Real People Power

By Raffique Shah
August 16, 2014

Raffique ShahWhat the railroading of the runoff provision in the Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament last week showed is that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will not heed the voices of reason, even if they come from within her own ranks.

Hubris having enveloped her soul, and with an army of sycophants massaging her ego with every word uttered from their mouths, the lady sees in every critic an enemy bent on destroying her. On the eve of her political self-destruction, paranoia has compounded the toxic mix that will hasten her demise.

In fact, I think psychoanalysts will have a field day studying her personality when they perform their post-mortems in due course.

I shall cite a few manifestations of a very confused and disturbed individual to support my contentions.

The PM boasts that the run-off provision, which discards the voice of the electorate at the initial poll when no candidate polls more than 50 per cent of the votes cast, embodies “power to the people”. This explanation is such a perversion of a slogan that once represented an ideal, it is sacrilege. I would love to hear big brother Makandal Daaga, who thundered the slogan back in 1970, explain to the tens of thousands who punched our fists in the air back then, just how the provision will finally empower us.

Then switch to the piece de resistance, when, with a flourish, the PM shatters however many years of parliamentary strictures (according to the sycophants) by announcing that People’s Partnership MPs will be allowed a “conscience” vote. Thunderous applause from Government benches.

Nobody asks if these men and women ever had consciences in the first place, or if they did, had they not long surrendered them on the altar of the Almighty Kamla? I mean, to have remained silent and detached as cardinal sins aplenty, from banditry to pillage, victimisation to racism, racked the Government, suggest to me that they are devoid of that most human quality.

So how can you give a conscience vote to people who do not have consciences? And when one among them, Winston Dookeran, restores it and passionately argues that what they were about to do was wrong, they regard him as they would a dog turd on the pavement. But then, did anyone seriously expect any of that lot to even think of voting against the party’s line?

The PM’s contempt for the masses did not stop there. In sending the Bill to the Senate, she suddenly finds time, a full month, to allow senators to study its provisions. The MPs did not need that—they are bright, seedless raisins. But those dull senators, especially the independents, need time to do their homework.

The PM really takes us for fools. Check and see how many Government senators are vacationing abroad. Check out who is courting the independents from whom she needs at least one vote in order for the Bill to become law. She will most likely get more than one. But she and her accomplices need time to work on them, to ensure they deliver when it matters most.

In the interim, she parades around the country with a blimp-size ego, comparing her tampering with the Constitution with historical milestones such as the abolition of slavery, Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid in South Africa and other landmark achievements. If you think I’m lying or exaggerating, check out her speech at an Emancipation dinner she hosted last Thursday.

Look, everybody is entitled to flights of fancy, to dreaming of greatness, especially when surrounded by sycophants who chant, “You’re the greatest!” At one time, the PNM equivalent of this lot used to say that Dr Eric Williams was “the third brightest man in the world”. No one knew who the first and second brightest were, but they knew the third—and we were expected to believe that crap.

In my lifetime, I have seen the burly Albert Gomes deflate from a super-blimp to a near-vagrant, almost literally. I witnessed the egotistic Eric hasten his own exit from the wasteland created by PNM sycophants. I saw the humble George Chambers assume airs when he became an accidental prime minister, only to be humiliated and driven into oblivion shortly thereafter.

I saw the rise and fall of Ray Robinson, Basdeo Panday and Patrick Manning, three quite ordinary men who became so consumed by power that it eventually consumed them. They revelled in the adulation, elevated themselves to demigods, and inflicted much hurt on persons they perceived to be their enemies.

In the end, they fell victims to their egos, cut down by the masses they thought they could fool forever. Ironically, the sycophants who had massaged their egos simply switched allegiances, finding new recesses for their tireless tongues.

In Kamla’s case, she will learn the hard way what real “people power” is. By failing to heed the voices of reason, to show respect for those who have paid their dues and who have always put country before self or party, she has squandered her chances for a second term.

The weapon she crafted to keep her in power, the run-off, will be used by the masses to ensure her demise. Wait and see.

