Towards charting a new course


Besides climate change sweeping the planet, political winds enable paradigm shifts in many locales. Trinidad and Tobago is no exception. We had seen it happen in Tobago during their last election cycle when the ruling party was unceremoniously booted out of office.

People are tired of promises that never materialise. Every system must have checks and balances to ensure political honesty and integrity and not bombastic election promises.

If a guarantee was made on the stump and remains unfulfilled, then it is time to step down and let someone else more capable do the people’s work; call a new election if that is what it takes.

No excuses will suffice, not the lack of opposition support or existing laws; nothing must stop you from doing what you were elected to do.

Find a way; when you made that promise, you should have been prepared for a fallback position if opposition arose-as it always does.

Our politicians are highly paid with perquisites like tax-free automobiles every couple of years, first-class travel, world-class cuisines, free healthcare at the best hospitals in the world (not in T&T), and the best doctors taxpayers’ money can buy.

And yet we have sitting politicians using loopholes in the system to milk the treasury for whatever more they can squeeze out of the public’s purse. They are in the political game to enrich themselves.

Some have given up their legal business, the medical profession, and tenured jobs as judges and university professors to become politicians. Were their chosen jobs not enriching them as quickly as expected? And yet they claim they deserve the high salaries because they would be highly paid if they were to take their skills to the business world. To them, I would say, take it and begone.

Systemic change is necessary if we want to end political patrimony. What voters were promised was not what they got. Every leader we’ve had since Independence were students of the old colonial past we tried to put behind us.

Unlike America, which invented an entirely new system of government when they broke from the Brits, Dr Eric Williams, our first prime minister, fresh from the University of Oxford with a DPhil where he studied history and political science-all based on the Westminster system, he brought that system home when he became prime minister.

How? Why? Because that is what he studied; that is what he knew best.

We are now seeing the effects of a system that does not sit well with a people with an enslavement history. With Queen Elizabeth II gone, we are at an inflection point where we can use this moment as a stepping stone to an entirely new democratic beginning.

Should we adopt the American system of government, or is there a more equitable system we can develop so all the people can benefit?

The Americans did it when they freed themselves of the oppressive British system. May the political winds of change help us chart a new course.

Rex Chookolingo