By Raffique Shah
October 25, 2021
I don’t know if it has yet dawned on Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her colleagues in the Opposition United National Congress that their ill-conceived motion in Parliament, which sought to trigger the impeachment of the President of the Republic, has backfired so badly that it seems set to terminate Persad-Bissessar’s political career, and possibly eliminate the UNC as a political force in the country.
What a thing that will be: you seek to cut someone else’s throat, but events take a radical turn and you end up committing political suicide.
Persad-Bissessar seems to have done everything wrong as she tries to win power a second time. Make no mistake about the motive that drove her to what, when analysts examine it in retrospect in a few years, maybe even months, they will see it as a grab for power.
The PNM in office and Keith Rowley as Prime Minister is a bitter pill for Persad-Bissessar to swallow. She doesn’t merely think she is better prime ministerial material than he, but she chafes when she sees him survive the most calamitous events that would unseat other sturdier leaders.
The near-empty Treasury she left behind when she lost the 2015 election was a bad enough blow that he survived. But the economy had already turned South, as analysts had projected, and the Rowley government just kept going, barely staying alive.
When Covid-19 hit in early 2020, she and her associates thought, like the Madman in David Rudder’s “Rant”, “This is it! This is it!” In fact, Rowley himself must have thought the pandemic signalled his Government’s imminent demise. However, he had no choice but to batten down and fight, if only to save face.
Persad-Bissessar resorted to sniper-style tactics as the global war against the Covid-19 virus raged. She would take cover in the party-bunker, come up for some oxygen and sunlight, fire off some shots at how there was no money now that commodity prices had all but crashed.
She would also slam Dr Rowley for not being capable of securing vaccines to fight the virus. When vaccines first sputtered in, she declared them useless, then she seemed to adopt an anti-vaccine stance although she ensured she was vaccinated… and so the saga continued.
Rowley not only survived the trying times, but to citizens’ surprise, and more than likely his own, he appeared to thrive… or keep his Government fairly stable. Hell, the man had Finance Minister Colm Imbert prepare a budget for fiscal 2021-2022 that included the implementation of the controversial Property Tax. What the hell?
Then came like manna from Gary Griffith’s big mouth (his description, not mine): something was amiss regarding the appointment of a Commissioner of Police, Gary’s contract having expired some months ago. There were whispers that Rowley did not want Griffith (three years ago, he had all but gift-wrapped the Commissioner’s uniforms for GG). The Police Service Commission fell apart, one by one. There were whispers about what role President Paula-Mae Weekes might have had in all of this mess.
Persad-Bissessar saw her opening to strike out boldly, which would not only unite her not-so-united Congress behind her solidly, but seize the time and make a bid for power by targeting any and every obstacle, from President to PM, Commissioner to Commission, toute bagai! Falling for social media old talk, mainstream media’s unsubstantiated reports, talk about secret meetings and so on… go for the jugular, Kams, she told herself.
Throwing “himself told himself”, like caution, to the wind, she trained her gun on the biggest target in town—Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes.
So after she made repeated calls for the PolSC, the PM and President to resign in disgrace, and with the scandal growing to multimedia proportions, it was she who could vault them all and go for the jugular.
“Impeach her,” she shrieked. She hurriedly had one of her underlings prepare a one-page or three-page motion which she duly filed with the Clerk of the House. She was in the lead once more. Everyone else will have to follow. Based on what her macaws had whispered to her, she pictured herself dressed to impeach, sane and sober enough to deliver a Mark Anthony masterpiece. Kams is back.
Armed with her Motion and her minions primed and gassed in Parliament, she began her presentation. But Portia was in the chair clamping down on any breach she attempted to make, confining her to her script, not one word more.
Her underlings, as if inebriated, shouted at Portia, thumped desks, hurled insults, made threats, tried everything, to have their way. It was not to be. Portia kept her confined, constrained. Have your flesh, but not one drop of blood.
