Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 17th 2014 Contents B5
Thursday, April 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Broadcaster Jai Parasram s contribution
to the political records of T&T---Far from
the Mountain---is an unapologetically sym-
pathetic chronicle of the travels and travails
of the United National Congress (UNC),
both in and out of power between 1981,
when it subsisted as the United Labour
Front (ULF), and in 2010 as part of the
victorious People s Partnership (PP) coali-
Ajay Parasram s introduction to the 442-
page volume concedes "this collection of
editorial commentaries does not lay claim
to being an objective account of history..."
It is recommended that the rest of the
introduction, curiously entitled, The long
road to de-colonisation: Understanding our
political present, be promptly ignored. Skip
quickly to Section One.
There you would find little to suggest that
Parasram (Jai) is keen on the journalistic
compulsion to pursue a variety of leads and
perspectives regarding the developments that
took the UNC into and out of office and
then back again as the dominant party within
the PP coalition.
Neither are there the investigative instincts
of the historian interested in verifiable, deter-
ministic features of recorded events.
In fact, much of it is rather casual insider
insight complete with the drama and emotion
of developments that led to personal hurt,
anger, satisfaction and elation.
The book comprises the hopeful accounts
of the challenges and achievements of a
political organisation that began a journey
in single-minded pursuit of political office,
culminating in the PP victory of May 24,
2010, described by Parasram as "the day the
nation of T&T took charge of its destiny and
proclaimed with a single voice, We are one
It can however be valuable as part of a
more wholesome excursion into the political
headlines of the period 2007-2010.
It is not useful as a tool to assess the
strengths and weaknesses of either the 1981
experiment with the National Alliance of
Trinidad and Tobago (NATT), in which the
ULF was a leading member, or the devel-
opments leading to the 1986 launch and
subsequent dismantling of the National
Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR).
It also does not offer a useful pathway to
unraveling the difficulties of the NAR admin-
istration beyond the author s assertion that
"(Basdeo) Panday handed the leadership of
the NAR to Robinson, but that failed because
the opposition became a single party with
no room for dissent and discussion among
its different components."
Later on, when the question of the Move-
ment for Social Justice s (MSJ) tumultuous
relations within the PP arises, the author
declares MSJ leader, David Abdulah a victim
of "dissociative identity disorder (DID) and
pretty much open to sanction by UNC/PP
leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar" (referred to
throughout the book as Kamla) who "has
been nice so far but...can also be brutal and
surgical in dealing with cancers that threaten
to hurt the body politic."
This collection of columns and other rem-
iniscences can be heavy going at times and
newcomers to the T&T political scene may
have to sit near a computer bookmarked at
Google, but its pleasant prose and readability
demonstrate the author s credentials as a
seasoned public communicator.
Eight well-arranged sections read like a
series of political tracts, rendered as "notes
and commentaries" by the editors. Historian
Gerard Besson is much more charitable in
the publisher s note.
"Jai, ever the master storyteller, weaves
facts of the past that are easily forgotten in
the urgency of the present into an overall
narrative that makes them memorable and
logical," Besson writes. "And the savvy polit-
ical strategist also shimmers through these
"Jai takes position and does not spare with
ammunition, so reader, be ready for numer-
ous volleys," he adds.
The foreword written by Dr Hamid Ghany
describes the author as "a patriot" who has
"reported and analysed the news."
"But there is a side to his amazing life
that has not recorded the extent to which
he has, in fact, helped make the news," Dr
Ghany says. Readers of Far from the Moun-
tain would be minded to await such a pub-
In the meantime, have a read of this book.
It s an uphill task at times, but worth the
effort if you take it for what it is.
Far from the Mountain---an uphill task
The cover of Jai Parasram's book, Far from
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