“[…] The difference between 31st December and 1st January is but a change in date… as we see the old politricks being played out in this new year. Firstly, there was the Prime Minister’s New Year’s Message in which he announced that there will be a series of public consultations on crime.
“It was as if Dr Keith Rowley has forgotten that he has been PM for seven years, during which time he announced several initiatives: the Watkins’ Committee, and the crime and violence is a public health issue with a Committee of senior public servants to review all previous reports and make recommendations, being but two…”
The following Letter to the Editor on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s New Year’s address to the nation was submitted by MSJ political leader David Abdulah:
The year is but a week old so we are still greeting each other: happy new year. As we stated in our New Year’s Statement, however, the difference between 31st December and 1st January is but a change in date.
This has been confirmed as we see the old politricks being played out in this new year.
Firstly, there was the Prime Minister’s New Year’s Message in which he announced that there will be a series of public consultations on crime.
It was as if Dr Keith Rowley has forgotten that he has been PM for seven years, during which time he announced several initiatives: the Watkins’ Committee, and the crime and violence is a public health issue with a committee of senior public servants to review all previous reports and make recommendations, being but two.
In spite of calls for the Watkins Report to be made public by laying it in Parliament, Dr Rowley has refused to do so.
What has become of the Committee of Permanent Secretaries? Have they started work? Is there an Interim Report? We are left in the dark. Now we will have public consultations, which no doubt will be a PR exercise given the PNM’s track record of the EDAB, the NTAC, the Roadmap to Recovery Report, among others.
Then we have the PNM and the UNC posturing over the person to be elected as the nation’s president.
The MSJ has already commented that who is eventually elected will not change the price of coffee, in that the system of governance as set out in the 1976 Constitution limits what the president can and cannot do.
On the other hand, our very divisive ethnic party politics, PNM vs UNC, will result in mistrust and low public confidence in the parties’ choices. We have nothing personal against either Ms Christine Kangaloo or Mr Israel Khan but they cannot escape the fact that—either because of past political affiliations or controversial public positions taken—neither will be able to speak for or be respected by the majority of our citizens.
The statements that will now be out in the public domain, especially the talk radio shows and on social media, will reflect and amplify the ethnic/party political divide. The old politricks has been given fuel to burn. New year, same old story.
The PNM and the UNC cannot change their spots, but neither can the leader of the National Transformation Alliance, who proposed that the president should be chosen from a list of retired senior Defence Force officers.
They are all able people and no doubt are patriotic, but the signal of having the president being a former commander of the Defence Force and a prime ministerial hopeful being a former military officer and commissioner of police will give the view of a militarised society.
The MSJ of course has not spoken to anyone to find out if they would be at all willing to serve as president. We can, however, think of some persons who are very distinguished citizens and who have an understanding of our society and what it takes to bring us together.
Two such persons are Mr Justice Peter Jamadar, former justice of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago and current justice of the Caribbean Court of Justice, and Professor Rhoda Reddock, eminent social scientist and internationally recognised advocate for women and children.
We hope that our mentioning their names does not cause them any embarrassment and if so, we apologise in advance. There are, we are sure, many other such persons who are equally capable of being a unifying president.