No civility, much hypocrisy

By Raffique Shah
June 16, 2016

Raffique ShahIt would be asking too much of our politicians that they show some humility in their public lives. In fact, it will be true to say that, with precious few exceptions, politicians across the world are egotistical and arrogant, character traits that distinguish them from most ordinary human beings.

Lest I be accused of being unduly harsh on the men and women who offer themselves for high political offices, I ask that readers think of politicians you may know personally, contrast the genial soul you knew before he or she was elected or appointed to high office with the person you see (or saw) in office, lording it over lesser mortals.

A totally different animal, consumed by hubris, drunk with power, unmindful of the basic law in politics as in life: the higher you climb, the harder you fall.

So asking politicians to be humble while they hold office is an exercise in futility.

However, we can ask them to exercise civility in their interactions among themselves and with the population, although that too seems beneath them.

As an example, Government’s decision to draw down $2.8 billion from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund should have been routine, since both Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Finance Minister Colm Imbert had signalled their intention to withdraw as much as US $1.5 billion over two fiscal years to help bridge the projected budget deficits.

The issue flared out of proportion when Imbert, showing a serious lack of “couth”, refused to elaborate on the draw-down. He seems not to understand that the population has grown very distrustful of politicians, and in this “guava season” people want to know why Government withdrew $2.8 billion from their savings, and what they propose to do with it.

All it would have taken from him is a little civility, showing some respect for the people who put him in ministerial office-not the core PNM supporters, but the floating voters who make and break governments.

Imbert’s refusal to climb down from his high horse in spite of having been booted out of office in two elections seems to have rubbed off on neophyte Shamfa Cudjoe, the loquacious Minister of Tourism who, if she does not humble herself, could end up planting both feet in her mouth.

Interviewed by the media in the aftermath of Denise Demming’s dismissal as chairperson of the Tourism Development Company, Cudjoe boasted: I cannot be upstaged!

Well, excuse me!

Child, you have some harsh lessons to learn, and it’s a pity you did not keep the experienced Demming around to help teach you. Because I doubt Denise would have allowed you to be suckered into spending $400,000-plus on the “Soca on the Seas” misadventure that will do nothing for the country’s tourism industry.

Only last week, officials from the Tobago House of Assembly admitted that the multi-million-dollar annual Tobago Jazz Festival has failed to positively impact the island’s tourism. I imagine the same holds true for the Heritage Festival, the Easter goat races and other similar initiatives.

Copycatting music festivals or cruises that may have worked for some Caribbean countries won’t necessarily help boost tourism in Tobago or Trinidad. Tobago’s many problems start with visitors’ first encounter, a woefully inadequate airport. And the nation’s failure to cash in on the huge tourism spend in the region starts with its people’s’ negative attitude towards tourists. They do not understand that service does not necessarily mean servitude.

But I digress.

Our politicians, especially whoever happen to be in power, must be civil to others, especially to the citizens they serve. That uncalled-for display of hubris by Imbert and Cudjoe can cost the PNM some goodwill, and maybe votes.

Meanwhile, the sanctimonious opposition UNC is picking at motes in PNM eyes even as the beams in theirs are shown to be rusted and rotten. Their “scorched earth” policy during their last few months in government-destroying everything as they retreated in defeat-showed unparalleled shamelessness, not to add hypocrisy.

It was they who increased budgetary expenditure every year to unsustainable levels, even as, for four of their five years in office, they enjoyed buoyant oil, gas and petrochemicals prices.

They increased the national debt, left behind incomplete billion-dollar projects (Pt Fortin Highway, Beetham Wastewater), more billions owed to other contractors, billions owed to public sector workers, and sundry other debts that we are now learning about, thanks to the vigilance of the media.

Imagine signing some 300 CEPEP contracts, terms extended from one to three years, on the eve of their departure, including Election Day! Before that, they quietly withdrew the Lotto-drawing contract from State-owned CNMG and awarded it to a small private company. They also employed hundreds of persons on short-term contracts, and now cry foul when these make-work contracts are not renewed.

Talk about the heights of hypocrisy!

