By Raffique Shah
June 07, 2015
Corpus Christi morning, I come awake, latish, closer to seven o’clock. I tune in to BBC television to see what’s happening in the world, since, Thursday being a Christian holiday, the local electronic media stations will have no real news.
I do a double-take, re-check the channel number when, big and bold at the bottom of the screen I see “…Trinidad and Tobago…breaking news…”
It’s the lead story, featuring Jack Warner, FIFA, millions of dollars, links to the general election of 2010. I learn that Jack, in a paid political broadcast the night before, threatened to “reveal all” (for the umpteenth time)—links between his banditry and Blatter, tainted money and the UNC/Partnership campaigns, Section 34 and more.
I watch the faces of the BBC reporters stationed in London, Zurich, Port of Spain as they cover the big story, looking bemused, almost gloating, even derisive: another Third World country mired in corruption, only difference being this one involves the lucrative, universally popular sport of football and some very shady officials and politicians.
I hang my head in shame.
I scan news channels, only to discover that my beloved country is being dragged in mud in just about every television station. I seek refuge on the Internet, avoid the news there, turning to my e-mail box. No respite: a Scottish mate of mine, boyhood friend from my Sandhurst days, now residing down under in Australia, writes: Raf, I know I can rely on you to help recover US$0.5 million that the Australian football federation donated to Trinidad, through Jack Warner, money that was never used for the intended purpose…ha! ha! ha!
The blogs run wild, and it seems that most reputable newspapers across the world, in several languages, have zeroed in on Trinidad, corruption, Warner and who he may have shared the loot with. Most of them take a perverse delight in highlighting the fact that the “disgraced ex-FIFA overlord” had been, up to recently, a senior minister in government. That he was also in charge of the nation’s national security comes across as a big joke.
I feel a sense of personal shame that I know other right-thinking, patriotic citizens must share. Indeed, private shame is now public shame. You are a Trini, you are as guilty as Jack. You must have enjoyed some of the fruits of the loot. After all, you elected this man to your Parliament with the record highest number of votes ever.
More than that, besides his political colleagues who may have benefited directly from the stolen football dollars, priests of every known Christian denomination, pundits from the spectrum of Hinduism, Muslim imams, Orisha devotees and even atheists and agnostics, genuflected before this FIFA Ogun.
As the world sees it, we, not they (the politicians), elevated Jack to some of the highest offices in the land. In their eyes, we are a society bereft of morality, devoid of ethics. We are steeped in hypocrisy.
Such categorisations are unfair, of course, certainly to the few who stood firm from early o’clock, who saw Warner for what he really was, and who, against the tide of those deified him, called a spade a spade, a thief a thief. Patriots were pilloried, burnt at the political stake for blowing the whistle on His Royal Larcenist.
Who brought shame and scandal to our country? Jack Warner? Of course he did! But what of a Prime Minister who, against advice from many, including Keith Rowley, proceeded to elevate him to senior ministerial offices? What of his Cabinet colleagues who latched on to his coattails, and who, like rabid but well-fed mongrels, attacked anyone who dared to speak the truth long before the FBI indicted Warner?
Like the biblical Scribes and Pharisees, they are hypocrites all. They and their recently beloved Jack brought shame to the nation such as we have never before endured.
And the Prime Minister has the gall to say, cross her heart, she never received one dollar from Jack. I would hate to think she did—she is not that stupid.
But does she really believe that intelligent people are convinced that he did not help bankroll the UNC/PP during the general and local elections of 2010? That if he didn’t utilise some of the football loot, he did what he does next best, squeeze campaign funds from financiers? Has she forgotten that one such multi-millionaire claimed to have “lent” Jack $30 million for the 2007 campaign?
The Prime Minister must really believe that the majority of the population dotish.
A final word on this sordid affair: why were we surprised at thuggery that took place outside of Parliament when Warner’s bodyguards physically attacked members of the foreign media? When “badjohn” Jack personally assaulted and abused the BBC’s Andrew Jennings at Piarco (“arks yuh mudder!”) back in 2010, not one of his political colleagues or supporters spoke out against his boorish behaviour.
In fact, police officers who witnessed both attacks did not even caution the offenders, far less lock them up.
So who, really, are inflicting shame and scandal on the country? Jack alone, or “all ah we”?