Water and Powder

HD VS Blue
Allison-Demas

Allison Demas is a rainmaker. Demas, an attorney with extensive expertise in copyright laws and policy and new media, but clearly none in theatre, within the space of a week managed to make the old, tedious, almost irrelevant Dimanche Gras format that everyone agrees must be revamped, into something longed for and missed. What should have been an attractively packaged series of shows for Calypso Monarch, King and Queen of the Bands and Dimanche Gras became bungled, tedious tasteless versions of their former selves.

Carnival is festival theatre. The Dimanche Gras show is stage theatre attempting to domesticate festival theatre. And any dramatist can tell you that festival theatre has a mind of its own. It can be long, repetitive and very dependent on the mood of the audience. To attempt to domesticate it is to also de-nature it.

Ms Demas, like all the producers of the Dimanche Gras before her, has to make a decision. Is she doing a concert or staging a competition? And after making that decision she needs to accept that all theatre, indeed all stage shows,need conflict and tension to hold the audience’s attention and keep people coming back for more.

Historically the Dimanche Gras show relies on conflict. It is a kind of gayelle. People attend or tune in to see who will win the calypso crown, or who will have the best costume on parade. They want the competitive aspect of the show. They want victors and heroes to root for. To remove the competition aspect from Dimanche Gras is to take the juice and life out of the show. If you are going to remove the competition, then you have to make it a grand concert that is tight, well co-ordinated and filled with surprise acts that will leave the audience oohing, aahing and vowing to not miss next year’s. Like Alternative Concept, before it became Warm-Up-To-Fantastic-Friday –Machel-Monday.

Ms Demas has now stumbled into some treacherous waters. Her revamping of Carnival is now being viewed not as just a stumble by some Trinbagonians, but as a concerted attempt to destroy Carnival.

If Ms Demas wants an example of a concert that masquerades as a competition but really isn’t she need only look to Fantastic Friday. Soca Monarch is to Trinidad Carnival what WWF Wrestling is to the United States. If you didn’t know it was a pre-planned performance by now, then now you know.

Caribbean Prestige Promotion has my unstinting admiration for the magic trick it pulls off with Fantastic Friday.Not because Soca Monarch is well-produced, not because the performances are great; but because William Munro has figured out precisely how to inject needles into us and keep us coming back for more.

machel Ben Hur

Soca Monarch is the hottest debate in town. As soon as soca tunes are on the radio people are gauging and comparing. Who sounding good? Which songs are better suited to the Groovy or Power Categories. What will the stage performances look like? And in the last three years, who has a chance at beating Machel Montano. Remember when we were like that about Calypso?

In its 21 years of existence Soca Monarch has faced controversy after controversy, revamp after revamp and managed to sustain interest. And that is so because Munro understands good theatre.

2011-02-21-7-2A_Chutney_finals_1.20.2.11 (1)

Three years ago when interest in the show was again flagging because it was the same cycle of winners,Montano - the Boy we all love to hate - entered the competition, allegedly to improve the standards. His entrance into the competition coincided with the first prize money increasing to $2 million. Montano’s announcement that he was entering had many fans of the show claiming “Advantage”. And not to disappoint, Montano gave his winning Power song the same title. His apparent alignment with the current government also made the shows even juicier. Montano became both the hero and villain of the show. Would he win? If so, would the victory be fair? Was the judging rigged?

In the last three years we have had three battles play out before us: Montano vs the entire Soca fraternity; Montano vs Iwer (aka Soca Tote The Re-match) and now Montano vs Super Blue. Conflict, tension and juice!

The show’s popularity cannot be denied. The audience tends to number in the tens of thousands at the venue; those who don’t attend tune in on tv; and the diaspora gets online all anxious for reliable internet feed that two decades later we still cannot get right. Facebook and Twitter are hot with debate and commentary on everything from the punctuality of the start time, to vocals, to presentations. The show starts at roughly 9 pm and lasts until the very wee hours of the morning. This year it ended around 4 am. Soca Monarch is just as poorly produced as the Dimanche Gras and lasts just as long, we often “know” who the winner is going to be, yet we are thoroughly enthralled and engaged by it.

If Ms Demas was to pause a minute and consider this, she would see it’s not what she is taking out of the Dimanche Gras that is important, but rather what is she putting into it.

This year Munro introduced the element of Super Blue. The audience as ever accepted the premise of the show unquestioningly. They accepted Blue’s return wholesale. It became the comeback story of the season. Montano went from being both hero and villain of Soca Monarch to just plain villain. Here was Super Blue, the fallen hero, down on his luck, donning his battle gear for one last round in the Soca arena. Would the General of Soca teach the young Montano a lesson? Super Blue had a nostalgic crowd, willing to forget that they had once complained about the triteness of his music and the excessive use of “jump and wave” in his songs, now rooting spectacularly for him and speaking of“Ethel”, “Soca Baptist” and “Jab Molassie” in glowing terms.

Despite Montano’s 30 years in the business, he was now seen, not as a veteran himself, but a greedy upstart. No one questioned when and how Super Blue managed to rehabilitate and come back. No one seemed perturbed that the promoters of Soca Monarch were also the management team behind Blue’s comeback and that building an entire Soca Monarch around the historic battle of Age vs Youth is classic theatre. Or that Munro has already developed his plot-line for Soca Monarch 2014: the Rematch!

If I were Ms Demas, bad as the production quality is, I’d look at the footage of Soca Monarch for the last three years and analyse the various battles that Munro constructed for us and take a page or two out of his playbook. Making a successful Carnival show goes beyond the realm of impressive resumes. You must also be aware of just how much mas you can make with a little water and powder.

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Waiting for Kaiso to Dead!

  For at least thirty years out of my life people have been holding an unnecessary wake for Calypso. Is like Calypso on a ventilating machine, everybody sit down in the waiting room absolutely convinced that any minute now it going to dead.

 

Every season you have people who are more guilty of nostalgia than real common sense accusing the art form of being dead. And trust me, next year there will be a Calypso Monarch competition with calypsonians arguing about not receiving enough money; and an audience accepting sub standard performances and songs. Calypso dead? Not quite. Calypsonians and calypso shows being lazy and unoriginal? We have plenty of that. And this is not to say that all calypsonians are that way, but the ones that get offered up to us and labelled as True True Kaisonians have definitely become that way.

 

What we recognize as being Calypso in 2013: slow, preachy, lyric-heavy songs that focus on social or political issues, wouldn't be recognized as a calypso back in the 1800s when the form was still evolving. The stick fighting songs we have today share a closer resemblance to calypsos of a past era. And if calypso could have evolved then to survive and appeal to a twentieth century audience, then it can do so now. And is, but most of us are unaware of it.

 

But you see, we have our notions about what is a calypso. We create our own mental definitions and stick with them. We have had artists repeat a particular formula year after year for the last forty plus years; they have been paid by tents to repeat that formula; crowned as monarchs and received hundreds of thousands of dollars and cars for singing the same formula. And when that formula begins to go stale or bore us the cultural ignoranti among us, who know only one thing as Calypso, get up and pronounce in a self-important fashion that Calypso is dead.

 

So let me disabuse you. Calypsos, good social and political commentary, with infectious beats and memorable hook lines are being sung here every year. Year after year and we ignore them. There is no rule book that says a calypso has to be slow, must have four or more verses, must have brass in it, and can only be performed by person's upwards of thirty years of age. Calypso has no formula!

 

jointpop FC

Back in the nineties, when Sugar Aloes and Cro Cro were at the height of their vitriol, making tent going an unpleasant experience for Indo-Trinbagonians, men like Gary Hector, with his band jointpop FC, was singing songs like. "Port of Spain Style" and "Bashment to Halloween". By the year 2000 the band had released another album to its hardcore group of fans with gems like "New Fast Food in Town" and "Crack, Pitbull and Gun". Any of those songs I just named there could have knocked Panther and Kurt Allen out of the Savannah last night for lyrics and melody. And until you have seen Gary Hector in full flight you do not know what rebellious insouciance is.

 

In the last decade our most powerful calypsos have been coming from Soca artists, yet we continue to deny their contribution to local music because we have been trained to be dismissive of soca music. It just there to wine and get on bad. We barely listen to the lyrics and then accuse the songs of having no lyrics. Why! Because they aren't slow? Because they don't fill our narrow stereotype of what a calypso should be?

Fay Ann Lyons and Bunji Garlin

In 2009 when KMC sang " Yeast" what was that if not socio-political commentary? Does being able to dance to it lessen its message? When Fay Ann Lyons sang "Meet Super Blue", how many of us realized that it was a calypso of affirmation? We were probably too busy wining to listen to the lyrics and understand what they meant.

 

machel Ben HurIn 2006 when Machel Montano sang "No War" and "We Not Giving Up", what made them not a calypso? The artist? The beats per minute? The musical arrangement? Have you actually listened to the lyrics of "The Return", "Mr Fete", or " Fog"? All fitting the model of songs of affirmation?

 

This year we too busy with memes about waking cows to realise that Bunji Garlin's "Diffrentology" is the next sound in calypso. Or that "Savage" is yet another well crafted calypso offering from Garlin discussing our class strificstion issues, much like "Lies", " Fete is Fete", and "Clear the Road".

 

gyazetteWe might also not be exposed enough to the local music scene to realise that the band Gyazette could have sung any number of songs from their soon-to-be-released album and possibly won the Calypso Monarch title. Kerene Asche's "Meh Padnah Ship" would be forgotten next to front man Nikolai Salcedo's blistering delivery of " Who Is the Captain of This Ship". And the disdainfully saucy message in his "Mango".

 

Unfortunately, we have come to rely heavily on stereotypes and formulae here. To win prize money, you have to follow formulae, and bands like jointpop and Gyazette aren't much for formula. While Montano indulges in formula every year to win soca competitions, he also gives himself enough leeways on his albums to experiment with form and sound. Bunji Garlin, since exploding onto the local music scene since the late nineties has been delivering calypso after calypso annually. In fact, I'd love to see him shake up the extempo competition one year and show the stalwarts what Sans Humanite really is. Just think Red Edge Freestyle session and you too will wish that NCC would hurry up and fix all of the silly competitions that rely on formula for their judging; and have artists stifling art forms in order to eat a food. While the slavish audience looks on demanding the same thing every year; and if they ain't get it, is not "true true calypso".

 

It is not that Calypso is dying, rather we, the organizers, judges and audience holding a pillow over its face, while the art form struggling hard to free itself.

But while all yuh eating up all yuh self over Kurt Allen and Pink Panther, I going and rock my Gyazette, jointpop, Bunji and HD.....and I still say Trinidad James shoulda win last night's crown...WOOO!

Full Dotish!

 

 

Terms and Conditions of the Hunger Strike Ending

20121206-065444.jpgJOINT CONSULTATIVE COUNCILFOR THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

The Professional Centre Bldg. 1st Floor Unit B202 11-13 Fitzblackman Drive, Wrightson Rd. South, Port of Spain

Tel: (868) 623-9396 jcctt1@gmail.com

Fax: (868) 625-5749 www.jcc.org.tt

MEDIA RELEASE

For more information Contact:

Afra Raymond: President, JCC JCC Office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 5th December, 2012 START OF MEDIA RELEASE

– PORT OF SPAIN – After consultation with the government and the Highway Re-Route Movement, the JCC and its Civil Society Kindred Associations – Federation of Independent Trades Unions and NGOs (FITUN), Trinidad & Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) and Women Working for Social Progress (Working Women) - are pleased to confirm that we have appointed an independent working group to examine the several matters of concern on the disputed Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin.

PORT OF SPAIN

Tel: 625-6230 or 623-4945 Tel: 623-9396 or 720-0850

The JCC and its Civil Society Kindred Associations have appointed Independent Senator, Dr. James Armstrong, as Chairman of the Independent Working Group.

The JCC and its Civil Society Kindred Associations has agreed the attached Terms of Reference for the examination of the facts in this matter and identified the required disciplines for the review.

The JCC and its Kindred Associations are now committed to this process for independent, civil society oversight of large-scale development in our country.

We regard this as a solid framework for the transparent ventilation of the matters in dispute.

This is a real advance in the development of our country, so we would like all parties to work in good faith within this process. The Independent Working Group will be inviting oral and written submissions within this exercise.

The Civil Society Groups are confident that these efforts would lead to a resolution of this protracted impasse and would signal the heralding of a new era of civil society’s participation in the national development agenda.

TERMS OF REFERENCE

Review all the documentation provided by NIDCO, HRM and other interested parties

Invite written and oral submissions from interested parties

Ascertain transparency and compliance with prevailing statutory requirements

• Examine the process of public consultation and public information Examine the

TOR issued by the EMA for an Environmental Impact Assessment, along with any

other relevant documentation, in order to ascertain implications for social, economic

and environmental impacts of the highway development, including consideration

of land tenure, land acquisition and costs, land use and displacement of families

and attendant settlement development. This component of the review will consider

cost-benefit analysis; social impact assessment; terrestrial and marine ecology,

hydrology, drainage and public utilities.

Examine the route selection process including the consideration of alternatives and

the choice criteria

Make recommendations for Best Practice

Undertake any related tasks which will enhance the content of the Report

REQUIRED DISCIPLINES

Environmental

Transportation

Hydrology / Drainage

Social Economic

Archaeology

Planning / Settlements

Economic Analysis

Highway Engineering

Property Valuation

END OF MEDIA RELEASE

UWI Speaks...but what is it saying?

Today there was a march to show solidarity for Wayne Kublalsingh at the UWI, St. Augustine Campus.

To be more accurate: "A Solidarity Gathering in recognition of Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh" was what the notice about the event said. It came a solid two weeks after the hunger strike began and 3 days after the UWI Prinipal's statement on the Hunger Strike.

A statement that can be described as embarrasing at best. In it the Principal sypathises with Kublalsingh, but is in favour of the Highway, in fact, he wants a Highway that extends to Cedros.

It is a statement that comes across as both callous and misinformed. Why? In it the Principal seeks to distance the University from Kublalsingh by stating he only works for the University on a 2-month contract. Which is intriguing to say the least. Kublalsingh has been on contract at the UWI for years. His is not just a 2-month contract. Kublalsingh taught me...and that was back in the mid-90s.

Further, you're in favour of a highway for which we can't even get the EIA report? Interesting.

Last week when news of the Hunger Strike hit the campus you could hear pins drop in the department that Kublalsingh works. People were only whispering on corridors. Sending an e-mail around to see who wanted to go visit the camp and show solidarity was frowned upon. Indeed, the only action UWI was definite about was that Kublalsingh's classes had to be looked after.

As per a proper position on the issue....mehh! Not even the Guild President....and he was being prompted by peers to issue a statement....but his political affiliation is widely known and probably played a role in his prolonged silence .

Then over the weekend came the announcement of this show of solidarity. And I had to wonder what led to the show of conscience today.

It's no secret that this institution suffers from incredible amounts of government interference. It's in bed with the government...and scarily so.

So much so that writing against the government in newspapers columns like I do gets you the attention of management in less than positive ways.

It is also no secret that many key members of the Institute of Gender openly rallied for Kamla Persad-Bissesar in 2010. Some were even awarded by Persad-Bissessar's government.

So the March took place and the usual suspects were there. the crowd wasn't large. This is a University whose days of militant activist students are firmly behind it. These days the things that rile UWI students up are the same things that riled them up 10 and 15 and 20 years ago....shuttles to go clubbing and increased tuition fees or removal of GATE. Social awareness and UWI student in the same sentence is an oxymoron. And often times, social awareness and UWI lecturer too.

At this "Solidarity" today I watched a number of people pat themselves on the back for a job well done  - about 100 people had shown up.  They affirmed to each other that this was necessary! It had to be done! 13 days into a hunger strike. I surveyed the crowd and tried to pick out how many members of staff, who had managed to leave their offices and march around the campus had made it to the Re-Route Movement's Camp in the last 10 days. I recognised only one. Im sure the others meant to get there....they just didn't.

I looked around too at the many intellectuals and specialists in social science areas and wondered why weren't more people speaking out publicly about the crucial issues?

