A Fractured Cabinet ..

The past few weeks have left me stunned by the antics of our leadership. Penny, Marlene, Burkee, Simonette, Espinet, Quamina … I can go on and on, but there is one common theme: they were headlined in the media because of some act of incompetence by the leadership of our country. This single-term government has stumbled from issue to issue, and every time I think it can’t get worse, something worse happens.

How can two government ministers sit in the same post-cabinet news conference and have a fundamental disagreement on any issue? In this case, the issue was the appointment of the CEO to manage Heritage Petroleum. One minister said that there will be a search for a replacement, while the other talked about allowing the CEO to operate remotely.

Photo: Former Heritage Petroleum CEO Mike Wylie (via Trinidad Guardian)

My conclusion from this public display is that the cabinet is so fractured that they can’t even keep ‘on message’ in the public. That says that the Ship of State is in the hands of a captain who is still clocking his hours to certification. We are in a danger zone and every decision taken will impact our quality of life for the next generation and beyond.

From the onset, the closure of Petrotrin and the establishment of the holding company was contentious. As a citizen, I saw another example of autocratic leadership and duplicity. The closure was presented as a fait accompli when a few months before, the headline was that the union and the management were working towards a way forward with the restructuring of Petrotrin.

We have squandered another opportunity to motivate our people to change our work ethic. If it was aimed at union-busting, then it failed. Unions are here to stay, so at all levels of our society, we have to find a way to work with unions or employee associations called by other names.

Heritage CEO, Mike Wylie, may have come in with the best intentions, but something went wrong with the process of selection. How thorough was the medical and why is compensation being considered when he is unable to function in the manner for which he was hired?

Former chairman Espinet has functioned as an effective hatchet man to transition Petrotrin into Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Limited (TPHL). Does anyone else wonder what happened for him to be removed so unceremoniously? Poor Quamina, a nice guy, a competent attorney, but an on-the-job-trainee (OJT) in the energy sector. So we stumble on.

Photo: Michael Quamina with Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi (via Trinidad Guardian)

In other countries, the population would be clamouring for transparency and accountability about these major decisions. There would be a loud demand for collaboration among cabinet colleagues instead of the public stumbling which occurred in the post-cabinet news conference. In looking at the board composition for these four companies, I also wonder out loud about the absence of women.

TPHL BOARD: Michael Quamina (Chairman), Reynold Adjodhasingh (Deputy), Newman George, Anthony Chan Tack, Joel Harding, Selwyn Lashley, Eustace Nancis.

HERITAGE BOARD: Michael Quamina (Chairman), Newman George (Deputy), Reynold Adjodhasingh, Selwyn Lashley, Joel Harding, Ryan Toby, George Leonard Lewis, Peter Clarke, Reeza Saleem.

PARIA BOARD: Newman George (Chairman), Eustance Nancis, Christine Sahadeo, Peter Clarke, Reeza Saleem.

GUARACARA BOARD: Newman George (Chairman), Anthony Chan Tack, Peter Clarke, Christine Sahadeo.

Are we so afraid to challenge that this travesty will be allowed to play out over the next 15 months to 7 September 2020?