Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Wednesday, May 21, 2003  

One of the perks of working in advertising is that I have access to all the local newspapers, daily (three) and weekly (at least ten). Which is how I came across this story in today's Newsday (no online link; the "people's" paper, the Newsday isn't online - the people don't have computers, apparently), a story the Express and Guardian haven't reported, headlined "Seukeran steals show from Minister."

According to the report, Trade Minister Ken Valley and his Junior Minister, Diane Seukeran, were both slated to speak at the start of the Ministry's strategic review workshop yesterday. Valley spoke for about ten minutes on "the way forward for Trinidad and Tobago" (no details given) but it was Seukeran in her 25-minute spiel who upstaged her boss with a stinging attack on the overloaded public service, incompetent public servants, the crime and kidnapping situation, police corruption and poverty, among other things.

A "startled" Valley apparently "could not hide his amazement" as Seukeran launched what amounted to a criticism of her own government and the general approach to governance in this country. She called on her own staff to help end the dependancy syndrome - a syndrome, she is no doubt aware, her own party helped to create. She even had the temerity to admit: "Ministers come and ministers go; governments fall and they rise." (Oh, for it to really be that way in this country, instead of the same khaki pants over and over.)

She also baldly stated what is obvious, but what no other government minister would dare say: that, for all our oil and natural gas, few are getting richer, the masses are getting poorer, and the middle class is slipping. And she hit the nail on the head when it comes to corruption: "Public servants can't get a raise. If it was up to me, I would give them ten times more. More money will stop the police from being corrupt."

I don't know that one short speech by a junior minister will amount to anything, apart from censure. But, for her part, Ms. Seukeran has put her cards on the table and earned my respect. And isn't it curious, that on those rare occasions in this country when a politician has actually expressed a frank and truly independent opinion, or actually stood up (or sat down) for something, it's been a woman? Remember Hulsie Bhaggan ("I not moving"), Occah Seapaul ("I not moving either"), Pam Nicholson ("I moving rather than take this nonsense")?

As for Mr. Valley, it doesn't surprise me at all that he has been been shown up his junior - and, it is apparent - his better.

posted by Jonathan | 12:59 PM 0 comments


save boissiere house
Bina Shah
Nicholas Laughlin
Caribbean Free Radio
Global Voices
Jessie Girl
Club Soda and Salt
Caribbean Cricket
Jai Arjun Singh
email me