PNM faces new day

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley
On Sunday, Opposition Leader Keith Rowley delivered his first major philosophical statement at the special convention of the People’s National Movement at the Chagua- ramas Convention Centre. In the speech, in which he quoted extensively from PNM founder Eric Williams, Rowley reflected on the party’s history from its establishment in 1956 to the May 24 defeat at the hands of the People’s Partnership. Following is an excerpt of Rowley’s statement:

Trinidad Guardian
Published: July 06, 2010

In retrospect, there is nothing that we ought to be ashamed of. Over the last 55 years, largely through our guidance, Trinidad and Tobago has improved rapidly. First, our national income increased almost 50-fold. In 1956, the average income of a Trinidadian and Tobagonian was US$380; today it is US$20,035. Our GDP grew from US$237.7 million in 1956 to US$163 billion in 2008. In 1963 the unemployment rate was 13.7 per cent; today it stands at 5.8 per cent, a performance that is better than the United States or Europe.

In 2005 the United Nations Development Programme ranked Trinidad and Tobago 57 out of 177 countries, “the highest designation for countries whose life expectancy, adult literacy, and per capita income place them in the top tier (countries of the world.)” We can take pride in the fact that these developments occurred under PNM’s stewardship. We have a few billions in savings and our manufacturers are the most effective in the Caribbean.

But if we did well economically, we can take pride in the fact that PNM’s major contribution to national development lay in our building a nation; keeping our society together; the relative civility of our political culture (I do not know of one person who was murdered or harmed during our many election campaigns over the past 50 years); the peaceful transition of power from one government to another—when you are defeated you just leave office and try another day—and the tremendous racial harmony that exists in our beautiful island.

We offered due legal process to mutineers and insurrectionists, not to encourage their behaviour but as hallmarks of our democracy at work offering equal protection of the law to everyone. What is the point of all of this? It is simply a reminder that in the 40 of the last 55 years that we have been in power, we led this society in a manner that would make any democracy proud. We in the PNM have set the mark for what a democracy is and how one conducts oneself in government and in opposition. We are human and have made our share of mistakes. Even so we can be proud of what we have bequeathed to the nation and it is from this posture that we must now regroup and march confidently into the future.

But today is a new day and it is not sufficient just to look back. Even as we reflect we must think ahead as we go forward. As we set out to rebuild our movement we need to lay out in clear terms where we wish to take our nation and why. In as much as the PP may be awash with easy money; in as much as they have promised the people the sky and the moon, the fact remains that they really have no track record or policy upon which to judge them. In so far as some of them have any record at all it may only be a police record of questionable character.

As promising as they may look; as aggressive as they may sound—just listen to Jack Warner and Anand Ramlogan—as integrated as they may want to appear, they still remain a gathering of convenience, they still remain Jack’s political investment, ready to fall apart at the seams the first moment that they are challenged with a real problem requiring them to make the hard choices about national priorities.

Of course the camouflage has already begun to fall off. Today the PNM presents a full slate of 134 candidates. They had a Friday night launch and presented 24 candidates with a shameless announcement that the horse trading and bartering are incomplete and the Prime Minister has to go on vacation so Jack could get an early climb on the PP beanstalk. They promised an early budget but faced with post-election reality check they opted for more election instead.

As the PP supply naked political strategy we are yet to be told how they will fulfil the promises that they made in the general election. “The Treasury is empty,” their bemused economic scholar declares until the Governor of the Central bank chides him but which to the layman means he does not really know what he is talking about. What are we to make of the fact that the ex-governor of the Central Bank does not know what a transfer of $600 million to the Stabilisation Fund looks like? And he is supposed to look after our finances for the next five years.

Expect more incompetence, more backtracking, more grandstanding for the media, more exposes, more bluster, for that is what they know and that is what they are about. They attempt to fire everyone who wasn’t part of their election bandwagon and intend to stop everything which they did not understand or did not agree with so we wait to see their programme to deal with the social cost of their callousness and the economic reversal of our industrialisation plans.

They will shut down the smelter project and confine La Brea and environs to persistent poverty and underdevelopment. We wait to see when they cancel the contracts, pay the incurred losses, dismantle the almost completed $2 billion power station, pay off the partners, redirect the port and kiss the thousands of jobs goodbye. Don’t you want your $3,000/ month pension now, no games? You want the $20 minimum wage, no chirrup chirrup! No property tax on your business property! That was the deal! Computers for all! Any word on the pay hike promised to Cepep and URP workers?

This PNM will defend our democracy, be the voice of the oppressed, the victimised and the downtrodden and a tireless advocate and defender of our economic potential. A vote for the PNM in this local election also sends a message to the PP that the people will defend their interests, protect their opportunities for equal advancement, hold their Government to high ethical standards and expect that elected officials keep their commitment to the people.

