Home / Live Wire / Blunder after plunder: Kamla discusses Reshmi, LifeSport and Vikings in odd Q&A

Blunder after plunder: Kamla discusses Reshmi, LifeSport and Vikings in odd Q&A

“Have you ever seen a TV show called Vikings?” Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar asked Dr Morgan Job, who was one of her three interviewers last night.

‘Vikings’, in case you don’t know, is an Irish-Canadian television drama that is not short of historical inaccuracies but big on sacking and plundering. It was a simpler time when tendering policy was usually “take what you can carry” and ship captains never asked to see CVs.

Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre) and candidate Khadijah Ameen (left) during the UNC's unsuccessful by-election campaign in Chaguanas West. (Courtesy Jyoti Communications)
Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre) and candidate Khadijah Ameen (left) during the UNC’s unsuccessful by-election campaign in Chaguanas West.
(Courtesy Jyoti Communications)

Mr Live Wire could say much more about that. But it would be too easy. And there were enough dead horses being whipped on air already last night.

Somehow, Tanty Kamla managed to turn a one-person debate into a bizarre battle of wills with herself, as she insisted on more time to give non-answers, asked to return to a previous question—after probably being advised during a break that the correct response to the cultural context of corruption probably does not lie in ‘Vikings’—and gave responses that would insult anyone with even a vague grasp of the issues.

The Reshmi Ramnarine SSA scandal, according to the Prime Minister, was a “flaw we took action on… within a day or two.”

It was a pretty flippant way to describe fraud. And, lest we forget, Ramnarine—last we checked—was employed at the Ministry of Health under the name of “Shashi Rehka.”

If only all suspected criminals were so lucky.

And speaking of criminals, Persad-Bissessar was asked about LifeSport too.

“There were administrative issues…” she replied.

Photo: Ex-Sport Minister Anil Roberts (left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Photo: Ex-Sport Minister Anil Roberts (left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

It was an interesting way to summarise a program that spent over $250 million in taxpayers’ money with little to show for it except, if the police are right, a dead Senior Counsel and a badly shaken DJ/deep-sea diver.

But Persad-Bissessar was not asked about Anil Roberts or Rajaee Ali or even Anand Ramlogan. And, even if she was, any journalist knows that a question without a follow-up is virtually meaningless.

But don’t take Mr Live Wire’s word for it.

Ask a three year old boy to describe Pythagorus’ theorem. Maybe he would say: “jello.” Or maybe he would start singing: “Hakuna Matata.”

Either might sound like reasonable responses to the uninformed without the option of cross-examination.

So, when asked about if her Government was failing on crime, the Prime Minister responded: “I want to disagree with you that we are not on top. We could possibly be higher on top. But we are on top…”

Maybe someone squirmed in their chair. So she continued.

“That’s why we don’t have the kind of instability…”

Photo: Murdered prison escapee Hassan Atwell poses for the camera during his good old days as an inmate.
Photo: Murdered prison escapee Hassan Atwell poses for the camera during his good old days as an inmate.

Someone in the studio, who was not under a rock for the past week, might have inadvertently winced.

Persad-Bissessar went further.

“Within a very short space of time, everything had been brought under control…”

Control, apparently, meant the murder of escaped inmate Hassan Atwell by still unknown criminals. Good lord, Kamla was debating herself!

And losing!

But it was an aberration. Usually, she ambled along at her own pace accompanied by panelists who, despite their stern faces, might as well have been egging her on.

“Come on, Kamla! You can do it! Almost there!”

Political analyst Derek Ramsamooj wanted to know whether she considered herself a pragmatic leader.

Persad-Bissessar responded that she was when necessary but gave an example of her humanity to “what’s-his-name” who waged a hunger strike in front of the Office of the Prime Minister.

“It was a very hard decision,” said Persad-Bissessar, as she recalled being trolled by “one individual on a hunger strike”. “Should I take a view of this one person and his band of followers or look at the bigger picture…”

Photo: Activist and UWI lecturer Dr Wayne Kublalsingh.
Photo: Activist and UWI lecturer Dr Wayne Kublalsingh.

Her best example of humanity, as online commentator Dion Jennings pointed out, involved her not remembering the name of an activist, Wayne Kublalsingh, who almost died on her doorstep.

She was scoring so many own goals that Sport Minister Brent Sancho might have been feeding her information from somewhere.

Isha Wells, whose red beret was as distracting as Job’s oversized suit, was always ready with a cardboard cut-out of a question that seemed fierce enough but, ultimately, lacked depth.

“Do you smoke marijuana?” asked Wells.

“No,” replied the Prime Minister.

Case closed then, eh?

Wells was well stocked with them.

“Is enough being done to address the drug trade by your government?” she asked, at one point.

