COMMENTARY BY JUSTICE HERBERT VOLNEY
In just about one year power will for a short while return to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. We will return to the polls to elect our representatives at a constituency level and whomsoever commands the support of the majority of members so elected will be requested to form a government.
2010 a chance taken to be rued
In 2010 the people took a chance electing a coalescence of forces opposed to the then government of the late Patrick Manning. I offered myself to this movement after much prayer and soul searching. I was successful at the polls. I was appointed as Justice Minister. For 27 months I gave it my all.
I remained in the House of Representatives until my right to speak and vote for the constituents of St Joseph was taken from me by the later disgraced Wade Mark, the unelected Speaker. I had stayed for one year after my ministerial appointment was revoked over matters relative to the proclamation of section 34.
The quest for self-destruct
By September 2015 the Partnership had dissipated and the UNC was defeated at the polls. Knowing that it was about to lose the election, the UNC Government adopted a slash and burn policy spending money it was forced to borrow to sweeten the national mauby. It failed at the polls because of unanswered allegations of corruption, firings galore, and fixing their supporters at the expense of fairness and justice dispensed among citizens. The government was first disgraced by the campaign and then humbled by its rejection at the polls both in Trinidad and in Tobago. Many high level issues of government behavior remain unresolved and some of them have also made it into our courts.
A resurgent PNM
The People’s National Movement Government has somehow survived the last four years. It has taken often unpopular decisions to rescue the economy and our way of life. These measures have not been particularly austere but were necessary to maintain balances that have allowed our country to proceed through very trying and challenging economic circumstances inherited from the last administration.
Any sober citizen would be aware of this and be appreciative of it for what has been seen in the last four years has been responsible government charting a way out of a mess left by the last UNC Government.
The problem with this Rowley Administration, however, has been the apparent absence of any real plan it professed to have had as a central theme of its 2015 campaign. It is not enough that you have a plan to tighten our collective belt in order to stabilize the economy. What we need is growth and not stagnation. We want job creation on a massive scale that absorbs the twenty thousand high school graduates each year. We want good sustainable jobs created to take in our university graduates.
JOB creation is the number one failure of this government. We want a more responsive and reliable public health care system. The absence of a junior minister in the Health Ministry suggests a dogged failure to appreciate that the task is well over the head of the incumbent.
The problem of CRIME is being addressed between the Attorney General and the Minister of National Security. Support seems to be given to the Commissioner of Police at long last, and one senses a reduction on the runaway crime affecting the country at the last change of government.
The Prime Minister needs to have a new minister of EDUCATION if he is re elected to government. Much more was expected of the incumbent given his history in the education sector. The policy of this minister is his way or the highway and consultations seem not to have impacted the way forward.
I have been more than a silent observer these last four years. I’ve written about it with only legal restraint but I’ve let my true feelings known.
This Republic Day moment, I salute the government for its effort and while there is much still to be done to grow the economy on a sustainable basis, I am impelled to call it in the positive for the Rowley administration.
Democracy, however, requires that the people have a real choice at the polls when the elections are called. Our Opposition has failed to fire at fair throttle. It remains ensconced in a failed past and leadership. I would not vote to elect it as the next government much as its supporters will say that I am sour grapes. I won’t stop speaking truth to the politics and suggest that the Opposition UNC has done little to attract the coalition of voters along the East/West Corridor to support it as it had the Partnership in 2010.
Life in this country remains relatively nice, not the best, but at least one of inclusion for all Trinidadians and Tobagonians. Everyone is getting a little of the pie to get by and this is because the national pie has shrunk. This is not the governance exhibiting runaway buying of Range Rovers for south of the Caroni, eating a good food by supporters of the UNC ‘Partnership-style’, and abuse of the Treasury. Corruption led to the loss of two succeeding governments and the Rowley-leadership is aware that unanswered allegations of it are like fire to gasoline.
So far, it has seemingly passed the litmus test and with the award of the Petrotrin refinery recently to a local bid, it has, given the Opposition reaction, exposed if not thwarted other plans of the UNC for the refinery, sinister possibly, but not limited to campaign financing. God don’t sleep as we say, and let’s celebrate life nonetheless in this Republic.