Prakash Ramadhar: Failments 101

If no one else from Election 2010 has thoroughly disgusted me, it is Prakash Ramadhar. You see, from day 1 of the COP campaign I said to people that it was obvious that Ramadhar was the party’s heir apparent. I thought him to be a principled and intelligent man. All the people I met who were actively involved with COP strategising and campaigning agreed that he was. So to watch his trajectory over the last 2.5 years is for me a good example of how a political wolf can assume sheep clothing.

And the thing is, Ramadhar continues to wear the sheep clothing because many angry COP members see him as balls-less, but really what they need to think about is his agenda. If Ramadhar’s goal was really new politics and defending democracy, then his approach is ballsless. His inability to take a principled stance and walk away from the corrupt partnership makes him weak. But if you look closely at Ramadhar you will see that he has actually taken a firm stance on issues and isn’t ballsless at all. In fact, I willing to bet that he have more balls than a gorilla.

You see Ramadhar has managed the hoax of the century. He has managed to convince all and sundry that his motives in this coalition government are pure and above board…even with all the evidence to show otherwise. Ramadhar has managed, despite all of his missteps and misspeaks to keep COP members and even non-members convinced that 1. The COP is a party that actually exists and 2. The COP has principles.

But let’s look a little closer. Ramadhar, was formerly a UNC supporter, he left the party and joined the COP to offer the country new politics. Let’s see what new politics he has offered us thus far:

Accountability – No

Transparency – No

End to Nepotism – No

End to Corruption – No

End to abuses of State Funds – No

Instead in the COP’s entire term in government they have played a very strategic game of supporting the UNC and seeking their own interests. Despite Ramadhar’s ovbious involvement in the debacle that is Section 34, there was never any threat of him losing his ministerial position. And to ensure that he continues to look squaeky clean Ramadhar leapt to give an apology to the nation for being a a part of the conspiracy to release Ish and Steve. That’s all his apology was. While the LRC may not have seen the amended S34, wouldn’t the COP have been part of the cabinet that approved its early proclamation? Study yuh head good.

Even in the case of the MayorGate, Ramadhar’s main concern was how to safeguard his party’s interests in the face of Marlene Coudray’s defection. He kept the mayorship and got a few more Ministerial position in the eventual Cabinet Reshuffle.

And these days Ramadhar is busy making sure that his home boys eat ah food. Larry Howai announced he was hiring a new lawyers for the state’s case against Clico. Among the newly appointed lawyers are Jagdeo Singh and COP Chairman Joseph Toney. The story barely gets time to go warm than Ramadhar gives his stamp of approval. And it is a crucial stamp of approval, because Ramadhar thinks that the COP still appears squeaky clean to the population. So him approving it means it’s ok, is not a case of political patrimony….but when you start digging up online, some some of my FB friends are prone to doing you stumble upon interesting archived stories about lawyers like  Jagdeo Singh who has a pretty colourful past. And is back to continue to reap rewards.

Both Toney and Singh are colleagues of Ramadhar.

Why is it every rock we look under has some past member of this government who has been involved in nefarious activities?

There are people who still think they can trust Ramadhar and the failed COP….time to think again!

De Vice Cyah Done!

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Compare and Contrast : A Rally Go Round!

Budget Matikor programme. Photo E. Pantomime

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

The thickest the crowd ever got. Photos by E. Pantomime

The edges of the crowd and how the rest of the carpark looked.

The other side of the stage. That camera rig isn’t cheap to rent.

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.

Giveaways for the crowd…

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 Re-Shovelled Deck :A Govt on All Fours…

The Re-Shovelled Cabinet. Photo courtesy Guardian website

(2years, 29dys)

I grew up in a house where All-Fours was a serious game. My uncle played tournaments. It would irk him to no end to see how casually his nieces and nephews would play things like Rummy without a properly shuffled deck, removal of the Jokers and proper cutting. It was from him I learned to play cards, to understand the signs of the game of All-Fours, and to know that even if I was dealt a weak hand, if my partner had a stronger hand, and we both understood the mechanics of bluffing and kept straight faces, we could come out with solid wins.

Kamla’s much anticipated re-shovelling of the Cabinet yesterday, went far beyond my expectations, and yet fell short of it in some ways. She was right to call it a Cabinet Reconfiguration, because that’s what she did. Kamla took her old cabinet to a joiner and basically asked, “How I could make this thing look and function different, without wasting the material?” After announcing the cabinet last night, the focus of everyone, from layman, to political parties to political gurus, was the appointment of the Minister of National Security. Supporters of the party hailed it as a good move, detractors frothed at the mouth, and some dashed off hastily written press releases. I was more interested in the details of the entire cupboard. My father is a joiner, is so I stop!

