A year pregnant with possibilities

By Raffique Shah
January 02, 201

Raffique ShahBARRING being victims of unpredictable natural disasters or another global economic “meltdown”, Trinidad and Tobago seems set to enjoy an encouraging 2011. There will be no boom similar to what we wallowed in from 2005 to 2007. The crime rate will not drop precipitously because of a change of heart among heartless criminals (surely an oxymoron), or a significant improvement in the policing and justice systems. Poverty will not disappear. The nation’s roads won’t be transformed into highways to heaven.

But ahead lies a year pregnant with possibilities. If we chart a course that is action-oriented, if we put country before self, we can all reap rich rewards.

Take crime, the number one issue that could negate everything else we do to make this a better place. It’s a scourge that we have learnt to live with—which is a contradiction. Why should we accept this as the norm? Statistics show that in 2010, we experienced an average of 400 robberies a month, and a similar number of burglaries. Motor vehicle thefts stood at around 100 a month, general larcenies 300, and rapes 50. Murders averaged 40.

Since these are statistics for reported crimes, we can easily double the numbers for crimes other than murders and vehicle thefts. What these numbers tell us is that we live in a virtual state of siege. We can no longer enjoy life in a tropical paradise—beach limes, strolling on moonlit nights, even leaving our doors and windows open to savour the breezes that caress our bodies, our souls.

There is, however, an ugly, obverse side to these crime numbers. The three biggest crimes we experience are consumer-driven. Let me explain, and this not for the first time. Except for cash that bandits and burglars keep for themselves, everything else they steal, they sell or give to others. Whether the recipients are unconscionable buyers of “hot” items or families who encourage crime by keeping or storing “loot”, they are all accessories to violent crimes.

If bandits, burglars and thieves have no “markets” for the items they relieve their victims of, they would have to rent warehouses to store their “loot”. In other words, if people who claim to be law-abiding refuse to buy or accept stolen items, that single act of good-citizenry would all but eliminate at least 24,000 criminal acts a year! Digest that number. All I did was add the estimated monthly numbers for robberies, burglaries and larcenies, multiply them by 12, and there you have it.

Rapes and murders are different: the former are grossly under-reported while numbers for the latter are accurate. I feel certain, though, that if we contain the commonest crimes, there would be a ripple effect on other, more serious offences. It’s how citizens can make a big dent in crime. See why we do not need a policeman at every corner? If we apply my theory of citizens acting responsibly (not original, I should add) to driving on the roads, to littering and care for the environment, we can make a quantum leap in improving the quality of our lives.

These observations and suggestions in no way exculpate persons in authority. Those who are paid to protect and serve us must do their duty or be kicked out of the protective services. Politicians and public officials who are paid even better to serve the people, to use the Prime Minister’s favourite mantra, must perform or step aside. If citizens are to act responsibly, politicians and public officers shoulder an even greater responsibility.

Regarding the economy, while we look back at 2010 as a year of stagnation, 2011 is more promising. We begin the year with oil prices hovering around US$90 a barrel. We can expect that to stabilise at US$100, which experts see as a fair price to producers and consumers. However, our oil production has fallen badly (now 90,000 bpd). We can reverse this slide, but only marginally.

Our downstream energy industries are mature—meaning our ammonia, methanol and liquid gas plants are operating at optimum levels. Gas prices are weak, and they are likely to remain so for some time. But ammonia, urea and methanol prices have rebounded and are expected to remain buoyant.

The manufacturing sector, which has relied on the captive Caricom market for its success, has fallen on lean times because of the state of the regional economies. There is a giant-of-a-market that’s coming awake at our doorstep—South America, with a combined population of close to 400 million. Our manufacturers need to exploit this. They enjoy many advantages that make them competitive. Now, they need to prove they can shine on this huge Latin American stage.

Now, a few words on food production: we need less talk and more action. A global food crisis is looming large, and big countries (China, India, Korea, Japan) are seeking food security by acquiring and cultivating huge tracts of land in parts of Africa and Asia. Food production can no longer be on Government’s “to do” list. It must be a priority item, an imperative.

