By-election a blessing

By Raffique Shah
July 21, 2013

Raffique Shah“When thieves fall out, honest men come by their own,” says a centuries-old proverb. I think though, that when friends fall out, dubious men and women tumble into disrepute in unimaginable ways and pillars of political society are reduced to pillars of salt.

As the battle for Chaguanas West rages and friends fall apart, the populace is treated to exposés aplenty, some of which cause seasoned bacchanalians to blush, others so obscene, they leave decent citizens dazed in disbelief.

The accusations and revelations have come so fast and furious, it’s difficult to stay abreast of the latest scandal. In their quest to castrate friends-of-yesterday, to hurt their opponents-today, politicians say the wildest things.

For example, I always wondered how Jack Warner managed to function for 25 hours a day, 367 days a year, without pause for rest and regeneration. What’s his secret? I am not ashamed to admit that I envy the man’s wealth of energy, though not his wealth. As a Sandhurst-trained soldier, I endured two-plus years of punishing training that conditioned me to function for days without rest, on the move, in battle conditions.

Eventually though, the body calls for rest, which is something else I learned in the military. Indeed, a good soldier can regenerate his body and mind with a few hours of sound sleep in any condition. I have slept soundly with snow piling up on me, in dank, cold trenches, and in humid tropical forests. I know the value of sleep, and I value a good night’s sleep even more, now that I am an old geezer.

So I always wondered how Warner, an older geezer, manages to function seemingly around the clock.

Now I know. The Prime Minister, no less, told the nation that Jack is a “lagahoo”. Ever since I was a boy, I’ve heard of this mythical-cum-Satanic character that supposedly never slept or required sleep—at least not at night. Naked and dragging a chain (don’t ask me why), the “lagahoo”, who could be found in most rural, unlit villages, stalked God-knows who or what, while mortals were asleep.

Well, not everyone: often, on mornings, in days of old, one would hear a neighbour hail another, “Nayb, you hear the ‘lagahoo’ last night?” “Ah see de nastiness, Nayb,” comes the response. Apparently, some people stayed awake to listen for the chain-dragging creature. I never saw one in the flesh in my boyhood years. Now, as friends fall out, the PM tells us that Jack drags chain at nights! Well, what do you know: a live “lagahoo” sitting in Cabinet, even occupying the office of the Prime Minister, sporting, I suppose, a heavy gold chain. Only in Trinidad!

I always thought that applicants for HDC units were processed by officers of that corporation, and once they met the requirements, their names were filed based on certain criteria that gave them a fair chance at owning or leasing land or a home.

Now we are hearing that Warner recommended 300-or-so persons for HDC units, only three of whom came from Felicity. That admission tells me that all 26 Government parliamentarians must have done likewise, which means that some 8,000 such partisan requests or recommendations were made since 2010. Since the HDC has not distributed that many units during the period, can we deduce that all persons who received units were favoured by the Partnership? Tell us, PM.

Then there is the flurry of interventions—distribution of food cards, land distribution, addressing infrastructure deficiencies that 24/7-Jack appears to have overlooked.

Ministers by the tonnes, literally, are descending on the constituency. Reminds me of the run-up to the THA elections last January.

Little wonder people across the country are clamouring for by-elections. You get more value for your vote than you do in a general election.

In most constituencies, electors have not seen their MPs since the campaign of 2010 when they walked every nook and cranny, making promises they never intended to honour.

Besides, by-elections open the darkest recesses of MPs for public viewing. Were it not for the Chaguanas West battle, would anyone have told us about parliamentarians who were penniless in 2010, but who today own mansions and luxury vehicles? Or how many ministers carry “green cards”, hence dual loyalties?

Believe me, this by-election is an undisguised blessing from the Grandmother, the Granddaughter, and the Unholy Lagahoo.

9 Responses to “By-election a blessing”


  • Ridiculousness is the a more accurate term for describing the by-election fever taking effect now, spreading life a wild fire out of control and leading up to July 29. “The the Unholy Lagahoo” is a myth as this has never been documented or proven with facts. I understand the figure of speech thing, but for an educated PM to refer to this sort of thing and see a once reputable ex-regiment disgraced officer adding his 2 cents worth demonstrates the brokenness of ALL institutions in Trinidad and Tobago. CORRUPTION is what needs to be exposed daily, remove the ALL UNHOLIES who does not have the people’s interest at heart from office. Freeness is a Trinbogonian word that truly describes the mentality of what is being reaped now from the seeds planted by corrupted individuals in every area of governance, racketeers, and immoral citizens. Giving away government housing to the undeserved should be a crime, charge the perpetrators, remove them like the CANCER that they are and jail them. It is not funny to read of the continuous abuses of elected public officials on a daily basis and look the other way. People, hold them all accountable, vote for candidates that uphold the laws of the island, not sweet talkers and high class scamers.