By now we all know who the players are in this NEW CABINET…and that’s what it is. Yes they are still calling themselves the  People’s Partnership, but the 2010 Cabinet and the 2012 Cabinet look very different. It’s almost as if we got a new government, without going to the polls…..that can’t be good, because it means that 2 years and 1 month into office, Kamla and her even larger Small Goal side are starting from scratch.

In the midst of an economic meltdown, spiralling crime rates, rising unemployment, meteoric food prices…..this government that promised to bring change, is attempting to press the re-set button and act like the last two years of misstepping didn’t happen.

The Old Cupboard….

Kamla, as card dealer, revealed two things last night: she knows that her government and governance is failing; and she knows she has to make her boldest move for Ejection 2015 (it’s not a misspelling) now!

Her speech last night was filled with the usual campaign rhetoric, but in a more subdued tone; because while Kamla’s words stated that her government had been working hard and achieving much, the Cabinet she was about to reveal said louder than anything else in the room that the PP has failed. Kamla referred to a depleted treasury, yet, we know that Dookeran came and met a stable economy; just as Devant Maharaj met a Caribbean Airlines that was in the black. We know too that in 2010 she met a crime rate that was lower than what we have right now.  But of course, this government never admits to making a mess of things, just like the last regime. So Kamla segued into listing her changes by implying that she consulted with the people and was now taking the criticism on board.

Understand that this Cabinet Re-Shovel comes in under one month since they spent $9m patting themselves on the back for being in power for 2 years and staying stronger than ever. In less than a month of that Eat Ah Food Fete the Partnership was destroyed when the MSJ broke ranks. It’s something she didn’t make mention of last night. Indeed the four parties that remain don’t like referring to the MSJ anymore because they know that in truth and fact they are no longer the People’s Partnership, but rather a UNC Alliance All Fours Team. And in future that’s how I’ll be referring to them.

This UNC Alliance is now faced with a significant task, turning the tide of public opinion that is growing against it. You see there are several levels of dissent Kamla has been coping with and her reconfiguration last night was meant to address all issues:

1. The MSJ Split

2. The COP discontent

3. The Muslim Vote Discontent

4. The Swing Vote Discontent over an under performing economy, spiralling crime, and corruption.

 

The MSJ Split means that the 5-party Panchayat is dead. This of course means that Kamla hs to pull the troops in tighter, closer, give the impression of being a tight-knit unit that includes everyone. Couple this with COP discontent over the San Fernando Mayorship and general feelings of being sidelined and ignored and the solution becomes clear: increase the number of COP members in the Cabinet, while giving Marlene Coudray a ministerial position. Look closely at the list of appointees and see what’s going on. No wonder Lincoln Douglas denied he agreed with Nalini Dial’s comments…and no wonder COP Cabinet Members and Executive members attacked Dial’s comments in such a savage way. In exercising her right to post tasteless comments on her private FB wall, Dial was upsetting the apple cart of new Eat Ah Food positions. Douglas publicly agreeing with Dial might have cost him a ministry. Now the COP has almost doubled the number of previously held positions and gone from 6 to 10 Cabinet posts. Several of those positions are held by people who never faced the electorate at the polls such as Bhoe Tewarie and Ganga Singh. To see Ganga Singh, whose name is synonymous with corruption at WASA be let back into our government has to be one of the most galling things on the face of the earth. Now Kamla’s Corruption Chorus Line of Goopeesingh, Ramadharsingh and Singh can just call themselves the Three Tenders.

The Cabinet still remains predominantly Hindu in terms of its religious make-up, but in the Jahaji Desi groups of late there has been a lot of complaint about the lack of Muslim representation. Whether unwilling or unable to add more Muslims, Kamla decided to kill two birds with one stone and add a COP member who comes from the most prominent political Muslim family. Her new Minister of Communication, Jamal Mohammed is the great-nephew of PNM stalwart Kamaluddin Mohammed, and nephew of former PNM Senator Nafeesa Mohammed. One member of the Mohammed Clan in Parliament must be the equivalent of about 50 muslims at least, right Madam PM? I hope those ratios work out for you.