To date not an expert from the UWI's engineering or environmental sciences departments has weighed in on the Highway Protests. the Centre for Economic Studies, SALISES, will hold a forum on it Dec 4th....this protest has been on more than a year and it took a man 13 days of starving himself for the institution to sit up and take note.

But let's back up a little. There are many more crucial issues that have occurrred before we got to this point in our socio-political history. There have been abuse of process, abuse of state funds, abuse of women, children, the constitution, the environment....and UWI has not been in the vanguard leading any discussions on any of the crucial issues.

So, I had to wonder why today? This show of solidarity was arranged by Gender Studies,...where were their comments during the State of Emergency (its chief organiser was openly in support of last year's SoE.)? When Cheryl Miller was arrested? When Sita Gajardharsingh-Nanga was openly attacked and vilified? Section 34? Kamla's attack on Rowley at Divali Nagar? Kamla's constant use of the National Mother motif?

Maybe I should be heartened that they have finally responded. Maybe this is where it starts.

For now though I am sceptical. Sceptical because many of the key players are people that have openly compromised themselves in the past, so I don't know that I can trust them to do the right thing about my future. Many of the key players for quite a long time kept silent because the government screwing up was made up of the parties they supported. And for many Trinidadians, loyalty is hushing up and supporting shit. The minute you criticise, it means you anti-everything. God forbid that any of them should come out and openly critique the government they supported.

But I imagine the attack on Kublalsingh has hit home. Wayne is a lecturer like them. Wayne supported the COP, or at least his family does. Wayne was eventually vilified and mistreated. Not that this government now start to mistreat people....but the stones finally start to fall in people yard. So they find a voice.

 

But I am not yet convinced about the reliability of this "solidarity. So, for now,  I watch and wait.

 

De Vice Cyah Done!

 

The Ethnic Agenda

 

In case you missed it, Ambassador Neil Parsan's wife is black, which apparently is an actual ethnicity, not just a colour; and his wife's colour apparently gives the goodly ambassador carte blanche to make up information about Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. Oh, wait you missed it? You missed the speech wherein the diplomat that is supposed to be representing an entire multicultural nation gave a speech that implied he is really only there to serve the interests of a particular interest group: the People's Partnership? Some of the key points in Parsan's speech was to point out that the "Indian Diaspora is a formidable force in Trinidad and Tobago, the largest numerical representation in the Caribbean." And let's not forget as well that Indians are " the most well-to-do and culturally strong and progressive ethnic group in the uniquely plural society of Trinidad and Tobago."

 

I can't tell you where to find Ambassador Parsan's speech anymore because it has since been removed from the embassy's website. What I can tell you is that Neil Parsan is engaging in a not very subtle game of Whose Ethnicity Is More Superior? And that is a game that the entire country will lose. Why? Because it is pitting groups against each other, and making the atmosphere of Trinidad and Tobago more toxic. A speech such as this says plainly that groups here don't yet view themselves as Trinbagonians but as ethnicities all holding their corner and struggling for a larger piece of the pie. That an Ambassador, a diplomat, representing an entire nation, would be caught delivering such a speech is beyond embarrassing and Parsan should hand in his instruments of appointment and just leave Washington DC because his conduct as an Ambassador in that speech is poor. He is not representing a country.

 

But  Ambassador Parsan is but one in a string of ethnicity-related gaffes we have had coming from the People's Partnership of late. Since the massive Section 34 March, we have had Minister of National Security, Jack Warner, on several platforms spreading a message of ethnic strife. The Section 34 march was negligible according to Warner because he saw only Afro-descended people in it. As if to imply that Afro- descended people aren't Trinbagonian enough to be taken seriously. As if to imply that it wasn't a march of citizens. As if to imply Section 34 is a race or ethnicity issue and not a national issue. Mere weeks after the march, on i95.5 with John Wayne Benoit, MP for Mayaro, Winston Peters in response to a question repeated that he is only representing the people who voted for him.

 

And if that wasn't insulting enough, Warner then, sulking and petulant, announced that he wasn't attending the opening of the Nagar because Keith Rowley would be there. Disingenuous as ever, Warner claimed he didn't want to politicize the issue. Then Sat Maharäj, pundit Harry Maharaj and Devant Maharäj jumped in to support Warner's position. Mind you, this is Divali and the Divali Nagar site. A holiday celebrated by the national community on lands donated by the state. What Warner was ostensibly saying to Rowley is we don't want you or your kind here. Please keep in kind that Warner is not the UNCs Minister of National Security, he is the nation's, obligated to serve the nation, and at a public forum this is how he speaks to the Leader of the Opposition, a man that represents the interests of another part of our society.

 

Of course, yes, you can argue that Warner was there in his capacity as Chairman of the UNC. And in that case, what are Warner's words and actions saying about the party's agenda and policies? Is the UNC, the party that is currently leading this coalition government, actively using strategies of ethnic division and polarizing politics as part of its strategy to stay in government? The COP agreed to this? Because I can't see what other way there is to define what Warner and his supporters are attempting to do if not polarize the nation yet again.

 

And to add frosting and cherry on top this ethnic agenda cake is our Prime Minister. A lady who is mum on most matters, but manages to break her silence at the closing ceremony of the Divali Nagar and used the opportunity to attack the Leader of the Opposition. And on trivial issues no less. What the Prime Minister fails to remember with the whole goar lagay incident, when she decided to bow before the President of India is simply this: the PM was there in her capacity as the head of government, greeting another head of government; two heads of state do not bow to each other. Simple protocol. But it seems the PMs advisers are not strong on protocol, just on beefing up her strategies for her ethnic agenda.

 

If sounding like a petulant child about the international bowing incident wasn't insult enough, the PM then lashed out at the Opposition Leader's decision to wear a kurtah to ceremonies at the Nagar. Apparently the PM has a monopoly on wearing ethnic garb in this country and we didnt get the memo.

 

The Partnership sounding scared. They sound jittery. Why else would they need to begin to deploy race politics so hard if not to rally their voter base around them. and that's an old Bas trick, eh. When under attack rally the troops. So in one breath the PM will talk about representing the nayshun....and in another, she scolding people to get in their section.

 

But I want to take a minute and examine this voter base that the PP appealing to. Persad-Bissessar can only be appealing to a group for whom policies based on tribalism and ethnic division will work on. So then, is the leader of the PP saying that her voter base wants ethnic division? Is the leader of the PP also saying that she is quite willing to use divisive tactics once it keeps her popular. Remind me what was the new politics we voted for in 2010 again?

We won't be getting any of that new politics anytime soon simply because Kamla and the PP must now rally the troops together and bunker down until 2015. Any loss of her voter base, or the Indian vote to the PNM will be a bad sign. Especially since she knows that she depended heavily on the PNM vote that the COP managed to capture. That's out the window now since PNM supporters see COP for what it truly is....a Trojan Horse of a party.

Kamla also knows that there is no way she can win the seat of government with just the Hindu government. So the struggle is on. Let's hope others keep their head on and see this Ethnic agenda policy for what it truly is....divide and rule so that the UNC can live another day....but still, you have to ask yourself what it says about the party's voter base that race politics appeals to them.

De Vice Cyah Done!

Parsan's 60%

You might have missed it, but this week Ambassador Neil Parsan, a man who was appointed to represent all of Trinidad and Tobago decided that he was only batting for Indians.....but not to worry, his wife is a black woman....he says....so that makes it ok. We can trust him to do his job. I wish I could direct you to the speech that he made, but it's been removed from the embassy's website. But in it he referred to Indians as being the most well to do and progressive ethnic group in Trinidad and Tobago. Indians make up roughly 40% of our population, so in one fell swoop Parsan managed to paint every other group as a bunch of ketch ass parasites. The argument put forward by some supporters of the UNC is that the Ambassador pulled a Romney and was speaking to a specific interest group made up of a specific ethnicity and so tailored his speech to suit.....my response after my semi choked Bullshit is this: Parsan is a diplomat, not a candidate for a political post; he is supposed to represent every group in this space; and playing the race card in front of an audience is extremely undiplomatic. That's not his job. Romney's 47% speech was bad enough for all its undertones and stereotyping of Liberal America as a bunch of freeloaders, but how dare Neil Parsan decide to stereotype citizens of this country in this way. So no other group has achieved anything? Every single ethnic group here has contributed in some way or the other to the country's development. The much maligned urban depressed areas are where much of the culture that has made us internationally known comes from. The Chinese, Africans, Amerindians, Arabs, Portuguese, Europeans have all contributed. So how on earth can Parsan decide that the most well to do and progressive group is the Indians? Is he implying that the other 60% have done fuck all? And what about other Indian activists that just this week claimed that Indians are the most oppressed group here. How do you get to be the most well to do and the most oppressed at the same time?

Do we really want to go down the road here of discussing who contributes and how?

If we were to just look at which group pays the most taxes in this country something tells me the results going to paint a very disturbing picture about who contributes and how. If we were to trace where and how the drugs and arms trade starts and where it ends up, something tells me that we are going to have a very interesting picture of Trinidad and Tobago, crime and contributions.

But let's stay away from hypotheticals for now and just consider what Parsan's comments mean.

Because you see, if Parsan had an appreciative audience for this speech it means there are Trinbagonians among us who agree that Indians are the most progressive group in the country. And yes they have made huge strides, moving from being immigrant peasants to the driving force behind the local business and finance sector. But the country is not just made up of business and finance.

For Trinidad and Tobago to be what it is everyone had to contribute in multiple ways. And every group here still has a long way to go.

For Parsan to decide to single out one group is one thing, to pass on erroneous unsubstantiated information just for the sake of stroking the egos of his audience is quite another....and GOPIO? Really? In a multi ethnic space we still supporting and humoring groups that representing the interests of only one ethnicity? When will we learn that a nation is more than the sum of its.....it is its sum total....period.

This ethnic thinking is getting us no where. We still stuck thinking in percentages, and shares, and pieces and parts. That is the new politics promised to the nayshun, I guess.

De Vice Cyah Done!

Muje Maaf Kar Do....Mea Culpa?

This afternoon the PNM is putting on a grand Divali celebration in St James. The celebration will feature a tassa competition, a beauty queen show and deya lighting. For a party that is in opposition and considered to be more Afro than any other ethnic group in its appeal, it is refreshing to see the efforts that Rowley et al are making to appear more inclusive. Indeed, since the PNM Convention on October 28 th The Keith has been quietly relentless about showing his many facets and in showing his softer side, he is attempting to show the PNMs accommodating side. But how accommodating is it?

Is it going to be a seasonal accommodation? One that pops up only during popular religious festivals? Will other less prominent ethnic groups also be a part of this new accommodation? Will other religious systems that are less prominent as well be welcomed into the fold? After all the PNMs mantra these days is " Come home to the PNM".

But what exactly are we coming home to? Is this new accommodation a pappy show to give an impression of inclusiveness, or is the PNM serious about turning a new leaf?

I am asking these hard questions because there are two major obstacles the PNM has to confront at some point in time publicly. Why? Because they are the obstacles that are thrown up all the time privately. The unspoken grouses the electorate has against the PNM as it were, and I think publicly confronting them will actually make the party appear stronger and serious about inclusion.

Right now the constant pictures of The Keith in koortah is window dressing for a deeper far more serious problem. Yes he looks very dapper and cuts a fine picture in ethnic garb. But as a half coolie that looks more African than Indian, I can tell you that there is far more to being Indian and winning the regard of the Indian community than donning ethnic garb. The PNM in particular and Afro Trinbagonians have always been viewed by the Indo community with skepticism and mistrust.

Social and political leaders of the Indo community have kept the mistrust alive with a constant reference to several grievances held against the PNM. There is the constant cry that the PNM has oppressed Indians, of course when you press for details and evidence the conversation always ends up the "recalcitrant minority" speech by Williams. A speech that happened. That it happened in reference to something else is irrelevant to the Indo community. What matters is that it was said and as far as Indians are concerned it speaks to the true feelings of both the PNM and Afro Trinis. Go to any FB group, especially UNC focused group and that's where all the conversations lead to. Pnm is a cult that don't like Indians and trying to oppress us. Ask the right questions and it boils down to the comment that has had Indians toting feelings against both PNM and Afros for half a century.

The Keith has begun addressing this grievance, but obliquely. It can't be a coincidence that at every opportunity he has been given in the last two weeks he constantly refers to the valuable contributions of the Hindu community. It is possibly a subtle, mea culpa....but this won't do.

You see Indians want their pound of fle......sorry, bhagi. And given the public way in which Williams made the comment, any addressing of it will have to be just as publicly. The PNM must make it clear that it is not now, nor ever will be, the party's position on Indians. It matters little that fifty years have passed since it was made. It matters little that much has been done to atone for it. Until the PNM faces that bogey head on, then it will always rear its head in quiet and not so quiet corners to be used against the party and Afro Trinis.

The tote is real The Keith, and the party must go on record as having addressed the issue. A simple Muje maaf kar do. To refuse to address it gives the comment and its offshoot behavior more power than it deserves.

When you go on record, you diffuse the strength of that comment made more than fifty years ago....and turn the tables on the whiners only intent on ethnic political mischief.

De Vice Cyah Done!

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Sari Optional

 

I won't be wearing any Indian garb this weekend. And no, it has nothing to do with taking a backward stance like some members of Paliament who choose to be political, petty and petulant as they try to manipulate Indianness and Hinduness in their constant game of politics and identity. I am avoiding Indian garb this year because I am fed up of the pappy show. I am fed up of the absolute pretence that happens whenever there is a religious holiday in Trinidad, especially one that is linked to ethnicity and politically charged.

 

Divali is one such holiday. And what you won't hear people say, but what will be apparent in all their careful gestures and words in this: we have an Indian government in power and must appear to comply or at least appear to be open. And therein lies our daily fiction. It can't be an error that our watchwords say Tolerance. So we tolerate each other, we don't accept each other, or even attempt to understand each other.

 

This weekend, at the various programmes being put on by social or political groups, people will attempt to outshine each other with the opulence and complexity of the ethnic garb they are wearing. Many will jostle for media friendly pictures of themselves in said garb, possibly doing serenely spiritual things like lighting a deya or performing aarti at the many poojas that will be held. And many of us know the catch phrases surrounding the holiday: Mother Lakshmi, Lakshmi Mata, Hanuman, Sita, Ram, Ayodha, darkness, light, wealth prosperity, deya, prasadum, roti and curry.

 

And after the deyas are lit, the prasadum shared, the food eaten and the fireworks set off (always the fireworks in this place), come next Wednesday we take off the cosmopolitan masquerade and go back to our lives of ignorance. And fete.

 

Far too often in Trinidad and Tobago we are happy being ignorant about issues, but putting up the front of knowledge. Everyone knows when Divali will be observed next week; many of us think we know how it is observed; but few of us,if any, truly understand the tenets of the religion that underpins Divali: Hinduism. And that starts right within the Indo-Trinbagonian community. Thanks to the annual performance of the Ramleela we can know the story of Divali, but ask the average Hindu to list for you the main tenets of Hinduism and I guarantee you going to get a lot of hemming and hawing. Ask them too what strand of Hinduism they belong to and wait for the pause. Unless the person is practicing the teachings daily, there is confusion.

 

The Hindu community here has often claimed marginalisation. When you probe deeper the marginalisation is linked to political appointments and power. The grumbled comments have little to do with practicing their religion and having their marriages be legitimized or even being allowed to observe and practice their religions at schools. By the time the country got Independence those issues were ironed out. It wasn't even a situation of not having outlets for expression because as far back as the 1920s there were numerous Indo-specific newspapers that catered to both the Hindu and Muslim community. I  remember  Indian programmes on television as a child. I do not remember the same kind of programming for other ethnic groups. The Hindu grouse about marginalisation has always been that before 1995 no prominent positions within the Parliament was granted to a Hindu. It is a grouse that is still vented today because some members of the Hindu community still feel under appreciated and marginalised.

