Dear Collin, You are a politician who made a serious error for which you have paid by loss of ministerial office. But you are a human being, a citizen and a young professional of Trinidad and Tobago. Beyond the narrowness of party politics, there must be genuine concern for you.
This open letter is based on the assumption that you will not be removed from the Parliament by law, your party or your own decision. Whatever happens, it must not be the end of your road. There will be no future if every errant young person remains in the ditch.
But if you are going to continue in politics, it cannot be business as usual. You stumbled as the nation attained 50. Connect the co-incidence and join the country's renewal with your own.
Therefore, summon your courage. Enough of slinking in the shadows. Re-enter the arena but not to defend the indefensible. Stand erect whilst full of inner remorse and with dignified penitence, in the presence of the media, make a statement to the nation, apologise to the country, constituents, colleagues, Parliament and the Prime Minster. Be alone in this effort, with family, if anybody. Show the people you need no political prop of party personnel or placard-bearing supporters. This is no time for insulting the country further.
The situation demands nothing less than utter sincerity and seriousness. Or else your statement will be hollow, leaving your albatross hanging around your neck.
You must therefore recognise the depth of your mistake. It was your unthinking irresponsibility in toying with the nation's security, symptomatic of so much under your Government. Politicians must not fool with the people's future, security or stability. You are dealing here with a million and more lives. It is a sacred duty, lost on most who enter the portals of power. Birthed and bred by our mother nation, they raid and pillage her with frightening greed and recklessness. Neemakharams! It is nothing less than prolonged matricide.
Your error can save you from that fate, Collin. From your adversity, you must fashion change for your self, your party, and your country. Otherwise resign from Parliament. Wear sackcloth and ashes and later emerge to pursue your profession. If you remain in politics, you must contribute to changing it.
To continue untouched, hiding, hoping that time would make rehabilitation possible is the approach of the ordinary politician, of whom we continue with a surfeit, our nation's plague. You have the chance to be extraordinary, if you are to attain redemption from your sin against your own generation, to whom you would have pointed possibility, originally.
So after your statement, proceed willingly to the back bench to serve and reflect. There should be no pining or grovelling to regain the favour of the Prime Minister. Eschew that completely. Kamla is already the past. You are still the future. When you speak in support of the government in Parliament, avoid excess. Speak with chastened dignity, strive for depth and for the rationality so absent from partisan parliamentary perforations.
For the most part, keep your own counsel. You are beginning a new phase. You need time and space to think, deeply. You must develop an appreciation of the road ahead. In a word, it is your debt of profundity to the entire nation but particularly to the hundreds of thousands of your generation and their children.
So read as never before: literature, philosophy, history, including your own nation's experience and output. Imbibe from the fountain created by the great minds and ideas that have shaped human civilisation. Meditate. Think. Write.
Follow global developments, see the changes, threats and possibilities for humanity and your nation. Without this study you will contribute nothing new to the politics now suffocating the nation.
But with it, you can become an agent of change. You can then tackle your party, the United National Congress (UNC), an intellectual wasteland like all other parties in this nation. Develop a party school in the UNC, not for brainwashing, but for objective analysis and fearless self-examination; intellectual rigour to banish blindness; curriculum for a depth and nobility in the politics; syllabus for selflessness in leadership; all needed to liberate the nation from its present political superficiality. Seek funding from your party's members and supporters. Source experts, lecturers and analysts. Employ distance learning. Make the school the heart and brain of the UNC.
This should take place in all political parties in Trinidad and Tobago. Had you been exposed to such a school, Collin, you may not have erred so seriously. So you owe it to your party and country to embark on such an enterprise. And when it is done for your party, others will have to do it for theirs. You would therefore have seeded the possibility of a political renaissance in Trinidad and Tobago.
Are you ready? Can you be made so? It requires a new approach. It must produce a new Collin. Nothing less. Leave behind the one who apparently needed flashing blue lights, siren and Police Commissioner to experience power.
The new Collin must draw his strength from a deeper source, immortal, more enriching than all the world's gold, which renders materialism woefully inadequate, removes the pedestrian hunger for popularity and the spotlight and takes you to your own power, that which will render you more capable than ever of being a servant of the people, the noblest activity in the universe.
So Collin and other youth in Government, Opposition, and elsewhere: seek seriousness and study more than fete and frolic. Fifty years have gone and there is little sign of our best generation. You can help to pave the way for it.
Sincerely Ralph Maraj,
Former government minister