Riding a wave of discontent

By Raffique Shah
December 06, 2017

Raffique ShahMany people, among them the anointed political pundits, seem to think that the widespread discontent among large sections of the population over what they see as lame governance by the Keith Rowley-led administration, and a depressed economy that shows no sign of recovery, could erupt into a violent political upheaval such as this country has experienced on several occasions in its pre- and post-colonial history.

In fact, I sense that many politicians are hoping for an eruption that would force the Government out of office by one means or other, thus creating a vacuum that would be filled by those who appear to be best organised at the critical point in time.

As someone who was involved in the revolution of 1970, let me sound a warning to those who hope to capitalise on what they perceive to be political chaos: the groups that are best poised to exploit the anarchy that could come from a total breakdown of governance are the criminal gangs, They are heavily armed, very dangerous, and have no compunction about killing anyone who stands in their way. They have so embedded themselves in communities throughout the country that strategically they can out-manoeuvre the forces of law and order.

That is the perilous prospect I see staring us in the face. This is not 1937, when an oil workers’ strike led by Uriah Butler quickly grew into a national strike out of which most of the working class benefitted from improved wages and better working and living conditions. This is not 1970, when the masses demanded a redefinition of their identities and the real fruits of independence, not the neocolonial order that had seamlessly slipped into place after August 1962.

In those two revolutions, the leaders rallied the masses to fight for the greater good of the country, for their betterment as a class. Yes, there was violence in both instances. But it was contained by responsible leadership, minimising the blood that flowed and the destruction of property.

Any eruption that takes place in the current scenario will be driven by the lowest common denominator—greed: greed for material things, greed for self-enrichment, greed for power. In this animal-farm-scenario, the strongest, meaning the best-armed and boldest, will not merely survive. They will prosper from their ill-gotten gains or spoils of war. They will beat into submission the masses who thought they were involved in a real revolution. And they will liquidate the politicians who believed they could dismount and tame the tiger, once the dust settled.

That is what I see looming large on the horizon if those who wield power fail the people who put them there, and if those who lust after power pursue their greed by any means necessary.

I therefore warn the Government to get off its lazy backside and do what it was elected to do—govern the country properly. And to the disparate opposition forces that fan the fires of discontent in the hope of benefitting from the resulting chaos, I urge them to stop playing the ox.

Too much is at stake. The incumbent Government is moving in slow motion if it’s moving at all: two years and counting and they still have not rectified the Tobago ferry service—come on, man. Little is happening with the economy, crime is the only growth sector, if I may so dub it, looting the Treasury is more rewarding than Play Whe, productivity has plunged to new depths…need I list our litany of sins?

At the same time, by global standards, this country has not done badly. We have more than adequate schools and educational facilities and opportunities, enough hospital beds and health care institutions, as well as medical professionals. As grim as our finances are, we have healthy foreign reserves and savings. But for WASA’s wastage and inadequacies, our production of potable water ranks right up there. Power generation and distribution are so good, we take them for granted. Our roads are reasonably good. Hardly anyone starves, except a few, and those mostly because of poor personal choices.

In other words, we have good fundamentals in just about every facet of a functioning country, although we have messed up big time in some key components. Sure, we need to fix these shortcomings, get our act together, and here I refer to both the governed and the Government.

What we definitely do not need is a social explosion engineered by greedy elements, executed by criminals riding a wave of discontent that would extract us from the frying pan of incompetent governance and dump us into the fire of total disorder, a hellish Dante’s inferno, at which point we must abandon hope.

We can still save this blessed-cussed country, pull back from the point of no return. But that will require of us, all of us, every creed, every race, every political persuasion, a level of maturity that is alien to us, a depth of patriotism that penetrates the soul, such that we say from our hearts: this is my own, my native land…

Can we rise to the occasion, set aside the prejudices that divide us, summon the pride that should unite us, and rescue our country from a fate worse than a failed state?

You tell me.

