Why we doubt politicians

Could it be possible that today’s politicians are not perceptive enough to recognise that those they govern have at least a reasonable grasp of the inter-connectivity of life’s occurrences?

Time and again we have commented on the actions and words of Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and the fact that she so often epitomises the features that Caribbean people wish they did not have to see in their politicians.

The irony, however, is that while Persad-Bissessar’s conduct tends often to be at the extreme ends of the scale, it is none-the-less representative of what so many of the people we elect as leaders display.

For years Caribbean people have raised questions about recently resigned Minister of National Security in Trinidad, Austin “Jack” Warner, and the sources of his apparently huge financial reserves. This by itself is not unusual since across the region, rightly or wrongly, if a politician moves from a Suzuki to a Mercedes Benz or Land Rover he is viewed with suspicion — even when the evidence of his hard work and/or thrift is readily apparent.

In the case of Warner, however, the chorus of questions echoed, not like it was coming from the podium of the village church, but the massive choir of some national cathedral. Everyone had a question. In fact, for the non-Trinidadian visiting the twin island republic, you could not be in the country for more than a few minutes before the conversation involved Jack Warner.

But politics being what it is, the expedient course was the one taken by those in charge of the country’s political affairs — build a wall of protection around Warner. Even as the FIFA investigations reached their height it was as though the only people who were not bothered were those who sat around him in the Trinidad and Tobago Cabinet.

Then, Jack Warner made a “mistake”! When the water apparently got too hot Warner resigned, not only from the cabinet, but his seat in parliament, triggering a by-election and the wrath of his former allies.

And this is where John Public begins to question the mind of a politician. Again for the sake of political expediency, this time winning a by-election, every criticism that his colleagues appeared oblivious to, now joins the arsenal of firepower being turned on Warner.

The clincher? Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, in response to an expose by Trinidad Express reporter Camini Marajh, said Warner should be investigated for criminal conduct. According to the reporter, Warner solicited millions from businesses using his ministerial office.

After concluding that there should be a criminal investigation based on what the newspaper published, then declared that “since that article appeared yesterday, people have come forward and said there were other parties, which they attended”, a reference to one of the events for which Warner allegedly solicited funds.

This is a perfect example of why, even when politicians are above board, they are viewed with such wide skepticism. In the face of all the criticism and questions over the years, not once did the prime minister have a doubt. For almost four years no one told Persad-Bissessar anything negative about Warner, but in the few weeks since an election was called all these people have channelled credible information her way to necessitate such an about face.

Can we understand now, whether it is Bridgetown, Kingstown, Georgetown, Nassau, Kingston or Port of Spain, politicians are viewed with as much genuineness as a 2013 fifty cents piece?

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