 

In 1962 VS Naipaul talked about Hindu culture being unknown and misunderstood in Trinidad and Tobago. He also pointed out that even Hindus didn't understand all the complexities of their religion. In 1987 Dr Bhoe Tewarie made similar comments. Hindus had come into their own, because it was on their voting strength that the NAR rode into power (according to Tewarie). He pointed out too that it was time for Indians to accept the responsibility  for letting the wider society know more about them and integrating themselves into the wider society.

 

Between 1987 to the present, public knowledge about some aspects of Indian culture, but not necessarily Hinduism, has increased, mostly through music, cuisine and politics.

 

As with all of the ethnic groups located here, Indians have been stereotyped, Hindus more so because they came with a religion that marked them as different, pagan according to the colonial masters of the time. Because of the mystery shrouding this foreign religion Hindus were considered devil worshippers and practitioners of sorcery; the food they shared out after a pooja considered tainted because it had been offered to gods that the Christian communities here do not acknowledge; their gods are equated to idols; the community is thought to be enslaved to money and financial pursuits. The average Non-Hindu Trinbagonian will calmly tell you Hindus sacrifice their firstborn for money during Kali Pooja: not knowing who Kali is or what worship of that particular goddess is about. There is rank ignorance flying about masquerading as knowledge. And sadly enough, little effort is made on either side to bridge the gap. Hindu organizations focus on educating Hindus, not the wider nation, on Hinduism. Non- Hindus are mostly interested in the food and little else. Ignorance holds sway on either side.

 

 

 

We currently have a government that boasts quietly of being a Hindu government in a multicultural country where religion and state should be separated. It is a government whose actions most of the population interpret as being typical Hindu behavior. And for the religion that is a dangerous thing. Why? Because this government has become a caricature of the worst stereotypes normally applied to both Indians and Hindus. Its actions in the last 2.5 years have done little to shed positive light on the religion and its practices.

 

As a result of this government's behaviour and Sat Maharaj's silly comments, nepotism, corruption and racism are considered to be part of the Hindu value system.

So until we take end the pappy show of tolerance, and begin the hard work of educating  ourselves about each other which can lead to acceptance, me wearing a sari and continuing the masquerade is optional.

 

Shubh Divali, folks. Keep it Safe.

Putting the Nation Back on Track - Keith Rowley's PNM 2012 Convention Address.

Political Leader of the Peoples National Movement (PNM), Dr. Keith Rowley on the occasion of the Party’s Annual Convention.  

 

Venue: The Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.Date: Sunday, October 28th, 2012

 

 

Theme of the Address:

 

 

Putting the Nation back on Track

 

 

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Senate, Parliamentary Representatives, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Leaders of Business, the Trade Union Movement, Members of the Central Executive and the General Council of the PNM, Constituency Chairpersons, Executive Members of the PNM Women’s League and the PNM Youth League, specially invited guests, distinguished Delegates, members of the media, other distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

 

 

Thank you very much for your warm welcome. Thank you also, Chairman of this afternoon’s proceedings, for your very kind introduction.

 

 

Today, October 28th 2012, is a remarkable day. My spirit tells me that it is a day which we shall always remember. It is a day filled with meaning, a day filled with significance and a day which gives all of Trinidad and Tobago a justifiable reason to be filled with joy. The PNM cup runneth over. The Peoples National Movement is alive and well.

 

 

The spirit of the PNM is moving through all the land. The bold and beautiful spirit of the PNM is awakened. You are the spirit, you are the backbone and you are the life of our nation. It is upon your sturdy and stubborn shoulders that Trinidad and Tobago will once more see the light. Your light shall shine like never before. Your light of freedom, your light of justice, your light of equal opportunity for all shall lead our people forward boldly and bravely into the Promised Land. Come the year 2015, or before, it is your dazzling and shining light that will lead the Peoples National Movement back into governance where the Peoples National Movement truly, sincerely and deservedly belong. Great is the PNM. It shall prevail.

 

 

I must admit that I am exceptionally enthused and overwhelmed by the spirit which is being displayed among you today. It is infectious. It brings back to me fond memories of the PNM with which I had grown up ever since I was a child: occasions when I could not have withheld the awe and esteem in which I gazed upon the noble men and strong women who pioneered selflessly over the years to make this Party, the Peoples National Movement, the only true, honest, dedicated, disciplined and committed political edifice ever to have adorned the landscape of our beautiful and bountiful twin island republic. The PNM: the one and only distinguished national political institution, forged from the souls of the people, driven by the spirit of the people,  built on the sincerity of the people and steadfast in its determination to work tirelessly and selflessly on behalf of the people for the ultimate benefit of all the people.

 

 

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me to preface my address to you today by asking you to focus for a while upon two quotations which I have always treasured very dearly. The first one says:

 

 

“On August 31, 1962, a country will be free, a miniature state will be established, but a society and a nation will not have been formed. After August 31, 1962, the people of Trinidad and Tobago will face the fiercest test in their history - whether they can invest with flesh and blood the bare skeleton of their National Anthem, Here, every creed and race find an equal place.’ That is their challenge. They may fail..... But merely to make the attempt, merely to determine to succeed, would be an enormous tribute to their capacity, a powerful inspiration to frustrated humanity.”

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, those were the words of Dr. Eric Williams in his History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago (p. 282). The book was an Independence gift to his people - a chronicling of our history.

 

 

In yet another message, again written in his book, the History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago, here is what he said to us. And I quote:“What use will you make of your Independence? What will you transmit to your children five years from today? The first responsibility that devolves upon you is the protection and promotion of your democracy. Democracy means more, much more, than the right to vote. Democracy means recognition of the rights of others. Democracy means equality of all in the eyes of the law. Democracy means the protection of the weak against the strong. Democracy means the obligation of the minority to recognise the right of the majority. Democracy means responsibility of the Government to its citizens, the protection of the citizens from the exercise of arbitrary power (I repeat: protection of the citizens from the exercise of arbitrary power …. (Section 34 my emphasis…) and the violation of human freedoms and individual rights. Democracy means freedom of worship for all and the subordination of the rights of any one race to the overriding right of the human race. Democracy means freedom of expression and assembly and organisation… All that is Democracy…. Democracy, finally, rests on a higher power. It rests on an informed and cultivated and alert public opinion.”

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the words of the founder of this party, the only Chief Minister, only Premier and first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Eric Eustace Williams. These words of enlightenment, wisdom and admonition were among the many which he left with us as part of his Independence Day Address to the Nation on August 31, 1962.

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I have chosen to remind you the officers, members, friends, supporters and well-wishers of this august Movement and indeed the people of Trinidad and Tobago of these prophetically inspired words of wisdom so that in addressing you today I can truly and decisively place the significance and singular importance of the 44th Annual Convention of The Peoples National Movement in its true, meaningful and urgent context.

 

 

So I have chosen as the title of my address to you this afternoon the theme: “Putting the Nation back on Track”

 

 

This year of our Lord, 2012, marks the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of the People of Trinidad and Tobago. The year 2012 also marks the 56th Anniversary of the birth of our Party. It is this Party, the Peoples National Movement, which safely and painstakingly took Trinidad and Tobago to Internal Self Government in 1956, full Self Government in 1958, led the Country faithfully and confidently to Independence in 1962. We then transformed the governance structure of the nation to that of republican status in 1976.

 

 

It is this party which today is taking steps to deepen and broaden its own internal democracy by giving all its members a direct say in selecting its leadership as well as the rest of the National Executive by one man one vote. Today a long and detailed process of consultation within our party has brought to you, from our General Council, proposals for your consideration and endorsement. I thank all of you who participated in this period of reform especially Mrs. Bridgette Annisette George and her Committee who guided the process to this successful conclusion. I look forward to addressing the Conference of Delegates, who in service to party and country, will gather at the City Hall on December 2nd to complete the exercise. This PNM is on the move.

 

 

Whatever may have occurred along the way marked by these historical milestones, and there is so much that the PNM could be justifiably proud of, one fact of history can never be erased. It is that it was the PNM that gave to the people of Trinidad and Tobago the right to determine our own destiny, under conditions dictated by our own people and for the good and welfare of all our citizens. That is an undeniable, indefatigable and inalienable truth and no bearer of gifts laden with false and fake manifestations dares question or challenge that.

 

 

Since attaining Independence, we as a people have witnessed changes in our landscape, many of them brought about by our own volition and others imposed upon us by forces over which we had no control.

 

 

Today, the world in which we live has become phenomenally different to the one in which we started our journey to nationhood in 1962. We have witnessed and continue to experience drastic and dramatic changes in our social, economic, cultural and political norms and in our personal lifestyles, some for good, others for evil: changes in ways too numerous to recall.

 

 

Set against this background, it is imperative that our Party, aspiring as we are, to return to Government at the next opportunity whenever it comes. We must of necessity diligently, and with decorum, prepare and equip ourselves to achieve this goal. In pursuing this legitimate expectation, we as an enlightened Party, are compelled to keep uppermost in our minds not only the conflicting and treacherous trends which are developing in our own backyard but, more watchfully and meticulously, we must take into account the major hemispherical economic, social and political imbalances that are currently shaping the course of world civilisation at an alarming pace. These are the developments around us which, like it or not, will have the greatest impact on how, at what speed and under what circumstances Trinidad and Tobago will see its way to strategically position itself in order to live up to the determination to move our Nation forward.

 

 

A quick glance at the world today tells us, that, as the present administration gropes in the dark for solutions to the nation’s nagging problems, as they continue to flounder, toss and turn from side to side, searching aimlessly and without a clue, for ways and means beyond the boundaries of their most ambitious but stunted capabilities; as they continue to test the patience and endurance and tamper with the minds and emotions of a tolerant and long suffering people, developments all around us are urgently calling, with understandable urgency, for leadership that is incisive, bold, imaginative, trustworthy and intellectually grounded. Unfortunately, what passes today as Governance in our beloved country is a far cry from that which meets the demands of these perilous times.

 

 

The world today is stagnated by unfavourable economic and security conditions  which challenge the most passionate potential of modern day civilization: civil unrest and strife in the Middle East, economic challenges in North and South America; stagnation and decline in the United Kingdom and Europe, atrocities being committed in the name of religion in Asia and Africa; starvation, poverty, deprivation, not too far from where we meet here today, hunger, homelessness, disease, some say hopelessness, afflict our brothers and sisters in Haiti. At least one Caricom country has defaulted on its debt and others are tottering on the brink.   We live in an era in which drug cartels exploit the parlous and corrupt conditions which plague and bedevil unstable communities. Drug lords roam the land in search of profit from human prey. Children are being used as pawns in societies bent only upon exploiting child labour for the almighty dollar. Human beings are being bought, trafficked and sold like everyday commodities and their body parts traded on the open market bereft of any feeling or emotion.

 

 

Here in our homeland, we have joined in the chorus.  The social fabric of the society progressively deteriorates; hard earned tax dollars and borrowed money are being frittered away in cavalier fashion by an unconscionable government; the new leaders, rather than respond to the urgent demands of a frustrated people in a hostile environment, focus their attention frivolously and provokingly on propaganda and party. Day after day they line their pockets and those of their favourites to a degree never before imagined, even in the worst of times.  As the melodrama continues, each Minister strives to be the main attraction, stalling and stumbling on stage: one jostling to be the village idiot from San Juan, the other to be the “energizer bunny action man” and  yet many others fight for the title of head crook.

 

 

We have to admit as well that we seem to have given up hope that this generation can stem the tide of influences which are imported from outside. Materialism has taken centre stage at the expense of spirituality. Integrity is being sacrificed at the altar of expediency. Quality is being surrendered for quantity, licentiousness is celebrated;   ethics and decency are scorned.  Official communication, based on truth and the fullness of information is abandoned under the least threatening circumstances, and substituted with the proverbial naked lies, half-truths and misrepresentations. To complicate matters even further, we now live in the now for now instant world where patience and tolerance appear to be alien virtues.

 

 

Our awareness of international issues which daily stare us in the face gives us no comfort, no respite. The new technologies of weapons of warfare, suicide bombings, poison mail, wanton violation of fundamental human rights, human trafficking, drug trafficking, racial and religious intolerance, crime and lawlessness, global warming, all create a complex, complicated and convoluted society which, if we dwell upon without faith, could appear overwhelming. Some of our people just cannot cope, especially our young. We spend so much time dealing with the problems of living that some of us have forgotten how to appreciate life. The means and the end are in conflict. It is a major challenge for all of us in the years ahead. It calls for strength, empathy, confidence, discipline and vision. It calls for the tried and tested PNM.

 

 

Are you ready to answer that call again? Ladies and gentlemen, this in miniscule format is but a brief overview of the issues which as a society and as a people we face today: issues which are being brushed aside by an uncaring and inept administration and, in more cases than we wish to recall, these burning issues are being trivialised in the very quarters where they are expected to receive the most ardent, efficient and expeditious treatment.

 

 

But, do not be dismayed, ladies and gentlemen, let not your hearts be troubled. The PNM is in charge.  Our rivals are in disarray and are running scared. Their empty promises are returning to haunt them, with a vengeance. And they know only too well that these are just some of the issues which we in the PNM are examining and addressing as we work hand in hand with you and all who care about our nation to find the most sensible, practical and humane solutions: solutions which will lift our people out of the depths of despair and pull them out of the valley of evil – the vale of iniquity - which this current, corrupt administration has singlehandedly and collectively plunged us all into.

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, rest assured that your PNM has not been idle. We have not been passive or asleep. In fact we have been encouraged by the convergence of vibrant support which has been knocking at our doors as we maintain our vigilance and put ourselves on the alert, ever aware as we are, of the insecurities and injustices which are being inflicted upon us all. Your leadership has been diligently and doggedly reconstructing and relaying the foundation for nationhood at a pace which exceeds all antecedents. We have been picking up the pieces, brick by brick, as we witness the uncivil and well-orchestrated dismantling of the institutions which once made us all so exceptionally proud, confident and assured of the illustrious destiny toward which we were heading in harmony until the agonizing aberration of May 2010.

 

 

And now in spite of all their protestations, these destroyers, posing as men and women of goodwill, but with no semblance of competence honour, dignity or conscience even in the most redeemable parts, continue to chip away at the solid foundation which was so painstakingly laid by our fathers and mothers, our great grandfathers and great grandmothers. They sacrificed to leave for us a country distinguished not only by the wealth of talent which they left behind but spiritually endowed with the vast potential of human endeavour which resides in those who are present and those who will follow us.

 

 

These long standing and treasured values are now being cynically and cavalierly trampled upon. The infamous Section 34 manipulation speaks out loudly and clearly. This disdainful act will stand for all time as the most offensive and dastardly act of betrayal which any Government has ever contemplated for execution upon our citizens. It represents a monumental abandonment of all the tenets of civilised behavior that are expected of Parliamentary representatives, in and out of chambers: uninhibited, disgraceful and distasteful disregard and disrespect for the welfare, image and wellbeing of the citizenry.

 

 

Let us face it ladies and gentlemen, any self-respecting Government with the minutest modicum of pride left in itself, having been so glaringly caught and disgraced, would have immediately demitted office for less than that. But here in Trinidad and Tobago what do we have? We have in our country, which we took so much pain to build; we have in our midst a Government which continues to make us the laughing stock of the world, a government whose only desire is to unashamedly hang on and scrape the bottom until time inevitably runs out.

 

 

In Trinidad and Tobago, what we must never allow to disintegrate are the many exemplary legacies which characterized each successive era. These must be jealously cherished, stubbornly protected and lovingly nurtured and, above all, must be made to endure. Legacies collectively represent the deeply engraved cornerstones upon which strong, progressive and mature societies prevail. This PNM and its unwavering commitment to develop all the people of Trinidad and Tobago is one such legacy for as we said in the beginning, emphasise today:“We are not an ordinary party in the narrow sense of the word. We are rather a rally, a convention of all and for all, a mobilisation of all the forces in the community, cutting across race and religion, class and colour, with emphasis on united action by all the people in a common cause.” (People’s Charter 1956)

 

 

So today I make this call to all who have ever been or have ever worked alongside us, who have ever voted for us, who have ever shared our vision of nationhood, regardless of who you are or where you’ve been, if you still subscribe to, and believe in these fundamental principles, come home to the PNM. If Trinidad and Tobago ever needed you, it is now. And for you young people who have never participated in the organized political process, it is your time now to get on board with the PNM and take responsibility for your country. We have a Youth League, a Women’s League and we are a proud and resilient Movement.

