The instructions came through the phone loud and clear. It was: “James Bum, head to Geneva right away. Do some damage control!” When I get orders, I don’t query them I just comply, because I know as a true blue secret agent, you get on the mission pronto. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wanted me to investigate the Geneva-based ambassador to the United Nations, Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, and her remarks addressing a symposium on Cultural Diplomacy. They say what Therese didn’t say, is what she forget to say. The speech went viral on Facebook, including her facial expressions and all. The reputation of Trinidad and Tobago as an intelligent society was under threat. Now as a secret agent/diplomat, I know that diplomacy is all about saying much in a small speech and keeping your mouth shut when those around you have theirs open. As a diplomat, you have to be a good listener, and not talker.
So it did not surprise me that Therese get on wassy at the symposium. Remember before she was carted off to Geneva she told political hecklers, “Shut up,” threw waist (or is it waste?) at a Carnival party, and took on doctors as Minister of Health, causing “chaos,” which she said at the conference. Therese almost capsized the Health Service throwing her weight around. So when I saw the antics of Therese, and listened to her remarks, I knew it was vintage Therese. You talk about kicks. People started to laugh, some rolled on the ground, some were amazed. Some wanted to know if Therese was into sit-down comedy, Comedy Central to be exact. Therese started talking out her personal business, how she met her husband on the All Fool’s Day 1996 on the Internet, and how he called himself Penguin and she was Tropical Bear. That’s when people started to say Therese going off (if she hadn’t already) and asked what her romance has to do with cultural diplomacy. Therese even say how she used to teach Kamla Persad-Bissessar her lessons, and in the run-up to the May 2010 General Election, used to put Kamla picture in her powerpoint presentations. It was public relations at its finest. Therese said she used to write speeches for Kamla, as if Kamla can’t write her own speeches.
But what take the cake and the bakery, was when she said Kamla woke her up while she was taking her beauty sleep, to offer her a job in her government. Before you could say “Therese,” she was Minister of Health, and resigned her lecturer job at the University of the West Indies. Therese said her mother didn’t like her in politics, and threatened to “disown her.” Not a bad idea. However, when she fell from grace, her mother as sick as she was, sang “Alleluia. Alleluia.” When I read the ramblings of Therese, I said it would have been better if she told the conference: “Ladies and gentlemen, I have nothing to say. Thank you.” Arriving in Geneva, I went straight to her office and knocked on the door. There was no answer. I wondered if arising out of her performance she was nominated for an Oscar and had gone to New York, or had abandoned her post. You see me, I gone!