Barry and the Bull

Say What Barry

Roughly a week ago there was a shitstorm taking place on social media. On Saturday, October 10th, the MP for Princes Town, Barry Padarath, gave his maiden presentation. Padarath’s fiery debut was quickly followed by Darryl Smith, also a first time MP giving his maiden contribution. Smith used his opening remarks, and intervals in his speech, to poke fun at Padarath’s effeminate mannerisms which left a sour taste in the mouths of many viewing the 2016 Budget Debate.

That same day, during and after Padarath’s speech, a Facebook profile belonging to the Finance Minister made comments that also poked fun at Padarath’s effeminate manner. The Trini penchant for double entendre kicked into overdrive, and the word bull – used as a sexual reference in the patois, and also used to describe homosexual intercourse in the pejorative – was enjoying the limelight for a few hours. Minister Imbert would, that same evening, distance himself from the comments. He insisted that he had been hacked and that whoever was in control of his profile then was responsible for the comments. By Sunday October 11th what Smith and the person controlling Imbert’s profile thought was picong became a serious issue with members of the public shouting at each other over social media and talk radio about gay rights, gender equity and bullying.

The LGBT community was immediately up in arms and defending Padarath. And rightly so. There are multiple ways to exhibit manliness and to be a man, just as there are different forms of femininity and womanhood. Padarath’s way of expressing masculinity may not be mainstream in a society that is very chauvinistic, but his mannerisms don’t make him any less of a human being or deserving of respect. Just like being black, assertive, straightforward and male shouldn’t make any person fair game for names like raging bull, rottweiller, wajang, rapist and pedophile. But it seems, certainly given the responses of some members of the LGBT community, that some versions of masculinity are more deserving of defending than others. Which is unfortunate.

To date Smith has apologised for his comments and to the LGBT community. PM Rowley held a Cabinet meeting to bring his MPs and Ministers to order. Imbert, well, remains Imbert. And political correctness is whipping picong into submission.

The uproar this week over the bullying of Barry showed that there is a growing awareness of sensitivity to gender and orientation issues. There was much needed discussion. But something got lost in all the talk of princesses and bull, and that was Padarath’s abuse of his influence and privilege as a member of Parliament which resulted in him bullying us.

Saturday October 10th was day 2 of the Opposition’s response to the Budget. The role of every MP in the Lower House is two-fold: represent the interests of your constituents, and assist with shaping legislation by contributing to the debate. In Padarath’s 55 minutes, where did he fulfil any of this? List one concrete suggestion he made for the looming economic crisis? List one plan he detailed for his constituents? These are serious questions. Barry isn’t in Parliament to serve as an LGBT poster boy. I have no clue what his orientation is, nor do I need to know. What I am clear on is that he is there to represent the residents of Princes Town. All of them. And his debate contribution thus far, fell woefully short of doing any of that. If he did want to be the LGBT poster boy though, surely flawless execution of his role and duties as a member of Parliament would only help that community?

Padarath’s presentation was filled with equal measures of sound and fury. He delivered half-baked lessons on Sanskrit, syllables and religious salutations. He repeatedly threw down the gauntlet at the Cabinet, with special attention to Ministers Deyalsingh and Imbert. He joked about Imbert’s height and Deyalsingh’s pronunciation of his name. Taunted the government with his own sexual innuendoes about looking forward to a good pounding from their bench, and regularly trumpeted that Kamla was his queen. In a democracy (I have no words). I sat through Padarath’s speech waiting for him to actually and actively address the Budget by way of the figures and allocations. Something the Opposition is yet to seriously do. He announced that he was the shadow minister for culture during his tirade. I waited for his recommendations and suggestions for Culture and Community Development. There were none.

It was fifty five minutes of a maiden speech that was both taunting and haranguing. A week later the country is still focused on Barry being bullied; but there is little discussion of how Barry dropped the ball. Apart from bombast, his presentation featured fluent inaccuracies that would have made it into the Hansard. Was that laziness on his part, or an abuse of his privilege as a Parliamentarian. Will Padarath now hide behind the protection the LGBT community has afforded him by waving the bully card when challenged in Parliament and continue to deliver half baked, boastful, substance-less contributions? Much the same way Kamla waved the gender card to explain away her weakness and mismanagement as a leader? Is he going to give his constituents a six for a nine for the next five years? Or will Barry surprise us all and cut through the bull?

