Dear Editor: Praise when it’s due; why I’m blown away by Deyalsingh and co

Disclaimer: I hold no brief for any political party in T&T. I am neither red nor yellow; an explanation that hardly seems necessary, as these are no longer partisan times.

Unprecedented threats that create uncertain times call for courage, calm and cajones. In that regard, the sitting government of T&T has stepped up to the crease and thus far batted with aplomb.

Photo: Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

The overriding fear was that stereotypical myopia and lackadaisicalness, coupled with the disruption of Carnival celebrations, would have led to a wait-and-see approach by those charged with our health and well-being. Instead it’s been pleasantly surprising and crucially comforting to witness an approach that outshines supposedly more experienced nations, with out-of-the-box thinking and a level of transparent dissemination of information previously unseen in this country.

Step forth, Minister Terrence ‘the Titan’ Deyalsingh who has been the epitome of strategy and execution. This, despite the unimaginable pressure that his portfolio faces and has faced over the past two months.

His preparedness is evidenced by his calm. His demeanour is the antithesis of panic, his all-encompassing approach is the necessary assurance. And, forgive an unintended pun at this time, his composure has caught on with his colleagues.

There has been not a single iota of innuendo, no attempt to downplay the situation, the Minister of Health and his team have provided only direct facts and figures that reinforce a singular approach. Consider the wavering stance of the United Kingdom and USA.

Consider too the reluctance to acknowledge the seriousness of the novel coronavirus that has led to belated attempts to reduce the spread, while we have had the courage to take major decisions that negatively impact the economy, education, production and changes the culture of a very free society.

Photo: Health Minister Dr Terrence Deyalsingh (left) and CMO Dr Roshan Parasram.

We have been accepting of it not because of our legendary easy-going nature but because deep down inside—as we witness the horrors of army trucks removing the dead in Italy and see the ticking time bomb of exponential spreading set to explode in the US—we know that T&T has been proactive at the level of global leadership proportions.

In local parlance: ‘We’re not playing around wit dis’.

When Minister Deyalsingh told us throughout January that he was ready, we shrugged our shoulders and placed our concerns in the delayed tray of post-Carnival. But come that time, we quietly wondered how we would cope as ‘if’ became ‘when’ in quick time.

Last week’s seamless receipt and transfer of the infected cruise ship passengers offered all the evidence of his continued statements of strategy to cope, in the lead up to the first Covid-19 case in the nation.

It also clearly shows that T&T understood the implications of the spread in a world shrunk to mere degrees of separation by globalisation; when the first alarm bells were ringing in Asia alone. It has taken the dire examples of Italy and Spain’s despair for other nations to undertake the hard decisions of closing schools and borders, publicly persuading social distancing and discouraging congregation, regardless of the direct effect on the economy.

Photo: A Covid-19 patient is evacuated from the Mulhouse civil hospital, France on 23 March 2020. The Grand Est region is now the epicenter of the outbreak in France, which has buried the third most virus victims in Europe, after Italy and Spain.
(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

While other nations sit on their hands and titivate towards ever changing plans, we have been resolute in our singular approach. It has been ridiculously surprising because, hitherto, it’s simply not ever been displayed in our culture. It seems it’s not just the coronavirus that is novel these days.

The preparedness has meant that there a few surprises for the government, and few to come. There is no-Trump style sugar coating statements to offset the greatest threat to mankind in over a hundred years. The Prime Minister’s analogy of a gentle climb of virus cases is as clear cut as can be that the government is fully aware as to what is happening, as well as what will happen.

We will have more cases, it is inevitable. What we will do is manage the hell out this pandemic. We have set a precedent as to what we are prepared to do to ensure crucial management and that in turn has prepared the population for further, necessary steps.

If the Prime Minister is the conduit of confidence over the past two weeks, then it’s also because Minister Deyalsingh is but one cog in a comprehensive think tank that allows (again, unprecedented) symbiotic decisions.

Thus, a forward thinking Minister of National Security is able to undertake closing borders, knowing that it’s an absolute requirement of the Ministry of Health and the implications of such a decision will be addressed by the Ministry of Finance.

Photo: Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

As simple as that appears, it takes preparation and nations with a hundred times the experience from wars and plagues of years gone by, are currently rooted to the spot.

There are advantages of not being bogged down by traditional, historical thinking that does not adapt to crises like a 21st century pandemic. For the first time in our history, we are making the most of being a relatively new independent nation, with bold thinking feeding harsh decisions.

At this time, when it has stopped being about who is at the helm, we are being urged to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper and battle the greatest threat that our country has faced; in short, we have to be patriotic.

The actions that we have taken thus far also mean that we should be immensely proud. Stay safe T&T.

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About Sheldon Waithe

Sheldon Waithe
Sheldon Waithe is an avid freelance writer who divides his articles between sport, politics and tourism. Using the other side of his brain, he is also the owner and Director of Communique Debt Recovery Ltd aiming to redefine corporate debt collection in T&T.

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  1. Well written and to the point proud of our Governments response to this dire threat.

  2. Well written with a clear understanding of the current situation without any political bias.

  3. Excellent piece of literary work. But more so your article demonstrates a humility I have also not seen in Trinidad. And Tobago. Your own humility.

    I would have added, to your article, that our leaders have not always listened to sound advice but this shows a departure in terms of Dr.. Rowley’s sterling leadership. Point to note he gave way to the Subject MAtter Experts (SME)- a decision that only a strong leader would do at a time that creates such leadership visibility. This also demonstrate that leadership is situational. I therefore add to the accolades “Well done keith”..You have demonstrated the qualities of a transformational leader.

  4. Well written and praises well deserved. No one is perfect but our government is doing a great job at the beginning I was a bit unsure if their ability to take us through this without getting into political cross contamination but as days went by I am proud of our government . Keep focus and stay the course. Nuff respect

  5. Gloria Best-Mitchell

    Excellent!! well said. This covers everything. I have been feeling and could not express as well as the writer. I have not missed a single press conference/After Cabinet update. Our MOH, the PM the CMO and all supporting members have done us proud. I also follow external news shared via cable and our panels and experts have been on par and a cut above the rest in some cases. Whatever is the end result of the Pandemic it will not be for the lack of action, expertise or communication with the population. We can consider ourselves well served. We cannot say the same for the media who seem to be always unprofessional and unprepared at each session.

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