“Don’t Talk About It; Be About It!”

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 12, 2018

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeMy first impulse was to congratulate the government for voting to appoint Gary Griffith Commissioner of Police (CoP). Whatever Griffith’s weaknesses, his appointment promised to give the police force the stability it deserves and the country the space it needs to breathe easier; that is, until Stuart Young, “Ad-minister of everything but master of nothing,” was recycled into the Ministry of National Security.

Without even being confirmed, Griffith hit the airways telling the population what he would and would not do although prudence dictated that he meet with the leadership of the police force, learn from their experiences, and tell them of his plans to make the force a more efficient unit. After such discussions, he could have determined how best to attack the monster called crime.

Given the skepticism the rank and file of the Police Service felt about his appointment, Griffith should have first bonded with his officers before he engaged the public. It would have been better if he adopted the strategy of Deng Xiaoping, the former leader of China: “Hide your strengths and bide your time.” If he wanted to be more rootsy, he could have sided with the rappers who say: “Don’t talk about it; Be About it.”

It was not wise for Griffith to begin his tenure by reducing people who run afoul of the law to insects or animals and to interpret his mandate as “crushing the cockroaches.” Such a policy gives the police license to perpetrate heinous atrocities against those accused of violent crimes and violating our drug laws, as is the case in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte. Nowhere in Griffith’s discourse did he speak about the social causes of crime, a point about which Reggie Dumas reminded him.

Just as I was about to celebrate Griffith’s appointment guardedly Young was selected as the Minister of National Security, thereby making him Griffith’s boss, a frightful combination if ever there was one. Then I thought of the Peter Principle that suggests that in most organized hierarchies, an employee will be promoted until s/he reaches the level of his/her incompetence.

How can one man be so blessed? An Express editorial, without any trace of irony, announced that Young is emerging as “the PM man for all seasons and all reasons. In three years, Young has been shuffled into ever-expanding cabinet responsibility, from Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs to Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Minister of Communications, and now Minister of National Security.”

Did the Express look at the “Portfolio Responsibility” of the Minister of National Security as contained in Gazette No. 125 of 2015? It consists of over 40 specific responsibilities. Just to name a few of them: Airspace and Territorial Waters, Cadet Force, Citizenship, Defence Force (Regiment, Coast Guard, Air Guard and Defense Force Reserves), Drug Enforcement/Interdiction, Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering, Global Security Issues, Immigration, Intelligence, Internal Security and Public Order Safety and Law Enforcement.

Young is also negotiating the Sandals Hotel deal which promises to be a major rip-off of the country’s resources.

Where will he find the time to oversee all these things?

Gary Aboud of the Downtown Owners and Merchant Association informs us that Young is the best man for the job. He is “an accomplished attorney-at-law and a successful litigator locally and internationally” (Express, August 8).

Rodney Charles, MP of Naparima, disagrees. He says Young is unprepared for the job and compared Young’s experience with that of Harjit Sajjan who was appointed to a similar position in Canada. “Young’s Curriculum Vitae is manifestly thin on both military and police experience and also in managing large bureaucracies” (“Media Release,” August 7).

Vivek Charan of the San Juan Business Association wondered if Young would be able “to give 110 percent of his attention to the ministry, given that he holds other ministerial portfolios….If Stuart Young is only able to give 70 percent of focus to national security, is that what we really need?” Jack Warner calls Young’s appointment “a poor decision” (Newsday, August 8).

The PM’s monumental error in judgment raises another question: What about the five PNM Black benchers (Nicole Olivierre, Ancil Antoine, Glenda Jennings-Smith, Adrian Leonce, and Esmond Forde) who only show up in Parliament to support government policy?

Is it that Young’s wisdom and knowledge supersede (or should I say dwarf) those of the Black benchers (their description of themselves) or, is it that these men and women are so dumb that they cannot think through a simple idea or administer a ministerial portfolio? Or, is it that their blackness prevents them from acting nationally?

I resolutely refuse to believe that these black men and women are dumb. There is nothing in Young’s past or present that suggests he is better than any of them, can manage his proposed offices more successfully, stay abreast of and devote sufficient time to each of his ministerial and other responsibilities. There is a huge difference between being briefed on a subject and studying it assiduously.

