Sunday, February 18, 2018

Our true face


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"Globalisation" has many definitions, one of which is that it is a process that has made the world smaller, enabling people across the globe to see each other's true faces.

But even before the word became popular, CLR James praised Trinbagonians as not being hemmed in by their small islands but as a people of substance.

He said that, though choked by the effects of slavery and indentureship, we possessed "a North-Atlantic vision" which means that we have been a "globalised people" with the world as our pool.

From the founding of the first newspaper here in 1790, there has been an editorial tradition which expressed that vision, attempting to take readers, through informed interpretations, into the larger world.

It is, therefore, against that tradition of our global outlook that the responses of ministers, Jack Warner, Suruj Rambachan and Roodal Moonilal to the recent editorial in the Jamaica Observer should be best assessed.

Obviously stung by the editorial's charges that his government is practising "ethnic stocking", Warner fired back: "Cockroach should not meddle in fowl business", adding that it contained "a hidden agenda" of "stealth racism".

Rambachan and Moonilal interpreted it as an attack on the Government and stretched it to mean the people of Trinbago also, and, as such demanded an apology.

It should be obvious, even to them, that in those responses to use the language of the season they are just "paranging the wrong house".

More substance, however, came from Dr Iva Gloudon, our High Commissioner in Jamaica, who told the Observer that when "logic and empirical evidence are not presented one often resorts to generalisations, which could become inflammatory".

Great point!

But probably because she sits in Jamaica Dr Gloudon is not in touch with the thousands who claim to be reeling from the "logic" of the People's Partnership Government, and that the empirical evidence she believes is non-existent is contained in the alienation they experience every day.

The "ethnic stocking" that the Jamaican editorial refers to is the feeling that the Government and its electoral base are marching to a tune of ethno-nationalism which could descend only into something frighteningly primordial.

Quite justifiably, the Government since May 2010 has been seeking to establish its own legitimacy, but within its efforts there has been a never-seen-before politicisation of ethnicity.

As the editorial points out, the real problem here is not the controversy about the allegations of substance abuse by the Prime Minister, but an abuse of substance the "ethnic stocking" of almost every public office, and the widespread perception of corruption.

Probably, Dr Gloudon should help us to understand criteria used for diplomatic appointments e.g. the illogical assignments of ambassadors to Washington, and Ottawa, and the consuls general in New York, Miami and Toronto.

She may also need to go further to the appointment of the Governor and the appendages made to the board of the Central bank.

Look, too, at the appointments at First Citizens Bank; the appointment of a CEPEP contractor as chairman of Caribbean Airlines, its board, and the executive-level changes made since.

And what of executive appointments and boards at National Gas, National Flour Mills, T&TEC, PTSC, WASA, UTT, CEPEP, Lake Asphalt, NP, EMBD? The trend continues throughout the 70 State enterprises.

In fact, there seems to be some clandestine introduction in all State enterprises of an official classification, known as the "administrative concept of race", but with a silent avoidance of the severe consequences that this holds.

So there now appears a new theme, which can be described only as in-group loyalty or consciousness of kind, alongside the promotion of what was unknown in our rainbow country of "we-ness" against "them".

Underlying prejudices are fuelled through "reminders" that it was the wicked PNM that closed Caroni Ltd, with no mention that the sugar industry was uneconomical and it was the Panday government that first moved to close it.

Then there is the frequent repetition that Dr Eric Williams dismissed all Indians as "a recalcitrant minority", without mention that it was a term first used by Jawaharlal Nehru against an opposition group in India.

And what of the editorial's claim of corruption? The Prime Minister says that the "good governance" is the best this country has ever seen.

How should one interpret that assessment in the face of the calls from President Max Richards for integrity; Trinbago's 39 per cent out of 100 score in the Transparency International rating; the recent observation by the European Union's Charge d'Affairs that she thinks the Government has the right ideas, but has not observed measures being undertaken to deal with drug trafficking.

How should "good governance" be explained after the Reshmi Ramnarine affair; after the attempt to hijack the Constitution through Section 34; after measures that have so far favoured Ish and Steve; after the OPV cancellation fiasco; and the retention of Jack Warner as Minister of National Security, with millions allocated for listening equipment and surveillance cameras.

The world is now watching our true face. "It would be fatal for a nation to overlook the urgency of the moment," Martin Luther King once wrote.

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

career in communication and