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The Politics of Prayer
Posted: Sunday, June 27, 2004

By Stephen Kangal

The IRO must resist any and all attempts to be enlisted by the Manning Administration as willing pawns and participants in the politics of prayer. The IRO will recall the negative reaction to their last prayer offered in Parliament by the Honourable Prime Minister although the prayer was not consigned or directed to him but at the Almighty.

Let us remind ourselves of this famous invocation line:

"We ask your forgiveness for the times when in our desire to score points we make statements and say things which we know are not true and responsible".

These words although apt and to the point bear no direct relationship to the levels of political deception being currently conducted by both Government and Opposition on the Police Reform Bills.

They are in fact the supplications uttered by Rev. Cyril Paul, Head of the IRO during his prayer at the September 29 Opening of Parliament. I suggest that this prayer must constitute the backdrop against which the IRO will participate in the Multicultural Period of Prayer on behalf of the welfare of the Nation and not specifically in connection with the passage of the Police Reform Bills.

The IRO cannot be seduced into being used and abused to telegraph that God is on the side of the Government (the good) and prayers must be directed at getting the "non-God-fearing" Opposition (the bad and ugly) to support the bills.

The Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2003 is geared to and will entrench jurisdiction and control over the Police Service into the devious hands of a constitutionalised Westminster dictatorship to create a police state targeting, inter alia, potential political dissidents and opponents. This Bill is as dangerous as the aborted Karl Public Order Act. Remember the Senior Superintendent who unilaterally outlawed Tassa in multicultural Fyzabad and threatened to imprison the Sugar Union bosses on Labour Day with a wave of his baton.

The PMA should be constituted and members appointed by The President acting in his sole discretion as a compromise to avert potential political manipulations.

The IRO must never abandon its neutrality and policy of non- interference and partisanship in domestic politics by staging a prayer vigil that is tantamount to being a cog in the current political wheeling and dealing. Will the IRO please pray for more equity/balance in police/army recruitment and for the purging of the rogue element in the Police Service and the current police-kidnapper collusion? Will the IRO offer prayers to prevent the politicisation of the Police Service and the creation of a police state and pray instead for the COP to inspire greater police motivation and effectiveness in protecting and serving T&T? The IRO's prayer agenda must not be dictated and influenced by the political directorate.

Will the IRO volunteer and allow itself to become an unpaid, extended module of the $2m advertising blitz that has been unleashed on the unsuspecting and besieged multicultural community that targeted Indians by using Indian actors including an innocent primary Indian student? In the process wild, unfounded insinuations, exaggerations and blatant misinformation have been employed to stir panic into parading the bills as the panacea to arresting the mushrooming crime pandemic.

The objective of all this cosmetic sound and fury, of this media hype is deriving political mileage from the skilful use of expensive spin doctors to generate sensationalism to politicise not only the Police Service but to recruit the IRO as an accessory to the fruition of the covert political agenda. But the advertising, politically motivated blitz has backfired. The Bills have been unceremoniously de-Senatised and there is an unexpected escalating tide of opposition against the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2003.

Meanwhile the agents of the free media are exulting all the way to the banks at taxpayers' expense.

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