Well I finally stop celebrating the TOP defeat in Tobago and will be nice and point out to Kamla, for her own benefit, how she hang she own Jack at this lovely game of Elections All Fours that she just fogged up royally.
There are many who will tell you that many Tobagonians were royally upset with London’s PNM over the last 12 years. And this was not a lie. Orville London spent 12 years coping with the arrogance and asininity of Patrick Manning and then the bungling incompetence of the PP. During his tenure he had to cope with Manning’s myopic vision for Tobago that saw adequate monies being pumped into the island to cover recurring expenditure, but very little being allocated to proper development of the island. In 2009 and he managed to hang on to the THA, but the TOP, a young and vibrant party was making inroads. Then came the 2010 elections in which Tobagonians delivered their own referendum on Manning and his treatment of them. Tobago went yellow. And from May 2010 to January 20th 2013, Orville London began the most strategic fight back I have ever witnessed.
But this coloumn isn’t about London’s fightback, but rather about Kamla’s defeat. Given the tide London was swimming against and the landslide victory that Kamla achieved in 2010 one would think that she would have used good judgment and not squander that goodwill with the electorate, right?
Yesterday’s THA should have been a referendum of Orville London’s performance as THA Chief Secretary in the last 12 years, instead, through the cleverness of London and the crass vulgarity of Kamla and her minions it became an assessment not of London’s performance in the THA but of Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s performance from May 2010 to last week.
This Election should have been about Jack vs London, but it quickly became about Orville vs Kamla…..and like this woman don’t learn! No Trini could ever come and beat a Tobagonian in he back yard.
Kamla launched her THA offensive at Budget Matihkor..aka the pre-Budget Rally….and I was the first, and probably the only person to note the type of language Kamla used to describe the ensuing THA campaign. Both Kamla and Anand boasted loudly on the stage at Mid-Centre of how they would win the THA Elections and send Rowley and London in a corner. That was misstep number 1. Yuh campaigning in Tobago and not Trinidad, how yuh go insult and attack two sons of the soil that lift Tobagonians nose so high?
At that same meeting Persad-Bissessar started her own subtle race talk with her “We know who the enemy is…get in yuh section” talk as she referenced the THA campaign to come. While Trinis aint see nothing wrong with that kind of We vs Them talk…Tobagonians know it and understand it only too well and we don’t stick it! That was misstep number 2. And I pointed it out. But the Kamlarites so busy calling me a racist PNM sodomite they never read between the lines.
Thereafter though there was a change in the TOP’s approach. Realising that Tobagonians weren’t taking too kindly to the numerous missteps and corruption allegations from Central Government, Ashworth Jack himself issued a warning…no UNC interference in the THA campaign. Jack wanted discreet behind-the-scenes assistance by way of money and resources. The TOP hoped that the Milshirv accusations, just like the Calder Hart accusations against Manning, would stick to Orville like shit on a shoe heel. Unfortunately both the Chief Secretary and his Finance Secretary Anselm London much savvier than that. They understood that what threw Manning down was his unwillingness to come clean on his relationship with Calder Hart, Juliana Pena, UDECOTT and the Guanapo Church. Manning’s position was both arrogant and unhelpful and it only riled the citizenry up more….which is why I insist he was a fool. London & London on the other hand utilised transparency and accountability to their benefit. A full file was uploaded to the world wide web, as well as sent to the Integrity Commission. Answer that! Not a peep could be heard from government for weeks after the upload. And the most they have managed thus far is a limp legal action from && that the treasury going to have to pay for.
TOP’s gamble that Milshirv would haunt Orville the way Calder Hart haunted Manning died a sudden death.
Then came the House That Pumpkin Built……and I had to grin each and every time Jack lied or avoided questions. Transparency and accountability was coming to haunt his ass now. Milshirv began to fade quickly as Ashworth’s relationship with the UNC and its financiers because the front burner issue….then Jack’s failure to lodge documents with the Integrity Commission. And here was the next misstep. Jack was making Tobago and Tobagonians look corrupt. Jack….really…..you from Tobago how long and you don’t know that corruption associated with Trickydadians, not Tobagonians? Yuh fall down bad boy!
