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

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Crime Clusterf@$k/Political Pantomime 2yrs, 8dys: Dropping the Ball

There is a lot to rant about and be vex about these days. So let me try and be systematic about what is irking me.

Complaints about the media and the calibre of media in Trinidad is not anything new. In fact I have on occasion raised the issue with people in the media: reporters and editors. The usual position of course is to defend and explain. I have yet to see a situation wherein they’ve defended, explained and then improved. And many times what has been defended, in my opinion, was pretty indefensible stuff….but if it keeps them warm at night who is me to argue.
In the last 6 months my source for news has been the TnT Mirror, I95.5 and wired868.com.   I have noticed too that the three major dailies: The Express, Guardian and Newsday, that are given pride of place in people’s minds as being more truthful, balanced and valid, are often playing catch up with the Mirror; and often their major headlines tend to be stories run by the Mirror weeks before. A good case in point is this Sunday’s lead story in the Express on Rabindra Moonan’s new ride….that was a 2 week old Express story.

Since the Jack Warner/FIFA Scandals have begun the only website worth checking for valid and researched information is Lasana Liburd’s wired868. To date not one daily newspaper’s sports’ section has made an effort to find out who owns the Centre of Excellence and when the PSC sent them the 2 paragraph press release that stated Warner was no longer being investigated, not a newspaper or media house made the effort to contact the DPP for comment. It was only when CANA’s reporter Richard Lord questioned the DPP that the mark buss that the investigation by the police…headed by Inspector Totaram Dookie was inadequate, and the DPP indicated that it was inadequate and then advised them to examine Customs and Excise laws….COP Dwayne Gibbs took it upon himself to re-analyse the DPP’s letter and to misinform the Police Service. When I saw the CANA news report I thought for certain the media would have a complete field day with the issue. I expected to see the PSC questioned about their media release, Dwayne Gibbs questioned about his interpretation of the DPP’s statement and his subsequent dropping of the investigation  against Warner. I expected to see an interview with Totaram Dookie asking him who he questioned for his investigation and how he arrived at the information he sent to the DPP. I expected to see an interview with Warner asking him how he felt about the DPP’s actual comments…..I expected to damn much.

Instead, to date the only investigative report done on Warner, his corruption, his relationship with FIFA, and his possible fraudulent acts has been done by Lasana Liburd….one man….whereas three media houses with an arsenal of reporters at their disposal have done fuck all.

I’d like to take a minute to thank Mr Liburd for making the effort at keeping us in cyberland informed….unfortunately people with no access to internet won’t know the half that the print and visual media refuse to tell about Warner…and maybe that’s why so many people are still blindly endorsing him as a possible Minister of National Security!

I guess at this point I should also say kudos to the team at the Mirror. I wish the articles carried more weight to them at times; but at least they keep me aware of what else is going on that mainstream media refuses to follow.

And don’t get me started on the non-story that was the Sunday Guardian‘s frontpage. The entire medical fraternity was probably choking with laughter on Sunday at the premise that it was a PNM vs UNC political issue….when it was actually more a UNC vs UNC issue with various members of an RHA along with the Minister of Health  stepping on each other’s turf and toes….if you read the story about President Max Richard’s daughter -in-law being denied a management position at a hospital and check between the lines and see that Fuad Khan and Colin Bissessar (note the last name) at odds with each other on a particular staffing choice you’ll see it has nothing to do with PNM at all…..one wonders what inspired the Guardian to run with this story?

Then came the story about the pension/NIS issues….and I had to wait for Keith Rowley to post a note about it today to sum up what was faulty about the reduction in senior citizens pension. Since the news broke about the change in pension I kept saying, “but during the budget, didn’t they say it would be linked to NIS?”  Then why were so many people complaining and saying the government had promised them a pension of $3000.00. Then Rowley’s comments today pointed out the campaign promise that had been made by the PP in 2010, and how subsequent to their election victory they began to backpedal on their promise. A promise that I had forgotten about until the FaceBook Note reminded me of it. Where Prakash and his Principles right about now? Mum again?

That this government feels confident enough to play with the little pittance that pensioners get tells me they are either stupid or have testicles of brass! They can’t be interested in a second term in office and angering public servants AND pensioners?

Both Kamla and Moonilal drop the ball bad this week too. Kamla, Kamla, Kamla….I beginning to think you might have an alcohol problem in truth…only someone who on some kind of substance would have treated those protesters in Debe so. No serious leader who interested in a second term in office ill-treats its support base in such a way. Indian women came out and voted for you in droves in May 2010….when you can treat the core of your support base like shit under your shoe, what do you really leave for your non-supporters to think and say?

And before Moonilal learn to hush his mouth and curtail his buffoonery he gets up in Parliament and labels what the protesters did “In Poor Taste”. No Moonilal, it is you, with your asinine behaviour in our Parliament, coupled with the poor judgement and leadership of your government that is in poor taste. You, Kamla and the entire deck of fools remain a class-less act!

De Vice Cyah Done!