The obvious answer from any Prime Minister would generally be: “yes… and we know exactly how we can improve in our next term too.”

Or at least, she might have gone with: “I told whoever was bunnin’ it by my house to stop.” Wink wink.

Photo: So how high were you to leave weed on the window sill?
Photo: So how high were you to leave weed on the window sill?

But Tanty Kamla went off another tirade in which she pointed out that Trinidad and Tobago does not manufacture drugs or guns nor do we buy and sell guns…

She was swerving from bleedingly obvious in one moment to obviously wrong the next. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion.

In her next term, if voters want to see what the People’s Partnership can do next, Tanty Kamla promised a Ministry of Defence to “deal with border control.” She did not say whether soldiers or coast guards will be moved from National Security to facilitate that plan. And it would be unwise to assume.

After all, under the People’s Partnership, the Minister of National Security ran basketball tournaments, the Minister of Sport paid criminals and the Minister of Justice drafted bills to set them free.

The Prime Minister was all over the place last night too.

One moment, Persad-Bissessar pointed out, with some merit, that no male prime minister would have faced the criticism she did about her choice of shoes. Yet in the same breath, she said she would happily retire to “cooking and reading.”

There really was no common thread.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. (Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)

The other major talking points?

Despite calling an election at virtually the last possible moment, the Prime Minister still has no manifesto.

Her legacy was the work she had “done for children” whose missing Children’s Life Fund cash is the subject of an another media-instigated police probe. And, in a dare to land pirates, she promised that all squatters on State land would be regularised after September 7.

Presumably, Opposition Leader Keith Rowley immediately filled a knapsack with biscuits, cheese and water and headed for a month-long camp at the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Vi-Queen, at this rate, is in danger of losing her throne.

About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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  1. Check the PNM Blunder is every day from 8th sept

  2. That was a nail in her coffin ?

  3. This was like reliving the entire two hours.

  4. And where are the journalist who got a wad ah my money to conduct the interview.

  5. 400 not 250
    Long live Life Sport with loud desk thumping.

  6. IN reading some of these commments here – One can fully understand why Corruption is very, very lucrative in TnT – It seems no amount of corruption, pilfering, mismanagement and incompetence can change the minds of Die-Hard PPers and PN’ites…..Just as long as the same race, same colour, same religion gets into power – we good! yeah! we good!

  7. ‘Debate’ or ‘monologue’?


  9. What about the drugs in the orange juice cans?? Has someone been arrested or???

  10. @ Jeremiah Steele….Eric Williams was the father of Laventille for all the single mothers there. The present PNM is a bunch of rehashed dunces. They cannot even run a 100 meters race far less a country.

  11. So much hate and scorn in these comments, it’s nauseating. Thing is none of these haters would do what it takes to get into government and be the change they want to see. Just criticize and complain, criticize and complain…

  12. Kamla is the devil incarnated! Let’s get rid of her and her gang of thieves!

  13. Kamla will win the elections – i have faith in her surfing ability – she surfed off the dying NAR into Panday’s UNC at the final hour in 1995 – Panday jettisoned Govindra Roopnarine and the dying NAR morphed into Dookeran’s CORPSE! She surfed from under Panday’s coat-tail in January 2007 just weeks before the UNC internal’s elections, to become the face of the Jack Warner’s efforts to ensure that his political efforts bear fruit – after a year or so of Ram-Jack-Gy(psy), she surfed in to become the smiling empty headed face of Jack’s challenge to Panday, replacing de twist-mouth man, with whom Jack realised he was getting no traction. If she really could surf, before September 7th, she just may well , surf into the PNM – it is her only chance this time around, of continuing a surfing career, based on a smile, without ideas!

  14. Kamla Persad Bissessar, the Mother of the Nation.

  15. Scotty Ranking

    Since we have well ventilated that fact that these ‘hard-hitting’ questions and their ‘erudite and articulate’ answers were an exercise in intellectual vacuousness, allow me to lighten the mood with another observation ….
    Was it just me? Or did Morgan Job look like his foundation was done with Horlicks, Milo or Highgate Cocoa?

  16. That’s it right there..thats y they cant have her in a real debate. people are going to ‘see’ her.

  17. I like your emphasis on the new PNM Richard. That is what i’ve been trying to tell people who still want to focus on the Manning era. If that’s what keeps them happy so be it. The new PNM seems to be a threat which they don’t want to recognize. Like you said she lost the last four campaigns and she will lose a 5th if Trinis really take a long hard look at her history.

