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Telegraphing Wrong Signals to Criminals
Posted: Sunday, August 1, 2004

By Stephen Kangal

To express my disappointment on several aspects of the PM's Address to the Nation on Crime (Newsday 29 July, p.13) is surely an understatement. The Prime Minister started off on the wrong footing at the very beginning of his address by focussing pointedly on "unacceptable levels of murders" but deliberately avoiding an equal emphasis on the kidnapping menace - a national disgrace. Kidnapping is ravaging our cosmopolitanism by inducing stress, trauma, psychotic fears on the weak and defenseless and driving the flight of the critical mass of our entrepreneurs and our human capital to safer climes.

Listening to the address I expected The Hon PM to accord the kidnapping crime being perpetrated with impunity against T&T humanity including the babies and innocent, a high priority and profile to assuage our fears and provide hope. But this did not appear to be politically correct. It anyone is the victim of hopelessness it is the law-abiding population embedded in a siege mentality.

Since when are the criminals/kidnappers stronger, better equipped and more organised than the 10,000 plus members of the Protective Services? This is a deliberate myth. Minister Joseph is on record as saying that only a few criminals are holding T&T to ransom. The current National Security budget is in excess of $2bn with more to come from Minister Joseph on top of the recent 30% increase in police remuneration. There is an accumulated policing infrastructure from umpteenth budgetary allocations and a duplicated, ace crime- fighting, obscenely funded unit headed by another regimental Brigadier Joseph. There is no relief from lawlessness in sight with layers and layers of expensive bureaucracy. Only TV talk and no walk!

We cannot interdict criminals on land but we are intensifying policing efforts on sea. This is the joke of the century. The poison pen of the late Patrick Chokolingo and the comic inventiveness of the late Chanka Maharaj would have had a field day.

Criminals will continue to infringe the laws, disregard lack lustre policing and hold us to ransom once they can reasonably foresee that they will not be caught or arrested. It is simple as that. Politicians at times unwittingly and at times deliberately through their foolish pronouncements as well as by their silent inaction provide fodder for criminals to prosecute their nefarious trade in human cargo and banditry. Who said kidnappings were staged?

The correlation between the exogenous factors of unemployment, irrelevant schooling, hopelessness and crime has not been clearly established. What of the endogenous factors such as the psychological ease, comfort, lack of "the compunction visitings of nature" with which the current underworld are using superior aggression and weaponry to relieve their hapless and hopeless victims of their hard-earned property with impunity?

Politicians concoct all types of irrelevant and extraneous reasons to rationalise and explain the lack of their ability to govern effectively. They lack of the political will to rid the society of lawlessness and to undertake radical reform of the police recruiting criteria to obtain a greater spread of both geography and ethnicity in the ranks. County St. George has a divine monopoly on the resources of the state and the rest of us suffer in silence. We must recruit other guards to guard the County St. George guards and dismantle the rogue element and the cartel in the Police Service.

The youths of the rural heartland live daily under the strains and stresses of unemployment, no easy access to skills training, no URP/CEPEP and suffer in silence. There are no statal contingency response programmes to train, employ or provide hope. They still do not take up arms against a sea of troubles.

We can only solve the crime pandemic when we diagnose it accurately and not exploit and use crime-related occasions to find jobs for the boys or to promote regimental majors or throw more money after bad.

How will we determine and enroll "the vulnerable members in our communities"? Will "community leaders" select them? Will they be the same ones who were defended by Minister Rowley and his poodle in Parliament in the COSTAAT matter? Must the rural young and restless and hopeless become criminals/drug pushers to get attention as well? The young pushers of Frederick Settlement were left with hopelessness to be wiped out by the gallows with no counselling for their parents.

In those proposed "month modules" please teach actual and potential criminals, if you can locate them, inter alia, the relationship between law and societal survival, the sanctity of human life especially of babies, the Hindu doctrine of Karma and Equilibrium, Hell and Damnation with the help of Pastor Dottin as well as how not to live on kidnapping ransoms, stealing other people's property and the parasitic survival of the physically strongest/more aggressive as evidence of animalism in the wild. Forget those topics identified by the Prime Minister as it is merely a fašade to employ consultants as tutors with no relief in the offing.

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