 

 

I sound a warning to all those who believe that they can rewrite our history. You will never succeed. Just as has happened in the past, you have come and you will go. But the PNM is here to stay. 56 years of unbroken and unshakeable solidarity and unconditional commitment to the people of Trinidad and Tobago indelibly portray the PNM record: a feat of no mean or ordinary distinction.

 

 

But what is the record on the other side? Instead of taking us forward, we see our gains being rolled back. We see our multi ethnic, multi- cultural,  multi- religious fabric being stressed to the point where failing, desperate, puny politicians invoke the spectra of rawan to describe political opponents and dissatisfied civil society. We see the press under sustained attack even to the point of Ministerial threats and open harassment of journalists at their homes and at their workplace.   We are still not even proud and confident enough in our legal and judicial evolution to embrace the idea of our own final Court of Appeal, except for a token, watered down and half-hearted attempt, trotted out for temporary, political expediency.

 

 

Those of you who would have heard or read my address to the nation on the occasion of our 50th Anniversary of independence will recall the capsule record of achievement which I shared with the national community. These were largely, PNM achievements, labored for hard and long over many decades of commitment and dedication to nation building. These achievements represented fulfillment of the vision much along the lines that the founding fathers saw it.

 

 

At the time of our Independence 50 years ago, our economy was dominated by foreign-owned enterprises.  But as much as foreign investment was and still remains important for our economic growth and development, the PNM was and still is of the view that as an independent nation, those areas of national life which our local young men and women can effectively direct and steer must remain or be placed under their control and management. But this scenario has changed.

 

 

Too many of our young people complain of being sidelined, overlooked or ignored as they seek to add value to the workplace. Their initiatives are dampened in spite of their high levels of academic qualifications, their energy and their impulsive enthusiasm for the taste of success. With passion bursting at the seams and their enormous potential for personal and professional growth and development, too many of our young people labour in the vineyard praying in vain for nothing more than mere recognition of that which they diligently desire to offer. The PNM stands for the creation of increased opportunities and for equal opportunity in national participation.

 

 

The PNM is committed to changing this culture of social deprivation. Upward mobility for our young men and women in all walks of life must become the goal and the order of the day. PNM abides by the philosophy which affords our young people their rightful and respectful place in the sun and their well-earned and deserved ascension to hierarchy in the workplace.

 

 

It was based upon this well-defined and established philosophy, that the PNM localised the banking, energy and insurance sectors and gave the country the First Citizens Bank and Petrotrin. We established the Unit Trust Corporation, the National Insurance Scheme, the National Insurance Property Development Company and the Home Mortgage Bank and many other initiatives of expansion. Where else would the leadership and support base of these new institutions have come but from the intellectualism, intelligence and potential for hard work which resided in the brilliant young people of our nation.

 

 

They on the other side try constantly to minimize our successes, consumed with making endless, deceitful, self-serving allegations.. They take pains and spare no effort in wasting taxpayer’s dollars to discredit where they fail to measure up. Their mantra is clear and focused. It is to hide the truth from the young people of the nation: the truth that PNM utilised the resources from our oil and gas earnings to create the Point Lisas Industrial estate and develop and expand the petrochemicals sector which will forever stand tall as one of the pillars of our stable economy offering sustainable employment to thousands of our young and ambitious technocrats, professionals, technicians and craftsmen. Today Point Lisas stands supreme as the largest and most diversified petrochemical-based industrial estate in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Sadly we have seen absolutely no improvement or growth of our industrial base under this coalition cabal, not even an idea which could blossom to a significant new project. As we sink lower on the anti- corruption index chart investors bypass us for safer shores where governments and their agents are less greedy and vulgar.

 

 

So when they come today pretending to make life easier for you by “‘removing VAT from food items’”, they are nothing more than annoying copy cats, mocking pretenders, transgressing the most innocent opportunity to deceive and to dishonor in their constant belief that you are stupid.

 

 

The task of rebuilding our nation is daunting: so widespread has been the demolition and destruction which has taken place in the recent past, some unfortunately inflicted in our time and among our own ranks.

 

 

Our Soca Warriors, once the pride and joy of our people have been stripped of their honor and dignity, reduced to mendicants travelling abroad to represent our country penniless and deprived of the meager means to purchase food, wash their clothing and be assured of shelter, but nevertheless flying our flag with honour and holding their heads up high in victory. What about those Soca Warrior heroes who brought us fame, honour and glory at World Cup level but are still languishing in utter dismay and disbelief awaiting their just due from a heartless and heavy handed administrator long after adjudication by the local courts in their favour – fighting for what is due to them from a Head Honcho openly and internationally labeled by one of the highest level Sports disciplinary institutions worldwide as being best known for his “Economy with the Truth”? Shaming and disgracing us on the world stage and then being rewarded to act as our Prime Minister. Is this the type of example we hold out to our children as we spend billions in schools trying to fashion them into good citizens of the next generation?

 

 

We have an Attorney General who is generally known more for his belligerent indiscretions, who admits to his inadequate qualifications for the successful performance of his duties, thrives on threatening law abiding citizens as he provides abysmally poor legal advice to the Government of which he is the legal head. All of this flies in the face of justice, fairplay and judicial integrity, wasting taxpayers’ money through unnecessary and uncalled for compensation to innocent citizens for false, misleading and misguided arrests and trumped up charges, depriving citizens of their right to liberty and freedom. How in God’s name did our beloved country descend to such low levels befuddles you and me and many of their own most ardent and loyal sympathizers.

 

 

And I can go on and on about a Prime Minister best known for her missteps, mistakes, miscalculations, misrepresentations misunderstanding of her power and authority over the Tobago House of Asembly; misinformed, misguided, wallowing in misfortunes, mis-directions, mis-appointments, mis-judgments, mis-allocations, and on most mornings missing in action and mostly leading a Government which clearly misses the mark.

 

 

What else can be said about this administration that we do not all already know? They have sought to strip us of our moral and spiritual values, whimsically influenced by a belief that money, in their hands, is the answer to everything. So they spend your money like if it is running out of style, casting all care and caution to the wind. In fact it is Makandal Daaga who warned us that that “they tiefing money like they invented it”. They now seize every opportunity to photo op even donations to the church obviously in the firm belief that they can even buy their way into heaven. They now think that they can buy Tobago!

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen what did Trinidad and Tobago do so wrong to have been deceitfully taken to this abominable and abysmal level? In two and a half years!!!!! I ask you pointedly and directly. Do we as a people deserve this? I ask again. Do we as a people deserve this? I can only be reminded of the Calypso by the late Lord Melody: “Woe is me, shame and scandal in the family” Now it is Woe is we, shame and disgrace for us in Trini”

 

 

So where does this leave us? Ladies and gentlemen the road ahead is going to be difficult as it will be treacherous; rough as it will be rugged; and costly as it will be complex and complicated. That is what they have driven us to but we are up to the task of putting this nation back on track.

 

 

As a party in Opposition and the Government in waiting, we have been working since 2010 on redesigning and redrafting the framework of our economic and social policies.  We began our work from the base of policies developed under Vision 2020.  You will recall that the Vision 2020 Plan, which as Minister of Planning and Development in 2003, I was pleased to engage as Chairman, one of our leading private sector businessmen. It involved several hundred qualified persons drawn from all sectors and areas of national life.  These persons contributed their time and expertise in formulating best options in every area of policy formulation, from International Relations, Education, Health and Poverty Reduction, to Housing, Social Services and Industry.  I can state without fear of contradiction that it was the most comprehensive consultative process ever undertaken in the history of economic and social planning in this country. This herculean effort must not be put to waste.

 

 

While the Vision 2020 Plan formed the base of our work, we know that the world has moved on since that period and considerable time has been lost, therefore, some aspects of our policy needed to be thought through afresh and reformulated to meet the new global, regional and national realities.  By way of illustration, the discovery and production of shale gas in the United States and America’s move to secure its energy independence have profoundly changed the dynamics of the global energy industry with significant, sobering implications for us here in Trinidad and Tobago.

 

 

In the area of Information and Communications Technology, the mobile revolution and the increasing use of cloud computing offers opportunity for software developers in any part of the world.  In the sphere of International Relations, the post 9/11 response to Islamist militancy, the Arab Spring, the surging Chinese presence in Africa and Latin America in search of natural resources will test traditional alliances and require Caribbean nations to determine how we should position ourselves in the emerging world order. The sudden collapse of Wall Street in 2009 and the lowering of horizons in Dubai have reshaped the prospects for the growth and diversification of the world of Financial services where we had hoped to participate.

 

 

Our policy working groups have continued to grapple with these issues, engaging expertise locally and abroad, to reformulate the PNM’s policy agenda for the next decade and beyond.  This work is ongoing, well advanced and will be comprehensive and thorough; forming the basis of our manifesto readiness.  I would like to take this opportunity to provide some of the preliminary thinking that has emerged from our work and which will form the foundation of our policies in several areas going forward.

 

 

First, successive governments, including past PNM administrations, have fostered an overwhelming dominant role for the state in spawning, nurturing and sustaining our economic efforts. This aspect of national life runs parallel with a growing welfare bill which may not be sustainable in a period of prolonged deficit spending and potential unbearable debt burdens.  We would need to stimulate production in every area with private sector capital being encouraged to assume a much greater responsibility alongside a government philosophy which continues to see a pivotal catalysing role for the state as we set out to grow our economy through ideas and initiatives utilizing our savings of local capital and whatever foreign direct investment which we are able to harness. We also would need to tackle all elements of wasteful consumption.

 

 

The outlook for the medium term is a challenge to finance and maintain the national standard of living that we have attained and have become accustomed to. Our first assignment is to prevent any erosion of our standard of living as we focus on improving what we have already achieved. We are an innovative and resilient people who, with the cooperation of Government, business and labour are capable of the highest levels of productivity in such a way that our best achievements could be made to lie ahead of us.  More than ever, we have to bring those qualities to the fore.

 

 

In a situation where government revenues will be constrained, we must limit government to targeted interventions designed to secure increased production, exports and employment in decent, jobs that pay well.  We must encourage our local private sector to cease its almost total reliance on government projects and contracts and to be more proactive in pursuing opportunities for growing their businesses here in Trinidad and Tobago, in the region and in the wider world.  I know that some businessmen and professionals are already doing so.  More of them need to do that.

 

 

The next PNM Government will work harder at encouraging a better collaborative environment between business and labour so as to minimise distrust and maximise Government’s role as an investor and a facilitator in establishing economic projects in which Government, business and labour could have an investment stake as we expand the national economic pie for the improved benefit of an expanded investor class.

 

 

Our people need to embrace the values of Personal Responsibility, Personal Initiative and Commitment to Responsible Family Life. The new social support framework and expenditure will be reoriented towards this goal.

 

 

A PNM government will ensure that its policies and programs are geared to provide you with safer communities, accessible, affordable water and electricity, decent roads and bridges, mass transportation and a clean environment. We will provide the full range of opportunity for a good education which will allow our children become well prepared citizens ready to hold good, well-paid jobs in the public and private sector. We will invest in and provide quality primary and secondary health care so that you can lead a productive and healthy life.  But it is up to you to take personal responsibility for your success, to create or find productive jobs, to ensure that your children learn at school, to save part of your income for the future, and to carry on a healthy lifestyle which will prevent diseases such as diabetes and hypertension later on in life.

 

 

I want to emphasise that what I have articulated is not new to the PNM. As a party, we have always embraced the values of Personal Responsibility, Personal Initiative and Commitment to Family Life.  It was Dr. Williams in his speech entitled The Chaguaramas Declaration: Perspectives for the New Society who said, and I quote:

 

 

“Perhaps the PNM Government has sometimes in the past gone too far in being paternalistic in the face of the severe lack of social amenities (particularly housing) and appalling levels of unemployment.  But the New Society must now place greater emphasis on self-reliance and personal and group initiative.  The urban dispossessed must still be assisted by the State in many ways, but they must learn to create employment for themselves… Hard work, thrift and perseverance must … become a way of life for most of us.”

 

 

Forty years later, those words are still relevant and resonant.  Personal Responsibility, Personal Initiative and Commitment to Family Life.  These are the values which underpin our policy thinking and which will be the touchstones of economic and social policy under the new PNM administration.

 

 

A Team comprising all elected Members of Parliament, Senators, Local Government Representatives, Chairmen and Mayors of Cities and Regional Corporations, and Officers of the Movement have been involved in a series of retreats where we have reviewed policies and programs in the following areas:- Energy, Macro Economy, Diversification, Education, Health, Foreign Affairs, Sports and Culture, and Local Government. National Security and Social Services will be considered at our next retreat early in the New Year.

 

 

Let me outline at least two policy initiatives which a next PNM Administration will pursue in office.  I need to say that those initiatives will continue to be refined and developed, and become more specific as we move toward 2015 when we come back into office.

 

 

First, the Energy and Energy-based industries require urgent attention.  Energy policy is an area which must transcend whichever party or government happens to be in power.  In short, you can’t play politics with Energy policy.  The foreign multinationals which are important to our exploration and development efforts plan globally over a period of 20 to 25 years.  They are not concerned with our electoral politics and they cannot plan if energy policy changes with every change of government. They need to be sure that there is consistency in policy and transparency in how those policies are applied.  Our competitive advantages in natural gas are being eroded by technological and market developments and we have seen, in recent years, a disastrous decline in oil production to levels not seen since the 1950s.  We will focus our attention on three areas.

 

 

First, working with and fostering our energy services industry to provide professional and technical services to newer developing areas of oil and gas production in South America and in Africa.  Many of our local companies are already involved in these efforts with the support and cooperation of the ministry of Energy, and a PNM administration will intensify and broaden these efforts. We will explore the opportunity to place our considerable knowledge, human resource and diplomatic clout with selected corporate partners who are prepared to joint venture with the state sector in new domains outside of Trinidad and Tobago.

 

 

Second, the positions of both Petrotrin and the NGC in the emerging energy landscape need to be revamped (merger into a Petrobras Style Administration).  We are currently engaging with experienced industry practitioners in this regard and will also consult with the trade unions involved in this sector as we map the way forward.

 

 

Thirdly, we need to re-position our energy-based industries – ammonia, urea, methanol (moving downstream of these) -- given the medium and long term outlook for gas prices in this hemisphere.  Here too we will be consulting with industry players and with professionals with deep knowledge of this area to formulate the best approach.

 

 

A PNM government will however, not be a buyer of last resort of plants which are beyond their useful economic life, but we will partner with companies in pursuing new initiatives and share the risks of these where we can identify clear and tangible benefits to the country in so doing.

 

 

We would want to work with the Opposition in ensuring that Energy policy transcends political immaturity. To this end we would establish the Parliamentary Committee on Energy to oversee and develop longer term strategies. I would like to expand a bit on the macro-economic environment for business activity since this is an area of immediate and great concern given the policies pursued over the last three years by the UNC administration.  First, we know that the outlook for revenues flowing to government over the medium term is not encouraging.  We also know from experience that the macro-economic situation can change adversely very quickly.  We therefore must not put ourselves in a position of higher debt levels which are ultimately unsustainable.  The way things are going, the PNM might well find dangerously high levels of debt when we come to office in 2015 or sooner.  We have to prepare ourselves for this scenario. We will also tackle frontally the Transfers and Subsidies budget by ensuring that monies spent under this head are targeted and achieve their purpose, and when the objective has been achieved, the subsidies must be reduced.

 

 

We will also separate the Heritage component from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund and place disbursements from the Heritage component under the control of Parliament.  The Heritage component is for the long term benefit of our grandchildren and our great grandchildren, and we must ensure that use of those funds is not subject to the exigencies of the day or to the whims and fancies of any government in power.

