Friday, January 28, 2011


This Rishmi Ramnarine/SIA affair has me troubled at a number of levels. First of all, let me put my own personal cards on the table. I voted for this Government. Like so many of my fellow citizens I was absolutely fed up with Patrick Manning and his PNM on a plethora of levels or issues and I welcomed the promise of change, transparency and open government, and an end to"business as usual". 'At last,' I thought, 'we would eventually move or begin to move our little country out of the grip of the neo-colonialists and into the 21st century. At last we would begin to be truly independent in our thinking and the tribalism and not so covert racism would begin to be a thing of the past'. That is why I voted for the People's Partnership. You could say that all my reasons could be summed up in one word: Hope!

Further, as if to reinforce the correctness of my decision to vote for the Partnership, since the general election the PNM has done nothing to convince me that it has learned anything from its defeat. Keith Rowley has (so far) been living proof of the Peter Principle ... where a man is promoted and promoted until he is promoted out of his level of competence. Dr. Rowley may yet show that he has the capacity to grow into a national leader, and one can fervently hope that he does ... it is not in the country's interests that we do not have a competent opposition. Sadly, though, almost from day one he has proven to be a huge disappointment as far as national leadership is concerned. Some (unkind) wags have even said that he makes Patrick Manning look good!

But this post is not about Dr. Rowley and his failings. That can be discussed at another time. I merely mentioned it in passing because this is one of the factors that have me most concerned, i.e., that there is no credible alternative to the People's Partnership at this time. And that is most worrying! A country gets the best from its elected Government when the politicians know that if they mess up there is a credible alternative ready and waiting in the wings. Perhaps the best example of this is the Panday regime (1995 to 2000). At all times Mr. Panday and his boys knew that one false move could and would have Mr. Manning and his PNM charging back! (Which is, of course, exactly what eventually happened).

But the Government's handling of the "Reshmi Affair" has been awful to say the least. the biggest problem with the affair is that it has damaged very badly not only the Government's credibility, but that of the National Security Minister as well as the Prime Minister herself. Brigadier Sandy's reputation is in tatters. He may or may not resign. The truth is that is exactly what an honourable man would do. How can he possibly not? And if he stays, what would the country think about any future contraversial pronouncements that he will most certainly have to make? Talk about damaged goods!

But the most serious (as well as the most worrisome) damage has been to the Prime Minister's credibility. She has not emerged from this matter without some serious wounds to both her image as well as her credibility. And her PR advisers clearly have neither the political knowledge nor the political experience to help her over this particular hump.

Oh! She'll get over it. And this will pass. But the Partnership is going to discover very soon (if they haven't found out already) that political credibility is something that once lost never quite comes back. Put another way, if, say, the Partnership's credibility the day after the general election was at one hundred percent, and the "Reshmi Affair" has caused its credibility to slip, say to eighty-five percent, they may (if they work hard) restore some of their lost credibility to, say, ninety percent. But it will never come back to one hundred. The problem is that if their credibility gets another sideways blow that reduces their credibility by, say, another fifteen percent, then they will only be able to claw back five percent, which means that they would then be down to eighty percent. And so it goes on until their credibility falls below the critical level ... and then they are finished!

And the tragedy is that it was a self inflicted wound that was not only completely unnecessary, but the result was completely predictable. What in the name of heaven were they thinking?


  1. We voted a government out for this corrupt and nepotism practice. It didn't stop it just continue. The country didn't get change but exchange according to the founding father of the UNC.

    At MLA people are hired and no interviews are conducted. What a change?????!!!!!!!!

  2. Another good piece. If I may add my two cents.

    While your column espouses the admirable virtues of correctness, decency and the honour that should be synonymous with political office, those traits are as alien to TT politics and politicians as a whore in a Sunday church service.

    The expectation, if there is one, of Min Sandy tendering his resignation is too far fetched to be considered. No one ever has done so before for similar errors, so why should he be different? Indeed, I go so far as to say that he my well take a cue from Pres Richards, whose consolation to the population after making a complete hack of the Integ Comm appointments was to .."move on from here". Sandy will remain, if only to maintain the trappings of office.

    I share your view that the country desperately needs a credible opposition, as it does a Gov't, but Rowley is fighting a battle from within and without, which renders his judgement skewed. Remember that he was initially 'challenged' (albeit rumoured) for the leadership of the PNM (Imbert) and has subsequently had to fend off distractions from his own troops even as he tries to garner support. Mind you, his wild and often ludicrous utterances have not served his cause. It cannot be comfortable in his situation knowing that the sly fox Manning is always behind him.

    As for the PP and as I stated before, I am disappointed in the PM who, to save her own political skin has lain Min Sandy at the sacrificial altar in the "Rishmi affair". History has shown that she needs only to ride out the time that usually engages the very short attention span of most TT journalists, or at least until the next storm in a tea cup appears.

    Remember Landate, The Integ Comm Appointments, UDeCOTT, Piarco Airport scandal, CAL, Manning's church, Rev Pen - the list goes on with many that have been consigned to the recycle think we want change???? I wonder.

  3. To add another two cents to that of Anon above, as sad as it is, we really do get the leadership we deserve... To believe in a true democracy - majority rules, and the majority of the electorate votes for either Bim or Bam! The rational thinking and objective minority argue and debate hoping to
    change or influence opinion but it all comes to naught when the election bell is rung. You mentioned that there is no credible alternative, but there is an alternative and 300,000 people are waiting to vote them back into office as Lennox Grant said (tongue-in-cheek)- for the 'comfort' of a PNM government. After all Patrick and the PNM were accused of, only 5% from 2007 abstained in 2010. And on the other side of the fence, another 300,000+ hardcore will be protecting their 'interests' by voting the yellow. I don't see us coming out of this mess anytime soon.