Now  to issue number 4. Kamla is trading on a few givens with the Trinbagonian psyche. We have a high tolerance for corruption in this place, once our pockets not affected directly. Once we benefitting from a corrupt act or a corrupt person, Trinis will more often than not look the other way (Dear Lord thank you for my Tobagonian mother) and give people a bligh. And to the Europeans and Americans who don’t understand how there can be citizens of this country who’d support a man as obviously corrupt as Jack Warner being a member of government….that should now answer your question. Jack is beloved in his constituency because he gets things done…temporarily. And Trinis love a quick fix. Long term goals and vision does make them impatient…we like things to happen one time…and see immediate results…even if they worth fuck all. So an action man like Jack, who willing to put Fifa money where his mouth is will be immensely popular here. You want a wall built overnight? Jack will get it done….it’ll fall down the next time rain fall hard, but the point is he built the wall…and that’s what Trinis will remember. You want your national football team to get to the World Cup…easy peasy, Jack will get it done…but they don’t care that he has screwed over present and future generations of young local footballers to do so. So, Kamla, aware of all of this, appoints Warner as Minister of National Security. This appointment is an admission that John Sandy has failed and Trinis are fucked when it comes to the crime situation. Forget the SoE folks….the ultimate weapon in Kamla’s arsenal is about to be deployed. I feel quite certain that Jack has been given the mandate, by fair means or foul, bring that crime rate down! And this appointment is a double edged sword. If Jack succeeds, Kamla has 2015 in the bag….if Jack fails, he gets the axe and so does Kamla….if ever someone was relying on the strength of their partner’s hand it is Kamla.

Unfortunately this appointing of Jack as Security Minister means that the country will suffer in the short and long term. The appointment will further tarnish our international image. Even if Jack makes inroads into crime, it’ll be quick fixes. Downturns that will be quickly trumpeted all over the media, while the longterm side and after effects might just kill our children….23 years later local football still reeling from November 19th, 1989.

Larry Howai’s appointment as Minister of Finance is a better calculated risk. When the foreign team hired to turn FCB around from financial failure couldn’t do the job, it was Larry Howai that was promoted to do the job.  And I sincerely believe that he has been brought on board by Kamla to clean up the colossal mess that Dookeran made of the economy. Howai’s mandate has to be put a halt to the decline….and try and stimulate some growth, please. If he does that, he’ll be the PM’s blue eyed boy, because the two fronts on which Kamla was all geared to lose Ejection 2015, was crime and the economy…..sounds like PNM 2010 deja vu doesn’t it?

Mindful of the fact that she was getting rid of two Afro-Trinbagonians (and all yuh could cry for Verna all all yuh want, after what happened to Cheryl Miller under her tenure she deserved to be fired), and was likely to face a pounding for the ethnic make up of her Cabinet, Kamla ensured that she did the requisite window-dressing….and I want you guys to note that she ensured that the two (redundant) ministries that deal up with issues like culture and diversity are headed by Afro-Trinbagonians. Game to Kamla….let the black people and them complain now….Eintou if you aint get no money for you Support a Bad Habit Committee is because Douglas, not Kamla, turn you down.

She has also set herself up nicely to ensure that the grassroots battle for Tobago and Local Elections can be efficiently fought. The offensive Shoppin Toppin has been moved from everyone’s sight and put under Glen Ramadharsingh (shudder) and Delmon Baker is now at the forefront. It’s now up to Assworth Jack and his spinning TOP to do the necessary and try and bring home that THA Elections….Kamla depending on your hand boy!

Suruj Rambachan, who was  spectacularly inefficient as a Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communication Minister has now been made Minister of Local Government…..he’s close to all the plum Regional Corp contracts that make pocket lining so easy, and he can overseer the pack setting for next year’s local government elections. Chandresh Sharma has been given Transport, lucrative contracts and kickbacks for party financiers in that ministry as well.

So, now that we’ve arrived at this point I hope that the reader sees that the Reconfiguration exercise on the PM’s part was actually well thought out. She’s battling on several fronts and knows this. Yes, Jack Warner’s appointment as Security Minister is a big deal….but the even bigger deal here is that Kamla has begun to battle for 2015. Whether it will be effective now depends on performance. It is this that both the PNM and MSJ have to contend with.

Watch out too for the disappearance of the COP. With the MSJ gone the remaining members of the All Fours Alliance will begin to merge and morph and all sound the same. The COP’s identity is now entirely subsumed. No more standing up for principals and rights and Mayorships in San Fernando (ent Navi Murad-Ali?).

With a bigger Cabinet though comes more salaries to pay and more mouths to feed.

De Vice Cyah Done!

Tim the Toolman….and tales of other handymen!

I want to recommend Grim Tim Doopeesingh for canonisation. Why? Because he has to be the best thing to happen to the Catholic religion here since the Nicene Council.

Anybody with half a working synapse will tell you that where you might get through with blatant corruption, nepotism and racism, the minute you start to touch people religion….their get out of jail free card with immor(t)ality….your ass is grass.

