Monday, October 23, 2017


On the face of it , nothing! But Look at this picture again that is on the front page of today's Guardian. It shows Prime Minister Keith Rowley with Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon, and Minister of Rural Development Kazim Hosein being berated (according to the caption underneath the picture) yesterday (Sunday) by a resident of Mayaro.

But if you look at the picture again and read the caption again you will see some things that aren't being highlighted. First of all, the Rowley visit took place yesterday ... some five days or so after the flooding had started. Why? Why did it take so long for the Prime Minister to go 'on the ground' to see for himself exactly what had happened to thousands of people.

Next, where are the Members of Parliament for the areas in question? News reports say that the Prime Minister had deliberately not invited them! Why? His Minister of National Security said that politics should not come into dealing with this disaster ... a most admirable statement. So why didn't the Prime Minister invite the respective MPs for the areas? Instead he goes with the defeated candidate for Mayaro who is now his Minister of Agriculture. Ugly and unnecessary suspicions arise that the Prime Minister was indeed playing politics with this disaster for it is difficult to think of any reason why the MPs weren't invited along other than they come from the opposition UNC. Of course, there may be another good reason why they weren't invited, but, if so, what is it?

Thirdly, I heard with my own ears the Deputy Head of the ODPM say that this flooding was a 'small thing'. Really? I saw him in what looked like a three piece blue suit, nice and dry in his office saying that this flooding wasn't a big thing! And the Prime Minister doesn't fire him at once for his incompetence and insensitivity?

Fourthly, look at the face of the Prime Minister. Does he look sympathetic to the lady's problems? Or does he look as if he is just taking the criticism because it is politic to do so, but that he really doesn't care? I will readily admit that a snapshot is just that ... a snapshot ... and that the picture can be misleading. But is it? Is it really? Have the actions and words of the Prime Minister both during and after the flooding indicated that he really gets it? If you think that the answer is 'yes' then don't bother to argue the point. But know that perception is reality, and the perception of an awful lot of people is that the Prime Minister really doesn't get it and that he really couldn't care less. After all, goes the perception, all the flooding took place in opposition held constituencies so there is no real need to do anything for these people ... who, by the way, are mostly Indian. And yes, I am saying that the perception is that race has most unfortunately played a part in both the ODPM's and the Government's poor response.

Would that somebody would prove this perception wrong. Why aren't we moving in a direction where such perceptions can be easily debunked? They are divisive and do nothing to take us forward as a nation. So why do I highlight them? Because pretending that they are not there and sweeping them under the proverbial carpet simply hasn't worked. No. Its time that we faced our demons head on and by opposing end them (with apologies to William Shakespeare).

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