Keith Rowley and the Coercive State

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 27, 2015

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeSometimes our public officials act in incredible silly ways that are entirely incomprehensible to the ordinary citizen. Dr. Keith Rowley, the leader of the PNM, is locked in a close fight with the UNC, the governing party, for the leadership of the country. Fifteen days before the election the Integrity Commission (IC) demands that he produces certain documents within that period or face the prospect of prosecution.

This infraction occurred eleven years ago. Yet Dr. Rowley is asked to produce this information in the midst of a campaign when he is concentrating his energy on the nitty gritty of a campaign.

Fishing out additional information for the IC is not always as easy as it seems, particularly when the information required is more than a decade old. In 1994 I had purchased a property in the United States of America. In doing so I procured another mortgagee that combined my first mortgage of 1978 with that of my second.

In about 2010, as a director of the Central Bank, the IC wanted to know who held my 1996 mortgage. I could not answer that question since banks in the United States has a practice of bundling mortgages and selling them to other financial institutions after one has purchased a property. Someone who had acquired a mortgage in 1978 or 1994 was not likely to know who held his mortgage in 2010.

It took several months before I was able to sort out this matter. Such information is a not always easy to come by, decades after the particular business arrangement has been transacted and the necessary paper work completed. In other advanced societies, there is a statute of limitations on how long one is required to keep this information. In the US one is required to keep one’s income tax information for three years after one has filed one’s taxes.

State institutions can be coercive. They can also inflict enormous violence against a citizen. David Runciman, a professor politics at Cambridge University, England, has argued that “Sovereignty is a monopoly on the right [of the state] to use coercive force as a solution to human conflict. Only sovereigns are allowed to hurt people without any comeback” (Politics, 2014). This is what the UNC government is doing to Dr. Rowley.

When a public commission demands that the leader of a political party or the leader of the government produce documents within fourteen days before an election contest such a demand does not only inflict political violence against a citizen at the most crucial moment of a nation’s democratic process, it also uses its coercive power to unfairly influence the political outcome of an election.

The question that arises to any casual reader is this: what is so urgent about this information that it must be given in two weeks rather than two months’ time. What damage is likely to occur if the IC does not receive this information within two month? Why can’t this matter wait until the most important exercise of our democracy is completed within the next two weeks?

In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned for six years for sedition after he protested an unjust law. In 1950, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was jailed for one year for leading a “positive action campaign” against British colonialism. His follow citizens voted unanimous for his Convention People’s Party while he was in jail and the British was forced to free him.

When a state institution has the audacity to intervene into the political process of a society in such a biased way, the wronged party-in this case-Dr. Keith Rowley has no higher obligation than to not comply with this unjust request that is aimed at his personhood and his political raison d’etre.

Non-compliance and peaceful non-resistance against the unjust actions of the state are the only adequate response to such violent behavior by the state. Such behavior can never be acceptable it a democratic state in any part of the world.

Dr. Rowley has stated publicly his willingness to accept the consequences of his non-compliance with this diktat of the IC. Could you image what a scandal it would be if the ruling regime arrested Dr. Rowley as he pursues the nation’s business? Once and for all, such an action would expose the duplicitous manner in which the ruling party has conducted the business of our nation.

Professor Cudjoe was a director of the Central Bank Board for nine years (2003-12).

16 thoughts on “Keith Rowley and the Coercive State”