Doopeesingh’s attempted merger of a Catholic school with a Government school was tantamount to the man killing a bull and carrying it for Sat Maharaj yesterday. And as I watched the story and kuchoor unfold I wondered at the obtuseness and stupidity of Grim Tim. Even Eric the First (… Prime Minister, folks) with all the public support he had in the early years of his political career had to kowtow and concede to the Catholic Church. The details of that concession are enshrined in The Concordat, a document so powerful that even the other religious denominations for all their hatred of Catholicism hold on to it like a lifeline! we offer up a Te Deum to Dom Basil, because it was he who took on The Eric and triumphed….but I digress.

I fear Doopeesingh has never read the Concordat….indeed, I am beginning to wonder generally about his literacy and common sense. In a country where education is revered as the escape route from poverty of the working class surely Grim and his cohorts understand what religious-run schools mean to this country. There is a reason that Doopeesingh and his generation were sent to certain religious board schools, and tried to pass their Common Entrance or SEA or whatever for certain religious board schools….because in Trinidad and Tobago we have a healthy and profound belief that a religious-based education is the only path to success. Blame the missionaries who brought the idea here….our blame our society that cannot get out of its mimic men phase of existence, but government schools, whether primary or secondary, are always thought to be inferior to a religious board school. As such, these schools  possess a level of immunity that you just don’t touch!

The Concordat states quite plainly that the physical property of these schools are owned by the religious body….what it doesn’t quite state is who is responsible for building and maintenance…but if we just look at what happens around us it becomes pretty obvious. Since 1962 the Ministry of Education has undertaken to build and maintain both state and recognised religious board schools. While Facebook threads yesterday quibbled about who was responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the schools, it was eventually revealed that maintenance and upkeep actually falls under the State’s remit…..that is, the Ministry of Education….and right now the person at the helm of that ministry is none other than Grim Tim! But Town and Country has refused approval to raise another structure on the property ( i didn’t even realise we actually needed their approval to build a thing….look at Grand Bazaar…Regents Tower etc), so Grim Tim has to find an alternative…..Enter his bright idea!

This past Monday the Doopeesingh called a meeting between the parents of the Pt Cumana Govt School, the Pt Cumana RC School, the MP for Diego Martin West, aka The Keith and the Archbishop of the Catholic Church….a veritable Council of Trent!  The Archbishop maintains that he was never told all of these people would be present at the meeting….in short he was misled and waylaid by the Minister’s people, and so he declined to participate in the meeting. After listening to the concerns of the stakeholders, Doopeesingh, in his inimitably aggressive, boorish and dictatorial style, then condescended to tell the parents what would be done. Up until the Grim spoke the general idea was that there would be two schools co-existing on one compound….then it turns out that what Doopeesingh really meant was that he was going to merge and mix the two schools. The sacred and the profane…..as one school…..Tim feel he is Minsh? He was trying to make ah mas?

No, Tim, no! Do not be a martyr for your stupidity. Take it from a person who went to a Presbyterian Primary School and a Catholic Secondary School…..do not interfere with the rights and entitlements of these religious boards. Is not only Sat Maharaj and the Maha Sabha that can benefit from the Concordat. It have a reason the document name in Latin meh boy!

To merge a state and a denominational school has implications for the curricula taught as well as staffing and budget. After a merger, who decides the curricula? Who decides which teachers stay? Tim…the Concordat specifically says that the board retains rights over these areas….you forget that? Your advisers didn’t read the document at all? Not even the first 2-3 bulleted points?

And further, to tell parents that you not building a new school because you don’t want to waste tax payers dollars was pretty insulting in light of all the squandermania that has happened under this govt…let me list a few: The Arima Prison Facility to house 1 inmate, $60m; The PM’s Travel Assistant $800,000; The Crop Duster, $.9m; Fuad and Vernella’s Credit cards US$20,000; the last Budget extension $1.5bn…..the budget extension before that, do I need to go on? More money has been spent on silly frivolous things than have been spent on educating our children….and their parents are tax payers….so what shit you really coming with?

The Archbishop’s decision to seek legal advice and further, to reject the Minister’s offer, if Tim aint realise it, was a slap in the face and a tossing down of the gauntlet (a la Fluellen and Gower in Henry V). In the course of one stupidly aggressive and condescending speech Grim Tim Doopeesingh has riled up more than 300,000 people….at least that’s around how many Roman Catholics we have in Trinidad at the 2000 census. The other thing Doopeesingh forgets is this, a significant portion of non-Catholics were educated at these schools and have a soft spot for their alma maters. He has no choice but to back down on this matter and boil down like a pot of young bhagi!

Catholics will turn a blind eye to corruption, genocide and paedophilia…..but don’t touch their churches and schools!  And blaming  Keith Rowley for your hoof-in-mouth-disease is embarassing and tasteless. As Minister of Education the buck stops with you. You are the final decision maker.