We cannot allow thousands of hectares of land to lie idle for another year. Give these lands to anyone who is prepared to produce, whether he (or she) comes from Laventille or Las Lomas. Once they show they can till the soil or rear livestock, however small their contributions may be, encourage them. If we bring 50 per cent of idle lands under cultivation, 2011 would be a great year.

20 thoughts on “A year pregnant with possibilities”

  1. In your article of 2/1/11 the most important statement comes at the very end. Any nation that can feed itself is a strong nation.
    Hopefully, you will no longer be a voice in the wilderness.

  2. Great article as usual! I especially agree with you that “Those who are paid to protect and serve us must do their duty or be kicked out of the protective services.” But I think police should be paid more to attract a bigger better pool to pull from and we need to find ways to encourage the GOOD police officers who are doing a great job in the midst of well armed highly connected criminals and other police who are corrupt.

  3. ” Give these lands to anyone who is prepared to produce.”


    I wonder what yardstick would be worth using to determining who is willing to produce , but you too ,along with myself, and unfortunately ,numerous ungrateful others , were by products of Aesop Fables ,Uncle Shah, and so remembered the story of dat greedy , non contented dog, with the already huge bone fixated in it’s jawS ,that clamored also after another that turned out to be an illusion, yes?
    The chances of some members of local Trini ,phony, landed gentry ,supporting any long overdue ,pro land redistribution policy, has as much chance of coming to fruition ,as a Hindu immigrant priest from India, becoming, the President , or PM of Muslim nuclear power Pakistan.
    Put differently, the possibility of a serious economic, and political twinning of the Asian, and African Continent in one socially beneficial cohesive movement, during this or the next Millennium,in efforts to counteract continued, white European domination of the globe?
    It just ain’t happening any time soon my good fellow,as conniving ,European ,a la , British Massa, did such a splendid job ,in planting the seeds of division, and hatred, amongst our respective peoples,and to compound it , we remained unconscious , despite alleged global exposures, and lofty education, dat it is no longer even funny, hmmm?
    In ending, re dis apparent, overwhelming , crime fighting business, Uncle Shah, I see you too have adopted that Eurocentric penchant, for selective outrage , solely on blue color “heartless criminals,” and perhaps would not mind, taking any of those culprits across our nation ,that so indulges, and as punishment ,chop them up into ‘lil pieces,’then feed them, to our very tasty swamp producing cascadoos, yes?
    In the mean time , nothing but luv, for the white color criminal ,crooks, and bandits , that causes more psychological harm to our entire nation- using HCU Caroni workers/ Clico Insurance meltdown, Panday/ Ish and Dish UNC, Airport com London Bank account, shenanigans ,but that’s a different story ,for another Rum drinking occasions ,as we decide to hand out awards ,for Canadian born , Commissioner of Police Gibbs, come next elections, maybe in 2014, if he…. or bosses last , hmmmm?
    Let’s wish dem well, yes?

  4. As always.. this article speaks to the heart and soul of people in T&T who desire some change in a positive direction. The 2010 crime statistic is alarming. If we are to enjoy happiness and a good quality of life, every person in T&T must make a conscious effort to prevent crime. Anyway Raff as a good soldier keep marching on. Happy New Year..

  5. Smaller nations are simply too government focused. If T&T is to move forward, free enterprise must be revived, and criminals sent to carrera where hanging can continue there. The future however is brighter, because the “community leader’s” status that criminals enjoyed by Mugabe Manning no longer exist. He met with them in expensive hotels soliciting their support, and they delivered for him. Queen K knows that if you want something done tell a woman, if you tell a man he will talk about it. Anyways it is good to have some positives in a nation innudated with negatives. Cheers to all.

