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Show leadership, Mr PM

Dr. the Hon. Keith Rowley

by Vernon Khelawan

The leader of Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister Dr Keith Christopher Rowley seems to be abdicating his responsibility. As I write this column last Tuesday, more than 24 hours after the violent protests in east Port of Spain, the PM has maintained a stony silence. But then this cannot be a surprise given his silence in the many instances of disaster and almost anarchy all over the country.

Let us remember his absolute silence after the ravages of Tropical Storm Bret; his stoic silence after two rounds of flooding in southern Trinidad and cries from the people for ‘HELP’; more recently the absenteeism of some police officers during Carnival; and his deafening silence on the situations surrounding the various kinds of protests violent and non-violent.

The population is forced to ask like Mr Toney did during the attack on Parliament by the Muslimeen in 1990 “Who is your leader?” A large part of our citizenry is continually ‘confuffled’ as to why the Prime Minister runs silent whenever there is a serious problem in the country. There seems to be some kind of code of secrecy inside of government and that’s because it has not gotten to the point where it takes the people who put them there, into their confidence.

So Mr PM, it is time you have more trust in the people and let us know what’s happening and why you take certain actions. Come clean with the Tobago ferry fiasco that has brought the island of your birth virtually to its economic knees; tell us why you got rid of Nafeesa Mohammed who was one time Deputy Leader of your party, as part of your legal team; explain the economic benefits of a ferry port at Toco and the accompanying highway; tell us the entire story of the Curepe land you have earmarked for housing and why.

Finally, what are you doing about the high murder rate that has a large percentage of the population shaking in their boots, fearful to venture out of their homes and what you plan to do about our poor witness-protection programme?

Then there is the hole in the middle of the Eastern Main Road in Tunapuna which after more than a month has not been explained to the users of the EMR or the residents of the area. Neither have the people been told the real story of Representative for La Horqetta-Talparo Maxie Cuffie, a member of your Cabinet, whether he is recovering fast enough to pick up the duties of his ministry on his return or what you plan to do with that seat if he cannot continue.

Our loquacious Attorney General, Faris Al Rawi has proven himself as a fantastic defender of the government as is MP Stuart Young. But that’s all they do—defend the missteps of the government. They say everything that’s palatable, anything that blames the former administration, but still have not released the facts covering the major issues concerning the land.

Granted, the Prime Minister always says that people are assigned certain responsibilities which they should carry out. And that’s fine. But he is the leader and the proverbial buck ultimately stops with him, regardless of which portfolios. But as leader of the government and by extension leader of the country, he is accountable to the whole country.

And while the country is crying out for leadership; the leader is steeped in silence. Sometimes total silence is not a policy that should be adopted, when you promised the people a fair and open government. Lack of proper and factual communication, especially when it deals with the welfare of the population, will destroy the faith people have in your administration.

Let’s do it Mr PM.