Saturday, December 16, 2017

The view from inside

In my column of August 13, 2013, I recounted what Jack Warner, who had just left the People’s Partnership Government and formed his Independent Liberal Party (ILP), had to say about some of his erstwhile United National Congress (UNC) colleagues. This is part of what I wrote:

“This man tells us, this erstwhile insider, that men whose wealth could be contained in fobs before they became ministers now had exceedingly deep pockets. He tells us that ministers who before could barely afford doubles now own several mansions. He tells us that parents and other relatives of ministers are suddenly running million-dollar businesses.”

And I commented:

“(W)hen he who was inside—resident in the belly of intrigue, opacity, and deception—comes out and says the same things and more, he takes away [our] doubt while at the same time expanding our incredulity…He was with them so he must know what he talking about!”

The nation now has its latest insider view of corruption in the Partnership Government. Go to YouTube and search for “Gerald Hadeed bashing the Government’’ and you will be rewarded with a video 5.28 minutes long featuring two voices identified as Gerald Hadeed’s and Inshan Ishmael’s (and showing their pictures as well), with the former charging a cabal and others in the Government with corruption.

Now, Hadeed is clearly an insider. In 2012, he was chairman of the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago; in 2013, he was Minister of Communications; and in 2014, he is Minister of Tourism. So when he talks —on the assumption that the relevant voice is his, of course—it is not unreasonable to think that he knows what he is talking about.

If you can’t get to YouTube now, here are some of the things he says:

“Chandresh and them fellas, all ah them hold she under a @#%& gun.’

‘I and the minister get away over awards of contract. He want me to give contract to friend. And I tell him I en doing that!’

‘He (the minister) want to micromanage every @#$% thing. Like you cyar hire people unless he know who you hiring. You cyar do nothin… you cyar do nothin unless he know wha going on.’

‘They mosi figure they go lose the next election aready and they just @#$%& grabbing everything to come in sight. And just a few people ge-in everything, so… ’

‘If he (Jack) wins the election, it will have a hope that she will listen and she would abandon them rats she have around her. Is a setta @#$% rats.’

‘The man behind this @#$%& thing is Chandresh too.’

‘But he pardna Ajodha is a @#$%& fraud. Da is he real @#$% bosom pardna. He gi-in wok him all over the @#$% place to do this, do that. And Ajodha, he was the chairman of the Tenders Committee and trying to do all the @#$% nasty wok.’

‘You cyar be @#$% decent in this government.’

‘The last two government callapse over corruption in the airport—the PNM and the UNC. And this @#$% one will be the same thing. They allow the corruption to continue in the airport. It will @#$% bring them down!’

This is another insider speaking, reinforcing what Warner reported on the hustings last year. So what’s not to believe?

There is a tragic irony in Hadeed’s story. By his own confession (not reported in the excerpts above), he abandoned the chairmanship of the AATT, ‘[falling] off his bike’, as he put it, because of minister-driven micromanagement and corruption. And by his own judgment, the Partnership Government is no place for the practice of decency. But yet, after leaving AATT, he accepted two ministerial appointments.

What must we conclude therefore? Not that he has given up the struggle for decency? Eh?

He believes the electorate will punish the UNC and Them for their corruption, but he is probably hanging around to see if he can turn the tide, if we are charitable in our evaluation, or, to grab what else he can get, if we are practical.

These insider stories, Warner’s and Hadeed’s, tell us how badly the UNC and Them have deceived and disappointed the electorate, especially the swing voters. This is not what we voted for. But the critical question is, How do we stop the corruption?

Voting them out offers no guarantee, though, at this stage of our political evolution, it should motivate the replacement government to put governance arrangements in place to give the voters powers to constrain executive violations and excesses.

But we have had no word from the potential candidate yet.