Friday, January 19, 2018

Governance against the people

Since the election results of September 7, 2015, which saw the People’s National Movement (PNM) become the elected government of Trinidad and Tobago, replacing the People’s Partnership, the national state of affairs of this twin-island republic has experienced a constant rate of decay.
It is quite unfortunate that an oil-rich nation often refereed to in the past as “the New York of the Caribbean” for its economy, level of infrastructural and societal development, coupled with its standard of living, is now on the path to becoming the Zimbabwe of the Caribbean if national conditions and policies remain as they are.
The question must be asked as to how Trinidad and Tobago reached this boiling point of underdevelopment as in the recent past, more specifically the period of 2010 to 2015 under the leadership of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the nation enjoyed significant growth, improvement and was elevated from the status of a third world nation to developing nation.
The fact is, the past 18 months under the Keith Rowley-led administration has been a period absent of vision, absent of innovation, no sense of national direction, little concern, if any, about the rights, liberties and standard of living of citizens, as well as total disregard for the principles of good governance.
If we are to remedy the crisis or natural catastrophe facing our nation, the politics of Trinidad and Tobago must develop into a model where it is a conversation between the Government and citizens, and not an argument.
The politics must be one where the citizens tell the Government where they want to go as a nation, based on the principles of equality, democracy and liberty, while the Government responds with the best approach possible to achieve what is not only desired by the population, but in their best sustainable interest.
As the renowned British conservative philosopher, Michael Oakeshott, said: “Politicians should not see their task as moving society in a particular direction, towards a goal or series of goals. Rather they should allow the people to set their own direction naturally and ensure the state is maintained in a safe and secure condition.”
Upon reflection, the Rowley-led administration has been doing the total opposite. It has been leading Trinidad and Tobago into a direction which satisfies its own selfish ulterior political goals, enhances the economic gain of its financiers, promotes self-gain of a selected few of its supporters, all at the expense of citizenry who are being economically, socially and humanly suppressed.
The ignorance toward the needs and wishes of the population by the Government is demonstrated in situations such as the deteriorating health care system coupled with numerous cries of citizens which are met with the Government’s refusal to open the brand new Children’s Hospital built by the last administration.
With each passing day, those in authority consistently ignore the pleas of the population to provide safety and security due to spiralling crime, as the Government seems to lack the political will to address the situation.
In the past 18 months, the Government has abandoned its responsibility of ensuring a sustainable standard of living and prosperity for its citizens, as it has failed to generate employment, contributed to thousands of job losses, imposed numerous tax increases and significantly reduced, if not eliminated, the social safety net available to the vulnerable.
The term “governance for the people” is often proclaimed in global politics, but this has been the perfect example of governance against the people.
Governance must be about listening and reacting to the needs of those they are constitutionally bound to serve. The alternative of this is leading the people toward goals which they may not desire, with unpredictable consequences which threaten the preservation of the better features of society.
Nicholas Morris
Former Commonwealth
Youth Ambassador