23 thoughts on “Riding a wave of discontent”

  1. What a difference a week makes, the responses from your previous blog, really brought out the beast mode of some Trinidadians, some like your self, were all for bringing out the big Guns, and eradicating all and sundry, you are some what back down to earth, speaking to the consciousness of a clear thinking populace. You are totally correct, the fundamentals for Nation building, have been in place from the dawn of this countries foundation, Human resources and aptitude, the real engine in moving the country forward, is what that have been truly lacking. Politics in Trinidad, is like a FETE MATCH, every body come in to eat and drink, there have never been any opposition party, acting as a shadow gov’t, that have hit the ground running, square pegs are put into round holes, when the Gov’t should be in place and functioning, the ineptness of ministerial personals, causes embarrassments for both Gov’t and the country at large. Crime will never go away, but it can be minimized, Stake holders in any gov’t, and that includes the the populace, must be vigilant and not condescending, working for all regardless of Ethnicity. In any Gov’t of Trinidad, the voice of the working class must be effective, at the end of the day, Gov’t are only the managers, the Workers are the ones who really produces the wealth, when a young Man/Woman have a satisfying job to report to daily, a new contributing Citizen is born, and crime will continue to be minimized, emphasis is given to education, in terms of schooling, but enough is not being done, in terms of true development post secondary. Never will there be a social uprising of national magnitude in this BLESSED-CUSSED country, the make up does not reflect it, but as you rightly said Brother Shah, certain elements, can create havoc among the mis-educated, and then that is always minimal. The Ancients told us that a Woman is fully grown at 36yrs, a Man at 45yrs, if that is the case, Trinidad is 10yrs+ since attaining Manhood, a very young Man, still learning, but the right learnings must be cultivated. The Wisdom teachings of the African, Indian, Arabs, Chinese, is what is needed in Trinidad as we speak, everyone, should and must be a stake holder, starting in the NOW. Why not enact laws making Trinidad a SECULAR Country? devision , would really be minimal.

  2. The underlying motivations behind the historic uprisings and the depressed social climate now are driven by the same perpetuated impoverishment of underprivileged and depressed groups within society.

    The Black Power revolution of the 1970’s and the 1937 Oil workers’ strike led by Uriah Butler, emerged out of the socio-political endemic that disadvantaged the working-class groups within society as well as a result of a failed state and poor governance. These uprisings had its antecedents in the hopes of what real independence would look like, i.e. better opportunities for employment, better wages, better working and living conditions. Many years later a call for a better quality of life still echoes from the annals of history.

    “In those two revolutions, the leaders rallied the masses to fight for the greater good of the country, for their betterment as a class. Yes, there was violence in both instances. But, it was contained by responsible leadership, minimising the blood that flowed and the destruction of property.”

    This is important to note. Many of the leaders who spearheaded left wing uprisings belonged to or were the progenitors of socio political organizations, who sought the interest of the masses. Informed people who distinguished themselves in leadership positions dedicated their life to the liberation, empowerment and advancement of the working class and peasantry. Absent today, is the act of any real mobilization taking place among these groups. Most people are not utilising empowering tools that can assist them in the process of developing a sense of agency and self-confidence while acting individually and collectively to change the institutions that continue to exclude them.

    1. Typical text book response by Rae; it ignores the fact that we are all endowed with free will regardless of our circumstances and we exercise that free will when we decide to commit or not commit a crime?

      The argument that poverty causes crime has long lost currency because it is defamatory of poor people and is simply not true; it assumes that poor people are crooks and rich people are not. We know that that is not so, that there are as many poor criminals as there are rich ones.

      Reducing poverty will do just that, reduce poverty, just like improving one’s living conditions will make the person more comfortable; it won’t change the criminal mindset or suppress criminal inclinations.

      Why do sociologists perpetuate the myth that alleviating poverty will curb criminality.

      Criminologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran, chairman of the Manpower Audit committee into the TT Police said, < a href="http://newsday.co.tt/2017/12/08/deosaran-police-tipping-off-crooks/“ young men must take personal responsibility in their lives, and not turn to crime by blaming poverty or a lack of motherly love”

      What does being poor have to do with parents inculcating good moral and spiritual values in their young, teaching them right from wrong, simple things like lying is wrong, stealing is wrong, hurting people and animals is wrong?

      What does poverty have to do with instilling discipline, building character, teaching responsibility and the need to take responsibility for ones actions, that education, hard work and sacrifice are the keys to success?

      I came from impecunious circumstances. Ketch my ass from young. At age 12, I started delivering newspapers door to door, waking up at 4 every morning so as to finish in time to go to school in POS. During the week I earned one cent on every newspaper I delivered and on Sundays a cent and a half. That money helped my parents send me to school. I never thought of stealing in spite of my ketch ass as I knew my parents would have kicked my tail out of their house, young as I was.

      I deliverd newspapers right through my college days and even after when I pursued higher education. I remember having to put up with the “bad boys” who would steal the newspapers after I had put them in my customer’s mailboxes and go and sell them on the street. As a result, when I went to collect on a weekend the customers would tell me that they did not get their newspapers every day and they would not pay me the full amount. I had to sustain those losses from my meager remuneration because of the dishonesty and thievery of others. I was just as poor as them.

