It is highly regrettable that at a time of an international medical emergency, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has chosen to indulge in senseless and emotive politicking.
In his characteristic temperamental tone, Dr. Rowley opted to castigate Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for her nationalistic appeal for a bipartisan response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Ms. Persad-Bissessar, in her well-known patriotic and dutiful manner, had requested a strategic joint approach to the crisis, in light of the fact that her political organisation represents 18 of the country’s 43 electoral constituencies and seven of the 14 Local Government Corporations.
Similar united and common responses are evident in several other countries, including the United States, where both sides of the aisle jointly worked on a package of measures to be universally adopted by the Congress.
Dr. Rowley’s opted for a high-strung and vicious attack on Ms. Persad-Bissessar, for the Opposition’s decision the previous Friday to seek to limit his parliamentary speaking time on the coronavirus.
The Opposition’s stance had been guided by the fact that, on previous occasions, the Government had abused the relevant Standing Orders by speaking for much longer periods that were permitted.
Further, other international leaders have addressed their respective countries for shorter periods, during which they unveiled medical measures and economic stimulus packages.
Dr. Rowley’s long-winded statement last Friday was comprised essentially of a recap of global developments with respect to the virus, which was easily accessible via the media.
The Prime Minister did not disclose a single policy initiative during his verbose presentation.
In fact, even at his media conference on Monday, he announced the establishment of several Cabinet Sub-Committees to discuss and recommend measures.
While the Rowley Cabinet is still deliberating, most progressive countries have detailed specific strategies to safeguard the health of their citizens and to assist affected business sectors.
The Prime Minister’s belligerent response to Ms. Persad-Bissessar is unbecoming of a national leader, especially when all of humanity is burdened by a prevalent medical crisis.
Dr. Rowley once again sacrificed a major opportunity to provide authoritative leadership and to display statesmanship.
He copied that unfortunate approach in his aggressive response to Ms. Persad-Bissessar’s comment with respect to the energy sector and Ghana.
The Opposition Leader was merely alluding to the fact that Dr. Rowley cannot reliably advise the Ghanaian people on energy following his gross mishandling of the Petrotrin matter, natural gas pricing fiasco and under-performance in oil production.
At a time when he should be providing hands-on and decisive leadership on the coronavirus, Dr. Rowley penned an epistle in which he misrepresented the energy issues and drew wild conclusions.
It is noteworthy that the person who introduced the reckless emailgate to Parliament now has the effrontery to accuse Ms. Persad-Bissessar of “damaging conduct.”
The Prime Minister is well advised to seek to provide effective and resolute leadership in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and to avoid irrational statements and absurd politicking.
During this period of crisis, Trinidad and Tobago demands no less from its leader.