It is the middle of Silly Season in Tobago, in a THA elections that has been hijacked by the Central Government and turned into a full blown circus. TOP and the UNC are using the creative genius of the mastermind behind the Tobago Great Fete to run its THA campaign and this genius has helped to turn the THA Election into a proper monster. Coupled with Silly Season are three other very serious issues happening here in Trinidad that I’m sure the Government is hoping no one pays attention to.
Full Dotish 1 Race Baiting to the nth Degree: If you’ve never experienced Great Fete Weekend in Tobago count yourself fortunate. I had the misfortune once. I was 18 and in Tobago visiting relatives when my sister and I decided to head down to Store Bay to lime and swim. We went about midday and stayed until later afternoon and got caught in the start of a beach party that was part of the Great Fete weekend festivities. It was at 18, on a beach in Store Bay, that I saw how easily women can be molested and sexually assaulted for being dressed in swimsuits and present at a beach fete. The attitude of the men around was that women were at the fete for sex or at least foreplay. We left the beach before sunset and I have thereafter carefully avoided Great Fete weekend. It’s frowned upon by many Tobagonians. They see it as just another event where rude Trinidadians invade their quiet island for more rum and revelry. But Sandbox Promotions has a good thing going at Crown Point and it generates revenue. I guess it must be on that basis that Sandbox has been given leeway to shape the TOP campaign. A campaign that now resembles a ghetto fete gone wrong. The Calcutta Ship ad, that is helping to promote the same racism that the TOP and UNC claim to be against has finally been pulled…and I feel that ad has backfired on them. Because while Sandbox might know how to throw a fete in Tobago, I’m yet to be convinced that Sandbox knows how to throw an election campaign and I will explain why.
In an island as devoutly Protestant as Tobago, and suspicious of any practice that is Unorthodox, why on earth would you arrange for the PM who is both Hindu and Spiritual Baptist and rude to read at a pulpit. While that may be playing to a TOP audience, it’s not likely to go off as well with many other residents of the island.
Using children to send a rude message to the THA Chief secretary is another No-No. Tobagonians still admire things like manners, class and respectability. Sandbox entertainment has introduced a level of crassness and vulgarity to an election campaign that is normally never this heated or hectic. TOP’s response to Hilton Sandy’s Calcutta Ship has only served to take the race talk up several notches and anger Tobagonians and Trinis alike. Now to add fuel to the fire Skippy Barrington Thomas has asked the Equal Opportunities Commission to launch a probe into Sandy’s comments. A move that is likely to go nowhere but will continue to stir up hate and disgust. It’s almost as if UNC and TOP revelling in the morass now. Sandy has since issued two apologies for his race-imbued comments, yet that seems to matter little in the scheme of things….this from a party that is home to the likes of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Devant Maharaj, Nizam Mohammed and Jack Warner.
To see Tobago’s politics fall into the this type of behaviour that is typical of Trinidad politics is saddening. To see the UNC/TOP that constantly describes itself as the NEW POLITICS/ALL INCLUSIVE party with no evidence to support such claims, continue to promote the race-baiting is beyond disgusting. But congratulations to SandBox entertainment members who have managed to extend the ethos of Great Fete into wider Tobago.
Full Dotish 2 Operation Police State: I wont go into lengthy details here but crime gone clear. And I am not just referring to murders, but to what is fuelling the murders – the gun and drug trade – trades that are closely linked to all kinds of white collar corruption here like fraud and money laundering. Trinidad rotten from head to tail, but the only Crime Initiatives ever implemented here are ones to deal with the poor working underclass in selected areas that are primarily black or feature people that resemble John Sandy. In 2010 when the PP decided to cancel the OPVs their comments were that the Drug and Crime wars weren’t at sea but on land. And so they were moving the fight to the land. This same government implemented policies that made our borders porous. This same government created loopholes and gaps in our borders to allow for drugs and guns to enter Trinidad freely. These porous borders led to the crisis that caused 11 murders in 2 days and for Kamla in haste and fear to call a SoE and then use the cover of a SoE to target Afro-descended people living in poor urban and rural areas with the blessings of most of the wealthy and middle class of Trinidad.
Now we have Jack Warner promising to give 1000 soldiers precepted powers and the setting up of not 1 but 5 military bases around the island. After this government’s abuse of power during the SoE, after Warner abused his power as Minister of Nat Sec and turned Police and Military on a group of Highway protesters; after the fiasco that is Section 34, are we really to trust this government with this National security policy? Can Warner be trusted? Soldiers with arrest powers? Really? And no one wants to see that we are heading towards a state where too much power is falling into the hands of armed forces?
And of course you have members of the business community, such as Daphne Bartlett issuing the following statements:”president of the San Fernando Business Association Daphne Bartlett said the move to grant powers of arrests to soldiers was long overdue, and the army bases were being set up at key points where there could be careful monitoring of the coasts. “We support the locations that Mr Warner chose, because he acknowledged recently how porous our borders are,”. Clearly she forgot who made the borders porous and that the battles moved from the land to the sea.
Full Dotish 3 Abusive Vegendas: Women, Womanhood and the female psyche taking real abuse under this government. Back in 2010 the local feminist movement came out to speak about how chauvinist the PNM government was. That it had a very authoritative, oppressive and masculine approach to government. All of it true. To date, not a member of that same clique of women has come out to discuss the nature of the governance we are receiving under the PP. I have commented on the silence often. In a conversation last year with Gabrielle Hosein – a gender activist, lecturer in Gender studies at UWI, and in 2010 an open supporter of Kamla Persad-Bissessar as Prime Minister – I asked Ms Hosein why she had not written out against the atrocities to women under this regime and Ms Hosein explained that her workload coupled with her new-found status as a mother made it difficult for her to find the time to address these issues……..are you hearing the crickets that playing right now?
Under Kamla’s tenure – a woman who garbs herself in vagenda clothes all the time “As a mother and a grandmother”, “we are a caring government, a compassionate government” etc – we have witnessed the rampant nepotism and corruption: excusing the abuse of state funds to pay her sister; gender-shaming the country into believing that she was being given a hard time during her campaign because she is a woman; the abuse of Sita Gajardharsingh-Nanga by Sat Maharaj with not a word said against it; the bullying and abuse of Cheryl Miller; the abuse and assault of women under the SoE by police and soldiers; and most recently San Fernando Mayor Navi Murad-Ali is reported to have physically abused his girlfriend in a public spat. Murad-Ali denies physical abuse, but admits to verbal abuse in a public sphere.
And like good Victorian-Era women, the feminists remain mute.