Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Dear Editor: Kamal Persad wrong to ignore PNM’s history with citizens of Indian descent

Dear Editor: Kamal Persad wrong to ignore PNM’s history with citizens of Indian descent

“From the inception of the party under the leadership of Dr Eric Williams, the PNM […] could not have succeeded without the important role played by citizens of Indian descent who were either members of the PNM or citizens who put country first in their respective roles.

“It was people like Kamaluddin Mohammed, Matthew Ramcharan, Dr Wahid Ali, Dr Lenny Saith…”

The following Letter to the Editor, which responds to Kamal Persad’s depiction of PNM governance as ‘48+ years of Black Power rule in T&T,’ was submitted to Wired868 by former PNM general secretary Ashton Ford:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister, the late Dr Eric Williams (far left, foreground) and long-standing Cabinet member the late Kamaluddin Mohammed (far right) flank another Cabinet member Errol Mahabir. (second from left, forgeround).

It was a sad day in the history of Trinidad and Tobago when Kamal Persad’s letter “48+ years of Black Power rule in T&T” was published on the 62nd anniversary (January 24th) of the People’s National Movement (PNM) in the Trinidad Express newspaper.

Sad, because anyone who reflects on the history of the PNM from 1956 to the present will come to the inescapable conclusion that every sector in our beloved country benefitted from the policies and programmes of the PNM.

From the inception of the party under the leadership of Dr Eric Williams, the PNM set about to vigorously transform the country into a developed nation having gained Independence in 1962 and republican status in 1976.

These achievements could not have succeeded without the important role played by citizens of Indian descent, who were either members of the PNM or citizens who put country first in their respective roles.

It was people like Kamaluddin Mohammed, who served as a Cabinet Minister for 30 years, and Matthew Ramcharan, who served as a diplomat in Jamaica, Venezuela and Canada and also as Speaker of the House of Representatives, that made significant contributions during the life of the party.

Photo: Former PNM senator and minister of energy, Dr Lenny Saith.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

There were others like Dr Wahid Ali, who presided in the Senate for 15 consecutive years and who also acted as president of the country. Dr Lenny Saith served in the Senate, as a Cabinet member and also as chairman and deputy political leader of this great party.

In the public service under the PNM, the country had two chief justices of Indian descent, namely Sir Isaac Hyatali and Mr Sat Sharma. Sir Isaac was also chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission.

Mr Noor Hassanali, who served with distinction as president of the country, retained his position for a second term from 1992 under the PNM, having been elected by the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) in 1987.

The first High Commissioner for T&T to India was Ashford Sinanan, who incidentally was not a member of the PNM, in fact, he was a well-known opponent of the PNM.

There are several political opponents of the PNM who can testify that their children and grandchildren were among hundreds of students who obtained scholarships under a PNM government.

Also in education, several secondary schools were built all over the country, including the areas that are known to be represented by parties opposed to the PNM.

Photo: Late former Trinidad and Tobago president Noor Hassanali.
(Copyright Office of the President)

One of the most significant achievements by the PNM was the establishment of the Pt Lisas Industrial Estate, which is located in the heartland of Central Trinidad and which is credited for its major role in the country’s economy.

The Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Committee (SILWC) was established to provide proper housing solutions for sugar workers and cane farmers to raise their standard of living. This programme has been in operation for many years and there has never been any objection from the national community regarding its role and function.

Over the years, the party was represented by Indians under all our political leaders, George Chambers, Patrick Manning and Dr Keith Rowley, whether in Government or in Opposition in keeping with the PNM’s philosophy that:

“We are not an ordinary party in the narrow accepted sense of the word. We are rather a rally, a convention of all, a mobilisation of all the forces in the community, cutting across race, religion, class and colour, with emphasis on united action by all the people in the common cause.” (The People’s Charter)

And so today, under the leadership of Dr Keith Rowley some key portfolios in Cabinet are headed by Indians, namely the Attorney General and the Ministers of Energy, Health, Works and Transport, Local Government, Agriculture and Trade and Industry.

Photo: Minister of Works and Transport and PNM deputy leader Rohan Sinanan (second from right) and his family pose with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (far left).
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

Several State boards are chaired by Indians, some of whom are not members of the PNM. These appointments are in keeping with the pronouncement by Dr Rowley when he spoke at Balisier House on the night of the 2015 general elections, when he declared that he will not be prime minister of the PNM but of “Trinidad and Tobago.”

It is also important to note that he kept his promise with the appointment of the chairman of First Citizens Bank (FCB,) who held the position from the previous Government and also Telecommunication Service of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT). Both are not members of the PNM.

And we must remembe thatr, not for the first time, the current Chairman and General Secretary of the party are Indians.

