Frau Kamla ‘Blatters’ Rowley over controversial Pension amendments

Blatter (verb: copyright Wired868)

To mask ruthless, calculating intent behind veneer of simplistic incompetence;

To play the sap until opponent is exposed and then strike with clinical precision.

In the media, there were reports of a climb-down from the political leader and an about-turn in the face of persistent and escalating condemnation of an unforgivable and costly decision. But, for the keen observer, it was nothing of the sort.

A wily leader had suddenly bared teeth; and a political friend of convenience had been ‘Blattered.’

Mr Live Wire is referring, of course, to Herr Sepp Blatter’s concession that the decision to take the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a mistake.

“Yes, it was a mistake of course, but one makes lots of mistakes in life,” Blatter told the Swiss broadcaster RTS. “The technical report into Qatar said clearly it was too hot but the executive committee—with a large majority—decided all the same to play it in Qatar.”

Blatter, who is believed to have voted for the United States, said that “political considerations” had influenced the Executive Committee’s eventual decision and named France and Germany as leaders of Qatar’s push.

Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left) and ex-Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam. Blatter and Bin Hammam were considered close friends until the latter ran for the post of FIFA president; and was crushed. (Copyright AFP 2014/Kamarul Akhir)
Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left) and ex-Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam.
Blatter and Bin Hammam were considered close friends until the latter ran for the post of FIFA president; and was crushed.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Kamarul Akhir)

Blatter, the 78-year-old FIFA president with a walk-in closet full of skeletons, knew full well that UEFA president and Frenchman Michel Platini, who was the only executive member to openly support Qatar, had already hinted his intention to run for the presidency of the global body. He understood the level of global dissatisfaction with the decision to take the World Cup to Qatar. And he deduced that Platini could not distance himself from it now.

The UK Guardian article further suggested, as if incidentally, that Blatter would attempt to retain his FIFA crown. The story was written in reverse. Mr Live Wire would have said that Herr Blatter announced his intention to keep his FIFA presidency by skilfully saddling his main challenger, Platini, with the blame for a bitterly controversial Qatari World Cup.

And that brings us to Frau Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC and her about-turn in the face of criticism of the amendments to the Judges Salaries and Pensions and Retiring Allowance (Legislative) Bills.

“It is rare that the Government and the Opposition ever agree on anything,” stated a release from the Prime Minister. “The Judges Salaries and Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the Retiring Allowances (Legislative) Amendment Bill 2014 were passed in the House with the full support of the Opposition… Notwithstanding this level of agreement, there have been strong objections in some quarters to the Bills.

“Consistent with my policy of always allowing views to be ventilated and decisions arrived at after such due consideration the government’s current position would be not to proceed with approving the Bills until all perspectives and opinions are ventilated…

“At the end of the day, the national interest is what must be served.”

It is laughable to suggest that Persad-Bissessar has any policy of bowing to the national interest at all.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar arguably struck a clever blow on her main adversary. (Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar arguably struck a clever blow on her main adversary.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)

From the swearing-in ceremony, the Prime Minister ignored the howls of disapproval about giving Jack Warner a place in her Cabinet while he was still a FIFA vice-president. And she has barely bothered to consider public opinion ever since; not least when she accepted the title of Senior Counsel or retained Sport Minister Anil Roberts.

It is worth remembering too that the amendments were proposed by the People’s Partnership and not the PNM.

But, like Sepp, Kamla’s reputation is already so tattered that she has less to lose by taking another hit. Rather than try the near impossible task of salvaging her own reputation, she preferred to drag her opponent into a muddy embrace.

Blatter will ask: “Do you really want to replace me with the man who decided to put the World Cup in a microwave built by slave labour?”

And Persad-Bissessar will ask: “If the PNM was in charge, would Rowley have bowed to the will of the people? Or would he have done the Kama Sutra with the Treasury?”

Rowley, like Platini, reacted by accusing his political opponent of playing games. But, tellingly, he felt compelled to reiterate his support for a deeply unpopular course of action.

