Don’t nail judge to race-cross

By Raffique Shah
May 30, 2017

Raffique ShahFor some time now I have sounded warnings to our tribal leaders, more specifically those in the frontline of the United National Congress, that they are playing with fire by fanning the embers of racial strife that could easily ignite. While we have enjoyed relative harmony in a world wracked by ethnic and religious strife, the absence of war between the two main tribes in this country does not necessarily mean peace.

The offenders do not have me to study, as Trinis would say. They keep stoking the fire, not too subtly. Then, when a race-incident of a nasty nature flares up, they express righteous indignation and cast blame on everyone but themselves.

Last week, after the Court of Appeal ruled against three injunctions Justice Frank Seepersad had granted the UNC in the Property Tax issue, and on the Judicial and Legal Services Commission appointment of two new judges, Seepersad was subjected to a barrage of insults and abuse that reeked of race, mostly on the social media, by persons who clearly believed he had acted not on law, but on tribal instincts.

So vitriolic were the assaults on Seepersad, the Law Association and prominent attorneys rushed to his rescue (rather than defence) in the face of the judge being tarred and feathered in the public domain in a campaign that treaded perilously close to physical violence.

And who were the architects of this racial backlash? I submit that by their undisguised politicising of Seepersad’s injunctions, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Anand Ramlogan and Devant Maharaj, among frontline UNC spokespersons, were responsible.

I shall explain why. When Ramlogan, through Devant Maharaj, applied for, and was granted, an injunction restraining the Commissioner of Valuations from demanding that property owners submit the controversial forms, I concurred with the ruling. I was not aware that there were procedural errors which the Appeal Court deemed fatal.

I had earlier accused Finance Minister Colm Imbert of bullying law-abiding citizens who wanted to pay the tax, threatening us with fines, and refusing to extend the exercise over a reasonable period of time.

However, when Seepersad extended the order to prohibit property owners from voluntarily submitting the forms, I thought that was radically wrong. How could any judge prevent me from participating in a lawful exercise or paying a tax I chose to pay? No way!

The Appeal Court confirmed my “bush lawyer” opinion and ruled as I thought it would in the JLSC matter. By themselves, the reversals do not diminish Seepersad’s stature as a judge, although he may have suffered a bruised ego.

To return to the substantive matter of race, Seepersad did not select himself on the applications for injunctions, nor could Ramlogan select him. Therefore, there could hardly have been collusion between the two parties.

But when Ramlogan, flanked by an all-Indian cast upon emerging from the court, declared victory in a matter that was in its preliminary stage and was yet to be tested in open court, people, especially those who do not support the UNC, became suspicious.

They did not know of the rotation of judges to sit on urgent or emergency matters, or of computers randomly selecting judges, something I was unaware of. Suspicions grew wilder when Seepersad adjudicated on the JLSC matter while he was Tobago via video-conferencing. Bloggers on the social media peddled the judge’s prowess to write up a lengthy ruling overnight, and conspiracy theories, all racially-tinted, abounded.

Adding fuel to the race-fire, the UNC trio trumpeted victory in all three injunctions, misleading the public into believing that Seepersad’s interim injunctions were final.

Informed citizens knew that Kamla, Ramlogan and Devant were being deviant. They remembered how Kamla had claimed victory when the High Court agreed to hear the UNC’s application to nullify the general election results in five marginal constituencies. And even after the court ordered that the results stand, she still declared victory based on the censuring of the Elections and Boundaries Commission.

But that was hardly surprising. After all, the ex-Prime Minister had claimed victory in the 2013 local government elections in which the UNC had been comprehensively beaten.

While it is permissible to delude oneself if you so wish, or mislead your diehard supporters and sycophants if they are stupid enough to believe you, it is wrong to indirectly implicate a judge as being supportive of your legal misadventures, and further, to expose him to racial abuse.

