Caribbean Games was the perfect forerunner for the Olympics – I’m still toting over the cancellation …

Originally published on Thursday 27 January 2022

Making mention of the canceled Caribbean Games, the Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Jamaica’s minister of culture, gender, entertainment, and sport, wondered aloud why the event had not come off.

This happened at the two-day Community Development Partnership Forum (CDPM-V), during one of the sessions about more regional collaboration in sport.

Photo: Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.

Congratulations are in order for the Honourable Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe, whose ministry hosted the online event.

Caribbean Games 2009 (CG09) was allegedly canceled because of the H1N1 virus and continues to be an unresolved issue with TT$10m dollars sitting in a bank account awaiting resolution while sporting disciplines and sports persons suffer for lack of funding.

By the time I was appointed chair of the inaugural CG09, the concept was fully developed, the event in position to kick off the quadrennial regional sporting activities leading up to the Olympic Games. The dream was for Caribbean nationals to see our sons and daughters perform in person before moving onto the international stage at the Olympics.

Trinidad and Tobago invested TT$36m in the inaugural Games. Thirteen years later, it remains unfinished business, with TT$10m sitting in a bank account and the only likely beneficiaries the bank and the liquidator, Brian Hackett of PWC, who was appointed by Board resolution in April 2012. In the original contract, he was scheduled to receive a regular monthly payment for his professional services.

Photo: Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson (centre), Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye (left) and Brazil’s Vitoria Christina Silva finished first, second and third respectively at the 2019 Pan American Games.
Thompson and Ahye compete at events across the globe but do not have a senior Caribbean tournament to participate in.
(Copyright EFE Agency)

The cancellation of these games represents my closest experience to being horned and experiencing a tabanca. Yes, I have a tabanca and I am ‘toting feelings’ because the resolution of this matter requires only two simple decisions.

The first is which non-profit sporting organisation should receive the TT$10m; the second, what arrangements are to be made for payment of retroactive fees to the board of directors, who served for 30 months without payment, not even for transportation and the use of their cell phones.

I am toting feelings because, at our last meeting to resolve this matter in April 2019, the liquidator showed his bias.

“It is unconscionable,” said Mr. Hackett, “to pay the 15 board members a total of $1m for canceled games.”

Where was Mr. Hackett when the following citizens were appointed to form the Board of Directors: David O’Brien (Vice-chair), Dr. Iva Gloudon, Douglas Camacho, Dr. Arthur Potts, Ashwin Creed, Dr. Basil Ince, Brian Lewis, Mushtaque Mohammed, and Nassar Racha?

Photo: SporTT chairman Douglas Camacho.
(via SporTT)

He shows a complete lack of concern for the personal sacrifices which any of these persons might have made.

The matter would not even have been on the agenda if it was the board of directors of an accounting company or association. But we trivialise sports and seek voluntarism until there is a potential win on the global stage.

I am toting feelings because I have written to the sport and finance ministers to bring the matter to their attention and seek a resolution. So far, I have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgment of my correspondence.

I am toting feelings because I have brought this matter to the attention of our 41 Members of Parliament and only one opposition member troubled to contact me to get more information.

I am toting feelings because mine is the face of the forces that destroyed the dreams and aspirations of a cohort of sportspersons across the region. I remember being on a ferry on the way to a holiday in Bequia when Keith Mitchell, the current prime minister of Grenada, approached me to ask if I was the lady who had canceled the Caribbean Games.

Photo: Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (centre) finishes ahead of Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thomson (right) in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games 100m heats.
Bolt and Thompson would have been headline acts for the Caribbean Games.

I am toting feelings because Douglas Camacho has been deeply involved with the current Ministry of Sport and the matter remains unresolved.

I am toting feelings because Brian Lewis is enjoying an extended presidency of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) but has done little to resolve this matter.

I am toting feelings because it is an example of the systemic failures which surround us in both the private and the public sectors. The record shows that, globally, PWC’s average time for resolving liquidation matters is three years. We are entering our tenth year and the PWC liquidator continues to preside over this unresolved matter.

In addition, we are now experiencing our third change of government and the matter remains unresolved. Had that TT$10m sum been placed in an interest-bearing account all those years ago, it would today be worth conservatively TT$15m.

Photo: Communication strategist, ex-TDC chair, and Wired868 columnist Dennise Demming.

