The last time I saw such blatant and flagrant psychophancy by government MPs, Patrick Manning was in power with a young and inexperienced Cabinet filled with what the country generously labelled OJTs. Friday March 2nd, saw Leader of the Opposition Keith Rowley lead a motion of No Confidence in our parliament against the governance and leadership of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Rowley's Opposition, outnumbered 2:1 was soundly defeated. It should also come as no surprise to anyone that no one on the Govt benches made an effort to directly answer any of the questions, claims and allegations made against the PM's leadership. But before we go forward...let's re-cap.
The week started with an emergency meeting at PM Kamla's private residence in South Trinidad. Gathered at her gates that Sunday was a crowd of concerned citizens who had a petition requesting that imminent roadworks be diverted so as not to affect them....that was the story given in the Trinidad Express. Dr (by correspondence school) Suruj Rambachan's version of the story indicated that these people weren't protesters, but were actually supporters of the government who had called on them to hold a series of meetings to address the No Confidence Motion. Absent from that Sunday evening meeting was UNC Chairman Jack Warner and COP Leader Prakash Ramadhar. At that meeting Dr Fuad Khan is reported to have called on Rowley to resign as Opposition Leader should the motion fail. Rowley's position as Leader of the PNM would, along with calls for his resignation, become a theme throughout the coming week, almost as if the People's Panchayat didn't have enough leadership issues of its own.
Monday kicked off what can only be described as a circus. It was a virtual media blitz with govt ministers taking to television breakfast shows to remind the population of all of its achievements for the last 21 months. People were reminded that the govt was going to increase NIS, the govt had given school children laptops, the Govt had given pensioners free transportation on buses and ferries (wasn't that the PNM Govt? Was Kamla beginning to confuse herself with Manning too?), the Govt had brought down crime (by imposing a State of Emergency for 107 days during which time serious and petty crimes continued, the economy ground to a halt and after which all 7000+ ppl detained were released and only marijuana, no cocaine was seized...and no traffickers btw), the Govt had increased jobs (the govt has also caused many sectors and industries to lay off people and the ensuing jobs created have not tipped the balance...somehow that didn't make it into Winston Dookeran's speech on Saturday...a misspeak!), the Govt was working hard and the Partnership was stronger than ever.
On the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening of that week the travelling circus began. On all 3 nights airtime was bought on all local television stations except Gayelle...because nobody gives a rats ass about Christopher Laird and local programming (wha's dat?) and the Govt blasted us with its propaganda. Makandal Daaga, Ashworth Jack, David Abdullah and Prakash Ramadhar were trotted out to again pledge allegiance to Queen Kamla and the Fyzabad Accord....and they did so faithfully. Jack Warner, who has been in the doghouse with this Govt since Fifa fired him, pledged undying loyalty to his marriage with PM Persad-Bissessar. For three nights the virtues of Kamla and the People's Panchayat were extolled. See how fair and good our Queen is? See how well she looks after you? See how united and fair a party we are? How can you not have confidence in us?
And as I listened to the rhetoric many answers came to mind: 1. Reshmigate
4. Petrotrin Contract for Gopaul Gate
5. 0% Growth in the Economy for 3 years
6. Sat Maharaj and Tunapuna Hindu School aka PantyGate
7. Gibbs Gate
9. SoE Gate
10. Assasination Plot Gate
And those are just a random ten...there's still Sasha, attacks on the Media, the fact that the AG has yet to make a note on Calder Hart, the fact that Ish and Steve escaped extradition after the former successful prosecution team was changed under this recent regime.
By Friday it was clear to me that this government wasn't going to take citizen's concerns about Kamla's leadership and its governance seriously. And therein for me lies the problem.