And so for yet another time, Persad-Bissessar suffered her 11th consecutive loss.
18 thoughts on “Portia tames Kams”
This article is a strange view of events. Maybe the writer seeking relevance. Winford James a PNM apologist agreed with the Opposition for standing up against the serious violation of the supreme law of the land the Constitution.
The President as a result of her actions saw the dismantling of the PolSC. Never before has such a high and exalted office been lowered to a level of insanity. Of course she has no integrity and will wait this one out instead of protecting the office she have so heavily politicized it that no one can trust what she does from herein.
Lieutenant Shah became a PNM apologist after the 1970 insurrection when he was spared the gallows for starting a mutiny.
As for the events in Parliament it was a fight for democracy as the Speaker according to Winford James denied the Opposition the right to debate such an important issue. She even misinterpreted the operating bylaws of Parliament to her advantage. Stifling debate in the people’s house is an egregious act of sedition. She showed gross disrespect for the Opposition Leader by cutting her off before she even finished reading the motion.
“Persad-Bissessar seems to have done everything wrong as she tries to win power a second time. Make no mistake about the motive that drove her to what, when analysts examine it in retrospect in a few years, maybe even months, they will see it as a grab for power”
All PNM apologist used the defence of democracy to demonstrate their hatred for the Opposition Leader. She has been subjected to ridicule when she is simply doing her job. It has nothing with her wanting power, it simply has to do with her holding the government to account for their corrupt practices.
The PNM is the biggest blight in this nation. The deficit is over a $130 billion and every budget has seen a deficit with no plan to stimulate the economy. Rowley has infected every independent institutions to the point of making them a PNM party group. The balisier brigade is unstable, restless and filled with hatred for the Opposition Leader. This regime is the worst. Even Inshan Ismael a PNM apologist in the last election curse Rowley after a few of his businesses shut down. Let’s hope the blight will die a natural death and spare this nation further trauma.
The boorish conduct from both the PNM and the UNC (which plays to their core supporters) distracts from real issues. Indeed, it is conceivable that the President got caught up in partisan politics by allowing the merit list to be returned. This clearly served the interest of the Rowley administration that wanted to get rid of Gary Griffith (another hot-head who is unsuitable for leadership). It therefore stands to reason that the PNM would help cover up this breach of the constitution. But alas, the thoroughly incompetent UNC Opposition, under the leadership of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is no match or a viable alternative to the current PNM administration. The UNC is also incapable of attracting new supporters — not even disgruntled PNM supporters. As bad as I believe the PNM is today, it would be worse under the UNC, and this is the dilemma that we face.
Read Martin Daly’s “All farcical and tangled up”
Oct 23, 2021 Updated Oct 24, 2021
Many readers will recall the political controversies in which President Anthony Carmona, the immediate predecessor of our current President, was involved arising out of the purported exercise of powers that he thought he had.
As a result, citizens hoped that the presidency would return to calmer waters, not made turbulent by involvement of the office of President in the agendas of the politicians.
In an editorial in Newsday published on December 23, 2017, the writer commented that Carmona’s tenure had highlighted “the problematic nature of this anachronistic office amid a modern democracy” and concluded: “The next President must be a person that understands the powers Carmona did not. And the process of appointment of this official should not become enmeshed in politics. We’ve had enough of that from President’s House already.”
Sadly, the Office of the President is again tangled up in partisan politics leading, last Thursday, to an ill-prepared and deficient motion by the Opposition UNC proposing the appointment of a tribunal to investigate the President’s conduct. As readers know, the context of the motion were the events at President’s House, which led to the collapse of the Police Service Commission.
The Opposition failed, as it was clear that it would, but not exclusively, because of not having sufficient numbers to permit the motion to get off the ground. Opposition backers need to review the lack of competence of the Opposition and its current members, so vividly illustrated by the deficient wording of the charges it brought against the President.