Crime Clusterf@$K/Political Pantomime 23mts, 5 dys: A Hart-Less Govt!

Photo courtesy Jyoti Publications website.

22 more days to the PPG’s 2nd anniversary in Govt!
If me was Brian Lara,  I woulda pre-action protocol myself at this stage and remove my name from the Cancer Centre and Tarouba stadium because things only going to get nastier and it’s his name that going to suffer and get muddied every single time. The government still trying to keep the lid on the over-radiation scandal of patients at the Cancer Centre named after you, and an Independent Senator has labelled it “one of the greatest scandals in medical history”. Trust me Brian, you don’t want your name continually mixed up with either of these structures/institutions…get out!

The AG smelling the 2-year anniversary coming up too and the coalition need legitimate things to celebrate…because how it go look that since The Keith bring that Motion of No Confidence that they in a constant tailspin….credit cards, Cheryl Miller, police brutality, escalating murder rate, crimes against women and children, 21st century non-policing, Vidwattie….Vidwattie….Anand hiring his nephew….Marlene Coudray….Vidwattie…Devant hiring Dookeran cousin….Jack winning internal elections….Vidwattie…Kamla carrying her nephew and niece to India and possibly the public paid for that too….nationwide protests in villages….Vidwattie…..TCL strike…..did I mention Kamla’s sister Vidwattie Newton having access to public funds without being an employee of the state?

Right, so in light of the many fiascos that plagues this government and by proxy our nation daily, the government had to try and appear to be doing something…how else to justify the government being a success and stronger than ever 2 years later than….bringing a civil case against Calder Hart? Now let me tell you why after reading the story this immediately became a non-issue for me….the case the state is bringing against Hart hinges on two crucial issues….mismanagement of public funds when it came to building the BC Lara Stadium (aka the Billion Dollar Tsunami Shelter) and the Legal Towers…..and failure to declare family ties….so, now, the Pantomime going to ask all yuh, when last anybody in this country pay a fine or make a jail for bad spending public money or for not declaring that the business they offering a tender to is really them and their family own? Anybody? study all yuh head good? If we used to jail people for bad spending and mismanaging people’s money then Duprey, Monteil and Bhoe Tewarie woulda make ah jail by now….so would Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson for what went on with the billion dollar airport….And….when last was it wrong in this government for you and your family to benefit from government contracts?

Calder and Sherrine Hart. Photo courtesy Jyoti Communications website.

Folks, since 2010 Prakash Ramadhar and Vernon de Lima wave Sherrine Hart birth paper and imply that they have real info on Calder Hart….info that would prove he and Manning conspire to abuse and misuse UDECOTT funds…..and I waited patiently and eagerly for the information that would prove to me that Manning’s squandermania (remember that buzz word) would be proven beyond a doubt and I’d be able to wine back on PNM cronies…..to date ah cyah even do like Lyndira Ouditt and Timothy Hamel-Smith and take privileges and wine on Faris Al Rawi (sighhhh)!!! It is now 23 months later and the best this govt can come up with is a weak civil case that their supporters will slaver over in the hopes that the rest of the country will see that they performing! This civil case going to draw out….watch and see…..I giving it 15 years before it get thrown out for lack of evidence. And as for the criminal case the AG says the state is building with Malaysian authorities, keep your eyes and ears out for it….see if you hear anything about it again by the end of the year. If 23 months later they now dealing with it…you don’t think Hart had more than enough time to clean up anything that might be laying around to incriminate him? Study all yuh head good nah?

This government’s failure to adequately deal with the Calder Hart bogey, one of the biggest jumbies they waved for the people in May 2010 going to haunt them…watch and see.

And as per Hart’s link to his wife Sherrine and Sunway Construction…..look how much government minister have family who own companies that getting government contract….on the basis of its prevalence under this regime it not illegal at all….Hart simply practising Good Family Values KPB style!

For me, the biggest story in today’s papers is not Calder Hart, or Faris al Rawi, or the union threat to destabilise the coalition or Anil Roberts behaving like a disrespectful lout to his political leader…..rather it is a story almost buried in the Guardian that synopsising the Auditor General’s Report for 2011.

Folks read this report closely, because it is listing a number discrepancies in several ministries such as:

  • The Ministry of Education overpaying on 931 occasions to the tune of  $8.5m…..so after the first 5 times they couldn’t get it right? And according to the report this rend of overpaying happening since under Manning’s regime….over $41 million from 2005 – 2011….Hazel, Esthe and Tim, comments please?  The report also indicated a disturbing increase in the number of overpayments in the past year….whereas in 2010 there were 643 cases in 2011 it rose to 5280 times the Ministry over paid….that is more than a 100% increase. What Tim really doing with the Min of Ed budget?
  • In the Office of the Prime Minister (listed as Vidwattie Newton’s address for check collection and where the PM works…it is alleged) “signed formal service agreements were not produced for 50 per cent of the sample of contract officers. As a result, terms and conditions of employment for these officers were not determined, the report stated.” I hope all yuh reading!
  • In the ministry of Finance (Dooks ministry, eh), “the required cabinet minute approving posts were not seen for six people. Formal contracts were not produced for 31 of the 32 contract employees in the sample selected.”
  •  In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “contracts were not produced for audit for two contractors for refurbishment works in which expenditure totalled $1.9 million.”
  • In the Ministry of Works, “only one of the 30 Overpayment Registers from the Pay Sections was produced for audit examination and therefore the number of cases of overpayments for the year in this sector, and other details could not have been verified”
  •  from a sample of 12 contract officers at Parliament, signed contract  agreements were not seen for 11, the report stated. Approved terms and conditions were not seen for seven officers. Approval from the Speaker of the House of Representatives was not seen for one officer. The report noted 44 cases of theft and losses of state property in 2011 totalling $1.3 million

