27 Jan 2015

Apathy, Complacency and Malignancy

The famous castigation by former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew that T&T could not progress because of our “Carnival mentality” is still true almost four decades after being said.  Samuel Selvon said he could not see himself “being lulled into complacency and acceptance of the carefree and apathetic life”(Nasta and Rutherford, 1995, p.58).

The carnival mentality has successfully passed from generation to generation to generation.  The majority of the people are too busy with doubles and roti, rum and wine. Corruption is a way of life, and everyone, from KFC employees to Government Ministers like a ‘freebie’.

Still, more worrisome than the social aspect, is the contumacious malignancy of the legal system. What I see is decades of clashes among the legislature, the judiciary and the executive arms of government. Don’t forget too, all three clash with the media, especially when misdeeds are exposed to the light of day. Let’s not talk yet of paucity of legal reasoning, lack of knowledge of actual laws, and the decrepit pace of judgments issued.

Now Parliament is dragged into disrepute through the actions of the Speaker as revealed in the Larry Howai matter, effectively usurping the independence of Parliament. The many missteps of the Prime Minister are rapidly covered up, sometimes aggressively, by the ‘gang of three’; Suruj Rambachan, Roodal Moonilal and Anand Ramlogan. Two are lawyers who frequently use the phrase ‘rule of law’ with the same ease they have bowel movements, and obviously without understanding what the phrase means.

There is actual interference with the judicial process. What is even sadder is the ‘complacency and acceptance’ of the population to all these shenanigans, with the exception of few disunited voices. I admire Martin Daly and Reginald Dumas for their ‘eternal vigilance’; something the former Guardian columnist Anand Ramlogan wrote about, but conveniently ignores in his now lofty tower.

Except for the bright facade of polished buildings, the country has not progressed from Selvon’s and Lee Kuan Yew’s observations.