But that cannot be our central business today. Our business today is to outline a strategy, in the broadest of terms, of where we wish to take our people. In the past I have spoken about widening our political base; welcoming everyone into the party no matter what his/her persuasion has been; encourage debate within the party and appreciate our intellectual origin—that is a good thing; demand democracy within our party and continue to be a rallying point of all and for all. But precisely because we were here before we must outline some new principles of development which would be the business of the party to develop.


15 thoughts on “PNM faces new day”

  1. Is Dr. Rowley trying to mislead his present flock or potential newcomers to his flock? Who said anything about dismantling any power station? Has he forgotten that it was his former leader Manning who promised increases to CEPEP workers? Who ‘battered’ the 10,000 Caroni workers & their families in 2003? Does he need to be educated that the People’s Partnership is just that – a partnership of a multitude of interest groups & therefore of necessity must have ‘horse-trading’ for any election?

  2. Dr. Rowley is the future of the PNM, a man whose vision for the party is it’s only hope. We must all allow the man who fought corruption in the PNM and allowed corruption to engulf him at times to do what he desires to do with the PNM. As the party undergoes a cleansing and undesirables are removed, it is my hope that PNM culture of dependency will be addressed in any future PNM vision. That means developing a sustainable vision for the economy rather than doling out cash for those who vote for them. The PNM essentially created a hollow economy dependent on the single pillar of cude oil. Without crude no economy.

  3. Manning gone. This was a well constructed intro. It contained some historical economic facts and important information about where TNT is economically now.
    The next statement has to deliver on the plan for as he put it, “of where we wish to take our people”.
    The PP must present a plan as well. So far we have heard promises and calls for change, but citizens need a transparent plan.

  4. Compared to the PP, the PNM, given its unassailable track record and ability to rebound from what for others would be certain extinction is, for want of a better metaphor, a classy soccer champion like Brazil surprisingly losing a game to a neophyte upstart like Denmark.

  5. I must commen Dr. Rowley for his masterful commentary, that was free of invective. Ne neglected to mention the tremendous amount spent on education during the tenure of the PNM. Free secondary education for all became a fact in the 1960’s, and although most parents wanted to change the new Secondary schools to exam passing factories, rather than schools that proided well rounded studens, free secondary education continued.(Did any reader know that Carlos John is a graduate of Woodbrook Secondary School, one of the first the government set up to educate the people’s chirren? He was there bing taught by grat teachers like Mrs. Reddock, Hollis Knight, Mrs. Reid,Rudi Cuthbert and others.)This free education provided the bsis of a professional class unlike any other i n the CArbbean.It also allowed the emergence of specialized schools like the Lakshmi Girls College, just outside UWI GATES;, so that thoSe desiring a specialized eduation for their chldren, can have that option, under the law.tHE EMPHASIS ON EARLY CHILD EDUCATIO HAS ALSO HAD A TREMENDOUS IMPACT.


    The PNM must remain an active opposition, one that stands ready to run the country, when the coalition falls apart.

    Please continue to monitor promises versus delivery.
    You have my best wishes.

    Graduate of UWI, the class of 67.

  6. Oops.I am whipping myself for my typos. They didn’t teach those at UWI.

  7. In 1956 while an elementary student my fifteen minutes of fame exemplified itself.The late Rt.Hon Dr Eric Williams sat next to me in Mon Repos,San Fernando during one of his electoral campaigns.His presence was similar to what John Mc Enroe compared to”being in the company of a saint” when he met Nelson Mandela.It is an historic event to elect the first woman Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago irrespective of race or political affiliation.Congratulations….Madam Prime Minister.Dr.Williams(God bless)will have praised you.Fifty-six years is a milestone for the PNM.Allow the new administration to prove itself.”Politicians are like diapers they get dirty,and should be changed regularly”.(CBC website 3rd July’2010).Cheers..Pimpernel.

  8. Rowley made a small mistake – he did not include the massive structures built by PNM in the last 8 years. They were all constructed by a Canadian Project Manager who utilized thousands of Chinese labour. What an achievement in this day and age while more that 35% of the population eke out their existence with smart cards, 10 days in URP and whacking out all the grass from the curbs. The percentage of single mothers are increasing with a proportional increase in serious crime committed in PNM areas. Has the PNM under Manning and others helped to raise the standard of living and despair in T&T. How safe does the ordinary citizen feel, to walk on the streets, the open his door and relax in his property, to park his car on the roadside, to take his family to the beaches. ROWLEY, you must be wearing welding glasses.

  9. Very well Linda.Needs more people like you to put forward the fact of PNM development.In our history there is nothing to match with it.