    • We noticed the “new tactic” of trying to use the IC to make a fake case against the leader of the UNC to have them jailed …
      We also noticed , lots of lying in parliament about letters from FCB impugning the Minister of Finance and lying about being the line minister responsible for Las Alturas ….
      We noticed the lack of commendation for racist statements made against indo-trini’s .
      We noticed one proven corrupt American Politicians , being paid to represent the PNM ..
      And we noticed the other American Politician who hates the nation of India , also being paid to represent the PNM ..
      I noticed Faris Al Wari using parliament to further the financial means of a relative who awarded a very questionable contract in April 2010.
      I notice a continuous use of sexually derogatory comments made by the leader of the PNM to describe the sitting Prime Minister ! ! ! (and I do recall Mr. Montano, being booed for his comments made about Mr. Manning and what he could not do to Mrs. Manning in 2010) .

      I hope you would notice none of these are “accusations” , but noted fact..
      and none of them are about the Manning Era ..

  18. Chabeth Haynes, the PNM is a 60 yr old party. They know how to run campaigns.. they have won and lost. This team has won 3 out of the last 4 campaigns. They kinda know what they are doing so dont worry about their campaign. All you have to do is make sure you vote on the 7th and take people to vote.

  19. Ok, Richard. I mean it really doesn’t feel any different to be honest. But I’m an outsider and not in the thick of things so that might be why. But like I said I am rooting for you guys.

  20. Manning was a law unto himself in 2010 and living in La La Land. Only Manning thought he was winning 26 seats. Every other PNM candidate knew otherwise.

  21. Chabeth, why are we talking about Manning? This is the Rowley PNM. There is a difference.

  22. Debbiehear what ill tell you..trinis past their judgement on this gov’t 3 yrs ago. People had already concluded this..she lost 4 elections. What people are looking for is a viable alternative. They are not prepared to just ‘vote in the PNM’. So the PNM’s job is to demonstrate they are ready to lead and manage again. and it’s not the old PNM. That’s whats going on now..look at the candidates, watch the campaign, the type of events..it;s to make sure people come and vote.

  23. So Manning was just lying when he said all the internal PNM polling showed the result would be different?

  24. Chabeth Haynes The PNM knew they lost the 2010 election the minute Manning called it and that is no secret.

  25. I don’t need to see the UNC’s candidates or anything about the no rowley campaign for me to know how I’m voting. That’s not the point though. The point is I live in a marginal that did not vote PNM in 2010 and so I talk to the people around me and I have no reason to be as confident for the PNM as you are. But y’all are running your campaign so seriously good luck and all the best. I’m rooting for you guys. Really, I am!

  26. Are you serious, Richard Zen O’Brien? The guy has called every election correctly. Please don’t tell me that this PNM confidence is based on internal polling as was the case with Manning in 2010.

  27. Well said Richard Zen O’Brien and i hope to God you’re right. I hope good sense will prevail come Sept 7th which can’t come soon enough for me.

  28. Dude, who is depending on Nigel Henry’s polls? Didn’t you grasp what i said? You focus on YOUR campaign and message!! Have you been paying attention to what’s been going on for the part 2 mths? Have you seen the UNC’s candidates yet? Have you seen ‘no rowley’ .com yet? I guess you think that’s a brilliant plan!

  29. Ok, Richard Zen O’Brien. Here’s hoping Nigel Henry’s next poll reflects the momentum that y’all seem to think y’all have.

  30. Chabeth, as in running campaigns you try as much as possible not to be reactionary to the other person’s message. The best plan is to be in control of your message…talk about the things YOU want talk about. So far that seems to be working for the PNM. They have been driving their agenda, they have the momentum right now, they have the the crowds. That non debate/debate was Kamla’s attempt to change the narrative so people would pay more attention to her. The strategy is correct, dismiss it as a sham and concentrate on your campaign. That event only satisfied the UNC’s base and if they have to secure their base at this stage, they have major problems.

  31. AS long as they’re prepared to go out there and give him a hearing Richard Zen O’Brien. Some of them not even prepared to do that but i was heartened at the turnout in Westmoorings on Monday last. They came prepared to lash him but Dr Rowley handled himself like ah boss and i think he got some to jump off the fence.

  32. Because Rowley is talking every week, Richard, it doesn’t mean that on the fence voters are listening.
    Kamla’s discussion was carried in the media, I think ppl would expect him to respond to at least some of what she said.
    I keep talking to PNM ppl who seem to think this election is in the bag… I keep hearing “we winning”. I don’t know what that “over-optimism” is based on. Nigel Henry is the only person who seems to be able to call elections correctly in this country and thus far he’s generally calling the general election as too close to call. Which is concerning given then absolute amount of total crap this government has done.
    I think it would be a missed opportunity if he says nothing about anything tht she has said. Really? He’s not going to say anything about a ministry of defence? Apart from the obvious idiocy of it, apart from having just to have it and say you’re doing something, seriously, how many ministries do we need on these two little rocks upon which we live?