It was also dotish to race into an unexplored area of the Constitution and get caught flat-footed, frustrated and fulminating against the Speaker’s permissible, but conservative, guidelines, which sucked the breath out of some of the debating theatrics that the Opposition had naively assumed it could perform to supplement the motion.
The more extravagant of the Opposition voices, sometimes attempting to copycat the words of others, frequently cause the significance of issues to be diluted or permit the Government to evade them in the routine exchange of bacchanal talk.
I respectfully consider that the President got it wrong and took actions that were not supported by the powers vested in her by the Constitution in the course of dealing with the Merit List for Commissioner of Police. When she did make a statement about the material events, the statement was somewhat aloof and opaque in material respects, and a case of this I tell you, this I don’t.
As already indicated, the constitutional errors of the President were to participate and acquiesce in a withdrawal of the Merit List and to block Parliament out of the process set down in the Constitution for the appointment of a Commissioner of Police. However, in view of the now regular anger of this Government at points of view expressed by commentators, it might be useful to remind readers that one of the controversies of the Carmona presidency arose after the PNM, under Prime Minister Rowley, regained office.
That one concerned a meeting that Carmona held in 2016 with the then-Minister of National Security, Edmund Dillon, to engage Dillon in matters within the minister’s portfolio. As became known in the public domain, I was engaged professionally by the same, now angry, Rowley Government to advise whether Carmona acted in a constitutionally proper manner. My professional opinion that the then-President, in meeting with Dillon, had not acted with constitutional propriety was so well received that someone promptly released it to the media.
On this different occasion, one can accept the Government’s discomfort with my commentaries on the lack of constitutional proprieties surrounding the collapse of the Police Service Commission. However, readers may be cynically amused that commentaries by the author of the Carmona opinion for which I was subsequently engaged should be met with angry outbursts from the same persons who previously chose the commentator as counsel to advise them.
If the death of democracy is imminent, it is because we have both a Government that evades issues but attempts in vain to stifle reasoned disagreement, and a wholly unattractive Opposition that is mostly a spent force. Everything is all dangerously farcical and tangled up.
Congratulations to Martin Daly and A. Hotep for getting it right!
The President should do the right thing, call a media conference and indicate that due to the imbroglio she is stepping down to protect the integrity of the office.
She has brought disgrace, odium to the highest office in the land by failing to act according to the Constitution of the honorable republic. The office is bigger than the individual.
All that she does going forward will be under suspect. She is a servant of citizens not servant of Dr Keith Christopher Rowley.
This issue is not a two week media event. I am sure the Opposition is looking closely at PNM superstar Bridgette George. The master of fingering and silencing the Opposition.
She show utter disrespect to the Opposition Leader by shutting off her mike even before she finished reading the motion.
The UNC and its supporters should stay clear of calling on persons to step down for perceived wrong-doings and disrespect to office. As a matter of fact, Kamla should step down for allowing David Nakhid and Anil Roberts to get away with some of the most disgraceful and disrespectful conduct. The PNM does things badly, and the UNC is right to criticize them. But what does it say about the UNC when, after calling out the PNM, they proceed to do worse? Simply look at the atrocious behaviour of UNC MPs and senators in parliament last Thursday towards the speaker of the house. It is clear that Kamla and supporters of the UNC do not care about respect, integrity and good governance, so all their noise is to score political points in a vainglorious attempt to win elections. Of course, even if PNM did everything right, way too many Indians believe Black people are unfit for leadership by virtue of being Black. Remember the mantra “We have come too far to turn black now” being spewed from the UNC camp? Sadly, many believe those racist sentiments, which are at the heart of the UNC worldview. This is enough to disqualify UNC from any leadership position.
Are black folks exempt from scrutiny? Hotep appears to believe so, so to Kian and Birdie.
Democracy by its very nature is very fragile and must to protected. The main elements of democracy is “we the people subject ourselves to the rule of law, for an orderly society”. The rule of law requires us to function in a civil manner.