“Is the Prime Minister trying to hide behind the Opposition? Is she saying that if we had not voted in favour of these bills, the bills would have fallen?” he asked. “We (the Opposition) chose to stand up and take responsibility for putting in place a pension plan for parliamentarians and judges…”

Photo: Opposition Leader Keith Rowley. (Courtesy Jyoti Communication)
Photo: Opposition Leader Keith Rowley.
(Courtesy Jyoti Communication)

Now Rowley knows how that constituent felt when he went for a meeting with his MP and ended up getting his cookolooks inspected and nipples nibbled.

Pull up your pants, Sir; you have just been Blattered.

The respective amendments now have little to do with constitutional fineries; they, like the controversial World Cup bids, have come to symbolise reckless greed and deception. Rowley’s failure to spot the way the wind was blowing—notwithstanding his judgment in supporting the amendments in the first place—does not auger well; even if this might prove to be just one of many battles in the 2015 General Election war.

And who was the only Member of Parliament to abstain from supporting the amendments?

None other than the controversial Chaguanas West MP, Warner, who may have sensed something in the air.

Once Blattered, as the saying goes, twice shy.


Editor’s Note: Click HERE for columnist Rhoda Bharath’s dissection of the controversial amendments to the Judges Salaries and Pension Bill and the Retiring Allowances: Legislative.

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  1. I read this this morning…and noticed how they were all cheering each other….not a dissenting voice between the political parties.

  2. I know the judges, but I never see a poor politician before or since

  3. The bible said: ”for the love of money is the root of all evil” an if parliamentarien could pass that bill ( The Judges Salaries and Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the Retiring Allowances (Legislative) Amendment Bill 2014) then the reason for this high crime problem in Trinidad and Tobago is ‘GREED’ at the very top of the chain in our society. NOT ONE of them said ‘Here every creed and race find an equal place’ NOT one of them pay tax or import tax. They get away with so much allowances, yet that is not enough for them. ‘Greedy monsters’ GOD will have his reward for all of You’ll.
    As long as greed is stronger than passion compassion, there will always be suffering , Rusty Eric

  4. To me he walked in to that one. He asked us to keep our eyes open but wanted us to shut it over this pensiongate issue. Well we did not and now he being made to look greedy and treasury hunting. If there was a re-routing they would have hanged him out to dry.

  5. We must stop this foolishness of voting for a party or race… for a person who’s character and track record shows them as competent & compassionate……if we keep on voting for Lawyers we will continue to be lied to. …If we vote for business men they will simply aim to make money for themselves…….stop being lazy and really look at the people you voting for……don’t let these parties keep giving us Liars and Worship money.

  6. I don’t look at this like the (pp) government tricked the opposition or that the opposition (pnm) want parliamentary representatives to be paid properly……I view this as a very blatant showing of the fact that these 2 seemly opposing parties are just about playing a game with all of us !!!!……… is almost like they don’t care about what we all see and know going on in this country…….Our twin island state is rich in not 1 not 2 or 3 extremely sort after minerals……..yet more than 75% of of the population lives in less than acceptable conditions……government workers have a salary cap of 5%…..but deserve more than a 100% increase…….showing us that they are obviously more important or need more money……but the average person doesn’t need more money…..smfh…….Every government comes in selling the entire population the dream that things will get better once they are in office……they tell that they will lock up the evil opposition for deceiving us……and then they just stop talking about it so that when the tables turn and their so called enemies (the opposition) come into office…they reciprocate the gesture……it is all about reciprocation…ie. .helping your friends out !!!
    These political parties don’t care about us…..they show us that they don’t every single day.

  7. I didn’t intend to play him as a victim at all, Vashty. And I do think they deserve a raise. That is what the SRC is for.
    Unfortunately, no one really gets the salary they deserve. And tens of thousands of workers around the country are frustrated by bargaining bodies.
    C’est la vie. They tried a grab at the purse regardless.

  8. At the risk of being roundly bouffed I actually do think that there is a need for better payment of MPs (not necessarily ministers) but the rest of the proposals leave me wondering about the level of narcissism that informs the behaviour of these employees of ours. As per Rowley still can’t see him as victim 🙂

  9. I can understand why they liked the bill. Who doesn’t think he or she deserves a raise?
    But then you have to ask yourself about the legal issues, the impression it gives to the population and the possible backlash.
    I think Rowley is too intelligent not to have considered all three things. And if this was carefully thought out; then it gives us reason for pause.
    It is important though to know that one side is not angels and the others devils. The truth usually lies somewhere in between.

