The PP dropped two bombs last night, but one was more obvious than the other and will be talked and beaten to death over the water coolers today, while the other bomb, might well remain in stealth mode for a while.
The overt bomb was of course the appearance of Sugar Aloes at the Eat Ah Food Fete. And if Aloes’ presence didn’t emphasise for use the extent of trough feeding going on under this regime then we are truly misunderstanding the ethos of this government. The whole point of producing Aloes onstage was of course to undermine the confidence of PNM supporters. It was the PP’s way of saying, “Look, even all yuh biggest critics joining us.” Then I get up this morning and see a Guardian story that says the Calypso Revue is looking for a home… this is the tent Aloes belong to…I wonder if land for the tent owners was part of Aloes’ contractual arrangement last night? The battle for Elections 2015 is well underway folks. Indeed it never stopped. This is a government that has not yet begun to rule, and has certainly never stopped campaigning.
The other bomb though, got lost in the fireworks of Aloes’ presence….and that was Prakash Ramadhar’s speech…..the Praks said plenty last night and at certain points Hansley Ajodha and Anil Roberts looked particularly perturbed and even the crowd seemed a little restless by the speech. I’m going to re-print the speech here…some of it was highlighted by the sender of the speech , so careful you don’t get prejudiced by it….but Ramadhar’s COP made a bold move last night and dropped some fighting words. Unfortunately for him Ernie Ross and the show’s organisers had the foresight to lose Ramadhar’s stage presence between several performances. So the importance and impact of what he had to say didn’t come just before Kamla’s lengthy and slurrred harangue.
There is a lot more I can and will say about the Eat Ah Food Circus Show last night….more to come..but for now, take a look at Ramadhar’s speech:
THE HONOURABLE PRAKASH RAMADHAR
POLITICAL LEADER OF THE CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE
PEOPLE’S PARTNERSHIP 2nd ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATION
MAY 24th 2012
MID CENTRE MALL CAR PARK
My friends I am here with you tonight because I want to be here. Tonight is a night to reflect on the past two years and to talk of the way forward. Tonight is a night to acknowledge all the work that we have done so far but also to identify the areas in which we need to improve.
Lest there be any doubt I want to make it clear that the Congress of the People is committed to the People’s Partnership and we will do everything we can to make this the most successful government in the history of our country.
Some people are telling me that if I mount the platform tonight, the COP will lose face. Let me make something abundantly clear: the COP will never lose if the country gains! Trinidad and Tobago stands to gain tremendouslyif the People’s Partnership Government lives up to the expectations of the population and delivers on the promises which it made in 2010. The COP will see that it does both of these.
WHERE WE CAME FROM
We must all remember, in 2007, the UNC, COP, and PNM fought independently and the PNM won 26 of the 41 seats.
Thereafter, the Congress of the People began a series of meetings with NGOs, Community and Faith-based groups, the Labour Movement including Errol Mcleod and David Abdullah, Ashworth Jack and the TOP in Tobago.
You will recall, our reaching out to the national community was termed the “Grand Consensus”, a movement or a coalition of interests which also included the beginning of a formal relationship with the United National Congress.
Many will remember that it was the COP that invited the UNC to attend its National Assembly in 2009 in San Fernando, in which the then MP for Siparia, the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar addressed COP supporters. The COP together with the Labour Movement and others demanded that the Property Tax proposal of the then Manning Government never see the light of day, and we chanted across the country “Axe the Tax”. We also stood with thousands of our citizens who shouted “No Smelter” in protest of the proposed Smelters in La Brea and Cedros, and we stood with thousands more with residents and fishermen of Claxton Bay against the Essar Steel Plant. We fought hard for a Children’s Life Fund since 2008, so that no parent will ever have to be told that they could not save their child’s life because they had no money. We stood tall in defence of our democracy against Manning’s plan for a top-down Constitution and on the alleged widespread corruption at UDECOTT and other State Boards. The Congress of the People was there when only few dared to speak out against the Manning Government.
Today there is a Children’s Life Fund. Today there are no smelters. Today there is no property tax which could see you losing your home. Today there is no stealth constitution being debated.
Two years into our first term in office, we must therefore pause and reflect. We must reflect on what the five parties that make up the Partnership came together to achieve. We must reflect on where we were going under the Manning Administration. Remember the rampant corruption? Remember the leadership style that ignored the concerns of the people? Remember the response to the voices against the smelter? Remember the fragile economy and out of control inflation?
The People’s Partnership came together to fix all that. Our parties came together to change the style of governance in Trinidad and Tobago. We promised to listen. We promised to be fair and equitable. We promised to be transparent. We promised to be the opposite of all that we stood against.
We knew that we set expectations high. We knew that it would be difficult to meet all of the expectations of the population at the same time. But this is not an excuse.
As we mark our second anniversary in Government, we are being accused of not listening. We are being accused of not being fair and equitable. We are being accused of not being transparent. Today talk of corruption in the government is the main topic of conversation on many street corners, dinner tables and in many board rooms. Surely you do not want your government to be seen like this, do you?
My friends, we have choices to make. We can choose, like the last administration, to dismiss all the voices calling on us to do better as detractors. That is what the Manning Administration did. OR we can choose to listen.