Meanwhile my people still sit on the river bank of destitution and frustration, demanding accountability and transparency, even as they cry out aloud: “How [long] shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137).

13 Responses to ““Don’t Talk About It; Be About It!””


  • Congratulations to Gary Griffith a man who would have a hands on response to crime rather than an armchair come to me type CoP. Gary has a history in the military and I am sure many friends.

    His only handicap is working with a party that has a long checkered history of dealing with the criminal elements. Even befriending them at times as Manning did with Abu. Criminals under Manning were given huge contracts and met with him in posh hotels. Along with all of that is a police force over represented with Afro officers who are willing to give the Afro youths a break. Youths that over populate the prison system. If it was indo youths the body count will be very high. As they would not hesitate to use their weapons.

    As for the minister of everything, one could have anticipated this change in portfolio because the former National Security Minister has sterilized and sanitized the secret services by getting rid of Indian officers, stating he don’t trust “Dem”. Instead he begged Rowley to hire 2 more National Security ministers so he could go out partying and enjoying his retirement years whilst boasting about serving his country. Never in the history of tnt has there been 3 national security ministers. Despite all of the resources, murders have galloped along at a staggering rate. Robberies have increased considerably.

    One can only be surprise that it took Rowley so long to change the arrangements in National Security. Kamla would have gone through at least 5 national security minister at this time.
    Stuart will have to prove himself as the Minister of National Security. Bring back what was working and improve on it. Rapid response, community policing, working with at risk kids, developing a more people friendly police force, restructuring the security network to meet today’s societal needs.

    But the success of the CoP and National Security Minister hindges on the overall operations of government, meaning if they tax everyone standard of living out of existence and only look after the bourgeois class. Then crime will only increase….

  • “Is it that Young’s wisdom and knowledge supersede (or should I say dwarf) those of the Black benchers (their description of themselves) or, is it that these men and women are so dumb that they cannot think through a simple idea or administer a ministerial portfolio? Or, is it that their blackness prevents them from acting nationally?”

    Black Benchers… Classic…

    Maybe the PM and Mr. Young has a ‘special’ relationship.

    Huh…

  • Preliminary meetings with the leadership of the Police Force by Griffith would serve no useful purpose except as a courtesy. The Police Force leaders are failures who are traditionally too linked with the government as well as the rank and file. The new COP can learn nothing from their experiences. Griffith, as an accomplished military man, is already very familiar with the country and the machinations of the Force. His bold move to go to the media and the public with part of his plans is exactly what is needed in this crime-ridden climate where there is mistrust of the Police and displayed incompetence by the Minister of National Security, who is himself implicated in criminal activities pertaining to a condo in the USA. Rowley was correct in replacing him.

  • Stuart Young may not be the best choice to replace the incompetent Minister of National Security but Rowley does not have a very talented pool to draw from. Many in his “Black Bench” like Olivierre and Jennings-smith etc. have already demonstrated their incompetence.
    I am not sure of the details of the comparison of Young to Harjit Sajjan, Trudeau’s National Security minister, but Sajjan has proven to be extremely competent in his position as national Security Minister of Canada. Sajjan has experience in the Military, municipal and national police force and as an undercover operative.
    Young has been showered with multiple tasks because of the lack of competent talent on the “Black Bench”.

  • Dr. Cudjoe is implying ,if not directly stating, that the present PNM government is not Black enough. He seems to be desirous of returning to the past days of an all Black government with one or two tokens in a country where the largest ethnic group is NOT Black.
    He has no need to panic. Every major institution in the country is still headed by people of African descent.
    Is it possible that Rowley is following Kamla by integrating his government to reflect the population?

  • “So let me just say this. When young women are stabbed or gunned down in your streets, apparently for doing no more than ending a relationship, when it’s accepted that drug-fuelled gang violence will erupt at a moment’s notice, when migrants to this country can find themselves ruthlessly exploited – then I join those who support a call for a new approach and a new team.” (British Ambassador ,STEW)

  • Ah know dis outta context buh ah cyar help meself….We discussing or cussing bout who better dan who over short peroids .WHO SERVING THE COUNTRY…We recently lost Two Salwarts who gave their all to T@T without ah eat ah food mentality.True Patriots. Growing up in POS i had both the pleasure and honour to know and contribute to the Lifelong work of both Mr Mervina {Mervin}, and Mr Francis Rivas…These POOR Honourable men gave their all in service to US. It is with regret, that i mourn their passing……People..WE CAN!!!!!But only if we believe and show the commitment.

