Politicians panic

By Raffique Shah
August 10, 2013

Raffique ShahI sense a wave of panic among leaders and frontline members of both the PNM and the UNC/COP Partnership. With Jack Warner on a roll following his by-election victory, and the UNC losing senior members like Lyndira Oudit to the newly formed ILP, a meeting of what can be best described as the ruling party’s general council pleaded with the Prime Minister to postpone local government elections for fear of another routing at the polls.

Which is quite a thing: it might be acceptable to postpone elections pending electoral or constitutional reform. But citing imminent defeat as a reason is akin to echoing Forbes Burnham’s battle cry that I often cite, “Back to back, belly to belly, we don’t give a damn, we done dead already!”

The COP seems to have resigned itself to being a footnote in the country’s political history. Wracked by leadership challenges, defections to the UNC and desertion by supporters who had once seen it as the embodiment of ethical politics, really an oxymoron, the COP is neither coming nor going. To quote one of this country’s foremost intellectuals ever, CLR James, the COP is neither revolutionary nor reactionary. It is stationary.

And the PNM, which has thrived on its enduring history, its pedigree and resilience, is in some measure of turmoil. During the era of Dr Eric Williams, not a damn dog dared to bark when the leader spoke, or more chillingly, when he maintained a stony silence. Today, every Louis, Penny and Harry challenges the leader at a time when the party should be closing ranks, fortifying the ramparts, and preparing itself to launch an assault to regain power.

In all of the above disarray, the Jack factor looms large. They are all crying, almost in unison: Beware! The Barbarian is at the gate!

Last week, I wrote that Jack has a potential shelf life of two years—unless he maintains the momentum he gained in Chaguanas West, riding the crest of a wave of success into the local elections, and possibly the general elections. But Jack can only go the distance if, by default, the others cede victory to him before the real war begins.

In two skirmishes thus far, Tobago and Chaguanas West, he has lost one and won the other. People seem to forget that on the eve of the THA elections last January, in which Warner played a key role promoting the TOP, he lost disastrously to the PNM, and more importantly, to the people of Tobago. On the eve of those elections, with the People’s Partnership heavy artillery pounding the PNM, Jack confidently said that the TOP would take 11 of the 12 districts.

Have people forgotten that? Admittedly, he was part of the charge of the People’s Partnership brigade that chose to launch a full frontal attack, employing little strategy and no tactics in the process. General Jack—well, he was a senior officer in the command structure—lost that crucial battle. In defeat, he and the People’s Partnership also lost two national constituencies.

He bounced back in the Chaguanas West battle, in which, as I argued last week, he all but wrote the script. Since the UNC had learnt nothing from its string of missteps and mistakes, from its vindictiveness that alienated hordes of people who would otherwise support the Partnership (“dem is a setta PNM dogs!”), Jack’s victory was predictable.

Now, basking in that glow, he is driving fear into the hearts of his opponents, which sends them in the panic mode. Whatever they may say to the contrary, one can almost feel their fear. I shall not be surprised if they cede the whole damn country to him before elections are constitutionally due.

As I wrote last week, Warner the politician was hand crafted by the UNC. More accurately, Basdeo Panday breathed political life into the FIFA overlord, lured by baubles, trinkets and junkets. And even as Warner planted the kiss of death on Panday, he was embraced by those who wrested the UNC from the old Bas. In fact, many of them who now hold high offices and who are mouthing off on Warner are beholden to him because in so many ways he, in turn, created them.

As the political climate heats up and fear runs rife in all parties, the spectre of Jack as Prime Minister looms large. And while I find that prospect unpalatable, really, I cannot be bothered, not at this stage of my life. People get the government they deserve. If the majority of citizens feel that Jack Warner is the answer to the country’s many problems, then go ahead and give him power.

I never depended on any politician, none, for my personal well-being or that of my family. I have seen relatives and friends dribble, swaying with the winds of what they thought was political change. All they got was exchange. They regretted their choices, but they repeated their mistakes.

Me? I cry for my country. But my country will never cry for me.

