OUR CARIBBEAN: The challenge of good governance
IN TODAY’S COLUMN I wish to share with readers my humble deep concerns relating to two major issues of public interest.
One pertains to probity in public life and challenges for good governance in the United States to which so many nations, including ours, seem to constantly depend on guidance.
The other relates to the recent public behaviour by current holders of the two highest political offices in the multi-party, multi-ethnic democratic state that’s Trinidad and Tobago – President Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Keith Rowley.
First, although Trinidad and Tobago remains a beacon in this region as a democratic, ethnically diverse state, its primary political decision-makers and arbiters do occasionally slip into pathetic public political behaviour that could well be associated with fun carnival politicking, to say the least.
Regrettably, that sort of Trini-style bacchanal politics erupted just last week when both prime minister Rowley and president Carmona – recognised as a distinguished jurist prior to his ascension as president of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago – became involved in an unprecedented public verbal spat including shouts via the media about who was “lying”.
Basically, the unseemly verbal jostle erupted over a meeting by president Carmona and national security minister Edmund Dillon, focused on prevailing national concerns over mind-blowing gun-related murders and general criminality.
President Carmona maintains that his meeting with the minister had resulted from his growing concerns over the spreading criminal epidemic, and that he had “sought” the prior consent of prime minister Rowley who offered no objections.
Subsequently, the prime minister was to inform the local media that the president had misrepresented his position. Soon, a pitiful verbal shouting match for “credibility” erupted to pathetically degenerate into claims about who was lying”.
As I recall, this unprecedented public blame-shifting verbal outburst between an unanimously elected head of state and a democratically chosen prime minister was a most unconventional, distasteful development in governance politics of Trinidad and Tobago. It should never recur, however the feisty political mood.
Coping with ‘Trumpism’
Across in the United States, there are an estimated 25 million citizens of Caribbean descent who are eligible to vote at next month’s presidential elections to choose a successor to the outgoing first-ever American president of African origin, Barack Obama.
The understandable focus of attention over the months’-long complicated campaign is, inevitably, culminating in a choice between two fundamentally different contestants – and not just in gender, both first-timers – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
As the first woman presidential contestant, Clinton has internationally recognised credentials for the workings in governance and diplomacy.
She is currently ahead in the polls’ ratings in the battle for leadership of the nation that’s the world’s sole superpower. But it is not her who is creating and sustaining political excitement with recurring controversies at home and abroad on issues of trade and ethnic divisions, but the loquacious billionaire Donald Trump.
This billionaire boastfully engages in controversies about his successful refusals to pay overdue taxes even as he now cheerfully spends his billions with the hope of becoming the candidate to succeed Obama – the out-going president he has slandered as not being an American by birth – a sin for which he now claims “regret”.
One of the big, relevant questions remain: What kind of leadership guidance can the United States offer with a billionaire politician like Trump,who prides himself in defying the law with his continuing refusals to honestly declare and pay up legally-due taxes?
Further, his frequent mockings of women is simply disgusting.
However, the day of reckoning soon comes and, from my perspective, it would be most shocking and painful should Trump emerge on November 8 as the politician to take the official oath as new President of the United States.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.