It is for this reason all right-thinking citizens are angry over the obscene remarks by Persad, especially when he based his presentation on falsehoods.

In closing, I wish to remind the country of what Dr Williams said at the special convention in 1981 to commemorate 25th anniversary of the party when he stated that nowhere else in the world the Indians are as well off as they are in Trinidad and Tobago.

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151 comments

  1. I am impressed by the 150 number of comments on my little rant against that nincompoop Ashton Ford’s glorification of Eric Williams, the PNM and the PNM Indians, but less so by their content.
    There were so few comments from people who appeared by surname or photograph to be Indian, and mostly quite cautious and short.

    But there were many comments from people who appeared to be black, most of them hostile and dismissive of my views as racist, wrong, irrelevant, stirring up trouble, we gone past that, not helpful and so on.
    It was what I expected, that Trinis of whatever tribe are far, far from ready for any kind of serious discussion on matters of race and politics, race and economics, race and culture, race and society. We are still content to do the blame game, all the others tribes are racist but not mine, we are the victims but never the oppressors. All Trinis admit that race is the big issue for Trinidad and Tobago, the 800 pound gorilla in the room, but nobody wants to deal with him. I see no chance for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission like the one in South Africa that helped to put aside the dreadful past of apartheid and rank racism. Saying over and over that Trinidad needs a new kind of political party or movement that is not tribal is not a solution- tried and failed over the years.

    What was worse was that nobody on this forum even attempted to talk about the main points of my rant, which were put prominently in the second paragraph. Those were that
    1) Eric Williams was no national leader but only the leader of the black group
    2) The blacks were always a minority (racial ) group compared to the Indian majority group
    3) Indians mostly did not support Eric Williams or the PNM.
    4) Williams’ PNM policies were never true national policies but overtly racist policies aimed to benefit mostly the black ethnic group and to exclude the large Indian community.
    5) Every sector of the population certainly did not benefit equally in proportion to their size by the PNM policies.
    6) The Indians who supported the PNM were always a despised minority of the Indian community, never more than 15% of the Indians, which meant the remaining 85% of Indians did not support the PNM.
    7) Those PNM Indians were despised by the non PNM Indians because they took their benefits and never said a word about the racist anti-Indian policies of the PNM over the last half century and more.

    I believe I also mentioned in the body of my rant that most Indians never saw Eric Williams as their leader or any kind of national leader, that many of us hated and despised him and the PNM for racist policies, that the PNM governments were openly discriminatory against Indians in state employment, that Trinidad has never had in the last 50 years any meaningful national unity on any important matter, and that many Indians had migrated from the country because of PNM policies (and some black people too, for reasons to be discussed), that Eric Williams had openly cheated and rigged the 1961 elections, and that he had deliberately damaged the agriculture sector that was in his time the lifeblood of the Indians.
    How hard was it to say something about these points, even to disagree with them? You may see my point that all sectors are truly afraid to discuss matters of race even though they know it is the key issue and has been for decades. Trinis are terrified of discussing the emperor who has no clothes Dr Eric Williams, or the role of the PNM in the country’s history, but they are really happy to knock the PDP, DLP, UNC or any other variation of the Indian based opposition. Not helpful in moving forward, folks, tried and failed.

    So how about it? Anybody ready to have another go at discussing some issues of race in a Trinidad context? It doesn’t have to be as provocative as my little rant, but something, anything meaningful and politically incorrect would be fine. Trinidad doesn’t have a lot of time before the racial situation becomes permanently hardened and impervious to any solution at all.

    Ram Jagessar

  2. I suppose I will have to answer that dumbo PNM official Ashton Ford’s comments about the great national policies of his great leader Dr Eric Williams, which he claims benefitted every sector of the population and which succeeded with the help of PNM Indians who put country first.

    It’s all b.s and pretty rotten b.s at that. Eric Williams was no national leader but only the leader of the black group that were always a minority group compared to the Indian majority group who mostly did not support him or the PNM. Williams’ PNM policies were never true national policies but overtly racist policies aimed to benefit mostly the black ethnic group and to exclude the large Indian community. Every sector of the population certainly did not benefit equally in proportion to their size by the PNM policies. The Indians who supported the PNM were always a despised minority of the Indian community, never more than 15% of the Indians, which meant the remaining 85% of Indians did not support the PNM. Those PNM Indians were despised by the non PNM Indians because they took their benefits and never said a word about the racist anti-Indian policies of the PNM over the last half century and more.

    Allow me to give a personal rant from the other side about the PNM, Eric Williams, and those disgusting traitorous sellout PNM Indians.

