Crime fighting out of focus

UNC/COP and PNM Supporters
UNC/COP and PNM Supporters
By Raffique Shah
May 09, 2010

Contrary to what over-exuberant party fanatics trumpet during and after mass meetings, crowd-attendance at most of these seasonal gatherings has been disappointing. At Couva last Thursday, for example, I arrived at the People’s Partnership (PP) in time to hear Rudy Moonilal (I believe) and Jack Warner refer to the ‘8,000 people gathered here tonight’. If there were 3,000 persons, the PP could count itself lucky.

On returning to my vehicle and listening on the radio, this time to the People’s National Movement (PNM) in Chaguanas, I heard PNM leader Patrick Manning give what he said was a police report on the PP meeting: 1,800 people. And the PNM’s numbers in Chaguanas? No less than 6,000, Manning said. I immediately halved that and factored half-of-the-half as constituents from afar bussed into the heartland.

Gross over-estimation of crowds at such meetings is nothing new. Crackpots like Baboolalsingh who campaigned in the 1970s would have had no one else but his wife attending his ‘meetings’. Clearly, he could not inflate numbers. But what of the 40,000 the PP claimed to have attracted in a car park (and its periphery) that can barely hold 15,000, ‘jam-packed’, as Trinis would say? The PNM’s Ralph Maraj runs out of ‘zeros’ when he chairs meetings which fewer than 3,000 attend.

In today’s glitzy, flag-waving campaign, gross over-estimation of crowds can hurt both candidates and supporters come elections day. They would expect huge turnouts and massive victories, only to be disappointed when bogus numbers fail to materialise in votes.

This is not to suggest the two main contenders won’t rally significant support on polling day. Live telecast and radio broadcast of almost every meeting mean that more people are ‘attending’ meetings from the comfort of their homes. Given the hype surrounding these uncalled-for elections, I shan’t be surprised if voter-turnout on May 24 is more than 60 per cent.

At this stage, I maintain that the race is a close one-which is bad news for Mr Manning. Let’s face it: Kamla and the PP have nothing to lose, since the PNM will hardly win any of the 15 constituencies the United National Congress (UNC) currently holds. This suggests that Patrick could be in trouble, whatever the results of the elections. But let us wait until the ballots are counted before calling this one.

I promised readers to deal with some of the main issues that the parties should address, issues that impact on the entire population. Runaway crime remains at the top of the list. The PNM’s approach is interesting. Mr Manning is convinced that rampant crime has one root cause-drug trafficking and drug dealing. He thinks all gang-related murders are hinged on the battle for ‘drug turf’. I think he is wrong.

He pins almost all his crime-fighting hopes on keeping our porous borders secure. To this end, he boasts of an all-seeing airship, radar that covers 360-degrees around our islands, and the various FPBs and OPVs the Coast Guard is being equipped with. In my view, his analysis is seriously flawed. I agree that drug trafficking and the concomitant illegal arms trade must be seriously addressed. But I also argue that drug-runners from Venezuela and Colombia who use this country mainly as a transhipment point (drug abuse has declined in this country) can get around all the systems the PM is banking on. Maybe Manning should use his OAS clout to get some advice from Mexico’s President Calderon. Drug-runners have turned parts of that country into a veritable war zone.

When bandits in their hunt for quick cash commit robberies by the scores, if not hundreds, on a daily basis, where is the drug connection? These are no-goods whose sole aim is to relieve law-abiding citizens of their property. If they must, they would kill in pursuit of their aims. Besides gold and cash, cellphones and laptop computers are prized loot. They sell these items easily to people without consciences, people who do not care if blood was spilt in the process, as long as they get ‘ah bargain’.

Whereas non-gang-related murders are fewer, the crimes described above are rampant. What is the connection between illegal drugs and robberies or burglaries? These criminals are driven by a combination of poverty, greed, materialism and consumerism. They may also use drugs, but that’s incidental to their evil designs.

Kamla’s crime-busting strategy begins with ‘holding the police accountable for the effective delivery of their services (and) establishing clear and measurable benchmarks for crime reduction and containment.’ How does she propose to effect such changes in a service in which officers are insulated by archaic regulations?

She proposes, too, ‘to set up a real time centralised system for tracking crime. This will include GPS technology in every police vehicle.’ With guns, drugs and other court exhibits disappearing from police custody with alarming frequency, what’s to say GPS sets won’t mysteriously disappear from police vehicles? And GPS bracelets for offenders on probation? Is she ready to face Ramesh Maharaj and Anand Ramlogan in court?

There are no quick-fix solutions to our crime problems. Or should I say there are, but they may be unpalatable to all but those who believe the end, quite literally, justifies the means. I say no more.

