Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Convenient Race Card

There is a phenomenon emerging in Trinidad and Tobago that has me totally flabbergasted. Everyone in Trinidad and Tobago knows that the core support of the PNM are people of African descent and the core support of the UNC are people of East Indian descent. The phenomenon to which I refer to is that every time the PNM is voted out of office, even when their loss is as catastrophic as what took place in 2010, no one claims it's because of race but the minute the UNC receives any opposition or rejection from the electorate the first thing to come out the mouths of UNC pundits is race. Why? 

The entire country literally threw the PNM out of Parliament giving the UNC controlled PP Government an overwhelming majority in the Central Government along with the two Tobago seats, not a single UNC pundit said the results of this win was because of race. Two and a half years into their governance and several "missteps" dragging them down (Reshmi; unexplained and failed State of Emergency; Section 34; total lack of transparency and accountablity), the population is up in arms over the PP Government's performance just as they were up in arms over the Manning led PNM, only this time we are being told it's because of the Prime Minister and her Government Minister's race. Why? 

I feel sorry for my Tobago brothers and sisters, after voting overwhelming for the PNM in Tobago in the 2013 THA elections the UNC pundits are coming out from the wood works and accusing Tobago of voting based on race. Where were these individuals when Tobago gave the PP Government the two Tobago seats in 2010? Where were these individuals when Tobago voted out the PNM in 1980 and did not vote them back into power until the year 2000, a whole twenty years after? To see the UNC pundits cry race after the outcome of the 2013 THA elections not only solidifies why they deserved to lose, it also shows up their total lack of understanding where Tobagonians and Tobago culture is concerned. 

Even the Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Commission Dr. Indira Rampersad is making the colossal mistake of interpreting the Tobago vote as a race vote. She is quoted as saying "People are still focused on political parties and personalities as opposed to issues. It may not be just political parties and personalities. It may be another issue, an issue of ethnicity and race. These issues play out in T&T all the time and some people discount it as an issue." First of all as someone who is commissioner of the Equal Opportunity Commission I can't understand how the goodly Dr. could make such a biased and one sided nuanced statement and go unchallenged. If she is going to accuse Tobagonians of voting based on race then she has to equally accuse the UNC dominanted Partnership of having a race agenda in Tobago to ensure an ethnic influence comprised of the UNC support base. To accuse one ethnic group of voting based on race while absolving the other ethnic group of having any race motive discredits anything Dr. Rampersad says and she looses all appearances of objectivity. Dr. Rampersad's claim is also a two edge sword as it tacitly implies that the PP Government is not that multi-ethnic political party it is being touted to be but rather an Indo dominated political party with a few Non-Indos for cosmetic appearances, because if the People's Partnership was truly multi-ethnic then the issue of race would and should never arise.....over to you goodly Dr. 

It is also interesting that Dr. Rampersad did not see the following as pertinent issues for Tobagonians:- PP Government's total disrespect to Tobagonians by putting forward a bill regarding internal self government on the eve of an election, a bill that does not adequately address internal self government for Tobago and would deprive Tobago of it's resources via the stated 11 nautical miles; Ashworth Jack's inability to explain the funding of his home and provide sufficient evidence to appease Tobagonians that he is not receiving political favours behind closed doors which he undoubtedly would have had to repay; Ashworth Jack's further lack of integrity by refusing to observe the law of Trinidad and Tobago and file his declaration of assets and income with the Integrity Commission. For Dr. Rampersad to totally down play these issues and turn this into an election of race calls into question her own qualification of being able to adequately analyse political issues. For her to be aware of these various issues and say that Tobagonians voted on race and not issues is to insult the intelligence of Tobagonians, and I'm saying that if Dr. Rampersad was running for Chief Secretary of Tobago she too would have suffered a catastrophic loss and it would have nothing to do with her ethnicity. 

A twelve year old in Tobago can tell you that Tobagonians voting for a party they rejected for 20 years has nothing to do with the ethnic composition of the People's Partnership Government, but everything to do with the PP's misunderstanding of Tobago's culture. You cannot win votes in Tobago by bribing them with fancy ads, having helicopters invading the people's air space unnecessarily and you certainly do not win votes by attacking Tobagonians. Tobagonians hold it as their sacred right to criticize their own, as a Trini I learnt that the hard way when I went over there to work for some years. By attacking Orville London and Dr. Rowley on the most spurious of allegations the PP Government secured their own demise. Tobagonians although being part of a unitary state, do not recognise their leader as being that of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, their leader to govern Tobago affairs is the Chief Secretary. The PP Government's constant disregard for the THA and total disrespect they showed to Mr. London as well as the Prime Minister acting as if it was she contesting to be Chief Secretary and not Ashworth Jack all caused the severe beating the TOP suffered at the polls. 

So to the UNC pundits I say to you, the loss of the THA election had nothing to do with race and everything to do with your leader's colossal misunderstanding of Tobago's culture. Further to that, your convenient and constant reference to race every time the electorate rejects a politican of East Indian descent is not only distasteful to Tobagonians, but also to the Non-Indo electorate in Trinidad. If it is in the minds of the UNC pundits that as long as East Indian politicians do not control and dominate political life in Trinidad and Tobago it means the rest of the electorate are racist then I dare say, these pundits need to do some introspection because when they point a finger at others there are four fingers pointing right back at them.

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