God instituted on mount Sinai the 10 commandments to establish an orderly society. Without an uncorrupted judicial system society will fall into moral and spiritual decay. It will be the law of the jungle.
So what do we do with Constitution? The Supreme Law of the land. Do we discard it ? Or do we disregard it? Or do we defend it? This is the requirement of the law of the land in regard to the Presidency “On August 1st 1976, Trinidad and Tobago became a republic within the Commonwealth and the Republican Constitution provided for a President who is the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed forces. He/she is also the repository of all Executive Authority. His /Her powers are exercisable within certain constitutional limits and most of his/ her constitutional acts must be performed in accordance with the advice of or after consultation with another authority, usually the Cabinet, the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition” She can exercise her powers with Constitutional limits. She failed to do that…
Did her excellency understood the responsibility she had to adhere to as one of the three highest office holders in the land?
She being a black woman many not have understood this and therefore deserve a pass…according to Hotep, Kian and Birdie.
Let me say whatever happens going forward she will be a “lame duck” President and would be seen as one of Rowley “lap dog”. To protect the independence of the office because this is precedent setting she should step down. She will still receive a million dollars per year and will have the privilege of being the very first female President of the Republic….a very high honor.
Noise and bad manners displayed in Parliament pale in comparison to the unconstitutional PNM conspiracy to oust Griffith , involving major characters : the PM, President and head of the PSC. “Respect, integrity and good governance”, were certainly lacking in this caper. It demonstrated the undemocratic, authoritarian leanings of a disgruntled PM.
Rowley influence and interference were further demonstrated by the massive firings of staff appointed by Griffith in the Police force.
Those who cannot see the seriousness of this unconstitutional blatant grab for power but are focussing on the failed antics of the UNC are blinded by the fog of race and politics.
You know quite well that I am no fan of the PNM. There is no “fog of race” when dealing with folks who are racist as part of their religious and historical constitution. To not factor this in is to be blind, especially as the conduct of UNC officeholders shows that they are not seriously interested in good governance, respect and integrity. I believe the rest of the public who are interested in the betterment of the country do not see the UNC as a viable alternative. So instead of being trapped with trying to show the lesser of evils, how about a pathway to good over evil.
Mamoo asked: “Are black folks exempt from scrutiny?”
Many Indians are Black so I believe when you said “Black folks” you meant Africans. Of course, Blacks, and specifically Africans in Trinidad and Tobago, should be scrutinized. If you read my first comment, you would see that I said, “it is conceivable that the President got caught up in partisan politics…”.
As I said before, the efforts to get accountability has been compromised by the incompetent and utterly disrespectful UNC. The saner voices are getting lost in the noise from the UNC. No amount of grandstanding by the UNC would cause most people to join forces with them. In other words, a bad UNC is no solution for a bad PNM. The UNC actually makes a bad situation worse — we have the receipts.
The PNM is also responsible for the poor education system which does not address many of our social concerns. PNM allowed the country to descend into the neo-colonial status quo that economically benefit a few Africans, many elite Indians and most Whites.
I also hold African organizations responsible for their failure to examine the value systems of the different ethnic groups in the country. This has resulted in a public that is unaware of the utter contempt at the heart of Hinduism, and by extension the UNC, for Black people in general, and more so, Black Africans. Africans do not have a religion or ideology that discriminates against others based on their race or colour. In other words, any racist attitudes that they may harbour are not deeply embedded in religious epistemology. On the other hand, racism is part of the teachings and legacy of Hinduism that is deeply ingrained in the psyche of most Indians. (I need not go into Hindu teachings here as much of this is already on this blog).
I hold Africans, who are not aware of this ingrained Hindu racism, inadvertently responsible for trying to foster a superficial kind of Indian-African unity which cannot achieve anything. Most Hindus would never make such calls as they do not desire unity – not that which may be superficial and contrived, nor that which is real.
