Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT by Ken Howell

posted 19 Aug 2014, 20:56 by Gerry Kangalee
In recent Comedy shows a local comedian was joking, about how a bartender resolved the problem some customers had about who should pay the bill for drinks already consumed. He said that it was resolved with a basin of water. The agreement was, that they all would place their heads in the basin of water, and who came up first would have to pay the bill. Needless to say the person who intended to pay for a soft drink only drowned in the basin of water.

 

If it was that easy to get rid of corrupt politicians and opportunist trade unionists, all our problems would be resolved with one basin of water. Unfortunately, no such option is recommended. We have to rely on a process whereby the masses are educated about the true nature of the political and economic system and the true nature of the class struggle which is being fought on a day to day basis in our cultural industrial and social life.

 

Sometimes it would appear to the individual who is directly affected by an issue which she was forced to bring to the attention of the authorities and the public that she is alone in the wilderness, but if we examine the issue, whatever that is, we would realise that it forms part of the class struggle; which is also the struggle for democracy.

 

The problem usually resides in the responses and the delays which result from the individual’s quest for answers. If you are doubtful, let me point you to a few examples. There are laws on the books of this country, which deal with matters such as littering, health and safety, freedom of information, children's authority, the environment authority and so on, but the respective entities charged with the responsibility to manage and police these agencies are not functioning to capacity, because they are starved for resources both human and material.

 

These agencies were established, because of public pressure demanding solutions to problems of one kind or another. But what we must pay attention to is the fact that while these agencies now exist, elements hiding in plain sight are deliberately working to ensure that they do not serve the interest of the people. We see this happening with the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) and Regional Corporations. 

When the RHAs were established, it was claimed that it was to ensure that health care was delivered in a more efficient and expeditious manner, but the resources necessary to do so is usually slow in coming and in most instances are reduced or are being spirited away from these institutions. The same was true when the County Councils became known as Regional Corporations.

 

At the corporations there was a reduction of personnel through the process of voluntary separation and retrenchment and a constant reduction in expenditure annually. As a result, a lot of the problems which the population now face relative to flooding in a number of areas in the country can be traced back to these backward decisions.

 

In addition, the fact that the Town and Country Planning Division is an entity which can be likened to a no-teeth pit-bull, speaks to the fact that these state agencies exist but are not allowed to serve the people's interest in the way that they should and so planning, as is required in accordance with the act under which it was established ceases to occur. The situation is the same with the Ministry of Works and Transport. A lot of the work which it once used to do has been contracted out to Coosals, Junior Sammy, SIS, and Seereram Brothers. And that is not a recent happening under this government; that has been the case under successive governments.

 

Some of you may recall the race track scandal, when a company set up with $1.00, and owned by Ish Galbaransingh got a million dollar contract to build a Race Track in Caroni. It took a mass protest by the people, to stop that piece of corruption. That was under a PNM government. The protest slogan was “Houses before Horses”

 

There has to be some sinister reason for the actions of persons unknown who continue to hide in plain sight while perpetrating this kind of corruption against citizens. These are the individuals who manage the politics in the interest of the local ruling class and the transnational corporations. They are the ones who call the shots.

 

Since in the days of Gordon Draper we have been hearing about Public Sector Reform, but the public is yet to grasp the real underlying reason for such reforms. These reforms will affect the terms and conditions of employees in the public service. In fact in the Public Service at this time there are more employees on contract than ever before. The role of the Service Commission is being systematically encroached upon by a Human Resources Department which has assumed the function of employing personnel on a fixed term contract basis. From as early as 1985, this practice of employing persons on fixed term contracts, in permanent jobs has been occurring.

 

This is the case in the energy sector as well as in the service sector in certain industries such as the fast foods industry. The decision so to do originated in trade agreements entered into with the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These employment policies, such as multi-tasking, outsourcing, and so on that have been introduced into the labour market the world over appear to have succeeded, largely because of the ideological division which existed and still exists to a large extent in the trade union movement both locally and internationally and because trade unions under pressure from the recession were either not strong enough or chose to ignore these developments..

 

What these divisions have exposed, however, is a type of behaviour on the part of trade union leaders in some jurisdictions in the capitalist world that smells of capitulation to the enemy. It would appear that as long as their financial membership is not severely affected the employer is free to employ persons on contract in the establishment where they have bargaining rights. These leaders who enter into such deals commit atrocities against their members and remain hiding in plain sight.

 

Of more recent vintage, is the Section 34 amendment bill which was proclaimed and then repealed. What is very interesting about this is the fact that the Opposition voted for it in both houses of Parliament. It was reported that the vote was unanimous. Even the Independent Senators voted in support of the bill. What is yet to be revealed are the reasons for it being so. All that we heard coming from the Opposition was the condemnation which the public was encouraged to heap upon the heads of the government and rightly so, but up to now, the leader of the opposition is yet to give reasons as to why he supported the bill in the first place.

 

When it was discovered that matters concerning Ish and Steve were before the Court and that they fell inside the time frame set by the legislation, panic set in and everything was done to distract attention from their role in the apparent conspiracy to deceive the people, while these two individuals go free. Then to confuse the matter further, the allegations made in parliament by the Leader of the Opposition about emails linking senior members of the government in a plot to spy on the DPP and to intimidate a journalist surfaced. In my view, that was a clever piece of work by which to divert attention away from the role of the PNM in the whole kankalang. Remember Ish Galbaransingh and Brian Kuei Tung were supporters of the PNM in the past.                                                                                                   

 

The leader of the Opposition did not explain to the satisfaction of the public the reasons why he did not pass these emails over to the police immediately, as they were said to contain evidence of a plot to commit murder and also to force the DPP to act in ways prejudicial to his position as DPP. 

 

We saw the behaviour of the Opposition once again when it came to the Bills to amend the Pensions Act to provide increases for Judges and members of Parliament. They voted for the bills both in the lower and upper houses of Parliament and when that behaviour was criticized, one opposition Senator was heard to describe persons who objected as rats coming out of their holes. Again, while the government received a severe tongue lashing from the public, the opposition escaped with a slap on the hand.

 

No one has questioned the reasons for such behaviour on the part of the opposition. We must remember this PNM party, want to form the next government of Trinidad and Tobago, and therefore, their credentials must be thoroughly scrutinized. We must remember that along with being adept at the art of propaganda they are very skilled at hiding in plain sight. Don't forget that they were in government for more than thirty years and they represent the flip side of the PP.

 

So, what we must begin to do immediately is to mobilize our forces at community, and constituency level, and in the work place, for the struggle ahead regardless as to which party wins the next election,. The enemies who are currently hiding, whom we know but cannot recognize, will reveal themselves on the side of the exploiters and will come to us bearing gifts. 

 

We must be prepared to meet them head on with a clear and unambiguous response, that we want to see an end to privatization, amendments to the IRA to provide for speedy  recognition for unions at the Registration Recognition and Certification Board, security of tenure for Judges of the Industrial Court and also call on them to make public the names of those companies who have been consistently delinquent in paying their taxes and the number of years and the total amount owing to the Treasury, among other demands.

 

We must also begin our own campaign as well, to smoke out those who are hidden in the shadows of the political parties who are doing their bidding with the intention to have us vote one way or the other.

Comments