«197 Leave of Absence Friday, July 23, 1999 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Friday, July 23, 1999 The House met at 1.30 p.m. PRAYERS [MR. SPEAKER in the ...»
“This large investment in human resources must be protected. The first attempt at the standard O-Level examinations has resulted in an extraordinarily large failure rate.” We are talking about corruption from the Latin corrumpo, corrumpere, corrupti, corruptum; to spoil, to vitiate, to destroy, to undermine. Corruption we are talking
about, Mr. Speaker. He is the one. I quote:
“These schools were not meant to be just another outlet for O-Level and ALevel graduates. They were meant to provide a large element of the technical, commercial and craft resources to support the industrialization programme.
Everyone will be aware of the initial difficulties with which students attending these schools were faced: the shift system, delays in getting the schools started, staff problems, students in one end of the country having to attend a school at the other end of the country.” Poor little dears. The first time they left the little village school, take them from Cedros and carry them 50 miles away: exposed to all the wiles, dangers and vagaries of a country, of a life and of the world. Many of them were destroyed, through no fault of their own, because of the corrupt, neglect and mismanagement and the abuse of power. Talking about the abuse of power, for partisan and particular purposes.
Dr. Williams went on in his mourning and pleading:
“But it will be useful to review the situation of both Junior Secondary and Senior Comprehensive Schools...”
That is what you call the non-traditional system:
“and take such corrective action as needed. In pursuit of this, the Government will establish a review team to meet with the Principals of these schools and other interested parties. The team will be headed by Dr. N. Masson, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and will consist of:— —Dr. C. V. Gocking —Mr. V. Bruce —Mr. F. Rampersad 228 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 [DR. THE HON. M. JOB] —Dr. A. St. Clair King —Sr. Francis Xavier —Dr. Beddoe” And he gave the terms of reference.
Why am I quoting this in the context of corruption? These people went on, year after year, telling people in a corrupt and deceitful manner, that we were 99 per cent literate. Well, if you go to the prisons or anywhere in this country, there are reports—I have them—done under his government and they tell you that crime, social decay and deviance in this country have to do with the failure of the PNM education system.
Last week, Wendell Mottley who was his Minister of Finance—he could not get along with Wendell Mottley. He was one of my contemporaries. I think he was a year ahead of me at Queen’s Royal College. He was bright and he could not deal with Wendell Mottley, so they had to part company. But Wendell Mottley said the same thing here. He is quoted in both the Newsday and the Guardian. I have the Guardian comment on what Mottley said, that you cannot develop Trinidad and Tobago; you cannot stop crime; you cannot deal with teenage pregnancy; you cannot control AIDS; there is nothing—social morbidity and dysfunction in this country is a direct consequence of PNM neglect; the corruption of the education system.
They come here talking about how the executive in this land has been mischievous in the last three years. When I heard the Member of long-standing this afternoon talking about the Member for St. Augustine, that the problem which arose at the National Flour Mills with the purchase of rice from India had to do with O’Halloran, who died a long time ago, it tells me that this Government has now given up the ghost in providing any credible defence for its own misconduct.
I want to link that with another statement he made here concerning the Miss Universe contest when he said that we do not have any benefits from the Miss Universe contest. What I am trying to point your mind and the minds of Members of this honourable House to, Mr. Speaker, is the misunderstanding. I said the cause was not properly presented; the cause was vitiated; the cause has been damaged; the cause is fatally flawed, because it was so partisan and so parochially and provincially stated, that the substantial message and issue was lost in a swamp of rhetoric and prolix. That is what I am saying.
229 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 So when we talk about the Miss Universe thing not giving any result; Mr.
Speaker, a man has sex with a woman; nine months after, you get a baby. There is what is called a gestation period. There is antecedent. Nine months after that child is born, you feed it well and care for it good by giving it doctor’s medicine, good bush and things like that, it lives. Eleven years after, you get a bright Common Entrance child going into Form I and if you give it care and treat it well, another 15 years after that, you get somebody who is an engineer, a doctor or something like that. [Interruption] There is a question in the world. Everybody knows about it. Time! Why do you not be patient and understand? Be patient and understand and you will be wise. Paul said— Mr. Speaker: Order please!
Dr. The Hon. M. Job: Paul, in his perambulations through the old and ancient world, used to tell people; it can be read it in Acts. [Interruption] “I am credible because I sat at the feet of Gamaliel.” Why do you not sit at the feet of a master and listen? You will learn something. [Desk thumping] Dr. Rowley: You went for nine months or 14 months? Imagine, somebody carried you for nine months.
Dr. The Hon. M. Job: I am saying that this argument here does not have substance because it is bereft of the understanding of how institutional viability is an explanation for much that you see in the real world. It did not happen three years ago; it takes time for things to gestate and, indeed, the institutional character and culture prevails.
When you talk about the Ministry of Works and Transport—he spoke about that—that you should not give the Minister of Local Government anything to do with respect to fixing schools. He does not understand the question of institutional character and inertia, that if you have three weeks to go to Common Entrance and there is something to do, before you go through the procedures, processes and the whole behemoth, like the Ministry of Works and Transport, you might better serve the interests of children by having a methodology that would deliver in quick time. Therefore, that was done.
Dr. Williams had the problem and many people do not understand because they do not read. In other words, the Member for San Fernando East was part of a process to push us backward to make us a preliterate society, so that people do not read anymore and it serves them well, because when people do not read, they do 230 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 [DR. THE HON. M. JOB] not have a frame of reference; they do not think logically; they are animated and moved by mere raw, naked passion. Feelings; that is the foundation and the resource of allocating a fascist man.