I do not know Justice Seepersad except by his rulings that appear in the media, many of which I find sound. I do not believe he will surrender his judicial integrity on the altar of political or racial bias. Most judges err on occasion, which is why there are the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council.

I think I have the moral authority to call on those who are attacking the judge on the basis of race to stop it. If you must nail someone to the race-cross, look beyond the bench, into the gutter where politicians of a certain ilk wallow in filth.

30 thoughts on “Don’t nail judge to race-cross”

  1. You see a man’s face, not knowing what’s in his heart, i agree with you piece Brother Shah, but the judge didn’t adhere to the oath of neutrality, ethnicity took that away. The computer software was manipulated to have the judge sit on these cases, and being a bush lawyer, i articulated the outcome.The former prime minister, as i commented before was wrong to opined on the case,and should have stayed neutral.Your consistency on issues over the years have been truly beneficial in allaying the fears of a multi-ethnic society.Hotep.

  2. Shah haul yuh tail, you belong to the ole crab in a barrel generation. When rain fall yuh come out of yuh hole but quickly disappear as soon as it stop.

    This Rowley lead administration continue to take more than their fair share. They behave as an out of control drunkard who goes home to his children, assault them and send them to bed hungry belly. The excuse the PNM always uses is like a well worn dirty underwear, we have no money. Yet their MP racked up a $92,000 bill in three days, caviar, champayne and women. Another one in 4 days spent $58,000 in roaming charges. Yes they know how to fool the people, raid the treasury, give money and contracts to friends and family.

    The first thing the finance minister said without any evidence, “the PP tief out the money”. They conveniently the Malcolm jones $3.5 billion WGTL fiasco. When Kamla took charge of the government she had to deal with this,Clico $25 billion, Ministry of Housing $8 BILLION—–WASA $4 BILLION —-Outstanding VAT $2 BILLION—Owed Contractors $2 BILLION—–Loan for Waterfront $2.7 BILLION—-Outstanding Fuel Subsidy $6 BILLION—–Loan for Tarouba Stadium $500 MILLION—–Loan for RACKET RAIL $500 MILLION—–Outstanding Wage Negotiations $9 BILLION—-Almost $60 BILLION in outstanding debts and that’s just a fraction. This was what Manning and his gang of thieves left for Kamla to deal with. But you did not hear UNC supporters calling Manning a thief. Even though he Tief.

    Kamla was able to leave $32 billion in saving in the HSF and Forex reserve. Yes she left the nation in tip top financial state. Today it keeps heading downward. With no reversal in sight. The PNM psychopaths are blinded by the balisier bush rum like you are Shah. But the Privy council will stop the draconian measures imposed on the citizenry. Balisier house will be burnt by the rising Sun. And the PNM won no election Shah, they stole the last one because it is in their DNA to do such.

    1. “Kamla was able to leave $32 billion in saving in the HSF and Forex reserve. Yes she left the nation in tip top financial state”…. Mamoo

      If I were to maximize all my credit cards, honor the monthly payments of its debt, pay my workers, secure the health and security of all the institutions that fall within my jurisdiction, take care of all my financial obligations and Im doing it with a depleted income. If on top of all this I have to burrow money to meet my obligations, should I be considered financially secure? I am sure this is the condition which a lot of people are experiencing and it comes as no surprise that the present government also is experiencing. When numbers are placed without regard to consequences and with opinionated suggestion of wrong doing it becomes foolishness. The country’s was left with maximized debts with all of its creditors when Kamla left government. In other words if our credit with creditors A, B, C and D were maximized at 65B each, it means that we had to look at other ways to fund the government because our traditional sources of income viz; oil, gas and methanol no longer bring in the the kind of money that we had gotten accustomed to. This is the environment that we exist in today, no amount of spin can alter that reality.

