Lead us to temptation

By Raffique Shah
August 02, 2014

Raffique ShahNow, of course, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has to see this sordid affair, five tumultuous years in Government, to its messy end.

Never before in the history of this country, or, indeed, other countries where democratic elections determine who governs, has a ruling party been wracked by the forced resignations or firings or re-assignments of more than thirty officials who held ministerial portfolios or similar high offices, all within one term of office.

The spin doctors will tell us that the turnover, especially the firings and forced resignations, shows the strength of the leader, her commitment and fortitude to act decisively when the need arises. However, for all but her core supporters who see no weaknesses in a change a day, this is a Government of confusion, by confusion and for confusion.

Central to the entire mess is the leadership of the lady, or the lack thereof, which came into question early o’clock, but which, out of an abundance of caution over gender neutrality, critics were inclined to overlook.

In the heady days of 2010, when Kamla first routed Basdeo Panday in the internal party elections, then assembled an attractive coalition of forces, and finally annihilated a bungling Patrick Manning by registering the second biggest parliamentary majority ever, she could do no wrong-or so we thought.

Everything she touched turned into gold. Even Jack Warner, around whom controversy and allegations of impropriety in the football world swirled, benefited from the euphoria of the day. The few who said she should stay far from Jack had their voices drowned in the din of the madding crowd. The discerning among the populace saw the danger in promoting such a man to a heartbeat away from the seat of power.

But no one heeded the warnings, certainly not Kamla. She went overboard with her gratitude (‘Thank you, Jack, thank you, Jack!’) and was effusive in her praise. Three years later, she would finally find his many FIFA sins too heavy a burden to bear. But by then, her deficiency in a critical leadership quality, selecting the right people for key positions, had already been exposed.

By the time she mustered the courage to part ways with Jack, he had positioned himself to embarrass her, which he did in the by-election for Chaguanas West.

Snagging the bombastic Herbert Volney from the bench and parading him as a godsend to the electorate was another disaster-in-the-making that was obscured by the mood of the 2010 elections moment—and momentum. In short order, he would be exposed as a misfit, another embarrassment, but most of all a poor choice for the portfolio she awarded him.

And so the humongous Cabinet she created, ministerial jobs for the boys and girls, unravelled around her, but for a handful of competent, reliable persons who, really, have kept the Government ship afloat in a swirling sea of sewage.

Anil Roberts has taken the fall for this latest, multi-million-dollar sporting-cum-criminal scandal, as well he should, being the minister in charge. Ultimately, though, the PM must accept much blame for this wanton waste of public funds that has become her signature solution to every problem—throw money to douse the fire.

Have we forgotten the “Colour me Orange” programme that came out of the state of emergency, dollars for criminals, paying them to not rob and kill people? What about “Hoops for Life”, the costly basketball initiative, launched with much fanfare, with Shaquille O’Neal nailing a three-pointer with the PM in his hands?

Her leadership style is to throw taxpayers’ money at every perceived problem—which is no leadership at all: ATM machines strategically deployed across the country, with smart cards widely distributed the way food cards are, to rich and poor, can achieve the same ends.

Carnival, Divali, Eid, Emancipation, Indian Arrival Day, Shouter Baptists Day, Christmas-share money like “parsad”. Then preach the gospel of hard work and self-reliance. Top off the “freecos” with reduction in the prices of flour, rice, edible oils, all agents of lifestyle diseases. Then spend billions more on health care for diseases you promote.

Luckily, the Partnership Government inherited solid savings and healthy foreign reserves. Luckily, too, the prices of oil and gas rebounded after the collapse in 2007-2009. And the national economy performs reasonably well not because of Government initiatives, but because of systems that have been in place for years, however deficient they may be.

The passing parade of ex-ministers and high officials, the musical chairs in the boardrooms of critical State enterprises, the narrow escapes we’ve had from square pegs in round holes (think Reshmi), and persons wholly unsuited to key offices who have been foisted on us, are all symptomatic of leadership that sorely lacks what it takes to steer the ship of State.

It’s not easy to lead anything in Trinidad and Tobago, far more the country. It’s a demanding but thankless job. But when you offer yourself as Prime Minister, you must be better than ordinary.

Kamla has led us into temptation for dollars, she has not delivered us from the evils of crime and corruption, but hers are the power and glory to enjoy…until the next elections.

8 Responses to “Lead us to temptation”


  • “this is a Government of confusion, by confusion and for confusion.”
    Naw, u wrong there Raff. Your statement is like a bunch of “unripen chichito fig”. Looks ripe externally but “cassa” inside. The PM was not the one to fired Anil, his leader Prakash gave him the first solid kick on the behind. The PM wanted evidence of corruption and inefficiencies, she found it in the auditor report. Note the COP is silent on this issue..