Perjoratives and slurs aren’t the only types of insults that can be wielded in the House of Representatives. Sloppy under prepared debate presentations go a long way in generating disgust too. I want to believe that both Government and Opposition will step their game up and fulfil their real roles as MPs. Otherwise we can simply hire 41 circus clowns and get on with the entertainment.



Performance and Personalities: The Campaign Against Rowley

conspiracy against rowleyEngineering dirt and flinging it into interesting patterns on the public wall aren’t anything remotely new to politics; and certainly not new to ours.

As early as 1961, our electoral process was plagued with ethnic tensions that led to questionable behavior. Rudy Capildeo, then leader of the DLP, overwhelmed by the tensions plaguing the elections, in a fiery call to arms in front of the Governor’s Residence in Port of Spain, announced to his supporters, “You will be called to arms. Wherever the PNM holds a meeting, you will have to break it up.” Throughout that election campaign there was the persistent rumor of a group of black men roaming the country looking for women to rape. Sound familiar? Echoes of Hulsie X?

In the course of the campaign, violence broke out and limited states of emergency had to be declared in St Augustine, Barataria,Caroni East and Chaguanas.

In the post-Williams era there was the infamous gun hoax created by ONR candidates Surujrattan Rambachan (Oropuche) and Unanan Persad (Caroni East). Rambachan and Persad claimed to be driving along Gaston-Johnson Street, Chaguanas, when shots were fired at their vehicle. Rambachan blamed the Panday-led ULF and accused the Prime Minister, George Chambers, of encouraging violence.  Shortly after reporting the incident to the police, and making much of the attack at political meetings in Diego Martin, it was discovered that the shooting was a hoax. Rambachan and Persad had shot bullets into their vehicle themselves and made a false report to the police. Neither was charged for wasting the Police’s time or discharging a fire arm. The Trinidad Guardian of November 3rd, 1981 carries the story. Feel free to check it out.

Between 1981 to the present, there have been numerous attempts at mud slinging, smear campaigns and conspiracies. During the May 2010 election campaign there was an alleged assassination attempt on the life of then Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Since then it seems assassination attempts on the PM, whether by tins of Matouk’s peas, random Muslims or ghosts are the order of the day. These attempts are meant to encourage empathy and sympathy for the Prime Minister. Look at this poor, beleaguered, hard working woman. Everybody wants to kill her, even canned food.

Two nights ago (June 5th, 2014), at a public meeting in San Juan, a rare thing happened: Camille Robinson-Regis revealed the details to a smear campaign by the UNC against Opposition Leader Keith Rowley in the midst of its very failed execution.

The emails revealed a group that comprises government ministers, the Canadian High Commissioner, the former UK ambassador, advisers to the PM, media and public relations specialists and everybody’s favorite Facebook racist:PEAnuts.

In an email dated Friday, May 16, 2014 12:02:25PM, sent from Rodney Charles to approximately 17 people, he says:

“We propose launching a full scale attack on Keith Rowley come the morning of May 19th 2014 ie the morning after his expected landslide victory. We absolutely need to bring down his polling ratings.”

Then on Saturday, May 31 2014 in an email whose subject is, “Make this Happen and everybody wins”, someone by the name of Roodal is enthusiastic and responds to an email sent to him by someone called Phillip Alexander by saying: “This is a great idea.” 

The idea Phillip Alexander has pitched to him is:

Every evening from six to seven on CNMG there could be a one hour show called “Equal Time” hosted by yours truly…”

conspiracy against rowley 2

Apart from the concept of the show, what struck me about the e-mail exchanges are the time stamps.

Phillip Alexander sends his original message at 9:58 am on Sat 31st, May. Roodal responds at 11:23 am. And by 13:18:06, the emails have been sent to someone who has PNM sympathies. Chris Brown was right….these hoes aint loyal. Is this a case of surveillance and interception….or does the UNC ship have some major leaks in its very inner cabal?

If the final message forwarded came from Roodal’s email, who did he forward the messages to?