  10. I can tell that you are not a Christian, Krishna Teewaree, but ever heard about Lot’s wife in the Blacksungod Bible? Let me tell you, dat woman was converted into a pillar of salt ,for repeatedly looking back. No one cares about the PNM today sister K, irrespective of what most dishonest , delusional characters on this board tries to convince of.
    Take it from me Krishna, that party was a dismal failure to this entire country , and I do not care what social measuring apparatus are used. They are aware of this , and so did the rest of the nation, hence the reason why they voted them out my good friend, and choose to rally around a new leader, in similar fashion to the UNC.
    Here some news for you my lady, there is a new Sheriff in town , and her name is Kamla. We like the pretty dresses , and symbolic emotional speeches amongst foreign heads, and adoring fans, but there is a nation to again put on the map , and the impatient people are waiting K.No one wants to hear Dooke’s doom and gloom empty treasury talk,or about corrupt leaders of yesteryear, over dependent constituents, competing American , European ,Chinese or Venezuelan hegemonic bullies ,and greedy CARICOM regional neighbors.
    It war baby! A war on crime, poverty, drugs, subpar governmental performances, political and broad based economic corruption ,you name it, PP can do it , if the will exist. As Uncle General Powell said in a much more different, yet appropriate context, “You break it , you own it.”
    Contrary to what dem detractors are saying, the people are ready to rally around this government.They are however very spoiled after decades of dependency, and impatient as well Khrisna, and if many do not see quick dividends for an initial My 24th investments ? Well , your guess is as good as mine, but what the hell de we care , being quite safe in our protected milieu , ehhh Khrisna. Like you KT , I am about to get down on some fry whiting / catfish , waffles , and Canadian Maple Syrup.Sorry about loosing Chris Bosh , to the Heat.
    What’s that, you don’t give a darm about overpaid black basketball players, especially from Toronto your recent home, but really love dem, athletic ,handsome , movie star ,South Asian cricketing hunks, chiefly from Pakistan and India ,Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,that can beat the stupid underachieving West Indies team with their eyes close, and one hand tied behind their backs?
    I hear you girl. Much luv- for country, over the tribe i.e.

  11. I am now a silver haired old woman, who believes in her country of birth. In both 2006 and 2007, I brought home with me an American woman friend, a high school counsellor, who was going to help with the volunteer projects I choose to run in depressed areas. In 07, we stayed at the Senior Common Room at UWI, and walked to the Bus Route daily to take a maxi to St. MAry’s Children’s Home. Someone at the home told us of a good roti shop in Tunapuna up a street whose name I forgot, so we got out of the taxi at Citizen’s Bank asked directions,and walked up that road, ordered, waited, and ate our roti without any problems. One day, she insisted on walking off the roti,(she is ex-US ARmy) so we walked back to UWI along the EMR from Tunapuna. Not a long trip, but dodging traffic and walking in the 2.00 PM sun. NOBODY bothered us. We walked to Hilo across from UWI to buy drinking water, and walked home through the back gate over the old train line and on to campus.I showed her where the classes I attended were, in 1967-now looks like cow sheds. Nobody bothered us. There was a gambling joint along the EMR between UWI gate and Hilo that we crossed the road to avoid. I instinctly move away from groups of men hanging out in the daytime- predators resting, and surveying potential prey, in my opinion.(The memory of my ancestors working with lions, sets my hair on edge)
    My best memory though was taking a taxi into POS, buying a currant roll and an Apple J from a vendor at Queen and Frederick, and sitting on the outside benches of the National Library and eating them.It was important that my friend have this experience, sitting under the overhang of the only building in PoS where you could shelter from the rain and the heat. If you choose your seat carefully, some AC blows out every time someone goes in, and provides some relief. When I was home April 22 to May 2 2010, I took a taxi into town and walked all over the place. I do not do nightclubs, nor “lime”in dangerous places.
    I am safe in my country of birth.I am safe in my country of residence.Now, you can have high fun in dangerouus places. A week after I returned to the US in 2007, there was a shootout at that same club we crossed the road to avoid. That was at night, when sensible people are in their homes.
    I tell you this truthful narrative to point out that every country has crime-robbery, political fraud and kidnapping of children, but as my mother Elaine always said “these things have their people” my old nen Lillian would have agreed. The PNM built a good country.Many took advantage of it without contributing one iota of anything, not even goodwill.
    There are no major buildings in POS with bullet holes in them. Travel to the Middle East for comparison, or ask those Trinis from Petrotrin whom I met on the Mediterranean cruise on the Carnival Freedom in 2008. The bullet holes are all over buildings in Croatia, and the newer roofs reflect the houses that were bombed out.
    We should get on our knees daily, in gratitude.