  • “The PM’s monumental error in judgment raises another question: What about the five PNM Black benchers (Nicole Olivierre, Ancil Antoine, Glenda Jennings-Smith, Adrian Leonce, and Esmond Forde) who only show up in Parliament to support government policy?“
    Nicole Olivierre was given a number of chances but failed miserably. As for the others can’t say if they can perform. However, it is up to them to want to advance themselves. If they go to Rowley Glencoe home and share a few drinks with him perhaps things will change. You have to catch the eyes and ears of the boss as Nicole did to be given a chance. The former minister of sports is now a wall flower and less womanizer he blew his chance. Barrel lived up to his title by womanizing, fraternizing and creating headaches for the PM.

    Panday introduced the idea of having a 50/50 cabinet. One can remember the 55 day standoff with Robbie for bringing in 7 senators to add balance to his cabinet. Kamla went a similar route. My guess is Rowley is trying to achieve such a balance.

  • “Rodney Charles, MP of Naparima, disagrees. He says Young is unprepared for the job and compared Young’s experience with that of Harjit Sajjan who was appointed to a similar position in Canada. “Young’s Curriculum Vitae is manifestly thin on both military and police experience and also in managing large bureaucracies” (“Media Release,” August 7).”

    I had to google Harjit Sajjan’s name to find out where the deficiency or lack of expertise were to be compared to Stuart Young. No comparison whatsoever.

    https://www.canada.ca/en/government/ministers/harjit-singh-sajjan.html

  • Mr Cudjoe!, It seems to me that you are a Manning boy see no wrong hear no wrong, Some times I love your column when you are writing about world affairs,

  • Not sure why Mr Cudjoe is constantly going on about black people being victimized and overlooked. Certainly not in sweet T&T where they have held the keys to the Government and the Treasury for more than 50 years and still do.

    Since when being black is a qualification for any job? It may be in T&T in the PNM paradise, but elsewhere in the world you would need to have the skills and qualifications required to perform the job.

    BTW, my family doctor is a black person from Grenada and he is very good, in part because he had good medical training but also because he is very knowledgeable and cares about his patients health.

    I guess in T&T you don’t need qualified doctors. If you become ill all you need to do is go to “Obeah Man” of your choice for a bush bath.

    Regarding some of the points raised in the article, my view is that we should give Mr Griffith a chance to prove himself.

    Mr Stuart Young has already proven himself as being indiscreet with his comments on the “sari incident”.

    Only a person of warped moral values would consider removing a persons clothes without their consent as being funny.

    I sincerely hope that some day soon the good people of T&T will rise up and free us from these jokers masquerading as high officials and intelligentsia.

  • Mr RamK I really don’t want to get into a debating match online with any one. There are a lot of fake news, articles, misinformation on the internet. Also a lot of the information you will read about hindus and written by non-hindus is actually propaganda written to denigrate one of the oldest religions inn the world. Hinduism is one of the the few world religions that will acknowledge that there are many paths to god, most other religions it is my way or the sword for you (eg. the conquistadors in Latin America and the Arabs in the Middle East and Asia.

    To reiterate, the key points I wanted to make in my previous comments are as follows:

    1. Blacks are not disadvantaged in T&T, in fact they have been very privileged for the past half century enjoying free housing,and big positions in all Gov’t Institutions including Army, Police, Public Service etc.
    2. Stuart Young may not be the “bright boy” the Gov’t is trying to make him out to be.
    3. It is not a joke to remove a persons clothes without their consent.

    I will go on to make a further point which has been proven historically. Indians and Chinese are the workers of the world. Whenever there is a difficult job where you need to survive on roti and pepper or wonton soup, the powers that be, will import indians or chinese. In Canada the railroads were built almost entirely with chinese labor. As you know once slavery was abolished the Global Sugar Industry was saved by Indian labourers.

    It is very disappointing to observe that after more than 150 years of coexistence that the Blacks and Indians in T&T cannot cooperate to make their country a better place.

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