If deceased PNM leader Patrick Manning had been the party’s leader today, the public definitely wouldn’t have had “this sordid mess” of the collapsed case against Anand Ramlogan and Gerald Ramdeen being laid out on the front pages of every national newspaper , says UNC Senator Jearlean John.
“And which, incidentally, is reflective of what the PNM has become. Because I’ve studied and practiced management, and without a shadow of a doubt, an organisation takes on the DNA of its leader. An organisation’s behaviour is reflective of its leader,” John said during yesterday’s Senate Budget debate.
“The optics of this mess we face is the inequality we see everywhere after seven-plus years of this arrogant, out of touch, and elitist Government, who, by the way, has been the most unproductive, with no plan, no vision, just plain worst government in the history of this country.” She added, “I actually heard their Prime Minister repeating some of these attributes ascribed to him in his address in Diego Martin last evening. It’s been a failure after failure, scandal after scandal, misstep and mistake; the daily message now is not if the Government will fail but when, where and how.”
John said she was amazed some PNM Senators were quoting former leader Manning in debate.
“I hope they’re doing so with the permission of their current leader, who stands for none of the positive values and sentiments associated with the Honourable Mr Manning,” she said.
“That was a different time in politics, when you could have disagreed on policy issues without being disagreeable and nasty. You could disagree, but also find opportunities for consensus.”
John explained that in 2001, she was among three people with then-prime minister Basdeo Panday negotiating the handover of the government to Manning.
“What took us through and very likely saved our democracy was the patriotism and grace of outgoing PM Panday and incoming PM Manning. You didn’t have this elevated level of acrimony, rancour and mean-spiritedness.”
John also said to make a dent in the crime scourge, it requires an all-of-government and all-of-T&T approach.
“But there’s nothing in this Budget which fires up the country to feel hope and optimism, and to rally with the Government,” she said.
She cited the case of Jamie Walker, who was “killed over where he’s parked, murdered in full view of his wife and three little children.”
She added: “We cannot recognise this country, where a mother throws gas on her two children, lit them on fire, locks the door and walks off and leaves them there to die.
“Or a T&T where a 15-year-old schoolboy, Videsh Dookran, was chopped, shot and his body stuffed into a latrine at the back of a Golconda shop.
“To quote a social media post, ‘The sheer brutality of this murder!’ The sheer brutality of the beheaded and dismembered body ... these don’t appear to be drug and gang-related killings but revenge for some stupidness.
“What can a 15-year-old boy do to deserve this? The fight for drug turf and the gangs established to do it suggests some kinda warped logic. But you chop a 15-year-old boy in his head and face, break his legs and pump shots in his chest, then stuff him into a latrine?”
Recommending ‘a prevention first policy’, John said, “We’re finding out that the most dangerous person in the world is a young, broke and alone male, and we’re just producing too many of them. Too many young men who aren’t attached to anything—not to work, their homes, schools, churches, or communities. They’re just adrift. We need to invest in young men going to school, getting a job, being responsible.”