    I spent the late fifties and the sixties as a young man in the PDP/DLP Indian stronghold of Siparia, in a tiny village on the Mora Dam Road, Penal to be exact. When Eric Williams and his PNM came about in 1956 we saw clearly that he was heading the black group in competition with the Indians for political power. His agenda was Massa Day Done, with the subtitle Negro to take over. They called themselves negroes in those days.
    We used to call it the People’s Negro Movement and sometimes the People’s N—r Movement because we saw nothing national about it. We saw the PNM as the enemy, Williams as the chief enemy, and Williams made it quite clear he saw us Indians as the enemy too. When the PNM won the 1956 election and announced their expenditure policies, we were not surprised that Williams had thrown the lion’s share of expenditure at his black urban supporters (a minority group, remember) and all but ignored the Indians living mostly in the rural areas.
    It was a pattern that would continue for decades. The PNM hired mostly black people in permanent jobs in the state sector, and some areas like the police, army, telephone service, WASA, and many more were overwhelmingly black in a country where blacks were less than 40% of the population. Government built housing was over 90% allocated to blacks, telephone services, electricity, sewage systems, community development, cultural development, sporting facilities, library services, you name it, they went mostly to blacks and black areas and avoided Indian population areas. There was plenty mouth talk about agriculture and rural development which would have benefitted Indians, but little or nothing in reality. This was hardly a secret. It was done openly, the complaints of the Indian political party were ignored, and the PNM Indians were deaf, dumb and blind to it all. So much for Mr Ford’s national policies that benefitted all sectors of the population.
    As for Eric Williams, we hated him in Penal. I hated him. Mr father hated him. Nobody in my little village had anything good to say about the short deaf bitch. I never considered him my chief minister or my prime minister, but always saw him as the black people’s leader. I never saw the flag as my flag and never stood up for the anthem.
    In all my years in Penal I never saw a picture of Eric Williams in an Indian home, which is a big comment on the man as a national leader. Nobody I knew would want to go to see Eric Williams if he was visiting the area or dream of shaking his hand. Indians would sit around in the rumshop drinking and sometimes saying they wished somebody would shoot Eric Williams. There was the well known joke about the Indian boy who saved Eric Williams after his official car was in a bad accident. Williams asked the boy what he wanted for saving the prime minister and the boy said he wanted a state funeral. Why a state funeral? Because my father will kill me when he hear I save Eric Williams’ life!

    As for Eric Williams’ national policies, we saw nothing of it in my village. The roads were bad, more potholes than road, DLP roads as we called them. We had no electricity, even though Mora Dam supplied cooling water to the electricity generating station TTEC half a mile away. There was a water pumping station on Mora Dam Road but we had no pipe borne water in our homes and had to go to a standpipe and bring water on pitchoil tins on our heads or on boxcarts. There was a working oil well on Mora Dam Road, with pipes taking away the oil to Shell in Penal, but except for my family nobody saw anything of the oil royalties. My neighbours grew rice and other food crops but could not get a stall in the Penal market to sell their food- those were reserved for vendors who were not farmers to make the profits. We had no garbage pickup, no sports facilities, no jobs. The kids walked five miles barefoot on the hot pitch roads to school in Siparia or two miles to Penal. There wasn’t a lot of hope in Mora Dam Road, Penal but my neighbours didn’t do a lot of complaining. What good would it do? The same kind of thing was happening to Indian villages and towns all over south and central Trinidad.

    Anybody who got the chance to leave Mora Dam Road and Trinidad altogether was glad to take it and leave Eric Williams and his PNM nation behind. Four of the eight children from my house have migrated to North America, and at least one from every other home there as far as I know. We have voted with our feet on Eric Williams and his PNM and his PNM Indians who have made my old homeland a dump without a future for Indians.
    So how many Indians have departed the Trinidad PNM paradise of Eric Williams? I believe it’s at least 250,000 Trini Indians and their descendants have voted with their feet on the PNM great national policies and now live mostly in Canada and the United States, with 500,000 remaining in Trinidad. That’s one third gone and two thirds of the Indos stay. Why have so many left the richest island with the highest GDP in the southern Caribbean? Great national policies must be the answer. I hear quite a few black people have also left Trinidad, as much as 150,000 in the black Trini diaspora, maybe also because of great PNM policies for all sectors.

    Which brings me back to Eric Williams and his undeserved reputation as a great national leader. I say he was no national leader at all. A national leader is the leader of the nation, the whole nation, whose job is to bring the national together to work for the national good in harmony. That was not Eric Williams, that was never Eric Williams. Ask why my circle quietly rejoiced when Eric Williams died, and you have the answer. He tried to govern for his black people and some window dressing like the PNM Indians, and some like Ford believe he succeeded in uplifting much of his base. But he did so at the expense of the rest of the nation and in particular the Indian part of the nation that didn’t support him politically. He divided the country instead of uniting it, and that is why to this day Trinidad has no national unity on any important area. Let’s face it, you can’t bring a nation to unity and hard work and sacrifice for the national good when half the nation is standing around steupsing and looking only for their own interest.