Listen, is best all yuh go and read the full story and maybe find a copy of the Auditor General’s report, because what this pointing to is gross incompetence, breaches of protocol and mismanagement of public funds in at least 5 ministries…And this has led to wastage of public monies and if that is not Squandermania then I don’t know what is!

De Vice Cyah Done!

Crime Clusterf@$k/Political Pantomime 23mts, 1dy: 1st Class Ticket to Hell!

 

the TnT Mirror's front page story alleging that the PM's sister is not a registered nurse.....smdh!

 

 

So, in one afternoon we get three lead stories? Will there be no day that I can log on and be able to say, nothing interesting to report today folks…the government normal.

We’ve got first class sisters, spy vs spy and American gang members hiding in Trinidad….Is this a Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer movie script? Because all we missing is an explosion or car chase in the next 10 seconds.

So, instead of the PM answering her own questions, the Parliamentary Buffoon was deployed once again to answer on her majesty’s behalf. So, let me get the trajectory on this straight….the State visit to India wasn’t paid for by the Indian government as our Government stated (lie 1); the PM did not pay for her sister’s travel expenses out of her own pocket (lie 2) because the Cabinet (made up of good old principled COP members) approved the payments and our tax dollars paid for it; the PM’s sister along with most of her entourage including the relative who carries her luggage, all travelled first class at the State’s expense, not India’s. The majority of the person’s mentioned in the entourage list don’t usually travel first class, but according to Perm Sec Cooper, who beginning to resemble a tick with every defence he makes of this government’s abuse of public funds, Ms Newton’s first class travel status was also Cabinet-approved (you see why Prakash, Roger and Carolyn cyah impress me? What principles?). But then explain to me why Lisa Ghany, Barry Padarath and the baggage handler all had to be in first class? Is so many people it does take to administer medication and help the PM to the ladies room? If so, then why is someone who is obviously so ill and incapacitated in charge of running a government?

And if as the Mirror’s story implies she’s not a registered nurse….then in what capacity is Ms Newton travelling with the PM?

Because the halfway Privy Council announcement didn’t quite distract us from the issue of Kamla’s abuse of State funds to advance the welfare of members of her family (doesn’t this smack of some integrity in public life breach?) Moonilal was forced to pull another trick from his sleeve, which is located at the back of his trousers, and the announcement was that this Government has been spying on us, since December 2010, and there is now a report to prove it. Moonilal is very proud of the report. Did I miss something here folks? Because the report states, according to the Express, that none of the 267 instances of interception was done on the basis of an application to a judge for a warrant to intercept, which is provided for under Section 8 of the Act. This section, however, is used when the interception is for “evidentiary purposes”. Apparently the interceptions were done under a different section of the law that allows for no warrant if the spying is done in the interest of national security and to protect the state’s economic interest and a couple other interesting areas. According to the act, the Chief of Defence Staff, the CoP and the Director of the SSA can make this judgement call……December 2010 was around the time the country was still reeling from the Reshmi Ramnarine, aka call me Shashi Rekma, incident…

And the plot thickens even further, because according to the Trinidad Guardian’s lead story this morning, illegal wiretapping and spying was happening under Basdeo Panday’s government. According to People Resembling Sandy, spying has been happening here without legislation for more than ten years. And de Bas trying to be disingenuous and say he didn’t know about it…..so as head of the National Security Council back in your day….and according to you the meetings were weekly, no one told you about these activities? That’s Insulting!

Now, remind me of something, this isn’t the same government that weep, wail and gnash its teeth when it was in Opposition over Manning spying on the population? Help me out here folks? Is it do as I say, but not as I do with this government? So you mean when Kamla was busy accusing Manning of spying on the government, she had also been part of an administration that had done the same thing….illegally…. without any proper legislation?

Where the PPG fanboys this morning, boy….how all yuh defending this one? Oh, wait, all yuh going to do like Bas and say it was for the good of the country?????

Seriously, can we get any more Orwellian in this state?

People dropping like flies in murders all over the country…the police have resumed their tune of drug-related and gang-related killings, after telling us in December right after the failed SoE (yeah, I said it!) that not all murders were gang-related….because of course then they couldn’t admit that right after a SoE to get rid of gangs, the gangs had resumed their activities.
In fact, if you were to go by SoE PR statistics, there’s no cocaine here, all the guns were confiscated, there are no gang members…..so technically Trinidad and Tobago is a crime-free state with ganja-addicted frozen chicken!