  6. #1 issue is crime you cannot eradicate crime but you can control it, let start with zero tolerance for all crimes. Like the petty ones littering etc, whatever the crime there must be some type of punishment. The answer is within, stop looking for foreign help they can’t perform miracles. Nobody knows a trini like a trini the whole justice system needs
    an over-haul, its not about paying the cops more and doubling their workforce. Preventative measure has to be put in place, like proper youth programs also address the prison populations and its sytem.

  7. ” Preventative measure has to be put in place, like proper youth programs also address the prison populations and its system… / zero tolerance for all crimes. ”
    Nice , fresh perspective ,Steve – Olando ,Florida. In short , you desire mechanisms in place ,to prevent kids from resorting to a life of crime, then you wish to see proper reform, as opposed to demonization , so that our prisons not only punishes folks who fell asunder of the law ,but enable them to be productive human beings after release.
    Finally , to add to your littering and petty crimes concerns , how about real zero tolerance to crimes, that includes those of white color crooks and bandits,yes? Should we hold our breaths that Basdeo’s UNC pals Ish ,and Dish ,would be extradited to USA, so as to squeal like canaries ,in Yankee DA plea deals ,and sink well placed others cowering in fear?
    How about your Florida neighbor Harrnarine , of HCU Ponzi fame , that fleeced hard working Caroni workers of their pensions , and savings?
    Think what a dent would be dealt on crime , if during the next two years there was a trial , and final closure to the Basdeo Airport / London Bank account corruption odyssey , then follow this up with your PNM CLICO Insurance bobbol , Manning’s Seeawoman Church deal , and Rowley alleged Tobago hospital shenanigans, ehh?
    In essence , the government of the day can show that they are serious , and or committed to fighting crimes ,when justice becomes blind.
    We will see Steve. ‘Long live Sweet, Sweet, T&T , aka Rainbow Country,’ hmmmm?

    1. Nealos said “Finally , to add to your littering and petty crimes concerns , how about real zero tolerance to crimes, that includes those of white color crooks and bandits,yes?”

      A person do not become a criminal overnight Nealos, it starts with petty crime, stealing, then raping, then killing, then doing drugs. If the criminal is dealt with in the early stages and preventative actions taken, then a life of crime is prevented. This was discovered in New York where petty crimes were taken seriously. The officers know that when one commits a crime then it easier to go to the next level. Before a man commit murder, he has done over a thousand wrongs UNchecked. So the guy who breaks a window, or steals some cash, or beat up the elderly, is on a pathway of self destruction.

  8. Hey khem , I too wish my Plesantville police buddies Roger , and Raj , had done the right thing , and lock up Basdeo de well known Central , rum drinker , either for obscene language , urinating in public while drunk ,or making unwelcome advances ,at the shop keeper’s under age daughter, while pretending he did not know she was way below 16 , back in the days when T&T Police were sporting short pants.
    Think of how much we could have spared this country , later on as this white color crook , and bandit , repeatedly attempted, to run roughshod over our sacred laws , then hide like a zandolee, behind ridiculous claims ,of racially motivated prosecution ,so as to avoid doing jail time , like one ah dem ugly -what did you call dem -“murdervant, and Levanty,” blue color thugs?
    You said khem , while obviously under another one of your numerous drunken stupors,”If the criminal is dealt with in the early stages and preventative actions taken, then a life of crime is prevented. This was discovered in New York where petty crimes were taken seriously.”
    That’s it , I am going to send a SOS to the immigration , by way of our esteemed Nigerian Dr Olekande, Head Psych Chief of St Anns Hospital, to look out for a fake Canadian / Trini, called khem whatever, who would be attempting to sneak back home into the country come February, to really check up on his 500 acres of undeserved real estate in Cumuto, that Guyanese , Jamaicans Venezuelan squatters ,have been eying.
    I would recommend that they take him in , for observation,pump him full of some kind of drugs that would make him think that black is beautiful, and white ugly. If this does not bring him back to earth, then hand him over to Patrick Manning’s political advisor / Seearwoman ,so that he can get a few bush baths, then finally march him up to Mt St Benedict, so that Father Jikaramnarine, can pray for his twisted soul.
    It is clear that you are about to go off the deep end , brother khem , and I must look out for you.
    Now I know , that you , and your other crazy Guyanese cousin,were the ones leading the charge to get that clueless ex NY Police Commissioner criminal Keric to become our Police Chief.
    You remember the joker that served under immoral Giuliani ,the racist ,neo Fascist , Mafia loving Mayor- who evidently also broke the law ,by running up a tab of over $200,000 ,to provide the City Police ,as security for his cheating girlfriend ,while his wife was still sleeping in the residence- to come here and mess up our wonderful country, yes?
    We are grateful that good sense prevailed in both countries, and that fool who pushed that stupid anti squeegee , and clamping down of sex peep shops in Manhattan , is now serving time , as he should, in a Maximum security prison ,for his misdeed, humm?
    Promise me my friend that you would stop reading dem useless Canadian Mounted Police PR campaign manuals , they have been using to entice gullible immigrants like yourself, to that country, as they are not worth the paper they are written on my friend.
    When you and your party elites -including the disgruntled COP fractions- are ready to tackle real security, and institute preventative social mechanisms , aimed at closing the stable before the horses bolt, give me a call my friend, as that’s my forte.
    When you and party , are likewise ready for either an escort to hold your Phd Canadian Commissioner, and dem overpaid bumbling Scotland yard bloke’s hands, so as to lead them around the country , or better yet ,take dem to the airport , and out of our country for good, den give me a call, yes?
    I luv dis country , but do you khem ? I am becoming quite skeptical.

