shuttle diplomacy up and down the Caribbean that were Trinbagonians to say or allowed to say No there would result such a catastrophic blow to our political reputation and diplomatic credibility in the Caribbean that we will want to seek shelter in shame and ignominy. That is the potential route that Manning is now taking T&T down.

PM Manning has staked so much of his personal political legacy, presumption and sub-regional standing on the realisation of this fait accompli, union initiative that it is likely to undermine, contaminate and detract from the genuineness of his proposed consultative process. That process should in fact have preceded the current multilateral discussions. Creeping dictators can under these political challenges degenerate into full blown tyrants in order to have their political ways having already dismissed the value of co-operation with the Opposition and committed T&T to ratifying the MOU by year-end. And this while the electorate and Parliament are still to decide.

The CCJ in fulfilling its original jurisdiction function should be approached, based on the legitimate reservations for Caricom expressed by PM Bruce Golding of Jamaica, to give a legal opinion on whether the MOU infringes or is likely to infringe and retard the commitments already undertaken by the four countries within the ambit of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas Establishing the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Will not all of these potential developments make T&T look like having dollars but no political and diplomatic sense once again?

8 thoughts on “Point of No Return on Political Union”

  1. I would like to preface this comment by stating that there are individuals with integrity within the PNM organisation. One individual who comes to mind is Dr. Keith Rowley. Having said that, some Trinbagonians, though well educated, have a very poor understanding of basic democracy. Some well-educated Trinbagonians also appear to view spoken as well as written comments through the prism of race. I never expected to be taken to task by PNM defenders for questioning the motives of the Patrick Manning. Nevertheless, like many other good Trinbagonians, I will continue to place the needs of this country before the needs of any political party. I strongly believe that as a true (100% plus) Trinbagonian, who was able to make it through Jr. Sec., I am eminently qualified to comment on important issues that affect my country. As a citizen who is very alarmed by the increasing murder rate in which the majority of victims are Afro-Trinbagonians, and PNM misconduct, my comments should be commended, not condemned. I hope that my comments will inspire others to do likewise. Our country is galloping towards failed-state status, thanks to Patrick manning. It is the duty of every good Trinbagonian to make sure that political parties and government operate within the law. We begin to do so by questions the actions of all politicians. I am not a Basdeo Panday supporter; however, the UNC and COP, while far from perfect, play a vital role in keeping whatever little democracy we have alive. I hope and pray that our political system would never become so lopsided that one political party would forever dominate the political landscape. A one-party state is not good for Trinbago.

  2. “I am not a Basdeo Panday supporter; however, the UNC and COP, while far from perfect, play a vital role in keeping whatever little democracy we have alive.”
    It is obvious from the results at the polls outside of 86 and 95, that the wider population des not share your view Martin. Therefore the question again is this, how can the UNC and COP as constituted convince them that this is the case and the party deserves a second chance- after Mr. Panday serves his time in jail for his crooked deeds of course?

  3. Neal, the UNC and the COP received more votes than the PNM in the last election. This result indicates that more people supported the Opposition parties than the elected government. House padding, electoral gerrymandering and disproportinate giveways to Tobago will keep the PNM in power forever. This is smart politics by the PNM while the opposition remain distracted by legal problems, power struggles, and negative reactions to every issue.

  4. To neal | nray,

    You appear to be posting under two usernames, neal and nray. This is not allowed on this blog.


    Posting with several usernames

    Published by admin on September 17, 2008

    We will not be approving comments from any poster whom we have reason to believe is using more than one username on the Blog.

    We are suggesting that regular posters register their usernames which prevents others from adopting them. Use only one username on this blog. Check the bottom of the sidebar (to the right) for a link to register.

  5. Neal, because of your education you are in a position to be a little more rational in your thinking than most Trinidadians, yet some of you postings suggest otherwise. Also, you appear unwilling to defend questionable assumptions. Perhaps more people might be sympathetic towards your points of view if you could tell them why Patrick Manning is trying to change the Constitution without input from the citizenry? You might want to explain to the curious Trinidadians who read this blog why Patrick Manning should forever be the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. You might also explain to them why Keith Rowley is not qualified to be the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. After this is done, explain to them why in our so-called fair democratic system individuals are afraid to challenge Patrick Manning or Basdeo Panday for the leadership position of either political party. There are many men and women in Trinidad and Tobago who are very capable of successfully running this country. These individuals would be more inclined to challenge the leaders of the political parties only in a system where the election process for party leadership is fair and transparent. So far you have failed to state if this is not the case, or how our democratic system could be strengthened. You might want to tone down the ranting on race politics since it could strengthen the hands of politicians (both PNM and UNC) who are bent on divide and conquer politricks. As for Basdeo Panday, the individual should have left the political scene a long time ago. The fact that his trial has been adjourned so many times indicates the weakness within our legal system which he is happily exploiting. I feel honoured by you critique of my posting. Neil, let us join together in promoting greater democracy in Trinidad and Tobago by questioning the behaviour of Patrick Manning.

    I believe it was John Adams who was responsible for the following quote:

    “It is the weakness and wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with absolute power.”

  6. Vision 20/20 will see 100,000 houses built in 10 years by the Government for supposedly low-income families.

    I wonder what percentage of these homes will be allocated to people from the islands in this new political union.

    This will not be the first time that the PNM has employed this type of tactic in our country’s history.

    This goes beyond house-padding and using taxpayers money to do it as well.

  7. To all who have submitted your views on our politics and constitution the people of our land need to be educated and told of their rights I believe that once the citizenry knows their rights and what they can do i believe change will come eventually.

Comments are closed.