Given then that we have no serious crime here…I can only assume that it also means that we don’t have state abuse of public funds….what we have is Cabinet-approved spending for undocumented things.

We don’t have nepotism…..we have Family Values.

We don’t have credit card abuse…..we have credit card fetishes that go unchecked….and Vernella have to take this country and its Parliment for prize asses by referring to a 2004 THA document as justifcation for her overspending and abuse of the credit card….oh, wait…I keep forgetting that the PPG’s favourite hymn/bhajan/mantra/chorus/verse is the PNM do it too! Blame the PNM, Blame the PNM….

No accountability in this government, drug importation continues unchecked, violence all over the streets, a disgusted, disaffected and traumatised public, public servants being accidentally thrown into St. Anns for their own good, a tight family clique abusing the public purse….No wonder MP Amery Browne saying the MS-13 gang operating in Trinidad…..he watching them infiltrate the Parliament every week!

De Vice Cyah Done!

Crime Clusterf@$k/Political Pantomime 23 months:

 

 

In 2005, the current PM, then in Opposition announced that her party, the UNC was not in support of the CCJ and her reason was that there was no ethnic parity. I know it might escape the members of this government….but Indo-Caribbeans do not make up 40 or even 50%  of the Caribbean’s population. The Indian population lucky if it makes up 20% of the Caribbean demographic…yet here in Trinidad every day we have to grapple with an Indo-population that seems to forget that there are many other ethnic groups that exist here. As recently as last year when questioned on making the switch to the CCJ the PM said there was no need to, her government was not in any rush to dump the Privy Council, and every one knew it was because they were afraid of losing investors, as happened to Guyana when they made a similar move.

Yet as of yesterday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, now Prime Minister, is busily embracing the CCJ, but only for criminal matters and therein lies the problem for many others in the local legal fraternity. This partial move to the CCJ has been described as illegal, unlawful and unworkable by many in the legal fraternity. Former AG John Jeremie is quoted in the Express as saying, ‘in any “criminal case” a constitutional point might arised and be argued. “It is artificial to speak about abolishing the Privy Council for criminal appeals only,” because criminal matters could have a civil dimension, he said. ‘

Another former AG, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, has weighed in as well on the issue revealing that when he went to London in 1999 the Privy Council was not in support of a piecemeal split, but a total split:  He recalled that when he went to London in 1999 to get the approval of the British Government because the British Government had to decide whether they would keep the civil jurisdiction if the country wanted to do away with the Privy Council as the final court for the criminal jurisdiction. “We were told that they were not prepared to do that”. He said the Privy Council was quite happy to do get rid of the jurisdiction altogether, they were not prepared to accept the phased proposal.”And that was known by the present Prime Minister, because she was a member of the Cabinet” he said.

If both instances citied above are true, that splitting the final courts of appeal will cause problems for Civil and Criminal matters; and further, that the PM knows that the Privy Council won’t support this….why is she proposing this? Because clearly it won’t be a successful proposal.  It makes one wonder how exactly the PM and the AG got their silk in light of the various legal arguments that are flying about.

Meanwhile, the AG is asserting that these comments being made are mischievous and that there is “precedent in the Commonwealth” for a phased withdrawal.

So,  naturally, I have to wonder, like De Bas, if Kamla’s absence from parliament during the revelation of the use of state funds for her travel assistant/nurse sister, and her miraculous appearance to announce a half way move to the CCJ is not really another ploy to distract from her government’s abuses. Because now several things are in train, there is heated debate nationally about whether the nation wants to leave the Privy Council or not, there are cries for a referendum….that a yellow donkey and God face you aint seeing under this government, they are not about serving the people….and public scrutiny of the TT$.9m spent on Ms Vidwattie Newton has now gone to the back burner. The Prime Minister’s claims too that she needs Opposition support on this issue…yet if it is a flawed plan and The Keith decides not to support it in Parliament the UNCOP Govt will be quick to claim that the PNM doesn’t want autonomy….when in truth and in fact the issue will be that the partial move may not be a workable plan. I think Kamla and her small goal team being a bunch of tricksy little orcsessssss on this issue…gollum, gollum!

4 people have been murdered over a 24-hour period…..not a word from the government about their crime plan of late….only 21st century policing from Gibbs….and anyone remember that he didn’t have the authority to rent that $.9m Crop Duster? Whatever happened to that issue? The AG stop probing it? Like he stop probing Jack Warner and the Fifa scandal?

In the business sector issues of race, coupled with unequal pay and corporate crime continue to hamper our economic growth. When you see things like this you wish that the government spent less time trying to muzzle the media and the Opposition, (and making stupid tasteless jokes a la Roodal Moonilal) and focus on actually running the country efficiently….but that would require having a plan that’s broader and more complex than draining the treasury, wouldn’t it?

