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ROTTEN WOOD CAN'T BE CARVED by Ken Howell

posted 7 Apr 2016, 05:45 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 7 Apr 2016, 05:46 ]
The social media came alive with comments for and against the decision of the government to purchase a brand new Mercedes Benz for Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley. The uproar over that decision comes against the background of a recession, consequent upon the rapid fall in the price of oil and gas resulting in the loss of revenue by the government.

When you juxtapose that decision, against the call made by the government for citizens to tighten their belts, clearly, the Prime Minister was not to be included, among those to whom the call was made. If there was any doubt about the truth of that statement, in speaking to the party's Convention in Tobago, the Prime Minister confirmed that when it comes down to belt tightening he is not in that!

In fact he justified the purchase of the Benz by saying that there were mechanical problems affecting the reliability of the vehicle and that it smelled of vomit and other human liquids. Clearly, those remarks were designed to entertain the receptive audience to whom he was speaking.

So what should we make of the campaign he waged against corruption during the months and days leading up to the general election of September 2015? Was he truly against corruption? The answer seems to be a resounding no! he cannot claim not to know that the issue of corruption, does not only deal with government officials being caught red-handed, with their hands in the public purse.

It also deals with issues, of moral and ethical corruption. This difference might have conveniently escaped the campaigner who spoke out loudly about moral and ethical values, when it was convenient for him to do so. But no sooner than he got into government those high sounding moral and ethical values, which he espoused, are no longer to be observed.

The issue which is causing disquiet among some citizens is not the kind or cost of the car. It is the fact that the Prime Minister is so insensitive that he fails to realise that the call to the citizenry to tighten their collective belts and the hardship which follows from such a decision might be treated differently if he had demonstrated that he and his government are equally prepared to make sacrifice, by not indulging in that kind of spending.

That is not an item that falls within the category of I “need to have”. It is more classified as “I want to have that” item. If he does not regard expenditures such as this and also the decision to the complete the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, in a period of recession, as unethical, well, the message that he is sending speaks volumes about his and his government's intentions.

It is said that actions speak louder than words. And it is the small things we must look at. A Chinese proverb taken from the book The WISDOM OF CHENG-YU pronounced: show moo boo dyow (“rotten wood can't be carved”) speaks to the question of recognising when something has outlived its usefulness.

Unfortunately, it was believed by the electorate that out of the bad lot of those political parties which presented themselves to the electorate for consideration, the new PNM led by the upstanding and morally correct Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley, was the best. What we chose to ignore, was the reality that the capitalist political system pretends to promote moral and ethical values, while it does everything to obstruct its development. The PNM from its inception pretended to stand for such values, while it turned a blind eye to the corruption, which was rampant in the government led by Dr. Eric Williams. In light of that history, why are we expecting things to be any different?
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