I shed metaphorical tears when I think of the positive impact a couple of million dollars can have on any sporting team. Not to mention sportsperson.

I pray that this matter will be resolved before I die.

Minister West’s persistence with dress code in gov’t bldgs betrays colonial hang-ups

Originally published Friday 14 January 2022 Guest Column

Minister of Public Administration Ms. Allyson West is reported as saying that Government has more important issues to deal with than a dress code.

Of course, you do, Minister West. Therein lies the problem.

Photo: Minister of Public Administration Allyson West.
(via MPA)

It is a problem of politicians losing touch with the needs of ordinary folks and forgetting the old adage that little things mean a lot. Most of us just want to live, follow the rules and keep out of trouble but the system works against us.

The dress code issue is just one example of how a simple fix can positively impact the lives of many, yet the Government’s colonial-era behaviour towards this remains mostly unchanged.

The global estimates are that 15% of young women give birth before age 18. That is therefore the percentage of our young women who are likely to be single, unemployed, and in need of government services and support.

Think of the young, unemployed mother who has to access government services. She has to find someone to take care of her child, dress appropriately and rely on unreliable transportation to head to the government office.

If all she owns is a pair of slippers, she will be turned away to begin the process all over. But the second time around, she has to find money to purchase a pair of shoes.

Depending on the location of the service she is accessing, the workaround is to go across the street and rent a pair of shoes, or a shawl, or a jacket. This was a pre-Covid solution which I only became aware of because I was wearing a cap-sleeved dress and was denied entry to the Inland Revenue Office.
Photo: A woman wears a distressed jeans.

Depending on the location of the service she is accessing, the workaround is to go across the street and rent a pair of shoes, or a shawl, or a jacket. This was a pre-Covid solution which I only became aware of because I was wearing a cap-sleeved dress and was denied entry to the Inland Revenue Office.

Replicate this same scenario for persons who are running small businesses or just operating ‘a lil’ hustle’. Accessing government services becomes a project which you have to prepare for and put in place a contingency plan for when the attempt fails since it is highly likely that you will have to return on another occasion to complete your transaction. This, despite repeated promises to make several services available online.

The newly minted Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has demonstrated that this little irritant in the system can be changed by the stroke of a pen without any negative consequences for the way business is conducted.

He has taken advantage of low-hanging fruit and his action has resonated with the average citizen. Hopefully, he will continue to harvest the low-hanging fruit, which makes life easier, and demonstrates to his counterparts in Trinidad that governance is about delivering services to the population.

Photo: THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine.
(via PDP)

What I saw in Minister West’s response is arrogance and lack of care. She could have acknowledged the issue and promised to look into it.

After six years in office, this PNM administration has not even delivered on a change in the dress code.

Is it that our officials do not access services? Is it that they don’t have to hustle for transportation? Is it that they don’t see the daily struggles citizens face? Or is it that, through their SUVs with windows and windscreens perhaps tinted darker than the legal limit, everything looks rosy?

Whatever the answers, Government should take example from the THA Chief Secretary and remove some of the small irritants which confront us daily.

Rapso Rebel is no more …

Fare thee well Rapso Rebel (1951-1922)

My brother Everard Romany passed away in Sweden.  He was known as Brother Shortman, Rapso Rebel, Romany, and many other names.  My memory of him is of a protective brother but our paths diverged when I passed common entrance for Holy Name Convent and got the name “bourgeois” and he continued to be on the block.

The relationship drifted further apart because of his years of cocaine addiction, but then entered an angel and he had an opportunity to emigrate to Sweden and change his life.  Both his son and daughter benefited from this opportunity.

I am thankful for having had the opportunity to reconnect with him and develop a mutually respectful relationship in his later years.

I will miss you, my brother.

Thanks for transparency, Imbert; now we need repercussions for Scoon party boat

Originally published Wired868, Jan 03, 2022,

‘When the lights go on, the cockroaches scatter’, is what popped into my mind when I read about the Ministers of Finance, Health and Trade and Industry, the Attorney General, and the Adrian Scoon party boat issue.

A special restaurant licence was issued to businessman Scoon without the approval of Finance Minister Colm Imbert. Surely the granting of such licences is the job of the Comptroller of Customs, so I don’t understand the problem.

Photo: Party promoter Adrian Scoon, the son of Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, is under investigation for a Boxing Day party held on the MV Ocean Pelican.