      There is a powerful non-patriotic minority that forms the Opposition in this country and while the government is trying to bring us back to solvency, they will do and say anything to ensure that we are stuck in the racial and ethnic divide that they feel so comfortable with. No amount of vitriol can undo the harm that they have done to this country and we should be mindful each and every time that are allowed to say something on behalf of the state of our economy. It would be of no consequence to match the idiotic statements of this blogger because his words speak resoundingly of his ignorance and hate of those whom he does not favor (even though they are trying to make the country better).

  3. are you saying that the unc is the only party that play along racial lines if so you are a fool and if not please change what you have wriiten, my shah you are a pnm supporter so by default bias

  4. Race is a tricky issue in Trinidad (period). It is not just played out in personal terms but political and economic as well.
    The issues of a social nature arises, it becomes racial when those favoring the political or ethnic outcome voice approval by reason of ethnicity rather than by reason of content and context.
    In this regard Raff’s warning that “the absence of war between the two main tribes in this country does not necessarily mean peace.” Bloggers who favor or defend the UNC’s political dictum
    inflame the argument, when the UNC, through its most vocal mouthpieces fan hatred in its most ugliest and contentious forms.
    Case in point, raymond is saying by his accusation, that Mr. Shah either does not possess the wisdom nor is he qualified to be objective. He further pushes his hatred for what Mr. Shah is saying by stating blatantly that Mr. Shah (an Indian) could NEVER be objective because he could only see the wrong on a clearly defined racial bias that the UNC committed, even though this is an issue that the UNC pushed to its conclusion. It is for this reason we should herald those among us who view issues purely in terms of merits or demerits. We should salute Mr. Shah for for emblazoning this issue for what it really is, even though it was clothed in the form of governance, party, judgement and “fight for the people”. Devant Maharaj was definitely used as the symbolic aggrieved party – meaning the people. Then there was Mamoo “Shah haul yuh tail, you belong to the ole crab in a barrel generation. When rain fall yuh come out of yuh hole but quickly disappear as soon as it stop.” If I had written the same words verbatim I doubt very much that I would have been attacked in the way Mamoo pointed those vitriolic words to Raff. It is the classic study that make up the racial character of what is considered Indian behavior in Trinidad – if an Indian does not follow the dictate of the hindu, then he cannot be considered a part of the Indian community – SAD!

    My blogs on the Frank Seepersad rulings speak for themselves. IN this country we have got to get back to the reading of the letter and spirit of the law rather than manipulating it to suit a favorable conclusion. In the opinion of many, that is exactly what Judge Seepersad did. It further infuriated that feeling when he (in his wisdom) concluded that I, as citizen and an individual CANNOT exercise my constitutional right to adhere to a government requirement to fill out a form. This ruling was STUPID even for the most ignorantly uninformed. The natural conclusion one had to contend in this case was that the judge’s ruling was racial rather than judicial. To make matters even worse, Anand Ramlogan is on record that he has favorite judges and favorite locations to rule on his cases. While I was not aware that judge Seepersad was one of them, there was definite information out there that Judith Jones was among those he considered a surety when he appeared before her. When this kind of information is public, is it any wonder that the judiciary in this country has become so predictable and ridiculous? We have lost sanity in this country and it is about time we get back to the ruling on constitutionality and not allow ambiguity to be used when it suits our fancy. In the last seven years, we have seen too much stupidity in the public place, where we, the ordinary citizens have to swallow to hide our hurt, when men and women of honor are supposed to guide us. The Constitution was NOT written in a vacuum. In other words, it was built on the framework of tested and tried law, emanating from the ten commandments, through the ages of Caesarean, colonial and other forms of legal entanglements to comprehend the state of mankind.
    So, naturally when a judge like Frank Seepersad tells me as an individual that I CANNOT voluntarily pay my taxes, he is DEAD WRONG. He can say the way in which the government is wrong, he can say that the form did not fulfill all the necessary requirements but to deprive me of fulfilling my constitutional right HE HAS TO BE CONSIDERED WRONG OR RACIST.

