28 Sept 2012

An insidious incursion into impropriety

Insidious: Working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way.

I was blown away this morning when I read the news of the current Trinidad and Tobago Government (UNC/PP) buying prime time on local television channels to propagandise its views.

With regards to the programme, Warner said it was a People's Partnership party initiative which aired simultaneously on five local television stations between 8 p.m. and 9.15 p.m. While Warner was unable to put a total cost to the initiative, the Express learned that prime time allocations on various local stations cost between $70,000 to $100,000 for that one hour.

I mean, this is an act of desperation, as I see it. I could be wrong, obviously, but I cannot help but think that with the many, many missteps committed by this ‘People’s Partnership’, that the People are no longer ‘partners’ but rather antagonists and that the PP is aware it is on its last legs. They are even going so far as to appear in the best light possible:

Ajodha seemed to pose prefixed and guided questions to a panel and included his own sentiments on the Section 34 fiasco and subsequent public fallout.

In as much as I deplored Manning’s creeping dictatorship, I abhor the insidious acts of the PP a bit more. Here we have a Government slowly eroding the Constitution and the rule of law; the attrition is quite noticeable for those who wish to see.

But I also notice that party loyalists and those who are blinded by ‘we party’ politicking are the supporters who empower the Government to do as it is doing. Clearly, they do not see further than the forest, and fail to see the trees even. The PP surely has not the same support it did as when it won the elections in 2010. Now, disgruntlement is growing, and the people are restless; hence the obvious propaganda and brainwashing attempt buying prime time in the television media, and the ads in the print media.

In July 2009 I quoted an excerpt from a speech given by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales at the 16th Commonwealth Law Conference, Hong Kong, on 9th April 2009:

The places where things have gone wrong include countries which believed that they were mature democracies, where these things did not and could not happen, but they did.  But they did.

There was, of course, no physical intimidation, no threat to security of judicial tenure, none of the extremes of tyranny. But it is the first steps which have to be watched. The first incursion by the executive into impropriety.

We are all familiar with the employee who steals from his employer. The most difficult time is the first time the hand goes into the till. After that, each successive time is less difficult. The problem with the phrase “eternal vigilance” is that it appears to focus on the long term. But the focus is the immediate, today,  every day. The insidious dangers are no less threatening than the obvious ones.

…In a democratic country all power, however exercised in the community, must be founded on the rule of law. Therefore each and every exercise of political power must be accountable not only to the electorate at the ballot box, when elections take place, but also and at all times to the rule of law. Independent professions protect it.  Independent press and media protect it.

The word,  some of you will already have seen, but which you will all increasingly see, is “constitutionality”. It is a word with a great future. In other words, if the executive wished the legislature to pass such an outrageous Act, it should do so in language that was so plain, that the public conscience would be revolted,  and the legislation fail, or if passed, the price would be paid at the next election.

I have further edited this to reflect the thoughts in my head on how this speech is relevant to the PP and the section 34 fiasco.

The country is unwilling to move on from section 34, despite the arrogant ‘instructions’ of the senior PP officials to do so. Rightly so, to not move on and keep the issue alive. The insidious manipulation of the law is ‘an incursion by the executive into impropriety’ and it is not the first. But it is to be noted, forewarned as we were and blocked. One cannot have incursions of this nature without losing much more later on. Indeed, I will go so far as to predict that such impropriety, running untrammelled, will even bring down the democratic freedoms we hold dear and make a mockery of the rule of law. Am I a fear monger? I think not, as I note the words of the Lord Chief Justice:

The places where things have gone wrong include countries which believed that they were mature democracies, where these things did not and could not happen, but they did. But they did.

I think generally speaking, the people are waking up. I am seeing online forums where the masses are moved… to anger, to wrath, to dispense with their apathy and silence. This is a good thing. It is essential to democracy. But I despair that it takes what it took – a blatant ‘incursion into impropriety’ to move them from ‘rum and roti’, a ‘carnival’ mentality, to recognising that the Government has an insidious agenda.

Time and time again, I predicted that this is a one-term Government. Now at last, the PP seem to also recognise it. The COP and TOP still slumber… they have not yet voiced yay or nay. But it is too late to cut loose now and their fates are tied with the same blundering UNC. Never have I seen a Government so out of touch with reality. Rumours had it they were laughing at Manning as he was ‘mad’ but I wonder now who will laugh last? Never have I seen a Government also with such incompetent ‘advisers’ but then again, if they hired people like Sasha Mohammed and Reshmi Ramnarine, no wonder I cannot see another term in office.

It may well be why that insidious incursion took place.