Was it that the 100 Boxing Day partygoers aboard the MV Ocean Pelican could have broken the Public Health Ordinance and begun a super-spreader Covid activity? What triggered the police to board the vessel?

Whatever the reason, the Minister of Finance is not taking one for the team and supporting the view that the MV Ocean Pelican was a floating restaurant docked at Chaguaramas. 

He has broken ranks with three of his cabinet colleagues and has launched an investigation to find out how ‘…despite clear written instructions to the contrary on 3 December 2021, the Customs and Excise Division issued the said licences, without the approval of the Minister’.

One can just imagine the tension at the next cabinet meeting and the implications for those other ministers who may be in the process of finalising their workarounds. 

The party boat issue is not new in our society. As a matter of fact, it is symptomatic of the systemic breakdown that has occurred in every institution. For everything, the go-to strategy is to find the workaround.

Photo: A teaser on YUP Life’s Facebook page on 29 November 2021.
At that time, Adrian Scoon was waiting for a special restaurant license from the Ministry of Finance.
Despite being blanked by the Ministry, Scoon was still able to get a licence before holding his ‘Seaside Brunch Party’ on Boxing Day.

Scale up the shenanigans of this party boat issue and we see how the system can be manipulated and how people in the circle can be confident and believe that, as long as they are in the know, they can engage the workaround.

What businessman Scoon did has unfortunately come to exemplify the way we do business by using workarounds. His mother, the Minister of Trade and Industry, may have publicly washed her hands and said that her son ‘is a big man’—but that does not change the fact that she has some responsibility for nurturing a young man, whose entrenched value is to default to working around the rules. 

His alleged phone call to the Attorney General while being questioned by the police is instructive.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh peeped out from behind the curtain and said that his legal advice was not to comment since ‘the matter is now the subject of a police investigation’.

The optimistic side of me is saying that the Minister of Finance has placed a stake in the road because it is the first time in this administration that we are publicly seeing disagreement within the Cabinet. His ego is so large that he is unlikely to leave this investigation open-ended and will see it through to some conclusion. 

Photo: Minister of Finance Colm Imbert.

Hopefully, someone will be charged with misbehaviour in public office or some other breach.

If this happens, then 2022 will be a good year. It began with the Minister of Finance taking a stand by not agreeing to take one for the team by saying that he did not approve the party boat and launching an investigation. 

I look forward to seeing more of this kind of behaviour, which is transparent and focused on consequence management.

Never been to a whore house? Are you okay, Mr Prime Minister?

Originally published on Wired868

Dear Prime Minister,

When you speak, I listen like many others young and old, we all listen closely. If we miss your message, we go to social media and that is where I found a shocking clip from a recent News Conference on Anslem Gibbs’ Twitter feed of 3 December 2021.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses accusations about his filings at the Integrity Commission in a press conference on 3 December 2021.

Straightway I switched to corporate communication mode and tried to picture the pre-conference briefing.  Here’s what I imagined ‘Briefing Boss’ said: “Remember sir, our key messages are … I’ve never been to a whore house; I’ve never drink alcohol and drunk; I’m minding one family; I’ve never bought cigarettes”.

As a good professional ‘Briefing Boss’ would have repeated the messages and ended with your favourite slogan: “let’s do this” before helping you to the podium.

But then I snapped back to reality and concluded that those messages were not from any ‘Briefing Boss’.  That was you and nobody had to courage to say it was a bad idea. What did you plan to achieve with those four messages?  What action do you want the person in the street take after hearing those messages?

In my opinion, nobody cares whether you visit whore houses, get drunk, support your outside children or buy cigarettes. We care about you doing your job as prime minister, and let me remind you what the Parliamentary website says:

Photo: Dr Keith Rowley is sworn in as prime minister for the second successive term.
(via Office of the President)

‘He presides over the Cabinet and is responsible for the allocation of functions among ministers. Apart from being the leader of the Cabinet, which has effective control of the nation’s affairs, the prime minister keeps the president fully informed concerning the general conduct of the government and shall furnish the President with such information as he may request with respect to any particular matter relating to the government. 

‘The Office of the Prime Minister is also responsible for constitutional matters, national statistics, public holidays, national awards, ecclesiastical affairs, and library services.’