 

 

Our policy teams are working and continuing to consult widely on the reformulation of the policies of the next PNM government.  We will develop these policies in greater detail and with specific areas of intervention and legislation, so that the legislative agenda will also flow from this work.  We are a serious party, committed to working for the betterment of all of our citizens by pursuing sensible and well thought out policies that meet the needs of the times in which we find ourselves.

 

 

The Energy Crisis Deepens

 

 

In my contribution to the 2013 budget debate, I made the point that the economic review of the energy sector confirmed that this important sector of Trinidad and Tobago which, over the past 25 years, has fuelled our economy is in serious crisis.  Every element of that sector was shown to be in decline but the Minister of Finance gave but three (3) paragraphs in his budget presentation to that sector without recognizing the nature of the crisis.

 

 

The decline, prompted by gas curtailment to the end users, has created a more serious problem – namely: reducing the attractiveness of Trinidad and Tobago as a preferred destination for investment in the gas intensive industries.  The reduction of gas supplies has led to a reduction in the production of ammonia, urea, methanol and steel.

 

 

Unfortunately, this reduction which has been in existence for the past two (2) years has coincided with better market prices for these products.  Better market prices lead to higher gas prices – normally, something of great benefit to the country; but when gas shortage results in decrease in production, the reverse is true - reduced profits for the downstream companies also leads to reduced income for the country. The current Government believes that fortuitous sales on the volatile spot market are a satisfactory substitute for a sustainable response.

 

 

However, a more frightening result of the present situation is that - not only new investors are being discouraged but even existing investors are considering leaving and seeking to invest elsewhere.

 

 

There are at least two (2) current examples.  One major investor in Trinidad and Tobago is in the process of moving plants from another country not to Trinidad and Tobago, normally an obvious choice. Up until recently, Trinidad and Tobago was a preferred destination for such plants; but it’s now going directly to the USA where, for the first time in several years, gas prices and reliability of supply are beginning to be competitive with those being offered in Trinidad and Tobago.

 

 

We may be witnessing the start of investors fleeing or reducing their investments in Trinidad and Tobago. Prior to this we have to be prepared for proper responses to discussions centred on gas pricing and supply issues in Trinidad and Tobago.

 

 

There are solutions to this energy crisis but, as in any crisis, there must be first acceptance of the fact that there is a crisis and a decision to treat with it imaginatively and with urgency.

 

 

The present administration refuses to give recognition to this and, in any event so far, has not shown any level of competence in treating with the energy sector.

 

 

Yes ladies and gentlemen, now it befalls the PNM, you and me, and all right thinking citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, and all our friends, well-wishers and supporters to rally to the cause, to close ranks and face up to the daunting challenge of PUTTING THE NATION BACK ON TRACK. That is our Mission from here on in. PUTTING THE NATION BACK ON TRACK.

 

 

So the question which remains to be answered is this. Where do we begin?

 

 

In providing the answers to this question, of one thing you can be sure. It is this: It cannot and will not be a case of business as usual.

 

 

Much has occurred in and around us that requires us to take a very serious, sincere, objective and honest look at ourselves not only as a Party, not only as an Institution  not only as a force to be reckoned with, as much as a force of no mean significance we already are. We have to prepare ourselves to take back our country.

 

 

We can do so not by wishful thinking, not simply by having a burning desire nor by winning an election as win we must and win we will. As important and significant as these factors may be, they are not ends in themselves. They are only the means to the end.

 

 

So, Ladies and gentlemen, what this means, what this signifies is that we in this country have come to the most defining moment of our 50 years as an independent nation. There can be no turning back. The events of the past 30 months, since this administration has come into office, are enough to make it abundantly clear to all citizens whose interest in the welfare and wellbeing of Trinidad and Tobago is pure, honest and sincere that the time has come for all citizens to make the most delicate and defining choice with respect to what they wish for our country. What do we really, truly and sincerely wish for our Country.

 

 

The choice is simple and straightforward but the way forward, once the right choice is made will be hard and may be demanding.

 

 

There are only two options. There can be no middle of the road: Ladies and gentlemen. Members of the PNM.  It is a choice between the forces of good or the forces of not so good. That is the choice. It could not be clearer. It could not be more straightforward. I repeat. You have to make the choice between the forces of progress and the forces of regression. We in this country have come to the most serious crossroad since our attainment of Independence. The lessons of the past 30 months have placed that burden upon us as a Nation and we cannot slink away from it or shirk our responsibilities.

 

 

Those of us who wish to put the county back on track have no choice but to line up with the PNM. The PNM raises the standard for Progress and welcomes all who desire to follow that standard for Trinidad and Tobago. Those who wish otherwise and or wish to stay on the fence all we say to them is think hard and think deep. The forces of good will always triumph over the forces of evil. For us in the PNM, the choice is as clear as day follows night. So the battle is engaged and of one thing we in the PNM are assured.  Victory will be ours.

 

 

Out of the depths of nothing came the unprepared coalition in May 2010. They came, pretending to bear gifts of love, but instead gave us mountains of hate; instead of gifts of caring they have injected division and fear; instead of gifts of a better way of life they have made us to suffer; instead of truth, honesty and integrity, they have poisoned our space with graft, greed, and corruption and last but by no means least instead of gifts of comfort and faith in ourselves, they have sought to shake the firm foundation of our confidence in ourselves; they ridicule  us  and portray us as figures of fun in the region and the world. The time has come for them to depart. And so I declare unto the hapless Partnership:  From nothing and with nothing you have come and so unto nothing and by elections you shall return.

 

 

And so, with this pronouncement to all and sundry, on behalf of the People’s National Movement, I, as Political Leader do hereby now further declare that the battle to rescue and save our country is on. The troops are gathering in Tobago and the moment of decision is at hand.

 

 

From the first moment the Prime Minister set foot on Tobago, her bellicose stance was marked by her declaration that she has “courthouse clothes” and her hostility to the duly elected PNM- controlled Tobago House of Assembly never abated. She refused to acknowledge the existence of the legal Executive body and insulted the Assembly at every turn but Tobagonians are a proud, respectful people who are more than capable of enduring these slights and defending their honor with dignity.

 

 

Unlike the PNM they have chosen minority partners in Tobago in the hope that they could prevail, not directly, but by proxy. Such deceitful traps are doomed to failure.

 

 

The PNM on the other hand has been evolutionary, open and always upfront with our sisters and brothers in Tobago. Within our party we amended our Constitution to devolve autonomy to the Tobago Island Council. This regional arm of our party has been functioning effectively in representing the people of Tobago under the wise and steady hand of Deputy Political Leader Orville London and his Tobago team. We are very proud of them.

 

 

With respect to Tobago’s desire for greater autonomy in the form of internal self- government, it was the PNM, at a national Convention in Chaguaramas, in 2010, which accepted a resolution in support of the island-wide consutations which were embarked upon by the Assembly in search of a Tobago position on this matter.

 

 

We let the Tobagonians conduct and conclude the process, all along with a commitment from this party, that we will support Tobago’s legitimate aspirations. That commitment stands and is unshakeable. If there are those who believe that their political expediency and puppetry could trump the intelligence of Tobagonians then we invite them to identify themselves.

 

 

As Political Leader of The PNM, and a Tobagonian by birth, I deliberately allowed the Tobago position to emerge without interference having stated that I would join in support at the appropriate time and all Tobagonians know that they can count on me, and the PNM, to protect the best interest of Tobago.

 

 

The PNM is on the march. The march is on to return your Party to its leadership role in providing enlightened, enriching, honest and good governance to our beloved land. The ground work is being methodically, systematically and scientifically laid.

 

 

It involves taking the necessary steps to engage in institutional strengthening; to remodel, reshape and redress the PNM to bring it in line with the changes and demands of a modern and enlightened society. It involves taking advantage of the wealth of talent which abounds, wherever it is to be found; reopening our doors, welcoming the patriots in, assembling the best brains in the country, embracing the vast reservoir of knowledge, skills and expertise of all fellow travellers to nationhood. All of whom without exception have been the beneficiaries of PNM education, PNM training, PNM opportunities for advancement professionally and academically and PNM wealth creation over decades of PNM vision, PNM values and PNM virtues. We are expanding our frontiers and extending our vision beyond party to country, the region and the world at large.

 

 

But here is the key to it all.

 

 

Suffice it to say that since I have been honoured to serve you in the capacity of Political leader of this great Party, I have been privileged to assemble several teams of dedicated and committed individuals in and out of the party who have been engaged in the process of developing the infrastructural framework within which to restore the Party to the pride of place which it once enjoyed in shaping the destiny of all the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

 

 

You have heard from our Deputy Chairman, Ms. Camille Robinson Regis in respect of the call by many of you to bring about constitutional reform within the party. Now this is a very serious matter. It is serious not only because it is absolutely necessary, but also because of the fact that as the party prepares itself to resume its rightful place in the governance of the country, the evasive issue of constitutional reform will take center stage in putting the nation back on track.

 

 

The fact of life is that since our establishment in 1956, that is 56 years ago, the constitution of the PNM has not undergone any significant upgrade. This is in the face of the fact that change has been taking place all around us. The times are different, the experiences are different, social and educational transformation engulfs us, we have moved away from being a colonial territory owing allegiance to others, to being masters of our own destiny. The experiences of politics, government and governance have evolved worldwide, way beyond anything that we could have anticipated or dreamt of. Faced with these realities we would be bordering upon being naïve or obsolete not to recognize the urgent imperative to reshape our constitution, to give our membership a greater say in the decision making process and to improve the system of democracy which must govern all that we do. Ours must be a party which must thrive on decentralized power and authority, transferring power from the bosoms of the few and placing the power of the party in the hands of the many. So that work is in progress and you our members and the national community will hear more about this in the not too distant future.

 

 

We are also engaged in an exercise which seeks to bring all our Constituencies in line with modern and up to date structural adjustment. In other words we are engaged in a Constituency modernization exercise designed to reinvigorate our Constituencies, bring them to life, and create the environment for meaningful membership participation and involvement in a very positive and satisfying way; giving life and meaning to the doctrine of being a Party of the people, by the people and for the people. This too you will hear much more about imminently.

 

 

We are currently reviewing the Nation’s Constitution. You are no doubt aware that many administrations, including our own PNM have been talking this question of Constitutional Reform, filling our hearts and minds with great expectation but so far with precious little to show for it. With national consensus and commitment to the citizenry we could revolutionize the way that this country is governed in such a way as to bring our governance in line with that which is expected within a modern, civilized and enlightened environment. This will be a major plank upon which we plan to incorporate the citizenry in becoming actively involved in the governance of our country. We will do this not just as a PNM exercise but in conjunction with as wide a cross section of the national community as is feasible and available.

 

 

These are just a few of the initiatives which we are pursuing as we prepare ourselves.  It means redefining our roles, reengineering our organization, and putting all the systems in place to provide you with modern and contemporary governance even prior to resuming office once more in the year 2015, or sooner.

 

 

Side by side with these initiatives are others which will see the modernisation of the party secretariat and Headquarters, the way in which we communicate with you the membership in general and the quality of relationship which we maintain with the national community, the way in which we interact and interface with the special interest groups, the labour movement, how we rebrand the leadership, how we relate with the mass media, giving them their due regard and respect, how we reassure the Trinidad and Tobago Diaspora, our citizens and friends overseas that relief is coming and that soon they can return to holding their head up high as proud and privileged citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

 

 

How we engage and treat our women, our mothers, our daughters and our sisters and grant to them the dignity and respect which is their right:, whether it be in the household, the workplace, the playing field, on the roads they walk, in the parties, the mas bands, wherever and whenever, that dignity which we owe our women must be restored and assured, come what may. And last but by no means least the confidence and faith which we must repose in our young people that they too can return to the days when they can stand tall and be counted, confident that there is a place and an opportunity for them as they chart their course into the future and live the dreams which only they themselves dare to dream.

 

 

Yes, fellow members of the PNM. This is the beginning of a new dawn …..for you, for your party and for our country. A great deal is taking place behind the scenes and soon we will unveil it all to you, at the right time and in the right place.

 

 

Over the past 50 years and more, in spite of our frailties, in spite of our shortcomings, no one can deny that the PNM did its best to make you and the nation proud. Today, the call is no different. We are committed as a party to make our nation proud once again.

 

 

In this regard I want you to remember one thing: This reincarnation, this resuscitation, this resurgence is not about me, nor is it about Camille, or Faris or any one person, group or institution in the PNM. In fact it is not even about the PNM. It is about Country.

 

 

It is also about you, it is about all the people of Trinidad and Tobago irrespective of colour, class, creed, religious persuasion or ethnicity. It is about all of us, you and me, your children and mine, young and old alike and it is about the pride in ourselves and faith in our destiny which we are called upon to fight for with all our might if we are to recover the lost ground and to restore this Nation to the position of prominence which it once enjoyed among the illustrious international family of nations. We can only achieve this …. together.

 

 

And so, let me begin my descent and take you to a safe landing  by asking you to commit yourselves to the progress and development of our Nation in the manner which has been so eloquently, meaningfully and intellectually prescribed  in the words of our Party’s first Political Leader and the nation’s foremost Prime Minister  and I quote:

 

 

“Together, the various groups in Trinidad and Tobago have suffered, together they have aspired, together they have achieved. Only together can they succeed. And only together can they build a society, can they build a nation, can they build a homeland.      Eric Williams, History of Trinidad and Tobago (p.279) On April 24th 2007, the President of the Republic of South Africa His Excellency Thabo Mbeki bestowed posthumously on Dr. Eric Williams, the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa’s Supreme Order of the Companion of O. R Tambo (Gold). The tribute was in recognition of Dr. Williams’s commitment to peace and cooperation and his inspiration to South Africa’s own quest for unity and harmony.

 

 

According to Professor William Darity of Duke University, “The vision during South Africa’s struggle for liberation was strikingly similar to the vision of that great West Indian Historian and Prime Minister Eric Williams who directly addressed the great diversity of his own country in the cause of national unity. He quoted Eric Williams as follows:

 

 

“There can be no Mother India for those whose ancestors came from India. There can be no Mother Africa for those of African origin. There can be no Mother England, and no dual loyalties. There can be no Mother China, even if one could agree as to which China is the Mother and there can be no Mother Syria and no Mother Lebanon. A Nation, like an individual can have only one Mother and a Mother cannot discriminate between her children.”

 

 

He said“This is the wisdom that we too apply in our quest for a single South Africa,” wrote President Mbeki in his foreword to the 2005 book: Timol: A Quest for Justice by Imtiaz Cajee.He went on to say that “Dr. Williams example continues to be a force in South Africa’s fight against hegemony and the President praised Williams for the latter’s efforts in this regard in his 2005 feature address at the 50th Anniversary of the Bandung Conference which marked a turning point in the mobilisation of third world peoples against imperialism – both past and present.

 

 

This posthumous Award which was conferred upon Dr. Williams by the President of South Africa, His Excellency Thabo Mbeki,   was in fact instituted by the President himself to reflect the new spirit of South Africa to create a history of South Africa’s achievements and to provide motivation to future citizens.

 

 

The account recorded the fact that “The Supreme Order is awarded in three classes of which the Gold which was posthumously bestowed upon our first Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Eustace Williams is the pinnacle”.

 

 

Fellow PNM members, even as others ignore it, we cannot allow this distinction which has been posthumously bestowed upon our nation’s founding father to be frittered away and be lost to our own generations. It behooves each and every one of us to take that cue from the people of South Africa who even today, hold our first Prime Minister in such high esteem. It is a distinction of unquantifiable international acclaim and dimension which regrettably the current regime, jealous and afraid of their own shadows, not only hates to come to terms with but many times seek to discredit and/or to hide from our people.

 

 

No greater tribute to the memory of the father of our nation and to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa can be paid than all of us, rank and file of the PNM, committing ourselves to return our party to the pinnacle. Let us as a country aspire to restore our nation to the pinnacle. Let us together aspire. Let us together achieve. Long live, the PNM.  Long live the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Long live our native land.

 

 

GREAT IS THE PNM!  GREAT IS THE PNM! GREAT IS THE PNM! AND IT SHALL PREVAIL.

