By Capil Bissoon
Ask yourself which Trinidad and Tobago Leader, or for that matter any third world leader, has promised term limits reducing their own powers? Not even the legendary Lee Kuan Yew did.
But Kamla has.
Which leader has attempted to put more power in the hands of voters by introducing the concept of parliamentarians recall?
Which leader has subjected him or herself by choice to the rigours of incessant parliamentary questioning?
She courageously subjects herself to monthly parliamentary interrogation with the minimum of notice of the questions to be asked.
This would never have happened under Eric Williams whom I recall in a press conference stated menacingly that he would entertain no further questions from the Trinidad Guardian. He was in the habit of removing his hearing aid when confronted with difficult questions.
Characteristically, the last People’s National Movement (PNM) government left many questions unanswered in Parliament.
Which T&T prime minister/government would have passed procurement legislation – Eric Williams, George Chambers, Arthur NR Robinson, Basdeo Panday, Patrick Manning? None of the above.
But Kamla did.
And similarly which one of our past leaders would frontally and publicly commit to campaign finance reform if elected?
Only Kamla has.
Which local leader has set a high threshold for ministerial accountability?
Only Kamla has.
Government ministers now know if you refuse a breathalyser test, or if there is a damning CONCACAF-like report, or if charges are laid by the police indicating improper behaviour, or if your ministry gives a contract to your son, then to put it politely, “yuh goose cook”.
This contrasts with the PNM approach of sweeping malfeasance under the carpet. No longer will a future T&T High Commissioner be promoted to a ministerial post if he or she is accused at home or abroad of driving under the influence. Kamla made that possible.
And what about the new politics of coalition government? Contrast this with the PNM’s antediluvian penchant for winning and losing alone. Coalition governments more suited to multi-ethnic societies bring more diverse perspectives to the table of governance.
Only someone with the patience, self-confidence and maturity of a Kamla can make this work. Certainly not the arrogant, insecure, masculine PNM leaders of our past and present.
And which leader of our country has paid more than lip service to the development of all parts of the country? So while the corridor has its Oncology Centre and Febeau Village has its new primary school complete with a star and admirably self-confident Oshun Howell serenading his Prime Minister, Point Fortin has its spanking new highway, Mayaro its fire station and Biche its high school.
Under the PNM’s long reign, our second city and industrial capital was left to wither and die. If you had migrated from San Fernando thirty years ago and were minded today to walk along High Street or visit the wharf area, one would discern that nothing has changed.
One gets the sense that under Kamla, San Fernando is poised for a resurgence. The proposed energy corridor to Mayaro and the completion of the Point Fortin Highway mean that San Fernando will become the hub for all the agricultural, energy and commercial enterprise of a vast developing economic hinterland of the South.
The UWI campus in Debe means that the intellectual capital of arguably some of the best secondary schools in the country (Naparima Boys and Girls, Presentation College, St Joseph’s Convent, Modern Secondary, ASJA, even Pleasantville East and West) will enrich the intellectual fabric of San Fernando and South Trinidad, making it a university centre.
The proposed San Fernando Waterfront project will be the icing on the cake with possibilities for sea sports like rowing and sailing taking on a new prominence and restaurants offering a variety of sea foods. Just imagine an intercol in rowing involving all secondary schools.
It takes a woman with a vision and a motherly disposition like Kamla to make this happen. Her presence on the political landscape has been transformative rather.
By contrast the offerings on the other side have the same old same old transactional character.
They have apparently outsourced their opposition role to Jack Warner and to the “Wrong Table” and appear content to watch from the sidelines. They also seem to be unable or unwilling to come up with alternative policies that will catch our voter’s imagination.
Meanwhile Kamla still has to select her dream team that will help her achieve her vision.
She must know that the important swing voter has pressed the pause button until they see her team. I am convinced that, lioness that she is and way ahead of her times, she will not let them down.