21 thoughts on “No civility, much hypocrisy”

  1. No one can seriously challenge the contents and context of this article. It is a sober and thoughtful reckoning of what is being offered and to be some degreed accepted as the norm for elevating mediocrity in the marketplace of politics and respectability. We are in the state of backwardness, not because we wanted to be there, but because we, as a society have deviated from living with simple disciplines to accepting expediency to nourish our expectations. Take for example spending. How in God’s name did we allow a government in power, to spend beyond what it can conceivable sustain and manage? Why, a government operating past it’s five year mandate, is lawfully allowed to carelessly make commitments that its successors must respect and be committed to? This is madness? When a election is called, the then operating government, should becomes a care-taker government, operating with certain restrictions, until they are given the consent of the electorate to proceed with an extension of their tenure. Our laws should be able to protect us from political carpetbaggers. No government should be allowed to operate beyond its constitutional mandate, unless there is national chaos, instability and lawlessness beyond control. Any government seeking to extend hold on power, beyond the constitutionally mandated term of office, should get that authority from a two thirds majority of parliamentarians and also the consent of the sitting president. Parliament is not a place to settle personal scores, it is a place to do the people’s work.
    How that is accomplished is how we define and make rules and regulations to select and elect people who are worthy of that expectation. We need to elect people of character and courage. When race tops any and every consideration then we cannot say that we are serious about better governance.

    1. “It was they who increased budgetary expenditure every year to unsustainable levels, even as, for four of their five years in office, they enjoyed buoyant oil, gas and petrochemicals prices.”
      The PNM are the worst at managing the economy, prior to the UNC coming to power they spent like it was nobody blasted business.
      There was huge accumulated debts in the shoulder of the citizenry.
      Here is what the PNM left the PP to deal with:

      This is what the PNM left the PP to deal with:
Here are some examples:

      Ministry of Housing $8 BILLION
      VAT $2 BILLION
      Contractors $2 BILLION

      Loan for Waterfront $2.7 BILLION

      Outstanding Fuel Subsidy $6 BILLION

      Loan for Tarouba Stadium $500 MILLION

      Loan for RACKET RAIL $500 MILLION

      Outstanding Wage Negotiations $9 BILLION

      Almost $60 BILLION in outstanding debts and that’s just a fraction, so when PNM and the so-called economists asking where the money going, they must speak.

      $9 billion given to the NHA prior to 2009 remains unaccounted for ….
      Great is the PNM.

      The great legacy of the PNM that we still paying for today–
      ——- Tobago Hospital going from $136 million to over $800 million in overrun
      —-Toruba Stadium going from $275 million to over $1 billion in overrun
      —-Patrick Manning $240 million Palace with $3 million dr————Calder Hart$368 million contract to his brother-in-law
      —-$2 billion summit of no return

      —-$650 million incomplete Legal Affairs Tower
      — $700 million incomplete Chancery Lane Complex
      —- $500 million incomplete South Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA)

      —-$30 Million Bamboo Networks Scandal

      —-Former PNM Tresurer Andre Monteil Scandalous $110 million HMB Shares

      —- $1.8 billion overrun on Waterfront Projec. ——–
      —- Petrotrin $12 billion (TT, $2.5 billion US) world GTL, Scandal

      —-$50 Million Blimp that always Limp
      —-$500,000 Skullarship grant to Louis Lee Sing daughter-in-law, Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing
      — Calder Hart as NIB Chairman buying back the $110 million HMB Shares for $130 Million giving former PNM Tresurer Andre Monteil a $20 Million profit
      — $126 Million Broadgate Place Tower Scandal
      — Chaguanas Corporation Administrative Complex-$10 million over-budget and 24 months’ delay;
      —Government campus, Legal Affairs Towers-$300 million over-budget
      — Ministry of Education Towers-$300 million over budget
      —-NAPA (PoS)-$234 million over-budget
      —NAPA (San Fernando)-$238 million over-budget
      — Beverly Hills Housing-$106 million over-budget
      —Three questionable payments to Bouygues days before the Election, payments were made on May 14 ($3.6 million), May 14 ($10 million) and May 19 ($5 million)
      —- Sunway Construction $300 million quarry contract Scandal
      —$100 million to fix shoddy work done EMBD with Water pipes and Electricity together
      —$150 Million to repair poorly constructed houses under Dr. Rowley watch
      —-Auditor-Generals Report stated $1.6 billion spent on CEPEP between 2002-2007 with lack of accountability