 

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for affording me the opportunity to address you on this very auspicious occasion, enjoy the balance of the evening, mix and introduce yourself to someone whom you have never met. Return safely to your homes after the party in the courtyard and may almighty God bless each and every one of you and May God Bless our nation.

The significance of Muslim Coolie

I am part coolie and proud. Blame my grandfather. He is the one that led the charge to break the unspoken rules of race purity that people think should exist here. He saw a woman of Portuguese and African descent and decided he was making young Ms Ribeiro his wife. Of course it led to his family disinheriting and shunning him. But I hope it was worth it for him. All of his children, my father included, kept the misbehavior going and continued the tradition of making mixed children. In fact, my father went to the extent of ensuring that his children could lay claim to Tobagonian roots as well. So when we plant our feet on the soil here we have no qualms about saying we are Trinidadian AND Tobagonian. Shout out to Mommy! Perhaps it is this heritage that makes me feel I belong to this place and the place belongs to me. So when people like Jamal Mohammed make comments about being “insignificant Muslim coolies”, I  have to stop and wonder. You belong to the largest ethnic group in the country and are a part of the ruling government. How exactly are you insignificant?

The Indian male has always been a confuffling creature for me. VS Naipaul often describes the Indian male as weak and cartoonish, reliant on his privileged place in a patriarchal system; secure only in the rituals and traditions imported from India. Now to be fair, this isn’t an accurate description of all Indian males. But Naipaul’s description of more than 50 years ago give the impression that only when insulated by their specific sub-culture does the Indian male feel secure. Of course Naipaul is probably really referring to the Hindu male; just as Bhoe Tewarie does in 1987, when he too talked about Hindus still being insular and having a responsibility to open up an understanding of Hinduism to the rest of the country.

After 167 years, with all of their strides in business, education, culture and politics why do Indian men still feel so insecure here? Why too, after more than a century and a half of sharing the same space is there still a fear of mixing. I’m not making this up. Listen to any of the radio stations and the code is there. I have longstanding friends of Indian descent who admit sheepishly that they can’t take home a non-Indian boy or girl. When you probe further you find out though that non-Indian there is really code for African. Chinese, Syrian/Lebanese and European are just fine.

Mohammed’s “insignificant Muslim coolie” annoyed me on several levels though. You see, having grown up in a mixed family, in a predominantly Indian village of Hindus, Muslims and Christians, I can tell you that when it is so easy for an Indian to call himself “coolie” in a self-deprecating way, it is even easier for him to call someone a “nigger”. And Mohammed’s easy use of racial epithets in a letter to the head of news at a media house tells me that he probably uses the language more often than we can imagine. And this man sits in our Senate and functions as a government minister? When I consider too that the Prime Minister never came out to publicly condemn the statements and actions of the Mohammed, I am even more concerned, because it tells me that the leader of this Government is really past caring what we think of its behavior.

Mohammed’s subsequent apology rings hollow for me and I will tell you why. To write to Dominic Kallipersad in your unofficial capacity – whatever that means for a government minister – is to imply that you and Mr Kallipersad have an unofficial relationship. That perhaps the two of you are friends or former colleagues. There is nothing to suggest that. So, then, when Mr Mohammed says he is writing in an unofficial capacity, what capacity did he mean?

Further, you write a private email in an unofficial capacity using politically incorrect language and fundamentally threatening the media, and when informed that the intention is to let the e-mail go public your response amounts to a shrug?

I think Jamal Mohammed wanted that e-mail to be released to the public and for the simple reason of appealing to the party base. Jack Warner started this several weeks ago when he held up the Express with a story by Asha Javeed. In doing that Warner sought to achieve several things: begin a witch hunt of both Ms Javeed and the Express and distract the country from discussing Section 34. It didn’t work. I don’t want to make light of the idiots trolling and harassing Ms Javeed online; or of the public officials requesting the phone records of media workers; but even with all of these atrocities, the public’s attention remains fixed on Section 34.

In making his comment, Mohammed was again reminding the voter base, this time a direct appeal being made to the “insignificant muslim coolies”, that the enemy right now is the media: Tv6 and Express. This government never fails to take an opportunity to reinforce ethnic divisions in their quest to remain in office. A few weeks ago it was “get in yuh section” from the PM, now it’s Jamal Mohammed subtly reminding the Muslim voter base from San Juan that the government is under siege and they must rally to defend it.

Ignore the fact that this government has access to state tv and radio stations and regularly buys out air time to spread its message. No the focus must be the enemy. The enemy is CCN, and to make sure that people accept that CCN is evil he links the media house with the PNM. Anything linked to the PNM is evil and therefore makes it acceptable to rally against.

Don’t get tie up  folks, Jamal Mohammed’s outburst this week was very calculated. It was done to distract from the motion being brought against the AG that is linked to Section 34. Look out next week for another distraction in the lead up to the march. This government is now so desperate to cling onto to power that it will even call itself names and denigrate its identity. It will prostitute good sense, rely on racist slurs and epithets to rile up the electorate, all in a sad pathetic attempt to distract from their failings.

De Vice Cyah Done!

The We vs Them Syndrome

 

I am going to try and keep this simple.

 

Our society has, since the arrival of Europeans, and even before, been based on hierarchies. Having different people fall into categories of importance is crucial to how we operate. And in order to create these categories we have to find the ways in which we differ and capitalise on them.

 

So, Columbus would have landed and the Spanish would have decided that because they had guns and swords that made them superior. But you see, you cant justify to people that having superior weaponry makes you fit to dominate and rule them. No, you have to find something more palatable. An ideology that is people friendly and in our current age media friendly. So in Columbus' time the story given was that we have come to bring salvation and civilisation to the Amerindians. Not because they didnt have a religious or political system, but because in order to rule the Amerindians and take their land and resources, they needed to impose Spanish rule. What made the story work, was the weapons they had. Because if there was any opposition to their system of rule, well you could be killed, your family destroyed.

 

As you fast forward through our history you see how the use of hierarchies, or "we vs them" theory continues to work. Other things are added, skin colour, ethnicity, education levels, political affiliations. It's all there to see and all very apparent. How this place has been governed since Europeans arrived hasn't changed at all in 500 years. And we are still fighting amongst ourselves for the same things: land and resources.

 

As you make your way through our history the cries and claims of oppression, marginalisation and discrimination are heard over and over again. It  first started with the Amerindians, and they were well within their right. Their homes were invaded and taken over and they never got one cent of rent, not even an instalment. The Spanish managed a quiet and systematic takeover and today you wont hear any of the descendants of Spanish landowners acknowledge their past. Let's please move on.

 

The Africans brought here whether enslaved, freed or indentured (yes, we had Africans here who were bond servants, not enslaved, they came before East Indians), all lay claim to being marginalised and oppressed as well. And you have to ask yourself why exactly the free Africans, or as historians refer them, the free coloureds, could think they were marginalised. After all many of them were land owners, professional men and some even owned slaves themselves, so why did they feel discriminated against? Well, simply put, they didn't have political power and were denied access to it until the 1920s. Interestingly enough, these free coloureds, didn't see themselves as part of the black working class. Again, "we vs them". They were education professionals and landowners, they had nothing in common with black labour. Black labour became important to the free coloureds in the 1950s, when everyone over 21 could vote.

 

East Indians were marginalised by both whites and blacks here. But to look at our current dynamics you would swear that it was the Afro-descended population that imported indentured labour and then exploited Indians on estates. You'd swear too that ethnic stereotyping of all the groups here started within the labouring groups of Africans and Indians. Not so. Those stereotypes were often introduced by the ruling class and then expanded on. Stereotypes are useful tools for establishing differences where there are none and creating rivalry. If you had to run a place where the labour force larger than management, wouldn't you use divide and rule policies? Wouldnt you create stereotypes to assist you? Unfortunately the war of words where race and racism is concerned has become so convoluted no one can trace its roots, so now it boils down to a confusing "we vs them" finger pointing and name calling as we all fight for land and resources.

 

The other groups that literally make up our 1% have all faced their fair share of marginalisation because of their small numbers here. We tend to generalise and think they are all wealthy. But we have low income Europeans, Arabs and Chinese here and our general resentment over how little our wealth is distributed makes us lash out. Again, "we vs them". And in this instant, it's the poor majority lashing out at what they think is a wealthy minority.

 

The real anomaly in our matrix folks is that despite all the clear as day "we vs them" policies, we still talk about every creed and race finding an equal place. Given how our country was developed, that is a pipe dream. And the "all o we is one" lie gets perpetuated with Carnivals, festivals and funding for the arts. Everybody is quick to point out how mixed and unified we are. But we are really not.

 

And that's why Kamla Persad-Bissessar can tell her supporters "get in yuh section". That is why all politics before her has been about get in your section. In "we vs them" ideology, the minority rides the back of the majority to remain successfully on top. Kamla, understands only too well, having followed the example of past regimes, that you must never completely satisfy your voter base, because then they wont need you; but you have to keep your financiers ecstatic.

 

You see, a contented voter base means people have jobs, adequate income, good services and amenities, decent quality of life. The minute your population is that happy, they stop voting based on tribe, and vote based on issues. So, in fact, political life here depends on keeping the status quo of "we vs them" in tact.

 

The sad thing is, in "we vs them" ideology, is not Europeans vs Amerindians anymore, but we fighting with weself.

 

De Vice Cyah Done!

Report shows not enough Hindus being oppressed.

In a surprise turn of events, members of the Niggahs R Us conglomerate are up in arms over recent reports leaking out that not enough Hindus are being oppressed. Sources say that the conglomerates frontman Conscious Kinte the 18th, is currently doing fact checking to ascertain how after 166 years of oppression, Hindus have managed to rise.

As recently as last year the Hindu American Foundation in their 2011 Report on Hindu Human Rights in Trinidad reported that Niggahs R Us had a 98% efficiency rate of oppressing Hindus.The only area that was getting out of hand was medicine. According to the very reliable and thoroughly fact checked report:

The PNM had previousloy ruled the country for five decades and drew its main base of support from citizens of African origin. Upon coming into office, the new Prime Minister declared that she would make the country a successful multicultural society. And Bissessar has endeavored to create an inclusive government with representation from all ethnic and religious groups, as her cabinet includes a number of ethnic Afro-Caribbean ministers. In contrast, the prior ruling PNM had largely marginalized Hindus and Indians from positions in the government. Moreover, Bissessar’s People’s Partnership won the elections by attracting voters from across the ethnic and racial divide.

Under previous governments, citizens of Indian and Hindu descent faced widespread discrimination, economic and political marginalization, and were disproportionately targeted for physical violence and harassment. In July 2009, opposition Member of Parliament, Tim Gopeesingh, accussed the PNM government of carrying out a policy of political discrimination, that was specifically targeting Indo-Trinidadians. Similarly, the Indo-Trinbago Equality Councl (ITEC) claimed that there was systematic discrimination against Indo-Trinidadians in the areas of nursing, state housing, military, police, public service, and elsewhere.

The report goes on to say: According to Devant Maharaj of the ITEC, the only field where Indo-Trinidadians were overrepresented was in the medical profession (as doctors) because the field was based on merit and education.

The spokesman for Conscious Kinte revealed to the Pantomime that Niggahs R Us totally expected Hindus to excel in the field of medicine, "Because is only them who bright and hard working. We have never had doctors from any other ethnicity in the country. We does 'llow them one area to eat ah food, nah."

But under further questioning, Kinte himself came out of his tent by the East Dry River and explained to us his concerns:

Hear nah, know what I saying? Me aint understand, know what I saying? How in one year, know what I saying? Them Hindu and them manage to get work in the Public Sector,  know what I saying? I mean, check this, eh, know what I saying? Between 2011 to 2012, I seeing them have temple all over the  country and worshipping freely. Know what I saying? I even hear they allowed to get married and ah birdie whisper that Hindi teaching in schools. What the fuck? It looking like we sleeping on the job here! Know what I saying. Is not now we oppressing them you know. Look, my father, father, father, grandfather, father come down here as a muslim with Columbus just to ensure they get oppress. Know what I saying? So wha de ass? In one year? Just so? Down to their woman jump out they self and singing soca and working in the Prime Minister's office. Nah...nah...nah....we aint taking that. I Conscious Kinte say ring the effing bell! Bring down the power!

When probed as to where he thinks this recent surge in Hindu rebellion has come from, Kinte said, "Hear nah, know what I saying? It had two fellas we did ketch and release....Rudy Capildeo and Basdeo Panday....know what ah saying? We feel is them behind this yuh know. But all of that pending investigation! Know what I saying?

The Pantomime will be keeping this issue on the front burner.

 

De Vice Cyah Done!

Compare and Contrast : A Rally Go Round!

I from Central....Couva North. Basdeo Panday Country. I from a constituency where if Panday sneeze, 15, 000 does show up to hand him a handkerchief and ask, "Yuh alright, Boss?" Is so Couva North stop. We did real like Panday. So when after 3pm on a Saturday evening in the heart of Chaguanas I could breeze down the highway and find a park and stroll into Mid Centre Mall Carpark for a  Budget Maticor know is water more than flour and like they aint put enough dhal in the loya!

Crowd and Venue

Crowd size I know is important to a lot of people who currently observing the political situation because it will help to tell us where the electorate's head is at...so let me begin by describing yesterday's lay out. The UNC used the part of the Mid Centre Carpark that is at the back of the mall and Hi Lo. The main stage for the MPs was at the eastern exit, the stage for performers was behind Marios. It was two massive dome stages, the kind HD normally uses for Machel Monday. Two of those in the Mid-Center Car Park takes up a lot of room. Couple those two stages with another smaller stage for their control crew and media cameras; and two more small stages for camera men and equipment and you are beginning to get an idea of how contained the space was for the event. Then along the fence area were food stalls and then on the end that is normally the main entrance to that car park where the security booth is were the portable toilets. My point is, that you can't think of the entire eastern car-park as free and open because there were a lot of things crammed into the space.....the only thing not crammed in was people. Even with all of those stages, stalls and booths in there the space could have held a crowd of 20,000 and that would have made it difficult to move. Movement yesterday was never difficult. Only in front of the actually stage was the crowd thick...but not so thick that you couldn't walk through and make your way to the front and take pictures. There were TOP supporters, brown band maxi taxis from the south heartland, Collin Partap had a flag crew there, as did the AG, and Ramona Ramdial. The bussed in CEPEP crews were pretty obvious.

When you consider the size of the mandate this government holds; when you consider the size of its support base; the resources it put out yesterday and all week long you get confused. Kamla announced since last Sunday that she holding a Pre-Budget Rally. There were countless radio ads for an entire week. Across FB you had Ministers using their walls to rally people, Surujrattan Rambachan and Anand Ramlogan's walls were the ones I noted. Even COP councillors got in on the action promoting Budget Matikor. I expected to see the crowds Warner boasted about. 30-40,000. At a generous guess I'd say the crowd was about 13,000 at its peak.  And in all likelihood it was less than that. Later on that evening when i went to Price Plaza just a stone's throw away from Mid Centre, that mall's carpark and business places had more people going about their month-end business than Budget Matikor. Not even the neighbours on my street, who can easily be described as UNC Die Hards bothered to attend the rally.

Now this can be interpreted in multiple ways: the have complete faith in their government, or they have become disenchanted.....make of that what you will.

Where for me things got exciting is as usual the dynamics on the stage and the content of the speeches.

IT was pure UNC attack mode with Kamla warning about a gathering storm, saying the lines are drawn and telling the crowd they know who the enemy is. She reminded me of Capildeo asking the DLP to attack the PNM in the 1961 elections. We going good in this place!

You had Suruj Rambachan further extending the dependency syndrome that the UNC deplored 2 years ago by announcing 6000 jobs in short term programmes coming up. This seems to be their way of shoring up votes for THA and Local Government Elections. So if you thought the 10 Days Mania was something specific to PNM or Afro-creole people....think again. UNC pushing the 10-Days mentality hard....change? No, EXCHANGE!