An election is constitutionally due by September 2015. The UNC/PP Govt has not a chance in hell of winning it, despite Kamla’s sustained popularity. There are simply too many scandals and missteps to sidestep during next year’s campaign.

Usually an incumbent party campaigns on its track record. Boasting about its achievements with regards to new legislation and infrastructure.

This Government has a dismal track record with legislation. From Section 34 to Soldier Bill, to DNA Bill to Dangerous Dogs, no one is happy with how inefficient a Cabinet filled with lawyers are at drafting legislation.  And in terms of infrastructural development, the SNC Lavallin fiasco colors one planned hospital and the Point Fortin and Debe to Mon Desir Highway routes are riddled with protests and accusations of corruption.

We need not even go back to their 7 Pillars of Sustained Development Manifesto to know that every promise made remains unfulfilled.

What is patently obvious is that they are extremely aware of their poor track record, but will stop at nothing to return to power.

Their strategies though, have not improved with time.

They include:

1. Circle the wagons of support around the leader and have the party base lash out in a wild, incoherent frenzy at anyone who dares to criticize her. Go to any of their support pages on FB – True Trinis Discussing Real Issues or even the UNC Group administered by Allan Karim. See what passes for debate and idea exchange there.

2. Raising the race bogey – a topic i intend to touch on in a later blog. Despite the numerous acts of race-baiting by Kamla herself and members of her government, her party has now started a campaign that seeks to paint the Opposition as racist. The hope is that their support base will continue to support them.

3. Target and smear the leader. In 2010 it was Manning. Manning’s Squandermania, Manning and Calder Hart, Manning and Juliana Pena, Manning and Duprey/CLICO, Manning  and the Guanapo Church, Manning’s secret love child, Manning, Manning, Manning. It’s simple really. You need to give the electorate a focus. A symbol of what they hate or resent about their governance. Because the UNC is now the government, the focus will be on Rowley and all of the secret racial tensions and fears will be played upon: a black man in power will mean suffering for Indians; blacks in charge will mean less access to resources, rape, violence; we can’t put back a black Prime Minister. Already the messages are there, subliminally and overtly. And unfortunately, most of our electorate  will make no effort to separate truth from fact and examine issues.

What needs to happen during this campaign year is that the focus must be kept solely on performance and track record. We, the electorate, must rise above the noise and examine the UNC/PPs track record from 2010 to whenever an election date is called; and we must examine the PNM’s track record, specifically Rowley’s achievements and skills, because Manning has been removed from all leadership positions and has stated he won’t be running in the next election.
Compare the track records of the two leaders before us: Keith and Kamla.

Let’s make 2015 about performance, not smear campaigns against personalities.


What Khadija Could Mean



I have been saying to my friends more than a week now that Jack Warner isn’t going to win Chaguanas West, nor is he likely to even run for the seat as an Independent because politically, for both him and the UNC, it doesnt make sense. If Warner runs in this by-election it will be because of pride….not because it makes good political sense.

Kamla Racist statement At Pepper Junction

The PM, in between delivering comments that remind us of Paula Deen : ” The PNM has chosen one of your children to come up against us. I ask you to show him the error of his ways and vote for UNC.” just announced Khadija Ameen as the UNC’s Chaguanas West candidate for the by-election.

I think lots of folks are hoping Warner will run as an Independent….but I doubt it.

Warner running as an Independent means UNC votes are split even further down the line. No PNM or marginal voter will stain their fingers in all good conscience…rather it will be die-hard UNC supporters willing to ignore all the corruption allegations in exchange for hand-outs and box drains.

Warner running effectively pits him against the party he finances and helped to bring to govt. Warner running against Ameen, puts him out of the UNC…..that would be playing into the hands of his detractors…, unless Warner has decided that he going to bring this government down….and that seems counterproductive to me, because it could lead to his undoing….I suspect that he will gran dcharge a little and then bow out of the by-election race.

Him bowing out does several things: it allows the UNC to be rid of the corruption albatross that is Warner, and to put a fresh face in Parliament that has no large corruption allegations attached to it. What folks will say about Ameen is that the is very inept at her job at the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation. We’ve all seen the video circulating of her asleep at a Regional Corporation meeting.

They might also tell you that her relationship with Warner goes back a long time….since her Guild Politics and LGE councillor days…So if Ameen wins the seat…’s almost as if Warner won it….almost.