Now the School has been moved to a Church Hall in Constabulary Street, and Tim, your tenure as Minister won’t be remembered for the clear cronyism going on within your ministry…..it won’t even be remembered for how you trying to screw over SEA students….it will be remembered for how you tried to mess with the Concordat and in one fell swoop got the nation’s Catholics pissed off at your highhanded ways!

You skilled Tim…You blessed and talented…I can’t remember the last time I see a man bend over AND screw himself at the same time….

In other news, the COP, who never took Anil Roberts (for his loud mouthed boorish ways) or Prakash Ramadhar (for generally letting down of the party and not upholding principles) to task now want to cruficy Nalini Dial, a woman who made a tasteless comment on her private Facebook wall. Ms Dial, who faced much public condemnation for her comments, is basically being punished for exercising her freedom of expression. Or maybe she’s being punished for her stupidity, because since the leak of the comment from her wall to the media Dial has refused to apologise (well within he right), but further to that is now making the rounds of television and radio shows to defend her comments. Really Nalini? Who on earth advising you?I sense a pre-action protocol letter in someone’s future. It’s a pity that the COP more interested in public perception over an issue that will blow away in 9 days, than in putting their political house in order….more and more they remind me of the UNC!

Oh, by the way, Marlene Coudray has stopped posing with the Prime Minister for photo ops and 48 hours after news broke of her daughter’s disappearance and possible death has arrived in Jamaica!

The HCU Enquiry continues to heat up. The most recent update is how a handyman went from rags to riches. The story today outlines for us some recurrent themes in Trinbagonian social history…our love of mimicry, penchant for corruption and predisposition for ethnic discimination. Some interesting details come out in the course of  George James’ testimony. We see his meteoric rise from being a handyman to owning a contruction and home repair company. We learn that his business was a consortium, and used as a “clearing house” for the HCU’s other businesses. We learn that James planned to build a Disneyland styled water park. That his success at the company had people wondering if Harnarine was trying to douglarise the HCU…..why contact with Afro-Trinbagonians does frighten some people so? We learn too that “the unspoken policy in the HCU is to make money off of stupid niggers”.

In short we learn many things that we already know. Ours is a corrupt, depraved, racist society on all sides of the fence…..and we like it so!
All yuh feeling Kamla’s wind of change?

De Vice Cyah Done!

…This is not the kinda dance where yuh stand up like a bobolee begging for mercy…

Children beating a bobolee. Photo courtesy Newsday archives

I honestly think we should make David Rudder’s Madness  into the national anthem. I know that won’t sit well with religious leaders, activists and intellectuals who are against Calypso, Pan and Carnival in general…because Rudder only sings “bumf” and Carnival promotes illiteracy, riiiight? I still waiting to see the study that supports that last claim. Anyone with one decent synapse knows Rudder doesn’t sing buumf…his lyrics are far too important a prism through which we can view this place.

Most mornings I get up and wondering what the hell really going on in this place?

Sunday we had the story of how the current government is divesting itself of 4 fast ferries purchased when Colm Imbert served as Minister of Works and Transport. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Devant Maharaj himself fed the story and the facts to the Express, because since the story made news we’ve been getting different and conflicting information daily. The newspapers reported that the ferries cost over $127m, then yesterday documentation was produced that showed the purchase of the ferries actually cost significantly less than that, closer to $50m. But what is even more worrying is that the ferries were sold for around $6m. Now, in a situation where the tax payers should know exactly who advised Colm Imbert to buy these 4 ferries at this price, and then who advised Devant Maharaj to sell them for such a paltry sum so that we know what’s going on with our money, we instead have more political mud slinging, both sides of the parliament giving conflicting figures, and things really beginning to sound like Voodoo Maths in truth?

The sad thing is that we, the tax payers, who likely to not get government pension because we paying NIS religiously, will never find out why what was spent on those ferries (at least one of which never worked) and why they were then sold at a loss. Again, no accountability for our money that being spent wildly, despite who in power!