De Vice Cyah Done!

CCPP 22mts and 28 days later: Attacking All Opposition

 

Ok, I don’t know about you, but these days when I get up to do this blog I keep wondering if I’m living in some alternative reality. Some days when I re-read the postings and the articles linked to them I wonder if this blog’s contents can’t qualify as a pure work of fiction. I teach Literature from time to time….and the books I focus on look at leadership, politics and social conditions since Independence. None of the books paint a pretty picture….and this blog is beginning to read like them. Corrupt leaders, creeping dictatorships, a citizenry fooled en masse by a political elite hungry to retain power at all costs, a population so desperate for deliverance it trusts any charlatan priest, prophet or politician that pops up…..I’m referring to the books….if any of it seems familiar to you, start getting worried!

I feel tired, defeated and depressed about reading the papers and listening to the news. And today was no different.

Since last week, I’ve been looking at Ian Alleyne be treated as the next messiah…all that was missing in his triumphant march through Port of Spain yesterday were palm branches and a jackass….ok….just palm branches. But as much as I find some aspects of Alleyne’s show and his public posturing crass and vulgar, I see quite plainly why he is so popular. He appears to be performing…Alleyne seems to be doing for members of the poorer classes, what the police and government seem unable to do…fight crime. If ever there was a poster boy for “perception is reality” Ian Alleyne is it!
And his success here just shows you how far we have fallen as a society. Alleyne sullies crime scenes, has no real conviction rate to speak off and breaks laws such as the Sexual Offences Act….and people are actually rallying to his side and asking that he be given a bligh because he solving crime and is the “voice of the poor man”.

His popularity has become extremely dangerous….so much so, that an arrest of Alleyne for an obvious infringement of the law is now made to be look like the suppression of  a voice that speaks out against the government.
And it is in this way that I believe Alleyne is a threat to the current govt. Ian’s support base is far more diverse than anything the UNC or PNM  can lay claim too…..Ian has the support of the urban and rural working class….which doesn’t know colour and creed….it knows poverty and suffering!

I watched the candlelight vigil on the Brian Lara Promenade a few nights ago and the small crowd that gathered there is an example of his support base. Then watch the make up of the crowd that went to his court hearing. In a matter of hours on the evening of his arrest Ian Alleyne managed to rally a support base over an alleged injustice much faster than any Motion of No Confidence or corrupt act of this govt.

Alleyne, the grandcharging, loose talking host of Crime Watch is more of an Opposition to this current govt than the actual Opposition Leader is….and that’s why there’ll be candle light vigils for Ian, who has broken laws, than there will be for The Keith, who trying to get this govt to stop breaking laws!

So the AG, who seems to have a mancrush on The Keith is claiming he paying to harass the Opposition Leader out of his own pocket. Devant Maharaj seems to want in on the action, even if it might mean sloppy seconds…..And I pretty sure that other members of this government probably circling to see how they could be a part of this parry and thrust with the Opposition Leader.

What confuses the Pantomime is what the government is objecting to. Is it not The Keith’s job to raise questions about the practices of the Government?
There are citizens of this country who have serious questions about the non-extradition of  Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson. We have serious questions about why under this current AG the prosecution team the state had chosen…that had been pretty successful in pursuing the extradition case was at the last minute changed….and it appears to some that a less competent team was appointed to prosecute by the current AG. I think instead of the AG deflecting the issue with a lawsuit, he should answer those questions. Ish and Steve mad mas with public money and the public has a right to know!
The public also has a right to know precisely what the AG is doing with the budget of $90m plus that he has at his disposal. I find it extremely discomfiting that this government seems to think that citizens don’t have a right to know what’s being done with its monies.

Further, I find it disconcerting that when the Leader of the Opposition does what the Opposition is meant to do (that’s why there was constitutional reform in 1956 to create a strong Opposition &&)  this current Government seems to want to shut down and shut up the opposition….almost as if they don’t want to be opposed or kept in check at all. And this attitude spreads to their treatment of the media. In not advertising with certain media houses they are attempting to cripple them…without revenue how can these media houses function and pay their reporters who are meant to ask the relevant questions?

The PM is currently suing the Express for allegedly maligning her image in a news story that I’d say was mischievously worded….ever desperate Fitzgerald Hinds is now being brought before the Privileges Committee for quoting from the newspaper article…..mind you both Moonilal and AG Ramlogan have been caught misrepresenting evidence….oh, who am I fooling….lying in Parliament on Noel Garcia and Brig Joseph respectively….and no one has brought them before the Privileges Committee for abusing Parliament’s protection.

When you look further, the many police raids of media houses also seems to be a state influenced attack on freedom of expression. The govt has come out to decry such police raids….but remember that the ACIB was a bureau that fell under this self same AG….and when the media got a hold of that information this self same AG pretended to know nothing about the unit falling under his jurisdiction and he immediately asked the PM to remove it from his purview.

This very government has also, within the last week restructured the format of the Joint Select Committee…there is no longer a need for Opposition or Independent members on the committee…it is now strictly a government quorum…this is the committee that weighs in on government contracts and procurement. So now they’ve got carte blanche.