    We need constitutional reforms to bring the judiciary in line with the expectations of law. Too often we see cases like the now famous Section 34, the rulings of the Integrity Commission under its present Chairman, the challenges to the JLSC rulings, public appointments, the challenges to the appointment of the Police Commissioner and many seemingly silly challenges because the complainants want to have political advantage rather than lawful claim. The UNC is famous for these silly challenges and it is cluttering our Courts of Justice. The criminal cases which are many many thousands in backlog take a backseat to the political and racially charged complaints by the UNC. WHY IS THE JUDICIARY GIVING THESE CASES TOP BILLING while at the same time allowing criminals to walk free (on bail) among us allowing them to continue in their criminal ways for years and years without being brought to trial? It is time the judiciary throw out these silly cases and bring into focus cases that really mattered to the people. When Judge Seepersad and company address these issues, then we can look upon them with the dignity that they deserve. Failing that, our society will continue to fall apart with the help of the judiciary, the political and social dictates. And people like Kamla, Ramlogan, Devant and
    Sat will continue using our judicial to tie up cases, prevent the issues of crime and corruption to be placed in the background of what really matters to the citizens of this country.

    Up till this point we have not yet experienced social upheaval in this country (knock on wood). But that should not be taken to mean that we are unaware of this inconsistencies and unfair rulings of those who are supposed to know better. ON the individual side of things, I believe that we are patient, honorable, considerate and welcoming of each other but when the torch of anarchy is lit by those who seek to gain politically, it might become easy to put friend against friend, brother against brother and sister against sister. Yes, we need to correct those among us who wish to keep us divided and confrontational. If calling them by name might be upsetting to some, then so be it, but we must continue to be vigil and impatient with words like “blood flowing in the streets” and “making the country ungovernable” uttered by those who want to lead us.

    1. if you are quoting rebuttle me please do it accurately . my point again is unc is not the only party that plays on race line as mr shah wants to boldly portray and the perception of shaw base on his colums has shown that he’s a pnm supporter and that makes him bias and from where I stand he is

  5. A judge is limited to what is in the law books. The PNM judges do not adhere to what the law says but what they believe the law meant to say. Case in point when the EBC decided to extend the voting in the last General Elections by an hour contrary to what is stipulated in the law. Along came the Chief Justice and a few PNM judges offering their own interpretation of the law. In the final ruling it was agreed that the EBC acted outside the accordance of the law. But the CJ offered his opinion or provided a “legal position” contrary to what is in the law. He acts in the interest of his masters. If the UNC had won the election and the same challenge was issue he would have acted in favour of the PNM. That is why the Privy Council is necessary in keeping this malicious out of control government in check.

    The institutions of the nation is marred with the PNM elitist controlling the gates and as such justice is mocked at by their actions. The current Prime Minister accused the former prime minister of corruption by bringing some emails to Parliament. There was an integrity commission investigation colluding was media magnate Ken Gordon the chair of that Commission. In the middle of the night he discussed the particulars of emailgate and then embrace the idea of an investigation to bring down KPB. The police investigation is still on going and to this date it is still an open investigation, can anyone trust the PNM. What they can’t control they destroy…

  6. And who were the architects of this racial backlash? I submit that by their undisguised politicising of Seepersad’s injunctions, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Anand Ramlogan and Devant Maharaj, among frontline UNC spokespersons, were responsible.(SHAH)

    Only a coward or a PNM apologist would suggest that the behavior of these UNC spokespersons is a justification for racist rants. There is nothing unusual about declaring victory when one wins. I cannot find a single member of T&T society who is not aware of how the appeal court system works.
    The attempt to blame the UNC for anti Indian rhetoric and hostile racist attacks and assumptions is disingenuous. To excuse or rationalize the racist reaction in this situation is pampering and supporting the racists.

  7. The antagonism was directed against the judge because he is an Indian. That is the definition of racism. There is absolutely no justification or rationale which can be made to excuse this behavior.
    To attempt to do so shows a lack of understanding of the concept of racism. Shah undermines his own credibility by both justifying racism and also calling for an end to it by redirecting it to others.

