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PNM: People unfriendly government
Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2006

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Party politics in TnT has finally "boil(ed) down to simple dis: Is dog eat dog and survival of the fittest." And the two major combatants are the people unfriendly ruling PNM government and the power-hungry opposition UNC.

This unholy, polarized political scenario has promoted the PNM as a government by default. This is a valid conclusion to the extent that ethnicity (not race) dictates that the majority PNM supporters will not vote for "those people" in the UNC and vice versa, the majority UNC supporters will not vote for "those people" in the PNM.

A "those people" political conundrum now exists in TnT and this conundrum is further exacerbated by the politics of fear (PNM) versus the politics of race (UNC) tug-of-war.

In other words, regardless of what the PNM government does or does not do, its political directorate is 100 per cent sure/confident that a certain percentage of the ethnic electorate will vote in its favour as opposed to the 'other' party.

One ethnic group of party supporters will never vote for the 'other' party. That is the stark, raw nature of the political beast in TnT today. Only time will usher in an era of political maturity; forty-three years of putative political independence is just too short a time period for such sanity to occur.

The fact of the matter is that this government by default syndrome has precipitated an "arrogance of power" mind-set in the PNM regime--- a mind-set that is most evident and pronounced in the area of public policy action or more specifically, public policy in-action. In this regard, the PNM government has been missing in action (MIA).

Indeed, the human fuselage from the PNM government's public policy impotence, neglect and insensitivity has been strewn all over TnT.

For example, it can be detected in the prolonged dry domestic taps in Belmont, Arima, Arouca, D'Abadie, Valencia, Spring Village, Caroni, Las lomas, Penal, Debe, Princes Town, Siparia, Moruga, La Brea, Morne Diablo, Fyzabad, La Romaine and Rio Claro- Mayaro.

In addition, law-abiding, tax-paying residents of Central and Trinidad's north coast are not only "sick and tired" of begging this people unfriendly PNM government to clear drains so as to permit the free flow of water but they are also "sick and tired" of beseeching this government to repair "deplorable conditions of roadways in their area."

In the medical-care field, the chair person of the Commission of Inquiry into Public Health Care, Gladys Gaffoor, puts it best this way: "Poor patient care is the major source of complaints about the country's health care sector."

In his own words, Health Minister John Rahael agrees one hundred per cent: "Too many public sector health care professionals in TnT have no compassion for the patients in their care."

Diane Seukeran, Minister in the Ministry of Trade, has also publicly criticized and chastised the health care policy of the PNM government. After recounting that the government has been in power for the past three and a half years and, in spite of budgeting millions of dollars for several projects to improve health care, Minister Seukeran had to conclude that "the work has not been done."

The PNM government's people unfriendly, MIA-public policy in-action has been exposed to the fullest extent in the wake of recent million-dollar fires in Port-of-Spain and San Fernando.

In the Port-of-Spain fire, "water problems again plagued fire officers" while in San Fernando, "inadequately equipped fire appliances, lack of water supply and a non-functioning hose-laying lorry that could have pulled water from the sea were all blamed for the buildings being razed."

The fact of the matter is that this water supply cum antiquated appliances problem still remains and persists in the fire services department. How many more businesses owned by law-abiding, tax paying Trinbagonians must go up in smoke, PNM government?.

The fact of the matter is that in the abundance of "materialistic progress" and petrodollars in TnT, "12.4 per cent of the population exists on US$1 (TT$6.30) per day and a further 39 per cent of the population live on less than US$2 (TT$12.60) per day."

These Trinbagonians are the real public policy boboolee under the PNM. PNM is a people unfriendly government, by design not by accident.

"Lack of caring" for the "least of these" in our society is the entrenched trademark of this uncaring, "unkind" PNM government.

Instead of caring and maximizing the basic human needs (BHN) of the people, the PNM government decided in its ultimate wisdom to build a TT$850m stadium in Tarouba. And this public policy decision was taken despite the fact that the brutal, harsh reality of all the afore-mentioned human misery continues unabated compounded by the appalling inhumane condition of police stations, magistrates' courts and schools.

This people unfriendly public policy decision is just a simple case of putting "legacies" before "people."

The fact of the matter is that legitimate, people-oriented public policy decisions dictate that the permanent, macro interests of the "people" must supervene any scintilla of transitory, micro personal "legacies."

One inhumane and destructive addendum to the afore-mentioned list of human misery is that the legal/responsible profession of fishing and the livelihood of fishermen and their families have been placed on the PNM government's public policy extinction hit list.

Indeed, the record clearly reveals that this PNM government is not only people unfriendly but also most vicious, antagonistic and vindictive towards the labour movement and its members/workers. This government treats this sector with utter contempt, disdain and uncanny belligerence.

It is quite obvious to all and sundry that the Manning-PNM government has declared an all-out jihad against the labour movement in TnT. The non-implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is prima facie evidence of such anti-people policy credentials.

In the midst of all this public policy human tsunami, the unbelievable and unconscionable response from this country's people unfriendly ruling PNM government is that it is "armed and well prepared" to contest the next general elections.

Political survival and victory are its only paranoid obsessions and focus 24-7-365. Ergo, the PNM government is virtually nonchalant about the people's safety and protection from uncontrollable and ever escalating crime, kidnappings and mayhem.

It is this wicked, anti-people and non-caring altruistic public policy posture that forced and compelled Minister of Housing, Dr. Keith Rowley, to corroborate his ministerial colleagues' (Rahael and Seukeran) on-target criticism and chastisement of the PNM government's "performance" thus: "We're spending more and more. (while the public is) getting less and less ('of the value for the amount of money being spent') in virtually every area" of the PNM government's people unfriendly public policy decision-making process.

The politics of fear suggests that Trinbagonians have been "bamboozled, hoodwinked and took' by the PNM government.

The politics of fear has resulted in congosa, pappyshow and mammaguy people unfriendly public policy decisions by the PNM government.

The fact of the matter is that under the PNM government, TnT is not a "failed state"; it is a non-state in people terms. The State has abdicated one of the basic functions of any democratic government, i.e. to protect the interests of the people--- the multifaceted interests of the people.

Moreover, parochial politics in TnT indicates that PNM is the problem; UNC is not the solution--- "same khaki pants."

At present, TnT is wrapped up in the swaddling clothes of a 15th century slave-plantation society superficially functioning in the era of 21st century putative independence. This is de jure Vision 00/00.

The inevitable conclusion that must drawn is that in the arena of public policy decision-making process and delivery, the PNM government has exemplified no "compassion for the poor, the afflicted and downtrodden."

In general, TnT society is "living in jail" while 40 per cent is "living in hell." When the next general elections come around, the majority conscious electorate must indict the PNM government for unadulterated public policy malfeasance and ministerial recidivism. "The more things change, the more they remain the same."

The fact of the matter is that Laventille was a ghetto in 1956; it is still a ghetto in 2006--- thus celebrating fifty long years of PNM's inhumanity.

In the final analysis, the politics of fear may lend real or imagined fulcrum to the credo: "Magnum Es PNM." Or it maybe the stark reality that "there is no question that Dr. Williams would have been ashamed of the PNM today, had he still been alive."

Nevertheless, the political directorate of the people unfriendly PNM government needs to be cognizant of the admonition of the legendary Afrikan-American anti-slavery revolutionary Frederick Douglass: "The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

According to Bob Marley: "You can fool some people some time but you can't fool all the people all the time." This is not political ex tempo. The PNM is not invincible.

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

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