      —Tobago Financial Complex $81 million cost overrun
      —Tobago Library $80 million cost overrun

      They back for more…

      1. With a population of 60,000 Tobago as the PNM financial sewer continues to behave as the bad child. You know the one who does their own thing and listens to no one.
        All projects are in cost over runs to the tune of millions. From 2003 to 2006 a billion dollars disappeared. No one know where it went, not even the police trying to solve this mystery, emporer Orville and hottie Shamfa will silence them in a jiffy.’s-accounts

        1. Tobago budget $5.3 billion, population 60,000. Trinidad budget $64 billion population 1,3 million.
          Spending allocation per Tobagonian $88,000. Spending allocation per Trini $49,000. Drops to $45,000 if that $5.3 billion is included in the $64 billion.

          What is worst every project undertaken in Tobago has cost over run in millions. The highest being the Scarborough General Hospital at $7 million per bed for the 100 bed hospital. In addition billions disappear and they spend like its nobody business. After the last election Rowley immediately move to increase money for Tobago. While a Tobagonians savours the fat of the land, they are not getting a decrease but increase in spending. Trinis return to ketch yuh tail days. Great is the emporer Orville of Tobago.

  2. This is not of recent but there is a history of these happenings for decades in T&T irrespective of what government is sitting at the time. The basis for this is sheer arrogance of power from politicians over the people who elected them. On both sides of the fence it is then singled out as parochial mindedness.