      Other times, those same “bad boys” would wait until I finished my collection rounds and take all my money from me. That showed the difference between me and them, between their parents and mine, all of us poor. But I lived to get the satisfaction of seeing most of them lying down in drains, blood oozing from their bullet riddled bodies and their parents wailing, “OH GOD. HE WAS A GOOD CHILE. HE USED TO MINE ME WELL. HE DIDN’T DESERVE TO DIE LIKE THAT”.

      Others are in jail, and still others are out there with their children still robbing people.

      My pointy is that the same Society and the same conditions that bred them bred me as well but I am successful today, and they are out there burning tires, scattering debris, shooting up the place while sociologists blame Society and people like me for “the plight of the poor, the disadvantaged and the dispossessed”.

        1. The Prof Deosaran , is correct. Its funny when we speak about the state of affair in T&T. Some folks make so many excuses. BUT, We Dont have WARS—LARGE FLOODS–{HURRICANES}—{EARTHQUAKES}—{VOLCANOES ERUPTIONS}.–TRIBAL {FISCAL FIGHTING}—{REAL POVERTY}—–{STARVATION}. LOTS OF MOTHERLY LOVE} Maybe Too much.} Loving them to Death} Maybe the thing that is missing is ——DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE. DISCIPLINE. accountability, enforcement. tHERE IS EVERYTHING ELSE. So.———————-??????

      1. Nowhere in my response did I excuse criminal behavior. Indeed people have a choice and free will to do “good” but it is equally important to hold systems of injustice and discrimination accountable.

        You have missed my entire point wallowing in your pity party. My response was in reference to the distinction made by Raffique on the two historical uprisings and present time. I explicitly emphasized that the inequalities that triggered these uprisings in the 30’s and 70’s, very much remained the same to this date. However, the difference as clearly pointed out, is the lack of essential empowering tools that would have been present back then, which would have assisted in containing the violence by the masses to an extent!

        I honestly do not know where you are trying to go with that very faulty and weak deduction of the poverty argument. Of course not all poor people are criminals. Yes, there exist exceptions, where many would have “worked extremely hard” to escape the poverty cycle. Whilst the “success” stories as you pointed out, of a few are somewhat supposedly inspirational, all circumstances are not the same and cannot be masked as the general reality. Assuredly this text book response has more weight than that “live good do good utopia” you are trying to sell me. Probably if we had more productive solutions as opposed to the violent ones you put forward we can progress a little in this country.

        And I thought d criminals was backward!!! Give me d ease up.

  3. Part of being a columnist or commentator is to appease or agitate. Raff’s contribution in last week’s “A Time To Kill” where he appears to be ready to ‘use his guns to defend’ as a remedy towards the rampant and national disgust with crime, was met with a lot of skepticism and caution by some, while others were in full support for ridding ourselves of the ‘less desired’ among us. This week’s ‘Riding a Wave of Discontent’ is a more sober and altruistic view of the real problems as they affect us ALL.

    Anyone who seek to gain power or leadership, fanning the discontent of the masses, without offering a competing solution cannot be considered a healer but an upholder. Crime has become an issue where one party seems to be saying that it is trying their best to contain it, while the other (without any discernible means to abate it), is always hoping the issue will catapult them into power. This issues that fan the hopelessness in this country, is not of the making of this government, but the economic realities that force us to use austerity as a measure to contain the economy. There is no magic wand to contain crime.
    It is an issue that MUST be approached from all angles, if it to be successful. From white collar crime to crime of the person, there are some commonalities that allow both to exist to the detriment of law abiding citizens.

    A troubling example of white collar vs blue collar crime, is the case of naming the evidence found at the scene of the crime as a ‘plant like substance’, found at the house of the ex Prime Minister and when found on the ordinary man in the street it is usually named marijuana. The same crime but one is considered ‘white collar’ whilst the other is feloniously described. On one hand it appears harmless because it is found in the home of the Prime Minister and harmful because it is committed by a man in the street. We cannot allow those who milk the Treasury to get away with stealing the tax payers money, while we complain that the shop keeper is over charging us by pennies. Crime is crime, whatever the circumstances or results and should be treated as crime.

    1. “Crime is crime, whatever the circumstances or results and should be treated as crime”

      Should we treat Vicky Boodram the same way as Natasha De Leon who together with here accomplice was convicted for murdering two taxi drivers by slitting their throats to get money to buy sneakers to attend a Dance Hall concert? One of the victims swam out to sea to escape them. They waited on the shore for two hours and pounced on him when he came out of the water.

      BTW, Natasha De Leon is singing calypsos today in the Women’s Prison at Golden Grove, courtesy the Pratt and Morgan ruling.

      1. First of all Fedup, I want to compliment you on such an ostentatious entry into this forum of ideas (and sometimes folly). Your comments took me back to a time, when we lived in simplicity and honesty of purpose and desires. But that time is no more and it is replaced by want, greed and materiality. But before going further, let me explain further what is meant by the statement “crime is crime”. Crime is like a menu list, each type and occurrence should be subject to punishments as laid out in the ordinance governing its severity. In the example you quoted, they are both serious and felonious but one is worse than the other. The taking of life MUST be treated as an egregious act where the punishment is most severe because life taken away CANNOT be replaced. The swindling of other people’s money and property is also egregious because it is both uncivil and felonious. There are crimes where the perpetrators can and sometimes
        do rehabilitate themselves and there are those who deserve care, attention and remedy. My point is, that we must be prepared to arrest every crime, dish out the appropriate punishment and where needed seek and provide the necessary remedy, before re-entry into public life.

        Too often, when the word crime is mentioned only one set of ideas come to mind – murder, breakins, assault and battery. White collar crime that many times result in the taking of tax payers hard earned money and put into private use, is hardly thought about as ‘criminal’. That is most unfortunate. The Treasury’s money is to provide services to ALL AND SUNDRY, so why should the key to the vault be given for just a few privileged ones to use as their private purse? No crime should go unpunished and every accommodation should be made to arrest and deal with the perpetrators accordingly.

        1. I am not saying that white collar criminals should not feel the full brunt of the law and be made to pay for their crimes.

          So too, other criminals, particularly violent criminals must also feel the full brunt of the law and they too must be made to pay for their crimes.

          But whenever violent crimes are committed by a certain group in this country, no matter how heinous, the flood gates of sympathy open and apologists by the dozens crawl out of the woodwork to explain why those crimes must be understood, Boo Hoo Hoo, and the perpetrators not punished before Society, that is us, We, the people, fix the reasons why those violent crimes are committed, and in that regard we are entertained to a set of irrelevant, obfuscating tra-la-la and a round the world tour about the Slave trade.

          Where is all that sympathizing and empathizing apologists claptrap when a white collar criminal commits his white collar crime? Or even when a middle or upper class person commits a violent crime.

          My view is that all of these apologists/sociologists/faeceologists should be tarred, feathered and run out of town for their liberalist dotishness

  4. When the bread is shed ‘assumedly’ equally then all is content despite the parasitic oligarchy getting the lion share. When the size of the bread shrinks discontent then arises.

    Okay, impoverishment that exists within society and there is just cause to react from the working class towards the oppressive conglomerates and government; then analogous revolutions such as 1937 and 1970 can be justifiable. However just as the police moved in to the Jamaat Muslimeen compounds in 1988 and made arrests based on a number of charges this provoked Yasin Abu Bakr in his attempted coup in 1990. Was this justifiable? Can an analogy be then drawn as to the police moving into the Beetham to quell disorder?

    Butler, Weekes, Rienzi, Panday et al. names have been entered into the history books as to their achievements in seeking the interests of the working class principally in the oil and sugar industries in Trinidad.

    Some comments identifying sobering thoughts this week compared to last week’s article shows how time is a healer when Raff and Abu Bakr have mellowed as of 1970 and 1990 respectively.

    Everyone, I hope; loves peace and it was sobering for me to see Cooper commenting on ‘Human resources and aptitude, the real engine in moving the country forward’ of which I firmly agree, when both of us some months ago were at loggerheads as to how can one put country and institutions first without having the right educated individuals in place firstly (re- Hilary Beckles article).

  5. Well, pretty sure Uriah Butler and Co. were viewed as ‘Rabble-Rousers’ by columnist, newspapers etc. in his time. I have heard the tapes on the burning of Charlie King and it brought shivers to my body.
    The question is… Are we to sit back and watch T&T being ‘Captured’ by these ‘Cartels’ and do nothing?

    WIKI says:
    State capture is a type of systemic political corruption in which private interests significantly influence a state’s decision-making processes to their own advantage.



  6. SHAH:
    “Many people, among them the anointed political pundits, seem to think that the widespread discontent among large sections of the population over what they see as lame governance by the Keith Rowley-led administration, and a depressed economy that shows no sign of recovery, could erupt into a violent political upheaval such as this country has experienced on several occasions in its pre- and post-colonial history”.

    Any violent upheaval today in Trinidad and Tobago would be more social than political because its chances of achieving regime change would be virtually nil. Both the TTDF and The TTPS are solidly behind the PNM Government and traditionally have been so. The failed LaSalle/Shah mutiny of 1970 of which Shah still seems very proud was a shameful aberration that is not likely to find favour today or be replicated by the patriotic men and women of our Defense Force.

    The discontent, however, is not as widespread as Shah suggests, and even if it were, our middle class is not likely to participate in any popular uprising. The violence that is likely to erupt would be coming almost entirely from that particular demographic that suffers from the ‘Gimme Gimme, State Dependency Syndrome’. I have no doubt that our loyal armed forces will suppress and extringuish any eruption of violence that threatens the security of the State.

    “I therefore warn the Government to get off its lazy backside and do what it was elected to do—govern the country properly. The incumbent Government is moving in slow motion if it’s moving at all”

    While criminals are in motion “the Government is in slow motion” as Shah says. And while criminals are in full flight, the forces of Law and Order are laid back and reactive.

    Trinidad and Tobago suffers from a dearth of progressive leadership across the political spectrum and our democratic institutions today, as it did in 1962, and it makes one really wonder whether the nationalist aspirations of the 50s and 60s matched the leadership qualities of the aspirants and their ability to move the country forward.

    Together we hoped to aspire, together we hoped to achieve, but after 55 years, the chasm is widening between what we aspired to and what we have achieved. Based on the sorry state of the country today I wonder whether failure is what we aspired to because that is precisely what we have achieved in virtually every sphere of national development.

    Say what you will, but I am certain that under Crown Colony rule, the justice system would not be suffering from the lethargy that ours is, that our judges would be of a better caliber, that justice would be dispensed in a timely manner and the system would not be self defeating and undermining itself by itself contributing to the breakdown of law and order.

    I am quite certain also that we would have had a more professional and efficient Police Force with a substantive Commissioner vigourously imposing and upholding Law and Order, that would be the Nemesis of criminals, bringing them to justice, not part and parcel of the very criminal network it is sworn to fight and protect us from.

    Former Police Commissioners Jimmy Reid and Claude “Tony” May must be turning in their graves over what the TTPS has degenerated into since their departures.

    Under Crown Colony rule the havoc being wreaked by criminals today and the general lawlessness that pervades the society would not have been tolerated and Society would not be under siege, discontent or no discontent. The Governor General would have no qualms about dealing with rioters and violent criminals they way they ought to be dealt with.

    The Legislative Council would be a serious body, not the circus that our Parliament is.

    Again, I ask, what really did we aspire to in 1962 and what really have we achieved?

    The discontent that Shah refers to would probably have existed albeit for different reasons but the level of criminality that exists today, fueled by expectations and demands of entitlement, justified or unjustified, would not have been allowed to hold the entire country to ransom.

  7. There is a tendency by some people to deflect, rationalize and diminish criminality by the masses by focusing deliberately on White collar crime. These bloggers seem to find comfort in the occurrence in crimes committed by the more privileged class.
    Crime of any kind is not acceptable or easily rationalized.
    T&T has a long tolerated history of corruption and criminality since Independence. The Father of the nation, Eric Williams himself fiddled and closed his eyes when some of his Cabinet ministers began to siphon government funds to local and foreign bank accounts. The evidence of this still stands today as real estate ventures in many North American cities.The culture of corruption was legitimized by the PNM and nurtured by our first PM who “pretended” not to know. When we talk about corruption and criminality today we cannot ignore how these activities were fostered and tacitly ignored by our “founding fathers”.
    The PNM and the Police also knowingly courted criminals by accepting the concept of “community leaders” who acted as liaison agents between the government and the criminals.This was all done over a long period of time to placate their voters.Many focus on the recent short reign of the PP to highlight examples of corruption. The present AG is obsessed with discovering and prosecuting former PP ministers, often falsely and at great expense. He should be applauded for his efforts but advised to contain his enthusiasm and ensure that his evidence and motive is based on justice not politics.
    He should also be reminded that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. It was not too long ago that his PM was implicated in Tobago’s “gravelgate”and “cleared” by an Integrity Commission without any integrity.
    The PNM has dominated the governing and politics of T&T for over 45 years. There are examples of corruption beginning in those early years of Independence. They conceived, fostered and watched the growth of the culture of corruption and its street level criminality as the nation grew up.They did nothing. We now have a failed nation. What did they expect?

    1. TMan:”The present AG is obsessed with discovering and prosecuting former PP ministers, often falsely and at great expense. He should be applauded for his efforts but advised to contain his enthusiasm and ensure that his evidence and motive is based on justice not politics.”

      Come TMan… Lawsuits for CRIMINAL offenses (Defrauding the State is a CRIMINAL offense). We read the play, Buddy.
      It’s all a game they are playing and it leads one to think that THE STATE HAS BEEN CAPTURED and that BOTH PARTIES ARE IN COLLISION.

      How the hell you are coming to tell the public that
      Kallco and Co. are bad news… But yet… Anyway, Read for yourself.

      *Kallco gets $400m highway contract

      Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday he hoped the decision to award a $400 million dollar contract to contractor Kallco to construct the first segment of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway extension to Manzanilla will motivate other local contractors to bid for State projects.
      Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony, at Cumuto, Rowley said Kallco submitted the lowest bid for the project and he believed that the company had the necessary equipment and experience to complete the job on time and with no cost overruns.
      Kallco is one of the local contractors which had been criticised by the then People’s National Movement as being favoured by the former People’s Partnership administration.*


      1. Wow, what a performance. Dr. Rowley talking about suing (for a statement made under parliamentary privilege?).
        They are spinning so much to make we giddy, Ent we doltish? I guess they have had enough and are ready to destroy the PNM.

        *Roodal withdraws scandalous claim against Rowley
        Khamal Georges
        Saturday, December 16, 2017

        Earlier in his contribution, he told the House of Representatives that he recently visited Florida to “conduct research” and would later reveal his findings.
        “I pray what I am reading here is not right,” he asserted as he prepared to reveal his findings.
        Moonilal read from an email after he said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi “invited” him to read the contents of the documents in his possession.
        But soon after reading the contents of the email, which triggered shocked expressions by Opposition members, Al-Rawi interrupted on a standing order.
        “What is falling from the Honourable Member is nothing short of a direct indictment,” Al-Rawi said, adding, Moonilal must “take direct ownership of his statements.”*

        Sorry…. I mistyped… COLLUSION was the word

    2. TMan,

      you are raising the same points that TnT Monitor did for which he was roundly criticized by you and others and eventually banned from this Blog.

      Now you are saying practically the same thing. Compare what you have written above to what TnT Monitor said on November 11, 2017 at 3:49 am

      “The PNM has ruled Trinidad and Tobago for 46 of the last 60 years and is therefore held to a higher standard. The PNM is more than just a political party, it has become an institution and a way of life. No other political party has stayed the course long enough to have molded the national psyche the way the PNM did.

      The very corruption and white collar crime that you speak of today have their roots in the Eric Williams era. The PNM under Williams wrote the book on corruption and white collar crime; remember the Lock Joint, DC9, Gas Stations, Tesoro, Caura Dam and other scandals that Eric Williams turned a blind eye, if not a deaf ear to? The UNC merely fine tuned PNM’s crude and primitive corruption to an exact science.

      The marijuana and cocaine trade that you speak of, the illegal trafficking of arms, ammunition and prostitutes began, flourished and became entrenched under the PNM, not the UNC.

      Gangland activity and the kidnapping industry also started and flourished under the PNM, not the UNC.

      For 15 of the 19 years between 1991 to 2010 the PNM led by Patrick Manning, strongly supported by Rowley, presided over a worsening crime situation and did absolutely nothing to contain or eradicate it. In fact, they nurtured and encouraged crime by funding criminals through lucrative State contracts, involving them in the administration and execution of official State funded programmes”.

      The PNM has been a festering sore on the Nation’s backside for the past forty years but whether through fear of being criticized or otherwise vilified, or maybe even because of their own personal views and the desire to be circumspect and always politically correct in the expression of those views, people like you, Cooper, are loath to acknowledge, far less discuss, the ethnic reality of crime in the country and to place it in the context of PNM institutionalism and its cancerous impact on Society.

      Because of that reluctance, the PNM cancer has remained untreated, bringing us to where we are today on the brink of a social catastrophe with an ethnic dimension that could turn Trinidad and Tobago into a Caribbean Rwanda”.

      Your comment “The present AG is obsessed with discovering and prosecuting former PP ministers, often falsely and at great expense. He should be applauded for his efforts but advised to contain his enthusiasm and ensure that his evidence and motive is based on justice not politics” conveniently overlooks the billion dollars spent by the PP government to frivolously sue former PNM state board members. But that was no witch hunt, it was not based on justice or even politics. It was based purely on greed and dishonesty to enrich certain attorneys by literally fabricating claims out of nothing.

      I see the courts have now started to order repayment of fees paid out on some of those legal briefs.

  8. The so-called discontent that is widespread in the country can be described as an aberration. The elements of it can be attributed to odious causes that fuel the uncertainty and stagnation being experienced and have purposely been orchestrated by actors who see it as a means to elevate themselves. I know and appreciate that ‘crime’ is often been pushed as the biggest evil facing the nation. To say otherwise would be foolish and unwise because it is really the biggest stand alone item of discontentment.

    Let us for one moment agree that there cannot be a storm without wind. Similarly, discontent is the absence of expectations generated from a series of constitutional disabilities. The inability of the Police Service to function, the lack of prudent judicial functionaries, the failure of our parliamentary system to produce workable solutions, a correctional system that fails to correct recidivism, a healthcare system lacking in guidance,
    a school system that fails to educate, lack of discipline, tolerant only of the undeserved impotence of all governing institutional bodies, no respect for law, no respect for governance, no respect for the elderly, no respect for process, and worst of all everything is viewed from an ethnic perspective.
    Crimes becomes a natural outcome from such divisiveness and lack of national pride. If we are to deal with crime as an issue, we cannot separate it from the behavior of ALL. Not just the people in Beetham or the people in Morvant or the people in Laventille. We must examine it from how we view ourselves, how we view our neighbors and how the privileged view themselves from the rest of the population.

    The people in the disadvantaged communities behave the way society deals with them. If they are viewed as the garbage of the community, then their behavior reflects that image of them.
    If government does not cater to their needs, then that would be reflected in their emotions also. Government has to be proactive in developing social contracts with its communities.
    It is true that we are not all the same, but it should not follow true that our goals should not be devised to reflect our commitment to building a better society.

    The political divide is based solely on RACE,class and economic power. Take for example, the recent bill targeting gang related crimes. If the Opposition rally wanted to support crime fighting measures, why did they not support it? The only natural reason for that is that they want the government initiatives to fail, so they can be seen as an an alternative. But they themselves have NEVER proposed any plan to reduce and combat crime. That is politics by default and not one geared to uplifting all of humanity. This in a nutshell is what is driving discontent. When we look beyond the horizon, the alternative to what we have is NOT bright or futuristic, it is dead EVIL. So, why shouldn’t there be discontent?

    1. “The people in the disadvantaged communities behave the way society deals with them. If they are viewed as the garbage of the community, then their behavior reflects that image of them”.

      Flawed logic.

      A more natural reaction to Society’s disparaging view of a particular community would be to demonstrate through behaviour that Society is wrong in its judgment. The disparaging view is based on the group’s behaviour.

      Are you saying that the group behaves badly to prove that Society’s condemnation of them is justified?

      1. There is always a tendency when interpreting remarks made by others on social matters, that people consider contrary to their own liking, to be deemed flawed. You are in no authoritative command of the facts to consider my logic ‘flawed’.

        Being a product of one of these communities, I can say with some degree of authenticity, that respect was not one of the factors used to provide us with the necessary services that were generally given to others. Society (used in a broad sense) stigmatize communities based purely on the notoriety of its most undesirable residents. That identity becomes the passport accorded to anyone coming from that community. In the case of Beetham, never mind that the majority of people might be law abiding, but its identity is determined by lawlessness and disorderly conduct of a few. I am sure there are issues in these communities that the residents alone cannot solve. Those are the type of issues that are generally solved by municipal ordinances. When the municipality fails to deliver, social problems soar, which results in antisocial behavior. That was one of the constructs I considered in laying part of the blame on society.

        Part of the problem with people today is that everybody want believe that there are easy answers to everything they view as being wrong. We did not consider Nelson Mandela a terrorist because the authorities who controlled his life deemed him as such. His voice was the echo of those who were the victims of a system that classified them as not being on par with a citizenry that classified people based on their economic dependency (or lack of).