  10. whether he expected it or not is not was is really important but the fact that he supported THIS of all things have me watching him differently….I thought I knew who i was voting for but now it jus hopeless

  11. Well, that’s why I felt he was blindsided. Because he didn’t anticipate the PM’s move. I have no doubt that he will have a solid retort.
    The problem for him might be if that retort does not consider the emotional side of the argument. He is on shaky ground if he ignores that.

  12. He could have been but this is politics and he should have expected that after all the times they have (both sides) agreed to work together that one has turned on the other and the entire thing has backfired. He should have read all the angles. I am pretty sure he is going to find a way to make political mileage out of it in his own way. They are all cunning and none of them really believes that they are here to serve the needs of the people. Politics draws the corrupt and is the most insidious corrupter of persons

  13. You don’t think he was caught by surprise by the Prime Minister’s change of direction yesterday Vashty Maharaj?

  14. Rowley comes over like a blindsided victim of the piece Lasana 🙂 Is that possible knowing the man for who and what he is???

  15. look out for a pool coming up soon. that’s the strategy. thief the minds divide conquer and rule .plan 2013 plan 2015

  16. I doh even have tuh say nuttin. It look how it look

  17. And once again, pricey legal opinion as in the Jack Warner / FIFA conflict of interest issue, was sought from S.C. Sir Fenton Ramsahoye and ‘British constitutional expert’ Timothy Straker, by AG Ramlogan. To reassure us this was good legislation, the right and just thing to do? Ultimately tax payers’ foot the bill for these expert legal opinions that benefits who again? Clarence Rambharat, Lasana Liburd.

  18. I fear the “real Rowley” may have shown his true face here..

  19. Meanwhile Kamla talking about national interest and concerns and making decisions along that line. Talk ’bout belly. Somewhere it have callabash shaking they head..

  20. “He mentioned that in the past one had the scenario of the Opposition (United National Congress) voting against recommendations of the Salaries Review Commission for enhanced remuneration in order to score political points. “This is not the case with this Opposition. ”

    The difference there is that the SRC made the recommendations as it should.

    This is a serious matter Lasana. Aside from the obvious himself to himself concerns, I am flabbergasted that the Opposition felt it necessary to support what is effectively an indexed linked living pension for themselves without any apparent thought to the cost, never mind the fact that they were bypassing the process.

    Furthermore, when last I checked, pensions form part of any employee’s terms and conditions. To suggest otherwise is a nonsense. If the SRC made a statement that they lacked the expertise to deal with it, that’s one thing. It is after all, an extremely complex calculation to determine the impact of the changes in terms of cost etc. For that, you engage the appropriate actuarial resources to assist – not wash your hands of the issue.

    This is yet another example of how bereft we are of politicians who have a moral compass, common sense and commitment to serve the needs of the country above all else. You can shuffle the pack all you want with the current crop, you will still end up with jokers in your hand because the odds are stacked in that favour.

    PNM has surely done itself no good here in supporting this legislation to any rational observer. Trying to justify the misstep just further reinforces how badly we need new blood on the political scene.

    Interested in a new job Lasana?

  21. Call the Webster people. #blattered

  22. Good observation Lasana Liburd

  23. Your KFC article would fit quite nicely here too Lasana

  24. I was beginning to think I was crazy.
    First of all I couldn’t see for the life of me how anyone could call parliament determining it’s own pension packages as ethical. No matter how much parliamentary mumbo jumbo was spouted at me even from the keyboard of a sitting opposition member it was still clearly wrong and it’s implementation nothing less than subterfuge.

    Then there is the opposition in particular. For a while now I’ve been waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop, and drop it did casting the opposition in less than the positive light in which it had been basking for the past couple years. This isn’t the first time this amendment has been attempted by this parliament, but this time for some strange reason the opposition approved of it.