Grim Doopeesingh lose the keys to his head and raise up the Roman Catholic ants patch by once again exercising his autocratic, boorish, vulgar, top-down style and insisting that Roman Catholic and Government (read denominational and non-denominational) schools in a PNM constituency must share the same compound…indefinitely. Listen, Grim, if Eric Williams, who was a much smarter man than you, decided to leave religious schools alone, who is you? Really? In a country where citizens already pissed with the poor governance your Panchayat doling out, in a country where citizens have begun to call this a Hindutocracy instead of a democracy….you as a Hindu Male have put yourself in a difficult position….no one will see the practicality of your suggestion about merging two schools onto one compound. And considering that your government just spent millions of dollars to build a brand new primary school and overpass for the small Baptist community your comments about saving tax payers $$$ already aint ringing true…instead they will see it as yet another move by your government to oppress and suppress  anything that isn’t Hindu….it doesn’t help too that Sat Maharaj seems to be running wild, opposing Ministry approved Principals, opposing Ministry approved curriculum and breaking State of Emergency laws and never being locked up….doesn’t look good at all. Your silence on Sat Maharaj’s stance on the “Pan in School’s” curriculum makes it appear as if this government is demonising the national instrument….So, you really expect to be able to come and dictate the pace about when and how you housing the children of Catholic parents? Further, it seems you forgot to take a look at the Concordat. Apparently it allows school boards to determine what is taught on their compounds, while the Min of Ed dictates the pace at state schools…..so what exactly do you mean by merge? Do you mean housing two separate and distinct schools on the same piece of property (which is no doubt what the Archbishop thought) or do you mean to mix the two schools and put them under one administration….which is what you seemed to be saying in your speech at the school. Grim, boy…..you overstep your boundary son!

Today’s latest bobolee is Nalini Dial…I almost feeling sorry for her and want to offer her shelter. Ms Dial made a tasteless and unfortunate comment about 2 days ago wherein she implied that “what goes around, comes around” in reference to Mayor Coudray’s missing daughter. It is alleged that Michelle Coudray Greaves is dead. She’s been missing for a while now in Jamaica, and a body burnt beyond recognition has been “kinda” identified as hers by friends. Not too long after the news broke here Ms Dial posted the following on her FB wall: “I do believe in retribution, and tonite  I got proof. I know this will sound harsh, but guess who the cold heartless uncaring bitch was, who used to electrocute the poor innocent stray dogs, when she was the CEO of the San F’do Corporation? Guess whose daughter they just found dead, burned in Jamaica? I ain’t God, but now I feel that, He is paying back. the sins of the fathers (mothers) will fall on the children,”

Now, some context is necessary, although Dial was posted this comment on her private wall, and still lives in a democratic society that enshrines freedom of speech and expression, she is also a prominent political figure in the COP, she is also an animal activist….and in that light Dial’s outspokenness cause plenty commess and kuchoor yesterday. People were calling for her to be kicked out of the party, and generally castigating her for making what they felt was a harsh, tasteless and (in some corners) evil statement. No one of course is asking how a comment posted on a wall with privacy settings made it into national media….nah…all we’d be doing there is questioning who exactly violating Ms Dial’s rights to her privacy settings along with freedom of expression. Instead let’s disagree with her comments to the point where we call her crazy, insane, vile, evil, crazy bitch…etc….you get the picture.

But Dial’s comments don’t perturb me, really. She’s entitled to express herself. The Constitution says so. We don’t have to agree with her…but we should respect her rights. If a member of Kamla’s family was murdered in Trinidad, I feel quite certain that many Trinis would gleefully point out, “And they say crime down?” When Kamla “fell ill” in Barbados a few weeks ago I saw more walls speculating on how drunk she was than offering sympathy. I actually think it’s only when crime starts hitting members of government that they will begin to understand what the average citizen is facing. They’ve got paid drivers, security, police escorts etc and can sleep comfortably at nights. But I digress, because Coudray’s daughter is in Jamaica and not receiving any of these perks.

So if Nalini Dial, private citizen, decides to say “What goes around comes around, Marlene” why the need to circle her and cry for her blood? Constitutionally and legally, Ms Dial is well within her right to have and express her opinion (once it not libellous or obscene….eyes on you Rupert Griffith for cussing and then moving those police officers who dared charge you for using obscene language! How come nobody want Rupert Griffith kicked out of anywhere?); however, in Trinidad, where certain types of morality seem to be law….she transgressed!

Trinis fooling themselves into believing that they care about human lives that much. It’s herd behaviour all over again. We know speaking ill about the dead is culturally wrong, so we make cooyou mouth while saying how sorry we feel for Marlene….most of us don’t feel sorry for Marlene, and we more interested in the details of the murder than the life lost. We not even actually concerned about the lives lost here in the murderfest we are living through…what we do care about is if the murder toll affects us and our quality of life. The problem with Nalini Dial’s comments isn’t that she said it…but that she said it out loud and someone made a screen shot of her page, posted it, and it went viral. I’d be willing to bet money that lots of people have secretly thought that Marlene deserved it, or reaping what she sow. And as for the circumstances surrounding this missing person, they are plenty fishy, and if that body in the canefield turns out to be Marlene’s daughter, then I have even more questions…because that way of killing is meant to send a message to those alive…but who is the message for? The husband? The mother?

The PM is delaying her cabinet reshuffle until after Labour Day…..I sense someone trying to ensure that she doesn’t rile up the unions even more….which makes me think that the new cabinet going to cause plenty pain.