You see, London had managed to dampen, if not totally remove the stench of corruption around himself, while Jack was refusing to answer any questions.
To deal with his declining public image Ashworth Jack made his next misstep….one that would be so critical and crucial to his demise, I wonder if the TOP and UNC figure it out yet….Ashworth Jack resorted to social media handled by a Trini….and not just any Trini, but a Trini whose entire idea of marketing and media is fete. Soon the TOP had a social media presence on FaceBook and Twitter and the pages were filled with Trinidad UNC supporters…and thereafter it only went downhill. There were pictures of Jack working in a garden and alluding to his supplies as being the basis of his wealth. Meanwhile Express’s Irene Medina was doing her research and hitting Jack for six week after week. Kamla et al, sensing the shifting tide made the next crucial misstep by jumping into the fray.
Their hope was to show that Central Government….the moneyhandlers….were entirely behind Jack and that if Tobago wanted to develop and prosper they had to follow the money trail.
Could they be any more dumbass? Kamla…darling….Tobagonian know underdevelopment and hardship long time you know….Trinidad suffering Tobago aint nothing new.
And so, interference from the UNC went from peripheral to central! The Elections moved from being about Orville’s performance to the invasion from the UNC. And Kamla, unwittingly became her own worst enemy.
Tobago was flooded with a sea of yellow. Trinidadians all over the place being their arrogant, flashy selves. Money, in a society that admires thrift and frugality and pulling up one’s own bootstraps, was being thrown around wildly. Tobagonians looked on and realised just why Trinidad so effed up. They watched the queen parade herself. Helicopters flying in daily; trucks being ferried over with goodies…goodies that Tobagonians had been denied for the last 32 months unless they were openly TOP….and a flurry of activity to pretend as if development was taking place.
And in all this all Tobagonians wanted was a revised Constitution that gave them their promised autonomy. No music trucks, no food cards, no wild promises. Just a sober Bill that delivered what they wanted.
But Kamla, unable to keep the smallest of promises instead went over with a half-assed Bill that she rushed to Parliament and continued the orgy of money spending….SQUANDERMANIA Kamla style…..and Tobagonians looked.
In fact, they did one better and donned the yellow T-shirts, mounted the music trucks, accepted the handouts and then yesterday voted PNM.
They voted the PNM to let Kamla know that you cyah come over here with sniffer dogs in a church where you get invited to and insult people’s hospitality. You cyah spend 32 months attacking black people in overt and subtle ways and then get more vex than we over Hilton Sandy comment. We would punish Sandy, but you cyah have Sat telling we how to punish Sandy. You cyah want to come and run things in Tobago house.
Kamla had only to look at how Rowley played his role in the PNM’s campaign to take a cue. Instead she surrounded herself with a team of dunce, clueless advisors who believe that a Trinidadian approach to life and campaigning is what would work in Tobago and put her Jack out to dry!
We Didnt Vote Full Dotish!
Tobago Yuh Lift Meh Nose, Yuh Make Meh Proud!
Monday’s THA elections, and the campaign that just ended have useful lessons in them for both our present and future political selves. The country has had the opportunity to see both PNM and UNC (forget TOP, Ashworth clearly attached to Kamla’s hip) in political action yet again and to observe the tactics and politics of both parties. If you have only been following the radio ads and media interviews; then your perception of what is being discussed and offered by both parties may well be limited. Much of what is actually happening in Tobago isn’t apparent to the Trini audience and is in fact happening at cottage meetings, not political rallies.
Either way, Tobago must be exhausted by now and certainly in a position to make decisions on Monday that will have serious impact on how the next 30 months of politics go here. Because in roughly that time both UNC and PNM will face the polls again in a general election. THA will determine the nature of the Local Government Elections….if we actually have one. And the outcome of the LGE will certainly set the tone for the next general Elections.
