Use money from URP
By Corey Connelly
September 29 2009 – newsday.co.tt
Executive chairman of Citadel Limited, Louis Lee Sing, yesterday suggested that the monies allocated to the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) be directed to the proposed National Compulsory Service initiative.
“If ever you had an opportunity of killing two birds with one stone, that is it,” he said while delivering a comprehensive presentation on the company’s proposal for compulsory national service.
Addressing members of civil society organisations, at City Hall in Port-of-Spain, the protective services and other stakeholders, Lee Sing argued that the initiative, if implemented, would significantly reduce the work load of police officers, particularly in high crime areas along the East/West Corridor, and other parts of the country.
However, former Laventille East/Morvant MP Fitzgerald Hinds, in a subsequent presentation, said he was skeptical about Lee Sing’s suggestion to finance the national service plan with money from the URP.
“Interfering with the URP budget is a most controversial suggestion, and I wish him very well,” he said, eliciting chuckles from the audience.
Hinds agreed, though, that the URP had “moved away” from its original intent.
In his presentation, Lee Sing said Citadel Limited had been considering the“controversial” idea of national compulsory service for some time, given the escalating crime situation.
“Compulsory national service is necessary and needed at this time,” he insisted. However, he made it clear that national service did not mean military service.
‘There will be no military training. No training in handling weapons, neither in hand to hand combat,” Lee Sing pointed out.
The programme, he said, seeks to cater to at-risk young Afro-Trinidadian men between the ages of 15 and 25 from the East/West Corridor, and districts between Point Fortin and La Brea.
He envisaged that the programme would run for periods of two years, in which students would be taught basic Arithmetic, English, Computer Literacy, and other courses.
Lee Sing also said that participants would receive a stipend, 50 percent of which would be paid directly to the students, while the remainder would go directly to an account on their behalf.
Sat rejects compulsory national service call
By Dixie-Ann Dickson
Secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Satnarayan Maharaj says the Indian community rejects Louis Lee Sing’s call for Compulsory National Service. Maharaj made the comment yesterday during his contribution at the one-day symposium titled ‘A case for the compulsory national service’ hosted by Citadel Ltd. The symposium was held at City Hall in Port-of-Spain.
Maharaj said, “The Indian community rejects outright any suggestion that compulsory national service is an option for our nation. “When the NAR minister Lincoln Mayers floated this misguided fascist idea some years ago, the Maha Sabha mobilised the Indian community in opposition,” he said. “We stand ready to do the same if confronted once again with similar designs,” he added. He noted that the Maha Sabha had already implemented ‘National’ Service in its schools and mandirs which was entirely voluntary in nature.
Maharaj claimed the motivation behind the drive for this new compulsory national service was hinged on the inability of the present government to properly treat with the issue of crime. He said, “Now ‘National’ Service was being touted as the panacea of the crime problem.” He added the premise of this argument, which is to transform deviant members of society by this initiative, was fundamentally flawed, but should also seek to affect 100 per cent of the society. Maharaj further criticised the initiative stating that there had been no support from the greater national community or any discussions by the government and the opposition. He said the Indian community never relied on the State for handouts.
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