A leadership crisis imperils nation

Paolo Kernahan
Paolo Kernahan


THE LATEST scandal enveloping the Rowley administration is like a hurricane finding ever warmer waters. The Prime Minister's attempts to unhitch his Cabinet from the Faris al-Rawi-Vincent Nelson doomed train seem quite futile.

Notwithstanding this saga, the PM continues to insist that the PNM is the party of morality. Dr Rowley and his colleagues invoke words like integrity and decency when comparing themselves to the UNC. Neither party, though, is more saintly than the other. That's exactly what I posted on Facebook this week – the PNM isn't morally superior to the equally venal UNC. Well, that post attracted a pack of foaming-at-the-mouth UNC diehard blowhards who see themselves as different from hardcore PNM supporters.

My post was a remark on corruption during PNM and UNC terms in office. In response, UNC supporters frantically copied and pasted lists of UNC/PP achievements: new schools, infrastructural improvements, etc. The difference with the UNC, they said, is performance.

Exactly what does performance have to do with a Facebook post about corruption? What does that say about perceptions of entrenched political shady dealings? Is malfeasance in government acceptable if the public gets something in return?

I'll leave you to draw your conclusions. Which party is "less worse" isn't a useful discussion either.

Some UNC supporters boasted that claims of corruption during the PP's term remain unproven. Allegations are dismissed as insidious PNM propaganda and outflows of a media agenda.

So former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar fired a grap of her ministers because of PNM mauvais langue and the malevolent media? That's some Scarlet Witch-level mind control.

What these political parties (mafias) fail to understand is they stand accused of not just corruption – aka tiefin'. They're also accused of nepotism, cronyism and abuse of power.

My post on the deeply-flawed PNM and UNC was described by opposition online snipers as an attempt to "appear objective." My record speaks for itself.

What we're confronted with isn't a PNM or UNC issue. It's a crisis of leadership among political parties claiming they're the best option for managing the country and its resources. Compounding it is citizens' refusal to hold all politicians accountable.

Both the PNM and UNC in their current incarnations are unfit for public office. The notion that both are corrupt and voters must pick the one that at least gives while taking only assures we repeat the debilitating cycle we're trapped in now.

It's reasonable to be sceptical about a third party emerging to demolish the toxic politics practised by the major parties. What we need is the will to force change in our leadership culture. Citizens must fearlessly stand up, irrespective of party allegiances, to say wrong is wrong and it will not be tolerated. Instead, ketch-dey-nennen diehard supporters lie on the road to defend politicians who will drive over them with their tax-exempt Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes.

The stakes are too high for business-as-usual politics. We need unflinching integrity that eschews cliquism and backroom deals. There's no more money to be lost to corruption and political back-scratching. No loot to pay rent for empty buildings and outrageous legal fees. No more funds to mint overnight millionaires with inflated contracts for deflated delivery.

I've been writing a newspaper column for 13 years. I've got it right. I've got it wrong. Above all else, I've come into these pages with a clear mind and pure heart.

Not one to be thin-skinned, I don't buckle in the face of criticism. But the visceral hatred unleashed against me by UNC trolls, many of them hiding their identities, is concerning. Among other things, I was accused of being some sort of PNM double agent. The rest of the online hate I faced from political trolls isn't fit for reproduction here.

Slurs against my integrity don't bother me. What's troubling is politically-induced psychosis online – weaponised supporters with reprehensible behaviours that both parties are either aware of or actively involved in.

I write as I do because injustice, corruption and duplicitous politics are infuriating.

Times have changed, though. Online political radicalisation is becoming worse. There's a price for being outspoken, and inflation is only making that price steeper. This is a price I am left to pay as friends and colleagues private-message me to egg me on while their cowardly reticence ensures a life of ease and continued favour in the court of politicians whom they privately hold in contempt.

I often wonder whether it's better to claim the comforts of silence and anonymity.


"A leadership crisis imperils nation"

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