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Editorial: Disturbing trend we can do without


Disturbing trend we can do without

The note to former UNC Minister Carlos John threatening his life and the lives of his relatives is the latest in a disturbing trend of events as the date of the general election draws nearer.

First was the discovery of $1.5 million worth of cocaine and two mortar bombs in a water tank at the home of Sadiq Baksh, a colleague of Mr John’s in Mr Panday’s Cabinet and a high-profile UNC prospective candidate for the coming election.

Then followed the discovery of a number of bullets in the ceiling of a public toilet at the office of the football big wig, Jack Warner, well known as a supporter of the UNC.

One can draw any number of conclusions from this sequence of events. One is that somebody is trying to send a message to the UNC. But what sort of message? And who is sending it?

Political opponents of Mr Panday’s party are unlikely to give it serious attention. Election campaigns have been known for the introduction of what are known as “dirty tricks”, actions by one side designed to make the other side look bad.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that neither the ruling PNM nor the UNC nor any of their rivals for public office would refuse to yield to the temptation to earn political profit likely to be gained by indulging in such exercises.

Regrettably, such tactics are par for the course in election campaigning here and abroad. The people of this country do not lack the enterprise and are not without the initiative to try political tricks aimed at rubbing the noses of their opponents in the dirt.
Yet whenever an issue of this sort arises, the police and the public must take it seriously. They must do so because the threat might be real, coming from a source that is concerned with more than mischief, one whose aim is to do harm.

It is like those bomb threats that turn up every so often in Port-of-Spain and outside, when buildings have to be cleared of all personnel while police conduct a meticulous search of the premises and turn up with nothing.

No reports have been made of the discovery of bombs in these circumstances. But the protective services would be foolish to refuse to respond because one of these days the threat might be a real one.

And so it is with the threat to the life of Mr John and, even more deplorably, his relatives whose only involvement in this affair is that they are members of his family. There is a touch of mischief here, as only a person of disordered mind would wish to harm someone because he or she is related to a politician with whom they may have problems.

At the same time it is utterly irresponsible of Mr John without any evidence to assume the PNM is behind it. There is nothing to suggest the ruling party would gain anything from this affair. After all, Mr John is not going to be a candidate in the next general election. So why target him and his relatives?

Indeed, it might equally be argued that it was done with the aim of stirring up sympathy for him at a time when he has come under scrutiny for his role in the Tidco/NREP scandal.

It is also quite wrong for him to say the death threat has added a new dimension to politics. Hansraj Sumair-singh, the regional council chairman, was murdered. Ken Gordon’s life was threatened, and the UNC cannot claim to be free from suspicion of involvement in such goings-on.

The police have enough on their hands. Saddling them with the need to investigate election campaign shenanigans is a burden they could do without. Unfortunately, tension is likely to grow greater as the days pass.

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