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Raffique Shah


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By-election a blessing

By Raffique Shah
July 21, 2013

"When thieves fall out, honest men come by their own," says a centuries-old proverb. I think though, that when friends fall out, dubious men and women tumble into disrepute in unimaginable ways and pillars of political society are reduced to pillars of salt.

As the battle for Chaguanas West rages and friends fall apart, the populace is treated to exposés aplenty, some of which cause seasoned bacchanalians to blush, others so obscene, they leave decent citizens dazed in disbelief.

The accusations and revelations have come so fast and furious, it’s difficult to stay abreast of the latest scandal. In their quest to castrate friends-of-yesterday, to hurt their opponents-today, politicians say the wildest things.

For example, I always wondered how Jack Warner managed to function for 25 hours a day, 367 days a year, without pause for rest and regeneration. What’s his secret? I am not ashamed to admit that I envy the man’s wealth of energy, though not his wealth. As a Sandhurst-trained soldier, I endured two-plus years of punishing training that conditioned me to function for days without rest, on the move, in battle conditions.

Eventually though, the body calls for rest, which is something else I learned in the military. Indeed, a good soldier can regenerate his body and mind with a few hours of sound sleep in any condition. I have slept soundly with snow piling up on me, in dank, cold trenches, and in humid tropical forests. I know the value of sleep, and I value a good night’s sleep even more, now that I am an old geezer.

So I always wondered how Warner, an older geezer, manages to function seemingly around the clock.

Now I know. The Prime Minister, no less, told the nation that Jack is a "lagahoo". Ever since I was a boy, I’ve heard of this mythical-cum-Satanic character that supposedly never slept or required sleep—at least not at night. Naked and dragging a chain (don’t ask me why), the "lagahoo", who could be found in most rural, unlit villages, stalked God-knows who or what, while mortals were asleep.

Well, not everyone: often, on mornings, in days of old, one would hear a neighbour hail another, "Nayb, you hear the ‘lagahoo’ last night?" "Ah see de nastiness, Nayb," comes the response. Apparently, some people stayed awake to listen for the chain-dragging creature. I never saw one in the flesh in my boyhood years. Now, as friends fall out, the PM tells us that Jack drags chain at nights! Well, what do you know: a live "lagahoo" sitting in Cabinet, even occupying the office of the Prime Minister, sporting, I suppose, a heavy gold chain. Only in Trinidad!

I always thought that applicants for HDC units were processed by officers of that corporation, and once they met the requirements, their names were filed based on certain criteria that gave them a fair chance at owning or leasing land or a home.

Now we are hearing that Warner recommended 300-or-so persons for HDC units, only three of whom came from Felicity. That admission tells me that all 26 Government parliamentarians must have done likewise, which means that some 8,000 such partisan requests or recommendations were made since 2010. Since the HDC has not distributed that many units during the period, can we deduce that all persons who received units were favoured by the Partnership? Tell us, PM.

Then there is the flurry of interventions—distribution of food cards, land distribution, addressing infrastructure deficiencies that 24/7-Jack appears to have overlooked.

Ministers by the tonnes, literally, are descending on the constituency. Reminds me of the run-up to the THA elections last January.

Little wonder people across the country are clamouring for by-elections. You get more value for your vote than you do in a general election.

In most constituencies, electors have not seen their MPs since the campaign of 2010 when they walked every nook and cranny, making promises they never intended to honour.

Besides, by-elections open the darkest recesses of MPs for public viewing. Were it not for the Chaguanas West battle, would anyone have told us about parliamentarians who were penniless in 2010, but who today own mansions and luxury vehicles? Or how many ministers carry "green cards", hence dual loyalties?

Believe me, this by-election is an undisguised blessing from the Grandmother, the Granddaughter, and the Unholy Lagahoo.

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