  8. The issue of how the government went about collecting data for Property Tax must be challenged. According to the 2010 property tax law you were not required to submit 14 documents containing all your private information to a government official. The government exceeded its legal requirement by requesting information that I consider private. Further the law states that a government official can forcibly enter your home despite your protestations. People like Kian who sleeps in his dingy Brooklyn apartment is comfortable with submitting all these 14 documents in less than two months time. Most people do not have 1/2 the required documents.

    If we are to believe Shah we must all bend our backs and take the blows massa delivers. Indians were not slaves and as such we don’t have to take the crap massa shelling out. In South Africa, Gandhi fought massa and won, he eventually went on to take down the mighty British empire. People like Kian live under the subservient world view, where any load of …. from balisier house is pure gold. With his world view where all he sees is race and nothing but race the PNM elitist could manipulate and control the message because it is wrapped in a black bag. Therefore it does not matter if there is a cobra in that bag.

    To collect property tax, all that should be required is a light bill with your address or a WASA bill and a floor plan of your property. Nothing more should be required.

  9. The topic of race almost always generate heated and sometimes uncontrollable rhetoric. This topic has in just less than twenty four hours done just that. Rationalization is NOT what drives this conversation at this moment, because when theater is brought forward there is always the apologists who stand fast in their defense of there stance (however undefenceable) to protect their RACE. The case of Judge Seepersad is one which RACE trumps any other consideration, plain and simple. Whether intended or not, that was what the outcome signifies. In Trinidad there is always a wall built around the defense of there Indian, no matter how disingenuous. When you ‘attack’ an Indian, the defense is almost ‘you are a racist’, ‘you are PNM’, ‘you are ignorant’ ‘you are PNM till you dead’ and all other stupid suggestions of who and what you really are not. But the defense wall is built to stigmatize you, not because of who or what you are trying to bring forward as a case BUT because ‘attacking’ an Indian is the equivalent of WAR. Most black people are still uncomfortable with even beginning such a conversation because the Indian Defense WALL will always be put up before any other consideration. These conversations, as espoused by those who are not Indians or Indians such as Raffiqe Shah, are meant to keep knocking at these walls. We expect these push backs, because those ‘soldiers’ at the wall will first respond with attacks. But does attacks really solve anything? Do they reaLLY INFORM? DO THEY REALLY create an opening to be objective about race relations or race awareness? NO to all the questions. The defenders of the WALL see us as ‘haters’ no matter how sensible and apparent the issue is. So, if we ever to become a nation of civilized people WE MUST KEEP KNOCKING AT THIS DEFENSE WALL until someone is willing to stop and listen.

    True leaders create their own reality. That reality is spread among the masses and it eventuality becomes the reality of the masses (followers). Kamla Persad Bissessar is an Indian leader but her method of leadership is the promotion of hate and division. Anand Ramlogan is an Indian leader and his method is the same as Kamla. I dare her defenders to tell me or give an occasion in which either of these two EVER addressed a situation where their objective was pleasing to ALL regardless of race, color or creed? This is what we (non Indians) are attempting to do when we address the dysfunctionality in the system of governance and public understanding. Can it make some people
    uncomfortable? Certainly! Do we need to do it? Certainly!

    How do you rationalize the events: The property tax issue comes up, it is predominantly opposed by Indians in the public, private and professional sectors. They make all the arguments that the tax is unfair, the government want to get into your bedroom, it is non of the government business, it is against the law, it is the PNM, PNM this PNM that PNM is evil, etc etc etc. Hurricane Bret comes along and there is devastation in the Indian areas, who are the most belligerent in seeking government help to allay their fears – the Indians!.
    They want the government to come to their aid, they want to know where Rowley is, they want to know if Rowley know that they exist, government must come to their rescue. IN other words they want to have their cake and eat it at the same time. My friends this CANNOT continue to be so. We should be each others keeper, we should look out for each other. But you CANNOT keep calling me names, denigrating me and when you are in trouble expect me to be neighborly towards you! This is the gist of what Raff is talking about. The idea is not to offend but to tell it like it is. When are you going to grow up and tell it like it is. Call a spade a spade, call an orange an orange but when that orange is sour, say that it is also.