Marlene Coudray got dragged up onto the stage too. And it was a painful thing to see. Coudray's speech delivery was heart rending. There was no pep, no heart, no belief in her hype even. She seemed to be a woman still deep in mourning. And to have dragged a woman who has recently lost a child in such a way out this weekend to simply say to the crowd that Gender will be bringing new programmes onstream shows you just how insensitive and manic this government has become. The PM could have made that announcement herself and left Coudray to mourn in dignity. But this is a Government that will send 5 men to sit on television and gossip like vicious, bitter women about Rowley's parking habits, and to attack Asha Javeed.

The AG was brought on to bark and growl....and Anand has effectively become the UNC's version of a rottweiller. He yelled at the crowd that he not moving, not leaving. Said again and again that Rowley was a liar....but never once did he actually touch Section 34, the time line and his role in piloting the Bill. He went on to list all of the people he will be taking out lawsuits against....and I am still waiting to find out if we have benefitted from any of his lawsuits to date? Any? Has anyone been charged? Made to serve jail time?

Moonilal, announced as a man with more degrees as Rowley, then came on stage to prove just how dunce he really is. Within mere minutes of coming onstage Moonilal went on to state that Rowley got no signatures on his petition and handed the ag President a bag of paper. I was willing to forgive that lie on the basis og politicking....then Moonilal decided to play the ass with national history....a feature with this government. A people so insecure about their position and heritage here that they have to lie and re-invent history. Moonilal told the audience that Adrian Cola Rienzi founded the OWTU....not quite Mooni. Cola was its first sitting president when Butler had to go into hiding to avoid arrest. Butler still is and will always be the founder of that Union. But you see, when you don't know, and you drunk in a fete, you will listen and applaud anything without questioning it. And that's the kind of voter base this party is encouraging. Change? EXCHANGE!

After Moonilal we had speeches from Ramadhar, who spent time talking about Section 34 and its fallout in code and then exhaling with relief and sitting down after warning us to not repeat 1990. Too late Prakash...and your speeches at these rallies don't actually constitute new politics. You have failed. Go to the back of the class.

In the wake of Ramadhar we had three asses follow: Ahsworth, NJAC and Warner. Their specific purpose was to recite Psalms 23, remind the audience that no murders had taken place in Morvant/Laventille for 20 days  (until last night) and that better days are coming. Tedium and boredom.

Then came DJ Larry Howai, the person I had shown up to hear.....not the conch shells and the free vuvuzelas that were handed out. And Howai's comments were mundane at best: improved healthcare, education, lower food prices, make groceries more affordable and help people have more money to spend in groceries. No details on how these things are going to be improved or whether money spent on these areas last year were well spent. After Howai's speech I am convinced that the thrust of Monday's Budget will be to distract the population with focussing on decreased food prices by November 15th, and there may well be a couple stings in its tail. So look out for what may happen to gas subsidies, utility rates and the property tax.

The highlight of the evening was the PMs announcement of No Vat on food items....and my brain went fuzzy for a minute because under the PNM  between 2002 - 2007 VAT was removed from many food items. The list goes:

CONSUMER ITEMS THAT CARRY NO VAT • unprocessed food of a kind used for human consumption; • rice; • flour; • milk in any form, including processed and tinned milk; • margarine; • bread; • baby formulas and baby milk substitutes. • cheese and curd; • corned beef; • curry; • fresh butter; • peanut butter; • table salt; • salted butter; • tinned sardines; • smoked herring; • toilet paper; • yeast; • baking powder; • pasta, whether or not cooked or stuffed (with meat or other substances) or otherwise prepared, such as spaghetti, macaroni, noodles, lasagna, gnocchi, ravioli and cannelloni; • cane sugar; • cocoa powder, whether or not containing added sugar or other sweetening matter; • coffee; • mauby; • orange juice; • Herring; • Tuna; • Mackerel; • Ghee; • soya-bean oil; •) maize (corn) oil and its fractions; • sesame oil and its fractions; • chicken sausage, canned; • salami sausages; • icing sugar; • preparations of malt extract; • corn flakes; • biscuits, unsweetened; • grapefruit juice; • vanilla essence; • soy sauce; • tomato ketchup; • prepared mustard; • mineral water; • ordinary natural water; • aerated beverages; • orange drink; • grapefruit drink; and • vinegar

So then on what items is Persad-Bissessar's government removing VAT on?

Her most desperate attempt at attacking Rowley last night was in the form of a cheque that was signed by Duprey to the PNM for party financing. The link that our Silkened PM fails to make with her cheque revelation is this....Rowley links the cheque on May 18th from Steve Ferguson to Section 34....can the PM show how the PNM when in Government colluded to free criminals? Change? This Section 34 issue is even worse than Exchange!

In summation Budget Matikor was a real let down. The familiar refrain of Blame the PNM, and anything but the PNM, and Make Sure and Don't Vote Back the PNM was the message of the day. This wasn't about the Budget...it's not about food prices. It was entirely about attacking the PNM, pandering to their voter base and trying to distract from the crime of Section 34, the declining economy and the sting that is coming in this Budget's tail. Oh, and it was about attacking the PNM, just in case you missed it in all the previous speeches!

At the end of the day what the PM and her Cabinet assured us of yesterday is that she is no longer listening to the people, she's too busy drinking her Kool Aid mixed with Vodka!

De Vice Cyah Done

The Answers We Won't Get

As some of us await the PM's post-Cabinet  comments on 34gate, I want to warn you that most of it will amount to nothing....Kamla won't be breaking her silence, so much as she will be breaking wind on us...because it will smell to the heavens, but we may not be absolutely sure where the stench originated from! The questions that we have are not the questions that will be answered.

We won't know: 1. When the amendment to clause 34 was made.

2. Why the amendment was made.

3. Why Section 34 was selected for Proclamation

4. Why Ish and Steve and their lawyers knew about the Proclamation before the legal fraternity and Parliament.

5. Why so many legal minds and groups never saw Clause 34.

6. Why the PPG feels the need to protect Ish and Steve at all costs.

 

What we will hear will further anger us....expect pissing from great heights!

De Vice Cyah Done!

Real Trinis Talking Race!

It is no secret that we are entirely mired in tribal politics here in Trinidad and Tobago....but often the perspective is that outside of the politics we get along just fine on other issues. there are a number of FB groups that give themselves very patriotic sounding titles: True Trinis Discussing....Real Trinis ....Proud Trinis Building.... the irony is, go to most of these FB groups and they aren't actually discussing national issues in any serious way, but hurling mud. For the most part I observe, because entry into discussions gets you called names; further, the minute you say anything anti-the PPG you're labelled a racist PNMite. Equally, the moment you point out government policy, you are a racist UNC or eating ah food.  There is never an attempt to address the topic at hand, just an immediate launch to "You is ah racist PNM" or  "a racist UNC". Apart from the name calling there is also a lot of  finger pointing: PNM did this vs UNC did that.  Such arguments get tedious very quickly, and more often than not on pages that are in support of the People's Partnership, it is the only type of discussion you will find. Unless you go to a COP wall where there is absolutely no discussion because everyone in the party seems to have been struck mute.
The following is an extract from a wall. I've only used initials and kept people's profiles as anonymous as possible. The initial poster put up the following picture followed by the comment that here was someone's kind. It won't take you long to find out which side of the divide they are on. It also won't take you long to figure out that these political groups aren't about politics or nation building.
KKG Posted:
Like ·  · Follow Post · 18 hours ago
  • KKG: here is CCP's "kind"
  • JN SC according to the caption...... YouOnShit KKG.................... I now know where stupidity lies...............
    11 hours ago · Like · 1
  • KKG: We all know where stupidity lies... With you!
    11 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • CP: Nobody does fight more than your kind when they drink rum so dont come with that! Just yesterday my neighbour of YOUR KIND pulling cutlass for he wife and children cause he drink ah lil rum, try again!! Epic FAIL!
    8 hours ago · Like · 1
  • KKG: At least she is he wife and not child mother... And I could bet all de children is he own too...
    7 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • CP:  You are the living proof of an anal birth yes lolzzzzz smh... I never see nobody so dumb as you! You don't even know the people from adam but yuh "sure." pee and go in yuh bed eh lolzzz
    7 hours ago · Like · 1
  • KKG: Ah sure be minding dem too and not off breeding again and leaving it fuh de govt to mind..
    7 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • CCP: Nah is your kind that running down URP and FODD CARD!
    7 hours ago · Like · 1
  • KKG: Indian hater... Y u no go back Africa?
    7 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • CP: Tell Kams carry you India lolzz I am Trinidadian to my bone, the red white and black fly high, no place for yellow lolzzzz
    7 hours ago · Like · 1
  • KKG:  Again with your lies, smh... We all know Indians get nothing for free in this country...And even if they could... The PNM Indian haters like you in the public service make sure they cross fire to get it...They again, look at the population of the jails... Lavantille and beetham... All Grenadian descendants like you...

    7 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • KKG: Beggars and Criminals...
    7 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • CP: Lmaooooooo You wanna call me "Grenandian" and you more black than me? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!Who say madrass!!!!! Lol
    7 hours ago · Like · 1
  • CP: take note eh....
    7 hours ago · Like
  • DS: Really people... This is the kind of topic we're debating as Trinis??? What one race's characteristics are as opposed to another??? And we wonder why we are not moving forward as a society...
    7 hours ago · Like · 1
  • CP: Look who started it buddy....
    7 hours ago · Like · 1
  • CP: From the time the truth is told to her she gets in a racial fit
    7 hours ago · Like · 1
  • RM:

     From an article in Jyoti communications .............Warner reminded the House that it was Rowley as Minister of Planning in 2003 who approved a COSTAATT programme that proposed to target Afro-Trinidadian males. When his Prime Minister tried to gloss over the matter when it became public by stating that it was a typo in the budget documents, Rowley boldly proclaimed that it was government policy and no typo.Warner called Rowley a hypocrite, noting the lawsuits that the PNM administration lost in the discrimination cases of Feroza Ramjohn, Devant Maharaj and the Maha Sahba.“Do not come here and pontificate,” Warner said.

    7 hours ago · Like
    7 hours ago · Like
  • DS: It's not a topic we should encourage... Despite the best intentions of everyone here, ultimately we are just proving to ourselves that we degenerate to the "Race Card" and that's exactly what all our politicians are hoping we continue to do. Let's hold all of them accountable on pure delivery and service, nothing else...
    7 hours ago · Like · 1
    • RM: Again from the Jyoti Communications article:..........Warner also noted that the Manning PNM government awarded secret scholarships valued at $53 million through the culture ministry with only 10 per cent going to people of Indian descent. Warner also reminded legislators of depriving the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) of fundingWarner also slammed Rowley on the issue of appointments to state boards noting that of 508 appointments made by the PNM when it was in power 138 members (21 per cent) were Indians as opposed to the People's partnership record of 53 per cent Indians of the 508 appointments.

      And he pointed out that eight diplomatic appointees under the new government are are African, five are Indians and one a Caucasian. ..........................

      7 hours ago · Like
    • RM: Privy Council allows Equal Opportunity Act Thursday, October 18 2007On Monday, the London-based Privy Council hit the Trinidad and Tobago government for not enforcing the Equal Opportunity Act.In a 22-page judgment, the Law Lords allowed the appeal of 20 trinidad citizens and declared that the act, passed under the United National Congress (UNC) government in 2000 was lawful and constitutional.

      (1) Kenneth Suratt (on behalf of himself and 14 others)

      (2) Devon Garray

      (3) Davis Thomas

      (4) Dianne Arneaud

      (5) Abygail Arneaud

      (6) Rakesh Persad

      (7) Ashton Ramsundar

      Appellants

      v

      The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago

      Respondent

      From

      The Court of Appeal of

      Trinidad and Tobago

      Judgment of the Lords of the Judicial

      Committee of the Privy Council (Privy Council Appeal No 84 of 2006)

      Delivered October 15, 2007

      Present at the hearing:

      Lord Bingham of Cornhill

      Baroness Hale of Richmond

      Lord Carswell

      Lord Brown of

      Eaton-under-Heywood

      Lord Mance

      Dissenting judgment of Lord Bingham of Cornhill

      1. This appeal raises a question of great difficulty and importance. It is whether the Equal Opportunity Act 2000 ("the EOA" or "the Act") is inconsistent with the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, which by section 2 of the Constitution is the supreme law, and so void. It was held to be so by Smith J sitting in the High Court and his decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal (Sharma CJ, Archie and Mendonca JJA) in a judgment of Archie JA with which the other members of the court agreed. The appellants challenge that conclusion.

      7 hours ago · Like
    • RM: The Trinidad guardian Tuesday 16th October, 2007"Maharaj claimed that in 2000 the Opposition People's National Movement took the position that the act was unconstitutional and did not support it.The act was eventually passed by simple majority, but when Prime Minister Patrick Manning took office he refused to implement it."

      De Vice Cyah Done!

The Ballad of Teddy Ruxpin

Does anyone remember how Herbert Volney entered local politics? On April 30th, 2010 the Trinidad Newsday published a cautionary opinion piece that said this:

"Both Senior Magistrate Ramraj Harripersad and High Court Judge Herbert Volney announced that they had resigned to become UNC candidates.

These developments are of great concern to us, and we share many of the concerns being expressed about these developments. We have no problem with former judges deciding to join political parties, and to run as candidates for these parties. ... How long have these consultations been ongoing while Mr Volney was sitting as a Judge? Would he have resigned his tenure if he had not been guaranteed a candidacy within the UNC? And what may we ask is the status of the cases he heard particularly in which he found against the State, even, as it now appears he was consulting with a political party? The situation has all the trappings of a “done deal” where a sitting Judge suddenly comes out a feisty anti-government candidate. There is something here which deeply offends our sense of ethics and indeed the impartiality of the judiciary. "

Long before Herbert Volney became the MP for St Joseph, a seat that was once held by Carlos John, a close friend of Volney's who was present with Volney at several political meetings during the 2010 election season and rumoured to be his campaign manager, it appears that his appearance as a political candidate caused problems and concerns for many in the legal fraternity. Volney in a 24-hr time frame resigned from the judiciary and showed up at Rienzi Complex for a candidacy screening the same afternoon....and the UNC, that party with firm ethical and moral resolve embraced Volney as a candidate. Perhaps much in the same way they embraced Marlene Coudray's candidacy.

The same Newsday article went on to say: "It is one thing to accept Mr. Volney’s complaints about the judicial system, it is another matter that he should have been making arrangements for his entry into politics while he was still on the Bench. We wait to hear reasoned opinion on this without the political slant. We expect the Law Association to provide us with comment on this unusual, but not entirely unprecedented situation. Quite frankly we are not impressed with the comments of the political parties on this, for we accept that their take will be hysterically partisan. "

Flash forward to Volney's tenure as Minister of Justice and begins to become apparent that his hasty decision to enter the political fray had some forethought to it. Volney's tenure as Minister of Justice has possibly two other milestones attached to it, the piloting of the flawed DNA Bill and the murder in Mt D'Or, a community in his constituency where he mouthed off at the police for being violent in a bid to show solidarity with his voter base.

For the last 2.5 years I thought Volney a colossal waste of time. Wondered why this Ministry of Justice had been created. Wondered too at the number of lawyers in our parliament and how so few of them seemed to understand the proper course of our legal and judicial system. Then last week, Anand Ramlogan and Herbert Volney's appointments began to make sense. Ramlogan, who during the Manning era had portrayed himself as the people's champion in his weekly newspaper columns, all of a sudden, seemed less enraptured with helping the people and more tied up doing nothing. Ramlogan, switching sides from the COP to the UNC didnt run for a seat, but entered Parliament as a senator and AG. His appointment becomes a crucial one. As Senator and AG he sits in both the Upper and Lower Houses for some debates. Ramlogan, it was thought would clean up the pool of corruption that they had blamed the PNM for committing. Hart, Pena, Manning, Sunway, Guanapo, UDECOTT, UFF Report and Squandermania became their constant mantras on the election trail. Yet, no sooner had they entered government and set up a Cabinet when Ramlogan's enthusiasm for rooting out corruption seemed to have dried up. In the last 2.5 years the only allegation Ramlogan has managed to throw at Manning is an alleged stolen piano that was at the Diplomatic Centre after all. The UFF report and its recommendations are all but ignored by this government. It turns out that the Guanapo Church lands remains as the property of the State, nothing is owned by Juliana Pena. Calder Hart remains in Florida untouched and unaccused. And UDECOTT is almost dismantled by this government, while they continue to give contracts to questionable people in all the wrong ways...pretty much perpetuating what they once condemned! The AG, it turns out, would be Volney's chief assistant in getting the Bill piloted through both the Lower and Upper Houses.