  • Maybe there is some hope that we can learn something from our neighbours, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Bahamas and Dominica from the 2012 data from Transparency International. Yet on the other hand we should not allow ourselves to lose hope when we see ourselves at position #80 in the world index out of 176 countries.

    http://www.transparency.hu/uploads/docs/CPI2012_map_and_country_results.pdf

    So maybe the solution lies, instead of voting for party and indirectly supporting nepotism, corruption, bribery etc. the time has now come where we should be voting by conscience where society knows there is ardent and fair representation from their elected official.

    We in Trinidad & Tobago have a reputation for voting for Party especially when a tidal current sweeps us off our feet during the campaigning fever and the distribution of some goodies. The PNM and the UNC have showed that they are good at this through their respective financiers who in turn are rewarded, planting the seed for favours(corruption) . If a black man seek our interest justly then let the Indian from Chaguanas West put him there and let that be the lesson for the population as a whole. The time has come to vote conscionably rather than emotionally. Take a look at this as an example:

    July 11th, 2013
    Senator the Honourable Devant Maharaj
    Minister of Food Production
    St. Clair Circle, St. Clair,
    Port of Spain,
    Trinidad and Tobago.

    Dear Minister,
    I am writing to formally notify you that I have hereby resigned from my three month internship at the Ministry of Food Production.
    Over the past two weeks, it has continuously been drawn to my attention that my political affiliations have affected my presence at the Ministry’s office. Furthermore, it was indicated to me that because of my involvement with another political party and figure, and not the United National Congress, I was either to be terminated from my position or reassigned. I found this to be very offensive and since my position had neither become redundant nor did I commit any actions to question my ability to perform in my capacity as an intern, the options I was presented with were discomforting and unjust.
    Moreover, it was drawn to my attention that my presence at the Ministry’s office had put several people, including yourself, in a compromising position since I was assumed to be a secret agent for the party which I openly support and thus, undoing the work of your present campaign for the Chaguanas West by-election.
    Finally, I wish to emphasize that at no point in time did I fail to perform in my given duties as an intern. However, the repeated marked reassignments to other offices were very distasteful, as I understood that they were being done to remove me from the Ministry’s office in order to satisfy the needs of the United National Congress’s campaign for the by-election; thus constantly placing me on an emotional roller-coaster.
    This step was necessary in order to prevent any further conflicts for you and the United National Congress, and more importantly to ensure that I did not continue to be a victim of political discrimination. I do thank you and your team for the opportunity to have been employed at the Ministry of Food Production and I wish you all the best in the future.
    Regards,
    Virmala N. Balkaran

  • Loyal Trini,
    It is sad and unfortunate that Trinidad and Tobago has come to this. When a public servant has to choose “join a party” or “loose your job”, it is the very thing that most of humanity tried to move away from our dear government is trying to re-enforce as government policy. Worst yet are those who defend this kind of policy by saying that “the PNM did it, so what if we do”. This is both gutter thinking and gutter politics. I am sure that most of the people will reject it when the time comes.

  • Why testicular strength for most of our politicians descend into attacking individuals tomorrow when we were hugging each other yesterday? Why not get involved in policy formulation and educate the populace as to the work ethic that is required in order to achieve? Why putting a crapaud with a tie to win the St. Patrick seat of yesteryear is no different of referring to a former colleague as a lagahoo today? This is where our leaders are failing by feeding into the expectations of superficial thinking of followers and stultifying growth and productivity for the nation as a whole. The time has come for us to show some maturity by looking beyond race, religion, cultural practices that tend to create divide and to take the politicians to task when they practice their mantra of ‘do as I say but not do as I do’. We can make the difference by voting with conscience rather than false promises.

  • The apparent support which Jack Warner is receiving in Chaguanas West is a reflection of the fickle nature of the constituents.They will sell their souls for pieces of silver without any regard for the national and international implications.Jack Warner’s resume qualifies him for occupancy in one place and that is the royal jail.Even the local media have suspended their criticism of Jack and are now spouting admiration.

  • This is fascinating theatre! To observe elected politicians in Trinidad with no national perspective or no interest in the development or well being of the Trinidad poplulace, but rather politicians who engage in the most self-interested parochial and racially divisive politics whose main goal wittingly or unwittingly, like the rat that eats its own “babies”, is the ultimate destruction of the nation, one wonders when a “cosmopolitan” nation like T&T will elect politicians who will lead the nation off the road heading straight to “lagahoo” hell.

