Monday, November 13, 2017


On Thursday last, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Stuart Young, announced that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has been invited to a meeting of world leaders in China from November 30th to December 3rd. According to reports Minister Young said at a post-cabinet media conference, that Trinidad and Tobago was selected by the leadership of China to attend the meeting. Mr. Young is quoted as saying that                                                                                     
"(United States) President (Donald) Trump is in China right now and coming out of that conference, the leadership of China looked around the world and decided they would like to meet with ten world leaders" .
"I am pleased to announce that Trinidad and Tobago was chosen as the one from this region and the Prime Minister Dr Rowley has accepted that invitation".

After the conference Dr. Rowley (according to reports) is going to stay in China until December 9th for a State visit.

Now, normally, as a Trinbagonian I would be very proud of the fact that our Prime Minister had been invited to what should be a very important conference, to represent the Region. After all, it would be recognition of Trinidad and Tobago as a leader in the Region (which must include by definition all of the countries that border the Caribbean Sea.

So? Obviously there is a problem. And the problem is that there has been no announcement of any conference of 'world leaders' to be held in China or anywhere else between November 30th and December 3rd. Further, Minister Young said that the conference would be attended by ten 'world leaders' of whom the esteemed Dr. Rowley would be one. But no other leader, much less a 'world leader' has announced that he/she is going to China for this alleged conference.

So? Why the lie? Because it seems that there is no conference and therefore what has been said is simply not true. Or, if you prefer, why the misspeak? It doesn't make sense. If Dr. Rowley is going to China for a State or any other kind of visit, that is one thing. But why pretend that he is going to attend a nonexistent conference of 'world leaders'?

The population has a right to trust the words of their leaders and to expect that they will be told the truth on big as well as little things. If a Prime Minister decides that the interests of his/her country are best served by making a particular trip then he/she has every right to say to the population 'I am going to X country because ..." and the country can then judge whether or not the expense of such a trip is justified and justifiable. But when the justification for that trip is patently false then ugly and unnecessary suspicions arise as to the real reasons for the trip and why they are being hidden from the population.

And that, Mr. Young, is why you should come clean with us. Did you make a mistake? If so, how did this mistake come about? Where did you get the information about this nonexistent conference from in the first place? If you didn't make a mistake then why is it that nobody seems to know anything about this conference? Who besides Dr. Rowley is going? Where is it being held? After all, China is a big place. Are those dates accurate? If not, why not?
What exactly does T&T hope to benefit from Dr. Rowley's attendance at this (nonexistent) conference? How much will this trip cost us? And as for the State visit, is a five day State visit really necessary? What exactly is on the agenda for that portion of the visit?  how much will that portion of the visit cost us? Is there anything on the agenda for that portion of the visit that couldn't be dealt with during the period of the conference? After all, we are talking about the Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago being out of the country for a period of about two weeks if travel time is factored in. Is it in our best interests for our Prime Minister to be away from home for so long?

There are a host of other questions, but surely you get the point. For me, the biggest question is why the lie? It just doesn't make sense. Frankly, the whole trip doesn't make sense. That it could, is a given. But the lack of information and the obvious obfuscations are not. And that is what is so troubling.

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