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No room for error
In this extremely active political climate, it is advised that precaution be taken by all those who run the risk of being carried away with the current euphoria. The recent licking belted out to the People’s Partnership in the THA election is no reason for excessive celebration by PNM supporters because the electoral result has left the Assembly without a voice of opposition. And that is not good for democracy.
The point has already been made that the victory for the PNM was not based primarily on the satisfactory performance of the previous THA members—far from it—but the message was sent that this Government will not be allowed to run roughshod in the sister isle.
The concern remains whether the Chief Secretary, who led the charge to win the THA election for the PNM, will accept that the win had more to do with the rejection of this administration and less to do with his effort to promote the welfare of Tobago during his consecutive terms in office.
Tobagonians are astute people, and in the same way they gave their majority support to the Partnership in May 2010 and subsequently withdrew it almost three years later, they prove that political tides change and sailing political ships should not take the unpredictability of the waters for granted.
The Parliament provides an opportunity for the members of all the political parties to showcase their suitability to be representatives of the people. The broadcast of parliamentary proceedings has enabled citizens to stay in the loop with respect to bills brought for debate and to get relevant information about matters from responses to questions on the Order Paper.
The country is gearing up for a local election this year and a general election in 2015, so presumably the political parties would want to be on their best behaviour and perform at the top of their game in order to retain or win the support of the voters.
The Government must therefore ensure that the bills brought to the Parliament are part of an aggressive and comprehensive legislative agenda geared at passing or fixing laws that are deemed a priority. For example, the legislation dealing with the control and care of dangerous dogs should already have been reviewed, revised and made the subject of parliamentary debate.
Former Attorney General Mr Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC is credited for his action in bringing to the Parliament, during his tenure, significant pieces of legislation aimed at upgrading the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, this regime has not kept up the pace of passing meaningful legislation and has found itself being more reactive than proactive.
On the other side of the bench, more of the Opposition members have to assist the veterans in carrying the debate, as the PNM is actually working with a small minority of 12, with one member being absent on the ground of ill-health.
As to which party or parties will rise to the challenge, that will be based on the acceptance that there is much work to be done to prove their political worth before they can attract the support of the electorate.
A major complaint of the citizenry is that when people are elected to office, they become arrogant overnight and forget that their duty is to serve the people. In May 2010 and for some time thereafter, this regime continued to ride high, forgetting that public goodwill, if not replenished with fulfilled promises and satisfied expectation, results in public distaste and rejection.
In politics, timing is everything, so it is not too late for this administration to get its act together. However, this may be a daunting task for, as I write, yet another matter has arisen which brings into question the ability of this Government to properly check the credentials of people it appoints.
Names are already being called as to who should hold responsibility and culpability for yet another faux pas, and when all the facts are revealed, the court of public opinion will have the final say.
Out of the cracks
And the PNM must also be wary that it does not forget its humiliating defeat in the last general election. Already there are former high profile party members who are smelling blood and after being in hiding, are suddenly and boldly showing their faces.
Winning in Tobago does not automatically mean victory in the local election in Trinidad, although some political analysts may beg to differ. It is important for Dr Rowley to make wise choices and to remind his rank and file that they must prove themselves a viable political alternative, as some of them have already started counting their chickens before they are hatched.
The public is keeping a close eye on all the players and, in this deadly game of politics, there is little room for error.
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