12 Responses to “Politicians panic”


  • ” In fact, many of them who now hold high offices and who are mouthing off on Warner are beholden to him because in so many ways he, in turn, created them.” It would appear that we are living in “inpatient times” because we have gotten so used to having “bad” governance, ravished by squanderama and nepotism that we are uneasy in our hearts and souls looking for a saviour to come and take this country out of the doldrums that we so callously allowed ourselves to be dragged into by the PP alliance, we now feel guilty of being fooled when we thought that we voted the answer in 2010. The truth of the matter is that we never questioned what we wanted when we decided that we had enough of Manning. We were told that Manning built a church with government’s money and we got terrible mad about that. We were told that Calder Hart did whatever he wanted with government’s money and we were mad about that. We were told crime got out of hand with Manning and we were mad about that too. He gave us a billion dollar unfinished stadium and we lost total faith in his administration. Since we felt lucky enough to have a replacement that called themselves the “people’s partnership”, who promised to wipe crime from our vocabulary, to have fairness in our governance, equality amongst ourselves and love and happiness – what did we get in return? Kamla, Ramlogan, Rambachan, Moonilal, Deviant, Gopiesingh, Sharma et al. Put them together they concoct a recipe for failure and backwardness. They first told us that we are being spied upon by our security forces (SAUT) and we hated that, not knowing that any administration worth it’s salt in the world must have the ability to know and understand who amongst us are most threatening to our democracy and we cant wait for something to happen then try to determine who the likely suspects could be. Security threats of today demand that we must have fore-knowledge and like it or not SAUT had its fingers on those who were most likely to threaten our way of life. So our beloved lady decided she knew better and gave us Reshmi – hooray! SAUT was bad for us and now we have a saviour in Reshmi. We did not like that too much and made maddening noises about that appointment so aunt K had to pull back her appointment. She gave us a new head of the PSC who told us that proper policing comes by counting racial heads of the men in uniform whilst he felt insulted by a police officer of the kind he did not like stopped him from driving in a direction he should not be going and that got him mad like hell. Police officer of the wrong race stopped him. When they had no ideas how to fight crime, they introduced the state of emergency and told us of the known criminals who were automatically suspects as the culprits who would de-stabilise the country and some of their followers fell for that. It so happened that all of their suspects – all 4,000 of them were of the “other race”. To make matters even worse we were told that blacks and muslims threaten the life of the PM and more were held under suspicion of treason and intended murder. Only problem – NO EVIDENCE. Just as in the case of Calder Hart and Manning – NO EVIDENCE. Our beloved AG thought that he had a better idea to bring Manning to justice – Manning thief the piano. All this coming from a man whose only knowledge of musical instruments is the tabla. So now “he go luck up Manning for tiefing the piano” – false again. He now had a better idea, he cannot bring criminal charges to anyone he want to charge so he go file lawsuits against those that the PP considered enemies – how bout professor Max Copeland – he invented the ‘G’ Pan and it was a huge success. So lets use government money to sue him for using government money! Is’nt that a fine idea? Oh our beloved AG! How many hundreds of millions went in civil matters just like this? I’snt he great? It would be telling to get an official account of the exact amount of money our honourable AG spent in this fashion. There are untold numbers of “missteps” our beloved PP gave by way of their management style that they always had a curt reply when a question was asked bout their “missteps” – “the PNM did it too. But maybe there were a few things the PNM did’nt do. Take for example the budget the highest the PNM ever spent was $49b, contrast that with the PP’s now sixty something billion. There are more millionaires now in government than PNM. When Manning emitted office we knew that he gave us a skyline of impressive buildings on our shoreline, he gave us new Customs buildings and office facilities, he gave us a security system that was paid for, only the ships (OPV) to be delivered, a blue print to help solve the traffic problem in the introduction of rail as a means of transport and many more – all done with less than $50b, maybe someone would venture to tell me what have we done for the more than $60b budget? Almost all of the high officials of ‘who is who’ in the administration has a spouse, friend or relative holding high office in every state controlled business or institution. Is this really what we voted for?

  • In spite of all of this , the PNM is not a credible alternative.The PP bunch which you so deragatorily described are all better qualified(if they get their act together) than the present PNM bunch.
    Jack as PM of T&T would be a national and international embarrassment. Jack’s rise to stardom is a direct statement on the corrupt mentality and greed of those who voted for him and those who are now supporting him.
    The PNM and Jack Warner have no moral authority to caste aspersions on anyone in T&T.
    As Shah ended his article, let us all cry for our country!(

  • Does your current bunch (in govt) know what morality is?

  • “Kamla, Ramlogan, Rambachan, Moonilal, Deviant, Gopiesingh, Sharma et al. Put them together they concoct a recipe for failure and backwardness.”-Kian Unlike Kian I tend to disagree, the partnership has functioned exceptionally well a tribute to the skill of the Honorable Prime Minister. I was speaking to a lady from Canada she married a Trini. She said 7 years ago when she was in Trinidad nothing was happening. “In my recent trip I was shock to see the enormous progress being made The roads are being paved with box drains all over the place.” To be fair the PP has performed and continues to do so.

    As for Warner, he has momentum, to keep momentum he have to use his bags of tricks (cash) to keep the Greens growing. People don’t really care about the millions of cash from kickbacks in Florida. Kenny Gordon has been asleep (80 year old ) at the Integrity Commission a position like a dying man he held on for dear life. Why has Kenny not launch an investigation into Warner sending letters to businessmen from his ministry and getting millions into an account he set up??? One can only guess the cabal of the DCP and DPP is at it again, protecting the tribe.