    Now as for the role of the PNM Indians in Trinidad over the last half century or so, what can I say but that we hated and despised them as conscienceless stooges as much as we hated and despised Eric Williams and his black supporters. Those PNM Indians joined the PNM for what they could get for themselves, as long as they kept quiet about what was being done to the Indians as a group. Kamal Mohammed and Errol Mahabir and the Muslim and Presbyterian gang saw how Eric Williams introduced crooked voting machines and gerrymandered the boundaries to cheat win the 1961 elections and said nothing. They saw how Williams opened the doors and flooded the country with tens of thousands of illegal small islanders and gave them voting cards to cheat win the election and said nothing. They saw how Williams was destroying agriculture the lifeblood of the Indians and they said nothing. They saw Williams erecting thousands of NHA houses and giving nearly all to the blacks and said nothing. When Williams died and the president made an openly racist choice of George Chambers as prime minister over Kamal and Errol, neither of those stooges said a word.

    The crimes of the PNM Indians go on and on to absurdity. Try this one on for size. Once I went to see Sham Mohammed with some friends interested in setting up an Indian radio station, which the PNM had denied repeatedly. Sham, who was then Minister in charge of telecommunications (the body to authorize new radio stations), said to us, “At long as my government is in power, we will never get an Indian radio station!” You see, Sham himself a cabinet minister PNM Indian, had been trying to set up an Indian radio station and couldn’t get it! Go ahead and laugh. That is a PNM Indian for you. Deaf, dumb and blind to the horrible national destroying policies of his party! I don’t know what country Mr Ashton Ford thinks they were putting first, but it was certainly not the nation of Trinidad.

    I must confess a great weariness when I think of that man Eric Williams, his PNM now back in power with Williams’ stupid policies intact, the PNM Indians still loyal to the balisier. I am glad to leave that all behind in the dustbin of my memories, and even more glad that they are not my only countrymen and women any more. I have a new country now, and a new Canadian passport, and my family is safe and far away from Mr Ashton Ford, the PNM blacks and PNM Indians, and the legacy of that nasty, nasty man Eric Williams. I feel great pity and sadness for the non-PNM Indians who remain in Trinidad, but I can’t do anything for them. Eric Williams and his demented gang have fixed the wagon of those Indians and done a good demolition job on the wagon of his faithful PNM cohorts too, as some of them are finding out when they look at the position of Trinidad after so many decades of PNM rule.

  3. He was correct it was indeed 48yrs of black power as there were only a few whites but if the writer considered white he needs to take a second look in the mirror.

  4. What I hate about people when an lndian try to make a point they always make it to be race hence the reason we cannot unite come on people accept the fact from both side and learn something and try to correct it not fight race all the time .

    R

  5. Kamaluddin the most experience after the demise of Eric was overlooked for PM and then pushed aside. Incodentally Eric did not form the PNM. Check the history. But for sure we are reaping the legacy of Eric and the PNM: Crime, Slum Housing, Poor Work Ethics….the list goeson
    When you change the demographics of a country and destroy the social fabric. All hell breaks loose. We living that now.

  6. and not one HINDU is 62 years,,,

    Abandoning Hindusim and converting to an abrahamic religion is a MUST ,, for promotion in the PNM …

  7. 62 years of p n m who some people say is a black party who most black people vote for at election time and look at the communities control by the pnm the most rundown neglected crime ridden and still the majority of black people can’t see they are just a vote bank for the pnm.while they stay the consumer that live from paycheck to paycheck while other ethnicities is well taken care by the pnm in every business aspects while the the pnm vote bank are at the bottom of the economic ladder well love by the pnm red and ready while their children full up the jails

  8. this pack of lies cannot explain the fact, that in 62 years,,, the number of Hindus appointed as Minsters of the PNM government stands at ZERO ….

    None …

    Christians and Muslims ONLY …..

    Avinahs Singh , the Parilmetary Secrtary is the higest appointed Hindu in the Histroy of the PNM ….

  9. This is why the PNM vetoed Indians from the post of Leader of the PNM ….

  10. Probably some MP’s are In the PNM orisha , so I can’t measure how who gets what in the structure of the organisation ! Because all internal elections are rigged !

  11. Man is tribal politics mostly in the UNC between Hindu’s and muslims ! All respect sir !

  12. You see this racist crap that all they are and this is why we are here today if we had two Parties that were even (all inclusive) the PNM would not been allowed to rule for 40 years so what bullshit she is talking

  13. ROBERT NESTA MARLEY sang war based Selassie’s speech to the UN UNTIL THE COLUR OF A MAN’S SKIN IS OF NO MORE SIGNIFICANCE THAN THE COLOUR OF HIS EYES THERE WOULD AND WILL ALWAYS HAVE WAR !!!!!

