Billboard face to launch a million votes?

By Raffique Shah
December 28, 2014

Raffique ShahIn the spirit of the season, which for me means extra-laid-back, lazy if you will, certainly not busy with chores that people ignore all year only to attack feverishly only at Christmas time, I thought I’d round of the year on a high note even as I lay low.

Really, we cannot be so blighted to have endured yet another year of foul-ups by those on high and lawlessness from top to bottom, crime down but criminals running free, a health system that’s ready for the dreaded Ebola but takes two years to deliver cataract surgery, costly free education that churns out a handful of bright young people but a mass of dumb others—surely, we would be spared worse in the final few days of the year.
Or so I thought.

Then news broke of a very senior police officer, assigned to lead the complex anti-crime charge in Tobago, but the man could not even switch off a simple cellphone! Tell me, how can residents of the sister isle repose confidence in this man, however impressive his record in fighting crime may be?
In this modern world where criminals use digital devices to augment their armouries, the last thing citizens need is for the police high command to place the fate of an island in the hands of a technology-challenged officer. Who knows what other handicaps he has?

However, in a country where the blind lead the blinder, stranger things happen. I shan’t be surprised if the officer in question is promoted for being valiant (to wit, battling the captain and crew of a hostile aircraft), or even elevated to Commissioner. Nowadays, it seems, any cook or ace bottlewasher can be a commissioner.

My lazy-daze was further interrupted by the overnight appearance of billboards bearing the Santa-ific images of our esteemed Prime Minister, erected along the highways, wishing the nation a happy Christmas. Fresh from delivering tens of millions dollars’ worth of toys to a hundred thousand or so children, the origins of which remain shrouded in the mystery of kickbacks if not the myth of the central and south growth poles, the PM, or her handlers, upped the propaganda ante with promotion of the personality cult.

Now, if the PM had used such billboards in an elections campaign, and if they were paid for by her party or openly sponsored by some financier, I would have yawned, curled up in my hammock, and promptly dozed back into a Christmas coma.

But there are several irregularities hovering over these billboards that disrupted my reverie. Communications Minister Vasant Bharath said they cost $60,000, small change really for today’s politicians.

Fine. But who paid for them? Were they Government-funded, corporate-sponsored, or mysteriously materialised by hands as unseen as those that produced toys by the tonnes? The answer to these questions is of material interest to the nation. If it was public funds used, who authorised the expenditure, from what ministry?

Ordinarily, I’d just yawn over something like this. But this Prime Minister has the distinction of having her face etched on more objects than all her predecessors combined, and quite possibly more than all Caribbean leaders ever, except for Haiti’s Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and I wonder why.
I have never seen the lady in the flesh, but maybe she thinks she has the prettiest face in the country, so why not flaunt it? She smiles at her supporters from coffee mugs and teacups, T-shirts and bandanas, postcards and stationery, posters and placards, banners and buntings, tissue and toilet paper… Really, the lady smiles through every crack and crevice in the country.

Her omnipresence reminds me of some of the more notable practitioners of the personality cult of an era I thought had long expired, mostly men, who stamped their larger-than-life personalities on their people, a few by acclaim, most by decree. I refer to the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Churchill, Franco, de Gaulle—names that mean nothing in today’s world.

France’s wartime leader de Gaulle epitomised this trait of near-divinity when he all but trumpeted Louis XV’s “L’Etat C’est Moi” (I am the State). A visiting head of state, walking with de Gaulle on the grounds of the Versailles Palace commented, “Lovely morning, Charles.” “Thank you!” replied de Gaulle. After all, He created the morning!

When a leader assumes God-like airs, he or she sets herself up for a fate worse that political death. As towering as the men above were in their heyday, when they fell, it hurt. Churchill was dumped as prime minister immediately after the war. Mussolini was killed and discarded by Italians. Hitler took the cyanide exit. Stalin died mysteriously, and so the mightiest who thought they were supreme, indispensible, were booted out of power in ignominy.

As I watch the Prime Minister touting her face in the hope that it launches a million votes, I recall the adage “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
Now, let me return to my doze: wake me up when it’s over.

8 Responses to “Billboard face to launch a million votes?”


  • Allusions to Hitler, Mussolini, Papa Doc is a sad example of an over active imagination. The PM does not qualify as a rabid dictator whose mission is to subjugate the population into cult worship. Having said that there is bit of excessive image display at this holy time. It takes away from the Messiah and his redemptive mission to lost humanity.

    Billboards were used by Manning in his constituency with the words “welcome to Cocokeye vote PNM”. We live in a world of excessive media, sometimes we can get lost in the innocence of a billboard wishing the nation a merry Christmas from a loving Prime Minister. A Prime Minister who has led the effort to transform Trinidad into the pearl of the Caribbean.

    This Prime Minister has given more to the children of this nation than any other in the history of TnT or the Caribbean or the world for that matter. Free laptops, over 100,000 Christmas gifts, $500 for poor mothers, the education budget is the highest. Never has anyone seen or experience such huge investment in the future generation, no wonder the older generation feel such anger as exemplified by Shah defecations.
    Happy New Year!

