BE SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE
PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday ordered her newly sworn-in Cabinet to always remember that “the people are the government” and that as Cabinet members they must be “the servants of the people.”In a twelve-minute address delivered moments after President George Maxwell-Richards swore- in the final members of the new 26-member Cabinet at Knowsley Building, Port-of-Spain, Persad-Bissessar gave a series of instructions to her coalition Government ministers.
“May I say to each of you that each day, you are expected to dedicate all of your energies towards ensuring that the people’s needs are being addressed,” she directed.
“All of us are held accountable to the people. Ours is a monumental task but it is one which is equally rewarding because there can be no greater call than that of national service.”
She reminded the new Cabinet that, “The people are the government. Please take these words and frame them on every desk of each of your ministries and recommit to them every single day of each month you are privileged to be in service to the nation,” she ordered.
“We must accept no mediocrity. Neither must we contribute to it in any way. There must be no room for arrogance. We must be faithful to a leadership style that is firm but humble, passionate and impatient for great achievements but ever conscious of the correct procedures.
“Lead by example. Follow by learning to listen. All of this is as much my mantra as it is your own. As of now, each of us is on trial. We begin to be tested as of this very moment. We carry a huge responsibility to get this nation back on track. So we must discover how to turn obstacles into opportunities, discover new ways of solving old problems. Inspire others by our enthusiasm and positive outlook.
“As members of the Cabinet of the People’s Partnership we are stewards of the nation’s future,” she noted. “My caution is never to become aloof, never lose sight of the true purpose of the position you hold. Stay grounded. Keep connected to the people. Earn their respect by the way you serve them.” Tellingly, Persad-Bissessar instructed ministers to leave politics at the door of their ministries.
“One of the hallmarks of our government must be that we serve every citizen with the same dedication regardless of their political affiliation. And we must never display any kind of party symbol during the conduct of our work as the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in or out of Parliament,” she said.
And in what was arguably a clear reference to previous administrations, she warned that, “Transparency and accountability must be evident in all government matters. We must be exemplars of the society, returning sound, traditional values of ethics and morals back into government. There is no room for personal egos, no time for personal agendas, and no opportunity for self glorification. This is not about us, it is about the people. And they have the power to dismiss us anytime.”
Persad-Bissessar’s comments came at the end of a swearing-in ceremony which began at 1.40 pm and which saw her unveil the final members of a Cabinet which included some fresh faces and arguably some surprises…