The arrogance of office

Newsday Editorial
March 23 2014 – newsday.co.tt

Dr Glenn RamadharsinghThere is something about the acquisition of office in our country that changes people. And this is far more pronounced when such persons are elected by the people than those who earn their ascendancies through hard work or commitment.

It would seem that the humblest among us, when elected to office, and worse, when appointed as cabinet ministers totally forget their former persona under the flashing blue lights of police escorts, and set themselves above the law, and certainly above the requirements of basic civility. Regrettably this is an enduring trait which has been growing—in terms of abuse of position and disregard for simple good manners—over the past few administrations. We all know this and it is not our intention to list the sins of the various “important persons” in this regard over the years, but rather to review the most recent apparent transgressions by a cabinet minister.

The reports on the behaviour of Minister of the People and Social Development, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh on a flight from Tobago to Trinidad are indeed shocking. Much of the alleged behaviour, as reported by CAL Flight Attendant Ronelle Laidlow has not been denied, and the Minister subsequently apologised and stated that he was exhausted and was feeling unwell. But it appears that at every stage, from boarding the aircraft to disembarking at Piarco, Dr Ramadharsingh was offensive, refused to comply with standard procedures and by his behaviour could have threatened the safety of other passengers. His final gesture on departure was to allegedly threaten Ms Laidlow with the loss of her job, as it was alleged that he told her, while reaching for her Identification Badge “Your days are numbered”.

In our opinion, feeling exhausted and unwell cannot be used as an excuse for what appears to have been a deliberate and ongoing—from boarding at Crown Point to disembarkation at Piarco— show of hostility and disobedience to a person performing the duties required of her job. It appears that no member of his family said to have been travelling with him tried to persuade him to comply with what are international safety regulations. Rather it was the Flight Attendant who apparently sought assistance from the passenger who was sitting next to him. Nor did he, or apparently any member of his family try to calm him down during the short flight, to explain to him that he was wrong—and could he not understand this?—and seek to have him ignore the event at minimum upon landing at Piarco.

To have allegedly threatened the Flight Attendant with the loss of her job, when she should be commended for insisting that every passenger, inclusive of cabinet ministers, is required to obey the safety instructions, was the final straw. That, he must have known, except he was blinded by rage, he could not effect.

Dr Ramadharsingh should have offered his resignation to the Prime Minister. It should have been waiting on her desk when she returned from Miami. This would save the PM the task of calling for his resignation or dismissing him. Given the sad history of this sort of public arrogance by too many members of this government, it is time for the Prime Minister to indicate to the citizens that there is a price to pay for this sort of behaviour. In this regard, Dr Ramadharsingh is lucky, had he been on an international flight, and in another jurisdiction, he could have been immediately arrested.

http://www.newsday.co.tt/editorial/0,192301.html

12 Responses to “The arrogance of office”


  • Even though he denied reaching for her Identification Badge and saying, “Your days are numbered”, the strong apology from this Minister suggests that he might be guilty as accused.
    The PM is left with no alternative but to fire him, another casualty in a long line of Ministers unable to live up to the mental and societal requirements of being in a position of power.

  • I had just finished perusing a column from Guyanese KN Columnist Freddie Kissoon, and could not help seeing commonality between the attitude and behavior of Minister of the People and Social Development, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh,and a reciprocal incident in his column. According to Kissoon, When the PPP came to power in 1992, these protégés became the administrators of Guyana. To describe how they behaved would be treason against this country. But I will leave you with two examples and this was long after 1992.
    I was on the same flight with one of them. As we deplaned he was wearing a pair of rubber slippers and madly clinging to the electrical blender and coffee-maker he no doubt had to hold in his hands because his suitcase was overfilled. He pushed his way through the immigration line as if he was an animal hunting a prey.

    The second example was at the wedding reception of the editor of the Mirror newspaper, Earl Bousquet, at the Ocean View Hotel. The Minister came in drunk, grabbed some pastries, devoured them, then loudly belched in my face and in the face of my wife and the others who were seated at the table. These people run Guyana. They are imbued with the psychological deception that they are superior to any and everyone in Guyana because they are from the PPP, the party of one of the “greatest” men in the world, Cheddi Jagan.

    No, T&T and Guyana certainly do not have exclusivity with regard to these kinds of uncouth and hubristic attitudes and behaviors. At the same time, when a PP political assembly, and a PPP political assembly, separated by physical geography but associated within a geo-political and cultural grouping, one is impelled to go HHHMMMMM!!