  14. Very nice miss tom yew mam that’s just a part of the scheme of things the world over no one can stop it !!!!!

  15. Mike Penco you know Clifton De Coteou have 3 court judgment against him but she have him on her executive for window dressing
    One of the questions on nominations forms is if you have matters before the courts or any judgment against you but he was screened, selected and became a Councillor and minister and now vice chairman of PTRC
    So you see why crime is what it is today
    No honest leaders

  16. After 2 oiĺ boom and 40+ýrs .shame òn some of you guys..

  17. How. .comè after Eric died,they bypassed Kamal n Erroĺ and went for George.

  18. The PNM is an Afrocentric party, the UNC (and its antecedents) is an Indocentric party. That is a fact that nobody can deny. The PNM ran the country for 45 of the last 60 years and are largely responsible for what Trinidad is today – economically and socially. If you like what you see then fine.

  19. Them looking for talk I old enough to know. What the shit they talking about

  20. We should just stop the racist crap.

  21. After the people who came ,one tribe excelled and contributed towards the betterment of humanity with less resources while the other is still pondering about their existence, even though they had more, their contributions is history, patethic souls .wot u planted that’s wot We’re reaping now.

  22. People seem to be missing the point of Williams and Rowley surrounding themselves with East Indians.
    They seem more comfortable with them than with the Afros.

    I cannot say whether they performed better or worse than the Afros but Rowley’s bunch seem only intent on ripping off this country.

    Maybe Rowley getting more from them than from the Afros with their ” Foundations” etc.

  23. That’s all Ms. Bissessar know to do. Sound the dog whistle when there’s nothing else to say. Her regime has Trinidad and Tobago in the perilous state it is today. They had no vision then and have none now.

    • Blame everyone except the people who have been in charge for 40 yrs.
      After Manning this country had high murder rate of over 500 and an economy in decline.
      With the UNC the murder rate decline by 20 % and the economy turned to about 1.5 % growth instead of negative growth.
      As for racism you just have to work im the Public Service to witness the public display of racism.

      Now what condition do you think that Kamla put this country in.

      If the UNC was in power we would have still had it difficult but people would have had hope and things would have been properly prioritized and the economy would have been stabilized instead of still spiralling downwards.

      In 2016 and 2017 the PNM spent the same as the UNC in 2011 and 2012, the PNM continued to cry that they did mot have money, fired people left right and centre and did nothing for the country.

    • The letter that prompted the response came from Kamal Persad though. Not Kamla Bissessar.

    • Mr. Liburd, aren’t you supposed to be a journalist? Are you defending the lady? It’s not about her name. She presided over a government that drained $15 Billion from NGC, left the people of Trinidad and Tobago with 4 days of overdraft to pay salaries. SMH.

    • Llewellyn Mc Intosh, I am correcting your inaccuracy with regards to this article. The letter by Ashton Ford is in reference to Kamal Persad and not Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
      If to do so makes you question my credentials as a journalist… Well, I don’t know what to tell you.

    • Well thank you for noticing my error on the article.

    • You can say that the UNC drain money from the NGC but it is the Govt’s money.

      You can also say the the PNM drained money from the H&S Fund.

      The country had 10 billion in receivables which Imbert belated acknowledged in October 2015 and did the country suffer from being in an overdraft position.

      You people try to play smart by twisting normal operations to suit your twisted minds.
      I guess that comes from following Rowley’s behaviour so closely.

    • It’s funny, everybody saw money coming, spending left, right and center, with their every need being fulfilled, everything they wanted, they got. However, NOBODY took the time out to question, where was it coming from, and how it was gonna be repaid. Now, alas, everybody was satisfied, floating in the wind of rainbow colors, but the dust is settling now, and our belief in rainbows, some still looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… Sorry, the leprechaun was just a myth!

  24. Mr. Ralph Laltoo, the first principal of Northeastern College, Sangre Grande, was loved by all, even those who got whipped from time to time. We never saw him as Indian, but as a human being caring for all his students.

  25. Were East Indian ostracised or they chose the East Indian party over the PNM party. Prior becoming independent, race was the issue and today almost 56 years later some use RACE in an attempt to dive the country. So for us who know better, what is our role. Sit idly bay and let a few perpetuate the divisiveness. I know this ‘nonsense’ will end. II may not be around but for my dougla grandchild , by 2040 there will be more dougla /mixed/ other (they’ll be in the majority) and not East Indians and Africans. What a blessed day LA Trinity will be. Blessed, blessed

    • having worked at two national census i can say this: It is FAR more likely for a mixed person who tends to look “more indian” to identify as indian than for a mixed person who is visually more “African” to identify as African.
      so this idea that “indians outnumber africans” in trinidad must be taken with a large handful of salt

    • The day when we will identify as Trinbagonians before anything else is the day we become a true independent Republic and only then will our politics be for all citizens.