6 thoughts on “Crime fighting out of focus”

  1. One cannot argue with this article. While crime remains the most challenged of our problems the solutions do not simkply lie in flying the blimp, radars, enforcement of new traffic laws, faster boats, the seconding of British and American law enforcement, the surveilence by helicopters or use of advancing technology. The most needed ingredient to facilitate the above is they deployment of manpower. You will NEVER experience a decline in crime with a ‘police service’ which currently provides for the most part an 8 to 4 tour of duty. We need a ‘police force’ with similar obligations like the Defence Force to provide an unrelenting 24 hours of service. One that must stress discipline, professionalism and an impetus to intelligently train our officers in all aspects of crime such as drugs, computer technology, the judiciary, administration, finance, banking, marine technology, border patrol, traffic and forensics. Training in these critical areas will go a long way towards having a well-equipped police force and there must be an earnest attempt to do this. Half-measures will NEVER work because there is a professional criminal element that can outsmart our law enforcement in any of the areas stated above. There is a concerted cry from our media-sensitive operatives to have a ‘debate’ that will illuminate our understanding of the issues. While debates in a poloitical campaign can be a source of entertainment or an avenue to shore up one’s ability to think on one’s feet, I think in our current political climate it is a waste of time. It might be the in-thing in US, Britain o0r Germany but since when we Trinidadians listen to each other and become studied receptors of another persons ideas? I*t is the insensitivity to others feelings that drive us to crime in the first place. Why dont we start by encouraging ‘debates’ in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions as a means of conditioning our population to listen to other peoples thoughts? This is a great starting point that would educate our young people on how to appreciate other peoples ideas but to put on a TV show on how Manning or Kamla can answer a question by untrained journalists can hardly be an exercise in public education. We are NOT mature enough to have serious ‘debates’ to arrive at political conclusions.

  2. Yes, Kian we are not mature enough or objective enough!

    Voting ‘Indian’?
    PETER O’CONNOR Sunday, May 9 2010

    Today we need to address an issue which cannot be glossed over by euphemisms and pretences. And this has less to do with some of our increasingly silly politicians, and more to do with a large segment of disillusioned voters.

    We are hearing comments from the increasingly large number of embarrassed former PNM supporters, now unable to support the flailing and failing antics of Patrick Manning, Marlene MacDonald and Colm Imbert, but who remain in a dilemma because they claim they “cannot vote Indian”.

    What precisely does this mean to you, dear reader? Have you heard anyone making this comment? Have you asked what the speaker means — assuming that he (more likely than “she”) has any idea at all what he is saying?

    Why exactly can one feel that they cannot “vote Indian”, or indeed, White, or Chinese, or Black? But the truth is that I have never heard this expressed until recently, and only in the context of “Indian”. And let us at first accept that this statement will only come from a disillusioned PNM supporter who is Black, or as we say these days, Afro- Trinidadian.

    So here is my question to all of you who harbour this obviously deep racist prejudice — not, I think against Indo Trinis, but against “voting Indian”: Tell me why you feel so? What is it that you fear? And what do you think will happen to you if God should grant you some intelligence and you actually “voted Indian”, instead of voting corruption and incompetence, which you recognise, hence your disenchantment with the PNM? And what will happen to you if “Indian” and the UNC won the election?

    I would like to know what drives your fear: Do you believe that you will get only roti and doubles to eat? Or that the fetes and radio stations will only play Chutney and Bollywood music? In short, what is your problem? Would you quit your job if an Indo Trinidadian became your boss? Would you, like your political leader, refuse to be treated by an “Indian Doctor”?

    And how do you explain your —and indeed the nation’s — survival during the years when we actually had what you might describe as an “Indian” Government? The UNC governed this country from late 1995 through late 2001. And what did they do that was so terrible that you cannot “vote Indian”?

    Yes, they t’ief! But, as you well know, “All of we t’ief”! That was the pronouncement of former PNM Minister Desmond Cartey, high on Laventille Hill in 1986.

    And nothing has changed in that regard, except it is widely believed by everyone, including you, that the current PNM has “out-t’iefed” all previous regimes. So you cannot be afraid of “Indian” because of corruption, because that is an unfortunate given within our politics — albeit many of us wish to see that change.

    I am confident that, although 2008 you followed the Presidential elections in the United States.

    I am sure, that like so many of us Trinis who could not vote there, you felt tremendous pride in the rise of Barack Obama, and when the millions of white Americans made him, a black man with a “Muslim-sounding” name, their President.

    You were amazed and proud — not just about Barack Obama, but that America had voted for a minority-race President, and by overwhelming majorities everywhere.

    America matured when they put the issues of a failing administration and new hope above the issues of politics as usual, and the candidate’s ethnicity.

    And America, and the world, became a better place for that Audacity of Hope.

    So what about you? Many of you copy America in so many ways. How about questioning your prejudices and your fears, just like America was able to do, and see if you too, and your land, might (I am not promising anything here!) find enlightenment —again. For indeed, I remind you that we have already lived through six years of an “Indian” administration, and it certainly was no worse than any other administration in our history. Many neutral observers suggest it was better.

    I wish to emphasise that this is not directed towards the PNM supporters — “Till you Dead” or just supporters.

    You will vote for Manning and his sycophant team “irregardless,” and good luck to you. This will be your farewell gesture to Patrick Manning and some of those with him.

    The PNM will recover when Patrick is gone, but will spend this coming parliamentary term in opposition.

    This is for those of you who can no longer follow where Patrick wants to take you.

