Time to Introduce Term Limits

All MPs who’ve served for more than a decade should resign now—you’ve failed!

Originally published on Wired 868 Tuesday 2 November 2021 Guest Columns

Black Stalin’s lyrics in his 1988 calypso ‘We could make it if we try’  have been occupying a space in my brain.

He sang: ‘So the Treasury broke and they say that recession jamming/
And so to foreign countries Trinis start migrating/
They lose faith in their country, they say we gone down the drain…

Photo: Five-time Calypso Monarch, the Black Stalin.
(Courtesy NCCTT.org)

I can think of three waves of migration from Trinidad and Tobago. People left after the 1970 revolution, after the 1990 uprising and there has been an uptick over the past three or four years. This uptick in migration will continue because the country has flatlined and, again in the words of Stalin: ‘Now the Treasury flat and the country come back to Square One’.

Once people leave, they are unlikely to return.

Covid has brought us to a different ‘square one’ where we need a combination of good people, ideas and innovation to reset and rebound our economy and country. However, when I tune into the Parliament Channel, I am confronted with a phalanx of persons who display arrogance and a passion for destroying those ‘on the other side’—seemingly at any cost, with the entire country as collateral damage.

Taxpayers (the vendors in the street, the office worker, pensioners, others and myself) have funded the lifestyle of these members for more than 10 years.

And I question: to what end?

Photo: Members of Parliament and Senators gather for during an extraordinary sitting of the House on 21 October to vote on the impeachment of President Paula-Mae Weekes.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2021)

Every year through an oppressive web of taxes, we surrender more than a third of our income—which we earn at significant cost to our physical and mental well-being—for nearly non-existent government services. In some cases, we are paying for our own abuse, as government offices have us going back-and-forth all over the city for simple transactions.

There is neither vibrancy nor eagerness for tackling our deep problems. More than 25% have been members of Parliament for more than 10 years and they appear stuck, unable to pivot in a different direction.

The private sector has a term for employees who have this very syndrome: Incompetent.

In the corporate world, there is continuous assessment of the performance of leaders and if you have not delivered according to your KPIs (key performance indicators) there are consequences.

Unfortunately, our population has no opportunity to assess performance other than the ritual of quinquennial general elections. And, like a dishonest employee, your MP promises to do better ‘next time’.

Photo: A woman responds to the fiery atmosphere during protests in Barrackpore in October 2021.

So this moribund group continues a weekly parliamentary charade, pretending to be going about the country’s business. In the corporate world, a contractor who behaved like that would very likely be taken to court for fraud.

If you have been in Parliament for more than 10 years, you have presided over economic decline which began long before the Covid pandemic took root. You are responsible for the annual 500+ murders we have been experiencing, either because you created the cumbersome system to select a commissioner of police or you interfered with the selection process.

You have either ignored or facilitated the transformation of our society into the alleged ‘narco state’ some say we have become. You have contributed to the collective decay we are all experiencing. You have contributed to the brain drain.

Worst of all, your conscience doesn’t seem to be bothered or you don’t think you are doing something wrong.

In some places, you would have been escorted out of the building for failure to perform. You would have been required to go home and enjoy the permanent pension which you are guaranteed for the rest of your life.

Photo: An employee is ‘let go’ by his boss.

In other places, you might have been taken to court, stripped of your benefits, or even jailed for gross mismanagement of public funds.

From your own personal reflection, you should have accepted that if you have not made a difference over more than 10 years, you have failed and should allow someone else the opportunity to make a difference.

Your conscience should tell you to resign but since it appears you no longer have a conscience, here’s my ask on behalf of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago:

All members of Parliament who have served for more than 10 years, either as a member of Parliament in the Senate or both, please submit your resignation—with immediate effect.

PS: Stay out of politics, permanently.

4 thoughts on “Time to Introduce Term Limits

  1. There is no point in asking an MP from either party to voluntarily submit their resignation. It is painfully clear that most of them, maybe all, are in it for fame and fortune. Why else would medical doctors, attorneys, PhDs, and so many others who began their careers in fields other than political science suddenly switch careers? Is it that they woke up to the realization that if wanted to become insanely wealthy they were in the wrong profession?

    1. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but voters do not care about which politician is corrupt, they’re voting on identity politics, and they will continue to do that ad infinitum – even if it cost them jobs, continuing lack of water, higher cost of commuting, and bad roads. Why? One may ask. Why would they put aside common sense and believe the lies of politicians? We all know the answer to that age-old question.

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