An all-time low, even for the Rowley PNM

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A Letter to the Editor from Gerald Vincent

The latest con-job announced by Keith Rowley is nothing short of an absolute all-time low, even for a vile party like the PNM.
As a man who has repeatedly proven he has no idea what is happening on any issue at any time, even at the level of Cabinet, citizens will now hang their heads after new energetic attempts to build new lies, spread more deception and abdicate further responsibility.
The Rowley PNM Government is now almost fully exposed as having spent eight months lying to the nation about everything from economy to their disastrous 2001 to 2010 administration.
One Minister, Marlene McDonald has already been dismissed on allegations of misbehaviour in public office, even as Rowley has moved to protect a second Minister, Camille Robinson-Regis, who has a history of escaping liability for past, serious abuse of a Government credit-card.
There is growing evidence that the PNM spent two years lying about having an economic plan, with a summary ‘slap-up’ by Imbert who defied Rowley by bringing in the IMF and World Bank to run the Finance Ministry.
Standard and Poors and Moody’s have downgrade the T&T economy directly because of a lack of confidence in the Rowley PNM Administration to competently execute fiscal policy.
The artificial PR-image of his Attorney General is being ripped down by sheer incompetence.
And now, with growing calls for details on the investigations into the Prisons investigation and RowleyGate emails, which have the potential to expose not only lies, but a possible Rowley PNM conspiracy to deceive the President, the Parliament and the population, it seems Keith Rowley has decided that he simply cannot withstand another major hit.
What is therefore happening is that Keith Rowley is doing the same as he did with the Integrity Commission when concerns were expressed about the affairs of two Cabinet Ministers. At that time, Keith Rowley used a Transparency conference platform to express a lack of confidence in the Integrity Commission (…as if that means anything to anyone).
Now with another issue careening towards the Rowley PNM threatening to expose how deliberately fabricated RowleyGate allegations were Rowley has decided to publicly question the integrity of Police investigators. This is what is called a typical PNM-con job approach of ‘taking front’.
Taking front, Part II
At the post-Cabinet briefing, Keith Rowley moved to tarnish the integrity of the investigating Police officers in RowleyGate and Prisons.
He questioned the integrity of the process of allocating public housing to Police Officers, and instead of referring to the process as a benefit of the Police Service, he instead suggested that some officers were ‘induced’ by the HDC housing programme.
It makes one wonder how Rowley feels so comfortable painting the Police Service with a PNM brush of corruption and subterfuge; it is the Police Service that we all rely on for public safety.
But when one is reminded that Rowley has at least two retired Senior Defence Force Officers in his Cabinet, we realise where he might be placing his confidence if some kind of unrest were to emerge. And that is a danger of unspeakable proportions.
As obscene as it is now to have a Head of Government with the behaviour, intelligence and wit of a rooky, back-bench, third-party Opposition politician, there are not many people who could really be surprised by his rigid routine of daily failure.
An out-manoeuvred raging bull
Rowley’s embarrassing display at the post-Cabinet briefing must also have been triggered by the fact that despite having found a broken back-door to sneak into Government, (with the help of friends at the EBC), former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar continues to out-think and out-manoeuvre him at every turn.
Rowley’s behaviour reminded us of why Patrick Manning warned the nation against allowing him any power, at any time, for any purpose. Manning’s description of Rowley since 1991 was tantamount to a brawling, ‘wajang’ with primitive aggression who can’t be trusted with power.
Today, while Rowley has been able to ‘wait out’ Manning, he is faced with a political opponent and former Prime Minister with a dignified and fierce aggression pulling down his artificial shields exposing his incompetence and utter lack of fitness for the job of Head of Government.
And while Faris Al-Rawi attempted to put on his best performance with his most insincere sounding verbose convolutions to deny inappropriate links to the Arcelor Mittal closure, he managed to let quite a few more ‘kyats’ out of the bag…and these kitties are not about to be ignored.
Rowley takes his orders from Imbert
It became clear months ago that Rowley was not in charge of his Government. He has is yet to demonstrate that he even knows what goes on in weekly Cabinet meetings, and in Government Ministries. What he does know, however, is where the next wedding is happening; where the next golf game is teeing off; and the place he wants to retreat from the ‘unbearable stresses’ of his job.
