Saturday, February 15, 2014

Guest commentary: Alarm bells in the PNM - by Ronald Bhola

Mahathird Mohamad
Circa 1995-96, Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad of Malaysia was quoted in the journal, Aussen Politik as saying: "The West has a long history of aggressive wars fought in an on-going campaign to Westernise the world: no Asian country has ever invaded another country to 'Easternise' it". 

And just last week, Hristo Kyuchukov, a Bulgarian of gypsy descent, and a specialist in psycholinguistics and education of gypsy children in Europe, remarked that the gypsies who originally came from a Hindu nation - India- about 1100 years ago, are a peaceful people.

The four brutal elections last year testify to the resilience and peacefulness of the Indians, in particular the Hindus. 

They recognized that it took decades before they were able to capture power, and having lost it in 2001 through political mismanagement, they are not going to throw it away, recklessly.
 There are compelling reasons why the PP government, despite errors made earlier on can retain office after 2015. Performance is the main reason. There are others which I will elaborate on at another time. But the government simply needs to improve on its communication.

Tony Blair, in his autobiography, says that in your final year, you should not give any hint of a campaign pre-maturely, or else everything you do just gains an energy of its own and every act of governing can start a campaign. The idea is to simply govern without any reference to a general election. 

We are fortunate that the Opposition is in a confused state right now. The government simply needs to continue with execution of projects and forget about election 2015. The people in this country are quite intelligent.

During 2013, the opposition PNM haemorrhaged to the ILP. In fact Mr Manning even made a trip to Port of Spain
to speak with Dr Rowley, on the Friday before the 'green man' was reported to have said that Laventille had gone green. 

Now there is contention between Dr Rowley and Penelope Beckles for all who had gone to the 'green man'. The situation is so bad, that efforts are being made to lure apathetic, non-financial members to vote in their party election. The PNM, which is 58 years old is now trying to play catch up with the UNC which is less than half its age, by introducing a one-man-one vote system. This is an indictment on the PNM and Dr Rowley. Surely they could have been more imaginative.

It is an established fact that Dr Keith Rowley has failed to grow the PNM; that he was responsible for causing the downfall of his own party from government just 3 years ago; that he is a crusader: and one cannot be a crusader and a statesman at the same time, and that there are significant sections that do not trust him since his frontal leadership challenge of 1996, reminiscent of Karl in 1973.

And what about Penelope Beckles? Penny, apart from being a nice person and one who is not known to make enemies is trodding along the path of indecisiveness. She is afraid to step on peoples toes. She is not known for being an advocate. The public does not know her to be a champion of any particular issue, and she does not have a history in the parliament of having piloted anything against the government and suceeded. Penny is relying on the Butlerites to bring home the prize. These two choices only seed confusion.

The UNC as the successor to the PDP, DLP, ULF is a boiling cauldron of talent in abundance. People are still attracted to the UNC because of its track record. And there are many who are waiting to be called upon to serve.

Basdeo Panday used to say: never give power to a man who is too hungry for it, because he will use it for the wrong reasons. There was a former PNM minister of education and culture many years ago, who carried to work a brief case with 5 different types of cologne. That is the history and legacy of how the PNM used office.

Prime Minister Persad Bissessar has survived the most brutal elections in this country, while governments were toppling in other parts of the world. Leadership and faith kept a community together and there is much that scholars can write about this unique political laboratory, called Trinidad and Tobago.

Ronald Bhola

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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