Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guest commentary: PM's address at Divali Nagar worth noting - by Chandra Harnanan

I was locked on to the broadcast of the final closing ceremony at Divali Nagar and had the opportunity to listen to the Hon Prime Minister’s address. It is an address worthy of note by all citizens for it revealed the philosophy and beliefs of the PM as well as what motivates her decisions and actions.

Rare has been the occasion where a PM goes out to reveal as much about herself and particularly what drives her as a leader, as she did last night (Monday) at the Nagar. 

I was particularly delighted to hear her say that her happiness is secured in the happiness of the citizenry and that when she acts she does so only with the public good in mind. Indeed, her decisions to fire as well as demote her own ministers, as difficult and politically painful as these might have been, does reveal a PM who is deeply concerned about integrity in public office and about good governance.

In her address which is worth reading in full, she showed that she is spiritually grounded and looks to the scriptures for guidance and for inspiration. 

Her analysis of Hanuman as a Minister of Government, something that I myself have not paid sufficient attention to was very revealing especially the fact that he caused an alliance between Ram and Sugriva (Hanuman’s Prime Minister of Kishkinda). 

But what was most telling was the fact that she linked this to the need today for alliances given the complementarity of skills that are required for success as individuals and nations.

It will be most important for the leader of the COP, Prakash Ramadhar (whom I believe is a Hindu) to note her views and to note the success of Ram in recovering Sita as a result of that alliance. 

I say so especially with recent pronouncements by the new Chairman of COP, Carolyn Seepersad Bachan who seems not to be too enamoured about the PP alliance and is threatening to go to Tobago to fight the THA elections and now has further threatened to make extra demands on the partnership for the local government elections with her new philosophy “agree to disagree”, which translated amounts to “we are prepared to go it alone.” 

I have always seen Ms Seepersad Bachan as a confrontational person rather than a consensus building individual, one who will destroy an organization if she does not get her way. Her recent musings seem to be pointing at an approach that is going to lead to conflict between the COP and the UNC. Even the way she speaks reflects a deep seated anger. She almost appears to be quarrelling all the time.

Compare this with the Hon PM and you will see the difference. The PM tough as she is, always seeks a compromise, is always leaving a way for the other party. This is why the Partnership has survived. All members of the COP in Parliament have been given plush positions. 

Mr Dookeran as Minister of Finance and now Foreign Affairs at the expense of Suruj Rambachan, whose move to Local Government is seen by many as a demotion. 

Prakash Ramadhar as Minister of Legal Affairs and Head of the constitutional review committee. Mr Ramadhar is yet to make a mark about constitutional reform as well as to deal effectively with matters affecting consumers, a matter that comes under his portfolio. 

Let us also recall that the PM gave Mr Ramadhar a safe seat as she gave Mr Errol McLeod in Pointe a Pierre, where the complaints of non-representation are too numerous to mention. 

Ms Bachan as Energy Minister and now Public Administration. This is a most important Ministry and yet after a number of months in that position she has not effected any major changes to improve public service delivery. 

Lincoln Douglas as Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism. Anil Roberts as Minister of Sports. Roger Samuel in the PM’s Office.

Apart from these elected Ministers, Ganga Singh, Bhoe Tiwary, Devant Maharaj have all been given plush and plumb posts in the Cabinet. The PM has demonstrated that she knows what it takes to manage and lead the Partnership as well as to use the best talents available to her. 

I am not too sure that the COP appreciates this at all. With their upper middle class bias, they continue to have a hasty condescending attitude to grassroots type people especially those from the UNC when in fact it is the UNC which brings out the support base to keep the party alive and well when it comes under attack.

When I see the hopes of the people who put this PP Govt into Office being eroded by statements of the COP especially Ms Bachan, I grow angry because it appears that we forget only too easily that without the partnership and more than this without the leadership of Mrs Bissessar, the PP would not be in Office as the Government. 

The PNM cannot and will not win an election if there is one united party against them. It happened in 1995, and in 1986 before that and then in 2010.

The hopes of the people for an end to rural discrimination, for greater cultural equity, for a kind of governance in which they have a say was what they voted for in 2010. This seems to be lost on the COP, especially the new Chairman as it appears to have also been lost to Vernon De Lima and to Joseph Toney.

I intend to be the voice of the people who want a partnership and I intend to campaign vigorously against anyone who attempts to break up this partnership with unreasonable demands. The local elections and the THA elections will prove how genuine the COP is about this country's future.

If the COP is serious about partnering, they will do themselves justice by bringing together all the parties to the alliance to begin planning to secure every seat now held in Local Govt and to assist TOP to conquer the PNM in Tobago, rather than sending out messages which are divisive and confrontational.
Take a page out of the book of the Hon PM when she spoke at Divali Nagar! It is the only way forward, a good partnership.

Chandra Harnanan | 
Cipero Road, via San Fernando

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai