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Senator Ramchand Must Apologise
Posted: Monday, August 29, 2005

by Stephen Kangal

Senator Ramchand, Chairman of the President's two-year old National Self -Discovery Committee has now joined UWI Principal Dr. B. Tewarie in using a steel brush to paint a negative and distorted portrait of Dharti Mai T&T. Both of these leaders must be called upon to apologise unconditionally to the people of T&T for unwitting misrepresentation. Politics has its own code of morality. That sense of right and wrong does not always accord with the values of mainstream culture.

Senator Ramchand says:

"The two major political parties have almost stopped people from thinking. They have helped to destroy patriotism because many people are more loyal to political party than to the country." (Guardian 24 Aug. p.12)

This convoluted logic suggests:

-the population of T&T can and is in fact distributed into two political parties;

-they have virtually stopped people from thinking outside the box of political parties.

They have also destroyed all loyalty to T&T because party loyalty precedes and supplants it.

- The NAR is not guilty of this even in miniscule applications because the population cannot politically check beyond two.

Independent Senator Professor Kenneth Ramchand has branded one of the most intelligent, articulate, educated and progressively wealthy Caribbean nation with developed country credentials as consisting of mindless zombies (stopped thinking), PNM/UNC robots (exclusively party faithful) and traitors (unpatriotic) to T&T. That is why he said what he said. He anticipated our mindlessness would not produce a retort to his wild, unsubstantiated allegations.

He must tell us when, where and how did his Committee carry out the requisite surveys/ investigations to validate this observed widespread behavioural pattern. He owes it to us to disclose the basis on which the Committee has arrived at findings that are clearly invalid. But they are also insulting to and derogatory of our levels of our literacy, critical thinking and intelligence.

My information is that this view does not have the official backing of his Committee but is exclusively personally subjective to its Chairman.

Would the Professor agree that consecutive changes of governments notably the PNM meltdown of 1986 triggered by an NAR coalition of parties as well as thereafter in 1991, 1995, 2001, 2002 and the tie of 2001 cannot be the result of his alleged political party robotics? I believe that other members of the National Self-Discovery Committee must in good conscience disassociate themselves from his flippant and misleading statement.

I am convinced that this is another myth that is being foisted on Trinbagonians. Do I have to list the tertiary institutions, media columnists/commentators, talk radio/TV shows, print dailies and weeklies, letters to the editors etc. to validate widespread levels of intellectual ferment and critical thinking that drive and power the cosmopolitan richness of our multicultural mosaic?

The persistent widespread concerns articulated on the crime/ kidnapping pandemic, CMAC/The Keith Noel 136 Committee/ Crime-stoppers Inc, current inept governance/ opposition, our international image, surfeit of NGO's are only some convincing indices of manifest loyalty and patriotism to T&T. Why did the 1970 and 1990 coup attempts fail? Did not the people transcend the ethnic/ political/ social divide and act in patriotic, unified defence of our native land by refusing to validate the undemocratic elements of tyranny? The spontaneous out-flowing of patriotism immediately post-1990 is still remembered.

The factor that determines our inseparable emotional connexion with and patriotism to T&T is the all-pervading, irresistible principle of the territorial imperative. That Principle is more powerful and overriding than the relatively cosmetic coalition of interests endemic in the membership of political parties. In fact the growing phenomenon of PIP's (Party in Power) support base makes political affiliation transient, interests -based, floating and temporary. How then can the electorate be so party- regimented/ corralled according to Professor Ramchand's thesis that party membership which is so small (PNM 28%), shifting, as the UNC has experienced since October 2002, can dictate our levels of patriotism and lack of intellectual objectivity? The simultaneous application of the criteria of party, ethnicity and geography would produce only two identical groups of Trinbagonians? How then does one become more crucial than the other two criteria?

I hasten to add that the advent of a sizeable educated, articulate middle class Indo-T&T intelligentsia is what is challenging the distorted ethno-socio-economic status quo that is skewed against them. That is the root cause of much of the pseudo- ethnic relations tension in T&T today that must be of concern to Ramchand's Presidential Committee. It must bridle its obsession for delving into the social history of selected villages such as Tobago, Tunapuna, Chaguanas, Arima Carib Community and soon Laventille.

The Committee must understand that the kidnapping scourge in which Indians are targeted is causing, according to Dr. Tewarie, people to abandon T&T in droves. It is also resulting in stressful ethnic relations. Having to choose between delving into the social history of Chaguanas ( as Ramchand insists) on the one hand and investigating the kidnapping problem from a prescriptive viewpoint on the other, it must give precedence to the latter because its public remit is to improve ethnic relations. However its mandate does emphasize this aspect of ethnic relations although it proposes to conduct a land-ethnicity symposium.

If the Chairman continues in his personal genre of unilateralism that supersedes and replaces the sober, well-thought-out, collective decision-making process involving the other members the pronouncements of the National Self-Discovery Committee will lack validity and lose their credibility incrementally. How then can it achieve its objective of promoting " ...a knowledge and understanding of one another among the various ethnicities...?"

In conclusion multicultural T&T is made of many ethnic-based communities (e.g. Indian, African, Chinese). It is also a community of communities (Together We Aspire Together We Achieve) to which we the individuals that comprise the communities instinctively (through the territorial imperative) transfer our allegiance, patriotism and loyalty. Having to choose between the two we will all choose the latter.

This note is invoked in the First Principles of the Eight Principles of Fairness that reads:

1. We are committed to building Trinidad and Tobago as a united nation, with its peoples though of different origins having common hopes and aspirations".

We will give our lives to defend and safeguard T&T's integrity should circumstances arise because of the overriding all powerful man-land imperative. Political parties do not figure in this fundamentally permanent and lasting equation given their transience, a shifting interests base/membership/loyalty, self-destruction and adherence to mantra of maximum leadership syndromes.

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