Saturday, January 20, 2018

On the road to where?


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I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts," Will Rogers, the American newspaper columnist wrote in one of his 4,000 syndicated columns.

Rogers, a talented man of many parts, died in 1935, but is still celebrated more for his political wit and social commentaries made during the period defined as the "American Progressive Era".

Readers of the Express are fortunate. Every week they can turn to columnists Kevin Baldeosingh and Tony Deyal for healthy doses of satire and lampoon, but, like Rogers' my columns are just my personal interpretations as I watch the Government, then allow the facts to reveal their own humour.

It is because I find no amusement in the the burlesque show that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar now stages every day under the neon marque of "good governance".

At first, I was tolerant of the shallow attempts at governance. Like kaisonian Chalkdust "ah in town long", so I recognised very early the PM's unpreparedness for office.

I was the Express political reporter for part of the Williams era, and worked on the news desk during part of the Chambers tenure. I know that Mrs Persad-Bissessar is no Eric Williams and, contrary to Jack Warner's defence that people are critical of the PM because she is "Indian and a woman", I know that she has neither the intellectual grasp of Mr Robinson nor Mr Manning's grand vision and capacity for work.

For centuries, theorists have been examining political change, debating about both the moral and psychological forces that have shaped leaders and the swirl of structures and strictures that may have influenced their times.

Plato for instance, told us over 2,000 years ago, that it was all about statesmanship, "the only true art of managing the life of the state", which he likened to weaving.

"The supreme goal of statecraft is the achievement of unity, peace and harmony in the state; the highest task of the statesman becomes the weaving of the aggressive and courageous warp of society to the quiet and self-controlled weft (fabric)," he wrote.

That delicate art of statecraft, as identified by Plato, some of those critics have said, is really beyond the Prime Minister, and despite her recent claims that she is a tough leader her reality is that she is imprisoned by an ego block which prevents her going beyond the bling of office. Her critics have sniped that for her ministerial office does not go beyond baubles, bangles and beads.

The saddest part of that reality has been an inability to weave, as Plato advised, the conflicting threads of our dynamic plural society. In fact, from the start, her administration appeared vengeful.

To date, almost every senior executive in the state enterprises and other agencies has been replaced by persons, from either her party or the clan, regardless of their incompetence and inexperience.

The late Lloyd Best would have explained that the "plantation" has captured the "port", so there is now the tacit manifesto that "It is we time".

Still another part of that reality is how the chosen executives have translated their new positions to mean new found sources of wealth.

So since, May 2010 almost every state agency has gotten a stinging "sampat" and has been ravaged. The tsunami of state banditry is fast becoming the new normal, with ministers and Government officials becoming millionaires overnight.

There is also the shifting of state agencies and ministries away from Port of Spain, first to San Juan, where businesses that once sold car parts have been converted into government offices at rents of around $100,000 a month.

This relocation is now expanding to Chaguanas, soon to become a city, where businessmen are renovating former commercial sites for government office rentals.

Couva businessmen are also preparing as there are plans to site the Industrial Court and an international airport at Camden - 45 minutes away from Piarco.

But although her critics may say she is unprepared for office, another part of the Prime Minister's reality is the establishment of her legacy.

A little-mentioned aspect of the highway project that triggered Wayne Kubalsingh's hunger strike is the Government's plan for a network of access roads from the PM's hometown of Siparia to the highway.

Jack Warner, as Works Minister, admitted last year that already he had spent over $100 million in the PM's constituency to establish those access links, which will first facilitate the PM's major legacy project the $509.3 million UWI campus under construction in Penal/Debe.

But the PM "show-me projects" in her constituency will also include a high court; an ultra-modern hospital for non-communicable diseases in Penal; a multi-million dollar technical vocation centre; the Siparia (East) Secondary School; a 20-acre regional corporation complex; a workforce and development centre, a sporting complex to host international games, and the shifting of other central government offices.

So coming soon will be the "Port of Siparia", the new capital of the south, possibly with a statue in the city centre in tribute to its founder.

The stoking of racial discord and Minister Moonilal's hint of violence are also facts. Dat is no joke!

* Keith Subero, a former Express news editor, has since

followed a career in


and management.