Trinidad & Tobago Electorate Rejects! Corruption! A model for Guyana!

I kept away this time from calling the results of the recently held elections in the twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago. This time I placed my faith in Civil Society where it is time that the term "Good Governance" is translated from words to deed. It is time that the people stand up and demand that Governments govern with integrity. Until now, it seemed as though we vote anyone and hope that they will operate in the best interest of the people. No longer can our people take such chances and must ensure that a clear signal be sent to established and would be politicians that they would have no more of corrupt governments.

The first news I got early Tuesday morning was 20 PNM, 16 UNC from St. Lucia, within the hour from Barbados I heard 19-17. Whichever way it is a clear mandate for the PNM. I wonder if members of the UNC will hold firm as they did over the past eight months while waiting on fresh elections. I see if needed, the PNM will extend welcome to a few UNC politicians. There could be major fall out within the UNC party which will further strengthen the PNM.

Talking with one of my Trinidadian colleagues prior to the elections he was very, very concerned about the future of the nation and was at pains to point out that Trinidad and Tobago is in an expansion path that will see multi billion dollar programmes over the next five years. It will be necessary to ensure that a government of integrity be elected. I guess my friend is a happy man and his future and those of other citizens of like minds over the next five years seem to be paved with prosperity.

There is power in the ballot box and the voice of the people is regarded as the voice of God. The people of Trinidad and Tobago have spoken. The racial problems which were politically orchestrated need to be buried once and for all.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Trinidad and Tobago for a job well done and their celebration of people's power is justified. I get the feeling that the election was free and fair and free from fear. I wish that Guyana can take a page out of Trinidad and Tobago's book.

There is a lesson to be learnt from T&T which should help Guyana to redeem itself. Until now there has not been any election that was fair. The corruption of Guyana begins in the ballot box. Prior to PPP gaining office for the first time post independence, President Cheddi Jagan was loud in his call for constitutional reform, when he won the tune changed because it was the most brilliant piece of legislation where there could be a minority government. The party with the largest block of seats would form the government regardless. I was attracted to enter politics in 1997 as I saw based on international intervention that for the first time politicians of all serious parties had an opportunity to make a contribution. My strategy was to begin the process of constitutional change through the legislature which would have been broad based. That opportunity eluded Guyanese twice.

The problem about Guyana is that with Proportional Representation only the incumbent could effectively observes and supervised the election when it comes to providing election workers who are expected to look into their party's interest.

The answer to the current electorial problems in Guyana can only be solved with a return to first past the post as is the system used in every other English Speaking Caricom State. It is time for change. We are all aware of the reason for the decision by the British Government to institute Proportional Representation. Principally, it was the fear of Guyana being put into the hands of the communists as Dr. Cheddi Jagan was himself an avowed communist.

Today, things have changed the Russians have their own battles to fight and have left even the most faithful friend President Fidel Castro to fend for himself. The current President of Guyana was trained in Russia for an extended period of time but he has to apply his economic theories to the Capitalist model and from all appearance he has no problem. The transition to real democracy must also begin now, so that the people of Guyana could experience true freedom as their counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago.

Looking back at past relations with Trinidad and Tobago and its Caricom partners, I see Trinidad and Tobago as playing a major role in assisting the smaller states of the region. The political leadership of T&T will be saddled with the responsibility to be humane in dealing with its neighbours and given the expected boon there is a lot that can be done to take the other states along. However, I feel that the support should be educational, institutional strengthening and technical assistance as the main pillars.

The Private Sector will take care of itself but incentives from governments to drive their expansion programmes regionally would be welcomed.

At home the T&T government will need to be more prudent with its spending and get away from hand outs - the freeness syndrome. The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago must make an effort to assist in the development of the nation.

I am always reminded of the missed opportunity for national development when Trinidad and Tobago maintained below market oil process to its citizens affording cheap gasoline when a serious contribution to development funding could have been made. These opportunities should not be missed in the future.

Congratulations to the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago. You have chosen to make a strong protest against corruption.

Keep the Faith! God is in charge!