  3. Achieving developed nation status is not simply to say that we are enjoying the latest technology, dressing in the latest fashion styles, constructing big homes and living in gated communities. It is not purchasing the latest model vehicles, traveling to distant lands and boasting of meetings with people of influence and heads of important organizations. In our country, it can clearly be seen, that with the introduction and administration of something called ‘multiculturalism’. Multiculturalism is a coded word to mean separate and unequal. It shows and displays itself different ways. Look at Mamoo’s posting above. At it’s base, it suggests that when the UNC is in power, the country is about ‘us’ and now that they are not holding us in check, it is about ‘them’. Look at Sat Maharaj, listen to the things he says. He takes the view that the controversy over child marriage is an assault on hindu customs and marriage and thus he must defend ‘his people’. Not only that. When he lashes out, his targets are ALWAYS black people.
    I was thoroughly disappointed in Selwyn Cudjoe when he suggested that Sat may not be a racist. Staid not have the discipline of sense of protocol to temper his racism to lash out at the Archbishop of Port Of Spain (a black man) and the U.S. Ambassador, also a black man about the stands they hold regarding the subject matter. Well Selwyn!, if that isn’t racism, then I am the King of Siam. Black intellectuals are pious to a fault. They always want everyone to believe that they are NOT racial. They harbor no ill-feelings toward anyone and when they get hit on the right cheek they turn the left to be hit just as hard. With all the realities of racism und unfairness that we experience people like Andy Johnson, Selwyn Cudjoe and others will want us to believe that it is not really so. They do that because they want to be seen as ‘fair’. Kamla is getting ready to ‘put on her court clothes’, meaning that she is getting ready to defend a man, and Indian man, who reached a high level in the Police service. Because he did not reach the level he really wanted, he called it ‘discrimination’, yes discrimination against him because he is Indian and therefore she must challenge the new rules and regulations in choosing a Commissioner of Police. As Prime Minister, she made sure by the time she left office the deficit rose to unprecedented highs. So high that the current government had to go to the Heritage Fund to seek money to pay to run the government. They had to do that to avoiding to burrow from the World Bank. IN her time, she ensured that the Armed Forces was run by an Indian, the Presidency while the official head is catholic, his influence is definitely conditioned by hindu leanings. The heads of the Police welfare and Prisons Welfare organizations are Indians. The heads of the Integrity commission, Prisons and Fire Services are all Indians. Sat Maharaj had a greater voice in forming policies than any other
    religious national figures. Our now Prime Minister, whilst being Leader of the Opposition was debarred from Parliament, just because the Indian Prime Minister did not like what he was saying……… Democracy allows give and take. But Kamlawants to have everything her way – the Indian way. She masks her character to appeal to others outside the Indian community by ‘buying’ their support. Large portion of the Baptist community, lead by Barbara Burke, is convinced that their alignment with the UNC is their way towards prosperity. That is so, because the baptist comment has been a maligned community since the British ruled the country. The PNM, being Afro-Saxon in its approach to governing never sough to openly court them, the black-power oriented groups and evangelicals to its core of supporters because they fear a backlash if they do. These groups usually tend to be populated with lower middle class and poorer uneducated Africans. They usually find themselves without a compass of mobility to look up to nor a path to look forward to.
    This makes them vulnerable to political and social demagoguery. They become easy prey for exploitation where the underground world thrives upon. This is where people like Mamoo and TMan get their impetus to label black people as uncivil, promiscuous, indisciplined, immoral and a hot bed for crime. While they do not use these words, their descriptions fit those labels. The present government, having inherited a bankrupt Treasury, almost every segment of government staffed by supporters of the UNC and with commitments to contractors that there is not enough money in the Treasury to pay, is in a bind. They have to find money to run the government. They have to audit every sector because of the commitments of the former administration to take care of their supporters and suppliers (even when they are not in power), is overwhelming. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the government is looking at the work done by contractors and the wordings of contracts signed by the Kamla-led administration to ensure their longevity. There is no doubt that many in the Indian community consider our culture to be too Afrocentric (Calypso, Carnival, Music, Dance, History and colloquialism).
    Multiculturalism was pushed under the Kamla-led government to
    push culture (not naturally grown) from Indian supplied sources to compete, thus a over supply of Indian music, song and dance on TV. A vast amount of money was put into carnival to mask the elevation of chutney into the mainstream. So chutney, although being local in its culturalisation was pushed to the same level or beyond during the celebration of Carnival. In order to develop society, there must be ingredients of behavior that must be synonymous and cannot be partial to create a developed mindset. We do need a national mindset that must have at its core, a mindset that stands for the same thing. To nurture that mindset we all must have discipline. We must have respect for the rule of law. We should not assume that because the letter of the law does not say something specifically, it does not mean that we should go against it. We must have freedom of speech. We must be free participate in religion (as long as it does not go against the tenets of the constitution). We must develop common courtesies towards each other. We must discourage the importation of values that are foreign to our way of life. We must understand that culture is NOT a competition between segments of the society. It is in fact the influence of all segments bringing together their experiences, culminating in the local practice of behavior that creates what is commonly regarded as culture. The United States of America, with a population of over three hundred and fifty million people does NOT celebrate ‘multicultural’. They celebrate ‘culture’, even though the influence of that culture may have come from every part of the world. Thus creating a nation that has culture. When we learn to have that kind of tolerance, then we may be on our way to creating the civility we need to be considered developed. In the meantime, we have to contend with litigious challenges by the Opposition to everything they see as contentious to their thinking. That is why our best avenue to getting there is to have open discussions on the issues of race, religion, culture and nationality.

    1. Culture is always “evolving”, you should not predicate culture on ethnicity as Trinis enjoys all expressions of culture. Indians are now heavily engaged in Carnival, many joins the bands to play mas. Calypso tents are empty but the art form is kept alive by huge government grants. Without that it would die a natural death, like the donkey poor animal you can only beat it so long.

      The PNMites are simply poor money managers especially with tax payer dollars. They don’t understand that the pot can only hold so much water. The PP got more done in 5 years with cost efficiencies in all departments. With 10,000 jobs loss in the last 8 months one cannot hold out much hope for the future except “ketch u tail” time is here. The OJT government has not done anything to stimulate the economy except talk. Talk is nice, it is soothing, comforting but all talk and no action leads to nowhere. Several billion were wasted in “cost over run” projects that yielde no return. The highway was “killed” without it being completed, that was a huge investment project important for economic development. Citizens could move goods and services faster and stimulate economic activities.