    • We are a plural society where there is almost equal amount of East Indians and Africans, According to the last census In T&T East Indians are about 36% and Africans approximately 33%. the rest is Douglas (mixed 23%) and other (8%). TT, Guyana and Surinam are Plural societies. The only ones wielding the race card are politicians for their selfish agenda. Foolish people take them on, We all grew up with both groups as our neighbours , eating roti, doubles, dhal etc and macaroni pie and callaloo and live together harmoniously. TT is a blessed country and the only country in the world with diverse races living in peaceful coexistence.. When will we get it right and appreciate that GOD in his infinite wisdom ordained that we were All born this part of the world, the island of the Caribbean Sea. Time to end the nonsense. Ignorance is a curse

    • Rossana Glasgow i did two census. trust me…that that 33% with the salt i just sprinkled.

  26. Things went south K Mohammed didn’t succeed Williams

  27. what’s messed up is…that in what? 62 years? Forde could only find about half dozen names?
    Isn’t that proving the argument that Kamla was saying sumtin?

    • Half dozen prominent names . Do you want a list of every single lay member ? Personally I think it is time for first peoples to be prominent in the party #likeme

    • yeh we first ppl need some power lolol

    • In my opinion, the political parties in T&T need to shed the need to identify with tribalism. Counting Indians only highlights this fact.
      While there may have been few by count, I can recall growing up that Kamaluddin Mohammed was a name frequently mentioned in any political discourse. He was no “token Indian” in the 70s 80s PNM.
      As far as First Peoples representation at state level, I will endorse you for any office—for whatever that endorsement is worth. #CaribAintJusBeersOnAhFriday

  28. I don’t think it was ever really about Indians as much as it was about the marginalisations of Hindus and Muslims … But what do I know.

  29. To be fair to Ashton Ford, I don’t think he is saying that the PNM ever had support of the majority of citizens of Indian descent at any point in time. He is only saying that Indo-Trinis have always been a part of PNM governance.
    As for the statement that Indians had it better in Trinidad and Tobago than anywhere else in the world… Well, I wouldn’t have repeated that. That’s Trump-esque. Best not to put too much weight on that claim. Lol.
    Perhaps he just meant that things weren’t too shabby here. One might say that without the caste system and what-not life here can be pretty good for not just Indos but all the different races that settled here.
    If we can just work together of course.

  30. ‘”in 1981 to commemorate 25th anniversary of the party when he stated that nowhere else in the world the Indians are well off as they are in Trinidad and Tobago.’—–this is just factually wrong..but apart from that Indian immigrants have had successful communities all over the word..there is nothing specific or unique of the success of Indians here..or that the PNM specifically had anything to do with it .

  31. haven’t read the Persad piece ..but this fails to point out that Williams played on Hindu Muslim division and attracted mostly Muslims to the PNM…a tactic which is still in use today

  32. Some people hold to their myths like a mortgage or investment in stocks oui…chups

  33. Well maybe Ashton Ford should have placed the little known fact that once upon a time Sat Maharaj was a PNM member.

    • I’m not sure most Hindus identified with Sat either, but thats another story.

    • Endorsed the party in GE 1981and again in 2007.

      Hindus don’t identify with Sat?
      The Maha Sabha doesn’t have a membership?

    • They do, but how come the UNC constituencies electoral history/voting patterns don’t match up with that fact? Interesting, though.

    • Their voting patterns don’t add up with which fact?

    • That if Sat has endorsed the PNM like you said at those times, that Hindus stuck to voting with the UNC/PP? That says to me its not as straightforward as all that, which s something worth some further analysis.

    • 1981 and 2007 saw the emergence of third parties that were likely to split the vote and cause an upset for the sitting govt.
      Maharaj’s endorsement kept the PNM confortably in power while stripping the third part of relevance and keeping the Opposition in Opposition.

    • Rhoda Bharath which probably explains why they don’t entirely trust him.

    • But remember in 1986 for what seemed the first time in the country, a historic event occurred: both major races swung massively towards the NAR coalition. The PNM was almost wiped out. I think sometimes we forget how significant that event was. OK it fell apart with politcking/bickering between and among the leaders, but it was a very hopeful time. Sadly messed up by politics and we are where we are, as they say.

    • 1986 was momentous. Coalition politics tends to be.