17 Responses to “Real People Power”


  • The PM is placing democracy right where in belongs in the hands of the tax paying public. But a lot of politicians are afraid that they will lose their perks, you know the trappings of power, free car allowance, free house allowance, good fat pension etc. Such trappings of materialism could diminish a man’s worth, his ego forever addicted to power and it’s unrestrained excesses.

    Ninety two nations have the “run off” and democracy has not died. The founder of democracy the great United States have the run off system and it has not weakened their ability to govern according to the will of the people. So why the repugnant outcry against modern views on governance? It is simple you get a few donkeys to bray, then put it on the airwaves and before long commentators start riding this imaginary wave and so called populist opinions are foist upon the nation. One lawyer resigned in a wave of mal adjusted thinking claiming the run off is anti democratic. Lol where did this guy get his law degree…

    No commentator has even come forward and presented one case where the run off has failed to promote the will of the people. All it has been is insulting, unhindered and low intelligence attack on the PM. Yes the institutions of democracy is grease with PNM fat that has enveloped the mind of the borgouise class and the Port of Spain media. Whatever echoes resonate from there become an unhindered flow of human excrement via the other route.

    Balisier house has adopted the run off as part of their constitution but has cleverly engage the media in the psychosis of unadulterated fear…”we cyar have dat, it go destroy democracy” It is like the rich man eating well and then telling other it is bad for their health. Nuff said.

  • Runoff is simply strengthening democracy. Here is an example. 4 candidates runs for a constituency. Candidate A gets 20 % Candidate B gets 25 % Candidate C gets 23 % and Candidate D gets 32%. The Candidate who gets 32% wins the election. But wait a minute 68% did not vote for that Candidate. So the majority did not support the winning candidate yet he gets to go to Parliament and represent that Constituency.

    What the run off would do is take Candidate D and Candidate B and have a run off to determine the will of the people. How is that undemocratic. The winner will clearly have the majority support of his/her constituents.

    • Mamoo, we either have democracy or we don’t. This gimmick of ‘strengthening democracy’ is nothing but political folly. This government won the last election by a landslide, they have since been unmasked as pick up side that don’t seem to know where they are going. The country is in dire need of good and decent leadership which they cannot provide but they love the perks, so they come up with the uncertainty of strengthening democracy.

    • So, what happens to the followers of Candidate A and candidate C who represent 43% of the votes cast? Suppose in election one 60 % of the votes were cast – in the run off 49% of the electorates vote for candidate D and B. Do we still have a democracy? How does this enhance democracy?

  • It’s stunning how uneducated you are Mamoo! Comparing a run-off within a political party to a run-off in a national election that eliminates the third party representation in Parliament of thousands of voters is a simplistic and illogical comparison. Then you go on to talk about run-offs in the United States. The Kamla air you are breathing must be impairing your intelligence. There is simply no run-off at the national presidential level in the United States. Whoever wins the electoral majority wins the election. In fact, a presidential candidate might win the popular vote and lose the election if he/she does not win the majority of states – AND – no third party get eliminated from the process once they fulfill the qualification process. In fact, quite a number of Americans prefer not to vote for the two major parties and cast their votes for third parties knowing full well their candidates will not win the presidential election but recognize that their votes speak to their dissatisfaction with the major parties. Kudos to you Shah. Readers can always count on you for a cogent analysis. Kamla and company are counting on tribal base racialism to win the next election. Nonetheless, Trinidadians will show Kamla and crew next year that even in spite of thoughtless tribal alliances, Kamla and the crew will be tossed into a stinking canal of a segment of Trinidadian history, the smell so toxic that both “friends” and foes will historically distance themselves.

    • You all calling out the “bogey man”. The third, fourth and fifth party enter an election to win. In your thinking they enter to be the third, fourth and fifth party. The run off is about democracy and the power of choice, the third party stood NO chance before but with the run off if they come in second place, they have a second chance to convince the electorate that they are worthy of being their representative.

      For instance when COP fought the UNC, the COP came in second place in many of the UNC areas. Even though the COP had tremendous support they never won a seat. If there was a run off system back then the PNM could have thrown their support behind the COP and change the result of the election. So third party Jenny is better poised to challenge the “status quo”. I fail to see where the issue of racial voting falls into this category, people Jenny vote for their stomach all the time.

