Ode to a Tea Bag

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 14, 2016

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeHeard the one about the tea bag? It only works when it is in hot water? Listening to such wisdom, I couldn’t help but think about my PNM government and my country. The prime minister is in California looking after his health. When a man takes his entire family (the old and the newly acquired) to be around him on such an occasion, then something may be amiss. He has asked the nation to pray for him. I think we should do as he asks.

Then there is a parallel situation. The attorney general is on vacation while the prime minister is away. While the prime minister is taking care of his physical health, the attorney general is taking care of his social well-being, presumably, a deserving respite after an election battle and eleven hectic months in office. To complicate matters, the president and the chief justice are taking their vacations at the same time.

This brings up the question: If it takes a prime minister and an attorney general to form a government, is a government “unformed”—or rendered illegitimate—if its two essential pillars are out of the country at the same time?

Does it follow that a T&T government does not now exist or that we have an acting government (a contradiction of terms) since the two foundational blocs are missing in illness and in vacation? I almost said, “Missing in Action” which, in other walks of life, is called desertion of duty.

I do not know where my party is going but I know it is not performing at its inspiring best. At a time when there is much unrest in the island; when the society is plagued by a spate of killings, the least the government, both elected and nominated, can do is to demonstrate they understand the pain the people are undergoing.

The president and the chief justice were not elected directly by the people even though they came to office through their elected officials who nominated them to those positions.

Is it too much to ask that there be a more coordinated effort among officialdom, both elected and nominated, when they plan their escapades?

In their absence, Stuart Young is the new poster boy. I know nothing about his or the AG’s political experience or philosophy, but I wonder how do Marlene McDonald, Camille Robinson-Regis, Fitzgerald Hinds, and other PNM stalwarts feel about all of this?

I am concerned about the undisciplined way in which the PNM has conducted itself in office. One only has to see how President Obama conducts himself to understand how a leader rallies his troops. Listen to President Obama’s address to the last Democratic convention or his speech at the Dallas Memorial Service in July to understand the power of rhetoric to help his nation overcome threats to its liberties.

President Obama has a constant message. He calls upon his people “to perfect the union;” that is, to continue working at the job their founding fathers began.

Our nation has fallen into a malaise. We suffer from a grandiose amnesia in face of the ever-present danger to our way of life. No nation can be free if its citizens cannot walk its streets without the fear of being assaulted or killed, even as its leaders go on vacation.

Our PM has allowed too many opportunities to pass when he could have tapped into our patriotism and asked us to reach beyond our selfish concerns. He missed great openings at Mr. Manning’s funeral service or even the PNM’s Women’s League to speak to our national aspirations and civilizational goals.

I do not know the political philosophy of Faris Al-Rawi or Young so I do not know what their new prominence means. I do know, as George Orwell reminds us, “Nothing ever stands still. We must add to our heritage or lose it, we must grow greater or grow less, we must go forward or go backward” (Why I Write).

The PNM is in danger of going backward if it cannot inspire a passion for justice, self-responsibility, and national pride in its citizens. Must the party wait until it finds itself in hot water, like the unpretentious tea bag, before it assumes its leadership role in the society?

The PNM has been in office for eleven months. I am not concerned about how empty the Treasury is, how the new leadership looks, or how much the UNC stole. I am concerned about the ineptitude of the present government and its inability to stimulate our people to dream of a better tomorrow. I wonder if, like the tea bag, its desire to inspire our people will only go into gear when the country is in hot water?

The ANC’s recent performance should be a warning to the PNM.

4 Responses to “Ode to a Tea Bag”


  • A journalist referred to Keith Rowley as the “accidental leader”, gaining the leadership of the PNM, a party devoid of persons with the talent and capabilities required to lead a nation.
    Keith Rowley himself does not posses and will never acquire the qualities needed to lead a nation. He is no Obama.
    I could continue to list the leadership attributes lacking in our PM and to emphasize the failings in his personal life, but I desist. The man is ill and at this time deserves some sympathy.