What I’m not sure about though is what will Jack do? Will he go quietly into that good night? And if so, is that a good thing or bad?

What I do know is this…UNC cant afford to lose this seat. The fight going to be messy and nasty….Kamla has fired her first “We Vs Them” Salvo and it is openly prejudiced. It’s Calcutta Ship all over again.

If Warner runs….he has cut ties with the party.

If he doesnt….this is all part of a larger strategy to clean up the party’s name.

Prepare for a month of Full Dotish!


Notes from the Pink Palace…the Pre-Budget Feeding Frenzy

The PM’s private residence out of which she does official business. Photo courtesy Trinidad Guardian website.


It is alleged that the following are notes from 3 COP members who were present at the Pre-Budget meeting at the Pink Palace representing the COP. Names have been removed to protect sources. If these reports are indeed accurate it suggests that the COP has lost all power within the Partnership and that the feeding frenzy within the UNC is now beyond epic!

Three reports from the meeting at the PM’s residence yesterday

1)Dear NatEx Colleagues Let me share my sentiments on today’s experience at the “pre-budget discussion”

‘Our’ MP Roberts took pride in ‘chairing’ the meeting The PM had practically the entire Government in one room ‘campaigning’ to ~ 200 persons (about 5 reps. per constituency)

It seemed that the PM did not make it clear what the forum would have been to hear from all MPs.

This was a deliberate misuse of Ministerial time as it was geared ONLY towards consolidating the UNC base and nothing more.

Most persons there were not really interested in the ‘reports’ but the ‘rum & roti’ to follow

There were Board members discussing openly which Boards they want to be on next Yes, we were invited and it would have been discourteous to not attend, but the PM acted in bad faith and used our decency.

In my humble opinion our Ministers present were operating on their own and in the interest of the UNC only –( being USED by the UNC) This cannot be continued, COP MPs/ Ministers needs to be more judicious about their engagements – this was NOT an official Government event – if they can have time to meet with UNC supporters for a feeding frenzy, then they can meet with COP members.

The media was outside with zoom lenses trying to get a shot Just some thoughts.


2. Dear Colleagues We correctly assessed the purpose of the UNC gathering yesterday. Panday has trained them well. They have internalized his modus operandi – when faced with a problem, invent an “enemy” and call on the “followers” to surround the wagons to defend the “chief”.

I just heard the news where the UNC leader said ‘if 14000 don’t come to their rally they won’t be supporting their PM’. The disease of individualist self-seeking is reeking at all levels- Parliamentarians acting without reference to the party. Individuals like the one who calls herself the COP’s intellectual capacity sat in silence on Saturday night for the entire meeting and ran to the blogs with a “message to the COP leadership. Her adoring fans on the internet welcome again the display of “heroism” of a coward afraid to speak at a party forum, seeking adoration from the world. Others have also arisen from the dead, ‘back from Banbass’ to reclaim leadership positions having not lifted a finger for the COP for 2 years. We are in a situation in which the NAR fell apart and disappeared. Let us never allow that to be repeated.

3) I was surprised at the format when we got there. We did think that it was a “consultation,” a round-table discussion, maybe. Now there is going to be a pre-budget rally at “Mid-Center Mall” on Saturday. They are rallying their forces, troops.

De Vice Cyah Done

Is TEAM UNC COP worried about COP Walking?

Last night the media blitz to distract from section 34 began with the Panchayat announcing the Pre-Budget rally or Budget Matikor. Online they began boasting that Rowley brought out 5000, but they would bring out 40,000. This morning they posted a list of all the corruption under the PNM…perhaps forgetting conveniently that in 2010 they were hired to root out and put an end to corrupt politics.

The Oppposition Leader’s Office also put out a corresponding list with 63 items that has since been added to by the public.

The intriguing thing is that on Public Walls they are being proud, boastful and unrepentent over the fiasco that is Section 34, but behind closed doors there is fear that the COP will walk and possibly TOP and Errol McLeod.

