is unreasonable to expect a baroque political requiem for former Prime
Minister Basdeo Panday, who was shown the door from local politics last
week after he was found guilty of failing to declare a London bank
one political scientist’s haste to put the nail on the political coffin
of the chairman of the United National Congress (even while he served
himself, admittedly) into the trash cans of history by stating he was
politically “dead” and his “fighting days were over,” was
can be demonised, deified, but not dismissed, because even his enemies
will agree with this. “He is larger than life,” not because of his
obvious charisma and way with words, but because regardless of his
transgressions, the fact remains that Basdeo Panday has given a voice and
face to a previously invisible and mute half of this multi-racial
population—the East Indian community—spending years agitating for the
rights of sugar workers.
was curious to see Panday’s contribution written off by a fellow
columnist who, even while claiming sympathy for the “fallen lion,”
managed to simultaneously disingenuously remind us in the process, of
thanking him for his first political scoop that Panday “schemed his way
around the old guard” to become the “young lion of the sugar union”
Panday’s utterly disappointing performance during his tenure as Prime
Minister is indefensible. It’s true he was large-spirited, did not witch
hunt, go after known corrupt PNM officials, made the correct gestures
towards inclusion such as a Baptists’ holiday.
his legacy to the people who voted him in is a big zero.
there are children in Couva today who have never seen a toothbrush in
their lives, if the rural Indo-Trinidadian is among the poorest and
least-educated in this country, according to CSO figures, it is partly due
to Panday’s neglect.
let power go to his head. He ostensibly operated his party as a maximum
leader, ruthlessly felling opposition, favouring sycophancy over
Panday is not above the law. He has to pay for that undeclared, puffed-up
bank account. Still, two years with hard labour seems unduly harsh,
because Panday is the only person to be prosecuted and convicted for
breaching the Integrity in Public Life Act.
the 1987 act, Members of the House of Representatives, Government
Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Permanent Secretaries and Chief
Technical Officers were obliged to truthfully declare their assets each
Dana Seetahal informs me that in 2000, the Integrity in Public Life Act
was widened to include members of the Tobago House of Assembly,
municipalities, local government authorities, boards of statutory
authorities and state enterprises as well as senators, judges and
wagers that over 2,000 people fall under the law. Now the can of worms has
been opened, the law better be applied equally to everyone who falls under
Integrity Commission has a lot of work to do if it is to convince us
Panday is the only man out of over 2,000 people to make a false
declaration of his assets.
say history is never the truth, but perception of the truth. The
perception among many is that Panday has been singled out for prosecution;
that the law is somehow a political arm of the government; that his arrest
is politically expedient, since it comes in the year before a general
this perception is false and justice has been done, then the 2,000 or so
people falling under the law, including judges, should come under the
microscopic gaze of the Integrity Commission.