Tag Archive for 'Raffique Shah'

Society steeped in corruption

By Raffique Shah
January 16, 2019

Raffique ShahSometime in 2017, I wrote a column in which I counselled Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to refrain from hurling allegations of corruption against ministers and senior officials of the People’s Partnership Government unless or until such time as some them have been charged with serious corruption-related criminal offences.

By then, I had reasoned, most citizens had grown fed up with such allegations being made by parties in power and those in opposition, with no proof produced as they exchanged places every five years from 1986 when the People’s National Movement was first voted out of office after a 30-year grip on power. The average person knew or believed there was rampant corruption involving PNM ministers, and the overwhelming vote they gave the National Alliance for Reconstruction was fuelled by expectations that they would finally see “big sawatees” hauled before the courts in handcuffs, with many of the crooks ending up behind bars like the common criminals they were.
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The Carnival is over

By Raffique Shah
January 09, 2019

Raffique ShahI was pleasantly surprised when the announcement by the National Carnival Commission that it was scrapping the North Stand for this year’s Carnival did not elicit an uproar of objections from stakeholders in the national festival and hordes of party animals whose love for steelband music lasts one day—the National Panorama Semi-Finals.

For all its symbolic representation of the spirit of Carnival, crammed as it was (note tense) with more than its 8,000 maximum capacity, the North Stand was a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. For close to 50 years, ritually, every January, contractors and hundreds of workers would engage in a frenetic exercise of erecting the facility, only to dismantle it two weeks after Carnival. The cost? Four million dollars.
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Think small, earn big

By Raffique Shah
January 03, 2019

Raffique ShahI could have begun the New Year by griping about all the negatives of the old, cussing from politicians to crooks for the many woes we citizens face daily, ranging from a record high number of homicides to a seemingly stagnated economy, arguing that the current government is the worst we have had since the indigenous peoples ran things however many centuries ago, blah, blah, blah.
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A most joyful Christmas

By Raffique Shah
December 25, 2018

Raffique ShahIn the spirit of the season, I write today about one of the more memorable Christmas experiences I had—when I returned home days before Christmas in 1966, having spent 27 months in Britain training in the military.

My story has to be viewed in the context of the period, a mere 16 years after the MV Windrush had transported 500-odd West Indian immigrants to work and rebuild post-war Britain. The 70th anniversary of that epic voyage, and the plight today of what is called the Windrush Generation was, coincidentally, the focus of much discussion in 2018.
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Media trapped by trivia

By Raffique Shah
December 19, 2018

Raffique ShahFor a country that is beset by myriad fundamental problems—real, imagined or contrived—it is amazing how easily the entire nation can be distracted by trivia.

Almost as side issues in the media, two senior politicians square off over what percentage of employed persons earn less than $6,000 per month, the benchmark for bare survival; hardly mentioned are the 10,000 or so workers who have been thrown on the breadline for the year. The national debt rises higher than Mt Cerro del Aripo; the murder toll crosses 500; and potholes on our roads exceed properly-paved driving surfaces, are all relegated to lower-ranked media attention.
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‘We dogs dead’

By Raffique Shah
December 11, 2018

Raffique ShahIn my column last week in which I lamented the collapse of Petrotrin, I submitted that one of the tragic consequences would be the oil refinery falling into the hands of foreigners (by lease or purchase), and the workers who were terminated returning to seek employment with the new operators, prepared to work for substantially lower wages and salaries than they earned with the State-owned company.
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Day of moaning for Petrotrin

By Raffique Shah
December 05, 2018

Raffique ShahDuring last Friday’s unofficial “Day of Moaning” for the official demise of State-owned oil giant Petrotrin, I detected more than a hint of hypocrisy among the moaners. I must confess that your not-so-humble scribe was prominently positioned amidst the thousands of Trini-Pharisees who had saved their saddest faces and rehearsed their most somber vocal tones for the tragic occasion.

I admit that mine was an ego issue, one in which my wounded pride provoked extreme prejudice against my fellow-Trinis for having shamed me, for having shattered my dreams of seeing us as a people take control of the commanding heights of the economy, and successfully steer them to take their place alongside the best such enterprises in the world.
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Seers, shamans and shysters

By Raffique Shah
November 29, 2018

Raffique ShahI suppose it was inevitable—the proliferation of self-proclaimed astrologers, mystic healers, seers, obeah-men, call them what you will, although the word “conmen” might best capture their lucrative “hustle”. In harsh economic times and an unstable social environment, many people turn to quacks who claim to have supernatural powers for relief from their woes.

These crooks boldly advertise on prime-time television, which is expensive, as well as in other mainstream media. And, I imagine, they litter the so-called social media, the booming electronic platforms where there is minimal control of content.
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Refugees aggravate T&T woes

By Raffique Shah
November 21, 2018

Raffique ShahTrinidad and Tobago has found itself in an unenviable, as well as untenable, position of having to deal with hundreds of mostly Venezuelan and Cuban nationals who have entered this country, legally and illegally, then announcing themselves as refugees or seeking political asylum.

This situation is unenviable because we are the only English-speaking Caribbean island-state that faces an influx of Spanish-speaking refugees, in addition to Jamaicans and Nigerians who have overstayed their Immigration-approved time, and some Chinese, Syrians and Lebanese. Except for the fairly-prosperous Dominican Republic that shares the large island of Hispaniola with poverty-stricken Haiti, where nationals of the latter invade the former on foot, whence they face rigid deportation procedures, T&T is a unique magnet for illegal immigrants.
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Remembering the savagery of war

By Raffique Shah
November 14, 2018

Raffique ShahI awoke last Sunday morning to see and hear French President Emmanuel Macron deliver an address before scores of world leaders gathered in Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. His was a good speech, an appeal for the world to not just to pay homage to the eight million-plus servicemen and women who lost their lives in the mistaken belief that they were fighting “the war to end all wars”, but also to note that if we did not learn from history, we were doomed to repeat the mistakes our forebears made.
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