    • It could have worked, if they had given it some time and both leaders did some genuine horse-trading in good faith. As it was, Robbie appeared to go full Robbie, and that was de end of dat. Anyway, what it proves if anything is that the damn thing is not set in stone. And Trinbagonians showed that if they got really fed up and a viable option existed that they would opt for it.

    • Some ppl would say Panday went full Panday *shrug*

    • True, but one could argue with some justification that Robbie brought the two Tobago seats. Panday brought considerably more from Trinidad. I think both are to blame, and some flexibility and some good behind the scenes powerbroking might have worked. But their egos got in the way.

    • The problem with coalition politics in Trinidad is that their aim is to beat the party in power, once that is done there is no philosphical partnership, so it all falls apart!

    • They could’ve tried harder. The people believed it. I can still remember the wonderful euphoria. But the politicians didn’t live up to the mandate.

    • To be honest I’m not sure any of these parties abided by any philosophy. It was power. Punto final.

    • True and when they good it as a coalition they start fighting over which faction has more power

    • They had time to do a lot of the horseracing before the election, but it appears this didn’t happen. Is that so Gerard Johnson?

    • Kala Ramnath Robbie marginalized Panday who had the seats in Parliament from the ULF. Robbie formed his own cabal with Sydney Knox and the Neal and Massy Group. Panday was left out of all major decisions within the government. Panday decided he would not have any of that and pulled out.

    • Gerard Johnson gosh I didn’t know all of the details. But all rather depressing and as we were sayig above.

    • Kala Ramnath Robbie was always threatened by Panday. All Robbie brought to the table were the two Tobago seats. The ONR had lots of votes but no seats. Besides, Karl Hudson Phillips had damaged his political career when as AG in a PNM government he tried to introduce a piece of draconian legislation called the Sedition Act. Just like the anti-gang legislation, the citizenry had to forego due process. This was during the black power uprising. Panday who by virtue of the parliamentary seats he brought to the table should have been the automatic choice to lead the NAR. But the PNM had brainwashed many people with the racist sentiment that the country was not ready for an Indian prime minister.

    • I remember some of this. Thanks for reminding us. I think the under 40s certainly need more of this sort of background, because no one really ever brings these things alive for the current generation. And people even like me forget. Have any good books/articles been published on this period, Gerard Johnson for the layman to understand> Not talking Sello Ryan. lol

    • Kala Ramnath I think either Josanne Lennard or her father Winston Lennard, who was prominent in the black power movement may have written something on that period.

    • Gerard Johnson thanks I must check it out. I fear sometimes our history esp this oil boom/oil bust period has been hugely ignored, underresearched/underanalysed. People are talking now about why things so bad without understanding these two crucial decades. SO much more can be done, don’t you think?

    • Black Power Revolution – Trinidad and Tobago 1970 – Let the Truth be Told Check this out.It’s a video documentary

    • Kala Ramnath It’s hard to do anything with the divisive politics today and with generations of PNM supporters who have no experience or information of the role the PNM under Eric Williams played in dividing this country even more.

    • Funny you mention this, but I was going to comment earlier about the whole class thing never mind race. Working class Afro- Trinbagonians didn’t benefit as much from the PNM. The onepercenters of all races did though. Which really means that hoodwinking has been the name of the game, for both parties I guess. Vote for us and we’ll forget you for the next 5 yrs and reward our friends in high places.

    • Gerard Johnson where can i find this film?

    • Kala Ramnath Eric Williams was the best at making Afro Trinis believe he was doing something for them.

    • Dennis Allen Google the title and see what you come up with

    • Gerard Johnson re your comment, which is why we need more research and public education on this period. Its really appalling that our professors of politics at UWI have not published anything..at least I dont know about it if they have. In Jamaica by contrast, there’s a steady stream of published research on many aspects of their politics and governance.

      • Kala, at least one Professor at UWI has several books about that time, covering black power, the union riots where people were attacked woth tear gas by the police, the death of Dr
        Williams, the first ONR participation in an election with Karl Hudson Phillip as leader and finally the 1987 election. Prof Selwyn Ryan has made a trilogy of books specifically about this period

      • The information is there if you just look for it

    • Gerard Johnson only seeing trailers bro…salt

    • Dennis Allen It’s amazing how the prime minister told the education minister that the first thing he wanted him to do was to teach the history of Trinidad and Tobago in schools. How’s that working out

    • trailer…thanks all the same

    • Kala Ramnath I guess politics has a morality of its own.

    • Kala Ramnath They were motivated by a desire to defeat the PNM, full stop. Such a narrow focus without some overriding philosophy isn’t sufficient for political transformation.

