Saturday, December 16, 2017

Party dues and PNM elections

 Louis Lee Sing is a PNM member and former mayor of Port of Spain. Following is the third in a series of four articles by Mr Lee Sing which speak to issues within the PNM.

True to form Dr Rowley and his team of yes men have once again changed the rules to suit the moment.

Party members have been given an amnesty for not having paid their dues. 

The reason given suggests that Dr Rowley and his band of yes men believe that they can fool not only some of the people, but indeed all of the people—all of the time.

The argument advanced that the rules have been changed so as to give the population the view that the “PNM has numbers” is the kind of argument that some of the people will believe, but my feeling is that not all of the people will believe. 

It is too shallow!

This ongoing tampering with the party’s constitution reminds me of others in other places and must force the wider country to enquire whether Dr Rowley, if given the ultimate power, would do likewise with our national Constitution.

But more of that at another time...

For now, I ask you to reflect on the following quotation taken from Forged from the love of Liberty: Selected Speeches of Dr Eric Williams.  Dr Williams wrote:

“The second responsibility in the six-point code or party members is that you must pay for your party. That you do not do today. Your party dues are irregular. Many of you are non-financial...Donations from well wishers constitute by far the largest part of our revenue.” (Responsibilities of the Party Member pg. 115). 

At the General Council meeting of March 15 Dr Rowley, political leader of the PNM, argued and won a motion for the suspension of Article 20 of the party constitution which prohibits non-financial members from voting in any election. His argument essentially was that he was attempting to obtain the widest possible participation in the one man one vote system, and to demonstrate to the country that the party was strong.

 In brushing aside those who opposed the motion he talked about external threats to the party, members who publicly disagreed with him and his black skin. Neither Dr Rowley’s skin colour nor those who publicly disagree with him are excuses for advocating a poor decision.

To use Dr Rowley’s words in responding to Express columnist Lennox Grant, “what utter foolishness”. It will achieve no such thing and represents a show of weakness. Rather than use the opportunity to solidify the party and ensure that members understand their civic responsibility, Dr Rowley opted for freeness and irresponsibility. 

Why irresponsible? Should Dr Rowley become the next prime minister he will immediately face a number of key issues some of which are as follows: 

1. Implementing the Property Tax: What will he say to those who have grown accustomed to not paying, PNM members included? 

2. A bankrupt WASA that cannot meet its expenses because successive governments have not had the courage to tell citizens they must pay for water usage on a universally metered basis, a decision taken since 1990 but one that cannot yet be implemented. What will he say to those PNM members who don’t pay their dues and certainly will not want to pay higher water rates? 

3. How will he treat with the fuel subsidy now costing over $4.5 billion a year? The subsidy is really suffered by Petrotrin as the Government either does not pay Petrotrin on time, or at all. All this at a time when neither Petrotrin nor the Government can continue to finance the subsidy.

4. And how will he treat the necessary increases in electricity rates to rescue TTEC from its creditors as demonstrated at the last Parliamentary Committee hearing?

Responsibility begins at home and neither Dr Rowley nor the party has given the country an example to follow at the national level. Dr Williams must be turning in his grave. 

• Concludes tomorrow