  9. Much of the stress or limitations in life come from vacillating between regret about the past or worry about the future. And yet, the present is the only place that happiness can be experienced.

  10. Well, well, what do you know , as de wisest lady -a la my wonderful Granny- would say, ” wonders never cease.” ‘One oh dem,’ typical, country haters ,in ‘mongoosemax,’ is now waxing philosophical, and or poetic, on us fellow drivers , speeding along ,on dis here ,congested , Information Highway, with some of my obviously stolen , progressive , neo Buddhist mantras.
    Good for you ,my good, yet sly friend.There is hope for another nuvo rich , Trini petty bourgeois elite, and perhaps, by extension , our nation.
    What do you think I have been attempting to encourage -not so successfully I now realize – you ardent fans , of the PP crew, dat temporally, rules the political roost here in ‘Sweet, Sweet , T&T ,aka Rainbow Country,’ humm?
    I repeat for your edification. It’s time to stop looking over your collective shoulders ,like Lot’s wife , for phantom ills , allegedly performed by the previous regime, and historically demonized African folks , or remain too busy, electioneering ,with grandiose, escapist ploys for 2014 , as de people dat truly matters ,ain’t buying anymore. ‘Fool me once , twice,’ and such shameful afterthoughts ,etc, etc.
    Instead folks, roll up your collective sleeves ,as you get down and dirty to work , and in the process ,try to finally put into place even if it’s one promised manifesto element ,touted during your recent Obama styled campaign, as mandated.
    I am talking here about much needed political transparency, job creation mechanisms, level playing field social justice that would see mostly white color crooks ,and bandits, facing the fire, in similar manner to blue color illiterate losers ,prudent foreign policies , that can translate to enhancing our global economic , and -especially -regional viability, equitable distribution of our country’s abundant resources towards the cross – tribal poor , and destitute from Castara to Las Lomas and back, and as Uncle Shah recently echoed , a long overdue liberal ,land reform policy . One that I should add, would ensure that Brazilian Fevela like dwelling , sons and daughters of slavery whose fore-parents, toiled fervently, in the development of this country , and was never fully compensated , once conniving Massa England ,did their alleged emancipation , pro indentured jig and dances,that was likewise touted ,by self serving , pseudo Africans neo colonials , from Dr Deffy , to Patrick Manning, during the past 48 years.
    I say , let’s move forward in mutual respect, for each other, as it’s the only way that we can evolve as a real strong nation, along the part of sustainable development.
    Continue in the same destructive vain , of ‘watch , me , me , ah is de best over achiever , superior race , wit de greatest culture,’ crap, as enjoyed by naive ,so called educated elitist,then we are destined to remain this backward , resource laden ,underachieving ,borderline failed state, and unfortunate ,regional laughing stocks, yes?
    All the best , for 2011, and beyond.
    Hey buddy,make a concerted effort to try ,and finally , “luv country over de tribe, as the consequences for failure so to do , will have…. what again ‘mongoosemax?’ There you go, ..” dire consequences.”
    Perhaps ,as ‘de voice of reason,’ and ‘conscience of de people,’ I should patent this progressive ,country building line , before it ends up in a futuristic novel, of some lofty , unpatriotic , Europe adoring Trini writer,or worst yet, an over the top eulogy speech of a local politico opportunist, hmmmm?

