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Raffique Shah


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No mistake, pure mischief

By Raffique Shah
September 21, 2014

When, last Monday, Chief State Solicitor (CSS) Christophe Grant distanced himself from a very political letter that was purportedly penned by him, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) hastily issued a statement saying that some official there had made a mistake by attributing the authorship to Grant.

Mistake, my foot! The release of extracts from that cantankerous letter on a Sunday, someone making sure that it was distributed to all media houses, was yet another instance of calculated mischief perpetrated by the offices of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General.

The intention was to have the population believe that the CSS, an independent State legal officer, endorsed the Government’s stance against environmentalist Wayne Kublalsingh with a level of vitriol that is difficult to comprehend.

When I read the release from the OPM, I certainly thought that the CSS had entered the political arena and surrendered his independence. Referring to Kublalsingh as being "disingenuous and deceitful", "self-serving" and "a man who seeks sympathy and empathy" did not come across as expressions a judicial officer would use in responding to a litigant in a court matter.

The letter reeks of politics, and Grant was right to disassociate himself from its contents. Besides the fierce independence he must display as CSS at all times, Grant is also a calypso lyricist of repute who must defend his integrity.

Not surprisingly, after he publicly said that he had not written, seen or signed the letter that the OPM had released in his name, people pounced on the man as if he had breached protocol, confidentiality or worse. In other words, he was wrong to expose a lie on him perpetrated by the Prime Minister. Why? Because she is the Prime Minister, hence she can do no wrong?

This is really a land without pity: you are small, insignificant, so bow to those who hold high offices, whatever their sins. Keep your tail quiet. Take your blows. Never stand up to those in authority even if they are wrong and you are right.

What bothers me about this latest exposure is the depths to which the Government would dive in their battle with Kublalsingh. In a near-classical case of the sledgehammer and the fly, just about every minister pronounces on the activist and his supporters, condemning them as a minuscule minority seeking to frustrate the will of the majority.

Mark you, I think they are right in this respect. Kublalsingh must admit that those who continue to support his opposition to the Debe to Mon Desir leg of the new highway are few in contrast to the many who could not care what route the highway takes, as long as it built in the shortest time possible. Residents of the south-western part of the country are fed up with the ancient road networks that make commuting and connecting with the rest of the country a daily nightmare.

So most people could not care less if the route through the low-lying Debe and Penal districts results in flooding, damage to the wetlands, dislocation of many families—just build the damn thing.

Even more fortuitous for the Government, the new highway will service a swathe of the country where it commands almost complete support. For those people, the UNC can do no wrong.

For these reasons, Wayne and his Re-route Movement come across as mere gadflies.

Which begs the question: why is the Government resorting to lies, propaganda campaigns, bullying, in its bid to silence Kublalsingh? Why lie and implicate Grant in an all-out war you think you must wage when there is no need for war?

Indeed, ignoring the sage advice of the masters of the art of war, this Government engages in battles on so many fronts, it must be confused over who is friend and who is foe. Simultaneously, it is fighting the trade unions, Keith Rowley and the PNM, Jack Warner and the ILP, the media, civil society groups, environmentalists, contractors...

Who are their advisers on strategy and tactics? They’d better examine horns at their political operations centre!

Having said all of the above, I think I should direct some thoughts to Wayne Kublalsingh who has embarked on his second hunger strike: call it off, Wayne. Dey go kill yuh! If you expect the Prime Minister to have a change of heart, you must first believe that she has a heart. I don’t know, but I have my doubts.

I was not around in 2010 when you all—politicians, trade unionists and activists—signed the Fyzabad Accord that gave birth to the People’s Partnership. I don’t know if the Debe to Mon Desir issue existed back then, if there were any commitments by the PP.

If you feel betrayed, Wayne, you do not have to commit suicide. You have made your point, forcefully so, so live to fight another day. That will be worth more to your country than starving yourself to death.

Most of all, I hope you have learnt a bitter lesson about lying, self-serving, deceitful politicians. They use you, abuse you and then spit you out like a dried plum seed. Nuff said.

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