Take a read. I’ve deleted names and e-mail addresses:
  • Oh gord man COP man, doh go nah.
    I remember when I was small and the fellows in my village used to come home after drinking their rum in the rumshops.
    It is then they would look for fight among their fellow-villagers.
    We used to be so amused to hear them say even as they brandished their cutlasses.
    “Hold mih back! Allyuh hold mih back before I kill the so-and-so today.”
    Those drunkards did not mean it then, and the COP does not mean their threats today. 
    They just looking for some verbal support. 
    If they could only understand that they are important to the coalition, not as an opposition party, but as support for the government of mainly UNC members.
    Comparatively speaking, they are a small proportion of the coalition, but they act like dictators of the pace.
    I guess that is because of their percieved heights of academic achievements have made their heads too large for their bodies. 
    And that is a pity, because this attitude of theirs can ruin all that this government has set out to do. 


    To: JahajeeDesi

    Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2012 16:50:30 -0400
    Subject: [FREE SPEECH] _ Re: [So COP leaves the PP, then what?]_ Open Letter To The COP

    There are more things under heaven and earth TEAM UNC-COP than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    Only the wicked and the blind ask what’s next when the decision is one of morality.

    On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:40 PM, TEAM UNC-COP wrote:


    OK, so let’s say COP leaves the PP government. TEAM UNC-COP & CCDSJintl organization – all our online groups and Facebook pages – are absolutely against this; we are for stronger and more forceful demands by COP to the PP leadership so that we can have better governance,  but totally against COP leaving the PP govt. 
    BUT, since so many are asking or implying COP to leave, let’s come to that situation where COP leaves, on Tuesday Sep 25th 2012. THEN WHAT? COP does what? what next for COP? There is no point asking COP to leave the PP without telling us where does COP go from there?  
    – COP Ministers out of govt so PP appoints others as Ministers. OK. We don’t know how many Ministers will resign from the Govt and COP can’t force anyone to resign from the govt. Anil stays with PP. Who else stays? who leaves? 
    – COP MPs remain as MP. OK.  All of them?
    – COP councilors remain as councilors. OK. Local elections coming up in 2013, will COP field candidates in this election, for a 3-way race, line in 2007?
    – COP is now Opposition B in Parliament. OK. So what?
    – PP govt continues, still with a majority in Parliament. So now what does COP do?

    It wasn’t going to be easy, this amalgam or coalition of parties and people in the PP; and few expected the PP to be so damn bad! But, more expected COP to say more, do more, and demand more. COP can still do that, for the next 30 months.  A major problem facing COP is the MATH: they don’t have the numbers and PP can still remain in govt without COP. Another major problem is a human behavior one: COP people who have positions in the govt will not leave jsut to satisfy the urgings of others who want them to leave, why should they? People behave in that way, whether we like it or not. 

    So, what is the role of a post-PP COP? and why is this better than COP in the PP now? And, how does this benefit COP, how does this benefit T&T?

    Subject: Re: Open Letter To The COP

    Am I hearing the bugles of Rowley calling the flock home?????
    J 🙂

    Activist KBA wrote:
    > Dear Executive and Members Of the COP,

    > It is my view that the Congress of the People has become a major part of the problem of governance in Trinidad and Tobago and can no longer offer any solutions to the people. We are at a juncture in our history where we need a strong voice emerging pointing to leadership that we can support and trust. Leadership that offers sincere committment to national development; to bringing harmony and balance to the four races of man that co-exist in this space; to assisting this nation to understand the time and align itself with the awakening to the new reality that is emerging in the earth out of the debris of collapsed systems; to practical and comprehensive programs and policies that would facilitate us to overcome ignorance and prejudice and conquer the mountains of culture, society, economy, politics, religion, media and education.

    > From its inception the COP has spoken disparagingly about the nature of the UNC. I find it very unfortunate that having decided to join with the UNC to attain government, the COP can still find nothing good to say about the UNC two and almost a half years later. What is most disturbing is that the COP expects to stay in a partnership with the UNC, convey to all and sundry how rotten they think that they( the UNC) are and expect the electorate to not recognize the COP as vulgar hypocritical parasites. The COP is turning out to be worse than the UNC. The whole nation knows where it stands with the UNC. For the COP to stay in the Partnership and pretend that it is superior and different to the UNC is tantamount to taking the nation for fools. Marriage is the act of becoming one. Therefore this continuing political marriage makes the COP one with the UNC.