So while Trinis eating themselves up over Nalini Dial’s right to express her opinion on the disappearance of Marlene Coudray’s daughter, we have more bad spending, more HCU scandals, a Minister of Education stepping on the toes of school boards and parents, a cabinet that awaiting re-configuration, 38,000 Guyanese brought in to “pick coconut”, allegedly and rumours of extortion and bribes involving government ministers…yet the bobolee of the hour is the mostly insignificant Nalini Dial!

De Vice Cyah Done!

Crime Clusterf@$k/Political Pantomime 23mts, 17dys: The Delinquent Mother

The National Mother. Photo courtesy Jyoti Communications website.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. A day that I associate with anyone, regardless of gender, who nurtures, rears, and gives care to a child. And while I thought about the men and women that have functioned as mothers in my life, I thought too about the people in charge of our government and in fact our country.

Let’s start with the National Mother and Grandmother, who, I am sure, considers herself to be a Mothering Worker!

VS Naipaul wrote a story called Maternal Instinct in his highly satirical and highly acclaimed novel Miguel Street. In it, Laura, the heroine, was a women with many children fathered by many men.

There are days I get the impression the National Mother had the country with several Child Fathers or Baby Daddies, hence the reason  the buck passing can never end with her. She doesn’t answer questions of national concern, it’s always one of the men, even when the questions are about issues that are directly linked to her, like her sister Vidwattie Newton.

Between January to May this country like it get caught in an undertow at Maracas Bay and every time we stand up to ketch weself a next wave of nonsense lick us down. In fact, I daresay that since The Keith’s Motion of No Confidence this govt has been mired in bacchanal after bacchanal, conflict after conflict… and the men who the National Mother keeps hiding behind are abusing her offspring and Kamla, typical of the mother who turns a blind eye to the abuse of her children because “the man helping out” remains silent.

Tell me on what issue has the National Mother actually spoken out on or taken a leadership role on?

Dwayne Gibbs rented a plane for $.9m, money that he had no right to use or disburse, tell me what has become of that and why, the PM hasn’t insisted that the AG put his foot down where that probe and Gibbs’ Commissionership is concerned? She is after all the head of the National Security Council so this should be an issue that concerns her and concerns her deeply. What the Crop Duster rental told us was that this government, led by Persad-Bissessar, didn’t have a crime plan in place, didn’t know procedure and protocol and were quite happy with public officials abusing public funds without being held accountable. This impression of the National Mother and her heads of household haven’t changed.

The Minister with common sense in spades!

Let’s look at Devant Maharaj, who reminds me of the surrepitiously lecherous uncle. You know, the one who always wants to hold you in that uncomfortable position on his lap for an inordinate length of time….riiiiiight! There have been a number of shitstorm clouds hovering over Maharaj’s tenure as  Minister of Transport, none more ominous than Caribbean Airlines Limited. Devant has been involved in misstep after misstep with CAL: under him a financially crippled CAL announced a profit of $200m ( a figure I was immediately sceptical about and the PP die hards called my scepticism racism); under Devant, CAL donated US$5m to the PM’s Life Fund; under Devant, previous CAL chairmen have been accused of having no common sense when it came to managing an airline; under Devant the PTSC has been accused of running a courier service for high priced prostitutes, and it is alleged that a member of the PTSC Board is running the ring…investigations still being conducted.  These are just a handful of the issues plaguing Devant; but by the 3rd or 4th complaint about Uncle Devant, shouldn’t Kamla…as mother and leader have started to ask some pointed questions herself? How exactly did she let it slide when he accused past chairmen of having no commonsense? How exactly has she managed to ignore the fact that mismanagement of CAL has happened under her government’s watch. Arthur Lok Jack, a former CAL Chairman who (according to Devant) lacked common sense, good frig up the government last week when he revealed that  more than US$100m that his board had left intact at the end of his tenure in June 2010 was now missing. A former board member, Allan Clovis, corroborated Lok Jack’s statement. Now Devant is calling for a report on the missing millions and I guess we should believe that he doesn’t know what’s going on with the airline under his purview, and further to that, that Rabindranath Moonan, who was appointed chairman because he possessed common sense by the tonne, also knows nothing about the missing millions? And in all of this the PM is silent and invisible. This isn’t buses and cars….this is the national airline, something that is crucial not just to Trinidad and Tobago but to the wider Caribbean….and not one word from the National Mother….maybe if we gave her a fleet of CAL jets to aid her constant travel she’d have more to say.

