Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guest Commentary - Lest we forget by TG Mendes

The right of any society or part thereof to govern itself is measured by neither political nor economic clout. It is rather to be judged by the commitment to equity, morality and integrity as displayed at every social level, regardless of race, status, religion or political persuasion. 

Absence of or any neglect of the foregoing have been matches which have historically ignited many a bloody confrontation in societies far more sophisticated and experienced than our own.

By the above standards both the Indo, Afro and business communities must stand indicted. Not only did Indos silently and placidly endure more than 30 years of institutionalised neglect, abuse and denigration in the land of their birth under an Afrocentric PNM - who over that period employed strategies to maintain political hegemony, the transparency of which could not withstand the harsh light of democratic scrutiny - but Indos are still blaming each other for their communal failure to effectively resist their oppressor.

Basdeo Panday alone was responsible in '86 for the democratic rout of the PNM, made possible only by his ULF faction of that victorious coalition. 

Nevertheless, when ex-PNM PM, ANR Robinson, predictably destroyed "One Love" by routing the Panday ULF faction out of the coalition, inviting in that process an attempted coup and ensuring a return to PNM oppression, Indo Trinidad, without a whimper of protest or censure, quietly bought into the popular and convenient propaganda that the "rift" was Panday's fault. But worse followed.

When an irrepressible Panday, as leader of the UNC, in '95 obtained a parity of seats with the PNM, it was his old nemesis, Robinson, who afforded him the Govt., via his 2 Tobago seats in exchange for the Presidency. That deal was one which would prove Panday's political destruction, one he should have avoided. 

Be that as it may, what ensued was 7 years of equitable and progressive governance for the entire nation, never before experienced and yet to be surpassed. Significantly, after increasing his support in the 2000 election, it was the three senior members of his own Cabinet, themselves all Indian, who defected rather than accept a "kilwal" - Carlos John - whom Panday was determined to appoint his deputy in an effort to broaden the ethnic base of the UNC. 

Again, the Indo community, who had most benefited under the Panday UNC, was deafening in their silence and the defectors remain individuals of political consequence in that community! But even worse followed.

After returning to the polls on 14/12/01 the Panday UNC, despite 49+% of the vote, obtained a parity in seats with the Manning PNM, who polled 46%. It was here in an overabundance of both statesmanship and naiveté that Panday betrayed his mandate. 

Instead of retaining his position as undefeated incumbent pending another election, Panday, with perhaps well placed confidence in his majority of 14/12/01, misplaced not only his own but the fate of both his Govt. and the nation into the hands of his nemesis and the result was as predictable as it was obscene. 

After 2 weeks sans a government Robinson, lacking constitutional precedent, citing irrelevant hypocrisies of "morality, spirituality and the rule of law" chose Xmas Eve to remove Panday and the UNC in favour of a minority supported Manning PNM. Big business and their media lackeys were naturally elated at this unexpected and undemocratic return to their exploitative "business as usual". Indo Trinidad again, however, remained deafening in their silence.

This was their stance throughout the obscenity of the kangaroo trials to which Panday and his Cabinet were subjected, for sins as much imagined as real, which occupied the ensuing 10 months during which the national Parliament could not be convened for want of an electable Speaker. 

This untenable situation was tolerated until Manning called and won the next election via Muslimeen intimidation in sensitive Indo marginals - again in the absence of forceful Indo protest. Why?

As history shows, while T&T languished under an incompetent, vindictive and spendthrift Manning PNM, a naturally embittered Panday became his own worst political enemy and thus had to be removed. 

Before this development, however, there occurred yet another obscenity to which Indo T&T maintained it's stony silence. I refer to the vindictive and racially motivated PNM persecution of CJ Sat Sharma, who, in the absence of the British Privy Council would never have been vindicated. Significantly, I am aware of no attempt by the Indo or any other community to fund his expensive quest for vindication! -- Why?

Ironically, since 24/5/10, which heralded the defeat of an arrogant, incompetent and biased Manning PNM by a coalition in which an Indocentric UNC as the leading partner, there has been a sudden outpouring of often contentious Indo political opinion. 

While well founded criticism is a welcome addition in any democracy, their contributions are often more critical of the personalities than the policies of the government that they elected. 

While justifiable political critique is always healthy, Indo political critique speaks more often than not to personal envies and resentments rather than improved governance. A classic example is the ongoing arguments surrounding the selection of our next President. These are more focused upon the religion of respective candidates than their qualifications or suitability.

While it may escape popular attention, the descent, outlined above, into political "kuchoor" since '56, poses serious questions upon the society's misunderstanding and warped perceptions of either party politics or political independence. Or is our ongoing political malaise simply yet another manifestation of the malign yet enduring legacy of a long dead Eric Eustace Williams?

Cry the beloved country!
TG Mendes

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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