    > Imagine the COP now claiming that the Prime Minister’s Childrens’ Life Fund and the laptop distribution plan originated with the COP. So what is the point here? Why the confusion? Is it that we can no longer even expect a proper interpretation of the Constitution from the COP. The Constitiution establishes the Opposition as the watchdogs of the government for and on behalf of the people. I am hearing the COP claiming that status. Everybody with sense knows that the implementers are not supposed to be the evaluators. It is an obvious conflict of interest. The COP wants to be the government and the Opposition too. How gauche. This is schizophrenia if you ask me.The COP has to make up its mind whether it is part of a desirable government or an undesirable one. No part of a rotten egg is edible.

    > It is very sad to see how the COP has so easily abandoned its principles, prograammes and even its pretense at sincerety in exchange for the trappings of power and prestige. The argument has been put forward by the COP that you cannot do anything if you are outside of government. Well that is true, especially if you have not been able to do anything inside the government. Not even own and lay claim to your own projects. I have lost all respect for this sad spectacle that is parading as the COP.

    > We the people of Trinidad and Tobago are suffering through the agony of an attack against our constitution from within the Parliament itself; we are suffering through the spectre of every watchdog of our democracy sleeping while our democracy was being vandalized; we are suffering through the terror of a great void in leadership and governance; our trust in all our institutions has been eroded as we look at partners, presiding over those institutions, who neither respect nor trust each other.

    > Our one hope was that the real COP, the one that we thought we voted for in 2010 would emerge and reclaim its brand, its fire , its principles and most importantly, its own identity. Alas, this is not to be.The PNM has lost its way too a long time ago.What will we do now? The people must make the next move. Organize! Organize! Organize!


What Independence?




A few weeks ago  we all celebrated Usain Bolt’s victory in the men’s 100m finals as one Caribbean. Bolt didn’t run for the red white and black, but we were happy for him and Jamaica. As he preened before the camera in his inimitable style, he reminded his detractors that he had promised Jamaica a birthday present. It was a lovely present that he and his fellow sprinters gave to Jamaica this at the Olympics: gold and silver medals and the promise that Jamaica was making strides on the international stage. As the other Caribbean island celebrating its 50th year of Independence in the Caribbean, Jamaica has done theirs with considerably more style and passion than Trinidad and Tobago. I keep having to remind myself that we are in our month of celebrations too. Despite 50 years of achievements there seems to be precious little happening to commemorate anything. Go over to iTunes and you will see that Jamaica has a series of podcasts titled How Jamaica Conquered the World. The series looks at the ways in which the little island has become a cultural giant. Months before August 6th their Independence song was launched and on the lips of its citizens. Here in Trinidad we have an ambassador to Geneva who doesn’t know the words to our anthem, and a foreign service so bogged down in politics little can be done about her. Instead of an Independence song, we have one artist getting a grant to produce a record with foreign artistes on it. Instead of a national song competition, we now have the 50th Anniversary Chutney competition and a separate Calypso Competition. Separate distinct and apart. And the chutney form is there to give a pretence at ethnic parity, because no musician worth his salt will ever be convinced that the chutney form is perfect for narrative and story telling. The classic chutney song depends on repetition and a hook line. And let’s not forget the embarrassing website the Ministry of Planning had to pull down about a month ago.

It seems as if 50 years later our road to independence is mired in as much controversy and confusion as when we started. And that’s another thing. There’s absolutely no attempt to talk about the nation’s path to self-autonomy and independence because it brings two things to the fore: the PNM’s role as architect of the Independence movement, and the ethnic groups who lobbied against the movement. It really wouldn’t do, fifty years later to remind the country that there were groups here that we’re entirely against Trinidad and Tobago gaining independence and some groups even went so far as to petition the Colonial Office to persuade them to not grant the colony independence. Similar groups were also against the West Indian Federation forming; and the reason given on all occasions was the fear of ethnic dominance by a black government.

I can’t see the People’s Partnership government wanting anyone to bring up the petitions of 1925 by Indian groups requesting political ethnic segregation of the island. It was turned down by Major Wood on the grounds that if one ethnic group asked for it, what was to prevent all groups present from wanting their separate legislatures.