If this is your job description, then what is happening in your head? Why remind us of earlier suggestions of misconduct? Were you feeling anxious?

A few weeks ago, you did ask us for a break. Is this another sign that you really need to take a break from the pressure?

I understand that you feel the need to respond to the continuous pressure from all quarters including the Opposition but using the prime minister’s podium to vent personal matters is not right. You have been in office for more than 30 years, so you know that you have to separate your roles as prime minister, political leader, and breadwinner.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley (left) and Minister of Finance Colm Imbert.
(via Trinidad Express)

When you speak as prime minister, you join the world stage of leaders who usually display politeness and dignity.  On Piggotts’ corner when you are riling up the party faithful, you can talk about which family you are supporting; and on the golf course, well, anything goes.

If your intention was to respond to the ‘townhouse’ gate issue which is growing legs, then using the prime ministerial podium was not a good idea. Mr. Prime Minister, please use the Christmas Season for some rest and recovery (R&R) and to love up your grandchildren because ‘de journey now start’.

It would be unfortunate for you to provide material to strengthen rumours about your wellness as happened with your previous colleague, former prime minister, Mr. Patrick Manning. Self-care is important for your mental well-being and rational judgment.

Please take care of yourself because if Trinidad & Tobago ever needed you is now!

What I learned from PMs Rowley and Mottley on our environmental challenges

Originally published on Wired868 on Sunday 14 November 2021

Joy is often stolen by comparison. Trinbagonians continue to rob ourselves of potential joy because of the continued comparison of our prime minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, with the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley.  

I am also guilty because I want so much more for my country and I worry that I can see no clear direction.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley (left) and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

Both prime ministers recently addressed the 26th Annual Conference of the Parties (COP26) and discussed the impact of climate change on island economies. Ten days after their addresses, Prime Minister Mottley’s speech has had more than 335,000 views on YouTube, while Prime Minister Rowley’s speech has less than 3,000 views.

That data is instructive and should provide a moment for pause, reflection and hopefully redesigning of our strategy.

(Editor’s note: Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley gave a speech during the COP26 opening ceremony while Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Keith Rowley gave a national statement on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago, which meant both had different objectives. Barbados did not take up its opportunity to present a national speech.)

Mottley called for the leaders to ‘try harder. Try harder because our people, the climate army, the world, the planet, need our actions now—not next year, not in the next decade.

Photo: Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley speaks at the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021.
(via COP26)

How right she was then and continues to be. Trinidad and Tobago need to take action now to salvage our economy and therefore our country.

Our Prime Minister articulated a series of plans which we have embarked upon to get to net-zero carbon emissions. He reiterated that our economy is largely based on oil and gas and petrochemicals and stated that: 

“We in Trinidad and Tobago recognise our responsibility in transitioning, over reasonable and manageable time, to net zero. We have set very ambitious targets aimed at diversifying our economy. We have embarked upon ambitious plans to reduce emissions and build climate resilience, but we will need help.”

There is a lot to be joyful about here because it means that there are plans and proposals for the transformation of our economy. COP26 gave many of us a peek into the strategies of our country and the work that is being done for us to get to net zero.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley speaks at the World Leaders Summit on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland on 2 November 2021.
(via Office of the Prime Minister)

Here’s what I learned about my country:

  • We are in the process of establishing the largest utility-scale solar renewable energy project in the Caribbean with a capacity of 112 megawatts, accounting for 10% of our power needs, and we plan to increase this complement to 30% by 2030;
  • We have developed an e-mobility policy and we are already implementing measures to phase-in electric vehicles;
  • We recognise the need to address the socio-economic issues associated with the energy transition and have developed a Just Transition of the Workforce Policy aimed at re-skilling, retooling, and developing new capacity for a low-carbon economy;
  • We are pursuing measures to facilitate investment in green hydrogen to provide green feedstock to our vibrant petrochemical industry.
  • We intend to explore the use of industry-generated CO₂ in possible carbon sequestration projects.
Photo: A young man strolls along Maracas Bay during the Covid-19 pandemic on 23 April 2020.
(Copyright Ghansham Mohammed/GhanShyam Photography/Wired868)

The problem with these intentions is that the average citizen is unaware of them. All we see in Parliament is the daily cussing and blaming of the opposition for our current status.

