Like Louis Lee Sing, I kept my tongue in check throughout the six-week prelude to Monday’s historic General Election. But, unlike Louis, a boyhood friend from the East-West corridor, I will not be as scathing and vehement as he was last Wednesday morning on his radio station, in his virulent admonition of former prime minister Patrick Manning. Lest I forget, I must say that when I awoke on Tuesday morning I was even more proud of being a native of Trinidad, and Tobago.
I am hard pressed to think of any other country in the world which, given the frenetic pace and highly emotionally charged campaigning, that there was nary an untoward incident. Aside from a couple of unfounded reports of arson, minor assault, car jacking and an attempted kidnapping, this campaign was squeakly clean. On Monday, citizens exercised their franchise, in a civil and dignified manner, free of fear. In this respect no amount of praise is sufficient for the Elections and Boundaries Commission, the people, especially the youth that worked in the polling stations, and every member of our protective services.
In all my adult life I have never experienced an election like this. The campaigning on both sides of the divide was intense and loyalists were being forced to make some seriously hard choices—to vote on one side for a party whose leader they had serious issues with, or stain their fingers for an untried and relatively unknown confederacy. As similar to UNC supporters saying in 2007, and proven then, “if Panday stays we not voting,” and it happened. And thus, coming out of the myriad of complaints over the last two years, the PNM supporters said, “We will vote for PNM, only if Manning go!”
So he did not leave and what happened? In 2010, Panday is not there and UNC folk voted in all their glory; while Manning stubbornly stayed on as the ship’s captain, and the PNM folk partied, had a good time, took the money, wore the jerseys, limed, got the hugs, yet did not vote. Angeli, my sister in Orlando, and a staunch PNM supporter, yet another voice in the sea of protest against Manning for calling an election after a mere two-year term in office, told me on the morning after election day, “Complacency is never a good thing. When we become too complacent we begin to take things for granted. We stop hearing, feeling and seeing. We see, hear and feel ourselves. We actually become dead!!! “This loss could be a great thing for PNM as friction causes edges to sharpen, and PNM has lots of edges to sharpen. “Nothing good lasts forever. Nothing stays up forever. The higher you soar the harder you fall. “You fall hard, get up, brush off the dust, lick your wounds and climb again or, you can bus up like a peewah.” “Change is good—for the better or worse?—only time will tell it’s mobility and longevity.”
The members of Witco Desperadoes have been coming in for some unfair criticisms these days, especially since the band performed at a function at TCL Group Skiffle Bunch pan theatre earlier this month, sans uniforms. Pan folk have commented negatively on the band performing at major events in recent times without its members wearing uniforms. Apparently the new Tobacco Bill prevents Desperadoes from displaying or advertising its sponsors name and logo. Witco (West Indian Tobacco Co Ltd) is the country’s major cigarette-producing company and has sponsored the Laventille band for over 40 years. An official of Desperadoes last week apologised for the band’s appearance,and assured that new uniforms are being tailored.