Media Monitor: Kamla’s choice, Anil’s voice and putting party before country

It’s an ill wind, we have long heard, that blows nobody good. Ditto, I think, Anil Roberts. Which may be why Kamla Persad-Bissessar has seen it fit to return him to the national parliament as a senator.

If every current UNC Member of Parliament were somehow able to make a substantial deposit to Roberts’ credibility account, I submit, it would still be in the red.

Photo: UNC Senator Anil Roberts.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2020)

In fact, if every Member of Parliament were somehow able to make a substantial deposit to Mr Roberts’ credibility account, it would probably still be in the red.

So appointing Roberts as a senator is a clear indication of KPB’s complete contempt for the national community. We did not have long to wait to see that, notwithstanding the Opposition Leader’s mealy-mouthed reassurances about wanting to work with the government in the 12th Parliament, obstructionism is still the name of her game.

In yesterday’s very first sitting of the Senate, president Christine Kangaloo felt the need to remind the newly minted senator that he had been appointed to the Republic’s Upper House, not called to the neighbourhood bar.

“Senator Roberts,” she interrupted in her most mellifluous voice, “I would ask you please to please come to the Bill and I would also ask you please to lower your voice a little bit.”

His response that he was ‘born with a loud mouth’, leading her to suggest that he ‘heed the advice he was getting from the presiding officer’.

Photo: President of the Senate Christine Kangaloo.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2020)

“There is,” she noted, “no conversation going on between you and me.”

Surprised? You would not have been if you had read Noble Philip’s recent contribution here on Wired868. In keeping with Eleanor Roosevelt’s observation that great minds discuss events, (…) small minds discuss people, he never once deigned to identify the former sports minister by name.

But who do you think he was referring to when he ended with: ‘May The Almighty mercifully remove these plagues from our dwelling’?

Which brings us directly to Devant Maharaj, who clearly has no time for Mrs Roosevelt.

Calling Jearlean John, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Damian Lyder, Wade Mark, David Nakhid and Anil Roberts ‘bland and insipid Senatorial appointments’, the former UNC minister and current would-be journalist says that the six ‘only highlight the UNC’s incapacity to transform itself into a party to attract new voters’ and ‘appear to be a continuation by the Leader to attempt to shore up the disenchanted base’.

He identifies as his problem with Roberts’ selection, it is worth noting, that his baggage ‘will only drag down the image of the UNC’.

Image: Former UNC senator Devant Maharaj criticises the maiden contribution of current senator Damian Lyder.

“He should,” Maharaj adds in his recent social media post, “have waited until the conclusion of his legal matters before resuming frontline politics.”

Ah! Understood.

I mean, Fifa assured us almost a decade ago, that then UNC minister Jack Warner would enjoy the presumption of innocence. As I remember it, they did not specify ‘within Trinidad and Tobago’ but how long has it been since the old Voice of One has dared to use his passport for anything other than as ID?

If the presumption of innocence is good enough for his soon-to-be-former political leader, it is not good enough for Maharaj. He seems to have unvoiced questions which I would like to suggest are these: if Roberts’ hands were, as he claims, ‘never dirty’, why did it take him nearly so long after his July 2014 resignation amid LifeSport allegations to get back on the political radar?

Why is he only now resurfacing, loudly—he knows, Madam President, no other way—protesting that ‘there has not been one allegation against Anil’? What were we supposed to presume during the years he was in political hiding?

Photo: UNC Senator Anil Roberts.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2020)

“My bank account had not one cent in it,” he adds, presumably responding to the allegation that was not made against him, “other than what was due to me as my salary.”

Is Roberts aware that an FOIA request for Judas’ financial records showed no deposit of 30 pieces of silver on his account? But Judas was a traitor so that may not be relevant here.

Fortunately, there is a clear line between treachery and disloyalty. Former UNC MP Dr Suruj Rambachan, who last Tuesday said he felt Larry Lalla should become a UNC Senator, has so far contrived to remain on the right side of that line.

Likewise, I think, Lalla himself, Dr Fuad Khan, Vasant Bharath, Vashist Maharaj, Kelvin Ramkissoon, who have recently called on KPB to, in the immortal words of one of the party’s deputy leaders, ‘wine to the side’.

According to Gail Alexander in Saturday’s Trinidad Guardian, they all ‘say the time has come for Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC to (…) step away from leadership of the United National Congress’.

Photo: UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre) has a word with fellow MPs (from left) Michelle Benjamin, Anita Haynes, Vandana Mohit and Khadijah Ameen.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2020)

And one Lester Orie is quoted at some length making the case about KPB’s lack of judgement—on more than one level!

Alexander reports him as saying he hopes, ‘the abbreviated skirt lengths of Kamla and Anita (Haynes) at (Friday’s) swearing-in were not sartorial statements made to impress the fashionistas that they were hip and chic but that they were symbolic of the longevity of their stay as faces and voices of the UNC’.

