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Trinidad: Rowley, Faria and Facebook

The recent noisy contestation between TT Chamber CEO Gabriel Faria and Dr Keith Rowley exposes how the two-edged sword today’s communication technology can be.

This includes WhatsApp, Facebook, even e-mail accounts.

The conflict between Mr Faria and the PM raises serious issues, three being the relationship between business and politics, freedom of speech and the changed nature of mass media. Each one, like the right to privacy itself, fluctuates between limits.

The Faria-Rowley contest should be used as a lesson for shaping government-business relations even if the business organisation feels strong enough not only to withstand political pressure but help effect a change in government.

This has happened before, especially with election financing. A government depends on the private sector for its development programmes. And as well, large parts of the business sector depend on government for operating or developing business.

What political consequences the Faria-Rowley contestation will have remain to be seen or not seen. These are crossroad times, with Rowley biting the bullet and Kamla Persad-Bissessar courageously striving to correct her “past mistakes” by corruption-free candidate selection.

Using WhatsApp, Mr Faria expressed strong opinions about this county’s party politics. Questioning the “responsible and ethical behaviour of politicians,” he said they have “no interest in treating either the citizens or business with respect or fairly.” Their one interest is “to win the elections at all cost.”

His firecracker conclusion: “I am disgusted with the behaviour/disdain/apathy displayed by both parties,” meaning the PNM and UNC.

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