OUR COVER STORY by JACK WARNER
The world is coming together and this is what is needed to fight the deadly Covid-19, the seventh member of the Corona virus family.
Countries are uniting and communities are huddling down with one focus, which is to ensure that the global village defeats this ruthless menace that has interrupted our way of life and sobered us into the reality that if we fail to live together like brothers, separately we will all die like fools.
It is a message that is reverberating around the world and is the only message that is competing with the “wash of hands” message, because suddenly everyone realizes that talking to each other, building on past knowledge, is what is needed for the world to stop the spread of this virus.
What world citizens have come to understand is that the failure to unite puts the whole world, not just our friends, not just our communities, not just our country but the entire globe at risk.
So, during the primary period, countries that were proactive and were placing a ban on other citizens were scorned upon; but today, all are now moving towards isolation, locking down of their borders and adopting a policy that only allows one’s citizens to enter, to bring a timely end to the migratory pattern of this pandemic.
No one would have never predicted such a brotherly approach before the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our inability to forgive
Before this threat, our inability to forgive and work towards the greater good seemed to be lacking; at a time when trouble was knocking at our doors and at a time when forty-nine persons have already been confirmed as infected by the dreaded Covid-19 which appears to be on a slow but steady rise throughout our country.
And there was a wave of panic, with a corresponding type of cavalier behaviour that could railroad our country of just over 1.3million people. Because many believed that this war would be lost given our political divide and especially in an election year when we believed our leaders would not unite to avert this pandemic on the basis of politics and would place us all at risk.
The fear was real for it was only on Monday, March 16, 2020 at the Press Conference, post the emergency Cabinet Meeting, where the Prime Minister shone brightly as he began the unfolding of the Government’s strategic plan to fight the virus. However, his brilliance appeared to have been dulled by his inability to put his perceptions aside and work together for a united national assault against this deadly virus.
And when asked by the media earlier last week whether he would meet with the Leader of the Opposition, based on her request in writing, to hold a bi-partisan meeting to discuss the way forward with regard to the corona virus; his response was a definite no.
The Prime Minister then viewed the Leader of the Opposition’s request as nothing more than political grandstanding, as playing games and not acting in the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, was of the view that within the Opposition there are people who can make serious contributions but Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the Leader of the Opposition, he says was not one of them.
The basis for his decision was predicated on the Opposition’s denial to allow the Government to continue its response in the Parliament to the corona virus the previous Friday. In other words, Dr. Rowley was reciprocating in kind, toting feelings, and as a result he chose to deny the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to air her ideas in a bi-partisan forum with the Prime Minister.
The quality of leadership
As such, the nation was beginning to question the quality of leadership that exists in Trinidad and Tobago.
In Poland, we were reading where the State News Agency, PAP reported that “Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki met with a group of opposition politicians to brief them on his conservative government’s efforts to stave off the Covid-19 virus.”
Tomasz Siemoniak, a central figure in the Opposition Civic Platform Party, Poland’s largest opposition group announced after the meeting that the opposition “would support Morawiecki and his Cabinet in the battle against the coronavirus.”
Siemoniak declared “Today there is no greater priority than safeguarding the health of the Polish people, and we are ready to cooperate in any form.” We were yearning for that type of leadership in Trinidad and Tobago.
In Ireland the pattern was the same. The Irish Independent newspaper reported that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, Ireland’s two traditional main parties, would try to work together to form a government and spurred on by the coronavirus outbreak, the leaders have held constructive decisions in the interest of their people. We were hoping that in our country we would see the same.
We took note at what was taking place in Singapore where the Opposition had called on the Government in the interest of the people and in the fight against Covid-19 to postpone elections because to hold elections would be irresponsible.
And the government agreed and both parties shook hands on their mature approach. We wondered whether any kind of national unity would take place under the leadership of Kamla and Keith.
And when Michael Bachner reported in the Times of Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel had declared that “we will fight together to save the lives of the Israeli people” and together with Benny Gantz, Leader of the Opposition, “agreed to discuss emergency procedures to combat the coronavirus”; we thought that it is only in Trinidad and Tobago that our leaders on both sides of the divide practise petty politics and seek to score cheap points while the citizens languish and are placed at the mercy of this virus.
Forging new alliances within and without
Canada, China, Japan and even little Dominica were among the many countries whose leaders at all levels were banding together forging new alliances within and without, taking a brave stand to save their people. At that time we believed that while our country is under attack, at a time when we need all hands-on deck, our insanely reckless leaders were refusing to align for a common good based on who allowed who time to talk in the Parliament.
We watched as even in the USA, the most obdurate of world leaders, President Donald Trump, was beginning to understand the threat that we are all facing and was aligning with Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo to win the battle against Covid-19 in the State of New York.
And we mused how Trinidad and Tobago is under attack from a virus that is so virulent that experts believe it has the capacity to kill millions of people; we wondered when Keith and Kamla would come together.
And just at the point of giving up hope the news came forth that our Prime Minister will meet with the Leader of the Opposition in a bi-partisan setting to discuss the Covid-19 threat.
We all breathed a sigh of relief because with this battle it is the collective wisdom that will take us to victory.
I smiled because this call to duty superseded the call to practise good hygiene and wash our hands as the first line of attack in curbing this wave that is upon us.
The time the call came from the clean hearts of our leaders and it is now up to us to pray to our God to imbue them with the wisdom to lead us and take us out of this dilemma.
For once Keith and Kamla have given us a reason to be proud of both of them; maybe a few more Covid-19s would bring us all together.