Google Earth guide to Holy Grail
mid-August timing for consultations on food prices and energy
policy reflects the unhurried style of a ruling party serenely
seeing the next general election as a foregone conclusion.
If time yet remains to chart and implement positive action
for food and energy, only those presuming unbroken possession
of policy-making power know it.
The Manning PNM must know something the rest of us do not.
The scrip proverbially kept in its leaders back pocket
carries not just the election date but, presumably also, the
Google Earth directions to the Holy Grail.
For a government with time and money to burn, fear of an electoral
judgment day is not a factor.
The swaggering self-satisfaction of a permanent ruling class
is stamped on actions and even rough-draft policy ideas pronounced
without concern for any day of reckoning.
The remaking of Laventille and the re-engineering of T&T
society and culture to renounce gambling claim equal time
with a show trial of the Chief Justice, and the cutting-edge
conversion of methanol into electricity.
At this gilded moment, it is possible to do everything at
the same time, and to say anything, without regard for answerability.
On the authority of the Prime Minister, Cepep jobs, funded
by the state, can be deemed permanent jobs created by private
Local Government Minister Renee Dumas last week celebrated
the productivity of imported Chinese workers, in disparaging
contrast to that of T&T workers.
Construction sites around Port of Spain reproduce a picture
familiar all over the world of motivated immigrant or visiting
workers out-producing their home-grown counterparts.
Drawing on the blessedness of his Manning-PNM status in todays
T&T, however, Mr Dumas can be fearless of serious adverse
reaction to his Governments now-standard imputation
of inferiority to local capacity.
The headhunting for a foreigner to fill the coming Police-Commissioner
vacancy is now claimed as high official policy.
Holes opened in prison security large enough to allow some
six accused killers to walk to freedom.
Strategic thoughts high up in the Temple Court of the National
Security Ministry must now be turning to the idea of a foreign
The consultations on crime held by Mr Manning and National
Security Minister Martin Joseph last April looked and sounded
so much like PNM campaign meetings that we know what to expect
Those consultations yielded a new crime plan and,
for the Prime Minister, the announcement value at the pre-recess,
Parliamentary session of a new crime commission.
After the latest break-out, its left for the luckless
Mr Joseph, whose native tongue is a thick Port-of-Spain bureaucratese,
to mouth assurances that intelligence-driven procedures...are
being put place to identify some of the weaknesses identified
in terms of the escape.
Even as such words fell from his wired mouth, in the dock
of the Chaguanas Magistrates court, a prisoner wielding
a razor blade slashed the throat of another murder-accused.
Notoriously, on the Martin Joseph watch, national security
is recognised as so intelligence-challenged a contradiction
in terms as to be laughable.
While allegedly murderous prisoners exult in the freedom to
rendezvous with relatives and send media releases, intelligence
has driven the helicopter-aided National Security forces to
look the other way.
Under airborne searchlights last weekend, a posse of more
than 100 stormed the Marabella citadel, Villa Capri.
It was a soft target. Mr Josephs troops duly took prisoners:
71 women and three men identified in the media as foreign
An administration that embraces and extols foreign workers
found itself suddenly embarrassed by success.
The Villa Capri prisoners comprised women from Colombia, Guyana,
Surinam, and the Dominican Republic. They had come to do work
for which T&T women are either unqualified by work ethic
or insufficient in number to meet the demand.
It also turned out that National Security was simply incapable
of processing these prisoners. Neither could officials arrange
for their timely deportation nor for their prosecution.
Space had to be found in the already overstressed women's
prison. Even before the following weekend, officers in a lock-up
that lacked beds for this influx of foreigners were describing
their accommodation as inhumane.
As it turned out, official heavy-handedness, carried out in
the name Mr Joseph and directly by Mr Manning, was simultaneously
being directed at the soft targets of both foreign and local
will close the industry, Mr Manning thundered in response
to pleas by mostly women workers in the clubs called casinos.
He knew well whom the closure would hurt. But the Prime Minister
claimed a higher moral and social purpose: Some of us
get a lucrative existence out of it, but that doesnt
make it right... Gambling is a social evil.
Crime may be rampant; the police flat-footed or distracted;
the courts stumbling and falling; and the prisons neither
holding up nor holding in. (Some 37 inmates were on Friday
reported as infected with tuberculosis.)
Still, the Manning administration marches to its own militant
drumbeat against its own choices of moral and social evil.
Maybe it sees no other evil than that represented by the Chief
Justice whom it will move heaven and earth to destroy.
Certainly, it is moved to fear neither evil nor harm to its
prospects likely to come from the next general election.
Having internalised the self-flattery according to which,
electorally, the PNM is the only show in town, it can hardly
be affected by the UWI/Ansa McAL centres poll report
that found, by the first week of July, 51 per cent of respondents
undecided about their voting choices.
Of those who had decided, 21 per cent would vote PNM; 17 per
cent Congress of the People and 10 per cent UNC.
But then, too, the UWI/Ansa McAL centres poll is itself
also the only show in town.
Or at least the only one open to the public.