We didn't need a No Confidence Motion by Rowley and the PNM to tell us something is seriously wrong and diseased in the state and that the body politic is corrupt. The newspapers prove it to us daily. Whether you are PNM or PP supporter you can't escape all the obvious details that this is a failed government. The numerous mistakes, missteps, lies, and deceits tell you everything you need to know. The fact that there is still no accountability or transparency in many areas; and that the media has a field day with their incompetence tells you that this is a poor government. I didn't need the week-long circus to tell me that Kamla and her Deck of Jokers would remain unrepentant and lie boldly to the public saying that they were Bigger, Better, Faster Stronger....nor did I need to see the online fracas that took place between supporters from the various parties to tell me that the ethnic divide widens, and both groups of supporters will see only what they wish to see.
What that No Confidence Motion did clarify for me on Friday is this....Trinidad and Tobago has developed a cancer... I don't know if it is treatable....and it is manifested in the type of governance we are seeing under Kamla Persad-Bissessar and what we saw under Patrick Manning. It is a style of governance in which the leader is:
and as a result of these traits feels no need to respond to issues of corruption, transparency, accountability or good governance. Kamla Persad-Bissessar's People's Partnership showed me on Friday March 2nd that they have become the very thing people of this country thought they had voted out...a bloated, diseased, corrupt political system. The crowd of supporters dressed in yellow at the Hyatt Waterfront reminded me of the CEPEP hordes dressed in red that greeted Manning in Woodford Square a few years ago when Panday and Maharaj led their own motion of No Confidence. Then Manning was greeted like a long lost saviour....on Friday members of the Baptist faith rushed to pour blessings on the PM and sang "Stand Up And Tell Me If You Love Kamla". Support for the anointed? What is it about Trinis that makes it possible for them to support foolishness openly, but be afraid to publicly criticise? When the spirit lash come, I hope they ready!
29 members got to their feet and at no point was an effort ever made to say that the citizens of this country had any cause for concern about Kamla's leadership of the country. When faced with the revelation that Reshmi Ramnarine had changed her name and was once again employed on contract with the Government the Prime Minister denied knowledge. This is the issue that kicked off the long stream of scandals the govt has been involved in to date. The PM even gave an interview where she admitted to making a mistake with Ramnarine's appointment and then asked the nation to move on.....how do we move on from this, Madam PM? My issue isn't with Ms Ramnarine's name change...she's entitled to that. But explain to me why I should trust a Prime Minister and a govt that's so corrupt that it would re-hire this young woman after all the scandal surrounding her last appointment and pay her with my tax dollars? Why should I expect you or your government to stop lying to the population when at every turn something new crops up to show that we cannot trust anything that comes out of your mouth? How can I trust a government that is stumbling daily and yet lying to me and saying "I'm not stumbling..I'm not making mistakes...everything's fine." How can I trust a government whose mantra is still Blame the PNM, Blame the PNM, Blame the PNM after 21 months.....when all yuh going to start to work? Madam PM, your inability to come clean with us the people is why I will not have confidence in your diseased and corrupt government!
The one thing that impressed me this week was Rowley's handling of his end of the debate. On Tuesday evening at the St Augustine Senior Comprehensive he promised that the debate would be about issues that were already in the public eye, he merely wanted the public to be better informed and have the details at hand to decide on how they felt about the government. And that's what the PNM did....I don't agree with much of their debate style...too long winded and rambling in many instances, Amery Browne laughs too much while claiming he's really grimacing, Marlene McDonald is informed but loses focus with the crosstalk. But whereas the People's Panchayat stuck to "Deny Everything and Blame the PNM, Blame the PNM Blame the PNM", many PNM members brought valid and valuable information to the Parliament last Friday. The focus brought to bear on National Security issues, the stagnant economy, rampant corruption, questionable trade decisions and general accountability was important.
Unfortunately for The Keith, his supporters were expecting him to do the impossible and not just bring the evidence to Parliament, but Judge and Execute the Govt as well.....Keith can't do that folks...we have to judge and rule on them.
So in the aftermath of what seemed like 30 hours of Pappy Show and a defeat of the Opposition's Motion ask yourself a few questions:
Do you trust this Government led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar?
Do you feel as if this Govt is performing in the best interest of the entire population?
Do you have questions about how responsible, accountable or corrupt this govt is?
Do you really have confidence that this Govt has a way forward planned for the entire country?
De Vice Cyah Done!