Tag Archives: Raffique Shah

All praise for President Irfaan Ali

By Raffique Shah
July 17, 2024

Raffique ShahIt did not take me long last Friday night to switch gears, in a manner of writing, and focus this column on a politician to whom I owe at least an apology, Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali. If he does get around to reading this, he will wonder why an apology from me: I haven’t written or said anything about this young man ever since he came to office in November 2020, and with good reason.
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I feel defeated

By Raffique Shah
July 10, 2024

Raffique ShahIt bothers me that I woke up from a sleep that was not exactly restful, scanned the early-morning television programmes, switched to international news, saw Britain’s new Prime Minister make his way into 10 Downing Street and I didn’t even know his name. I didn’t know how his Labour Party came to win the election, and what worries me most is that I don’t care. In fact, for much of this year, governments have changed in a manner that should have meant something to the people, if not directly to us in little Trinidad and Tobago, but that too didn’t mean a thing to me.
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Ivan, not so terrible

By Raffique Shah
July 02, 2024

Raffique ShahEarlier this month, I became nostalgic over Labour Day celebrations in Fyzabad. The date and venue are etched together in spirit and in history; hence the reason why the 30-or-so times I attended, marched and even spoke on the platform, it was only at Fyzabad. That position was held by the radical unions.

Many of the North-based unions that openly supported the parties in power avoided Fyzabad for several years after the town had stamped its name with authority as the only venue that made sense. They would conveniently return to their headquarters when its significance was acknowledged by all, especially schoolchildren who were now learning that aspect of the country’s history.
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Labour Day nostalgia

By Raffique Shah
June 26, 2024

Raffique ShahI must confess that I feel nostalgic every year when Labour Day comes around. I wasn’t there in 1972 when June 19 was first declared a national holiday. The government of Dr Eric Williams had conveniently avoided recognition of the significance of June 19 to the history of labour and the country as a whole.

Most people who know anything about the significance of that date will know it was when Tubal Uriah Butler, who is seen as the father of radical labour, triggered a national strike by asking a large crowd of workers assembled in Fyzabad for a meeting if he should subject himself to being arrested by Police Corporal Charlie King, a powerfully stupid man who brandished a pair of handcuffs and the arrest warrant.
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Autocracy, not democracy

By Raffique Shah
June 16, 2024

Raffique ShahWell before I thought about writing a column on the internal elections in the United National Congress, I deliberately decided that I will not focus on individual candidates but more on the process. In demo­cracies such as ours, there are always several interest groups that comprise the backbone of the parties which differ very little on critical issues such as the economic policies, crime and punishment, education and so on.
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Hate is ugly

By Raffique Shah
June 10, 2024

Raffique ShahSenior Maha Sabha official Vijay Maharaj must be one very disappointed man, mud plastered across his face. According to Maharaj, Planet Earth ought to have shifted its political axis, with cataclysmic consequences, last Tuesday, June 4. But Mother Earth is not known to bow to mankind’s will or wishes, especially if—as seems to have been the case here—they come flashing “power” cards engraved with names such as Maharaj, Modi and Maha Sabha.
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Destination, purgatory

By Raffique Shah
May 14, 2024

Raffique ShahIf the two leading parties, the PNM and the UNC, ignore my challenge for them to make corruption a focal point of the next general election, would this be to their detriment? The answer is no. They will have read my column, of course, and they would be intimately aware that I was correct in everything I wrote in matters relating to racketeering and other very high-level illegal transactions.

I will not, of course, have documents or files to support my allegations. Which means, as a citizen, I do not have the liberty to pursue such matters the way good journalists do. So, if at all any of them wishes to comment, to brand my recommendations for an issue-related elections period, they would have the whole country laughing at me, making me look like an idiot. They, too, will not only lampoon me but they will come after me for whatever pennies I have amassed.
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Living to steal another day

By Raffique Shah
May 07, 2024

Raffique ShahHowever lofty the ideals they may shout from the rooftops, when you get down to base, when you reach the gutter where most of them reside, politics is not about ideals. It is about naked power.

Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher, wrote in his masterful introduction to Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth: They bring nothing new, they create nothing new, they simply regurgitate what their masters fill in their heads. Centuries after the great intellects introduced them to concepts such as democracy, you can hear them in the ex-colonies, now independent states, screaming as if they invented the words, “Government of the people, for the people and by the people”; “Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!”
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Mandate to lock up

By Raffique Shah
April 29, 2024

Raffique ShahSo that readers may get an idea of the sheer size of the monster that is corruption, of how easily the high and mighty as well as the poor and powerless are caught in its web, I cite one of the oldest jokes in parliamentary lore.

Lady Astor, the first woman to sit in the British parliament, was once jokingly propositioned by a drunk Winston Churchill when he asked her: will you go to bed with me for 50 pounds? She did not respond curtly; instead she hesitated, but before she could sidestep the trap Churchill was about to spring on her, he asked: will you go to bed with me for eight pounds? To which she angrily responded: what do you think I am? He replied: we already know the answer to that, we are just trying to fix a price.
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Corruption’s demonic face

By Raffique Shah
April 23, 2024

Raffique ShahIn the 40-odd years that I have been writing a weekly newspaper column, I admit that much of my work has been dealing with politicians and corruption. Over the years I have tried to address other issues such as the economy, our education system, crime (how can I not write about crime?), and so on. But I always seem to return to base, in a manner of speaking—meaning politics, politicians and corruption.
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