Conflicting Signals on Race Relations
Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2003
By Stephen Kangal
The progressive realisation of healthy race relations, peaceful cultural co-existence and socio-economic equity is the sine qua non to the future integrity and economic viability of T&T. All citizens must begin to appreciate that the achievement of harmonious race relations is indeed their core business. They must insist that Government including organisations and individuals does not address and treat with race relations in a cavalier, cosmetic and contradictory manner. We have hitherto committed this error of omission by our unfortunate inability to get Government to kick-start the national dialogue on the subject.
I find it exceedingly unpalatable and highly irresponsible that simultaneous to the Government via The President and the Prime Minister according the issue of race relations the requisite front burner status by the appointment of two Race Relations Committees conflicting signals are being given that are likely to prejudice and undermine the seriousness of the exercise and call into question the attendant credibility factor.
A brief summary of some of these conflicting signals is:
The composition of T&T's Carifesta Contingent to Suriname that violated and ignored all the tenets of our multiculturalism in our projection of T&T image to the external world;
Th planned closure of the Indian Radio Channel 91.1 FM that is the only profit making transmission of NBN;
The non-enforcement of the Equal Opportunities Act and the establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission;
The most irresponsible statement made by MP Hinds resurrecting and repeating the unfortunate recalcitrant and hostile minority accusation articulated originally by the late Dr.Williams in the face of the PM's claim that the PNM had straddled the racial divide;
The throwing of 9,000 Caroni workers on the bread line and inflicting on them an uncertain and bleak future in a most callous and uncaring act of grave injustice;
At the same time allocating more than $500m to CEPEP and URP;
The antagonism being generated against members of MPATT in blatant denial of their fundamental rights to undertake industrial relations strategies in pursuit of their entitlement to a fair and equitable wage and the introduction of Cuban scab labour;
The preponderance of the East-West Corridor in the membership of the two Race Relations Committees appointed;
The exclusion of the consideration of discrimination based on geography/location by the non-appointment of representatives of the rural dispossessed and marginalised and the THA in these Committees;
The treatment accorded to certain vendors at the San Juan market that the MP Dr Fuad Khan has alleged is conditioned by the ethnicity of those who are being victimized from earning a decent and honest living.
Singling out the Afro- Trini male for affirmative action with respect to admission to COSTAAT in the face of the large pool of unskilled Indo-Trini males.
The only redeeming factor is the welcome introduction and incorporation of East Indian cultural categories in the Prime Minister's Best Village Trophy Competition.
It must be business unusual.
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