      The move by the Rowley led administration is to now build a highway from Port of Spain to Toco, something that would be a monetary sink hole of the worst kind. The history of PNM cost over run is staggering and nothing comes in on time and on budget. So taxpayers will be on the hook for years to come repaying loans and other public debts.

      1. Some people speak when they have something to say, others, just have to say something. My friend Mamoo falls in the latter category. My comments dealt exclusively with policy, his reply, dealt with partisan propaganda and racial posturing. If I were to enter into dialogue with him based on his posturing, I’m not sure my efforts would be worth reading because his mindset is like a statue. It stands in one place no matter what the topic or conversation. I need intellectual challenge on how we motivate to make this country a better place. Were I to to stymie my thinking of the politics of race, I would not stand a chance to reach those who are less informed. So, for now I will just have to say, expect dumb things from dumb people. If Mamoo remains ion this blog for the next five years, we are sure to hear the same dumb things for the next five years.

        1. You talk about racist and racism. Let me tell you the PNM started this racist foolishness.
          –75% of those hired in the civil service were PNMites.
          —All promotions went to PNMites. If u did not have the party card and right ethnicity you were passed up for promotion.
          —After Eric passed away, Kamal and Errol both foundation members were bypassed for the position of Prime Minister. Both were the archetect of the PNM rise to power. Why? Racism.
          —Manning sent an elete tactical unit with helicopters and all kinds of guns to arrest Chief Justice Sharma, but made a phone call to Abu Bakr asking him to come in.
          —Housing, during the PNM heyday Indians were told not to apply for housing, these houses were not for yuh people.
          I could go on but the PNM your party Kian like yourself practice racism. So don’t be like the pot calling the kettle black.

        2. The PNM is no paragon of virtue. They traditionally, over extended periods, perpetuated African clannishness
          in numerous attempts to sideline the Indian population.
          The PNM and its slave-like supporters are obsessed with the idea that T&T should present a Caribbean image of Africaness to the world. They conceptualized that Indians are immigrants who should know their place as the minor recalcitrant minority of the Southland. They repeatedly fail to acknowledge the population statistics which numerates the Indian population as the majority, which rose to meet the challenges in spite of the disadvantages concocted by a string of PNM governments.

    2. Are you sure that you want to hold up the Divided States of America as a paragon of virtue and tolerance?

  4. Mamoo, always the PNM hater.
    As a nation, we have lost the ability to recognize wrong from right.

    A few years ago, a former Prime Minister, serving then as the Minister of Education, removed corporal punishment from our schools and replaced it with nothing. Corporal punishment was the main form of discipline in our schools at the time. It worked for me – it protected me from my young stupid self, and adjusted my attitude.

    Being late to school, non-completion of homework and various other rules of school were no longer ‘wrongs.’ Imagine leaving school one afternoon and in less that 24 hours, realizing that nothing was punishable, meaning everything was right. We are now living in the era of the grand children of these first students.

    The wrongs committed by the PNM in past years, were repeated by the “10-15 Regime” by simply saying, “they did it when they were in power.” Nothing was wrong anymore. A young, educated Attorney General became the ‘general’ of what was no longer wrong. A now deceased politician once remarked, “all ah we tief.” We all laughed, this was humour.

    A female politician’s contribution (in Parliament) to the national interest was to discuss whose mother was raped. I am sure that Mamoo will vow on his death bed that the 10-15 Regime never did anything wrong.

    Need I go on?

    1. Can’t be too hard on the PP it was just their second time in office since independence. They invested heavily in health care coming in at a time when everything had collapse. Patients were sitting on chairs for hours without beds. The San Fernando Teaching Hospital, the Couva Children Hospital, the Point and Arima Hospital (under construction) the Oncology Unit, the refurbishing and expanding of Port of Spain General. The upgrade and expanded hours at Health Clinics across the nation. All good investments. Education stands out Dr.Goopiesingh did a tremendous amount of work in education, four hundred scholarships, expanded GATE, UWI Debe plus the PM gave laptops to students and education improved considerably. Standardize testing and certification centers.