Now let's get back to Volney, who I like to call Teddy Ruxpin because of the silly "I just fart on all yuh and all yuh do know it" grin he sports all the time. It seems that for all Volney's loose cannon behaviour since the campaign trail, here is a man who understands our judicial system so well that he figured out precisely how to dismantle a decade-long case by the state against a group of persons with just one clause....chew on that folks....ONE CLAUSE would have led to our undoing against the perps in the Piarco Fiasco....and the one thing that tripped up Volney wasn't the Opposition or the Independent Senators....but a reporter, Denyse Renne. Had Ms Renne not buss the mark in last Sunday's Guardian, by Friday of this week the Piarco Perps would have had their petitions before the courts and today's headlines would have read: "Ish, Steve, John, Edoo, Kuei Tung, everybody and their Mother FREE!"

The country, I suspect, would have gone into melt down mode or just become completely catatonic...you see, what a lot of politicians just aren't getting is that Ish, Steve and the Gang walking free is actually akin to the Muslimeen 114 walking free. The nation went into shock after that verdict, and then it went into a social decline. Which shouldn't surprise us. Many members of the Muslimeen thereafter went into extortion rackets, were part of the illegal quarrying that runs rampant here, were part of kidnapping gangs, part of the "money-for"protection" game....part of all the major criminal activities that have been plaguing us for the last  20 years. If Ish and Steve walk free, how much you want to bet that over night fraud and other white collar crimes will jump up several notches, and blood crimes would have "gone clear".

Volney isn't just a smartman...he is a smart man. Volney understood that the Upper House would pass the Bill if they felt the Lower House had debated sufficiently on it and passed it. So he ensured that the wording seen by the Lower House was sufficiently (not totally) acceptable to them; he promised to put provisions in place; then took the Bill to the Upper House with new wording in Section 34. Had the COP and the Hansard records not confirmed it, I'd still be quarrelling bitterly with Colm Imbert this morning. Both the Upper and Lower House now smelling to high heavens of Volney's shit and really can't say a word....and the Government's only defence on this one is, The PNM Vote for it too.....but it is pretty apparent to everyone that is Kamla and them pass the bill...and it looks like they passed the bill to aid the legal cases of the Piarco Perps. There seems to be no other reason for enacting Clause 34 so soon.

Doesn't help either that Volney, the Minister of Justice, admitted this week that his Ministry booked rooms at the Hotel belonging to Ishwar Galbaransingh, a man the State has a corruption case against. So not only are we trying to free Ish, we putting $$$$ in his pocket. And Volney trying to skewer the issue with bullshit about whether or not he was drinking champagne....I don't care about the champagne...I care about the principle of the thing and the message it sends the citizenry. On the one hand we have people whose moral convictions are being raped every day, and on the other hand we have the "eat ah food"  fanatics who see absolutely nothing wrong with the Government's behaviour, and and either defending it, or spending all their time deflecting PP Bullshit on the PNM.....because Manning caused this, yes?

This morning the shit thickened even further in an Express story that said, Volney Did It. And now we come full circle because the evidence is stacked up:

1. We know that Volney piloted the Bill with the help of Ramlogan.

2. We know that Volney presented one version of Section 34 to the Lower House and a different version to the Upper House with the help of Ramlogan

3. We know that Volney promised to implement all structures and frameworks before proclaiming the Bill and then reneged on that promise to Parliament.

4. We know that Volney requested that the Bill be proclaimed and then the Cabinet met and in a cloak-and-dagger fashion had the Bill proclaimed by the president while the population was distracted with Independence celebrations.

In short, members of Kamla Persad-Bissessar's Government appear to have conspired to hoodwink the population of Trinidad and Tobago

If Volney and Ramlogan don't go....then the Parliament should be dissolved!

De Vice Cyah Done!

A link to the Hansard Record pdf for interested parties.

Techno Crass?

In a move that mirrors David Cameron's British government in May of this year the People's Partnership, national mimic men, are about to purchase IPads for 73 members of our Parliament: that number includes both Upper and Lower House. Now don't get me wrong, I'm actually not against our Parliamentarians getting IPads, in fact I am hoping it will help Roodal Moonilal's debating skills and possibly get him to stop lying so much in Parliament, pulling false information from out of that very roomy area south of where his brain should be and also provide him with a quick and handy dictionary.

I also hope that it means too that Parliamentary sittings will cost the tax payers....us, far less money by saving on paper, among other things. As I say this, I remember Panday being put out of Parliament several years ago for using his laptop....my how times have changed. The Bas was always a trendsetter!

Now, my fear is that the majority of this government will see the IPad as just something else to bling with. In short, gadget fetishism, and not realise that they've got a proper tool in their hands and can step up their game.

If a parliament app was developed for instance it could contain Hansard Records and the country's Constitution in PDF form with a search system that allows for easy retrieval of laws, acts and amendments.

Use of a tool such as the IPad, coupled with a social media platform could actually make Parliament more interactive with citizens being able to log on and weigh in on debates.

But perhaps this a pipe dream.

My instincts tell me that this will be just an accessory for most MPs. it may be an opportunity for some to secretly purchase iPads for their girlfriends and mothers. Further it may be a way for the friend of a minister to eat ah food. When Barbados' Parliament started its digital shift the MPs paid for their iPads.... US$500 each when you go to Amazon or the Apple store. Most Trinbagonians can't spare that kind of money to buy a work tool, now we are being told in one breath we have to tighten our belts, while our taxes and revenues continue to prop up a Parliament that has failed us.

If this government....both Cabinet and Opposition, was really serious about belt tightening, running the country and setting an example they'd offer to purchase their own IPads and use it as the work tool it is. But this lot likely to fuck up within their first week of ownership with porn or a sex tapes scandal!

De Vice Cyah Done!

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So...About That Recalcitrant and Hostile Minority...

 

So, about that recalcitrant minority...

 

Get into a conversation about race in this country, especially one that compares the policies of the PNM and the UNC (or any other Indo-led party) and the conversation will invariably go to the most memorable comment Eric Williams ever made about some members of the Indian community here when he called them the "recalcitrant and hostile minority". It is a phrase that has haunted both Williams and the PNM since its utterance in 1958, but few Trinbagonians know the context and background of the speech and its content.

 

The phrase has become a virtual get out of jail free card for members of the Indian community hellbent on an ethnocentric agenda. And it is often made out to be the first racist comment ever made by  Trinbagonian....EVER! As a result of Williams' use of the phrase national history is often re-invented with Williams described as the father of racism, the PNM is depicted as racist and oppressive, in fact, the only racist and oppressive party, and as having an oppressive "African" agenda that everyone must be afraid of. As a result of Williams' folly the party has spent almost all of its political life either avoiding discussion of the issue, or giving in to the demands of religious and cultural leaders who claim to be promoting Indian interests. In an effort to not appear racist and to underscore its all-inclusivity as a government and a party the PNM has opted to instead give in to silly demands and pander to the demands of some, rather than address Williams' statement and come to terms with its legacy.

 

By 1958 Trinidad and Tobago was well underway to negotiating for a federated government. Williams was one of the chief negotiators of the process, it was his desire to have Trinidad and Tobago be the regional seat of power. But the DLP here, a party that was a coalition of interest groups that represented Hindus, Roman Catholics, the business class and members of the white elite, had aligned itself with political parties from both Jamaica and Guyana that was opposing the move towards a federation. At a public meeting, Williams, freshly returned from the Bandung Conference in India, revealed to the crowd that during the campaign for federal elections a letter had been circulated. According to Williams the letter accused him of both "favouring his own kind in the cabinet' and practising ethnic tokenism by selecting "a few Indians merely to mislead other Indians into supporting his movement in order to have a majority." The closing paragraph of the letter stated: "If, my dear brother, you have realised these occurrences, and the shaky position in which our Indian people people are placed, woe unto our Indian nation in the next ten years."

 

Unsurprisingly, Williams saw this campaign, attributed to the DLP, as undermining his ambitions for the country. Williams lashed out at the use of the term "Indian nation" because as far as he was concerned, the Indian nation was continental India. He felt that the DLP was conveniently using the phrase as an ethnic rallying point, and that ethnic politics had no place in the West Indies, least of all Trinidad. He described the group circulating this letter as a 'recalcitrant and hostile minority masquerading as the Indian nation, and prostituting the name of India for its selfish, reactionary political ends." I quote the entire sentence because few people ever do, and in its entirety it makes a very strong statement about what Williams thought was the political agenda of the DLP then.

 

Indo-centric writers and cultural activists, more interested in promoting the warped agenda of a group than a healthy national agenda of respect and co-operation have taken advantage of the PNM's reluctance to address Williams' comments. Long before the formation of the PNM our local politics had the taint of racism attached to it. And ethno-specific voting has become a feature of our electoral system. Another feature of our politics here is giving in to the cries of oppression by groups that claim to be in the minority. Land and ethni-specific holidays for everyone! But while members of the People's Partnership keep using the ghost of Williams and Manning to provoke feelings of guilt among blacks, and to rally the clans to keep separate and vote tribe instead of issues, their ethnic-flavoured political policies that they insisted was new politics are taking the country nowhere fast.

 

Williams' statement was extremely unfortunate, because it was an angry generalisation that painted an entire group with one brush stroke. It is a statement that the current leadership of the PNM must address if they really expect to move forward and be the all embracing party that Williams claims he started. More than 50 years later Williams' statements begs certain questions about politics, race and nationalism here. Has any group here prostituted its ethnic identity to rally political support? Is ethnic identity more important than national identity to groups here? When a Prime Minister takes a trip at the tax payers' expense to search for roots does it promote national pride or ethnic identity? In 1958 Williams felt that exploiting race as the base of political power was the greatest danger facing the country, and given the current state of our politics, he was not mistaken.

 

Incredible Skulks

Where to start boy? Within four days we have generated more scandal and kuchoor than a regular one-month cycle. If you put aside the fact that is 2 murders a day under Warner's tenure as Bess Minister of National Security....a man who spends more time fighting the media and Opposition Leader than he spends attempting to deal with crime.....imagine that this is Kamla's biggest weapon....then you will realise that since his appointment as Min of Nat Sec Jack has done fuck all. There has been no crime plan elaborated on or implemented to date. Jack takes up more tv time than any other Minister, yet think about what he has really accomplished in the 3 months he's been in office? We can't tell a thing either because the public no longer has access to the police service's statistics. Last week we hear that Warner copy from the PNM Copy book and negotiating with thugs. He back pedal faster than you could say FIFA Corruption and instead claim his latest BFF Louis Lee Sing set him up and dupe him. Unfortunately he didn't share that info with Witless Duke who came on the i95.5 Morning Show with Tony and Dale last Friday and basically said that he can't cay if he, Duke, was at the meeting, but he was surprised to see ,Warner at the meeting, and he can't say if he was at the meeting, but it wasn't a meeting, with gangsters, he prefers to call these people brothers and sisters. You confused yet? You want to kick Duke and Jack out of office and maybe the country yet?

If that wasn't enough bacchanal to keep up occupied for the weekend by Sunday we hear that Jack, fed up of the Mirror newspaper bussing mark on him and Kamla twice a week so he decide he not just going to plant a reporter at the papers or sleep with the Editor, (Maxie not cute enough for you?), no those activities are for a different type of politician, instead ,he Jack, going to purchase the entire newspaper no doubt to change it into a government mouthpiece and propaganda machine. What concerns me is that Jack is a sitting minister....negotiating a business deal openly....why am I thinking that govt ministers aren't meant to have business interests while in govt?

And still there was more. By Sunday morning we were hearing that a Min of Nat Sec official had been caught drinking and driving. And I wondered, aye aye, Jack take over we news cycle.....but no, it was Colin Partap, apparently leaving Zen night club drunk as a fish, and doing his part to instill our trust in our Ministers and dispel all ethnic stereotypes about Indians and alcohol. He and Vasant on a roll.....and speaking of Vasant, he ever answer questions about driving and alcohol and running over women's feet? So Colin get he BFF the AG CoP to come down in the station and help him out when he refuse to take the breathalyzer test. Kamla, sensing the level of clusterfuck this coulda cause for she buss Colin Partap throat one time. But expect to hear Colin involved with something else that allowing him to make money. One thing Kamla does do is make sure that the members of her clan eat ah food constantly.

It is the week of our Independence....50 years have gone, how you feel?

De Vice Cyah Done!

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The Endangered List

I've been trying to put my finger on a particular feeling that has been gnawing at me for quite some time...since the SoE actually. And it hit me this morning. I feel endangered. Not oppressed or marginalised, but endangered.You see, prior to the SoE I thought Kamla's Small Goal Side was merely inept at governance and  similar to the average MTV Real World Media Whores. Happy to be in front of a camera even if they had nothing of value to say. But as the months have passed I have begun to feel more and more that this government isnt simply inept, it is insidious and evil. The first thing that bothered me about the SoE was its ad hoc implementation and punitive tenor. To date we dont know why it was called. Numerous reasons given and almost 8000 people detained, mostly Afrotrinbagonian. 9% of the black male population tossed in cells with no evidence or reason for their arrest. This SoE showed me that this govt was very comfortable relying on stereotypes to run the country. It also showed me that a significant portion of the population: members of the middle and upper classes, many of Indo or Euro origin were quite happy to believe that the crime problem was caused strictly by young, single-parent men who resemble John Sandy, and that crime and criminal behaviour had nothing to do with them. As the months have passed since that SoE there have been numerous other onslaughts that have ethnic undertones. The firings in the public sector that have nothing to do with getting rid of redundant workers and everything to do with rewarding friends and family: none of them ever seem to resemble Sandy. Within months of this govt getting into power we heard Nizam Mohammed call for ethnic parity in the police force. Not promotion on merit....but ethnic parity. As early as 2005, Kamla Persad-Bissessar had called for more Indians on the CCJ. A regional court in a Caribbean that is demographically 80% afro-descended, and her concern wasnt the calibre of judges, but their ethnicity. Clannish much? It seems that this is a government interested only in the promotion of Indians, because make no mistake, whenever the comments about ethnic parity are raised it is only in relation to an imbalance or under representation of Indians. You nevet hear talk about not enough Chinese, Europeans, or Arab Trinbagonians: groups that are truly under-represented in the public sphere. In the 2yrs and 2months that Kamla's Small Goal Side have been in power they have shown us thst there is no equal place for every creed and race....just the one in power. I had hoped that tribal politics and ethnic marginalisation wouldnt be a feature under this regime...unfortunately it' s their only governance strategy. It's reflected in the composition of state boards and the appointments to all the most influencial positions in the land. When you speak out about this the stock response is, "Well it happen under the PNM..." Two wrongs make it right..the politics of retribution. Now we have our country's history being rewritten before our eyes. Eric Williams, whether you like him or not, was the architect of our Independ3nce, yet on our 50th Anniversary his contribution is being ignored....George Chambers, ANR Robinson's, Basdeo Panday's and Patrick Manning's too. This govt is trying hard to promote itself as the genesis of Trinidad and Tobago. Nothing came before Kamla. Tassa is more indigenous than pan; Chutney more appropriate for celebrating our 50 years in song than the locally created calypso. They want to privatise The Mas without so much as a feasibility study or consensus gathering. Nothing indigenously created by the Creoles here sacred enough to survive. And that is why i fraid for myself. I was created here. I dont identify as East Indian or Hindu or African or European. There is no Kamlaesque ethnic parity in me. I am a sum of all of the things that influence this space: indigenous and endangered.

De Vice Cyah Done!