Many Africans, post emancipation, distrusted Indians as they came to this country as scab labour with a religion with which they were unfamiliar, and these Indians were pitted against Africans. The historical distrust remained but with little memory of its roots. When Indians felt they were in power after the 1995 elections, with the help of Africans that they so despised, they quickly proved why they could not be trusted with power. The faces of the people who were looting the treasury changed, and this time, it was done with such fervour that it made many cringe. Alas, Africans saw quite clearly why Hindus could not be trusted with power. They did not bring the desired change. They instead, increased the corruption with the worst form of contempt for the masses. “Is we turn now [to mash up the place]!”
So today, change remains elusive because many believe that a bad PNM is still better than the UNC.
Poor exegesis on race but that is allyuh wah talk bout. Because it is all you got. It is like Pakistan all they talk about is Islam they have nothing else.
When KPB was in power the unemployment was at 3.5%, was Africanas suffering then? According to you they were under attack and siege. Well yes fortunately you don’t speak for black people….blessings.
Although an important topic, race is not all that I want to talk about, but I would like to hear your views about a pathway out of racism and poor governance – not simply about trading one bad political party for another that is quite possibly worse.
When people are trapped in low paying jobs and poor housing that they were forced into and where they do not have access to healthy foods, adequate schooling, and healthcare, they remain desperate. They struggle every day to make ends meet. We can talk about low employment rates but that same Critical Race Theory that you refused to take the time to make sense of explains what I am speaking about in the context of the US.
It is ignorance, arrogance and racism that caused you to respond foolishly on that thread. Your willingness to mask the racism inherent in the Indian community, among others, makes you feel that you could spin the narrative in Dr Cudjoe’s article to one of Indian persecution under African rule in Trinidad and Tobago.
Desperate people may not have time to read and learn from our past to construct a better model of development. It is easy for racists to assume that they can judge a people by the circumstances of their current predicament. However, despite all the obstacles, some Africans have adopted the concept of “each one teach one” and are making strides.
Racism is all you, Kian and Birdie talk about. I am not into that as you will carefully note. There is only one race the human race. Together be are better.
Mamoo said, “Racism is all you, Kian and Birdie talk about. I am not into that as you will carefully note. There is only one race the human race. Together be are better.” (sic)
Your alleged stance about not being preoccupied with racial talk is rather convenient after all that nonsense you spewed in response to Dr Cudjoe’s article, “Whiteness and critical race theory”.
For one thing, there is no such thing as “one human race.” It is a popular thing to say but it is oxymoronic. Race, in this context, refers to a group of humans that share inheritable physical characteristics that distinguish them from other groups. Rather, it is accurate to say that we belong to the same human species — Homo sapiens.
It is true that together we can be better. However, with unaddressed social issues like racism, we are better off working these things out separately first. Failure to do so leaves some of us vulnerable to those who desire to rob us of our humanity.
As an intro, I have been sick in bed for the past five days and have had a lot of time to think and reflect on things both past and present. One of the recurring questions that came to mind and has been around for the past 20 years at least is Why T&T which in 1962 started as a promising new nation is now a a borderline failed state?
Is the country lacking in resources, clearly not.
Are the people unskilled, lazy and lacking in agricultural,technical, and industrial skills?
Definitely not, in 1962, T&T was among the most industrialized countries in the Commonwealth, with a thriving sugar industry, domestic food production, abundant oil and gas reserves, a world class oil industry plus almost unlimited supplies of asphalt from the pitch lake.
Food was plentiful, the able-bodied people gainfully employed and enjoying life.
60 years later it’s all gone and instead of working on improving things, there is a perennial bickering on who tief more and who is more racist than who and who suffer more and if they didn’t suffer, it was their ancestors who suffered when it is all a big fat lie.
T &T was one of last Caribbean islands to be colonized and free any large black slave populations for much of the time prior to the 1800s. Even after a more industrialized plantation economy was introduced by the British there was sufficient fertile and arable land available all over the island for the black slaves to cultivate their own vegetable gardens etc. Similar situation applied for the indentured labourers who followed them
starting in 1837.