As regards her choice of personnel, he has this to say: “The most important question to be asked of a prospective candidate is how have you distinguished yourself in the context of Trinidad or if not nationally, how so in your region, in your field of endeavour—as a scholar or benefactor?

To pick a candidate because one is a party hack, a sycophant, a friend or family, or because of some such reason of nepotism or favouritism isn’t acceptable and is a recipe for defeat.”

Orie’s concern is how KPB’s choice of candidates for the Lower House has affected the party. Philip, however, puts the focus where it should properly be, that is, on the effect the choice of candidates for Parliament has on the country.

Photo: UNC senator David Nakhid.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament)

Laventille West chose Fitzgerald Hinds and must now live with their choice. But subject to no intervention by the electorate, Kamla could have made Gerald Ramdeen and Devant Maharaj two of her six.

Along with Wade Mark, MBA, and Two-pull Anil.

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About Earl Best

Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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  1. The man has made some very key observations. Among them the UNC’s penchant for foisting upon this country persons of questionable character and ill repute. People with matters (strong ones at it) at varying stages of both our judicial system and ongoing police investigations. The general refrain from the leader is ‘if you have evidence take it to the police”. The mere fact that these investigations are ongoing suggest that some of these matters are well beyond the point of simple allegations. So to dismiss this article as one written by someone who is a PNM is nothing short of dangerous misleading. What the party’s supporters are also sugguesting that they are not in any haste to hold their leaders to any type of accountability and therefore will concile them to the corridors of opposition politics for the foreseeable future.

  2. I m waiting to hear what Mr.Best has to say about the request of the Government to the corporate community for 65,000 laptops.
    Anil Roberts is ok .
    He can take care of himself well as u saw at the last Senate sitting and as u shall see as the sittings become more frequent.

    • Unless senators are appointed to take care of themselves, how is it an issue that Anil Roberts can take care of himself?

      When you answer that question satisfactorily, Joe, you MAY hear my view on the request for laptops. For now, however, as Mr Singh has pointed out below, I have plenty PNM fish to fry so I shall get about my PM’s business.

      • Taking care of themselves are apparently the key criteria for selecting candidates for members of parliament. The various houses of parliament are apparently shields/staging areas for those with charges or serious allegations hanging over their heads to mount their defence/take care of themselves. This makes the question asked by the president “can you be trusted, I am asking on behalf of a friend” intuitive and quite relevant.

      • Is it not incredible how someone could write an article against someone by using the word credibility and did not have the gumption to say what discredits the senator. Doesn’t that say a lot about the individual who wrote the article? What we have in this country are a bunch of frauds who keep writing articles about people but would not pay 2 cents to even stand behind what they wrote. So here is the challenge. If anyone you know what makes the senator not credible, please state the crime that he committed attached his name to it, and let’s see how that one goes.

        • Mr Campbell, Fortunately, I do not have to do that. Nor does anyone who, like me, has followed local SPORT for his/her whole LIFE.

          Be patient. Even in this patently unfair country where the dice are loaded against the dispossessed, the longest rope has an end.

          God may nod but he does not sleep.

    • I’m waiting to hear from mr. Toney about NAR’s plan to spend $500,000 on a statue, while refusing and destroying desperately needed medicine that had been gifted & shipped at no cost to T&T, while going through an economic crisis? In fact, why d’dn’t mr. Toney ask more questions while the COP was in office 2010-2015?

  3. Truth=Justice=Freedom

    How is this headline considered news in 2020. Kamla is not doing anything new…her behaviour in office, selection of ministers and elevation of sat maharaj occured 10 years ago! T&T society and media refuses to critique her honestly and her community rewarded her behaviour 2015 & 2020…and you expect change? Basdeo Panday taught her well, just as rudranath capildeo and bhadase sagan-maharaj did him. T&T society & media show overt favouritism to the indian community and their leaders OVER africans and their leaders.
    Spoiled children, can be are extremely dangerous as adults!

  4. I do not believe that EarlBest is in any position to criticize anyone. Anyone can be a critic but what has he really contributed? These guys have enjoyed the spoils of the PNM but have contibuted nothing to the country, typical of so many PNM so called Patriots. Those critizing others must be prepared to face criticism. If you talk the talk you must be able to walk the walk.

    • It is easy to believe that everyone who criticises one party must be a supporter of the other party. You should resist that temptation and address criticism on its merits.
      I’m sure Best is willing to accept constructive criticism.

    • Truth=Justice=Freedom

      Earl Best is a “PNM supporter”? Which ‘spoils’ has he enjoyed? I’m guessing Lloyd Best was as well? How do you select PNM supporters? It’s definitely not by actions.

      • Agree!! It gives you a window into their mindset and how they formulate their thought processes. This leads us to what Dr. Rowley is proposing re. focusing on citizenship/civics as a key part of
        our education system. This is absolutely critical if our country has to reach its full potential.

  5. “… how long has it been since the old Voice of One has dared to use his passport for anything other than as ID?”

    I won’t forget that quip in a hurry! Hah.

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