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A bitter dose daily

By Keith Subero

"MY name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/ Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

English poet Percy Shelley's lines, written in 1817, came to mind last week, as I reflected on the Government in October, over-riding the protests of Santa Rosa residents, as it scrambled deceptively to erect the $50 million Eastern Detention Centre for "the hundreds" it planned to detain under the State of Emergency.

Today that facility may well become, like in Shelley's reflection, a discarded monument with "vast and trunkless legs of stone...a colossal wreck, boundless and bare".

Since October, the facility has been flooded, its expensive roof leaked, and a worker killed during renovation work.

On November 28, the Minister of National Security, attempting to change his ramrod style to appear confident, announced that the police, with assistance from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British spy agency, MI6, were preparing cases under the anti-terrorism legislation.

On December 2, under the tight security of army, police and prison officers, 16 persons, held on suspicion of planning to kill the Prime Minister and three of her Ministers, were brought to the centre.

But in the dark of the evening of December 5, the 16 were released, because of insufficient evidence.

The CIA and MI6 could not even help the team — Police Commissioner Gibbs, National Security Adviser Gary Griffith, the Attorney General and Brigadier Sandy — avoid another shameful episode in the series of missteps they had already made — wrongfully rounding up hundreds, under the SoE.

Today, the $50 million centre may well concretise into the symbol of the People's Partnership Government's monumental failure — falling into Derek Walcott's description of the ruined house, "fallen from evil days, from evil times", the men have gone, but the "rot remains with us".

All of this should have been anticipated very early. We should have realised that the worse was to come, when the Finance Minister, on taking office, told the country that the "Treasury is empty".

Financial markets spin a fragile web and any hint of rupture could be disastrous to the system and an incoming government, but the People's Partnership Government survived because of our post-election goodwill.

But since then it gave us, first a misstep every month, then one a week, and now it appears that the PM "has been advised" that the country should get a bitter dose almost every day.

Just as we were expressing our disgust with the Secretary-General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) for rubbing egg on the face of the Minister of Education, locking out a school principal with talk of possible violence, comes the Attorney General's prolonged deliberation on whether he would appeal the Ish and Steve decision.

And, as if jinxed, the country then falls on the Transparency International Corruption Index.

The release of the 17 "detainees" follows, and now the embarrassment we caused to the Cuban President because of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs' failure to follow up in detail its arrangements with the Hilton Trinidad.

On the incident at the Tunapuna Hindu School, we still await the public condemnation from Gender Affairs Minister, Verna St Rose Greaves, Hazel Brown and the Hindu women's organisations.

One is forced to speculate that abuse of women's is a matter to be condemned only in conferences abroad, but never in a Maha Sabha primary school. Or is it, as the Prime Minister told the participants at a Colour Me Orange function, everyone needs "to eat a food"?

But now the country needs to determine why did the Prime Minister announce on November 24 to the world that there was a plot, when an intelligence report dated November 23 had discredited that "advised" information?

Why the haste to go public with claims of death threats and treason? Why the further promotion of an atmosphere of fear and terror? Was that it supposed to be just the softening-up phase?

What are we to expect next? To use CIA torture language "coercive interrogation" in a "Star Chamber"?

Dr Keith Rowley's pursuit of this matter may be defined eventually as his finest hour. It may give him, at last, the handle he has been struggling to place on his divided party.

His party membership, too, may recognise now that for their party to return to office they must first deal with Mr Manning's haunted attempts to create a PNM Second Eleven.

Years ago, I recoiled at Naipaul's dismissal of us a "half-made societies", living in the "Third World's third world" and that our future was similar to that of Haiti.

I wonder now whether someone has "advised" that we should follow the models of Guyana and Jamaica en route to that destination.

• Keith Subero, a former Express news editor, has since followed a career in communication

and management

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