Consultation and approval by the majority are fundamentals of democracy. Contrary to what pertained in Trinidad and Tobago up to the 2010 general election, popular approval must always be a prerequisite to any significant expenditure from the public purse, whatever the improvement or repair identified, infrastructural or otherwise. In any such situation, it is incumbent upon a democratically elected government to satisfy the following the requirements:
1. Any contemplated project is one which will be of benefit to the majority
2. The proposed project has been professionally estimated and analysed, both to cost, social and ecological impact
3. The project, having already satisfied (1) and (2) above, enjoys the support of an informed majority.
History and human nature attest to the fact that no government, democratic or otherwise, however sensitive, caring or efficient, can hope to please all of the people, all of the time. Whenever the foregoing conditions have been met and transparency satisfied, it is then incumbent upon the ruling dispensation to proceed with diligence and commitment in the execution and completion of the project identified. Anything less is a betrayal of the people's mandate.
Once the Government can demonstrate transparent compliance with the preconditions above, I respectfully posit that their entertaining of opposition to any part of the Point Fortin Highway by Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, his Re-Route Movement and now the JCC (Joint Consultative Council) —is such a betrayal.
If not, what was the purpose of the not inexpensive pre-studies conducted by world renowned AECOM and Halcrow, for which the taxpayer is indebted? If Kublalsingh and other limelight-seeking malcontents consider themselves qualified to challenge the competence of the aforenamed, which is of course their prerogative, then surely, it is also their responsibility to finance any rival study in support of their objection, without in any way delaying or obstructing progress on the contested Debe/Mon Desir section of the highway.
Anything less poses the question, whom did T&T elect on May 24, 2010? Was it the People's Partnership or was it Kublalsingh and the JCC? Otherwise, why is the tail being permitted to wag the dog?
Whatever may have prompted the perception above, one thing is clear. After too many years of PNM (People's National Movement) abuse, the nation welcomes a truly democratic administration, one prepared to listen, react and even publicly apologise if necessary.
By the same token, the nation elected an administration to govern in the national and not in any minority interest. The line between accommodation and capitulation is often a fine one, and if the JCC is to be paid out of the public purse for another study on the highway, and there is to be any delay pending their conclusions or that there is any variation of route as a result, then there can be no gainsaying the fact that Kubalsingh has pushed the Prime Minister over that line.
Any such development will clearly indicate that if T&T is ever to fully emerge above the stasis by the maligned legacy of Eric Williams, it will have to be under leadership possessed of more testicular fortitude than that displayed against Kublalsingh and his supporters.
Cry the beloved country.