and deception on show
PM Manning seeking to place himself
and wife above criticism.
PNM hatches disingenuous strategy to get use of Woodford
Great deception leaves mayor and Police Commis-sioner
in a soup.
of the major concerns that has arisen out of last Friday's
motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Patrick Manning
and his Government is his seeming intolerance to criticism
directed against him and his wife.
Maybe he was engaging in typical robber talk of the political
leader on a platform; or perhaps he got carried away by
the support of the crowd at Woodford Square.
Or maybe he genuinely believes that he and his wife are
above criticism. If it be the latter, it is dangerous for
the country to have a Prime Minister, nay a royal family,
that is above criticism.
The intolerance was also demonstrated by the very organisation
by the PNM of the rally at Woodford Square and the Anancy-like
denials which surrounded it. More so this was done when
Prime Minister Manning and his Government faced no real
threat of being displaced by the no-confidence motion, given
their numerical superiority in the Parliament.
Moreover, the concern over the strident reaction from Prime
Minister Manning to the personal challenge is strengthened
when it is placed in the context of the not too subtle moves
to engender constitutional change that would create a presidency,
with a President who will be beyond reproach, beyond censure
of the electorate.
These observations and comments over the incensed reaction
of Prime Minister Manning are made in the reality that the
parliamentary democracy operated here allows the opposition
party to bring a motion of no-confidence against the Prime
That the motion and the substantiation of it have to be
cogent and compelling is not a requirement. Prime Minister
Manning and the PNM should know that. When they were in
opposition they brought a motion of no-confidence against
the then government of Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.
The value of that motion and the arguments in support of
it could also have been questioned, as they certainly were.
Mr Manning however would have been affronted if Mr Panday
had sought to exempt himself (his wife was not in the cabinet)
The national community inside and outside the ruling party
has to take note of this emerging characteristic of Prime
Minister Manning to want to place himself and now his wife
With regard to Mrs Manning, her husband must accept the
fact that his grant of a ministerial position automatically
subjects her to the most intense scrutiny possible, equal
to that of all his ministers.
cyah play mass and fraid powder is the Carnival wisdom
of the decades.
Another of the worrying aspects of Fridays political
rally of the PNM was the deception engaged in to get the
use of Woodford Square on the day that the Parliament was
A most disingenuous strategy was hatched by the PNM to get
use of the square for the political rally. First off, and
contradictorily so, PNM officials claimed it was a spontaneous
uprising by party members which had no direction from the
At one and the same time, use of Woodford Square was achieved
on the pretence of holding a cultural show, that being one
of the reasons the square could be occupied on such a day.
At the same time it was supposed to be a spontaneous response
of party members being incensed by the effrontery
of the UNC-A wanting to bring its troops to the square.
Morality in public affairs, a founding PNM principle, also
means telling the truth in public in small and large matters
Do ministers believe they could so seek to deceive the population
one day and the next have the population believe them? The
word of those who sought to deceive will forever be questioned
when they seek to give information and answers surrounding
The point here is that this kind of behaviour contributes
significantly to further erosion of public trust in government
and those who carry out the responsibility. Victory may
be claimed, but at what cost?
The great deception not only involved ministers and party
officials, but as head of the Law Association, Senior Counsel
Martin Daly, has pointed out, it left the mayor of the city,
Murchison Brown and Police Commissioner James Philbert in
How could the mayor deny use of the square for an activity
which was so obviously directed from the centre?
Outside the Red House, Commissioner Philbert had no choice
but to point out to reporters that the police had no say
in the renting of the square.
How now will the mayor of the city deny future use of the
square to other groups for a similar form of demonstration
of political strength? Inevitably, the opposition parties,
trade unions and other organisations will soon test the
position taken by the mayor on this one.
In fact, use of the square for what was clearly and without
pretence a political rally, must seriously question the
law: why should Parliament and its members not hear the
legitimate political voice of the people who have put them
there, bringing their concerns to them?
There was an era when the demonstrations around the Parliament
were frequent. Surely the law enforcement agencies should
ensure that law and order is observed. But why should the
law makers and executive managers of the society and economy
be shielded from public opinion in this form?
When the PNM was in opposition during the 1986-1991 era,
it certainly believed the Government should hear the voice
of dissenters as its MPs not only marched in front the Parliament
building, but joined with others to do same.
Moreover, when the PNM brought the motion of no-confidence
against the UNC 1995-2000, it assembled its troops to demonstrate
its position. There were charges then by UNC MPs that they
were jostled and insulted on their way to the Parliament.
The other concern is the weakness of the UNC-A inside the
House in the debate and its feeble attempts outside at making
a contest of the PNM's show of strength.
Whether it was strategy or conflict between Maharaj and
Panday to one day call out the troops and the following
day to meekly subside, the UNC demonstrated its political