    • Speaking of “accidental leader,’ mi country hating Piazanno, then no one better fit dat bill, than your former 1st Hindustani female PM Auntie Karma.
      Patrick Manning obviously knew, he was ill/ was on de verge of death, and hence the real reason, he stupidly called an ill advised election , what was it ,2 years before one was due- an unprecedented act in Politics, anywhere across de entire Commonweaith .
      Tell you what , if we lived with Basdeo Panday , with not only his sclerosis of de Liver , and frequent trips to London, to get his medications, each time he got a gas pain, or his bladder failed to function properly, and so we can live with Keith Rowley.
      Your nepotistic ,glorified Siparia Queen Karma , thought she and her eat ah food-sister ,was fooling us, when she kept running all across the globe, for every inconsequential conference , when in actuality , it was a ploy to cover up her medical visits.
      Just give it a rest TMan ,for as Uncle Shah claimed, in one of his recent Blogs, de Mason Hall kid will do just fine, as long as he have Papa Nizza on his side.After all , according to you neo tribal degenerates, he and his Political party, only won the RECENT general election ,due to nicromancy , as perpetuated by said Papa Niza, hmmmm?
      Yeah , but when you morally repugnant , culturally depraved bozos win anything – from a court victory, to a Scholarship, an election, the hands of someone in marriage , or clinch a much coveted business deal, it ain’t because you prayed to your many ten hand gods, or on the other side of the religious isle , Mohammed , and his nephew Ali.
      With citizens like these , who de hell need enemies folks?
      Yet you cyber clowns ,still wonder, why Jamaica – a country which due to extreme poverty , is forced to spend less on it’s entire population, than de Mayor of Chagurnas do ,for his Borough- even as starting with Don Quarry 1976 success-they can boast of winning more olympic medals than T&T.
      No one gives a rats behind as to weather Keith Rowley – in your estimation- has ‘great qualities,’as a leader or not.
      The fact is , he took a party in disarray ,after the political idiocies of Patrick Manning , and held same together ,though the socio economic beat down by de crooked UNC dominant, PP bandit regime, then elevated same , to national prominence ,via victory, last election.
      That’s leadership, just in case your twisted mind, cannot decipher such.
      Even if he died in the morning – as many of you country haters wish-due to mystery illness, so what?
      The show will go on, as there are contingencies in place for succession- something the two political jokers ,of Basdeo Panday, and Patrick Manning, never fully considered.
      The fact of the matter is , that the PP party is in such utter disarray, and worst yet , so devoid of competent leadership, and as such, is destined to lie dormant, as an Opposition Party ,for the next 2 decades ,or more , and ‘you alze,’ have no one to blame but ……., well… even you are smart enough to fill in de blanks , ehhhhh?
      Say no to tribalism!
      Stay vigilant T&T!
      I luv dis land, Y tu?

  • The Prof expresses unfamiliarity with the philosophies of the AG and Stuart Young. Let me sadly state that they have no particular philosophical leanings; they are obsessed with power and dominance over those in “lesser” political stations. They practise the politics of convenience.
    We can probe further: Does the PNM or the UNC really have political philosophies? Are their politics based on race baiting and dog whistling at election time?

  • The rule of “thumb” for good governance is to do nothing so that the population does not have anything to criticized. Build a monument, do some massive project, alleviate suffering and a hundred critique will arise to condemn you. You will become the media “football”, and the talk of the rum shop drunkard. But one must understand that even Jesus was criticized for healing the sick, he was crucified for doing good. That did not stop him from doing good.

    A party in power need at least a year to begin the process of out stretching their hands and filling the pockets of the business community. During that year it is important that the PM chart the way forward and be available to answer questions of the ministers in ministries. The Prime Minister’s office carries tremendous weight in charting the way forward, his second in command the AG must be available also during that time. We live in a litigious society and the AG must protect public assets from those who would sue or seek to challenge the State.

    The PM health has been of public concern as to the nature of his illness.If it is prostate cancer then he would at need least 40 days of treatment everyday to arrest the disease. That maybe something that he choose to keep private. However, there will be speculation by a concern population. All of that aside, the PM job is a grueling 24/7 excercise in public duty. I can only wish him a speedy recovery and hope that his health improves.

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