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SATURDAY’S CHILD – A jack of all shades

Tony Deyal

SATURDAY’S CHILD – A jack of all shades

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THE VISUAL acuity of Jack Warner, the Minister of Works and Transport (MOWT) in the Trinidad and Tobago government responsible for air transport, is highly impressive.  
He has an eye out for any opportunity and a dream of becoming Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.  He is said to close his eyes to the transgressions of his friends and associates.  Now he claims to be in the dark and yet is seeing red about REDjet, the low-cost carrier, coming to Trinidad and Tobago.  He is indeed a Jack of all shades.
It is true that Warner as the MOWT is responsible for Caribbean Airlines (CAL) – formerly BWIA – and that nobody but the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GOTT) was or is interested in owning and operating the high-cost airline which, were it not a state enterprise, would have been shut down a long time ago for bankruptcy.  
As the cynics say, “If you want to be a millionaire, first become a billionaire and then buy an airline.”  However, “abbreviationally speaking”, getting control of CAL was a feather in the GOTT MOWT’s cap.  
However, as calypsonian the Mighty Penguin sang: “What sweet in goat mouth does sour” in its posterior.  The same fate seems to have befallen the GOTT MOWT.  His first shock was the appointment of George Nicholas, son of Issa the regional hotelier, as chairman of CAL.  First Jack tried a Rodney Dangerfield approach.  Dangerfield was the comedian who made a career and fortune out of the phrase: “I don’t get no respect.”   
He would say: “I don’t get no respect I tell you.  The way my luck is running, if I was a politician I would be honest.”  
He once quipped, “I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous, everyone hasn’t met me yet.  I don’t get no respect!”  
Sometimes he complained: “I get no respect, no respect I tell you. Take my wife . . . please!”   
The GOTT MOWT claimed he got no respect from Nicholas, who did not inform him in advance of the decision to fire Ian Brunton as the company’s CEO and, in the process, dropped some intemperate, torrid language on the high-and-mighty MOWT.   
Warner complained: “I had a disagreement with the chairman and he had a complete lack of respect for me as the line minister.”  So what did the MOWT say to the Prime Minister when he complained to her?  Did he do a Dangerfield?  Was it, “PM, I get no respect. Take George Nicholas…please!”  Still, despite the MOWT’s mumblings, rumblings and grumblings, Nicholas is still the CAL chairman and Brunton has not been rehired.  
Then the MOWT was ordered by the extremely aggressive Attorney General of GOTT, Anand Ramlogan, to “shut up” while an investigation was taking place on the brand of planes that CAL was buying to service the routes now operated by LIAT.  Despite the black eye from Ramlogan, Jack remained chastised but not chastened.   
He has jumped all over the REDjet matter, querying whether the airline has permission to operate in Trinidad and Tobago. TNT taxpayers were never asked if they wanted the country to own an inefficient airline or to buy another bankrupt one (Air Jamaica). Now that REDjet is coming, Jack and his Government are asking questions.
The reason?  REDjet did not go to Jack first, so now he is MOWT-ing off.  Worse, he is supported by the Civil Aviation Authority of T&T (CATT) which has ordered REDjet to immediately cease all advertising of its fares to the three destinations to which it had been marketing its TT$63 rate. CATT head Ramesh Lutchmedial tried to argue that notwithstanding the agreement with the Barbados Civil Aviation Authority, “most importantly, CATT was an agency of the state and was guided by government policy”.   
He explained: “So matters like these we have to consult with the line minister.”  There you have it.  GOTT works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform and its MOWT-piece does not seem to care about what the people want so long as he gets “respect”.  Given that kind of approach, maybe he might make REDjet an offer they cannot refuse.
Tony Deyal was last seen asking if the MOWT went as a witness in the football case, would he qualify as a Jack-in-the-box?