I am not perturbed by the three spoilt ballots that were supposed to go to Israel Khan, the UNC nominee for President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. This demonstrates that a few parliamentarians on the UNC bench are not happy with all that is happening within the party and have chosen to signal their dissatisfaction. The challenge now for the Political Leader is to meet with these disenchanted members and listen to their grievances.
On the other hand, what is most scary was the nine Independent Senators voting solidly with the PNM. Had the Independent Senators felt that the country was improperly governed, they would have voted otherwise. But by voting for the PNM’s nominee, they have endorsed the governance of the country- high crime rate, broken infrastructure, high unemployment, corruption etc- under the leadership of Dr Keith Rowley.
These Independent Senators are supposed to be the conscience of the legislature and given their nomenclature as Independent Senators one would expect that their voting would be objective and rational and in the best interest of the country. After all, the Senate had its origin in Rome where men from noble families had the destiny of the nation in their hands. Our Independent Senators, coming from such tradition, are expected to exercise their judgements in the best interest of the country.
These nine Independent Senators may not be great inventors or investors who can build an economy. They need not be equated with the likes of Elon Musk or Warren Buffet or Mukesh Ambani to generate wealth but to keep alive the spirit of democracy as the greater Roman statesman Marcus Tillius Cicero (106-63 BCE) did when he was a senator in Rome.
Power is both seductive and addictive. Our senators and in particular our Independent Senators are supposed to be men above personal and sectional interests. Given the recent ruling of the Privy Council on the unlawful firing of former Governor of the Central Bank, Jwala Rambarran, by Christine Kangaloo, the PNM’s nominee, when she was acting President, was enough reason to vote against her nomination.
Are we going to see our Independent Senators supporting the legalization of prostitution, abortion, gay marriages, the legalization of cocaine and other drugs? No one can deny that the NLCB that promotes gambling is a major generator of revenue for the government. Given this reality it is not uncommon to find students engaging in wappie and other card games in our schools. They see it as an easy way to earn an income.
This culture of easy money is a way of life in our society today. An individual, claiming to be a researcher can pocket millions of dollars for an academic thesis, for example, and not produce a single draft. And the political directorate need not bother about that so long as the offender can abuse the Opposition Leader.
You need not study hard to earn money in this country. You need to align yourself with the party in power and lo and behold you are a wealthy man or woman. Our young minds who are burning the midnight oil to pass exams would soon realize that academic qualifications do not pay but political affiliation with the party in power does. And why should this burden be on the heads of our Independent Senators? After all, they are equally entitled to the bounty of the State coffers!