  • In developed western nations budgets are allocated to members of parliament to convey greetings to their constituents for every religious and cultural occassion.These funds are spent on huge newspaper ads, personal greeting cards and public notices.
    Recognition of these holidays were initiated to gain support from ethnic groups and new immigrants.
    Shah shows his insularity here in a very cowardly partisan manner, as usual, fearing to offend his PNM friends. Comparisons to totalitarian regimes and leaders are not only offensive but inappropriate and just plain ignorant.

  • Canada has over 35 million people & most receive personal Christmas Greeting cards ..in some cases several for those owning several properties! Do the Math as stated by TMan & that is coming from State funds!Shame on shah who should have been in jail OR rather executed had he been living in Papa Doc’s,Mao’s,Stalin’s,Mussolini’s days!

  • “Shame on shah who should have been in jail OR rather executed had he been living in Papa Doc’s,Mao’s,Stalin’s,Mussolini’s days!”
    Intricate

    Now folks,and so,in my best John Agitation voice, let me add-well aye aye Papi,.. wonders never cease! Finally a member of de tribe,is willing to give some cyber luv ,or more appropriately,much deserve credit ,to an astute leader ,and globally respected statesman, in Papa Deffy ,Dr Eric Williams.
    No cuz intricate, you are ‘a day late, and a dollar short,’as we like to say on de streets,as the record would show ,that yours truly,has asked this question repeatedly in the past:- What would have been the fate,of young idealist,Sandhurst Coup school graduates,such as Uncle Raffique Shah,and Rex Lassale,if Basdeo Panday,was the PM,and not ,the Faddah of our Nation,Papa Deffy Eric?
    On dat continuum,what would have been the fate of that Islamist criminal goon,Lennox Phillip, aka Abu Bkar, if in 1990,the PM,was either Patrick Manning, Basdeo Panday,or this media cuddled,political neophyte ,Siparia Queen Kamla?
    ANR Robinson, de Castaria Kid, went to his grave,and no one paid a price-in or out of power,be they in the business,political, or religious community, and we ,the more astute,know why.
    Don’t worry folks,for one day ,my Afro dominant-historically neglected Tobago, shall rise up,and push off the big brother Trinidad yoke,that has kept it in such a pathetic state,since 1962.
    Translation -‘the neglected stone,shall become de cornerstone,’ as we like to say on de streets.

  • ‘Don’t worry folks,for one day ,my Afro dominant-historically neglected Tobago, shall rise up,and push off the big brother Trinidad yoke,that has kept it in such a pathetic state,since 1962.'(NEAL)

    I am in Tobago right now and I can assure you that this beautiful island is not in a pathetic state. Eighty percent of the population is employed by the government, enjoying the big cheque that arrives from Trinidad anually.The Afro dominant population is not stupid. They know who butters their bread.

    • “I am in Tobago right now…. Eighty percent of the population is employed by the government, enjoying the big cheque that arrives from Trinidad anually.The Afro dominant population is not stupid. They know who butters their bread.” TMan

      Nice try mi delusional Piasano,but that idle/old talk, is more suited for dem idiot Canadian ,Kiwanis ,club members ,and German/British,land speculating Euro buddies ,of yours,as they are gullible enough to fall,for anything ,as they desperately try to escape domestic Islamist goons ,that continues to wreck havoc ,among the culturally naive,across their respective fiefdoms.