THA 2013 is a referendum for both parties. A loss for the UNC will tell Kamla and the UNC resoundingly that she has lost favour with the electorate, while a loss for the PNM may well lead to the undoing of The Keith and Orville London as Opposition Leader and Deputy Political Leader respectively. A win for the UNC will see them tighten their hold on the administration of the entire country; while a win for the PNM will mean that the PNM is beginning to regain its political footing in the aftermath of 2010′s crushing defeat. Either way, both parties have much to lose and gain from a victory on Monday.
But let’s look at what has transpired in the last 3 months:
At the time of writing a teenaged girl alleges that she was beaten up by an older TOP supporter for wearing A PNM t-shirt. As with all instances of female abuse under this regime’s tenure there is no comment by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Gender Affairs, Marlene Coudray or from the feminist activists in this country.
This happened in the week the government miraculously managed to bring the THA Bill to Parliament for discussion, 32 months into the PPs tenure and mere days before the most contentious THA election yet. The tabling of the Bill is largely seen as an election gimmick: a ruse by the TOP and UNC to mama guile Tobagonians into believing they matter. The Bill remains problematic for Tobagonians because it ignored years of public consultation undertaken by the THA on behalf of citizens, and has loopholes that undermine the autonomy discussion. That the UNC and TOP stalled on holding proper public consultations in the last 32 months, and then suddenly tabled the Bill during an election season, coupled with the the fiasco of Section 34, probably makes it hard for most citizens to not be skeptical about this government an its laws.
It is now approximately two weeks since the infamous Calcutta Ship statement by PNM official Hilton Sandy; and three months since Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar stood before an audience at Mid-Centre mall and began the race-baiting that has typified this THA election when she announced to the crowd gathered, “we know who the enemy is….get in yuh section”. Yet no one seems to remember that the person to throw the first salvo in partisan politics was none other than the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. The same lady who, after announcing that the UNC would only be providing logistical support to the TOP, has spent almost a fortnight in Tobago, campaigning and endorsing the TOP, not in her role as political leader of the UNC, but in her capacity as Prime Minister. The message being sent by the Persad-Bissessar here again is that she is PM for only those who favour her and no one else. One would swear that there are two versions of Trinidad and Tobago: one run by the UNC, and another one left to languish and suffer for good governance
Has it been a month yet since we found out about the amazing house that was built by pumpkin and cucumbers as well as the revelation that TOP leader Ashworth Jack had not submitted documents to the Integrity Commission in two years, around the time the Pumpkin Mansion was being built? Despite complaints to the IC, they are yet to step out and question Jack’s eligibility to run for the office of Chief Secretary, despite ignoring the provisions of the Integrity in Public Life Act.
Two months have passed since the THA posted documents online about the Milshirv project. And since upload of the documents the Attorney General, who had alleged corruption on the project went silent. Until this week, when miraculously he began legal proceedings against London; legal proceedings that the Treasury of Trinidad and Tobago will have to pay for whether or not the Attorney General’s claims against London’s THA prove to be true.
The UNC has made it absolutely clear that a THA victory is extremely important to them. Some believe that it will be a psychological blow for the PNM to have lost general and local government elections and now the THA. Winning will give pro-partnership supporters something to gloat about; but given the amount of energy and resources being thrown out behind Tobago, and the PMs personal interest in fighting the campaign on Jack’s behalf, I sense Tobago is far more important than playground bragging rights.
A lot of Tobago’s importance to Trinidad is wrapped up in the THA Bill. The quest for autonomy by Tobagonians is one that most Trinidadians do not understand, and the UNC and TOP seem to be counting on that misunderstanding. Most Trinidadians are unaware that Tobago had autonomy for more than a century before being warded to Trinidad. In short, autonomy isn’t new to Tobagonians, and for us to refuse them a political status they once had is to treat Tobagonians with intense disdain and contempt. We talk of respect for Tobagonians, but refuse to let them handle their own affairs.