  1. Excellent ,thought provoking blog Doc,and your poignant team ,can be encapsulated under two words:-‘leadership matters!’
    Contrary to what many of my fellow citizens,on both islands , have been telling me, when questioned,on their prospective plans, on who to select for the next PM ,and eventual party, to form the government of this country-I say ,it makes a big difference.
    Exercise your hard earned right ,by sending Kamla,and her UNC dominant PP goons packing elections day.
    On September 8th,we as a nation ,can begin the task of rebuilding our country,from it’s present ruins ,as encouraged,fostered on it, by these agenda driven,self aggrandizing, unpatriotic,ghastly bunch.
    Our citizens need to be educated into understanding that voting,is only a minuscule part of the political process.
    Advocacy will be the key,during the ensuing years ,until next 2020 elections.
    Additionally,the creation of organizations ,to promote causes ,and working in solidarity with others ,who share those similar dreams of building a forceful T&T.
    In her run up to power ,last 2010,Kamla-maybe in one of her typical *** stupors ,and perhaps an unguarded moment ,devoid of her speechwriters,and handlers-publicly stated ,and I quote ,that “blood would run in the streets of T&T,if the PP lost.”
    Since we are much smarter than her,or any of her minions are,or can ever be ,we won’t ‘telegraph our shots,’as to what might emanate,in dis hear la Trinity, should they repeat.
    Stay vigilant people,and let’s make something positive happen,hmmm?
    Love of country ,goes beyond tassa wine,limbo dance ,as well of consumption of roti,and roast bake correct?

    Hey folks ,our ancestors did now fight for this land,kicked White ,evil ,conniving Massa out,shaped/fashioned ,and preserved our democracy,only to have these power mongrels,finally destroy it,si?
    Just checking.

    Long live the Republic of Toba…oooops ,lo siento T&T!
    I love this land,Y tu?

  2. Perfect example of wajangism at its best. Surely the requested document could be produced easily. There is after all 24 hours in a day. Dr. Rowley is aided and abetted by an out of control not accountable heirachy of PNM zandoolees. Their mission is to protect him from public scrutiny. So far the police has been unable to say if the emails are fake or not despite the fact that a U.S. Court says it is fake. One rule for others, no rules for PNM. They operate under the strong tribalistic tendencies of “auto sorterism” (self saving) dictum.

    The IC issue exposes Rowley because he lost his defenders and political moles embedded in IC. He is now exposed to open scrutiny. What does he do, throws up a wall of resistance and declare non cooperation. He begins a process to discredit the IC and try to frustrate the process. It worked for him in the past and so he thinks it will work in the future. He will not cooperate when call to account. It is his way or the highway.

    1. I feel sorry for those who think that they can somehow bring reason and commonsense to the thinking of Mamoo and TMan. This duo has been on this here blog for years and we are YET to experience wisdom emanating from their thoughts. They are true to their beliefs – the UNC is it, no matter what!
      Even when Kamla might be willing to compromise, this duo will stand to their creed of no compromise. But, on the other hand, their dogmatic approach to politics do at times allow us to become better writers of our opinions and statements. Very soon the election will pass and if the government shifts to the PNM, we will hear from this duo again on how bad government is and we may at times agree on events as they occur but I am sure that right thinking people will feel compelled to call a spade a spade, but being dogmatic is not one of the true characters of someone who wants to be understood. Just a thought and Im sure that it will raise the ire of the duo.

    2. Unlike you Mamoo, many Trinidadians and Tobagonians have observed the suspicious timing of this latest action by the Integrity Commission. If you take off your PP-tainted glasses for just a moment, you have to agree that this simply looks bad, especially in light of the recent fallout over the Emailgate scandal and the fact that the Commission is all of a sudden moving in a “hot and sweaty” fashion to demand action on an eleven-year-old matter.

      It does not take an august intellect to suspect that politics have placed the Commission in an undesirable and compromised position.

      However, I imagine you must stay true to your PP (UNC?) handlers, so continue to be the official apologist and deflect if you must.

      1. “During the period July 1 to August 24, 2015, the Commission dispatched 190 pieces of correspondence to persons in public life relative to matters relating to declarations currently being scrutinised by the Commission.” The Commission pointed out. “These letters are generally standard form letters that vary only in accordance with the information being requested. In fact Section 3 of the Integrity in Public Life (Furnishing of Information) Regulations mandate that the period for furnishing, or producing of any information required by the Commission shall be within 14 days of the declarant’s receipt of the Commission’s request.” — Newsday

        This is how it works Trinamerican and Kian, there is a standard letter that is generated and sent to those not in compliance requesting more information. Each cycle generates letters that are sent, in this cycle 190 pieces were dispatched, so Rowley name appear on one of the 190 dispatched letters. He receives it realise he is caught and flies into a rage. Later that day on the political platform he launch an attack on IC. wow. The same IC he once had a lot of confidence in.