I doubt very much too that the Partnership will want a history of Independence that shows the DLP and its leaders then, such as Bhadase Sagan Maharaj and Rudranath Capildeo, as being opposed to the idea of Independence and strenuously so. They probably also don’t want excerpts of that famous letter of 1958 to be part of the historical record anymore, because then it raises questions about loyalty, nationalism, civic pride and intentions. Difficult questions that 50 years later we are uncomfortable asking and answering. And they remain difficult because we still have people here, from all groups that think Independence was a bad idea and that Trinidad and Tobago started going downhill August 31st, 1962.

When you pair this history and these sentiments along with the dismal planning of our milestone anniversary despair creeps in. In a country where we are capable of throwing exciting impromptu limes and sumptuous all-inclusive fetes; in a country where not more than four years ago with a constrained economy we successfully held two international summits; in a country where every government is accused of treating Parliament like a fete…we can’t celebrate ourselves.

Instead what we will get in lieu of a celebration is a series of policies that are really an election campaign in disguise, with tax payer’s money being shared out to party hacks as part of the celebration. And while the party hacks get fatter, things like history and culture get thrown aside. Every single group in this country should have had their arrival and their achievements here be celebrated. Instead what we have is a government so afraid of its mediocrity that it denies the successes of any other group; and so preoccupied with holding onto the reins of power it strangles any kind of progress and development. It’s not even August 31st yet and already the number 50 has become empty of meaning: a hollow reminder that though we have travelled far we seem to have learned precious little from the journey.

Unsustainable Development People’s Panchayat Style

“Coming from the canefields and rough dwellings of Chaguanas, the Capildeo family led by Simbhoo had little idea what to do with their new domain, which had been sold to them cheap by the Maillards because it was unprofitable. To the dismay of the people in the local village, the area around the house became squalid, in its beautiful setting. ‘They did a kind of peasant agriculture,’ said Vido later, ‘burning own the hillsides and planting corn, maize and peas. They pillaged the oranges from the orange trees, took the avocadoes. They planted nothing. They were camping…It was all so improvised, all so dreadful. We were given a very low idea of human needs. I think without anybody knowing, this was coming from Mother India, from a beaten-down, broken-down people. Trees were uprooted and the house re-worked. A big, unfamiliar brick oven was taken apart, and the area beside it roofed over in corrugated iron and tree branches. The verandah was used to store crops and old bread, which Nanie would buy in bulk from a baker in Port of Spain. The indoor water closet with its European cistern and chain was dismantled, and an outdoor latrine built in the woods…the WC offended the Hindu sense of cleanliness and so it was destroyed. It became a room where people sewed…I am talking about people who were close to immemorial peasantry. An ornamental cherry tree by the tennis court on the side of the main drive was turned into logs. ‘There was no reason to chop it down. Where we come from ancestrally, there are no trees – they think spirits hide in trees. While the children watched in excitement, Uncle Simbhoo supervised the destruction of the electricity generator, the leaves of lead being melted in a large pot and tipped into Ovaltine tins; pipes were put between the tins and the molten metal hardened, creating dumb-bells for the Mausas [maternal uncles] to use for exercise.’I think they played with them for a while and then forgot them’. The house was lit by oil lamps now, like the Lion House. Vido’s retrospective cynicism was matched by the memory of Margaret Maillard, the granddaughter of the vendor, who visited. ‘It was a roomy house. The Capildeos were very gracious to us when we came but we were horrified by the way they had partitioned it.” – The World Is What It Is by Patrick French pp 33-34.

VS Naipaul, for all his cynicism, has been for me one of the most insightful critics of our society. If you want a concise analysis of local politics, read The Suffrage of Elvira. If you want to understand the inner workings of the dispossessed post-colonial or of Hindu families, well the ones that identify as Brahmin anyway, read A House for Mr Biswas; if you want to understand the ambitions and machinations of the average Trinbagonian to get ahead in this post-colonial space, read Mystic Masseur; of course, if you want to understand the ambition of every single Trinidadian (not I didn’t say Trinbagonian) read Miguel Street….everybody here is a charlatan, willing to do a little or a lot of bobol to get ahead. And to understand the ambitions of this lot that we currently have in our overly large parliament and on every state board, read Mimic Men.

Since 1995, at the start of each election season, I read Suffrage. Since Kamla became Prime Minister, Mystic Masseur is on the home page of my Kindle, because I are prutty, prutty certain that the PM being very suckastic in my pussonal with every move that she and her small goal team makes. But this small goal team is beginning to remind me more and more of a horde of locusts, hence the quote from Naipaul’s biography. The very first time I read the biography it struck me that here was this prominent family moving out of a rural area into the more urbane Diego Martin, a kind of country bookie-come-to-town scenario and Naipaul’s depiction of his family is almost cruel, but since it is his account to give, I must assume that he has been truthful. Not more than a year after first reading this passage I would meet Patrick French and talk about this excerpt, and subsequently met a member of the Maillard family as well, who confirmed the horror and incomprehension at the destruction of the house in Petit Valley by its new owners.

I think it is with a similar horror that I am looking on at the governance of Trinidad and Tobago. In the first six months of the PP’s reign I held my peace, wanting to give them a chance to prove the naysayers wrong. Although from within a month of them taking over ownership of the Cabinet and Parliament I’d had misgivings, my attitude was that the PNM had done a lot of nonsense with their last 8 years of tenure, let’s see if this coalition would at least make an effort to turn things around.
And for me, I didn’t need ambitious gestures from this government. My wishes were simple: Equity, Public Consultation and Transparency with policies and the public purse. I didn’t expect crime to disappear, but I didn’t expect to see a man with allegations of corruption surrounding him being in charge of my security, nor did I expect that all the crime initiatives of the previous regime would be so unceremoniously dismantled with nothing new or viable put in place. I also didn’t expect that the government’s crime initiatives would all be ethnically driven. Now we have Hoops for Life in predominantly black communities, because I guess in other neighbourhoods there is no need for crime initiatives or basketball courts, yes? And hotspots and Orange T-Shirts are only for economically depressed areas like Beetham and Laventille, while in other areas we give out Food Cards and CEPEP contracts. The country is now in the National Security latrine pit and Kamla couldn’t give a hoot.

I had hoped that this government would move away from welfare, and actually make good on its 7 Pillars of Sustainable Development. So I waited on the diversified economy, only to realise that tar sand from south Trinidad, and Tobago’s territorial waters are their new areas of exploitation. So screw the environment and eonomic diversification, we are still going for bust on a fuel economy. Interestingly enough, our non-fuel producing neighbours higher up the Caribbean are less and less interested in buying our fuel and have begun exploring water, wind and solar sources of energy for when it’s no longer economically viable to purchase fuel. Here in Triniad we wave beakers at the cameras and say “God is ah Trini”. We keep cutting down the trees around the estate with the hope that without replanting they will miraculously replenish themselves. Or maybe the current owners don’t really care about the future of the estate, so why bother to plant new trees, just migrate to a different estate…riiiight? And in the meantime, while we here, keep all the useful resources within the family.

Education and healthcare are two other areas in which we seem to be regressing, and I had thought we’d hit rock bottom under the previous owners of this estate, but the People’s Partnership have really surpassed my expectations. Where I had hoped to see a cleaning up of the inefficiencies of the education system: delinquent staff; cluttered and inefficient administrative system on Alexandra Street; a phasing out of SEA and better use of National Tests; technical and vocational programmes that cater to alternate intelligences; a wider implementation of teaching styles and equipment that will enable students with varied learning abilities, instead what we got was the wholesale giving away of laptops to an education system wherein neither the teachers nor the curriculum was adequately geared towards proper incorporation of the technology.
So while it sounds good to say every child has a laptop, how exactly is it being deployed and how effectively……and why are laptops being put in schools at the expense of text books?

Then you have a Minister of Health willing to scrap a nursing exam, instead of reviewing it, in order to allow more individuals to qualify as nurses. Now, with all of the concerns we have with our healthcare, all the casualties and tragedies for which no one is ever held accountable, add to that concoction nurses who don’t have to meet any criteria nationally to be allowed to give you medication, injections and patient care. Scared yet?

When you look at the present condition of the estate and the policies and attitudes of its owners, is it any wonder that we want to get rid of them? The question is, who to put in charge?

De Vice Cyah Done!