  • Excellent piece as usual, Bro RP, as it clearly relay ,the precarious situation ,the wonderful South American /English speaking country Guyana ,is facing.
    I say wonderful, because due to my first visit a few months ago , I too got a microscopic look, and sensed a country ,laden with vast potential, but like T&T , would have to find a way to evolve peacefully ,exploit such human/natural potential , while simultaneously, the two major socio political fractional /rivaling elements, find prudent ways to work together with ‘mutual respect, for the other.’
    Well , who ever said Nation Building, in a post Colonial World , was going to be easy, was obviously lying.
    As to the subject at hand , which ND Editors , maybe aptly defined as, ‘the arrogance of power?’
    Not certain ,if the chess manipulating.. re , what my late , loving Tobago granny go refer to as ,’playing dead ,to catch Cobeaux alive ,’jig and dance , as echoed by TMan, Sat, and now this editor ,is the solution, and worst yet, we love us some Britannia , but is not politically mature enough, where Ministers would resign office , once accused of any form of impropriety, which might embarrass the leader, much less, the government of the day. We will see how that plays out,Alliance / Coalition government and all.We wish her well! Let’s remain vigilant!
    There are many across our nation, in both government , and the now recharged , growing confident Opposition, who fail to appreciate one truism about this underachieving country, with it’s multitude of ‘happy go lucky’ citizens, and here it is – It ain’t the same country that Auntie K inherited.
    The PP power brokers ,cannot continue to stick their feet up their symbolic rear ends , then when cornered , cry media bias, or look over their shoulders at PNM past arrogance, and seek a pat on the back.
    As for this confused dividing PNM bunch, they better wake up and smell the curry, coffee, brown sugar, or what ever they need to down at Balissa House, or they would dream of power , for a long time to come.Translation ? Guyanarization of T&T. Now we don’t need that here , do we folks?There is work to be done guys!

  • “In this regard, Dr Ramadharsingh is lucky, had he been on an international flight, and in another jurisdiction, he could have been immediately arrested.”………Newsday!
    The rules regarding such behavior was put in place for ALL airline passengers. It was put in place for very good and substantial reasons:
    a. The moment you enter into an aircraft it becomes an enclosed “territory” for a duration of time.
    b. The course which the aviator takes to take you to your destination is under his and his staff command.
    c. The aviation staff alone has the authority to demand proper conduct and behavior from it’s passengers.
    d. In conducting its duties, passenger titles have nothing to do with the safe and proper grounding of a flight.
    e. Passengers do not give orders but take orders from the staff who are trained and entitled to do so.
    f. Regardless of who “owns” the aircraft, the staff carries the badge of authority on their shoulders and name pins on their
    brest pockets to show the positions the hold while in command of the aircraft.
    In every country that follow these rules (Trinidad and Tobago not excluded) it is a crime to disobey the command of the staff, behave disorderly or otherwise disruptively by any passenger. The staff reserves the right to report any uncomming behavior to the proper authorities. I find it appalling when I heard on the news that the ACTING Commissioner of Police said that since the flight attendant offered not to pursue the matter further, the police should not go any further with it. This is a matter for law enforcement because airline rules were broken and it should bare no weight on whether the flight attendant wants or not want to pursue it. An official report on the incident is necessary and should be lodged with the administration of the Airline Company. It should have nothing to do with which country the plane is operating, Trinidad, Guyana, Brazil or the United States!. The perpetrator should be held responsible and be responsible. If he happens to be a government official, the reason for submitting a report is even more so demanding.

  • Jerry Colin Hussain

    Is this a lash out from the crew of the Calcutta ship? Wow are we as a nation still going under ….further down below the gutter. Can we have General Elections now? The electorate need to speak volumes now. T&T has too many young bright individuals as opposed to these slobs who feel they can run a country. Can we get the expenses on all her trips and the accomplishments of these trips please including all the family that goes with her. Can your special investigators do this job asap? I believe I am entitled to see how my tax dollars were spent. And please I want a breakdown on all the “alco” that were consumed as well.

    • Jerry Colin Hussain

      This is a surprise from the PM given that this is another hit on her cabinet. I did not think she would fire him. This is ray of hope from her leadership, a quality I felt she did not have. But there now appears to be consistency in her decisions. Perhaps a little late in her term this comes. Or is this another of her poor choices we are seeing.

  • To know where we are going we need to know where we are coming from but not to dwell too long on such. Since 1962, T&T with the wealth that it has accrued over the years should have been miles ahead with respect to human resource, infrastructural development and the required support systems. I remember speaking to the man John Humphrey some years ago (80′s) and I was amazed at the realistic visionary scope he had with respect to development trends in this island of ours. I also remember speaking to a respected CEO during Chamber’s era and he made a statement to me that the decision making and transforming recommendations to implementations is 20 years behind time in T&T. This was heavily related to agricultural and industrial diversification at Caroni following the recommendations from the Spence report. Needless to say if you do not have the right people in the right positions we will always be singing the same tune. When I say right people I mean mature, decisive, morally and ethically sensitive. I have met some people who command some senior positions and for sure I have to ask myself, are they really fit to be commanding that portfolio in the first place? this is based on the pompous, bombastic,ignoble and exploiting the perks that go with office. Then, I realize this is not only related to T&T but remember Kennedy with Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquidick Island? It is a problem with human nature itself. What is required here is to get people who can lead by setting the example. One should not wait to be asked to resign but do the right thing which would reflect the morals of the individual in that position meeting up with the expectations of the position commanded.

    • Jerry Colin Hussain

      Boy you got your head in the clouds and do not seem to know what really going on. Them people whether in Government or in the private sector are causing havoc in Westmoorings with a rat infestation. The mindless people both in the Ministry of Health and the Regional Corporation are turning a blind eye to the problem caused by this government.