  • This speech was given by a resident of Felicity. What is the difference between Warner and Dookeran? Dookeran a man of humility, Warner a man who enjoys having a camera man follow him all over the place. Warner knows the power of the media and while the PP has worked very hard, Warner is using the media to convince the people otherwise. Unfortunately they are falling for it.

    Here is the speech.

    “I have lived in Felicity for the last 34 years and I have never heard the former Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West at any forum, articulate his vision for Chaguanas West. The only vision I can associate with him is TELE–vision. I can however articulate the vision which the Founder of the Congress of the People had, while he served as the representative of the people of Chaguanas. I have here with me; the booklet entitled “The Quiet Man of Action” Winston Dookeran. It is because he was not loud mouthed and could not pay for cameras to be around him, that few today know of the sterling representation he made to the people of Chaguanas. I intend to show that Chaguanas is the bustling borough it is today because of his vision, his representation and his delivery.
    If it is one constituency that you will never hear crying out for water, it is the constituency of Chaguanas West. It was Mr.Dookeran who together with the constituents laid the foundation for a 12 inch water main to be brought from the main line in Jerningham all the way along Pierre Road to Felicity. He did this while he was in opposition and did not have the resources of the state. Through a self –help project, where each resident contributed $60 to the project, and the goodwill of contractors in Felicity, the vision of the Founder of the Congress of the People was realized and today residents of this area benefit. It is this project which propelled the eventual formation of a Self Help Commission, from which so many now benefit. That is representation.
    It was Mr Dookeran, who brought relief to residents of Felicity, when the bridge across the banks of the Madame Espanol River collapsed and they were unable to cremate their dead. He earmarked an area on the southern side of the river, which was assessable to residents so that they can perform their rites. The Lakhan Kariah cremation site in Caciqoo is the result of the vision and performance of this humble man
    There are those who boast of giving nine and ten scholarships to certain students. Mr. Dookeran facilitated first class education to all the children of the 26,000 electors in his constituency. He assiduously worked to obtain lands for various institutions among them being the ASJA Educational Complex in Charlieville, which will forever stand as a legacy of his representation. His vision extended to other areas of his constituency, and out of that vision emerged the Montrose Government School and the Cunupia High School. His passion for education did not confine him only to his constituency, and through his efforts and representation the Rudranath Capildeo Learning Resource Centre was born to compliment that excellence in Education. I shall not burden you with the representation he made for repair works to the many schools in the constituency, but I certainly remember the ones in Caroni and in Durham Village, where our feet almost went through the flooring.
    It would be remiss of me if I did not mention the frustration which he showed in the bureacracy of the Public Service, with respect to the erection of a Library in Chaguanas. Today his vision is being realized in the heart of Chaguanas .
    The ability to get things done for his constituents was the hallmark of his representation. I can still remember, a few years ago, a member of the Chaguanas Borough Corporation was seeking to find out from me, how the Mini Sports and Cultural Complex on Tahadille grounds in Pierre Road was built, since the corporation had no record of their intervention. To his credit, the Founder of the COP, had the uncanny ability to attract human resource from everywhere. Not only did he build this structure and put down a turf wicket, but he went further to empower the residents of Pierre Road with its upkeep and management. Little does the green party know that its launch was held at a Cultural Complex, the foundations of which were laid by the Founder of the COP.
    New recreational facilities were brought to St. Charles and lands were allocated for recreational facilities at Dass Trace. A jogging track was installed at Saith Park and at Enterprise, lands were allocated for a Skills Training Centre.
    As you all know this “quiet man of action” heart was in economics. Always fermenting in his mind was the vision of bringing economic activity to Chaguanas. Towards this end his vision was to have business investment in Chaguanas. With much challenges he was able to secure the presence of Price Smart and Bhagwansingh. These two business centers set the pace for the present bustling activity in Chaguanas. He was also very conscious of the rich religious and cultural heritage of the people of Chaguanas. When Divali Nagar grew so large that it could no longer be accommodated at mid-centre mall, he secured lands north of Price Smart. May I emphasize that his dream was that the lands be used by all religious and cultural groups, including the Muslims and the Christians. Land was also allocated to the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association but they did not take up the offer. Mr.Dookeran’s vision was to have Chaguanas as the Mecca of all NGO’s.
    This “quiet man of action” knew that business activity could only flourish in an environment of safety He ensured that the Fire Station on the highway, opposite the Divali Nagar was built.
    While he courted large business firms to Chaguanas he did not forget that the small man also must earn a living. The founder of Pennywise,Mr. Lall Paladee began as a haberdasher in the Chaguanas market. Later he was asked to relocate because the market regulations did not allow for that kind of business. He sought Mr. Dookeran’s help. Mr. Dookeran successfully lobbied for a change in the regulations to allow Mr.Paladee to continue his trade. Today Pennywise is a household name with 9 outlets and with many jobs opportunities.
    He initiated improvement works at the Chaguanas market, installed new toilet facilities and a new abattoir under more hygienic conditions. To accommodate the increase traffic which the expanded business sector brought, a new licensing office was built.
    Mr.Dookeran “walked the talk”.The fact that you do not see people of Chaguanas clamoring for water and electricity is due to a comprehensive plan of action that saw improvement works in Warren Munroe Road, Pierre Road, Crown Trace Extension, Egypt Trace, Cacandee Road, Sumaria Trace, Petersfield, Frederick Settlement, Akaloo Trace, Francis Lalla Road, Jerningham Junction Road, and a host of others too numerous to mention. My Friends, the inescapable conclusion is that the Interim Political Leader of the I party and last MP, simply added the cosmetics of Jusamco pavers on a solid foundation which was already built. This he did effectively on Caroni Savannah Road, Cacandee Road and Pierre Road and a few back roads, together with the attendant box drains for all to see especially on TV. His vision for Chaguanas was always to be on television, as opposed to the “quiet man of action”.
    Cognizant of the agricultural and fishing nature of many of his constituents, he devised the well known Caroni Plan often referred to as the Dookeran plan where 800 10-acre plots were to be distributed to sugar workers, while providing price subsidy support, fertilizer support, frog hopper control as well as assistance in the purchase of chemicals and in land preparation. It was the vision of this humble man to change the direction of the then Caroni Ltd to diversify its operation. I was privileged to accompany him to view the pilot project of the cultivation of fresh-water pawns which he envisaged as a large scale commercial enterprise with the potential to earn valuable foreign exchange. Rice cultivation, which has now become extinct, was high on his agenda together with livestock rearing, in his plans for Caroni Ltd. All this was stopped when the All Sugar & General Workers Trade Union threatened to take the Minister to court.
    This “quiet man of action” saw the plight of many who suffered due to lack of job opportunities. He established a Labor Exchange, the first in the Borough of Chaguanas. It was designed to provide a register of employers to determine when job opportunities arise and to place persons seeking employment. In addition the Labor Exchange was mandated to organize career orientation sessions to channel unemployed youths into special programmers of AIM, YTTEP and SBDC.
    Many citizens sought assistance at his home. He never refused. I cannot iterate the other hundreds of individuals who had sought and received a wide and varied gamut of matters, town and country planning approvals, health and even family matters, through a permanent constituency office which he established long before this facility was offered to MP`s. Included among these would be a New Ambulance for the Chaguanas Health Centre and the procurement of a Nebulizer Asthmatic Machine.
    In conclusion ladies and gentlemen ,let the Interim Political Leader of the I PARTY, match this before he can claim I JACK WARNER, has been the best performing representative for this area. When Chaguanas is declared a City ,it will be because of genuine vision, representation and performance by the Statesman Winston Dookeran.”

