The minister of communication has done himself and the prime minister a disservice by attempting to spin his way out of the National Awards fiasco, the latest in a rapid series of communications and public relations gaffes plaguing the government ever since he was appointed to the post.
Diluting his own credibility, he strains to make connections where none exist to explain the protocol collapse that led to the prime minister being embarrassed once again and, rather than look for clever ways to deflect, he should come straight with the public without fudge, misdirection or precedent, just admit that it was badly handled and hope that his mea culpa could find favour with a public now weary of real and imagined scandals.
The only questions that need to be answered here surround whose hare-brained idea was this in the first place. How was this scheme hatched? Who were the plotters? Why was it allowed to appear as policy by vapse and why was the prime minister left so exposed to the fall out caused by an amateurish lack of diligence and observance of protocol?
For my part I was stumped and said so publicly upon learning of the announcement, that two men that the government and all of its supporters have publicly declared to be scamps and scoundrels could receive the nation's highest awards while having so many damning allegations hanging over their heads, allegations that were put there by the very people now looking to sanitize and award them.
Clearly reeking of cheap politics designed to secure votes, apparently not enough were fooled to give the thing even the remotest shred of credibility by the public at large. Worse, since everyone reliably expected Basdeo Panday to be the one to reject and pour scorn on the offer, now that Patrick Manning has beaten him to it one can only guess at the hurried behind the scenes negotiations taking place with him and his family to avert further humiliation, and the Panday clan may well walk away from this one with not only a national award, but smiling all the way to the bank.
An ambassadorship for Bas? A senate seat for Mikela? A lifetime supply of chauffeur driven spa treatments for Oma? Perhaps a full presidential blanket pardon for all prior sins? Why, the sky is practically the limit here for a man in Singapore apparently so cut off from the rest of the world and Trinidad politics he has to appoint his daughter to speak for him on all manner of issues including whether or not he might possess a Facebook account.
Having spoken to him recently in public where we continued a chat that we were having over the course of some weeks on that same social media site notwithstanding I am amused at the lengths big people go to when they conspire to deceive, but perhaps I too should be prepared to suspend critical disbelief and accept that he has none, if only for appearances sake.
But back to the honourable minister of trade, communications and embarrassing gaffes, I find it strange that all of his communicating comes in the form of one way statements that are not themselves open to challenge. His position that Manning made an announcement a year before someone who was to receive an award was given the award is of no value here because it misses the critical point that the public hasn't, that this was the announcement of the granting of national awards to political enemies, all in the name of mending political fences, a purpose for which the awards were never intended.
The fact that Patrick Manning behaved like a spoilt child and threw the mother of all tantrums over the award was simply Manning being Manning, but the fact that the government gave him the opportunity to 'buss so much style' on them says more than the minister's statement ever could.
Bharath's assertion that the awards have been refused in the past and cited an example where one was threatened to be returned over religious and symbolic reasons again has nothing to do with the overt politicizing of the thing for what appears to be selfish gain on the part of the government, and this is where he (Vassant) misses the point.
This government that has been stellar and spot on with deliverables and service but has been woefully bad at communicating their achievements, and even worse when they try to plot clever conspiracies for ignoble ends.
Their overwhelming success at actual governance is lost in silence due to the failure of their communications machinery to convert the skeptical public to informed and trusting supporters, so they continuously turn to chicanery and subterfuge to achieve the same end, engaging in cheap politicking that I fear may eventually be their ruin.
A conundrum in itself, someone or someones set out to fail and succeeded. The Office of the Minister of Communications itself should not be used as a platform for political spin but for facilitating communication between the people and the government. With less than a year remaining in office perhaps the minister should learn that, as this government could hardly afford another minister publicly failing to perform.
Phillip Edward Alexander