Six years into the PNM’s current term in office, it is time to stop the blame game and sell us on the joy of achievement as we pursue these ambitious plans. Thank you Prime Minister Mottley for reminding us to ‘try a little harder.

Improving our Media Engagement

Originally published in

In a recent media interview, the interviewee was asked this very direct question: ‘Have you ever accepted a bribe for a firearm?’

Gary Griffith, former commissioner of police, former government minister, former senator, a former captain in the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force who is now husband, father, and private citizen, was no less direct with his response, which I seriously doubt the interviewer would have anticipated:

“[…] Have you been involved in prostitution?”

The exchange immediately put me in mind of my first entrepreneurial venture. It was inspired by a lackluster presentation made by Jules Bernard, who was at the time the country’s commissioner of police. Bernard’s presentation was so bad that, before he was through, I had already made up my mind to form a company to coach leaders to become more engaging presenters. 

Professional Presentations Limited failed spectacularly—do the reasons really matter?—and I pivoted to providing public relations services.

That was 30 years ago. Today, it is still the exception to experience an engaging presentation from a public official. I say ‘engaging’ rather than exciting because some of them sometimes seek to create excitement by resorting to folktales, which is reasonable, I suppose, as well as insults and naked aggression, which is decidedly not. 

The upshot of this lowering of the bar is that the media environment has been transformed from a space accepted and respected as a locus of acceptable behaviour and appropriate language into a wild space where media practitioners and the professional hobbyists who are often their guests feel that no subject is taboo, every public personality is fair game and the rules of grammar are little more than a completely unnecessary nuisance.

Photo: Then Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (left) makes a point to TV6 Morning Show host Fazeer Mohammed.

One can be forgiven for wondering if today’s media practitioners are guided by any rules at all. Is there an overarching philosophy that has at its core the pursuit of truth and which recognizes that there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to arrive at that destination?

Are there any rules of behaviour for invitees and guests?

The media simply would never get their job done if they declined to ask hard questions. The corollary is that if you prefer not to have to handle thorny questions, give media people a wide berth. Stay far away from all ovens and kitchens if you can’t handle the heat. Unless you want long-lasting notoriety—remember ‘That’s insulting!’?—trying to embarrass or abuse the interviewer is not the way to go.

So, to return to Griffith, given the varied portfolios that he has held, I would have expected him to resort to any number of strategies to keep the discussion positive, fruitful, and solutions-oriented.

‘Acknowledge, bridge and go to your key message’ is a commonly used technique when the interview takes a nasty turn—or threatens to—and you know, thanks to Michelle Obama, that your best option is to go high.

Photo: Former USA first lady Michelle Obama.

Disrespect and abuse are rampant in our society and women are often on the receiving end of this toxicity. Why don’t we simply connect the dots and stop wondering why the scourge of gender-based violence is not in retreat in our country?

Griffith’s knee-jerk reaction was to opt to go low, preferring to ask about the interviewer’s experience of prostitution. 

Some would be tempted to normalise this behaviour by saying, ‘well, that’s Gary.’ Not I. 

What I see is a high-profile—not necessarily ‘responsible’ but certainly ‘with responsibilities’—public personality with an excellent opportunity for a teaching moment. But instead of seeking to reduce the aggro potentially contained in the interviewer’s question, he opted to fight fire with fire. 

I think this response is indicative of the systemic decline we are experiencing throughout our society. I also think that traditional and social media spaces provide an opportunity to collectively change the conversation from its current base level and create a more aspirational discussion.

Photo: Then Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith talks to the media during a function for the Soca Warriors at the commissioner’s residence on 5 March 2021.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/Wired868)

Media owners have to become intolerant of talk show hosts who repeatedly insult callers by telling them to ‘go ask your mother’. Or who make slapping sounds on-air while eating and talking. Or who seriously asks the question ‘so what are we doing this morning?’ Or who, as in the case of one television presenter, accepts a personal telephone call on live television.

And the list goes on.

So, 30 years later, I am thinking maybe I should re-open the company. This time, however, the focus will not be on coaching leaders to do anything; the much more urgent need is to get all of us, high and low, to show one another kindness. 

And respect.

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.

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.

“Imps, pimps and chimps” … You know better Mr. Prime Minister!

Originally published on Wired868 Dennise Demming on Tuesday 19 October 2021

If only Members of Parliament could master the same level of decorum and use of language as our esteemed President, this would be a more gentle place.

