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There are not enough East Indians in the Police Service, and too many East Indian businessmen are taking flight as a consequence of the kidnapping situation. So lamented Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday in his response to the 2004/2005 Budget in the House of Representatives yesterday. Panday again warned about fire and brimstone on the Caroni land distribution issue, cautioning: "If it is Caroni’s land you are looking for, I am told all you will get is six feet of it." Quoting Issawi’s Law, the Opposition Leader added: "Society is like a mule, not a car. If pressed too hard, it will kick and throw off its rider." In raising the issues pertinent to his party’s supporters, Panday zeroed-in on the issue of kidnapping, saying East Indians felt they were being targetted. And he raised the question of whether Government and "its friends, drug lords and the community leaders were deliberately driving away a certain group of future business leaders."

"Is this their brand of affirmative action?" he asked, stretching the question further. "If it is, then I ask: Where is the human capital that will service and implement this Budget, assuming it made sense in the first place?" Panday may have lacked his usual fire, but he maintained his litany of woes. There was racism in the recruitment for the Police Service, he stated, as he discussed the "serious imbalance with respect to the two ethnic majorities" and the fact that Afro-Trinidadians were the "predominant majority" in the police, regiment and Coast Guard. Noting that former chairman of the Police Service Commission Kenneth Lalla stated that the recruitment exercise was marred by nepotism, favouritism, partisanship and improper background investigation, Panday said, "I suppose you can include racism under nepotism or favouritism." Panday charged that there was a clique in the Police Service which was loyal to the PNM and that the majority of policemen supported the PNM. "You have only to look at the special votes in every election," he said. He added that many young officers complained that they were frustrated into succumbing to the culture of corruption that was endemic in the Police Service.

In the face of this, Panday defended the Opposition’s decision not to support legislation aimed at satisfying Government’s "desire for direct political influence and control of the Police Service." As he continued the defence of his heartland, Panday accused Manning of giving no priority to flooding in the Opposition constituencies," but merely "tossing a crumb" to them in order to deflect attention from his assistance to Caribbean countries. "Does the PM think he is fooling anyone when he gives a token to the flood victims of Central and South Trinidad simply because he wants to legitimise his gifts to the rest of the Caribbean?..He does not want people to say that he is playing ‘Santa’ to the rest of the Caribbean, while he ignores flooding in his own backyard," he said. Panday continued his attack on Minister Christine Sahadeo, whom he described, as "the ‘Trojan horse’ wearing a sari, mockingly calling senior citizens nana and nani, so that she may further betray them." "She is like the proverbial Putna, who, with poisonous milk in her breasts offered them to the baby Lord Krishna to kill him while pretending to feed him." He added: "Krishna had no mercy in exposing the evil doer for what she was before taking her very life."

Panday also launched a personal attack on the first person to "decimate" the sugar industry, Health Minister John Rahael, "who with a pious look on his face, as if he was palming false Reebocks on you," simply blamed the SWRHA and the hospital management for the state of affairs in the San Fernando hospital. "No wonder he has been banished from the family business to politics." He said there was a veritable exodus of doctors from the country since Rahael became Health Minister. Panday stated that the PNM Government was not in a position to deal with crime and kidnapping because it had a symbiotic relationship with the Jamaat. He said the population did not expect "criminals to be rewarded with the resources of the State like land and quarries and contracts in sensitive State enterprises" or to have "unfettered access to the corridors of power through senior ministers of Government who act for the Prime Minister whenever he is abroad."

Not one to miss an opportunity, Panday said there was a culture of violence in the PNM and referred to the tearoom teacup brawl, in which a PNM member allegedly launched "a flying saucer together with teacup" hitting another Member, as well as the assault by a Member of Parliament on a Deputy Mayor at a polling station on election day. "What do you expect from such MPs when their leadership shamelessly uses the violence of terrorist thugs to win an election?" he asked rhetorically. Panday described PM Patrick Manning’s 2004/2005 Budget presentation as "robber talk," saying that he wondered if the date for Carnival 2005 had been shifted to October 8. He said that at the heart of the society’s malaise was the lack of leadership. "This Prime Minister’s most distinguishing characteristic, despite his laser treatment, is his worsening myopia and astigmatic strabismus," he said. Panday said the future was not about CEPEP, house padding and dividing the nation on ethnic lines for political advantage.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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