The silence of the lambs

Paolo Kernahan -
Paolo Kernahan -


IF ONLY Augusto Pinochet, Jean-Claude Duvalier, Ferdinand Marcos and those types had populations as docile as that of TT, they'd have had a much easier go of it.

This administration is like a poorly maintained garbage truck rattling down the Beetham Highway. Trailing miles behind it is a noisome cloud of smothering exhaust – glaring evidence of nepotism, corruption and incompetence. The nation is just driving behind, windows down, breathing it all in.

As a columnist, there's never any shortage of material to work with in TT. It's both a curse and a curse. This is, after all, the land of kickbacks, back-scratching and scandal. It's usually a toss-up over which new-bran’ bacchanal to write about. Oftentimes I've already laid the foundation for one column and have to shelve it for another week. That's typically because a revelation about another government fiasco drops. It's a lot to remember, and Centrum Silver is not the salvation I expected it would be.

I hate cliches, but here's an unavoidable one: During the PP's term in office, when that administration was firing scandals from a machine gun, public enmity for that government seemed at an all-time high.

The air practically crackled with revolt from a broad cross-section of the population.

Indeed, even Patrick Manning's administration that preceded the PP battled strident outrage from a population united against corruption and dictatorial machinations.

In contrast, the current administration appears to have been given free sheet to drive this country into the ground by both action and omission, attracting only a fraction of the open repudiation hurled at previous governments.

For example, PM Rowley and his band of buffoons openly tamper with the democratic process of elections – the grave implications of simply postponing the local government polls for an entire year seem mostly lost on the population.

Why is it that this country seems predisposed to fraud, chicanery and authoritarianism? One minute we're digesting a whopper about Vincent Nelson playing the government like a harp from hell and the next the National Security Council is putting on a Little Carib Theatre production of "how to fool a chupidee nation."

There's something about this land – it's in the soil, making it perfect for cocoa and corruption. Too many citizens who understand what good governance looks like censor themselves, even amid an unremitting torrent of impropriety. Consider, if you will, the shockingly inappropriate, inaccurate and wildly insensitive assessment of the Rose Hill Primary School incident by Fitzgerald Hinds. His ridiculous and inflammatory remarks should have triggered nationwide condemnation and deafening calls for his immediate removal. All that could be mustered, though, was a few hundred people slating him online.

The same players continue to wine in our faces with fresh offences, knowing our tolerance for abuse is infinite. In this year alone there has been a barrage of damning government scandals that should have triggered the kinds of seismic public reactions we've seen unfolding in the UK.

The Conservative government there has been walking on hot coals stoked by the ire of the British public as post-Brexit economic conditions worsen and the cost-of-living crisis devours more victims every day.

The Tories are changing leaders like jockeys mid-race because a restive public simply won't accept being spat at in the face. Here at home, it's mostly all quiet on the Caribbean front. We take what we get and say, "Please, sir, I want some more!"

I write about corruption, incompetence and abuse of power in government, among other things. Not because I want to, but because my conscience won't permit acquiescence.

Many people call or private-message me to unburden themselves of their fears and concerns. They, however, will never speak out for themselves. As I've mentioned in previous columns, there is a price to be paid for being outspoken, one I've been paying for several years.

A culture of political victimisation is part of the reason many right-thinking but wrong-acting citizens actively suppress their bile. They watch the country ablaze hoping, foolishly, that they're far removed enough from the flames to perhaps feel the heat but not the burn.

There is a mere handful of dissenting voices drawing attention to a government united against the people. They don't have the platform of a weekly column; they are just ordinary folks who simply can't sit by and watch the country slipping into the abyss. Without the din of a united voice, tyranny will prevail. How long will the lambs keep their backs to the wolves?


"The silence of the lambs"

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