    • It is obvious that we live in different worlds and see things differently. Some people see things and say they dont see them. And who can doubt them, they dont see what they dont want to see. This is their right to say that. So, Mamoo I applaud you for seeing things they way you want to see them. On the contrary most people will confirm what I said in my piece and that means that the concoction for backwardness does have its adherents. Good luck to you.

      • The evidence is empirical and simply cannot be denied. Trinidad is one of the top nations in the world. The current government achieve first world status,however, it is the mindset of the people that has to change. Trinidad experience 4 quarters of growth, 5% unemployment, over 90 % literacy… If you listen to the average Trini, it is a tale of woe, the sky is falling. Compare that to Greece where unemployment is at 23%, or the US where Detroit claim bankruptcy, or Los Angeles when they simply don’t have money to run programs. Or some of the ghettoes where unemployment is at 50%. Or look at Jamsica where US currency is 40-1, or Guyana where it is at 200-1 U.S.

        Recently the Chinese President came to Trinidad, the America VP came, Caribbean leaders came… Why? Why did they not go to Haiti, the first black independent nation? Or Jamsica or even Barbados??? They know Trini is the jewel of the Caribbean..only Trinis don’t see it so.

  • “And the PNM, which has thrived on its enduring history, its pedigree and resilience, is in some measure of turmoil. During the era of Dr Eric Williams, not a damn dog dared to bark when the leader spoke, or more chillingly, when he maintained a stony silence. Today, every Louis, Penny and Harry challenges the leader at a time when the party should be closing ranks, fortifying the ramparts, and preparing itself to launch an assault to regain power.”–Shah.

    The advantage that the PNM have had as a party that was in power for over 40 years was its strong tribalistic DNA and code of silence connection. No one dare speak or let out its secrets. The PP is different every dog bark and sometimes in unison. The PP does not have a strong tribalist world view and that is because Indians are for themselves and would in a moment turn against other Indians. Warner campaign that attacked other Indians if it was reversed he would have been stoned and driven out regardless of money.

    The PNM has summoned all its forces to challenge the PP. Whenever the PNM is out of power all of its supporters form the Opposition. The usually quiet trade union movement suddenly finds its voice and launches a direct salvos to the P.M. Office. The DPP suddenly finds no evidence to charge Manning. Calder file is delayed and then one day in obscurity it is revealed “no evidence”. Tribalism forces the tribalist to protect the tribe. The lack of service in government offices is an example of silent protest generated each day to make citizens angry with the government. Worst of all is the mantra “government corrupt” this song is sang everyday on radio, tv, media streams until those who support the government fall victim to the “Goebbles” mentality and begin to repeat such a refrain. Having said that there is a floating vote that forms the equalizer and they determine the future not the tribalist.

    • If I had written that piece of crap You and TMan would definitely have called me a racist. You want more tribalism than the one that is taking place in the PP today? To accuse the DPP of tribalism is not only factually untrue it is poppycock. It will be malpractice if the DPP were to use his office to charge someone merely on the basis of rumour or gossip. This is the VERY BEST DPP we have had in years and those who do not like his performance are either UNC or PP. An obvious case of a dysfunctioning official is the AG, but you can only see tribalism on the part of the only independent body within the government – DPP. Why? Because he does not
      behave like a mad wanting to take everyone he does not like to civil court. It had always been and will continue to be wishful thinking if the target of the loquacious AG is Manning or Calder Hart. Foolish talk to think that one can charge Calder Hart for doing his job. You may not like the way he did it but no real charge there. The closest thing to a charge is his filing papers not identifying his brother in law
      as a relative. The best charge against Manning is for being foolish. Foolish about the Pena affair, foolish about calling an election before it is constitutionally due, foolish about being publicly antagonistic towards Rowley, Foolish for only needing his supporters during election and ignoring them for the next five years. Foolish for not understanding the mood of the electorate. If there is such a charge I dare you to petition your beloved AG to start the process of criminal pursuit against these two individuals. Mamoo, talk is cheap and your comments demonstrates just that.

      • Best DPP in years? You must be his cousin. Kian this is how things work in TnT. The DPP decides to prosecute, sends the files to the police. The police sits on the file for a few years, no urgency. If the PM or AG inquires as to the delay the DPP comes out swinging he claims “political interference”. Then one day the DPP comes out saying “insufficient evidence” case closed. That of course is after a few years. Then the government is blamed for lack of justice.

        The DPP must be commended on the Partap file, Partap received “swift justice”. The PM should be seeking to have him reinstated as a minister. The Calder, Manning, Abu files..hmmm let’s just say these got lost.

  • It’s an opinion – your opinion. There are no corroborating news or incidents reported by which your opinion can be judged or even justified.

    • I don’t deal on opinions only I present facts, Kian despute the facts. What I have presented is based on what actually happening. Calder sent $5 million to his family in the East and to this day he has not been charged. If your cousin point a gun and rob a man off $200, he will be jailed….yet if a man rapes the treasury nothing happens to him.

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