      Maybe ,if the respective political bums ,that controlled the political scene ,since evil, conniving Massa departed ,had done more to enhance tourism ,and likewise promote a climate that was favorable to independent entrepreneurship,then less members of Afro Kinky head nation,would be inclined to seek state jobs,be it in Tobago ,or Trinidad ,don’t they?
      Speaking of sucking at our Mama -state- treasury breast ,like ravenous swines ,there is something ,that you selectively outrage bozos ,seems quite inclined to ignore.
      80% of more of the wealth, and fortunes ,that was acquired by your fellow tribesmen business -rouges ,&vagabonds ,emanated from the state.
      Last ,I check Moonan,or Seeram brothers ,did not build roads in Bangladesh, or Columbia.In four years of PP power ,more state contracts, were conveniently given, to business financial benefactors, who ensured ,they got back in substantial proportion,their pound of flesh,quite close to your Siparia Queen Kamla’s heart-who they supported in her power grab.
      Did anyone mention Ish /Steve ,or crooked AG Rammy,Section 34 ,failed bill,lately?
      Hey TMan,we know that during the contentious THA elections,your PM,and her UNC dominant, PP governmental goons,with de help of Tobago Jack,the duck man,were pretending to grant Tobago some semblance of authentic ,self government ,for ,historically neglected Tobago, just before the voters ,responded ,by giving her the symbolic middle finger,therefore ,my question to you ,and similar cyber yappers, from big brother Trinidad ,is this :- Why don’t your PM,and government, not put things in place, to finally get rid of this unwholesome economic burden, that is Tobago,and so ,eradicate another troubling, African problem ,once and for all?
      A word of caution however. Bear in mind ,that ‘The society for Economic& Political Justice ,’in Tobago,will be ensuring that Tobago get full compensation, for the decades of stolen oil/gas, that were taken out of Tobago waters,and used ,in great measure,to enhance Central,and similar tribal headquarters/enclaves.
      In addition,tell that phony legal expert,sub par Guardian writer ,turned glorified AG of yours ,that separation is all well and dandy for most Gonians -already disgusted with absorbing thousands of escaping Trinidadians,as well as Caribbean illegals,not too fond of gun laden -gangsterland big brother Trinidad -however ,before idle talk can be initiated ,to take us down that part,proper and equitable distribution ,of ‘our natural resources ,’must first take place.
      Tobagonians ,did not beg Trinidad ,or Mamama England,for this lopsided ,twin island affair.
      African blood was spilled ,fighting for freedom from slave owning Massa.
      Yeah we know ,how much ‘you alze’ suddenly ,are enamored ,with your country,since you ‘rule the political roost ,’but for de record,it was Africans ,who were the ones at the forefront,of full independence for T&T.
      It is therefore not for ‘brown -neo triumphalist- country hating others ,’to now decide ,how the resources/spoils of T&T, are to be divided.
      Don’t get it twisted.
      Yes we know ,you are in Tobago,and so was an extremely successful ,PNM party adviser,who is now dead.Be careful,as Uncle London might request,that much maligned ,Acting Commissioner of Police Williams, send us once more ,his crime ace ACP Reyes,to start tailing you,to figure out your purpose in my neck of de woods Tobago,and more importantly,demand an account of your actions, over the past 72 hours,eeehhhh?
      Well… Just kidding, on that score,as we ain’t want to further burden de man ,since S M Jaleel drug bust,Dana Seethal assassination , and our murdered German couple cases, are still all left unsolved,even with the fine work ,by our boys /gals in Blue.
      Stay vigilant people!

  • Intricate, my man, you are right on target.
    Where does Shah, the unpatriotic rebel get off, trying to lecture us about radical dictatorships. This joker has a short memory or has he been completely rehabilitated?
    At least the governing party is simply putting up billboards, not using arms like he did to take control. What a hyprocrite!

  • “Where does Shah, the unpatriotic rebel get off, trying to lecture us about radical dictatorships. This joker has a short memory or has he been completely rehabilitated?”
    TMan

    Sorry TMan,but your paltry attempts at humor, fell flat. Perhaps you are loosing your troligian sting,mi amigo.
    Give it a rest,for our Cyber editor, Uncle Shah ,has more than redeemed himself, after his idealistic,anti Papa Deffy Eric adventures,in the seventies.
    If the Doc ,and the rest of Afro Kinky Head Nation, can forgive him,so should you,and kind,and here are several reasons why.
    He helped launch T&T Mirror, Bomb,and Blast,which gave voices to the voiceless,when Guardian/Express/Radio Trinidad/610 Radio,and TTT,were the monopolistic, media kings.
    He help elevate Caroni workers life ,via his Trade Union representation efforts.
    He played a significant role in the arts ,and sports,which helped to advance the well being of folks across our nation.
    Without his sterling efforts ,your UNC dominant PP, won’t be here today,since he ,along with Papa Baz, were founding members of the ULF,and so in the process,showed us ,that a Trade Union ,can be more than just an advocacy movement/pressure group, for struggling workers,but a potent political force for change ,and empowerment.
    What made our Uncle Shah unique-at least in my eyes-was that unlike many of the neo -pandering bozos ,that we are stuck with ,across T&T, he does not see the need to ingratiate himself with any individual, tribe ,class,race,or power.
    One would be naive to think, our former Sandhurst Coup School trained /present day progressive minded patriot, don’t have his biases,but hypocrite,he ain’t,and for that we love him.
    He remains proud of his roots-as he should be – occasionally makes fun of himself,does not shy away from his past , especially the boys ,he served with,and would unhesitatingly stand up for the Tethron boys ,and gals ,in Gangrene-and for that we admire him.
    When our aging,yet fearless lion ,in Uncle Shah ,gets into one of his rants, re one of many,social problems ,affecting our T&T, one senses a caring soul,not some agenda driven dambly,by a self serving bozo-as is quite often the norm ,in La Trinity.
    There are those domestic civic leaders,and even intellectuals, who can only offer high praise ,when all goes well/in their favor.
    There are others with an unwholesome penchant for selective outrages.
    Uncle Shah,ain’t one such ,TMan,and for that should be applauded, not denigrated.
    We wish him well.
    Long live de Republic of T&T!
    Say yes to all progressive Humanists, with a patriotic spirit!
    Ain’t life beautiful people?
    ‘Me think so.’

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