Imbert has clearly usurped a level of control over the Cabinet, going so far as to have sat silently next to Keith Rowley when he misled the Parliament on receipt of EU Grants for cane-farmers.
One is also led to wonder whether Imbert may have instructed Camille Robinson-Regis to say nothing about the EU Grant issue until after Rowley embarrassed himself. Because the speed with which the Planning Ministry followed up with a media release giving lie to Rowley’s arrogant insistence in the House, could appear to some as a level of sabotage.
Further, it was Rowley who said that everything would be done to prevent this country ever going to the IMF. While no one could be faulted for thinking that was just an empty lie as well, Imbert snidely defied Rowley and imported a plane load of Advisors from the IMF and World Bank to sub-contract the job of Minister of Finance.
The Rowley PNM snubbed Arcelor Mittal
Rowley’s ignorance of what his happening in his Government was first demonstrated when Arcelor Mittal announced its closure.
On 12th March 2016, Arcelor Mittal formally shut down operations in Trinidad and Tobago and in an instant, left almost 700 workers unemployed without a penny of retrenchment benefits.
In calling the move ‘punitive and disrespectful’, Rowley’s immediate response was as senseless as it was utterly unbecoming of a Trinidad and Tobago Head of Government.
This very serious failure to do his job attracted a quick retort from Arcelor Mittal that basically said – you call yourself Prime Minister, but you haven’t the slightest clue of what is happening in your Government. Arcelor Mittal had in fact sent two written requests to Jennifer Baptiste for “urgent meetings” to discuss “the possible closure” of the steel plant.
The requests were ignored with the characteristic Rowley PNM arrogance. The fate of 700 workers and possibly as many families were not important enough for her to adjust her “schedule” which included a PNM retreat, beach party and a wedding in Tobago.
So the issue here is that, Baptiste was part of the Rowley PNM chorus panicking the nation by crying ‘crisis’; she was beside herself attempting to roll off as many distortions as possible to manipulate the public.
If it is that Baptiste claimed there was “a crisis”, and received two letters from a US$76 Billion asset base multi-national corporation, requesting an “urgent meeting” to discuss a “possible” closure”, did she not think it important enough to advise the Cabinet at the weekly meetings?
Or is it that she did advise the Cabinet, and Rowley was too busy on the phone promising Brian Lara that he will see him again in Barbados for another golf game?
Either way, for Rowley not to have known that a US$76 Billion firm was considering leaving is completely unacceptable and inexcusable. It is incompetence!
Arcelor Mittal shuts down
By the time Arcelor Mittal, as a foreign investor was insulted by a primitive and dim Head of Government, and slighted by an equally dull Baptiste, they took the next step to shut down.
And it is very curious that the Rowley PNM did not leap to its feet when the closure was announced; so self-involved and self-serving is the Rowley PNM Government that newly unemployed workers were no part of their thinking. It was when the national media pressed the critical nature of the issue, and a public backlash was imminent that a host of meetings were attempted.
It was too little too late, the Government thumbed its nose at Arcelor Mittal, and it was almost 700 workers who were forced to pay the price for the Rowley PNM’s failure.
Not being content to have failed miserably in its responsibility as Government, the Rowley PNM decided to tamper with the wound to the unemployed workers, with the continuous and nauseating hum from dim-witted, street corner politicians like Terrence Deyalsingh, rebuking people for “being entitled” and needing to “grow-up”.
The question here though is when did Arcelor Mittal start getting concerned about its operating costs; a move to shut down as a major steel supplier in this country and parts of the Caribbean region is not a decision taken over night, especially when the parent company has holdings across multiple time zones.
Arcelor Mittal was Al-Rawi’s client
It is here that Faris Al-Rawi must now live up to his reputation of loving the sound of his own voice.
Few would remember that Al-Rawi made representations for his Arcelor Mittal client by letter to the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) as recently as December 2014.