    The PM is one of the most brilliant leader to have ever lead TnT. You look at her education and training Raff, then compare it Rowley geology degree. If you study rocks Raff you become a “rock head par excellence” not a leader of TnT.

    As for the PM giving food card, that is a basic need you cannot deprive citizens of, the poor you will always have in your midst. One day their lot will improve. The general economy in the non oil sector has improved tremendously with companies announcing incredible profits.

    The highway to Point Fortin will see unprecedented development well into the future. Communities are going to benefit from the connections by road in a way never seen before. The Chinese are going to build more restaurants and groceries along these areas. Never before has there been so much opportunities available for all.

    Like an abused wife people are anxious to return to the PNM…. To the good old days of Toruba..

    • Are we living in that country described by Mamoo? Anyway, it is not what the eyes see, it is what the eye thinks it sees that count. I wish Mamoo can share that paradise with us. The PM did say that it was not Anil she saw in the video either, so que se ra se ra! Just seems to me that Mamoo fears the good and cherishes the bad.

  • “By the time she mustered the courage to part ways with Jack, he had positioned himself to embarrass her, which he did in the by-election for Chaguanas West.”

    While the PNM screamed for Warner removal, the PM could not act until real evidence came forward to Lay a case for “justifiable removal”. If she had done it earlier she would have made more enemies than the hair on Prakash head.

    Jack was the author of his own demise, attacking coalition partner COP leadership at every opportunity. They put pressure on the PM to send Jack to the political graveyard.

    The PM timing for Jack removal was appropriate, she had evidence of corruption and made a strong case for his removal. The people of Chaguanas West stood behind Jack because like “Duddus” in Jamaica he gave contracts galore to his constituents. The next election Jack will lose that seat. Since his departure from the UNC he has failed to deliver and people go where their bread can be buttered.

    The PM have to act taking into consideration her supporters and the national good. No one understands that better than her, she has been criticized for not acting earlier on Jack but I think it is an unfair criticism, she acted at the right time citing the Bajan’s FIFA report and the international implication on the image of TnT. Nuff said.

  • Mamoo can you produce any evidence to support your view that the PM is one of the most brilliant leaders we ever had? If you can do that you will be considered to be a brilliant Trini. Take up the challenge if you can.

    • Kamla Persad-Bissessar attended the University of the West Indies, Norwood Technical College (England), and the Hugh Wooding Law School. She was awarded a B.A. (Hons.), a Diploma in Education, a B.A. of Laws (Hons.) and a Legal Education Certificate. In 2006 she obtained an Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) from the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Trinidad.[4]

      Even Eric did not obtain such a high level of education. Chongjin what education did any of the other Prime Ministers possess that come close to her education?

  • Well Raf, the spin doctors may be correct by your own submission. We need to remember that the Opposition is what was voted out in 2010 by the populace, who were the beneficiaries of self-aggrandizement. Did Eric Williams got rid of O’Halloran, Prevatt et al? How different was ‘DEWD’ then? One needs to take into consideration what is the destructive elements in the culture of T&T? The answer is simply rumour-mongering, talk without action, work little for lots of pay etc. Remember, Jack lambasting COP and now today we are hearing of an ILP and COP coalition. Panday is correct, when he said that politics make strange bed-fellows. Now it is my opinion, that it is the first time in the history of T&T we are seeing the top of the hierarchy (government) being dealt with. Are we there yet? I don’t think so, because KPB appears to have her hands filled and it appears that she has been misled initially by colleagues to put some square pegs in round holes. However, what is becoming admirable is she uses time wisely in accruing her material before she dispenses with the misfits. In other words it is what the position demands regardless of who the individuals are in those positions. Also with the upcoming 2015 general elections, I would not be surprised if the AG’s office deliver some ‘telling blows’. The problem is, Selwyn Richardson attempted such whereby his physical removal remains an un-solved statistic today.

  • Comrade, I humbly suggest we put the pnm back in power. Al-Rawi as Prime Minister,Fuad as AG,Inshan as Communication Minister, Yasin(former policeman) as CoP(he most certainly will take care of crime), you could be Chief of Defence Staff.I would give some more ministerial suggestion later on. The people who are not happy with the PP Gov’t would be happy. We could also rename the capital Laventille. And the country could be called the Islamic State of T&T.

  • Thanks for responding to my question Mamoo. I am impressed but not convinced. You have confused academic attainments with leadership. Education does not necessarily make one a leader. What you need to do is define what you mean by leadership? What do you mean by brilliant? Once you take that approach you can build a convincing argument to support your view that the PM is one of the brilliant leaders we ever had.

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