Home / View Point / Martin Daly / Fanfares, flags, parades and Prados: Daly on Kamla criticism and The Cutlass

Fanfares, flags, parades and Prados: Daly on Kamla criticism and The Cutlass

It must be considered extraordinary in the life of a country when editorial writers are compelled to call on two of its highest public officials to account for the expenditure of public funds in the space of a few weeks.

So much is coming off the rails at the same time. I do not wish to add more fuel to the fire.

Photo: President Anthony Carmona (right) swears in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Copyright Reuters)
Photo: President Anthony Carmona (right) swears in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright Reuters)

However, before I return to the positive and pleasing annual Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, I should like to suggest that it is because we have gone overboard providing weapons of self aggrandisement that so many of our public officials believe that they are the masters of our small island universe.

To be preceded everywhere by fanfares and flags, to maintain parades that give no value for money, which are relics of the colonial past, and to be conveyed in blue lighted Prado entourages is heady stuff.

That and other stuff is so heady that many of our public officials self-destruct under the weight of a belief in themselves that is akin to the ancient belief in the Divine Right of Kings.

As far as my recent professional engagement by the Prime Minster to provide an opinion on the constitutional boundaries of interaction between the President and the Prime Minister or members of Cabinet, I hope that the former Prime Minister, Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and her well-known satellites now railing against my engagement will remind themselves of the opinion that I delivered in May 2011 at the request of her Government.

The subject was her stay by grace and favour in a house in Tunapuna when she was newly elected as Prime Minister in 2010. She might also recall the free presentation I made in Tobago in 2010, at her Attorney General’s request, to her new Cabinet and the Peoples Partnership Parliamentarians at its first retreat. Reginald Dumas was the other presenter.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. (Copyright CNC3)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(Copyright CNC3)

For decades, I have had the reputation and standing to be sought out for independent professional advice by Governments from both sides of the political divide. That independence and reputation for fairness is my brand and I am proud to have accomplished that standing.

The reason that I return to the Film Festival is that I have been able to see creative products born out of a combination of sponsorship and personal/commercial investment carrying business risk.

The films are not made exclusively with “Gobernment” money with the assurance of getting more money even if the product is not satisfactory. There are no initiative sapping and backbone softening free trips and other freeness at State expense, regardless of performance, productivity and accountability.

Moreover these products do not conform to some judges’ formula for content and arrangement that inhibits experiment and change in art form.

This year, the films from Trinidad and Tobago filmmakers have been particularly strong not just in dramatic content but as exciting travel adverts for what is left of the physical beauty of our twin islands.

Photo: A scene from Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival offering, Sanskara.
Photo: A scene from Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival offering, Sanskara.

In Cutlass, the forested areas of Trinidad, emblazoned with the red of the Immortelle, was vividly captured by the use of drones—a progressive use of contemporary technology so completely in contrast to the dated sound technology and lighting still inflicted on our precious steel orchestral music.

Cutlass is a movie about a kidnapping in Toco, on the north-east coast of Trinidad, based on the true event of just such a kidnapping. So what is good about Cutlass?

To answer that I must refer to two other films of a different genre. These are the documentaries: In a Perfect World and The Absentee, which deal with growing up without a father present. In both films the issue is explored through the testimonies of the children/young adults.

In the full-length film, In a Perfect World, there is the considerable insight of the parenting challenge provided by the maker of the film, Daphne McWilliams, herself a single mother, from Trini roots but resident in New York. From this base she presents stimulus to think deeply about the problem of absentee fathers.

The common thread in these films is that they contain the sociology of Trinidad and Tobago and its diaspora.

This sociology of an absent father is also referenced in Cutlass. The makers of Cutlass drew the character of the kidnapper of the white girl by reference to his knowing no father, getting licks and being subordinate to his older and reportedly domineering brother.

Photo: Actors Lisa Hirschmann (right) and Arnold Goindhan in a scene from The Cutlass.
Photo: Actors Lisa Hirschmann (right) and Arnold Goindhan in a scene from The Cutlass.

The kidnapper’s background is juxtaposed against that of his victim, namely a two-parent family headed by a dogged father who goes into the field to seek and recover his daughter.

These moviemakers chose to make a key social statement about the dysfunctional inequalities of our small island country.  Glencoe social structure is pitted against the product of the looser moorings of a disadvantaged community.

The 2016 Film Festival provided credible material through which to see the fault lines of our confused society.

AboutMartin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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20 comments

  1. It is beyond strange that someone who considers himself a senior counsel, beyond reproach, would use his column to remind of opinions he gave to former PM Kamal Persad-Bissessar SC to defend the brief he got from current PM Dr Keith Rowley.
    As an average citizen looking on, I would like to ask Mr Daley the following easy-to-answer questions:
    1. Is Dr. Rowley’s wife, Sharon Rowley, associated with your law firm?
    2. If the answer is yes, would you not agree that an average citizen would view the award of this particular brief as a conflict of interest and/or nepotism?
    3. Could you not have advised the PM of such or at least the perception of such and recommended another Silk lawyer, a ho-to-to of which we have in TT, should be given the brief?
    4. Did your decision to accept the brief had any bearing at all on any perception or thinking you may have entertained that you see yourself as brighter and/or more independent or less prejudicial than all the other TT SCs and/or was it motivated by the relative ease of the money to be made (perhaps easier than the proverbial stealing candy from a baby) by snatching the brief regardless of how it go look, so to speak?
    5. Don’t you think that the public has a right to know the amount that you charged for the opinion?
    6. If so, how much did you charge for the opinion?
    7. On an unrelated issue, do you have any knowledge of a SC who was without briefs at a St Ann hotel some years aback when he was caught redfaced, with his head in a leg-lock with a female journalist, by her fiancee, who bust down the door?

  2. Thank you Kamla for your hard work you have done and are still doing for your country T&T

  3. In every village has one as we know ,In regards to the Post by Mr Daly and by the comments it is going to generate Mr Lionel Seeram i can say that already you have proven “Your It”.

  4. So now we realised that this “Independent” thinker gave opinions that were anything but Independent.

  5. Emelda Marcos opposition leader
    Govvament, Gobernment like cheese.

  6. Earl Best

    Speaking only for myself, I think you might have used all of your allotted column inches to tell us some more, give us more valuable insights into the ways in which the Film Festival promises to move the country forward. I remain convinced that time spent in any attempt to get the whole country to see through the scoundrels who were busy moving the country speedily backwards between 201 and 2015 is time that could certainly have been better spent.

    There are still none so blind as those who WILL NOT see.

  7. Earl Best

    “She might also recall the free presentation I made in Tobago in 2010, at her Attorney General’s request, to her new Cabinet and the Peoples Partnership Parliamentarians at its first retreat. Reginald Dumas was the other presenter.”

    Really, Martin! You’re letting them get to you. That adjective is COMPLETELY unnecessary, gratuitous, someone with a sense of humour might say. Aquila non capit muscas, the Roman used to say, the eagle does not catch flies.