  11. Don’t forget that people like Sarah Palin dosen’t want to share anything. They believe they own everything.

  12. I would like to say Stan that we do not discuss mentally challenged , opportunistic, political upstarts , such as Mama grizzly Palin, but remembered that the voting logic of de masses ,can be quite telling , both in the USA , or T&T,after the former voted on two occasions ,to elect the elitist ,drunken ,fratboy GW, and the latter, risk their future in support of de ‘pony and mule show , defeat PNM at all cost , with no follow up ideas to advance de country concoctions,’ then are surprise ,that dey are on the verge of self destruction, less that six months after, go figure.
    Glad I could do my civic duty , by articulating what you might be too coward to say, in fear of some phantom retributions, perhaps by Ag Pit bull Rammy, and the rising COP , power star chasers.

  13. Neal well I guess you could say whatever you want here with impunity, while everyone else have their comments removed or censored. Trinidad press is over sensitive when it come to debate in an open forum.

  14. Cut it out morougamax , my friend . Do you believe that I do not get the occasional slap on the wrist , when it is believed that I might have stepped out of bounds via s few of my writings?
    I choose not to make a fuss, but dust off my self , but try to make my point in a more subtle form , and move on , buddy.
    If you and I agree, that this forum , does not fully fit our entire needs for open , honest ,non partisan , and transparent , post political correctness, forceful discussions , then let us use our collective resources ,and develop an online social media of our own , which would do the trick, yes?
    I am prepared to do that with you ,or any other that tries to stay engage , as an indication that they still obviously love their country.
    Can you remember what a guy called Pat Chocolingo , along with the young vibrant Editor in Chief Raffique Shah , and Rastarman photo journalist Keith Shepherd , did when all we had were the Trinidad Guardian , Express, Radio Trinidad , and 610 ,to contend with as national media?
    OK, The Bomb, Blast, Punch , T&T Mirror, and the rest we can say is history.
    Your call m friend – a vibrant Think Tank , and crash in on independent social media ,in the vain of Democracy Now, Drudge report, Huffington post, Fairness in media etc ,for that’s how the big boys do it, so what say ye?
    I know, you have a Morouga fish farm to run, and cannot be seen in the same room with Neal the evil devil , since that joker, is a tribalist, and hate all of your people,hmmmm ? Oh how little we know the hearts of men, especially of true patriots.
    I am standing by morougamax.

  15. I am in agreement we need to revive agriculture and that means organic planting and organic way of rearing our animals like years ago which also means more employment and community development. Small farmers barter labour and plants. in 1929 the amount of small farmers during the depression in the US is aprox.1 1 million. Today its less than 400 thousand and no food in some of the food pantries. With global changes eg. lots of dead birds in Kansas, dead fishes in Argentina, Brazil and other places we will get a rude awakening. We need the politicans to educate the public about our sustainability. Anyway you always tell it like it is. Enjoy reading your articles. I hope to get a couple acres of land for organic planting and some chickens in my yard soon.