        I am sure if he contacted the IC and said after elections I will respond to your request it will be no problem. They deal with request like that. Besides a few pieces of information can be submitted easily without a fuss, unless you are the high and mighty Ducter Rowley….hmmm. What makes him so special Kian and Triniamerican???? It is quite likely that out of the 190 some Ministers in government were included.

        1. “Disingenuous individual thy name is Mammoo”

          You clearly view everything through PP-tinted lens so I will respond according to the stumbling block that is preventing you from seeing the truth of the matter. Your argument is sound and valid and many people are simply unreasonable. Dr Rowley is clearly a belligerent malcontent who is not fit for the highest office in this land.

        2. Mamoo, I did not expect a more enlightened reply from you on this matter, you are in fact a client of dogma and propaganda, so any conversation in support of that body representing integrity is in fact support of madness. Tell me Mamoo, how many laws in the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago does this regime and its cohorts follow to the letter? Better yet, how many laws in this country do they really have respect for? Laws are not made without reason or purpose of application. They are in fact written to be applied in fact and in spirit. The word ‘in spirit’ has deep fundamental obligations and fairness to it. What it means is not because I am a policeman and I have the powers of arrest, I will come to your house and arrest you for not paying your traffic ticket. Process and application are considerations that will make your actions valid. It is this kind of mambo jumbo type of justice we see from the UNC that cause us to be in the doldrums of respectability worldwide. What we have in this country is a pack of jokers disguised as officials. Those who make up the IC are no exceptions.
          of international respect

  3. This is what Cudjoe wrote about Rowley in a former article:

    “Rowley is turning out to be an inefficient and perhaps uninspiring leader for which the PNM will pay dearly if he does get his act together. Rowley believes that leadership consists in attacking continuously and vehemently everything the Government does (and does not do); holding an occasional press conference; and calling on the government to fire every one from office. In some cases he is right; in others he is irrelevant. If the government takes his advice soon there will be few office holders”.

  4. A political attack deserves a political response. Then let the people decide.

    Rowley was well within his rights to fulminate as he did. Righteous anger can go a long way on the political hustings.

    It is also true that the IC’s provoc… er request … could be routinely responded to by a counter-request for more time. As Rowley has now more quietly done.

    That should hopefully end this distraction.


  5. When a state institution has the audacity to intervene into the political process of a society in such a biased way, the wronged party-in this case-Dr. Keith Rowley has no higher obligation than to not comply with this unjust request that is aimed at his personhood and his political raison d’etre.

    Non-compliance and peaceful non-resistance against the unjust actions of the state are the only adequate response to such violent behavior by the state. Such behavior can never be acceptable it a democratic state in any part of the world.

    I am always amazed at the parallels between the operations of the PP in our own T&T and the PPP in Guyana when it was in Government. But underneath that amazement is confirmation that in both nations people of African descent are dealing with a racist foe that is worse than the post emancipation regimes they confronted then. The similarities in the manner the two operate are to profound to be coincidental.

    While I agree with the principle of non compliance, I do not agree with it when it comes to no resistance. In fact it is this tendency we have model our activism on the precept of “loving ones enemies”, that disadvantages us, and advantaged them. Because they are incapable of reciprocation, and seek complain slaves rather than national brothers. Given this, we commit felo de se by holding to the tenet that we should allow them to run over us at will, or that there is some decency in their world view that will arrest their visceral pursuit of a relationship between us where we are the slaves, and they are the slave masters.

    I realize that these thoughts are not popular, and might be taken to mean we should engage in violent resistance. That is not what I am proposing. I am proposing that resistance does not have to involve picking up arms. Resistance involves refusing to move or bend. It means being prepared to die for your convictions. It means doing everything you can to ensure that all across the Caribbean and the world the message gets out about the true nature of the conflict.

    The Caribbean today is locked in a conflict based on whether the region will be ruled by a group with aspirations and ambitions that is culturally linked to race and caste superiority and inferiority. This is what the struggle in T&T and Guyana is over. And like Bob Marley sang, “and we know we shall win cause we are confident, in the victory, of good over evil”.