    This is a call for you to put country before tribe, and people before race, and vote for whom you think can do more for TT — just like America did!

  3. In the view of T-Man,America showed maturity in 2008 because they voted for a half black , visionary ,non Washingtonian ,fresh voice, to lead them out of the political , and economic quagmire that Fratboy GW and his over zealous Far Right ,hypocritical , phony religious ,neocons pals placed that country.
    Trinis in contrast ,would be dumb for not putting into power an elitist, status quo , entrenched politician who happens to be female , that has contributed immensely to the ghastly socio-economic com political state of our country , due to the fact that she followed blindly Basdeo Panday , and other ideas deficient political bandits for most of her career , yes?
    This joker wants to imply that folks in our country are ill prepared to suppress their prejudices, so as to vote for an ‘Indian party’ or leader, and whatever his twisted mind conjures up.
    In the mean time , he forgot that the PNM could never have won a single election since 1962 ,unless our wonderful , nationalistic ,Indo Trini brothers and sisters voted them in en masse, for the same reason that ULF, Club 88, or UNC would have never seen political power ,if Afro Trinis did not wisely give support to them .
    Can someone please tell this closet racist, dinosauric thinker T-Man, that Kamla’s led party as constituted presently , is not an Indian party any more ,since it is includes others of other ethnic groups races ,and parties. In similar fashion, PNM can never be considered as an African party , because it consist of a huge percentage of folks that are not of African decent as he erroneously still seem to believe.
    T-Man , here is a word of advice to you and similar naive thinkers on global political realities and trends , especially as they relates to our neck of the woods . Show some respect for the other, quit denigrating folks that you are dependent on as prospective voters , in order to assume power, tell your leaders and their handlers- foreign and domestic-,to get off their phony moralistic ,anti corruption , pro noble management stewardship bandwagon, as our people are not buying , and would only decide which direction they wish to see their country go , based on past track records , and proper articulation of sensible,progressive , and realistic ,pro people, policies.
    Once more , please do not place your household items in the North Toronto storage ,as you and some fans in typical pompous , arrogant fashions, are celebrating a momentous victory come May 24th, prematurely.
    Love country my friend , and best wishes in your future promised job ,as head cleaner in the Ministry of Information, kitchen cabinet.

  4. T-Man,
    Your response amplifies the points that I made. The article you quoted is one man’s opinion. It is not necessarily fact, but a point of view one can either agree or disagree with. If you do research on my blogs you would notice that I do not allow myself to be cornered into talking ‘voting for Indians or voting for Africans’. I consider myself a True Trinidadian and in so doing I encounter what I believe is the essence of Trinidad – it’s ethnic mixture. If an Indian is getting a piece of land to buy in a creole neighbourhood he will not pass on it, similarly the reverse is true of a creole. The point I am making is this, we in Trinidad do not have an ethnic problem amongst ourselves. The problems occur when those who represent our ideals uses ‘brotherhood’ to attract our votes. As Neal rightly stated, The PP, UNC/COP or whatever the leadership under Kamla is called does not appear to me to be ‘an Indian’ party nor the PNM under Manning an ‘African’ party in its composition. You have conjured in your mind that if one does not accept or questions Kamla’s motive one must be anti-Indian and therefore a Manning supporter, this view is immature. With such narrow thinking it is hardly likely that you can effectively engage in objective political conversations.

  5. “You have conjured in your mind that if one does not accept or questions Kamla’s motive one must be anti-Indian and therefore a Manning supporter, this view is immature. With such narrow thinking it is hardly likely that you can effectively engage in objective political conversations.”
    If this comment is addressed to me , then I can only conclude that this Kian character is clairvoyant. I simply forwarded an article written by Peter O’Connor without editorializing. To make conclusions, to attribute motives or to discern my thoughts on this matter is similar to taking a giant leap into the unknown.

  6. Very well T-Man we are now more than convinced, that your choice of this particular article by Peter O’Connor was merely coincidental, and or because you were enthralled by his fine proses , and not to bolster an opinion you have articulated repeatedly on this board ,over time. Here it is once more for the benefit of the non observant: Africans have maintained their tribalistic attitudes from the savage dark continent, and would vote only for the PNM because it is an Africa Party that only look out for the narrow interest of Africans since it’s inception in 1956.
    East Indians in contrast are much more cultured , educated ,and sophisticated , and so has supported ULF , Club 88/COP/UNC because of the fine policies that were articulated by respective leaders. The PNM has won all it’s elections due to electoral frauds , acts of intimidation against Indian voters , and others displays of impropriety.
    Wheresoever East Indians were successful in the polls , it was the results of “swing votes, by Chinese, whites and Douglas,” not those violent , pro criminal animals from the Virgin Continent ,that have continually conspired to destroy the fine life we had in Trinidad before independence from the wonderful British .Just hope I did not miss anything out. Ah yes, out side of the corrupt Manning , ANR Robinson is the most despicable political figure to emerge in our country. He was responsible for robbing Basdeo of power in 2001, and for that Tobagonians especially ,should be punished and suffer for the rest of their natural lives.

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