At every turn this government seems to be lying, remains unaccountable and further to that angry and upset when institutions that are meant to keep them in check: Media and the Opposition, question their behaviour and activities. What does that tell you about Kamla and her small goal side? Does any of this sound anti-democratic to you? It certainly does to me.

The last time I checked, the only democratic government that doesn’t want opposition and freedom of expression of any kind is a Dictatorship….we already slipping down that slope at warp speed, folks….

 

De Vice Cyah Done!

 

Crime Clusterf@$l/Political Pantomime 22mts, 27dys: Mums the Word

Anand Ramlogan’s crush on The Keith growing stronger and stronger. Seems every opportunity he gets he levelling law suits at him…yet the AG is short on answers for the population on Calder Hart, Steve & Ish, the probe into that Crop Duster that Gibbs bought, the probe into Jack Warner and the Fifa Affair, and a whole host of other probes…..that is performance!

Dr George Laquis says our state cancer care is disastrous! And after their attempt to cover up RadiationGate a few weeks ago, and this latest suggestion to put an oncology facility in Penal, I have to agree with him….get out of Cancer care….get out of managing Health care period, because you doing a piss poor job! Fund it and find another body to manage it. How is it that a country like Cuba with far fewer resources can have such effective health care and we swimming in oil $$$$ for almost 4 decades and can’t even manage enough beds and medication for our ill????? You won’t get a comment on this from Kamla or Fuad…don’t hold your breath!

An entire family was gunned down in Laventille. The TTPS says they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The murder toll continues to steadily climb. Yet, you notice you don’t hear any government official or member of our National Security Council coming out to speak on it? Last year after a spate of murders over 1 weekend Kamla shut down the country and our rights for 107 days…this year after a spate of murders over the East Weekend and a continued climb in the subsequent weeks there is not one word from the PM, the Minister of National Security, or the COP. Don’t hold your breath on this either.

Keith Rowley has alleged in a press briefing yesterday that spying on the population continues under this administration….again I willing to venture that you won’t hear a word from the PM, the Min of National Security, the new head of the SIA or the National Security Council.

What this government has quietly shown in the last few weeks is that it no longer has to answer to, explain or be accountable to the country.

Imagine Devant Maharaj can come out and say that 5 former chairmen of BWEE/CAL have demonstrated that they had no common sense when running the airline. One of these former chairmen is now the head of the Integrity Commission, appointed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. So Devant Maharaj is actually implying that his government appoints stupid people to run Commissions.
And Kamla…that excellent example of female leadership remains quiet….not one word…never a comment from her…never a correction…not even an apology from her or Devant for the insult he has levied at these men!

Mon Desir residents protesting over the highway and its impact on their homes and environment….Not one word from this government!

Tarouba residents protesting about the deplorable conditions of the houses they have been put in…and is years they writing and complaining….Not one word from this government!

Instead they will hope that the population remains distracted over Ian Alleyne’s arrest and the charges laid against TV6. People holding candle light vigil for Ian Alleyne, when what we need to do is burn some candles for Kamla and her Partnership. They have lost their way….they need some light. Today I going out to a store and buy some candles to burn for this Govt!

 

De Vice Cyah Done!

Crime Clusterf@$k/Political Pantomime 22mts, 16dys: Bullies and Back-Pedallers!

Fitzgerald Hinds, legal counsel for Cheryl Miller and opposition Senator.

 

I hear Fitzie naming Verna bold bold in a radio interview clip on news this morning and I read the comments from the head of the Public Service in the Express this morning and mankind and womankind reaching for tarpaulin to  cover their ass. It appears that the Perm Sec in Gender Affairs only raise the issue after the mark buss in the media…..Sandra Jones, something as important as committing a colleague to St Ann’s you aint even write an e-mail, much less a report on this issue? Wait….is so immune you is Sandra? You don’t even have to inform your superiors about so important a decision? But the Public Service is a dangerous place to work??????

Fitzie saying he never call the media vultures….and Fitzie I hope you aint backpedalling now too, eh!

Senior Counsel Stanley Marcus is urging Health Minister Fuad Khan to hush… but Fuad, is days now I telling you hush. Is days now I telling you that you can’t be discussing Cheryl Miller business in such a casual and cavalier manner…so much years you is a doctor, you never learn bout doctor/client confidentiality? Quit the Cheryl Miller Smear Campaign….it done looking bad that your ministry involved in this debacle…do the right thing!

So the Min of Health meeting with everybody that was involved today, to get their stories straight. And Cheryl Miller has been advised to stay at home….until the case resolved….Wait, is send they sending Cheryl home? She on suspension? Holiday? No-pay leave? Look, this is the public service….define the leave all yuh asking/telling/demanding Miller take.

