Friday, December 14, 2012

Guest Commentary: Abuse of substance? Really? - by Robin Montano

It is well established in democratic countries around the world that editorial writers are always anonymous. 

The editorial written in a newspaper (daily or otherwise) represents the view of the newspaper and not of the individual who actually writes the piece. This is why I can understand the disdain of the 'Jamaica Observer' when calls were made to disclose the identity of the writer who wrote the editorial on Tuesday last (December 11th) headed "The More Important Issue Is Abuse of substance". 

Clearly, the persons calling for such disclosure wanted to suggest that the writer of this editorial was an African and/or a Trinidadian who is opposed to the People's Partnership Government. In other words, that the editorial was racially motivated.

Certainly, the editorial in question was curious to say the least. Assuming (but not accepting) that any and/or all of the criticisms in the editorial have validity then an obvious question arises: why didn't the esteemed newspaper raise these type of criticisms years ago when black/African regimes were in power in Trinidad & Tobago? 

There are endless examples of this type of behaviour which the learned editorial writer calls "an abuse of substance" relating to past regimes, and yet there is not even a peep of an acknowledgement from the newspaper that this is not something that arose today.

So? Why? What is different? Is there a connection between the newspaper and certain opposition elements in Trinidad & Tobago? (And I ask this question completely open ended and without inference.) 

Naturally, the newspaper would deny this even if it were true. But if there was then that would explain this rather savage attack on the T&T Government. After all, the editorial basically says that the PP Government of Trinidad & Tobago is racist! (Let's call a spade a spade!)

But, is it really? Did other administrations in T&T not do the same thing? If so, were they racist as well? If not, why not? (And by the way, the short answer is 'yes' other administrations did EXACTLY what the 'Observer' editorial is accusing this administration of doing.

Let us put the race card squarely on the table: Since independence Trinidad & Tobago has had thirteen different administrations including the present one. (Two of them were headed by Patrick Manning at different times so I am counting those as separate). Of these thirteen administrations only three were headed by Indians: Basdeo Panday and Kamla Persad-Bissessar. And of the two consecutive administrations headed by Mr. Panday, one lasted less than a year! All the other administrations were headed by Africans.

Now, a cursory look at T&T's civil service will show a preponderance of Africans. And I mean a REAL heavy weighting that certainly does not reflect the ethnic make up of the society. 

It's even worse when one takes a look at the ethnic make up of employees at the Central Bank, which is sometimes disparagingly referred to in T&T as "little Nigeria" (a reference to the overwhelming preponderance of Africans in that establishment). Ambassadorships and chairmanships have in the past been dominated overwhelmingly by Africans ... many of them friends and relatives of the regimes then in power.

So, the question remains: why did the 'Observer' choose to write this editorial now? 

Is the newspaper connected with certain elements opposed to the Government in T&T? If so, shouldn't the newspaper declare this? (Understand me well: there is absolutely nothing wrong if it is, but at least then people would be able to understand why it wrote that editorial). 

It would be naive to think that the newspaper would not be aware that its editorial would not create waves in Trinidad & Tobago. Not in this day of Internet connectivity. And it would be equally naive for the newspaper not to know that opponents of the PP Government would not use this as an example of "unbiased" reporting and commentary. Pull the other leg: it's got bells on it!

No. The 'Observer' had an agenda that it hasn't disclosed. There is no law that says that it has to disclose the agenda and it has every right in the world not to disclose it. But what is one law for the goose also has to be the same law for the gander, and the newspaper's blindness and apparent unwillingness to recognise the real injustices of the African dominated administrations of the past is of concern. Why? Why isn't the newspaper even-handed in its criticisms?

Finally, nothing in this post should be construed as defending or attempting to defend the PP Government. I personally do not want to appear as a defender or an apologist for the present administration and I have very deliberately not commented one way or the other on the charges made against them by the 'Observer'. 

My purpose here is to say quite publicly that I have noticed a very clear bias against the PP Government by at least two daily newspapers in T&T which bias is completely defensible in terms of freedom of the press, but which is indefensible in that both newspapers pretend to be politically neutral ... which they are quite patently not! 

Ugly suspicions in my mind are raised when I see a daily newspaper in far away Jamaica attacking the Indian dominated PP Government seemingly out of the blue. Why would the Jamaican newspaper do this? It doesn't make sense! And when somebody does something that on the surface you don't understand it is usually because he does NOT want you to understand! Would that my suspicions could be proved to be completely unfounded!

Read more on ROBIN's work in the RAG

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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