We must choose, from today onward, to return to the ideals which we held prior to May 24th 2010. We cannot serve the people if we stop listening to you. We cannot serve the people if we ignore your pain and suffering.
We must listen and act to address the feelings of alienation among the youths in the urban areas.
We must listen and act to find and root out the corruption which so many of our citizens are complaining against. Where we find corruption, we must ensure that those responsible are held accountable. There must be no covering up.
We must listen and act to preserve the environment and communities. Specifically we must engage the highway re-route movement in meaningful dialogue in which we speak with them not talk to them.
While there is much we have done, we must acknowledge that the population expects and deserves more. You brothers and sisters deserve to see a real improvement in your lives. You deserve to feel proud about your government.
In this Coalition government that is the People’s Partnership, we must now press reset. As we reflect on our many successes in our first two years in office, we have to set priorities for the next three years to bring meaningful change to the lives of our citizens. We must also reflect on the nature of the relationships between the Partners.
It saddens me to no end that the MSJ feels the need to take such drastic action in relation to the Partnership. They are a valuable member of the Partnership and we have a responsibility to get the relations between the partners right so that we can spend more time on issues of governance.
In this regard, it is no secret the COP has been unhappy with the way in which it has been treated. We cannot continue in this manner. When I began my speech I said that the COP is committed to the Partnership. We are.We will not however tolerate further disrespect.
It is time that we establish firm, clear rules of engagement. This is the only way to ensure that issues between the partners do not get in the way of issues of governance. We must have regular Leadership Meetings and meetings of the Chairmen.
In addition, we should establish a Partnership Council made up of three people from each Party. This Council will seek to resolve contentious issues and make recommendations to the Leaders.
We must agree on a legislative agenda for the next two years which takes into account the priority issues for each party. In this regard, I have been given responsibility for constitution reform and it is my intention to have a draft constitution ready for discussion within one year after full and exhaustive consultations.
That is why, despite the hurt and disappointment, all this talk of mash up and walking cannot be entertained now. We have the opportunity in the Government to change the way the government operates. We must seize this opportunity and fight to infuse our ideals into the way the government operates.
There are many who wish to see this Coalition destroyed. They have trained their guns on the COP because they know that it is the COP that glues the Partnership together. I warn them all. We might be outnumbered but we will never be out gunned. The COP will always stand for what is right and best for the people of Trinidad and Tobago, even when it may be unpopular to do so. We will not be baited into making rash decisions which will have dire long-term consequences for the people of our great nation.
We will be firm in our commitment to the Partnership just as we will be firm in our ideals. Should the two ever come into conflict, we shall say so.
In so doing, the COP will always articulate its point of view loudly but respectfully. We will always demand the respect we deserve and we will always work in the national interest.
We have the opportunity in this year of our 50th Independence anniversary to deliver on the long unfulfilled promise of constitutional reform. It is in every citizen’s interest to make your government deliver on this promise.
A new or radically revised constitution will put in place the mechanism to ensure your government listens to you not just once every five years but throughout its term in office. As we promised in the manifesto, we will introduce in referenda, the right to recall non performing officials, term limits and fixed election dates.
Guided by you, we will strengthen the institutions of state to ensure that no single person has absolute power. With your input, we will give more power to local government. My brothers and sisters, you will have a chance to determine the way our country is run for the next several decades; that is what it means to be in government.
If we do it right, constitutional reform and the new structures which we put into place will mean not just change but transformation of the way your government interacts with you. If we do it right, constitutional reform and the new structures which we put into place will have a direct impact on your life.
It is my view and the COP’s view that proportional representation is a must of the new constitution and we will argue vociferously for this. If you were to agree with us and change the electoral system, Coalition politics will become even more entrenched. That being the case, we cannot squander the opportunity we have now.
My pledge to you is to work on this new constitution with vigour so that within one year, I can deliver to you a blueprint for a new way of life.
Prime Minister, in me and COP you have genuine Partners. I ask you to ignore the dividers and naysayers. Let us work together to deliver the transformation that we promised the population. We cannot do that if we believe that daggers are never far from our backs.
Our task is not easy but it is necessary. We find ourselves at the crossroads of history. It is junction which we have been to many times before. We know what lies at the end of the road we took in 1988 and 2007. You and I and all our Cabinet and party colleagues are here now. Let us shake off the shackles of the past. Let us put the mistakes and missteps behind us and work with the national community to re-build their trust. Let us rebuild the trust amongst our partners.
It is our responsibility to walk a different road. On that road I will stand with you Prime Minister against all enemies of the people. I ask you however to use your office to ensure that we never allow those enemies to creep up to us in government. The enemies of corruption, bias and injustice must be slain!
Together we can achieve far more than we can ever do alone.
Brothers and sisters, I give my commitment, as Leader of the COP, to be straight and forthright with you and the nation, even when it may not be popular to do so. This is not a popularity contest.
I give my commitment to the patriots of the Congress of the People, the People’s Partnership, and of Trinidad and Tobago, to never betray your trust!
I give my commitment to work fearlessly and tirelessly for a better, brighter, fairer, safer, more equitable and happier Trinidad and Tobago!
I give my commitment that in all I do, I will work for you!
May God Bless us all.