Mr. Valley: Especially now with the one book, the same book.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, could I appeal that we distinguish between platform or street corner jibes and the Parliament, the highest court of the land. Please.
Mr. Bereaux: We need a bipartisan, impartial judge.
Dr. The Hon. M. Job: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I do not find a great deal of favour with the editors who report from Parliament, otherwise the public would understand what is going on here, every time I get up to speak.
Dr. Williams went on to say, in complaining about implementation, about
methods of sourcing international financing:
“...and, most important of all, of having in place, procedures for accountability and firm commitments for investments and public capital works that will avoid any possibility of ‘squandermania’ or corruption.” In retrospect, we have to sympathize with the good man because his intentions were in the right place but, apparently, I say this with great trepidation, not with the timorousness that characterized the presentation of the Member for Diego Martin West, not with the rashness of that Member, that Dr. Williams apparently did not understand what I am trying to say here, that institutional culture and the inertia that goes with it, is something that governments must necessarily deal with, and you deal with that in a political way, by bringing the public to understand these things.
Dr. Williams went on to explain what he was talking about under the heading “New Approaches to Implementation” and one of the consequences coming out of this was the government to government arrangement. It is all here; the reason for the government to government arrangement was because Dr. Williams was frustrated that he could not get the tendering process to work.
“It is easy to propose that there be greater dependence on local consultants and contractors.” And, by implication, the tendering process.
“What is not easy is to persuade these consultants to remove the rigidity that now is basic to their fee structure.” 231 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999
He went on to explain that the tendering process apparently is not working. He said:
“Here is a partial summary of the response to invitations to tender in respect of such national priority areas as housing, water, health and roads.
Public Notice calling for tenders (1) Flats to Port of Spain and San Fernando—one tender received (2) Decanting centres in San Fernando—one tender received (3) Housing in Mootoo Lands, Arima—one tender received (4) Testing Station, Valsayn—one tender received (5) Renovation of St. Augustine Reservoir—one tender received.
Selective Tendering (1) Housing of John John Fire Victims—3 firms invited—no tender received” Apparently, they always have fire victims in John John.
“(2) Construction and repairs of garbage chutes in San Fernando—3 firms invited—no tender received (3) Town Houses in Diamond Vale—10 firms invited—one tender received (4) Construction of hard surface courts’ fixtures—7 firms invited—one tender received...
In this record Tobago, as always, had the roughest time. One contractor has advised that he would not be prepared to work in Tobago under any conditions.” Dr. Williams went on and he was building up his case to alert the public that if you want to deliver service, you must have alternative methodologies to this question of the Central Tenders Board. It is here. I did not write this; I did not listen to his speech; I was not around at the time, Mr. Speaker.
He went on to give examples:
“But consider the facts in respect of one such successful bidder, where the tenderer obviously proceeded to recruit his staff after he won the contract. Of 61 people recruited, only 16 had prior experience with the firm; only 3 had prior experience in the type of project involved; only 33 had prior experience 232 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 [DR. THE HON. M. JOB] in a similar position; in the key construction group only 3 out of 26 had previous experience with the successful firm; seven key positions were vacant.
The contract was eventually and inevitably terminated.”
Dr. Williams asked the question:
“What, then, are the solutions?” Next line, government to government arrangement.
Where does the Central Tenders Board come into government to government arrangements? That is Dr. Williams, because when the Member for Diego Martin West is regaling the country and seeking to poison the minds with his sophistry that the elixir, the solution to all our problems and delivering services is to follow his methodology, which Dr. Williams agreed at that time was so bad, and when the Member for St. Augustine was a Minister of Works and Transport, he himself said so, that in order to get the drains cleaned, he had to develop alternative methodology and, subsequently, came to Parliament to have the Central Tenders Board Regulations revised in Parliament in order to backdate, or to validate, after the fact, what was done.
Mr. Speaker, I am going through all this because I want the citizens of this country to understand that this Parliament, while it is legitimate so to do, must never be allowed without a contest—and as long as I am standing here, I will do everything in my power to ensure that this abuse of people’s intelligence by these sophistical arguments are met with a correct and proper challenge. That is what I am here for. It is not sufficient to get up and say that this Government is corrupt;
there is a gang over here; they are “tiefing” money and three years after, everybody is talking about corruption in this country. No. It ought not to be allowed to go without challenge.
While I am on that subject about the institutional rigidity and the question that we must have law, you do not go and tell people; you do not get up in Parliament—it is here in his presentation—and say that you want a Prime Minister and he said that Chambers stopped the Caroni Racing Complex, so the PNM was against corruption.
I want to emphasize without ambiguity in the most clear language that I can, that is not even sophistry; that is public mischief; because when the little children hear this kind of thing, it is like listening to some calypsonian who bought a song.
He does not know what he is singing and little children who do not know better— 233 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 because that is the way children learn—they internalize the rubbish and nonsense as if, in fact, it is true and, in the same way, I am asserting, clearly, that it is public mischief to get up here to lead the minds of innocent people to believe that the way to deal with corruption is to have a good Prime Minister. It does not work that way and I am going to quote a bit of Shakespeare because I like Shakespeare.
People have corrupted and undermined the education system. Mr. Speaker, most people who are alive now and are less than 40 years, who did not go to school in my or your day, cannot read Shakespeare, they do not understand it. I used to read Shakespeare in primary school because it was in the textbook, so that the methodology that the gentleman is pointing our minds to is captured by this
Shakespearean. I think this is from Measure for Measure: