Winston Dookeran’s New Politics

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 19, 2007

Congress of the PeopleOne expected something new and refreshing when Winston Dookeran entered the political area and announced that “new politics” were the order of the day. In his attempt to offer an alternative to the PNM and UNC one felt that there would have been a stricter adherence to decency and truth and that he would have tried to lift the political discourse to a “higher” level. But, as the French says, the more things change, the more they remain the same; the newer the politics, the more repulsive is its contents.

On Friday, August 17, Mr. Dookeran launches Uncertainty, Stability and Challenges, a selection of the speeches from over one hundred speeches that he delivered while he was the governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (1997-2002). In his acknowledgement he thanks the Bank for its support (presumably including financial support) and the Research Department, in particular, for “the preparation of the speeches.” This is not unusual. In any institution of this kind the staff’s job is to prepare material for the CEO who makes revisions as he sees fit. However, the policy positions so espoused are the positions of the Bank. They are not the CEO’s thinking.

Therefore, it was surprising when Mr. Dookeran disclosed to Clint Chan Tack of Newsday (August 9, 2007) that that “much of the book’s material was put together when he was a visiting scholar at Harvard University,” a position he occupied for a month or at best two months, after he left the Bank. This raises the question: were these speeches re-written or are they the same speeches he delivered when he was the governor of the bank. It would be interesting to compare the two versions.

Truth in advertising and in new politics demands that he tells us the truth about this transformation. It is also more than a bit curious that nowhere in his interview with Newsday or in the invitation to the launch the book is the Central Bank mentioned or its role acknowledged.

Mr. Dookeran also tells us that “his Harvard colleagues hailed the book as a good example of how a small economy like Trinidad and Tobago manages to remain stable and keep the value of its currency in the midst of global economic turbulence.” One suspects that Mr. Dookeran rather than the Central Bank must be complimented for the work he did in guiding Trinidad and Tobago through this turbulent period. But then he makes an excruciatingly breath-taking statement: “Many people feel monetary policy is a technical matter. It is not. Monetary policy has deep political consequences.” But this is a non-sequitur. If monetary policy is not a technical matter; and economics is a dismal science, what constitutes the essence of monetary policy and what are its constituent parts?

Mr. Dookeran’s statement raises other questions: Did he consider the work he did at Central Bank political, technical, or monetary or were they all of those things? Although monetary policy has “deep political consequences,” can we reduce it to politics? And if economics is a science, the accent being on the word science, what are we to make of its scientific content?

In his interview, Chan Tack asserts: “Dookeran was skeptical that inflation has really dropped to 7.3 per cent as reported last month by the Central Bank. He said that during the COP’s public meetings and walkabouts, he meets many people who complain to him about high food prices and their inability to purchase basic food items. Dookeran wondered how this could be when Government claims it is bringing down inflation.” Is Mr. Dookeran calling the governor of the Central Bank or the Central Statistical Office that produces the data liars?

Mr. Dookeran’s statement impugns upon the reputation, character and truthfulness of the Governor of the Central Bank who has a responsibility to use his technical and professional knowledge to report truthfully on the performance of the economy. If Mr. Dookeran wishes to take credit for the stable nature of fiscal policy during his reign is it fair to imply that the present holder of that office is misrepresenting the evidence that he finds?

Mr. Dookeran also called into question the integrity of the directors of the Board of the Central Bank whom, he suggests, are willing to tolerate and support the governor’s lies and the technical falsification of the officers of the bank whose function is to tell it like it is when it comes to reporting on the inflation of the nation.

Let me hasten to add that I do not write in my capacity as a director of the bank but as an interested citizen who wishes to uncover the truth. It says something about the integrity of the Governor of the Bank when the political leader of the PNM becomes piqued when the Central Bank noted that the inflation rate was threatening to reach ten per cent (that “slippery slope” argument) and the political leader of COP questions the truthfulness about the slowing down of the inflation rate.

It’s unfortunate that Mr. Dookeran, the purveyor of new politics, is willing to make a political football out of one of the most pressing issue of the nation. Suffice it to say that the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago holds the copyright of Uncertainty, Stability and Challenges which means that the Bank has “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, and sell the matter and form of [this] work.” It is incongruous that while one acknowledges that “this publication would not have been possible without the support provided by the Central Bank,” the assistance of the governor and the arduous work of the Research Department that one impugns the integrity of the institution and personalities to make a cheap political point against the government and its shortcomings.

