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Multiculturally Sensitive and Ethnically Responsive
Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2004

By Stephen Kangal

In the face of the bold Statement contained within the recent Eight Principles of Fairness admitting of the existence of widespread discrimination as well as having regard to Mr. Justice Deyalsingh's conclusion that "racial discrimination has always been the policy of the PNM" (Newsday 31 Oct. p 10) I wish to comment on the annual Civic and Awards Ceremony held by the PNM-controlled Tunapuna-Piarco Regional Corporation on 28 October at Bishop Anstey High School in Trincity.

Tunapuna has traditionally, and prides itself, on being an ethnically balanced and harmonious marginal constituency. I want it to be so having had a long association with this piedmont town beginning 1955.

I must thank the Corporation for conferring an award on me at the said ceremony. However, the Corporation's PNM Administration does not and must not be allowed to exercise a self-imposed, divine right or monopoly to divide Tunapuna ethnically and alienate and exclude half of the burgesses while still pandering to the slogan of "leaving no one behind" in typically true deceptive PNM style.
Let us remind ourselves of the words of Mr. Justice Deyalsingh:

"The PNM's mantra is that the Government of this country by some kind of magical right belongs to the negro (African)."

That Tunapuna-Piarco Civic Reception infringed all the tenets underlying the compelling need for public and private entities to sincerely strive to be multi-culturally sensitive and ethnically responsive at all times in rainbow T&T.

Why do we the culturally disenfranchised and the incremental- majority- marginalised have to observe and practice eternal vigilance and spend so much time to demand respect, cultural co-existence and equality when it should have been the prevailing civilised norm since 1956? Why must we make Mr. Justice Deyalsingh, a sober, level headed gentleman and eminent jurist, if there was ever one, so seething with anger in his retirement in the face of the several injustices that he feels is being perpetrated by the PNM?

While I congratulate the Corporation for achieving a PNM record of 25%-75% Indo-Afro ethnic imbalance among the awardees, the evening's cultural programme was unashamedly Afro-monopolised and deliberately excluded the cultural expressions of half of the burgesses. And this in the presence of the Ag PM/ Minister of Culture Senator Joan Yuille- Williams and her Culture Deputy, MP for Tunapuna Eddie Hart.

To compound matters further the prayer that could and should have been inter-faith was exclusively Pentecostal even though the President of the IRO, Rev. Cyril Paul was in attendance among the awardees. Additionally the Corporation's Week of 12th Anniversary Celebrations featured exclusively calypso and carnival art forms. It telegraphed that the indigenous Indian art forms so abundant, popular and widespread within the Corporation were to be marginalised and excluded. I am getting tired and depressed of having to be the plaintiff so often. It as if the powers that be naturally and spontaneously discriminate and a great effort has to and must be made to avoid acting in a non-discriminatory manner. And this after 42 years of nationhood, a lot of hot air about cherishing diversity and a Vision 2020 manifesto geared to take us into developed country status but where discrimination and monopolisation of the resources of the public patrimony will be the prevailing norms by one group.

A Civic/Awards Ceremony must transcend political partisanship. It must embrace all shades of cultural interests and political/social aspirations within the Corporation. But my Tunapuna-Piarco Corporation singularly awards Mr. Roodal Lalman for long, loyal and devoted service to the PNM and says so openly and unashamedly to the disgust of all the right-thinking in the audience. This Tunapuna-Piarco Corporation is conducting its burgesses back to the discriminatory-based era of the 60's rather than forward to the 2020 Vision all-inclusive target.

I feel that I have a duty to put a stop to this endemic, ingrained and persistent non-sense. But I am getting tired in my old age and prosecuting the jihad is lonely at the top.

I would have refused my award for Community Service publicly there and then from the Corporation were it now for my respect and deep admiration for Senator Joan Yuille- Williams who presented it to me and spoke kindly of me.

I want to publicly thank the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Culture, Community Development and Gender Affairs with whom I have the most amicable relations.

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