I beginning to feel really sorry for the senior members of the Public Service, because at every turn in this issue they are revealing themselves to be inept, bumbling fools. This issue is fast becoming a PR nightmare that’s going to haunt them for years, if not decades to come…..

spate of murders happened in a 24-hr period, the murder toll is now 100, according to the Newsday’s tally. The Guardian reports 5 murders over a 24-hr period. Repeat after me, “The SoE was a success!”

Deputy Commissioner of Police is busy defending the 21st Century Policing Plan…that managed to catch 20 ppl over the weekend for drunk driving and traffic offences. I wish we could get a Crime Plan that dealt with the issues plaguing our society in a multi-pronged way….sighhhhhhh.

Then it seems as if sexual crimes against children are back in the news. A  two-year-old girl was sexually abused before her death, and police aren’t ruling out murder.

And it appears that there is a ring of paedophiles in Claxton Bay, ranging from the ages of 13 to 51.

So, question, Minister St Rose Greaves, when exactly is this government going to table the Children’s Bill in parliament. More than 6 weeks ago Minister Roodal Moonilal claimed that the PNM’s Motion of No Confidence was the reason the Bill couldn’t be tabled. Surely enough weeks have passed….surely our parliament’s time can be taken up debating this Bill rather than listening to Anand and Roodal lie and dishonour the reputation of private citizens and former public servants.

So, when you aren’t standing by watching your PS bully weaker members of staff….can you please try and table the Bill?

Partnership talks are due to resume tomorrow, as Prakash Ramadhar flies in to talk peace. Look out for more back pedalling and bicycle wining, look out for Ramadhar et al protecting their few remaining positions of power…look out for total surrender to the UNC after 2 weeks of grandcharge that lead to no where.

It’s Monday folks, Mt D’or still vex about Atiba Duncan’s murder and Shoppin Toppin have to answer questions before her party for abusing the Govt credit card. The week now start…..the game of thrones continues!

 

De Vice Cyah Done!

 

TWICKS (This Week In Clusterf@$KS): The Empress and the Top Shopper!

The PM.

It seems each week that the Politics and the Crimes here take on new levels…my jaw running out of floor to hit!

In the aftermath of the Motion of No-Confidence(MONC) the issues that would pre-occupy the national consciousness this week were:

  • Cpt Gallery Griffith was abusive to an Opposition MP,
  • Reshmi Ramnarine has changed her name and was/has been allegedly employed within a Govt Ministry again
  • Minister Vernella Alleyne-Toppin has abused the privilege of the Govt Travel Card.

Minister of Tobago Affairs Mrs Vernella Alleyne-Toppin. Photo courtesy govt.org website.

Now the interesting thing in all of this is that many people who often stood up for and spoke out against corruption, malfeisance and abuse under the past PNM regime have been virtually mum this week. Not a comment was made….even more interesting were the comments of people who saw nothing wrong with Minister Toppin using the card in ways for which it was not intended. The rules and guidelines are all there. The card is to be used for international travel, and even though Mrs Toppin is from Tobago, surely she remembers that it is a twin-island republic and knows that Trinidad does not count as international travel. Further, the card is not to be used for withdrawals except when overseas. The various newspapers and radio-programmes this week have painted a picture of total abuse of the card from June to Dec 28th, 2011. In Parliament, Roodal Moonilal fell for the trap created by the Opposition when The Keith said he had receipts to the tune of $4000. Moonilal crowed cockily about what was $4000? And the amount has been paid off in full. By Tuesday of this week we knew that the actual amount was $68,000.00 and that Toppin was in deed and fact overdrawn on the card, whose limit is US$10,000.00.

Toppin, following the examples set by her Prime Minister and other govt colleagues  spent the majority of the week ducking the media, and instead claiming she had to attend to her ailing husband….is this the same husband who it is alleged functions as her personal driver and is so in receipt of a government salary? When she eventually emerged from attending to her husband, her response was to send a press release to CNMG in which she indicated that she was not aware that she had done anything wrong. In short, Shoppin Toppin is using ignorance of the law as her defence. But it’s stupidly ingenuous if only because she has to sign a document that iterates all the rules of the card. So is Toppin saying that she signed off on the card and never read the rules? Is she saying that as a Govt Minister she is allowed to abuse the system out of ignorance and not have to deal with the consequences?
It is alleged that many of the withdrawals at ATMs were done by a close relative of Toppin’s and if anyone were to ever get the ATM video footage we might find out who precisely has been using this Govt Travel card all over the country. When reached for comment, the PM insists that the card has been paid off, ignoring the fact that the issue is not the amount owed on the card, but the flouting of the rules and conditions that show that Shoppin Toppin and the government that supports her are capable of corruption and turning a blind eye to it.

What troubles the Pantomime about this is the message it sends. This Govt is corrupt, doesn’t care and won’t do better. In fact, when a member does wrong, the other members will rush to defend and protect the wrongdoer….all in an attempt to retain its hold on power.

When people voted for the COP, it was hoped that its presence in the Government would provide the voice of reason and restraint and ensure such things didn’t occur under a UNC that everyone saw as predatory and parasitic….instead the COP has turned out to be the greatest disappointment…..the Trojan Horse that brought this UNC into Govt….the date rape drug to end all date rape drugs.

