By Phillip Edward Alexander
Keith Rowley has a big problem and it is his credibility. Many of his claims don't add up, his decisions make no sense, some of the things he says end up being exposed as fabrications while others still have been proven to be outright falsehoods.
Phillip Edward Alexander is a social and political activist, a feature writer and columnist, the founder of the Jericho Project and the chairman of the Citizen's Union of Trinidad and Tobago
To quote former Port of Spain mayor and diehard, dues-paying PNM stalwart Louis Lee Sing, when Keith Rowley is not on the attack, what is he about?
That is a most telling statement to make because to be honest, no one anywhere can claim any knowledge of any Keith Rowley policies or plans, nor has he advanced any since assuming the mantle of political leader of the PNM, much to the consternation of those who he and his cabal have replaced. Rather, the only impression most if not all who know of him have of him is him snarling and attacking, all the eye glasses and scarves his re-branders and image re-makers care to drape on him notwithstanding.
Using a thinly disguised network of troublemakers, scandal breakers and news takers, he has been re-beating the same dead horse since Section 34, hoping to get another bite of the public's push against it, assuming their dissatisfaction with a government policy automatically translated to support for him, but he could not be more wrong.
Having deep pockets 'axe to grind' specialist Jack Warner feeding him information is not hurting him, but it is not helping him appear any more prime ministerial either and their combined reputations may yet sink them both.
In 2009, then fired Cabinet Minister Keith Rowley suddenly found his integrity and rushed to tell the nation that he had warned the prime minister in August 2003 of massive bid rigging and corruption taking place at UDECOTT that he claimed into the Hansard was ten times worse than what took place at Piarco, yet he sat in that same Cabinet and toed that Cabinet's line for six long years without a call to the Integrity Commission, the Fraud Squad, the Commissioner of Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Anti-Corruption Investigative Bureau, in fact he called no one. And what is worse, he's never said anything about it or called anyone since.
So which is the lie?
But it continues.
On the hustings for the internal political leadership elections, his campaign was marred with all manner of threats of violence, open hostility and vile and bitter racist taunts. His own Rottweiler in training Fitzgerald Hinds promised challenger Penny Beckles 'bois,' which to those who do not understand the lingo of the stick fighter, that is a big stick across her back if she does not behave, with nary a word of admonishment from his leader.
The same Hinds told the nation that Rowley was too black to ever be prime minister of this country and, while he tried to ascribe it to some fictitious 'other' who he claims said it to him, it is not the first time that Hinds has gone down this path, possibly hoping to bear the same ethnic fruit and appeal to afro-consciousness that the THA's infamous Calcutta Ship remark had.
And this lack of credibility is not limited to the leader alone. Colm Imbert has been playing his version of the school girl game 'elastic' for some time now, jump in, jump out, jump in, stamp. Does anyone know whose camp Colm is in? No, but apparently neither does Colm.
And what about the same Hinds? Fired by every political leader he has ever had, and in spite of his painful to watch public displays of loyalty for his leader, he was almost left out of Rowley's pack and had to settle for the humiliation of being named as Youth Officer despite being well into his fifties.
Or what of 'new kid on the block' Faris al Rawi, whom Keith Rowley cleverly hides behind whenever he thinks the questions of the PNM's past might be too tough to answer?
What of the man rumoured to have benefitted from some ironclad leases signed literally at the death of the last administration binding this administration to him and his family to the tune of millions of dollars for still unoccupied real estate?
No, the real problem for Keith Rowley and the PNM is a serious lack of credibility. That is why they work so hard creating scandals and stirring 'kuchoor' for this government, they desperately need the distraction. Because if for a moment there is sufficient calm for the non aligned voters to contrast and compare between the government and the opposition, the PNM loses.
Why? Because despite having political and economic control for 40 of this country's 51 years of independence and a quarter of a trillion dollars spent on their watch, more than 200,000 of our people live desperate lives amid squalor and mind numbing poverty and violence, the overwhelming majority of them being PNM supporters and members from the PNM communities, and that more than anything is why I say he and they have no credibility.
If you can do that to your own, to the very people who have kept you alive politically, on what authority, moral or otherwise, do you speak of anyone else?