    1. Rodwell,
      One of the higher concepts of our beliefs as christians is the notion that “we must love our enemies”. In the fight for justice during the civil rights era in the Southern United States of America, black folks did not turn their backs on racism and injustice, they confronted it by using “non violent” tactics to expose wrong doings. “Love” in this respect, meant that we shall not do like “our enemies”
      did to us” but we shall use every means of persuasion to expose their nefarious behavior towards us and that will clear the way for peaceful change. That tactic worked well for the blacks against the whites then, but I am not sure that given our history and racial conflicts in this region we can use the same methods of resistance. In the United States Police repression were used mostly to intimidate blacks, whereas here In Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, the UNC and PPP governments have been able to use “us against us” to legitimize discrimination. “Us against us” is the use of blacks against blacks to achieve repressive results.
      In the United States, the “house negro” was used to keep the “field negro” in check. In T&T and Guyana the “educated blacks” are used by means of appeasement to achieve the same purpose. For example, if we are to believe the Express newspapers, they have affixed the word “corruption accused” to describe Jack Warner. They might easily and legitimately justify their use of the words, by pointing to Jack’s pending charges by the U.S Justice Dept. If we look up the word ‘legitimate’ , it gives us sound meaning – allowed, admissible, sanctioned, approved, licensed, statutory, constitutional. So while they may have legitimate reasons for using the words, the question remains – WHY IS JACK PERSECUTED WITH THAT DESCRIPTION WHEN THERE ARE SO MANY IN GOVERNMENT JUST AS CORRUPT AND DOING WORSE THINGS WITHOUT BEING NOT SO DESCRIBED? It is just the continued persecution of the black man. In parliament Wade Mark represent “the authority” used to pass laws that might be viewed as repressive against the black man. In law enforcement, senior police officers as the COP and deputies
      are made to use force, as in the case of the SoE to be repressive against black citizens. In education, people like Dr. Morgan job are used to convey the “uncle tom” message to the young. In media, the messages are aplenty – Skippy Carrington, the Gladiator and Dale Enoch serve to enforce doubts in our minds about what we might choose to believe about those who wish to enslave us. They are in fact carrying the message of the slavers to the enslaved.
      We also see religion being used to achieve the same purpose.
      Whilst the concept of the IRO is a worthy one, never before was it used to achieve a political outcome. We now see for the very first time, the president of the IRO being awarded with a ‘distinguished’ medal. The question is, what manner of service and to whom did he perform this service to be given this award? The IRO IS NOW BEING TAINTED BY POLITICS. Barbara Burke and Pastor Cuffy among others have been used to carry out pastoral messages to their congregations to favor political affiliations and they do it gladly for material worth. The misfortunes of Jack Warner and latterly Gypsy have been EXAMPLES of the use of “us against us” syndrome, in which those who choose to carry out the wishes of the enslavers only achieve material rewards for the selling of their brothers and sisters, but in so doing, suffer the loss of character and identity. Errol McLeod who most of his life, have fought for the labor workers and the down trodden, when given an opportunity to “elevate”, turned his back on the very same people he claimed to represent. Politics is filled with those of us who, for the sake of a penny will sell our brothers and tell a story of lies to suit their masters. Ask Lincoln Douglas, Clifton DeCoteau, Griffith, Rodger Samuel and others what have they done for the people they represent?
      Other than sing praises of the masters, what have they done?
      Yes, while it is christian to forgive and forget. We should never allow ourselves to be taken. Without a place or someone to identify with we have nothing. And this is the state of nothingness amongst some of our black brothers and sisters in Trinidad and Tobago.

    2. East Indians consist of the largest and fastest growing sector of the populations of both Guyana and T&T. Therefore, this segment of the population is a reality. It is not a matter of one group being victorious over another, but a question of finding successful ways of cooperative governance to the satisfaction of both groups, without ignoring the need of mixed race peoples as well as other smaller minorities.

  6. We could say that there was a precedence for the action of the state. The former Leader of the Opposition, Panday went to jail for a similar offence and no one at the time made any racial references or talked about revolution etc.

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