They all worked hard to survive. Many suffered and died, some survived, a few thrived, and their descendants many years inherited in 1962 a piece of Paradise called Trinidad almost a microcosm of the Earth itself as it spins on its eternal journey through time and space.
What do we have today? Rampant crime, constant bickering, Political Institutions that only serve themselves not the people, greed, mistrust and low morale in the population at large.
Who is to blame? We are. Today our home could be like Singapore, Mauritius or Barbados.
It is not too late for one last try to save our future. Let’s do it together
A snippet from Theodore Lewis:
But amid all the impeachment bacchanal, in the middle of the Covid, the Opposition did not notice that the Government, having published on its website that a Cabinet committee had been appointed to examine the SEA (Secondary Entrance Assessment) exam and the Concordat, had now apparently abandoned that idea just so.
Persad-Bissessar and the Opposition couldn’t care less about this. They know that the Government was not serious about education reform, that it does not have the courage to make the needed changes, and that black people have no choice when the next elections come around but to vote PNM (People’s National Movement) by reflex.
Black people on automatic. We have to vote for the PNM, whether they address education inequality or not, whether they seek solutions to stop the festering and decay behind the bridge, their main constituency, because magnus est PNM et praevalebit!
TMan, your Theodore Lewis quote is a convenient rhetorical spin to your “PNM till ah dead” diatribe. The people who stand by the “PNM till ah dead” concept, are simply saying that they know the UNC is a religious hindu party, that will only be good for the hindu population and bad for them. Since there are only two parties, the UNC or PNM, they have to stick with the lesser evil – the PNM. Your Theodore Lewis quote is saying the exact same thing. You are tribal no matter how polished you may try to be. The UNC’s racism is so blatant that those of us who see it, are bound by conscience to emblazon its significance. It is no secret that the UNC uses non-Indians to muster it’s most vociferous attacks on it’s war against the PNM. All I need to do is call the names and the population is well aware of the acidity of their attacks. Wade Mark, Anil Roberts, Nakhid & Rodney Charles are just a few. There are complimentary actors too, who help the UNC ‘s contempt for the PNM like Watson Duke and Dr. Winford James. Kamla herself, let her guard down last week at a conference when she unintentionally referred to Rowley and the male PNM bench as “RAWANs”. We all understand what that means in hindu parlance. That means the she could not even contain her racist and religious vitriol for ‘the black man’. I understand the heightened anticipation that Indians are feeling for power because of their economic successes. The black man is NOT their enemy but a competitor. The unruly behaviour of the UNC exhibited in and out of parliament is no way to expect respect. I am not one of those who harbor the thought that Indians are ready to invite the “all ah we is one” concept into racial conversations, the opposite is true. In other words, when the Indians were brought to this country, the ex-slaves refused to work for free or starvation wages, the intent was to create friction with the blacks. Commentary on social and main stream media affirm that friction still exist. More so, both Mamoo and you are proponent of that divide.
“More so, both Mamoo and you are proponent of that divide.” Kian. You don’t get unity by ignoring the questions that have to be faced. – Jay Weatherill
Kian as Jay Weatherill said you don’t get unity by ignoring the questions that have to be faced. There are questions that have to be faced. (1) Why did the President ignored the merit list of potential CoP thereby triggering a major Constitutional crisis resulting in the PolSC resigning… (2) who influence her to discard such a list and the dear leader even put out an Ad boasting of her righteous actions. (3) Do we ignore, or defend the Supreme Law of Trinidad and Tobago the Constitution? (4) Are high offices exempt from scrutiny!.
These potent questions demand some answers. Kian you blatantly ignore these questions because you are a tribal/PNM apologist. The PM, AG, President or CJ could do not wrong. This is indeed a sad day for all.
Thank you Mr.Shah
As a trini living outside of the borders of TnT I read your articles so I can have a perspective of Trinidad current affairs.
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