Trinidad & Tobago: Government Partnership a Leaky Ship?

A handful of Trinidadian bloggers seem disillusioned with the People's Partnership government and are being rather vocal about their reasons. aka_lol, for instance, noted yesterday that:

There is a a 16-page color pullout in all the daily newspapers today boasting of the accomplishments of the Government over the last two years. This pullout is funded by taxpayers. Didn’t we vote against this foolishness? Nothing has changed.

The blogger continued:

I thought any political party that replaced a corrupt and vindictive regime like the Manning administration would have at least appeared, without even trying, competent and honest during its first two years in office. Sadly, that has not been the case. All the Peoples Partnership has appeared to have done was to replaced once set of corrupt, vindictive and incompetent people with another set…the lack of performance is due to fighting at all levels of the party and parties for the spoils of the land.

He also referred to yesterday's anniversary celebration of the party's two years in office:

The anti-productivity, falsely self-righteous MSJ [Movement for Social Justice], a nearly severed arm of the PP [People's Partnership], has cited favoritism and nepotism as two of the reasons for not celebrating tonight with the other Parties that make up the PP – UNC [United National Congress], COP [Congress of the People], TOP [Tobago Organisation of the People], NJAC [National Joint Action Committee]. Regardless of the reasons the MSJ gave for pulling out of the celebrations (and not the Partnership as yet), the main but unsaid reason is probably the massive failure of the TCL [Trinidad Cement Limited] strike – the failure of the OWTU [Oilfield Workers Trade Union]. Next to the Government, the OWTU might be the biggest bully in the country and bullies tend not to get along well together.

The big celebration was also top of mind for The Eternal Pantomime. Yesterday, she wrote:

The Prime Minister is saying this is not a fete in here…She maintains that this is actually the Government (sans the MSJ [Movement for Social Justice]) coming to account to the people…This is the same Government that won’t answer our questions in the Parliament, or when the media interrogates them in post-cabinet meetings or over the phone. But tonight, yet another year later…the PM plans to account to the country for her government’s achievements in the past year.

You will no doubt hear about the numerous mini-projects that they put on fast track in the last month to allow them to have things to report.

She went on to document all the topics that would (and would not) be covered at the event:

What you…won’t hear is a proper comparison of crime statistics between last year and this year (minus the lull period of the SoE) and a breakdown of how the removal of certain National Security infrastructure has led to murders and gang activity once again being on the upsurge.

You will hear about all the sweeping changes being planned for SEA. You won’t hear why the indecent haste to change this exam in this way and the impact it’s likely to have on our failing education system.

You will hear talk of how the trip to India and all the other numerous trips have yielded trade and investment possibilities. You will never get details on what those possibilities are or what the trips really cost us…you also will not hear that they met a stable economy, and a treasury that was not in debt and they have now managed to screw the entire economy up.

I wish I could think of all the other areas they are going to list as achievements, but their numerous and glaring failures are far too apparent to me.

The blogger had a slightly different perspective from aka_lol‘s, however, when it comes to the legacy of the People's National Movement (the country's first post-independence government, now occupying the opposition bench in Parliament) – especially against the backdrop of Trinidad and Tobago's upcoming 50th anniversary of independence:

The architect of this nation will always be recognised as Eric Williams…it is Williams’ ideas, programmes and implementation that built and developed the idea of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: for better or for worse. And this is where every other political party will always stumble!

The PPG [People's Partnership Government], the UNC [United National Congress], the COP [Congress of the People] will fail simply because none of their leaders or any member of leadership is the calibre of historian that Williams was. In this year of our 50th anniversary the PPG have tried to avoid all mention of Eric Williams, because it will mean having to mention the PNM and therefore having to acknowledge that much of the infrastructure they have come and met, and regularly use and abuse was developed under Eric Williams, and then maintained under Chambers and then Manning. Indeed every government since 1981, whether it was PNM-led or not, has been coming to terms with the Williams legacy. Every regime we have had lives under his shadow….both in terms of his achievement and his failures.

An important part of any nation’s imagination is its Independence story. Last year the SoE [State of Emergency] denied us a celebration. This year’s celebration will be a disappointment. Mark my words. The country is frustrated, disillusioned, broke and bitter. Come August the people’s minds will turn to Eric Williams, which invariably means they will turn to the PNM and their thoughts will force comparisons. Many will still recoil at the thought of Manning, but many more will continue to think of Williams and what he stood for…no country forgets the architect of their Independence.

In today's follow-up post, The Eternal Pantomime gave an update on last night's celebration:

The PP [People's Partnership] dropped two bombs last night, but one was more obvious than the other and will be talked and beaten to death over the water coolers today, while the other bomb, might well remain in stealth mode for a while.

The overt bomb was of course the appearance of Sugar Aloes at the Eat Ah Food Fete. And if Aloes’ presence didn’t emphasise for use the extent of trough feeding going on under this regime then we are truly misunderstanding the ethos of this government. The whole point of producing Aloes onstage was of course to undermine the confidence of PNM supporters. It was the PP’s way of saying, ‘Look, even all yuh biggest critics joining us.’ Then I get up this morning and see a Guardian story that says the Calypso Revue is looking for a home… this is the tent Aloes belong to…I wonder if land for the tent owners was part of Aloes’ contractual arrangement last night? The battle for Elections 2015 is well underway folks. Indeed it never stopped. This is a government that has not yet begun to rule, and has certainly never stopped campaigning.

The other bomb though, got lost in the fireworks of Aloes’ presence….and that was Prakash Ramadhar’s speech…but Ramadhar’s COP [Congress of the People] made a bold move last night and dropped some fighting words.

The blogger republished the speech in her post.

Facebook and Twitter were busy today with commentary about the event (and extensive marketing thrust surrounding the government's second anniversary), with @IamCoffeedude saying, tongue-in-cheek:

There is a remote controlled parachute flying over the Queen's Park Savannah towing a massive picture of Kamla. We real reach boy. ‪#Trinidad‬

WUZDESCENE echoed his sentiment in a post titled “Wha really goin’ orn in T&T bwoy?!”, at the end of which the blogger commented:

all ah dat tralala goin’ orn ….. while Kamla an’ she Pee Pee …. in Central ….. galleryin deyself …. in celebration of …. two years …. of ….. screwin’ de country!!!!!!

aka_lol made a prediction about what citizens should expect from the People's Partnership government for the rest of its term:

Over the next three years I expect an increase use of the smoke-and-mirror technique while there will be more pick pocketing of the taxpayers’ purses by those who are friendly with those on the top…there will be no improvement in the way the country is governed…”

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