  • ” Can we have General Elections now?…Can we get the expenses on all her trips and the accomplishments of these trips please including all the family that goes with her?Can your special investigators do this job asap? Jc Hussain

    You are pushing your luck , a bit, aint you Cuz JC .It’s quite a tall order , you are placing on the table , for Her Majestrick,’ me think.’Just saying!
    Some much wiser than myself , would also point out , that the only difference between Auntie K, and her Protege Basdeo, of Airport scandal fame ,is that he will look you in the eyes, and murder you ,with a bullet in the forehead ,over a drink, in a Couva rum shop, straight up-thank you very much, for your financial support, now good riddance!
    She in turn, would take a knife and either slit your wrist, or better yet, slice a substantial pound of flesh , two inches away from your heart,as you lie naked on the bed,in a drunken stupor,and so,your fate, would be the same, hmmm?
    Translation-the Siparia Queen , is just a milder version, of her Protege /ain’t much of a difference from her life time hero.
    Remember buddy,this iconic hero ,Bas said,”dis is our time ,” once he assumed power,some time a back and meant it.
    Now even if Auntie K never publicly echoed his sentiments , but 79% or more of all state projects, are given to members of the tribe , or party hacks, do you see much of difference-policywise?
    If Bas, and his party , used and discard millionaire Jack , or Uncle Dupree of Clico fame, still surprise that…., well .., you know what I am saying, hmmmm?
    On a more serious note mi amigo.One thing ,both you ,or the Mason Hall kid , Rowley should never do -Cabral handlers , or not-is to underestimate the political savvyness, of our new aged political Queen Auntie K.
    Rest assured , that she ain’t calling no early election, like that arrogant ,Political Nincompoo, from Sando, who stupidly did so ,twice , and had the pants beaten off his butt, for good measure.Go figure!
    Let’s give her a break on the sister/Overpriced personal assistant , shopping partner ,shingding, for it’s hard to trust public servants these days, especially of the cross tribal persuasions, ennnt? They will talk when you visit foreign private health clinics, relay unflattering photos of you, kissing the feet of earthly mortals etc, and we ain’t want that now , do we?
    In addition , Patrick Manning had his clueless,unelected wife Hazel ,drawing Ministerial salaries ,left ,right , and center during his reign, while his nepotistic pal Baz ensured that baby Biniziar Buttho -Malika, his British -Clico educated daughter, masquerade ,as some, do nothing Oropuche MP , while also ensuring his brother ,eat a political food , where ever possible.
    In short , precedents were set.What’s dat, you ain’t buying, since Auntie K , was supposed to be an Obamalike ,agent of change, and had even promised ,( but reneged )not to live in the expensive Prime minister’s residence, constructed under the request of Patois?
    Ok I hear that JC , but this is how 3rd World politics work, my friend.
    Ohhhh..please don’t tell me you thought T&T, was now a emerging power, and borderline 1st World , regional hegemon, because China , Guyana ,or India , are about to grab all our oil , and gas, while giving us economic Chinckets in return?
    Well,.. let’s just continue to keep dem honest, seeing that our national media are failing.
    I luv this land!

  • Bravo Madam Prime Minister. You did the right thing. Now you need to take action on Rashmi et al who were hired based on false certificates. Once you act on these issues we can be sure that you are serious about righting the wrongs of T&T.

  • I have read the comments made to Mr. Glen Ramadharsingh disrespectful act and I will like to comment. Everyone is talking about this act he committed, but these are people who are suppose to display positive, morals and values to society and imagine when he do these things, what are left for the children to see. This man have a wife and doing such things, come on Glen. You can do better.

  • ‘Bell , bell, de cat ,’ they say , but who would , and can they truly do so before knowing who is the cat, from mice?
    See what cousin Ali a frustrated , yet concerned UWI student , has to say on a related subject, and take particular note, of the two responses , that follow.(wink wink)
    You will find it refreshingly honest.

    http://www4.guardian.co.tt/letters/2014-04-07/time-uwi-rise-its-slumber

    C Kissoon in all his moral indignant splendor , huh? Answer me this question buddy,if you dare.Do you think that winning a seat, to our Parliament, or holding a government position, is all it takes to be a morally upright, honest , caring individual, concern about Rights , and needs ,of citizens , or do folks bring that ugliness,selfish, abusive nature, to the job-as displayed by your PP, two fast rising , Kamla’s handpicked boys?
    In 81, I began my journey as an extremely young, naive, Police Officer, in my loving country, and went on to serve for 10 years, until our democracy was nearly destroyed , by a Horse Police , turned Islamist, with the overt / covert help of evil , self serving elements of both a religious , and political nature .

    During that period , I never abused my power, or attempted to run roughshod ,over the rights of any, and had I served my entire career in that work, my record-trust me – would have been just as spotless.
    I know of fellow officers , that have committed some of the most terrible acts ,starting from very early , and continuing much later.
    Where would you put the blame , or credit?Is it the 6 months training, young officers got in the St James Training college?

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