Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Assuming (though definitely not accepting) that the leadership of both major political parties in Trinidad & Tobago do really care about their country and put the needs of the citizenry before their own personal wants and ambitions, it is difficult to understand how either side could be pleased with the results of the recently held local government elections.

Let's look first of all at the results: the Trinidad Guardian reported right after the elections had been declared that the turnout was a very low 17 percent. Now where did the Guardian get that figure from? Reporters from the newspaper have told me that those figures came out from the EBC (Elections and Boundaries Commission) itself. Other news organizations reported a low poll of around 20 percent. Then, the Prime Minister comes out and says that the PNM's figures showed a turn out of 34 percent. Then, the EBC comes out after the Prime Minister and says that the actual turn out was 34.34 percent. To which I say really? What's wrong with this picture? Look, if the turnout was in fact 34.34 percent, why didn't the EBC say this immediately? Where did the 17 percent/20 percent/low turnout figures come from in the first place? Something is wrong. What? I don't honestly know, but I can say that this whole thing has given rise to very ugly and most unnecessary suspicions that are better left unexpressed. And I say this especially in the light of the EBC's illegal and high handed action of keeping the polls open in Trinidad for an extra hour in Trinidad in the general elections last year without a Presidential proclamation. Something is wrong here. Something is definitely not right. It just doesn't make sense.

And that's the problem. I was taught that when a man tells you something that doesn't make sense 99 percent of the time it is because he does not want you to understand. One percent of the time it is because he doesn't understand. So, what is it that the EBC doesn't want us to understand?

And the turn out was abysmally low. I don't care what the 'official' figures are. I have talked with dozens of people from around the country. Everybody tells me that in their areas there was either nobody at the polling stations or hardly anybody there. Most people didn't vote ... and the reasons were pretty uniform: they were all fed up with both sides! I honestly do not believe the 34 percent figure ... and everybody that I have talked to is of the same view. Now, IF that figure is really true, then what is the EBC going to do to satisfy us that they are really telling us the truth? Because it is critically important that we trust the EBC. And right now a lot of people simply don't. And that is not a good thing! The EBC has a duty to come to us with 'palms up' and account to us in clear and concise terms that explains everything and leaves no question unanswered. They have to regain our trust. It is most important that they do. This goes to the heart of our democracy.

People are saying that they feel that neither political party or their leaderships really care about anything other than feathering their own nests. Now, whether that perception is true or not, isn't it a terrible thing for people to believe? And the sad truth is that is how most people feel. In politics perception is reality, and most unfortunately the reality in 21st century Trinidad & Tobago is that neither side appears that they really care for we the people or making our lives better.

It is also a well worn truism that politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. What is happening now is that there is a perception that the Rowley administration is bereft of ideas and is failing badly. More than one person has expressed the view that the country is running on auto pilot. The problem here is that the Kamla Persad Bissessar UNC is not regarded by a majority of the citizenry as a credible alternative. In the power vacuum that is growing by the day the doors are opening for a third force to barge in ... and that third force will not necessarily come in through the democratic door!!  And that is why I say that the local government election results ought to be regarded by the leadership of both parties as a most serious wake up call. To the UNC I say, for crying out loud, get your act together ... now! Show yourself to be a credible alternative to which a besieged citizenry can turn to for help. To the PNM I say you are in power; you asked to be in power; you asked for this job and you told us that you could fix things.  Fix it and fix it now; in other words, show us the light at the end of the tunnel; show us how you propose to fix things. Put another way, lead, follow or get out of the way.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Robin,

    Well said. When the people cannot buy in to current party system then may choose other options. Apathy is, unfortunately, a choice and not a lack thereof.