Further, on 17th March 2015, Al-Rawi attempted to represent his client in his role as Opposition Senator, raising the T&TEC issue during one of his long-winded and pointless contributions to the Senate.
Then too, Al-Rawi was chuck full of adjectives, superlatives and adverbs as he vehemently denied using the Senate to promote the corporate interests of his client, Arcelor Mittal.
So, you wrote letters on behalf of Arcelor Mittal just three months before, complaining to T&TEC about the high rate-cost, then you came to the Senate and raised the same issue taken up in the letter, but you “dismissed the idea that this was in conflict with his role as a lawyer acting on behalf of the firm Arcelor Mittal”? Really Al-Rawi?
But that’s not all. When one considers that the Arcelor Mittal/T&TEC dispute was in the region of $33 Million, one might be led to wonder whether concerns about operating costs existed even then.
This is why the question still remains completely avoided and unanswered by Al-Rawi, in the context of evidence, on whether he had at any point provided legal advice to Arcelor Mittal on the process of winding down its operations, and all of the attendant implications including retrenchment benefits.
Service…to clients, not citizens
Deeper down the line of very serious questions about the potential for conflict and impropriety is Al-Rawi’s admission that he recused himself from Cabinet and other high-level discussions on Arcelor Mittal and the fate of the workers. Al-Rawi said Stuart Young also recused himself having worked closely with the Steel Workers’ Union.
This demonstrates a stark deviation from his public duty as Attorney General, who must represent the constitutional and statutory rights of the citizens.
Now, remember, so important was his client, Arcelor Mittal, that as legal counsel, Al-Rawi was willing to taint the Parliament by using his seat in the Senate to represent concerns of a billion dollar corporation.
Yet on this occasion, in an unprecedented demonstration of self-service over public service, the two political heads of the Ministry of the Attorney General were so tied to their personal gains, that they could not represent the national interest.
But then, Al-Rawi’s statement that he and Young recused themselves means absolutely nothing, being a senior member of a Rowley PNM Government that has made distortion and public manipulation its one consistent approach to governance.
What causes very grave doubts about Al-Rawi’s need to use four adverbs and two superlatives in the space of five minutes to simply say “I recused myself and did nothing inappropriate” is an article that appeared in the Newsday on 4th April 2016.
This article quoted Baptiste as saying: “Minister yesterday indicated her intention to confer with Minister of Finance Colm Imbert and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and yesterday would not rule out legal action, saying the Government will explore “all options” available to it.”
Therefore contrary to Al-Rawi’s vehemence, Baptiste was clear that she would be advised by Al-Rawi as regards legal action. And as if to use horse-hard to disguise her failure to stop the rapid decent of the Arcelor Mittal presence in Trinidad and Tobago, buffoon Baptiste, in typical PNM distortion and manipulation, went on to rubuke the company.
She feigned indignation saying Arcelor Mittal was: “Being “far from truthful” in its dealings with her and the Government and expressed “profound disappointment” over what she said was an “unacceptable” state of affairs in relation to the issue of pension payments.”
The person who had two opportunities to keep food on the table for up to 700 families, and to preserve the relationship with a major foreign investor, thought she had even the slightest moral authority to say these things.
Rowley PNM in service to the Rowley PNM
The frightening thing about this is that at least two Government officials, who happen to sit at the Ministry of the Attorney General, were so compromised that they failed to represent the public interest.
And after a perfect fit for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that “Al-Rawi doth protest too much”, the AG contradicted a categorical statement by Baptiste to the contrary.
Yet, the history of these same two Government officials (Al-Rawi and Young) will show that they would have stopped at nothing in their representation of very high-paying private clients.
By now, all suspicious has been erased. The Rowley PNM is compromised; it is ignorant and unfit; its incompetence is destabilising our society and economy, and its first priority is SELF-SERVICE.
Perhaps this would explain the vehemence in Rowley’s attempt yesterday to ‘take front’ by tarnishing Police Investigators in the Prisons and RowleyGate issues.

The pillars upon which Government stands are being eroded and Rowley is determined to wrap his fist around power, even if he is to hold power in exactly the underhanded way as a gained power.

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