By: Jack Warner
What should we do with Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley is the question many who attended the PNM’s public meeting at Piggott’s Corner in Belmont last Friday left asking as once again as their Political Leader and the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago he failed to be relevant to the people of our beautiful country.
Many assembled believing that there would have been the forum when their leader would deliver his contribution to the 2019 – 2020 budget since, once again, he did not do so in the Parliament. Many believed that at Piggott’s Corner answers to many of the questions that were raised by concerned citizens after the reading of the Appropriations Bill would have been dealt with. But, once again, the people departed dissatisfied and unfulfilled.
This is a country emaciated by crime. This is a country under threat because of limited foreign exchange; a country where the health sector is on the verge of erupting and labour is struggling to maintain its calm. But instead, the Prime Minister chose to address issues that are inimical to the public’s interest and personal to his own agenda.
No one who attended the meeting or listened to it on the airwaves could understand why after four years the Prime Minister was now raising the threats to his person which he received and overcame four years ago. At a time when (up to press time) four hundred and thirty-two citizens have not been threatened but have been slaughtered under his watch, in this year alone, Dr Rowley chooses to reveal to the nation his four-year-old secret. Reminiscent of his delay for almost one year to reveal some faked emails!
No one who attended the meeting or listened to it on the airwaves or even read about it in the newspapers could understand why after four years Dr. Keith Rowley is now bringing into the public domain stories about how assassins were approached to take his ghost without telling the people of Trinidad and Tobago what became of the assassins who turned down the offer and the men and women who were willing to pay to see him dead.
No one who attended the meeting last Friday after four years of PNM rule under Dr. Rowley felt any kind of sympathy when news of these threats were revealed especially when he had the privilege of the Special Branch, something which is not availed to the ordinary citizen of this country to protect themselves and their families as they go about their daily lives.
The creation of sympathy can never be a substitute for non-performance
So why would Dr. Rowley after four years in office now raise a matter that was resolved more than four years ago when other critical national issues are affecting our country?
To use narratives of sympathy to try to erase the incompetence of one’s performance may have worked in the 1960s when Dr. Politics was the germane discourse that dominated political platforms. But to use it in the twenty-first century to muster votes is a virtual pariah among our people. The creation of sympathy can never be a substitute for non-performance
If this sympathy dynamic worked, then Kamla Persad-Bissessar would have been in power even as we speak because during her stewardship as Prime Minister she received more than one death threat. The difference is that she never revealed it only at a time when she thought that sympathy was needed. Her threat was considered as credible.
Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday also received threats to his life and so too did former National Security Ministers Gary Griffith and Jack Warner. But these were never used for political gain or to evoke sympathy from the public. Some of these were also revealed extent to the time of threat and others were never revealed at all.
Arthur NR Robinson, former Prime Minister and former President of the Republic also received threats to his life and on more than one occasion attempts were made to execute these threats but he never acted like a pansy seeking sympathy from his adoring public.
Instead, Arthur NR Robinson stood up fearlessly in the face of these threats in full defence of our country.
So Dr. Rowley needs to explain the value for bringing into the public domain allegations of a threat he received to his life more than four years ago before he was elected as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
Most of these threats are empty and vacuous and, in a country, where under his watch more than two thousand persons in just over four years have been murdered, he of all persons, should understand that the paradigm has shifted.
When assassins come to shoot, they shoot and don’t talk
He should recall Selwyn Richardson, a sharp legal mind and former Attorney General under two administrations who was assassinated in his own garage and he will realise that when assassins come to shoot, they shoot and don’t talk, thus bringing into question how real the fear he experienced was to him at the time.
The population never saw any extra additional security measures put in place for Dr. Rowley during this period. And therefore this talk about being aloof as the reason for not mixing with his sycophants after meetings seems moot since at the family day and even over the past four years there was no visible iron gate to support his behaviour as a result of the threat.
Therefore the only reason that one could evince as a result of Dr. Rowley’s proclamation is that he is trying to get sympathy from the people who supported his march to power in 2015 because he himself is convinced that his performance is not worthy of a second chance.
More than one week after the budget has been read, we are still waiting on the Prime Minister to break his deafening silence, to come forth with the verbal facility we know he has and speak definitively to the problems facing our country and his solutions to emancipate us.
With bated breath the nation is waiting on the Prime Minister to allay its fears since there is a threat that the economy is not doing as good as others claim especially since the credibility of the Finance Minister is shook with his arrogance and a seeming lack of concern for the poor man in this country.
Employees at Bmobile want to know how safe will be their jobs post-2020. WASA employees want to know whether their jobs will be sliced if talk about privatisation goes through. T&TEC workers do not have the same assurance that they held when Dr Rowley first ascended into office. And therefore refusing to speak to the issue of employment is shaking the confidence of the people to consider giving his administration a second chance.
Many are the times when this column has begged Dr Rowley to be silent so as not to become an irrelevant force on the social landscape. But alas!
Not a revenue stream has evolved during Dr Rowley’s term of office. Opportunities for tertiary education have been reduced due to the remodelling of GATE and the cutting back in the number of scholarships.
The nation does not even know what is the true status of those employed in the CEPEP and URP programmes and what their true income would be, whether some jobs will be cut and whether the promise of a 15% on to the minimum wage is just a con because the Prime Minister has not spoken with clarity on matters affecting all areas of the national community.
Monkey see; monkey do!
The people want to know why after more than four years, this is still probably the only country where no property tax is being paid and what plans there are to introduce one come 2020. The nation wants to know how these actions would affect their standard of living.
Public servants are waiting patiently to hear how the government proposes to roll out the Revenue Authority to collect the taxes owed by big business. But no! These are not as important to Dr Rowley as the revelation of the threat to his life more than four and a half years ago.
It is against Dr Rowley’s folly and the collective wisdom of the people of Trinidad and Tobago that my advice to the Prime Minister is to shut up until he can address the real fears that the people have and that they face daily in this country. And while he is at it he can also advise his Attorney General to do the same since he too has joined the sympathy line. Monkey see; monkey do!
The threat Dr Rowley received more than four years ago, even if they are remotely real, is of no importance to this nation today. All that its revelation has done is to tarnish this country further in the global village. How he plans to stop the rest of the citizens from dying at the hands of assassins and criminals is what the nation really wants to know. Be relevant Dr Rowley! Be real!