I contrast the language of the President with the language of the Prime Minister and feel sick to my gut.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley recently made this comment about the Opposition Leader:

“[…] But the Opposition Leader wants to get around that by bringing the President’s name into the Parliament in a substantive motion so that she and her imps, pimps, and chimps can scandalise the President in the worst way…”

Raymond Ramcharitar claims to have used the phrase ‘imps, pimps and chimps’ over the past year to describe the Opposition. The last thing I expected was for my prime minister to copy and use such a degrading phrase to refer to members of the Opposition.

His reference goes, by extension, to the more than 300,000 persons who voted for the UNC. It is insulting and degrading for half of our population. Our dear Prime Minister seems to have forgotten that he is the prime minister of the entire nation, including those who did not vote for him and his political party.

By definition, the Prime Minister is saying that the Leader of the Opposition and her little creatures are hiding in cupboards, that her people control prostitutes for a percentage of their earnings and that her people are in some way chimps. Is this really what was intended?

Photo: UNC leader and Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre in jacket) on the campaign trail during the run-up to the 10 August 2020 elections.
(via UNC)

Among friends, I have heard people refer to each other jokingly as ‘imps’, suggesting that some person was being naughty and even playful. However, not many people will tolerate being called a ‘pimp’ (except maybe in the rap music industry).

Still, to call someone a ‘chimp’ is to invoke the unfortunate theories used to justify Europe’s domination and enslavement of large portions of the world. ‘Chimp’ is often erroneously used as a synonym of ‘monkey’. And that, frankly, is an unacceptable utterance to come from anyone, especially if the holder of our highest office is using the term to describe any citizen of our fair twin islands.

It is now written into our history that one prime minister condoned and used the ‘ape’ insult to degrade his opponents in Parliament. Unfortunately, this cannot be erased.

At the US Democratic National Convention in 2012, former first lady Michelle Obama famously said these words: “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.”

Photo: Former USA first lady Michelle Obama.

Our population is discovering who our Prime Minister really is. The use of ‘give me a break’ to ‘kiss my ar**’ and now ‘imps, pimps and chimps’ says that some misfortune has befallen our Prime Minister. Why has his vocabulary become so sparse?

At a time in our history when our children more than ever need leaders whose behaviour they can model and emulate, our Prime Minister instead elects to use language that is unbecoming of the office he holds.

Respect for an office should not only be expected from the ordinary people it serves; surely (s)he who holds the office also needs to treat it with no less respect, mindful that the authority (s)he enjoys is an honour bestowed by those who pay the office-holder’s emoluments and fund his perks.

I look forward to the day when listening to our leaders in Parliament again brings me the same hope and joy as when I listen to her Excellency.

Demming Chronicles chats with Transportation Expert Dr. Julia Kotzebue, and Entrepreneur Marlon Jeffers

Pedestrian Injustice

Dr. Kotzebue’s interest in transportation was sparked by her experience growing up in the city of Hamberg, Germany where she walked and bicycled. She describes the pedestrian experience as one of injustice because pedestrians do not contribute to the air pollution and noise but they suffer the impact. They are our most vulnerable road users. She is also convinced that quality of life is a transportation issue.

Walk, Ride, Bathe in the Office
Her academic study and research continuously examine the possibilities of people being mobile in a healthy and sustainable manner. The answer lies in a combination of walkability, bikability, and a well-regulated private-sector mass transportation system. Achieving a human-centred approach to transportation begins with educating our children about the benefits of integrating activity into our daily routines. It may mean incentivizing employers to provide bathroom facilities and lockers for persons who walk or cycle to work to shower and change.

Cars versus Children
In 2020, Trinidad and Tobago imported 25,00 cars while 17,000 children were born. One can interpret this to mean that society consciously allocated more space to cars than to our children.

Event Planners Survival Strategies
At 13:30 the conversation switched to an understanding of how Event Planners have survived the pandemic. Owner/Manager Director of Imperial Events Marlon Jeffers talks about the importance of creating your own job and using passion and resilience to sustain a dream.

Creating New Products
From a background in the hospitality sector, Marlon and his associates provide a range of services from event conceptualization to execution. While business disappeared during the Covid Pandemic, he has been able to develop a new product to stage “Micro Weddings”.
He sees the creative sector as contributing to the healthy balance that is needed for all of us to thrive.