  16. Thank you Neal, although in the comment that was pulled, I was ripping you a new one. I agree that it may have been over the top and we all need to follow some sort of guideline to stay on topic.
    That said, I do believe that most of us do try to maintain a civilized open debate which should not be censored as long as it is not blatantly racist or vulgar. The guardian and express would not allow me to post on their blog due to their over sensitive nature. The type of response they get is void of any real value or meaningful exchange of ideas or solutions. I know that I can change my ip address but I don’t care to.

    Anyway Neal next month I would be starting a new business venture in Florida soon so I may not have the time to respond to your daily rants.

  17. Well I’ll be…. According to sly mongoosemax in his not too subtle jab ,I Neal do engage in daily cyber “rants,” perhaps, more due to fact that I have nothing else to do ,has repressed psychological demons , as I was never cuddled as a kid, or tries desperately ,to impress others , as to how smart, envious, and angry, I am , ehh?
    So you are about to expand the much touted ,morouga fishfarming business to Florida ,right next to the lavish real estate of former HCU crooked CEO Harrinarine? Hurray for you my friend. Don’t worry ,Sweet, Sweet ,T&T ,aka Rainbow Country will still be here, and folks like my self ,Dr Cudjoe, and many others, will continue to play our role to keep all our leaders -in and out of political power , successful or struggling in the business sector- totally honest , as we hold their symbolic hands close to the fire, for that is the way of caring patriots, my fried.
    We do not mealy sit ,and whine , or complain about all the problems that confronts the world , and feed like covetous / ravenous piglets, at the national trough ,while trying to expand our fiefdoms. Instead we remain committed to finding solutions, while reaching out to caring nationalistic others of all socio economic and ideological stripes , with similar mindset.
    In our case, the reasons for this are quite simple my friend,in the 1.3 million folks of this our cosmopolitan population, only a tiny percentage have fully enjoyed the spoils of our resource laden country, since we stumbled upon it some decades ago. We are far from evolving into a cohesive nation , with a grip as to what sustainable development entails.
    Wha dat, “most of us do try to maintain a civilized open debate which should not be censored as long as it is not blatantly racist or vulgar?” Do me a favor mongoosemax , and give me examples of what you consider such types of commentaries , and while at it ,explain to me why you think that the alleged censoring board members of Trini center/ Express, and Guardian , would be concerned with eliminating it.
    Perhaps it’s just me who is too globally educated , or smart for my own good, but I have come to recognize ,that most of us , particularly ‘old skool thinking proponents,’ from across dis country , tends to throw out words , without the slightest conception of what they are.
    To think dat these psychologically twisted creatures , want me to hate dis countrylike they obviously do dear folks , but can someone tell dem, dat the characters that can make me resort to such attitudes, ain’t born yet?
    I luv dis land , and it’s wonderful myriad of people. Only wish this was a virus, we could transmit to others, that pretends to be citizens, ehh mongoosemax?
    I wish you well, but promise to someday ,to let you in, as to what I am about, and the methods to my seeming madness.

  18. Speak for yourself Hector Sebro,for maybe you aren’t. Here it is in plainer lingo my friend ,in case you were sleeping , or too busy trying on your 2011 Barbarosa,or Peter Minchell gender bending Carnival costume.
    ‘De clueless ,barbarians are threatening to overrun the gates of our struggling, yet resource laden country , in hopes of destroying our fragile democracy.They epitomize what we colloquially call ‘square pegs in round holds,’and despite the sterling efforts of the co-opted , subjective agents , of the 4th estate , their ineffectiveness on one policy matter,after another -from deficient security, to job stagnancy , and subpar transportation – are clearly revealed, for as the eyes can see across the nation, since they again-as done in the past-had no concrete agendas , beyond mealy defeating the ruling PNM regime led by Patrick Manning, who got us into the socio economic quagmire we are in presently in the first place. If we do not quickly shift gears , and get back on track , then we are destined to remain a bunch of lost 1.3million underachieving laughing stocks for the world at large , especially within the region , where we continue to fail in our attempts to be some big player, ‘yes?
    Hopefully this makes you happy , as I did not miss much of what Uncle Shah was attempting to say, and dis proved that I at least, was listening .
    I wish you well.

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