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The Ghosts of PNM Past
Posted: Tuesday, November 4, 2003

By Stephen Kangal

Even casual observers cannot help but zero in and connect the incremental evidence pointing to a creeping re-enactment of the sinister modus operandi of the old PNM. The insertion of preference to be accorded to male Afros between 17 and 24 at COSTAAT soon after Cudjoe's racial hallucinations is the tip of the proverbial iceberg or a case of mouth open and story jump out.

Many had deceived themselves into believing that this baggage had disappeared with the advent of the New Manning PNM. But a leopard cannot change its stripes easily irrespective of the misleading concoctions dispensed by spin –doctors via a-well-lubricated PR machinery.

MP Fitzgerald Hinds proceeded uninvited but impulsively and quite provocatively to recreate the ghost of the late Roisucrucian "prophet" Williams by re- invoking the latter's obscene branding of Indians"... a recalcitrant and hostile minority". This because they the Indians, dared to seek safeguards to protect their inherent minority legitimate political and other interests having refused to subscribe to the myth that the new Black ruling elite successors to the White Colonial Massas could determine and be the sole judge of what was best for the Indians in pre-Independent T&T.

Ten thousand of this Indian minority turned majority were callously decanted unto the bread line facing a bleak future by the same PNM in one fell swoop by the most outrageous act of injustice perpetrated in the 21st Century on the very day that my working class African brothers and sisters celebrated their emancipation. But over $500m annually can be found to fund the largesse being dispensed via the feeding frenzy of CEPEP and URP to provide unemployment relief to the urban unemployed and the hooligan element.

An annual subvention of just over $200m kept 9,000 law-abiding workers in sustainable employment that contributed to and subsidised our food security, earned foreign exchange, the local rum industry, increase in GDP and kept 120,000 people in Central just above the poverty line.

Our own domestic laws duly passed after debate in our elected parliamentary democracy geared to uphold the tenets of integrity in public life and equality of opportunity are being derailed because the legal views of one incognito Anglo-consultant, Bernard de Speville is conveniently being given precedence over and above the collective wisdom and legal supremacy endemic in our Parliament. This consultant is being used to supplant the law determining capacity of our Judiciary all in the name of rationalizing the suspension of the operation of our integrity legislation. The latest, integrity circumventing, delaying gimmick is sending the matter of the Integrity Forms before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.

On the other hand pre-fabricated, external Caricom laws that did not see the light of a single Caribbean parliament including our own bicameral legislature are being accorded with undue, hasty precedence and $400 million of our national patrimony.

The stalling of the operations of the Integrity Commission must be considered against the backdrop of the non-enforcement of the Equal Opportunity Act. This is a recipe designed to prepare the way conducive to flourishing graft, corruption and the discrimination of the past that was transacted in spite of the all-pervading morality in public affairs slogan. Only Parliament can change its own laws- neither the AG nor consultants nor Cabinet.

The message that is being telegraphed is clear: Equality within our cosmopolitanism and integrity in public life would as before be prosecuted and masqueraded via nice- sounding, vacuous public statements even though the subsequent underlying political practice may be at complete variance and inconsistent with the public preaching. This is intentional. I am not concerned about policy facades. The policy facades of the period 1956 to 1986 did not stem a practice that lavished the state's resources on creating a dependency syndrome on urban blacks.

A facet of this message is the sermon being delivered by The Minister of Housing that his hurriedly conceived voter-padding housing policy is for the benefit of all Trinbagonians when practice has empirically demonstrated that NHA/IDB Housing has traditionally benefited urban-sub-urban Afro-communities. Part of this message is also the misleading recent Local Government slogan that the PNM was serving all communities while rural/ Opposition communities/ Corporations/ constituencies suffer from persistent marginalisation, neglect and virtual disenfranchisement.

Which of the duly elected Caricom Parliaments was given any real opportunity to debate the Statute Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), The Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), the freedom of Movement of Certain Category of Workers (Media) and UWI Graduates. Common passports and single currency are in the Caricom pipeline not LNG.

The problem with the CCJ is not its role and function. The problem is that it is ultra vires our 1976 Constitution and our legislature was not afforded any prior opportunity to pronounce on its mandate or its political modus operandi/ decision making. No elected Caricom legislature can change a coma or add a full stop. This is legislation contracted via the back door with Cabinet usurping the law creating capacity of our Parliament. No legislation of such far- reaching import should be given force and effect in T&T without taking into account the prior views of the people, the Law Association, NGO's and our bicameral legislature.

Soon laws forged while sipping nutmeg liqueur on Grand Anse Beach in Grenada relating to the political unification of St.Vincent, Grenada, Barbados and T&T will come to our Parliament to give force and effect to a tenuous political agreement even though neither the people nor Parliament was ever consulted but bypassed in the interest of political expediency.

Is the illegal dismantling/ partial-appointment/ delaying of the work of the Integrity Commission and the suspension of the Integrity in Public Life Act being engineered to throw a political life–line (a quid pro quo) to The Silver Fox who has degenerated into becoming the greatest political and electoral asset for the PNM?

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