    • Everything this resident said about Mr. Dookeran is true and correct. In fact when Dookeran stayed with Robinson, Ramnath and the cohorts of Club 88 teared into Dookeran on political platforms. At the same time I personally witnessed a PNM appointed senior officer from Town and Country refused to carry out instructions when Dookeran was minister of Planning and Mobilization and the admirable thing was Dookeran handled the matter diplomatically so much so that there was no press coverage about it. So he got it (blows) from both sides. It is a known fact that the PNM raped and plundered financial resources when they were in government even one of their own ministers acknowledged that ‘all ah we tief’.

      In the discussion of representation, if Warner was charged whilst being part of the PP gov’t for impropriety in local transactions then he should be dealt with. However, the report pertinent to FIFA (a very corrupt and political organization)and his involvement has not resulted in any charges being levied against Jack. This is true in both instances. JAW has been seeking the interest of his constituents which cannot be disputed and I do not believe he is running competition with Dookeran as to who is/was the best public servant.

      In plain talk both the PNM (past) and current UNC governments have been ‘playing the ass’ with people and the financial resources of the country and we lay people cannot sit by and say nothing about it. Let’s give Jack his jacket and be mindful that rumour mongering can destroy people before they can embark on the national good.

  • Jerry Colin Hussain

    I will like to propose after the next election that “All PP Ministers in 2015 should have their luxury cars ceased and all assets seized along with that of their families, close friends etc pending audits and criminal investigations”.

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