Parliamentarians are having a break now, but post-Carnival next week it’s back to work—on nominations for deputy police commissioners, as security continues to be on the front burner.
Currently though, some are in the Carnival mix. Independent Senator Helon Francis is on a stage as big as the Senate at tomorrow’s Calypso Monarch finals. He’s moved from his 2023 patrio-anthem “Mighty” to 2024 realities of “Representing We”—a witty, pithy reflection on T&T politics, having paid close attention during his five months in Senate.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley signalled Tuesday that he’ll be around, but not as masquerader. Planning Minister Penny Beckles will be in Arima. UNC MP Vandana Mohit’s leading her J’Ouvert band.
Work’s still on though: jubilant Carnival atmosphere juxtaposed with oil literally on Tobago’s troubled waters and worrisome implications: reef destruction by the culprit “Gulfstream” vessel’s grounding, marine life destruction, befouled tourism/locations. And grave test for Farley Augustine’s THA.
Carnival-wise, scrutiny’s on security, whether crime-shy citizens subscribe more to Mical Teja’s “No Place Like Ho-oome” chorus than his “DNA” fete beckoning, visitor turnout and how—with a lower buzz - national fete reputation fares amidst national problem ravages.
If PM Rowley’s Tuesday briefing raised expectation of new national security announcements, what was delivered triggered more concern. With DCP appointments, the immediate major development, it remains ahead what solutions for the TTPS their expertise brings.
The Police Commissioner’s underperformance represented a grim enough dilemma for an embattled PM facing election in 18 months to reach all the way back to 2017 to brandish the Deosaran Audit Report on TTPS issues that were known. Indeed: with the CoP among report authors. Apart from handling economic challenges, pandemic crisis and recovery changes, the fact that the report’s being promoted now—after official information that CoPs since 2018 hadn’t met targets—still raised the inconvenient truth of whether it’s merely red herring/cover. First, as purported subject matter for the Government/Opposition anti-crime consultation. Secondly, the constitutional reform Rowley cited as being necessary to implement some recommendations, now a challenge publicly issued to UNC.
Beyond Rowley’s acknowledgement of the CoP’s “difficult situation, difficult job and it didn’t mean one should throw the baby out with the bathwater”, he’s passed the buck of CoP Erla Harewood-Christopher’s management of TTPS matters (and future) to the Police Service Commission (PolSC).
With Carnival security another test, PolSC awaits month-end—as the CoP was first appointed February 2023—to do her performance appraisal. It’s ahead what happens post-appraisal after outcomes; also in the three months towards the May anniversary of the extension of her appointment. And what Cabinet’s decision will be beyond May.
Considering the rationale nature of Rowley’s statements, the repeated queries which he initially rebuffed about anti-crime consultations with UNC would have afforded a political lifeline, had he given positive reply earlier than eventually conceding “at an appropriate time maybe...”
After the UNC “wined” all over the consultation issue, positive reply would have brought some balance to the play, providing tangible (leadership) movement on aspects of T&T’s key burning issue on which people want action. Correctly—from both sides.
The hopelessness Rowley was warned of on Tuesday is real. Even Monday’s “ram” PNM fete can’t detract from that.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar should have also said recently, if the detailed information she’s given on causes of crime—Colombian cartels working with T&T gangs/businesspeople regarding drugs and guns—was shared with authorities, if her administration knew of/did anything on the problems she said were “left to fester for years”, and if, with that deep knowledge, she’ll support relief measures for citizens—beyond politically weaponising crime as election vehicle towards Whitehall.
The UNC will be held firmly to deputy leader Roodal Moonilal’s promise that it’ll solve the crime problem in six months. Moonilal’s views last Sunday against the PolSC—and by extension their nomination of the DCPs—has set the stage regarding those DCPs and to neutralise the PolSC’s judgement.
With post-Carnival “fire” ahead, Parliamentarians may wish to stand as strong as Bunji, be as much a trouper as Patrice and be able to wine back on political blows as energetically as masqueraders are doing—hereon.