    Lastly there was that MP’s frustration with my not accepting this amendment expressed via a dismissal of my indignation as unwarranted due to my residential status as an expatriate and therefore incapable of voting or paying taxes in Trinidad (no wonder street dwellers are left to their fate at home).

    So I’m glad for this Lasana, I really and truly am!

  25. that’s how I read it as well. Rowley erred. In this silly season to cooperate is suicide. If you disagree, say “nay”, if you agree, say “abstain”.

    I hope he learn…

  26. In cricket, Melville Foster, when the ball is hit straight over the fence, it’s 6 runs, and lost ball what?

  27. “Rather than try the near impossible task of salvaging her own reputation, she preferred to drag her opponent into a muddy embrace.” – EPIC

  28. What did you make of the pension issue Kendall Tull?
    I have to add that it is one battle and not the war. But I’m concerned by some of Rowley’s utterances regarding these amendments.
    The suggestion seems to be that the concern of the people is merely a necessary bother that ought not be taken too seriously.
    That concerns me for several reasons.
    I hope it does not point to a tone deaf leader and someone who doesn’t buy the notion that politicians are the electorate’s employees.

  29. Many of the frailties of the government are somewhat matched in spades by the opposition. When will we see a viable third party option? Hopefully, soon!

  30. Brilliant piece, LL. I think our two main parties, and the judiciary who usually struggle to agree on much suddenly having a kumbayah breakout on pensions, and willing to ignore the rules, the regs, the constitution on this matter speaks volumes. Even if the SRC was caught napping, they really should have alerted the President rather than quietly push this through. If it wasn’t for the Independent Senators objections, it would have been a done deal. I think a lot of spirits of fair-minded Trinis were massively deflated this week across whatever divides we are told we have in the society.

  31. exactly it is a great strategy by her, and trust me on the campaign trail next year she will parallel this bill with Sec 34 and say “but what the opposition really arguing about” I really don’t think Dr. Rowley has fully understand what he has done and how he has tarnished his reputation with the electorate, the fact is you are in opposition and even if this may be a very un-popular Government the fact is you still have to give the people a viable alternative. So many people say well I may not like Dr. Rowley but he is the lesser of 2 evils, the fact is the lesser of 2 evils, is still EVIL!!! ah well what do i know, i’m just an author 😉

  32. I think it is one battle; so it is nothing close to a knock out punch. But she gave him rope and he took it.
    He made a point that salary increases for politicians are always unpopular.
    This is true. But he forgot that politicians are supposed to be the employees of the electorate and it is up to them to prove their worth.
    I don’t know if I am reading too much into that. Was it a flippant statement? Or was it a sign of tone-deafness?
    It is such unguarded moments that reveal plenty.
    Still, Kamla is fighting on the backfoot. She isn’t really bettering her own position. She is just trying to say that the other side is not the band of saints they pretend to be.
    And of course she would have a point.

  33. Absolutely brilliant brother, couldn’t have said it better myself and the analogy with FIFA was priceless. This goes to my root problem with Mr. Rowley most people have an issue with either the bill itself r how it was passed, I still think both sides of the coin are wrong, the bill was “un-constitutional” and it seems seeped in greed. Not to mention Rowley annexed his support on it, shows that he can take a 6 for a 9 and be non the wiser (first Sec 34 now this, come nah man and you want to be the next PM). These are the faults which I think clouds his ability to be a great leader and if there is a string opposition in 2015 when he seems destined to take office he can be in for a lot of trouble. They don’t call us trickidadians for nothing, the PM certainly had the last laugh on this and I can only pray Mr. Rowley learns his lesson. I rarely have much to admire with regards to our PM but in this case she definitely “out foxed” Mr. Rowley and the timing was so perfect, she waited until after he declared his unanimous support for her Govt’s bill to drop the anchor and prevent the further sailing of a very un-popular and not clearly thought out bill. Someone told me Mr. Rowley has recovered from worse “gaffs” so he’ll be ok but with just year until the GE are due I can only wonder how many people on the fence is Dr. Rowley swaying at this present time. I can speak for myself and say he has not swayed me and he has a hell of a job to do to sway others.

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