Prakash Ramadhar is another parent in this partnership who has me concerned. Most voters in 2010 had hoped that the COP would be the partner that maintained reason, honour, integrity and credibility in this political marriage. In short, we hoped the COP would be the sort of parent we could run to for sane judgement in a time of crisis. Yet we have the COP supporting the UNC in all kinds of questionable decisions Reshmi, SoE, Vidwattie…notice the rhyme scheme), but then getting their panties tied up in knots over a Mayorship.  Prakash has turned out to be just as wobbly and weak a leader as Winston Dookeran. He blows hot and cold at the same time and seems prone to telling either side, whether it’s Kamla or his supporters, precisely what they want to hear. Praksh is precisely the sort of fence sitter that I like to avoid….because he’ll see abuse and justify it as necessary for the child’s  development!

Tim “the tool man”…..i’ll stop there….

Then there’s Tim…..what to not say about Tim Goopeesingh boy? This is a man who spent his previous term in office with the UNC under a fog of suspicion for many things: ghost gang doctors; RHA monies missing; heart and dialysis machines missing and ending up in private hospitals; RHA budget being used to pay for his family’s regular restaurant bills….all of these accusations were being levelled at Goopeesingh, yet Kamla, in her wisdom, as National Mother felt that this is precisely the sort of man she wanted to expose to the nation all over again and this time in education.

He has turned out to be abrasive, aggressive and exclusive in his approach to much of what he is doing at the Ministry. Stakeholders are complaining that they are not a part of the decision making process as regards the SEA exam….a crucial part of our education system. Further, Tim has taken to antagonising teachers now. Openly complaining about perks and benefits that teachers, their union and the Ministry of Education would have collectively agreed on and adding fuel to already tense situations. The latest furore is that the format of the SEA exam is about to change in 2013. 1 year’s notice to change an exam that makes or breaks the future of most children and citizens here. If this transition isn’t handled properly this current government could be damaging the future of the nation’s education system…and I am once again reminded of Kamla’s tenure as Education minister when secondary education for all was instituted and the government she served rushed to rent unventilated buildings to put children in. It was under her tenure as minister that knives, forks and flatware went missing from the ministry and had to be returned.

When the UNC described Kamla as the mother of the nation in 2010, the images conjured was of a responsible caregiver, here to nurture, not boof; encourage, not dictate. Instead the type of mother we have gotten smacks of someone who got pregnant too young. We got a National Mother who more interested in shopping, travelling and dressing up….we got a National mother who lies, abuses state funds and when caught sleeping on the job puts the responsibility on the men around her.

I think we should award Kamla as Delinquent National Mother of the Year! Party hard, grandma….you rock on with yuh bad self!

 

De Vice Cyah Done!

 

Crime Clusterf@$k/Political Pantomime 23mts, 7dys: Back Pedalling!

Cheryl Miller on the steps of the High Court. Photo courtesy Trinidad Guardian website.

All yuh read the latest installment of  MillerGate? Cheryl Miller has been freed and the State boil down faster than a pot of bhagee on an open flame over the issue! Today’s Guardian says: During yesterday’s hearing, Senior Counsel Russell Marineau, who appeared for Hypolite, said it wasn’t his client’s wishes to have Miller kept at the hospital. So wait…after the State grabbed the woman from her desk, diagnosed her, commit her and kept her in St Ann’s for two weeks it’s no longer Dr Ian Hypolite’s wish to keep Miller at the hospital? Martineau trying to be funny here? Miller and her lawyers have kept quiet about whether they plan to sue the state….but Cheryl, girl…..I hope you take them to the damn cleaners!!!!

 

 

Prakash Ramadhar, that eminent lawyer and COP leader has made backpedalling into a damned Bel Air dance…..one minute he gather up he dress tail and edging back, next minute he smiling and coquettish and mincing forward. We should find him a partner for Dancing With the Stars, because this man has talent. And note too that is not just Ramadhar who backing back on issues with the Government, COP Councillors are now voicing unwavering support for Marlene since Prakash emerged from Wednesday’s meeting. These are the same councillors who weeks ago were saying they couldn’t work with Marlene. Now Marlene is suing Deputy MAyor and COP member, Navi Muradali to the tune of $650,000 for making defamatory statements against her when tempers were flaring weeks ago on the MarleneGate issue.
What has happened to change everyone’s mind all of a sudden? Do I need to ask? And people wonder why I call this thing a pantomime?

The Law Association missing $284,000 from their accounts and fraud is suspected.

And we have hit rock bottom here in terms of crime, so much so, that when Police actually do their jobs and patrol neighbourhoods and respond to distress calls and nab the bandits…it becomes a story, written with such an undertone of delight and surprise over policemen who actually doing what they are already paid to do. Makes me wonder if the next time I stand in a classroom if a reporter will be there to cover it!

 

De Vice Cyah Done!