by Ramona Ramdial
The Matterhorn is a world-renowned peak of the European Alps and sadly in Trinbago, what we have is the deep political gutter of the “Meta Horn”: Allegations of infidelity in the highest household from one who allegedly suffered similar cuckoldry and whose leader would have encouraged unfaithfulness to their burgesses by instructing local government councillors not to attend last week’s meeting on the operationalisation of local government reform.
Instead of encouraging a calculated attack on the Prime Minister and Local Government Minister by UNC councillors, en masse, they were encouraged to put horn on their burgesses by leaving them unrepresented at the most appropriate and elusive forum! So, the slogans may have expanded from “Take b*ll,” “Eat grass” to “Take horn” also!
By accident or by design, Samuel Sankar was the lone UNC councillor to attend, claiming that a meeting called by the UNC National Executive to discuss the local government reform meeting indicated consensus, at 7 pm last Monday evening, that all UNC councillors would attend to give PM Rowley and Minister Al-Rawi an earful on their challenges.
Two hours later, during her MNF speech, Persad-Bissessar unilaterally changed that decision. The political leader did not pay courtesy to her councillors by attending the Nat-Ex meeting en camera, instead turning up belatedly “on camera” to warn them not to be “fowls in a yard” while simultaneously addressing the public.
Councillor Sankar did not get the memo. He should have known that party policy changes at the leader’s whims. Regardless, he is deserving of commendation for representing his “12,000” burgesses.
He made the point that all the protesting and hamper giveaways can only achieve so much and do not solve the problems faced by his burgesses daily. He claimed he got an opportunity to speak directly to the Minister and received assurance that help would come his way.
When I was a Minister of Government, the Opposition’s councillors were never afraid to approach me directly for resources for their burgesses, as we had a level of political maturity and respect as we worked together to serve the people.
The UNC councillors had nothing to lose by attending that meeting, in service of the people. However, when their leader told them that the Prime Minister couldn’t fire them, she was really saying SHE could fire them. Like good fowls, they went home to roost. UNC councillor Sankar was the lone wolf. Last week, August 10, marked the second anniversary of the UNC leadership’s latest General Election loss and its seventh consecutive year in Opposition.
In those seven years, it seems that the 19 constituencies and seven corporations held by the UNC have been totally starved of resources by the Central Government. This seems to have been the excuse given for non-attendance but strangely, the MP for Chaguanas East was able to publicly thank the Minister of Works recently for the paving of the Endeavour Road. UNC councillors have also been receiving other paving, drainage, landslip rehabilitation and cleaning of underground drain works. So maybe communication between Opposition and Government can bring results. As regards the regression to revelling in the PM’s alleged domestic strife, heavy investment in the scandalisation of Dr Keith Rowley backfired in 2015 and could create a powerful victim, AGAIN. Of all persons to understand that tactic is Kamla Persad-Bissessar herself. The cut and thrust of solid Parliamentary debates, regular political cottage meetings on the ground, weekly walkabouts by MPs and councillors and continuous party activities for the purpose of building support have been replaced with retreat and subterfuge. There is no move to unify the competent opposing forces, either.
It has degenerated into lazy, petty, defeatist politricks using social media to spew slander and bacchanal. Info coming out of the PNM camp claims it was a cook-up by the UNC leadership for PM Rowley to get the sympathy vote and the advantage going into the PNM’s upcoming internal elections, as it is building up to be a fierce battle with desire for change of leadership from within.
Last Friday, the labour unions held protest action against the Government’s 4 per cent wage increase proposal and as they marched in PoS, the Opposition held its Family Day and Curry Duck Cookout. In the past, the Opposition has always played a major role in joining and supporting the labour unions in their struggles and in turn, they have always supported the Opposition. They supported Opposition Leader Persad-Bissessar in 2010 with the Fyzabad Accord and Opposition Leader Rowley in 2015 as one of the Roundtable Stakeholders. The UNC could have at least sent high-ranking representatives to support. Curry duck, horn and absenteeism may not be the best strategies to return Persad-Bissessar to prime ministership.
I will continue to urge all Trinbagonians to stay focused on the real issues. Sadly, our current leaders have transformed our politics from a vehicle of change and hope to scandals, sensationalism and hopelessness. We should be more concerned that an elected Member of Parliament does not know that San Fernando is a city than if someone is getting horned.