There is another issue that is troubling and I would only ask the question. At the launch, Mr. Dookeran will be selling his (sorry, the Central Bank’s) book at $100 per copy. Who will get that money? I am sure that Mr. Dookeran (honest man as he is) will not use that money to fund his political campaign and certainly not with a Central Bank copyright. But then again, who knows?

Perhaps in Mr. Dookeran and COP one is looking at the same old wine in a new bottle and with a new label. One is only left to wonder: “Why can’t the bottle be half clean and its contents less murky,” and why do they need to sully the name of others to advance what should be an honorable cause? One expects more from Mr. Dookeran.

5 thoughts on “Winston Dookeran’s New Politics”

  1. Ah, Dr. Cudjoe, did you really expect more of Dooks, or are you being generously optimistic? Well let me tell you this.
    Find me one Trinidadian of Indian/Hindu ancestry, who achieves
    something worthwhile, and who credits it to his national homeland, in any part whatever. Naipaul is ONLY the worst example.You would think they grew up on a rock in the ocean directly owned by India.
    The other point about Dooks is this: During the NAR rally prior to the votequake of 1986, when Woodford Square looked like a rainbow coalition of our people, he leaned over to another party member on the platform and expressed the hope that not too many of his constituents would come up from Couva to the rally.”if people see how the Indians support the party(NAR), it could change the vote.” He got his wish. The Indians from Central did not turn up en masse. The NAR was voted in, and split up soon after, along racial lines.
    When I saw his recent invitation to NJAC to join the COP, I laughed, and hoped they would not be so foolish. Some people never change. Some never learn. Some people need to beware of whispered coversations carried on the wind.

  2. Linda, you must be going senile in your twilight years. What a reckless statement to make about finding you one Trinidadian of Indian ancestry who achieves something worthwhile and then credits it to his homeland.
    Then you use the example of Naipaul in an effort to reinforce your outlandish statement hoping no one reading will look further. Naipaul disowned Trinidad and India a long time ago so don’t attempt to make it appear that he is choosing India over Trinidad.

    Many of my colleagues of indian ancestry who work abroad routinely boast about the higher standards of education available in Trinidad and are proud to be products of that system. I could ask the same foolish question and flip it around and you will get the same answer about our afrio-trinidadian citizens. One should also not make the mistake of listing all those who represented us under national colours when answering Linda’s question – I suspect she is looking for people like Naipaul who achieved something on their own.

    You quote people but do you have any reference to point to prove that this actually happened? Who is the “other party member” Dooks made that statement to?

    Dr. Cudjoe did not once bring up the issue of race in his article but Linda, you somehow managed to intertwine it on this page.

  3. Riaz, I said Indian/Hindu. There is a difference. Now, please line them up so I could count them. I’m waiting. As for who he said it to?Look up some old newspaper file of that grouping on stage in the square. You have three guesses. One of them is right.You could also ask him, if he is not senile, he will remember.He may deny it, but… he will remember.So do the people he said it to.

  4. Linda, that solidus could mean “or” or “and” so in either case, it can be interpreted to be two groups – “Indian or Hindu” OR “Indian and Hindu” Trinidadians.

    How worthwile an accomplishment are you looking for? Something as simple as singing? How many local Hindu singers are there in Trinidad? Sorry I can’t line them up for you as you don’t want to spend the effort to actually look. While some sing in Hindi, all the popular ones also sing in English and none of them claim chutney music to be from India. SOme even sing Soca alone. Jit Samaroo plays the National Instrument….does he credit that to somewhere other than Trinidad? When performing Internationally, they all proudly say that they are from Trinidad. Or is that not worthwile achevements? Maybe comming up with some of the calculations used in the design of NASA rockets may be more worthwile – Rudranath Capildeo always credited his teachers in High School….I think even one of them was Dr. Eric Williams.

  5. Beware of the Mind Changers. Their purpose is to attack each revelation of a historical pattern of behaviour of Indian/Hindus with convoluted crap about what their friends are saying. How come those friends only speak to them and there is no evidentiary replica of such sentiments when they get unto message boards.

    You can go unto any of the inumerable message boards on the web and count the number of Indians/Hindus who pay homage to their none Indian roots in the Caribbean. And even when they do, it would only be during those times when the leadership of the nation in question was Indian and the party was Indian. These are not coincidences of circumstances. These reflect a pattern, an attitude, a historical trend that many, like Riaz Ali, use literal sophistry to obfuscate.

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