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posted 29 May 2014, 10:57 by Gerry Kangalee
As I read Mr. Taylor’s article STAKELESS STAKEHOLDERS, it began to become clear that we were on the same page, except for the fact that the script is not one that the average man in the street would find it easy to understand. As such, it was reminiscent of the profound but pretentiously abstract outpourings of Lloyd Best. 

In fact, a highly respected academic at UWI, long since retired, once told me that, after inviting Mr Best to speak to some of his students, he had received so many complaints of incomprehension from them that he resolved never to extend any such invitation to him again. I was not at all surprised to read the reference to Lloyd Best, with approval, in Mr. Taylor’s article.

That said, I agree entirely with the writer that the observations of Premdas amount to a dated snapshot of our society, one unfortunately prevalent among certain UWI intellectuals, with an ethnic axe to grind, which prevents them from recognising that the fundamental issue for us is one of class, as was illustrated in the 1937 riots and earlier, when African and Indian workers combined to advance the rights of the working class, until elements against their progress conspired, once again, to divide and rule them.

As it becomes clear to these workers, that they have nothing to gain from successive administrations, regardless of their basic ethnicity, as professed, they are bound to be looking elsewhere, other than religion, for their political salvation, at which point their arrival must be anticipated by progressive unions. It may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen.

Unlike the position elsewhere, where huge geographical differences can help to perpetuate ethnic diversity, the situation in T&T makes it naturally easier to iron out divisions. Africans and Indians intermingle unavoidably in T&T and even though they may cuss one another they regularly inter-marry and have close relationships. Douglarisation, to use that term, is a great leveller in T&T.

Finally: on Hamel-Smith. His idea of restoring trust and confidence was borrowed in the wake of the reaction to his recent constitutional proposals. I have so far resisted an invitation to comment in the press on his proposals, which, frankly, I find so "top down" and self-serving that I had resolved to simply ignore them. Imagine, for starters, proposing establishing a legislature in which there would be an equal number (41) of elected and nominated members, with an additional 9 nominated members to be selected by the President,who would be elected.

In this scenario, the President and his nine nominees would be the Executive. What does this remind you of? Well, it reminds me of the old Legislative Council, in which elected members were in permanent opposition and the assembly was subject to the whims and fancies of the Governor, following his exclusion from the Legislative Council.

But I ought not to be surprised by this nonsense. After all, Hamel-Smith has joined the chorus of politicians who have described a 24% pay hike as disrespectful - in a society in which the most that the highest earners (in the energy sector) can expect to get are increases of 10% and for many it's no % ! Little wonder that Hamel-Smith first presented his proposals before the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce. Why doesn't he take them to the people of Laventille, Caroni, Penal or Tobago?