      • The run-off is still unnecessary and only adds burden to to the slow electoral system. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars, more lining up in voting booths and more traffic and lost of working hours. All of this so the UNC can gain an edge in the marginal seats.

      • So, is this run-off thing about ‘democracy’ or just another scheme to ‘win’ elections? How do we get good people in government?

    • Thanks for your efforts to inculcate the unlettered.

  • Democracy:control of a group by the “majority” of its members (Oxford Dictionary)…”rep by pop” (representation by population)Canada discussed the issue amongst other things.The conclusion:”he/she who crosses the finish line first is the winner”….regardless of the percentages!

  • So how will it help the people when the same lying, thieving, corrupted politician now gets over 50% of the votes? Will the people have s say in who is appointed to the Senate? Will the politicians now vote for the will of the people against the party? Will the people be the new party?

    Mamoo, you are old enough to know that everything these politicians do is to big-up themselves, and it has nothing to do with people power or democracy for the simple voter or tax payer.

    Mamoo, you seem to know a lot about how your beloved PM thinks, so explain to little old me, what part I would play in this new found democracy.

    • If more people vote for a particular candidate then that candidate becomes more responsible to his/her constituents. If you have a minority candidate then obviously the majority of the constituents have a candidate foist upon them by a flawed political system. The candidate Mr Frontsman then goes to Parliament draws a huge salary with all tax free benefits and lovely pension with nothing to show at the end of their political career. Who then is the fool? The people? The political system? Or The crapaud candidate?

  • Sigh

    This runoff election gets rid of the Spoiler effect, so I don’t really see any reason to complain about it.

  • Mincer, what you are saying is that the runoff election gets rid of all other parties except the two major ones. I suppose that is the meaning of democracy. Who is this Government going to get rid of next?

    Could you imagine the state of T&T politics if the PNM had implemented this system early in their reign?

  • http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,199460.html

    Ooops, now on to another pertinent political distraction affair, as played out by Auntie K, and her do nothing regime.
    There goes any chance Mikela Panday had, of becoming the 2nd female Zip PM in our country.
    Yeah Subas , we know how much you were allegedly angry with Kamla.
    How about that high end PP cabinet post, and all those lofty government legal contracts, you only acquired because of your tribal affiliations?
    These self serving, country hating barbarians, must not be allowed to overrun de T&T pearly gates people!

  • The Electorate and the Right to Vote

    Too many people are overlooking – whether intentionally, mistakenly or through lack of thought – several important factors that inform the decision of the electorate either to vote for a particular candidate in a general or local government election or refuse to participate in the voting.

    The Trinidad and Tobago electorate are aware of the complex nature of the modern society, especially the plurality of our society where a plethora of social, political and economic groups are continually contending for an equitable distribution of our country’s resources.

    Against this background, the majority of electors in Trinidad and Tobago, as is the case worldwide, accept government as the legitimate agent for the distribution of the country’s resources. They identify the political party as the best vehicle for forming the government because the political party is considered a democratic, organised unit with a clear vision and policy for governing. Also, they believe the political party is best positioned to run the country through its wide base for information gathering and analysis, discussion and decision making, meaningful and constructive planning and organisation that allow it to identify, garner, develop and utilise the country’s resources for the benefit of the people.

    As a result of their acceptance of the nature of society and the complementary role of government and political party, the majority of the electors do not believe that an individual who is not aligned to a political party possesses the overall capacity to effectively govern the country and provide for the proper use and distribution of its resources.

    Some time before Election Day, the electors make their decision to vote either for a candidate of the party of their choice or an independent candidate thus exercising their fundamental right 4 (e) the right to join political parties and to express political views, and three fundamental freedoms – 4 (h) freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance; (i) freedom of thought and expression; and (j) freedom of association and assembly as enshrined in the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago,. On Election Day when they vote, they complete the exercising of their constitutional right and freedoms.

    The Run-off Poll amendment is a brazen deception to force electors to vote again after they have duly fulfilled their constitutional right to vote for a candidate that they decided to choose.

    The Constitution does not provide for the abrogation of the section 4 listed right and freedoms through a simple majority vote of parliament. In fact, section 4 is the very first section identified in section 54 (2) that requires a special majority vote.

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