What a week!
By Raffique Shah
June 07, 2009
It was that kind of week, one during which so much happened, the columnist is left confused. What issues do I address? My colleagues-in-print have all but flogged “Mad Max” to death. Except that President Max, endowed with powers to commit sins then forgive himself, is not about to die from shame or demit office unceremoniously. Like the legendary “bag ah lion”, a tough cop of many moons ago, Max is saying to all who care to listen: “Ah bad ah bad ah bad like a whole bag ah lion!”
So let’s pretend we do not have a president and move on. He will go the way of all mortals, of course, but a man who “holds no fear” of being out of high office surely has no fear of death. David Carradine, the Kung Fu icon of the 1970s, threw his last kick last week. In kicking the bucket in a hotel room in Thailand, Carradine was found naked in a closet, a piece of rope around his neck attached to another piece around his genitals. What a way to exit this world! Little wonder death holds no fear for those on high or who are always high.
Then there was the all-too-quiet exit of Attorney General Bridgid Annisette-George. True, the lady hardly spoke while she held the second highest position in Cabinet. But one would think if she was competent enough to be AG, she would be bold enough to say why she resigned. By remaining silent, having Prime Minister Patrick Manning speak on her behalf, she allowed the chill of conspiracy to creep into what might otherwise be a selfless act.
As Bridgid departed in deafening silence, her successor resumed office amidst an uproar from all quarters. While the PM reposed full trust in John Jeremie, not so his brothers-in-law, the now discordant opposition voices, and even the “lone ranger” within the ruling PNM, Keith Rowley. His detractors swear Jeremie is the Devil incarnate. Looking at the fella (I don’t know him, but I knew his dad-a decent solicitor and a man of courage), one would hardly associate him with conspiracies, double-dealing and subverting justice.
But I have learned in life looks can be deceiving. What I recall odd about his actions in his previous incarnation as AG was his refusal to testify in courtroom-carnival that surrounded the prosecution of then CJ, Sat Sharma, based on a complaint by Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls. Both he and McNicolls failed to appear in court to support their respective testimonies, and Sharma walked. The ex-CJ may have been exonerated anyway. But the circumstances under which he was freed left question marks hanging over his head and those of the two senior state officials. Jeremie would be naive to believe that suspicions over his behaviour then would simply vanish following a two-year stint as High Commissioner in London.
But this is Trinidad and Tobago, God’s chosen country (agnostics and atheists excluded), where stranger things have happened. Except for diehard PNMites, ever-shrinking in numbers and zeal much like their Bas-till-ah-die UNC counterparts, Manning’s head would be served up on the political platter the way Britain’s Gordon Brown’s is on fire-sale. The latter faces the ultimate political exodus as Labour sewer-rats-cum-bandits desert Brown’s torpedoed ship. Brown, like our Max, has “more guts than a bolie”, and insists that if he is the only rat on board, he will stay put. Bravado has its place, of course. But when Brown falls with the proverbial “thud”, as he must, loads of faecal matter will splatter every which way. Hopefully for Britons, who are in an economic pickle, Brown’s political corpse will serve as the manure they need to resuscitate their economy and salvage their pride.
We Trinis, however, have it sweet, maybe too sweet. Manning stands before the party faithful and others who were under orders to attend his party’s family day, and barks: “Sharpen your political cutlasses!” That injunction would be funny if it were given under different circumstances.
Here we are, in the midst of the most murderous crime wave ever, one in which the cutlass is used as often as the gun is to snuff out sometimes innocent lives, and there was the PM calling on his supporters to sharpen their cutlasses. Maybe the PM knows nothing about subliminal messages, about psychology, about how people with little grey matter in their heads would interpret certain words and terms.
And who, pray, is he preparing his PNM-army to “rest blade” on? Don’t tell me it’s the current opposition parties and their fragmented, disillusioned supporters. A “bois” would be a more useful weapon against that lot. In fact, they throw blade at each other on a daily and nightly basis, seemingly in competition with the criminals.
If, however, the PM senses a political earthquake that has nothing to do with parties, I would give him an “A”. There is a rumbling-and-a-tumbling, and it’s not in the atmosphere. It’s on the ground. I hear it. I feel it. So I have laced up my running shoes, firm in the belief that if I can’t fight, at least I can run. Or I hope I can.
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