The Commish!

If Shoppin Toppin’s abuse of the public coffers wasn’t enough, we then had issue with Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs being told that he was wrong to rent a plane to the tune of TT$.9m. Mind you, this is in the aftermath of AG Ramlogan gallerying heself in Parliament and saying that Gibbs had full authority to sign off on a deal and that Gibbs didn’t have to answer to anyone on the matter of how much he spent because he was in total control of his budget. Now, weeks later we are hearing from the Solicitor General that Gibbs was in the wrong…..Am I to assume then that the AG didn’t know what he was speaking about? Then what’s his purpose? Isn’t he supposed to be providing legal advice to the Government? If he doesn’t know the laws then how can he do his job? Why are we paying him a salary?

The AG.

Another nasty thing happened this week too that involved the AG. The former SAUTT Head’s reputation was attacked under the cover of Parliament. The AG implied that Brig Peter Joseph ( a man that the govt had to shell out $1m to in legal matters surrounding his dismissal if I’m not mistaken) was incompetent and that SAUTT was malfunctioning. Under the cover of Parliament the AG can say all of these things without providing any evidence. But a high ranking source within SAUTT has accused the AG of lying. What’s new with this govt? If is not a lie is a misstep, or a misspoke, or a let’s move on, or an I did nothing wrong!

The PM and her sister, Vidwatie Newton. Photo courtesy Express news site.

The latest scandal coming from the Prime Minister is three-fold. Apparently the Prime Minister’s sister is he travel advisor; and when questioned the Prime Minister, not even acknowledging the flagrant nepotism involved…the same nepotism that she said her government was against on the campaign platform in 2010….defended her actions by saying she needs her sister. Mind you, it’s the taxpayers again that have to shoulder the cost of the PM’s needs…and Mrs Vidwatie Newton has been costing the country a pretty penny on each international trip she makes with her sister.

Even Kamla’s neighbours are complaining about the helicopters, the parties…and her razor wire fence!

The latest issue that should cause concern too is the PM’s comment that Executive Presidency is on the table for her government….the same Executive Presidency that she campaigned and railed against when the PNM was in power? Will it be an Executive Presidency a la the US where there is a Congress and a Supreme Court to keep the President in check….or will it be like Guyana’s? A system that is malfunctioning and only favours a limited section of the society? Talk to us Prime Minister dearest? Are we also switching to proportional representation? Is your government going to make all of these changes under cover of night and then inform the country?

Another issue that also remains out of the spotlight but is a burning issue is the matter of Tobago and Internal Self Government….the Central Govt is interfering….they’ve issued a greenpaper on the matter that raises questions about who qualifies as Tobagonian and what qualifies as the land mass that is Tobago…this greenpaper, spearheaded by Attorney General Ramlogan (why does his name keep cropping up????) has implications for Tobagonians, their land and their self-governance….the Pantomime watching how this issue panning out.

In the midst of all of these issues the world celebrated International Women’s Day….I thought of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, Norma Greaves and most of the women we have in Parliament on both the government and opposition sides and considered a sex change….then I called my mother…and all was right with the world again.

This was a tough week to be Trinbagonian. The govt continues to be glib, corrupt and uncaring. The light at the end of the tunnel seems to get more and more distant simply because De Vice Cyah Done!

Crime Clusterf@$k/Political Pantomime/ 21mts, 7dys: UNConfidence 2012 day 2!

The PM receiving blessings from the Baptist community outside Parliament. Photo courtest Trinidad Express website.

The Pantomime hitting all yuh a quick shot today because UNConfidence 2012 still going on and I want to catch every word…..doh mind they taking a long time to say nothing.

Well the debate start off as a proper circus show yesterday, complete with a singing and chanting crowd of supporters and big screens on the water front….this is what our Parliament has become in Trinidad, a total Pappy Show. The event was complete with ritual blessings and support from the Baptist community for the PM as they poured libation for her and sang Stand Up and Tell Me IF You Love Kamla.

So it turns out that Reshmi Ramnarine aint gone a place, she right here with a new name and a new job that tax payers $$$$$$ supporting. That was one of the marks Rowley buss along with a debate offering that raised questions about how this govt, notably the PM has dealt with: the economy, national security, trade, transparency and accountability. And just as quickly in an interview the PM

Yet the Govt MPs insisted that Rowley’s hands are unclean. And instead of answering directly any questions raised in his debate offering they have thus far stuck to ignoring the issues on debate, rehashing past PNM Crimes, making false claims under the protection of Parliament and generally frustrating the population who actually listening to the debate for its substance.

IT continued overnight and into today.

In other news, Ian Alleyne vows to continue to be the real Police Commissioner to the masses… and Basdeo Panday has accused the UNC of voter padding.

Another man was gunned down yesterday. But in a country with NO CRIME PLAN does it matter and should we really care?

I heading back to the debate folks. I want to give all yuh a proper run down of that!

De Vice Cyah Done!