        Shah’s rebellion was the symptom of some things gone wrong within the construct of the TTDF, colluding with general societal norms that suffocated a large portion of the society. But his rebellious behavior made him an outcast.
        He had to earn his way back into the folds of civilized society. There are no absolutes or naming conventions when determinations are made about a people, a class or a community. We name things the way we are mostly informed of them. I have no qualms about Professor Deosaran’s assertion that “young men must take personal responsibility in their lives, and not turn to crime by blaming poverty or a lack of motherly love”. As a matter of fact, I think that principle applies to not just young males but to all and sundry. One of the world’s most renowned brain neuro-surgeon in the person of Dr. Ben Carson (Secretary of HUD in the Trump Administration), came from such a neighborhood. At a moment in his life he could have gone either way – a scholar or a scoundrel.
        It gives me the peeve when people use absolute terms like ‘flawed logic’ when they disagree on a particular matter.
        It is my hope that we are not allowing our conversations to become the “shoot to kill” kind of scenario.

  9. The discord being felt within the national community will not lead to an armed or any other uprising; that’s just the wet dream of the power hungry. There is no shared cause or unifying identifier that any group in Trinidad and Tobago can get behind or is committed to, at least not enough to follow through on with regards to sacrifice and potential negative or uncomfortable outcomes. Those that would benefit from an overthrow will not overthrow because they are vested in protecting the status quo and don’t want to be overthrown themselves. This article is a little suspicious even, as if to plant a seed while pretending concern for the fruit. I would even offer that it is an extension of “A Time to Kill”, just a different approach.

    The discontent being experienced within the national community isn’t due to the constriction of the economy, even though that is the catalyst that makes the middle class sit up and take notice. Their ability to buy and securely enjoy those excesses are being eroded, not to mention some of the “blighs” they got have the potential to be closed off to their children. The discontent is linked to a lack of understanding of what it means to be a citizen and the glaring hypocrisy by those that profess to be and know better when it comes to sacrifice. This lack of understanding is a cultivated state of being by the political and academic class because it allowed them to easily manipulate those same people they are currently having a problem with. The glorification of the colonials and the period when they oversaw our governance is laughable simply because the systems of inequalities to ensure the untouchability of hegemons, are the fruits we are currently bitterly eating. These systems have made it that certain offices within this society are untouchable or the process to touch them is laborious and costly, ensuring that corrupted office holders have enough leeway to push and punish those that question or raise any objection to them, all the while empowering likeminded individuals. How then would a system that took centuries to create be changed in two years? The analysis and investigations take much longer!! I always ask those who accuse the current administration of weak leadership, “what would strong leadership look like in the current climate?” and I am genuinely interested in their response. However, I haven’t gotten one to date.

    We bemoan the corruption in public office, lack of accountability for wrongdoings, raiding of the public purse, and the failure or compromise of pillar institutions almost hourly, but in turn, lay the blame at the feet of a political administration, as if they don’t comprise people that act and think like the wider society. When Brian Kuei Tung said he didn’t take a vow of poverty in one cabinet position and then was assigned another what did we think? Did we think that his mindset had changed? Did we think that he was an anomaly among his fellow ministers, then and now? What were the personal fallouts for this mindset that told others that it would not be tolerated? But we foam at the mouth and bring every conversation back to depressed communities being the reason we are in this state!! We demand that they be the beacon of morality and good citizenry but simply ignore the reality that EVERY GROUP engages in their own criminal, corrupt, self-serving, unpatriotic activity. Persons from depressed communities look at those that sit in judgment of them and laugh because surprisingly (to some) they have a greater insight into what truly ails us….HYPOCRISY.

    We demand that the poor and depressed shoulder the burden for a sluggish economy all the while demanding our salary increases, benefits and excesses that we believe we are entitled to by virtue of certification, birth and neighbourhood. Yet we insist that they should be grateful on subsistence living and mad when they demand the state bring up the rare for what isn’t a livable wage for many. I love the fact that we all cry out for change and for “someone” to do “something” but want no part of the discomfort and upheaval that real change would cause.

    Let’s being with what are the ROLES and RIGHTS of being a citizen, coupled with how much we are still reeling from unaddressed systems and mindsets set up during slavery, indentureship and colonialism. Let’s be honest with the fact that our devolution as a people is not unique to Trinidad and Tobago and that only during the “Hunter/Gather” stage of human existence were we at our human best. Let’s stop being swayed by emotional arguments that serve our ego and nothing else. Let’s be frank in that we must go back in order to truly go forward, and the effects of that may not be seen in the next couple years. For that to happen we have to be willing to make the hard choices and sacrifices now. If we are not, then we have no moral authority to look down, judge or exterminate those that are working with less.

Comments are closed.