Another little known fact about Tobago, but one that is now coming to light with the fight for maritime boundaries, is that since the 1970s our governments have been aware that there are fuel deposits in Tobago’s seabed. When you consider what fuel revenues can mean for both Tobago’s development and Trinidad’s failing economy, you can appreciate why the TOP and UNC have come together to lay siege. As with everything else, follow the oil trail and the story becomes clearer.
In this past week we also saw Sat Maharäj and the Indian High Commissioner become entangled in another diplomatic snafu. Maharaj wants funding for a Hindu temple in Tobago, and he is seeking this funding from India. Ambassador Misra has instead advocated for a cultural centre: a suggestion that promotes cultural awareness about all of India, not just one aspect. Why is a Hindu temple more important than a cultural centre that promotes knowledge, learning and perhaps even acceptance of a culture that is for the most part foreign to Tobago. One wonders at Maharaj’s aggression towards the High Commissioner; and his decision to go directly to Delhi for funding also raises questions about the various MOUs between the two governments in the now infamous 2011 state funded trip to India. Will we ever get a complete breakdown of what was agreed to and why a temple in Tobago is now so important?
32 months into the UNC’s tenure and we are facing another election: one filled with mudslinging, race baiting, corruption allegations, underperformance and unaccountability. Crowds are being rented, election goodies are being distributed. The major difference between January 21st and May24, 2010 is that we have had more than two years of the People’s Partnership in Government. Tobagonians are now aware of what the PNM is capable of and what a UNC/TOP government is capable of. Let’s see what choice they make.
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.
It is the week before THA Elections and things are heating up.This weekend saw what amounted to a Blitz Krieg from the TOP. On Yellow Friday we saw several music trucks moving about the island blasting music and tshirts (many claim with $500 tucked inside) being handed out. Yesterday (Sunday, 13th January) both the PM and Opposition Leader were in Tobago supporting their various candidates. The Prime Minister, who a month ago said that the UNC was not running the TOP campaign just lending logistical support, was at Jack’s side being logistical as she attended church with him, read scripture to the congregation during the ceremony and then eventually set of on a walkabout of Mason Hall, Ashworth Jack’s seat in the THA and the village that Keith Rowley is from.
In the blogosphere the comments flew fast and quick, with many Tobagonians wondering online and out loud how a PM who only just recently insulted Keith Rowley for attending a religious event at the Divali Nagar, could now show up at a Full Gospel Church and participate in the service considering her Hindu Faith…..ironies, I suppose.
While in Roxborough last evening a fiery Rowley and London talked about the various missteps of both Ashworth Jack and the UNC. The audience was reminded of Reshmi, Section 34, the SoE, Jack’s failure to declare assets to the Integrity Commission, the Magic Pumpkin Seed House, his use of notes at the THA debate where it was strictly forbidden to bring prepared notes, although Jack claims he was allowed to bring notes.
Apart from those two meeting there were also casual discussions on various groups and walls about 10,000 cellphones, along with food hampers and other goodies to be distributed this week to Tobagonians; the construction work taking place to hurriedly complete the Roxborough gas station so that the PP can cut a ribbon at its opening.
There were also more sober reflections from people like Francis Morean who was there in the last week and observed political meetings and casual road conversations. And has strong views on what this particular THA campaign has meant for elections culture in Tobago and who the likely victor may be by the end of this elections. Morean, careful to point out that it is still a week away; and that can be a lifetime in local politics, thinks that the PNM’s lengthy and sustained ground war may win out over the TOP Blitkrieg of handouts and music trucks.
It remains to be seen which campaign style will now work for Tobagonians and whose policies (if any) they are interested in.
It’s silly season in full force these next seven days.
Vote With Sense, Don’t Vote Full Dotish!