  12. Madame L,I personally try to avoid the cultish glorification of political personalities in my country , as it serves no useful purpose , on both sides of the so called divide.
    I deliberately choose to take a sledge hammer at this lofty PNM symbol, as portrayed by many ‘blessed elites’ ,as a way of addressing a concern as played out by our other numerous diverse brothers and sisters across the country ,who helped this country to the state it is in , whether good or bad.
    PNM in no way build this country to any greater degree ,than the members of the private sector , and non party political elements, that played a role. Likewise the PP is not solely responsible for pulling us out of our social quagmire we are in, as elements that constitute the party were only partly responsible, in various capacities, be it business, Trade Union, Political , Judicial , legal, etc
    If your PNM is going to take the credit for giving us supreme educations as often touted , such as UWI whose Engineering Department never invented an item , and Common Entrance the British discarded , then they must be able to take some of the licks that are due for all the blatant socio economic neglect ,and failures that occurred in this country – especially in their constituencies , outside of safe Roti shop areas , near St Augustine, or Queen/ Federick street taxi and fruit stands.
    For obvious financial, and long term political gains , the PNM leadership ,and Party, as a matter of policy ,has cuddled criminals, pandered to competing racial, and ethnic group ,under so call inclusiveness, and often this was done at the expense of African people that traditionally gave them their lives ,souls , and votes. In the end ,due to inability to please all the people all of the time, or simply a well coordinated political effort , they were justifiably discarded , and unfortunately castigated ,by all and sundry for not delivering.
    I can take you today to several PNM constituencies that after 48 years of voting one way , still have no water, and other basic infrastructures -including Health service, drains, decent schools , and security- that others across the nation takes for granted . In addition , only so many can be absorbed into the governmental job establishment, and we know the sociological results of no jobs ,when opportunities were miss to make economic empowerment through ‘state land redistribution,’ a long over due reality.
    This is a travesty of the highest order , which can never be defended, neither would it have occurred under any other of the competing groups I alluded to, in not so subtle a fashion .
    Now do I expect the new regime in power to rectify that situation? Well, that might be “a horse of a different color” -as the wise one would say- but hopefully, the new ,humbled PNM, under this new Dr. Rot R’s management ,gets the message that the people still loves them , appreciate the importance of alternative messages ,and are becoming better prepared at walking the political tight rope , of prudently balancing our national interest, over self, and constituencies ,and narrow Party goals,for a long term win/win result for each and every creed, and race, yes?
    Finally -and please do not take me to task on this- for occasional ,two weeks tours of our blessed land with thousand of Yankee dollars in our pockets, is not the ethnographic studies ,that’s needed to assess the pitiful state of our country,in like manner, to an occasional Huston 24 hour stop over, by a Caribbean observer tourist bunch en route to Miami, Atlanta ,Baltimore , or Zoo York Trini styled Carnival festival. I stand corrected.
    Let’s wish our fellow nationals best wishes, they’ll need it,yes?

  13. Neal, my son, the ruling party of any country creates the political climate in which businesses thrive and prosper, and keep on making progress.An Afro-trini could get into any taxi,not matter who the driver, and feel safe, be safe. Some others, listening to radio programs in their own languages may have been led to believe otherwise. That we are a respected member of Caricom, the Commonwealth of Nations, the OAS and The UN, and is not percieved primarily as a lootocracy,is due to the steadiness of the course charted by the PNM, for ALL the people of Trninidad and Tobago. Those who have tried to clainm “refugee status” in CAnada, were not punished by the PNM as afar as I know.They were free to continue living here. Compare to Uganda and Kenya. In other countries, many of our South American neighbors, they would have joined the desaparecidos. The peace between diverse people, who would gladly take a knife to each other’s throat at the first chance they get, has been maintained under PNM rule, despite calls to arms and threats of rape by “others”. It is/was the PNM at the helm all these years, that allowed the oil boom that began in 1977 to benefit the people. It was the NAR’s policy of drastic belt tightening to please, appease the IMF, that led to the coup of 1990- My theory, I was not there. Good government is taken for granted when it works. For all the hatred and envy generated towards the PNM, for all the race hate that began spewing forth with the advent of Bas and Sat, I always point out that we are a peace loving people. If my car breaks down, and people come to help, it will not matter what race they are. If they come to rob, race will not matter either. Blessed country. We can go home to the funerals of our loved, departed, without fear of being robbed because you come from”Away”or because your relative was considered wealthy. We take these things for granted. The PNM created and maintained a climate of order so that all could get ahead, not every individual,but all races. The proof is there to see.I do not apologize for the party nor would I detract just to detact, or to appease haters.

  14. I am very much in agreement with you Madam L.You have certainly made a very convincing argument ,in defense of the overall PNM track record.
    As usual,much respect .
    Hopefully we can continue to build , and grown ,while focused on the positives,and prepared to learn from any mistakes.
    Keep them honest.
    Warm regards.

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