      The government employees got up to 25% increases. Unemployment stood at 3.5% a record by any standard. The Heritage and Stabilization Fund grew every year. I could go on but no one can accuse the PP of not delivering for the people. Today we don’t have a government, we have a taxation department. More tax increases coming.

  5. Anyone who promotes corporal punishment as a legitimate disciplinary method is either uninformed or stupid.

  6. Anyone who promotes corporal punishment as a legitimate method of discipline is either uninformed or stupid.

    1. Anyone who removes a legitimate method of discipline and replaces it with nothing is twice as stupid.

      1. Frontsman, my friend, you must belong to the “dark ages”.
        T&T is overrun with UWI grads as teachers in our schools, apparently trained in the methods of modern discipline… methods which are highly successful in civilized countries.
        The question is why are these qualified teachers failing to be effective?
        The ex-PM at the time was Minister of Education and a serious attempt was made to institute alternatives to corporal punishment.
        T&T has more than its fair share of failing teachers and bad parents.

      2. Sorry Frontsman, but I have to agree with my neo Progressive Hermano TMan here- not dat I’ll use such choice words to call you “uninformed , or stupid.”
        You , and similar delusional others , then to give too much credit to floggings ,as a main reason as to why ‘you alze’ turned out well.
        Other important variables must be placed in the mix
        In our quest to achieve blind compliance,we human beings must not beat our innocent children, like if they are South of de Caroni Water Buffalos,overworked,Charlottville Braying Donkeys,Caranege stray dogs,or insignificant African Plantation Slaves , and called that DISCIPLINE.

        That must end forthwith, and I personally ain’t give a hoot , who is responsible for halting it in our schools.

        Yeah I know , dat both tribal parties, political elites ,are extra busy ,trying to get salary increases , but hopefully, the present regime , in addition to passing laws, that would lead to jail time for anyone who engages in marriage to underage 9, 10,12, 14 , and 16 years old children ,would likewise do whatever it takes, to put an end to this barbaric practice called Corporal punishment in the home.

        Speaking about barbarian cultures ,shouldn’t we be happy we are in T&T ,and not Bangladesh ,Pakistan or India,TMan?

        Yet some say dat savages , only emanated from the African Continent,and what folly,si?

        Here is de deal folks -You, and I , do not need 5 years studying for a glorified Phd in Sociology, at Ontario/ Toronto University ,or other lofty places of learning,such as Oxford, LSE,Cambridge , Yale,Harvard ,Columbia ,or Princeton , to know the following:- Little girls who were beaten ,tend to grow up, and then pass on the same type of inhumane treatment, to their own kids.
        In addition, they in turn , also grow up with a propensity for accepting ‘kicks ,cuffs, and other forms of beatings,’ by their hombres, when they are perceived to have fallen out of line.
        Little boys ,who experienced huge amounts of floggings, as a form of discipline , during their Childhood socialization period , tend to grow up , and likewise ,continue the practice ,on their family- both kids,and adult spouse.

        Say no to violence, and let’s do whatever we can to protect our women and Children – as a first step towards a civilize Nation.
        There is ample evidence to show ,that no Society can make meaningful progress, towards Sustainable Development , that treats it women , and Children , as insignificant, 4th class citizens.
        Stay Vigilant People!

  7. Shah reconfirms his PNM apologist status. He typically counterbalances his initial criticisms of the PNM ministers by launching an assault of the PP in the latter part of his article. His transparency is amusing to say the least.

  8. Neal, my friend, do not get carried away by TMan’s response.
    It is not about floggings or beatings. It is about removing the existing form of discipline at the time and replacing it with nothing.

    Only a brain dead person could come with such a ‘solution.’ The time and effort were not invested to come up with an alternative or even a phase out period.

    It was like going to school one day with a set of rules and the very next day there were none, emphasis on none. You cannot do that to teenagers and expect them to function. We as adult have to protect our children from themselves. Think of mindset of the youth. “Yippee, we don’t have to listen to Miss if we don’t want to.” “We can anything we want and they cannot touch we.”

    That is where I am going – discipline, not floggings or beatings.

    1. There is some merit in your argument. Although alternative forms of discipline were presented in theory, proper plans for implementation were inadequate.

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