    • Eldoncito Mangoman Braffito yes one can understand why given the rate at which the PNM was whittling away oil dollars at that time. 24 yrs in power and getting more and more intellectually arthritic. Having said that you are right and i think i alluded to that. The vision thing wasnt articulated, not even at the most basic level any sort of fair political accomodation was reached. It was probably the worst moment in post-Independence history because it led to 1990 and the effluent continues to flow.poison the body politic.

    • Gerard Johnson Are you sure that Hudson-Phillips was the villain in the piece? Under the principle of ‘Collective responsibility of Cabinet’ the entire cabinet supported that odious legislation. When the population became alarmed and showed their opposition to it Williams very skillfully threw Karl in the bamboo and destroyed his credibility at the same time. Karl’s ambitions were completely destroyed as people supported Chalkdust’s line ‘ah fraid Karl’.

    • That’s plausible. But as the AG and the man who piloted the Bill, it is safe to say he was the architect. If he didn’t believe in it he could’ve resigned.

    • Gerard Johnson. I agree that he piloted the bill. However, he interpreted the wishes or ideas of the ‘supreme leader’ Dr. Williams and designed a legislation to suit. Sometimes I used wonder whether that crafty and tricky Williams suggested certain ideas, fully aware of Karl’s ambitions, so that he could later on, with the staunch rejection of the draconian bill, nip those ambitions in the bud. After that bill and the ensuing public clamor Karl was doomed, as his association with the ONR proved.
      I think we need to do a better analysis of Williams and what he represented. PNMites see him as a saviour and you can’t say anything that shows up his Machiavelian and diabolic side. He carried on the divide and rule policies so ruthlessly practised by the British, and we’re seeing the results of this ethnic rivalry and animosity to this day. Williams favoured the Muslims and used them as a wedge. I wouldn’t be proud to say that Kamal was really appreciated by PNM top brass as a staunch and great PNM leader. If he was so reverred by the PNM why wasn’t he made PM at William’s death? It is obvious to any ‘ cokey eye’ dotard that Kamal and Mahabir were just window dressing similar to Jack Warner in the PP. Honestly, I don’t see any rapprochement by the two major ethnic groups before green pigs start to fly. People are so set in their ways of thinking and hold so steadfastly to incontrovertible ‘facts’ that they believe that ‘Africans are lazy and criminals wanting to sleep with Indian women or that Indians are conniving, the old British appellation of WOGS (wily oriental gentlemen) and corrupt, with a tendency towards nepotism etc. We’re an irreconcilably divided country and it’s almost in our very DNA like the visceral hatred shown by white Americans towards Native Indians, sh**hole africans and Mexicans. I’m looking for the arrival of those green pigs flying through the skies.

    • Brilliantly put,Eldoncito Mangoman Braffito, in all its tragedy. The comic is an aside, because a larger tragedy threatens to upend everything.

  34. I hate to be devil’s advocate but Mr Ford might have been too far up North to realise that these chaps commanded little or no support among Indo-Trinis except their immediate family and -in the special case of Kamal Mohammed, the Muslims of his San Juan constituency. I grew up hearing that they were PNM stooges. Errol had his own support base among a thin sliver of Christian Indo Trinis in the Sando area. Most Hindu-Trinis did not identify with these folks, for better or for worse.

  35. Lasana Liburd, I read the excerpt from the article and was about to tag Rhoda Bharath when I saw that you’d done so already.

  36. That woman is truly “Politically blind and backward”

    • To whom are you referring? The letter to which Ford is responding was written by a man named Kamal Persad.

    • Kamal persad is obviously an indocentric intent on fueling the flame of ethnic intolerance in our already polarized society. Shame on him for not acknowledging the immeasurable contributions, and pivotal roles of persons of east indian decent in the PNM from its inception up to the present.

    • It’s clear that you have a hatred for Kamla. Because the person referred to in this article is a man name Kamal, not Kamla..But you jump all over her. Smh…

      The ignorance of you Sir is shameful and destructive to say the least. Know your fax b4 marking comments about others you absolutely have no idea about. ??

    • Auston, I don’t care to hell about sir. I’m not about writing things that you want but what I want and feel. Too bad if you don’t agree but there’, absolutely nothing you can do about it so go have a beer and cool yourself.And you are right I detest all politicians including Kamla. So what? Thats my choice! ENT?

  37. Persad is an ethno nationalist. Ethno nationalists do not understand culture as process and they think it’s some fixed transcendent thing with a check list of features. Ethno nationalists peddle fake news because it allows them to create followers by declaring clear in group and out group limits. In t and t it’s a foolish play to make but like Sat and Kumar Mahabir it gains followers and it grants a little bit of political power. I just ignore what Persad writes. It’s all the same nonsense

  38. Siiiigh. The PNM is Black Power rule? Kamal possesses a synapse?