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Kamla Get Orn
IN WHAT MAY prove yet to be her political masterstroke, containing more grace in the coup than even her ejection of Basdeo Panday from the leadership of the party he founded, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar sacked almost everyone she could see (and a couple she couldn’t even hear) from her government on Monday night; and time alone will tell whether firing so many Cabinet members in one sitting was enough of a splash to distract us from what we should really be doing: wondering whether the ex-AG should be behind bars (and if he will meet House Speaker Wade Mark there) and following those developments, or lack thereof, closely, not the red herring of whether Police Complaints Authority chair David West should resign.
If, as former British PM Harold Wilson said, a week is a long time in English politics, every Trinidadian knows a weekend at Carnival time is longer than a month in politics: the people who were outraged by the ex-AG and shaking their fists at the PM on Monday night will be out of their heads over Machel, Kes and Destra tonight, and putting their fingers in the air, not the election ink.
But anyone in Trinidad & Tobago who gives a flying firetruck about the place must feel, today, like the Brazilian football team during their World Cup seven-one cutarse from Germany last year – except that Brasil had their suffering brought to a merciful end after 90 minutes, while we are clearly going to be saddled with what passes for our government for many more months; if the Prime Minister was not shamed into calling elections after being forced, finally, by the tsunami of public opinion against him, into firing the ex-AG, she is likely to stretch out as long as possible what must surely now be the last supper at the Treasury for her particular parcel of hogs.
In a real country, the good AG (and better ex-AG) would not have lasted so long. In 2011, a real citizenry would have arisen against him for his part – and you can follow the heavy movements of the ex-AG’s hand in most of his prestidigitation – in the infamous Section 34, the first time, to my recollection, the entire apparatus of the state, from Office of the President through Parliament to the gazette, was put into motion for the private benefit of two individuals, financiers of the ex-AG’s political party.
Even if you cut our quasi-citizenry some slack and say they gave the ex-AG the benefit of a non-existent doubt, because it could be argued that greater responsibility for Section 34 might have been laid at the feet of the Prime Minister or Minister of Justice (who, you remember, was eventually pushed, struggling manfully, onto his sword), what more did a citizenry worthy of the name need than the allegations of prison litigation being run as “an unethical business venture”? How could a real people swallow what certainly appeared to be the principled resignation of then Solicitor General, Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell but not choke on and spit back out the ex-AG?
The events of the last two weeks have been incredible-even-by-Trini-topi-tambo-standards but anyone who knows a flying firetruck about Trinidad, knows that, although the nation should have been out in the street all week, baying for the head of the ex-AG, they would only be out in the fetes all weekend calling for “Hooligan”; and on the Greens ignoring the pan in Panorama and posing for Facebook pix; like the old codger in the old American medical alarm advertisements, the government fell down and couldn’t get up last week – but Trinis didn’t notice because they were too busy jumping up higher and higher and wining down lower and lower.
In addition, in Trinidad, we’ve got used to the notion that no big shots ever really get punished, whichever side of the law or bridge they’re on: we watch both Johnny O and Abu B walk free. Even after a generation of what we all knew was PNM-thiefing, the new incoming NAR government was unable to make a single charge stick; and, after a second generation of PNM-thiefing, the persons appearing to have benefitted most ended up, not in local jailhouses, but in penthouses in Foreign.
So we begin with an expectation that no amount of muttering from the field slaves will affect Great House policy; and, we easily and speedily abdicate our duty to rebel against the same firetruckeries we have always laboured under here: that some of us are more entitled than others and they must take as much and as boldly as they can – and the rest of us should put our fingers on our lips and keep our collective arse quart (as Paolo Kernahan used to say on Skews); we have a US$1M worthless firetruck recovery receipt to prove it.
The Kamla parcel of hogs will gorge until they are pulled away from the trough for butchery but the only thing we can be sure of, if every general election since 1956 is any form guide, is that their replacement– whether the PNM or some other “partnership” ratchifee – will be worse.
And the only thing that will stop their replacement from being worse than the current pack of reshuffled jokers is the one thing those of us who remember the NAR days don’t want: an empty firetrucking Treasury.
But it have fete tonight and champagne flowing like water in the Conny Voll feathers-and-beads band and only time – and our attention span – will tell whether what we had on Monday night was really Kamlageddon or merely Kamla Get Orn.
BC Pires is waiting to see whether developments will occur on the political or the Savannah stage