Dr. Fraser- Point of View
September 28, 2007

As I see it!

Following the demise of the ruling parties in St.Lucia, the Bahamas, The British Virgin Islands and Jamaica, and before them, Antigua, any election in any of the Caribbean states is bound to generate a great deal of interest these days. Trinidad and Tobago will be the next Caribbean country to hold elections, even though the date has not yet been announced.{{more}} Manning has until January, but the expectations are that elections will be called this year. Although Prime Minister Manning is capable of anything, he certainly would not want to interfere with Carnival. He has for some weeks now been teasing the nation about the expected date for elections. Although recent public opinion polls do not credit him with the popularity he obviously believes he has, there is still room for confidence because of Trinidad and Tobago’s racial politics and an economy boiling over with oil money.

Manning’s greatest ally is Basdeo Panday, since he, more than anyone else, is responsible for the disarray in the Opposition. The Afro-Trinidadian voters will either vote for Manning or stay at home. The Indians are going to vote for one of their racially based parties. Historically, elections have been fought on racial lines along the Indian and African corridors. It is for this reason that there are now so many calls for opposition unity, even by Panday himself. Panday in his usual style has called on Winston Dookeran of the Congress of the People’s party to meet with him to discuss unity, but in full blare of television cameras and media publicity. He is obviously not serious. There has, even apart from the Congress of the People, been the arrangement of a UNC Alliance involving the Democratic Party of Trinidad and Tobago and the Democratic National Assembly. Dookeran is unlikely to go along with this, given the relationship that previously existed with Panday and the bad blood that had accompanied their split.

The support which Dookeran and his party have been commanding appears to have come as a surprise to Panday and the UNC. They certainly would not be able to go anywhere without Dookeran and perhaps one must say vice versa. It would be interesting to see what eventually happens. Financiers of the UNC must certainly be exerting pressure behind the scene to ensure that there is some accommodation among the two main parties, but it is difficult to see how this can be possible with Panday around and with Ramesh Maharaj who sees himself as filling Panday’s place. The talk of an alliance with the parties that are prepared to form that alliance has unearthed the names of two possible leaders, Jack Warner of Football fame and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Jack Warner will bring a black element to the highest level and with it perhaps some money, but I am not sure the Indian base is likely to go for it. Panday, however, sees no urgency in the election of a leader for the alliance. He referred to the leadership council of the Alliance, that has been running the affairs of the alliance, and went on to say that “After elections, you can do any number of things- you can share power, you can allow the MPs who won seats to elect a Prime Minister…whatever”. He certainly exists in a world of his own.

It really comes down to Manning getting an easy ride back to the helm of politics in the twin state. But one can never tell. Dookeran is likely to command much more respect and confidence from black voters even in the racial politics of Trinidad and Tobago. Manning is, on the other hand, his own worse enemy. You remember when he had appointed his wife Minister of Education! He has spent a huge sum of money, on rebuilding the Prime Minister’s residence, and he is creating some concern within his party with his commissioning of internal polls that he is apparently using to get rid of some of the old hands. A number of others have already indicated that they will not contest the upcoming elections, whether only as a reaction to this approach of Manning or for other reasons is difficult to tell. One thing for sure is that if by any outside chance he loses the elections he will still be a Minister. It was not long ago he said that he wanted to become a Minister of Religion when he gets out of politics.

His other desire is to drive a bus, not for a living I am sure, but for the fun of it. With Manning there is never a dull moment. You can expect him to do and say the strangest things. He can afford all of this with Panday and his style of bacchanal politics still around.

St. Lucia after Compton

With the death of Sir John Compton, the political situation in St.Lucia is likely to heat up very soon. First, there is the by-election to select his replacement for the Micoud North Seat which he held since the 1950s. Speculation is rife that Ausbert D’Auvergne of the National Development Movement who holds the position of ‘Economic and Planning’ Minister will be the one to contest on behalf of the governing UWP. He has already made the decision to dissolve his party which had been formed following the elections in 2001 and join the UWP. There had previously been signs of division within the ranks of the UWP, starting with the decision to break diplomatic ties with Mainland China and the subsequent illness of John Compton. A leadership contest will follow later. Will the party pull itself together and unite behind Stephenson King or will the bickering continue? Any continued divisions within the party will give strong support to Kenny Anthony’s call for new elections, with the claim that King must get his own mandate. If the party unites behind King, all of that talk will disappear, but if the disarray continues the demand for new elections would certainly grow.

Miller and the Castration Word

I heard the tail end of a news item that quoted the Commissioner of Police as calling for the castration of repeated rape offenders. I did not hear the full news item and am not sure about the specific context within which these remarks were made. I know this will be popular with a number of persons, since rape appears to be so rampant here, and we were recently greeted with the shocking news about SVG’s placement in the world because of this. So the fact that people are calling for castration does not surprise me. What surprises me is to hear it coming from the mouth of our Commissioner of Police, our Chief Law Enforcement Officer. Even if this is his gut feeling, he really should keep it to himself and allow others to voice those sentiments. The call for castration is a barbaric call. We are a civilised society, and regardless of how offended we are by the incidences of rape, we are belittling ourselves as a civilised people. We have to deal with rape. It is getting out of hand. But, is this the only penalty our creative minds can conjure up?