    The Orange right now is SOUR. Race relations is SOUR. When there are problems we need to seek answers. In so doing we must first examine the reality of the problems. No one likes to be called out as the bad ones but we must have a starting point in order to recover from this hell that we are becoming. Sat Maharaj, Kamla Persad Bissessar and Anand Ramlogan are not the saviors they appear to be to you and all of us. They are in fact the spoilers. They will spoil things for you, me and every body else in the long run. So, what is wrong with trying to be objective about our problems? We can start at this medium. We can call each other names, we can see things differently in the beginning but we must have an objective to become a nation. Kamla is not a PLAYER TOWARDS THAT REALITY. Anand IS NOT A PLAYER TOWARDS THAT REALITY and SAT IS THE WORST PLAYER TOWARDS THAT REALITY.

    And that is the way it is!!!!

    1. There you go again with your endless diatribe. You sound like PNMite born in the 1950s. Ignorant, aggressive and cannot get beyond yourself and the race issue. Unfortunately were brainwashed perhaps as a child and instead of being an independent thinker you just regurgitating the diet of hate that you grew up on and shaped your current psychosis.

      People like you are predictably racist through the laws of unintended consequence. You cannot get beyond the balisier sentimentality.

      1. I suppose when you spew your vitriol it makes you feel like a man. And it is only because your brain does not allow you to think beyond your POLITICAL affiliation which protects the hindu upbringing. If you really read what I said you would see that I am not talking in political terms but your limited memory only see things in UNC/PNM
        tunnel vision. It shows that you are a hopeless case to argue with because you did not read a word I said. All you know that I am not fund of the UNC or its political messages because it creates creatures like yourself.

    2. what makes you the know it all to say kamla and others are not and are you suggesting that Rowley and his group is? when it comes to the race issue I believe its the reverse Indians are afraid to be open just like the whites in America. in American land taxes are paid and citizens get value for it for example its use as a measurement for the value of properties when buying and selling but also if you don’t pay taxes for whatever reason the government sells it at an auction for whatever the get and now you have lost your land and house

      1. If you read my comments you would see that I predicted responses to my comments in exactly the same way you
        worded your reply. But you even went further, you are now comparing yourself with the whites in America. What happened to your history of being brought here as dalits from the motherland? I guess you are now sayng that you are brahmin and is to be put in the same category with the whites in America. You are the prototype of which I write – a dalit not wanting to be dalit but brahmin/white American. BBRING OUT THE HATE GUYS THATS EXACTLY WHAT I EXPECTED AND SAID WOULD BE THE RESPONSES. FILL YOUR HATEFUL HEARTS WITH ANGER TOWARDS THE OTHER SIDE.

    3. Hurricane Bret comes along and there is devastation in the Indian areas, who are the most belligerent in seeking government help to allay their fears – the Indians!.(KIAN)

      Since the inception of the PNM, areas which “UNC” supporters live have been traditionally neglected. Indians have to continuously and strongly advocate for services in their areas of residence. Why is anyone surprised that they are screaming for help in a time of crisis? Once again the government’s response is a paltry 25 million which is totally inadequate to cover the claims in progress. On the same day the Tobago house of assembly gleefully submits a 5 billion budgetary request in anticipation of raking in the dollars from a friendly PNM government… a total imbalance in terms of population distribution and GDP. Is it any wonder that UNC supporters must resort to loud screaming to be heard?

      1. TMan, yours is a more objective reply and I would respond to you with the respect you deserve, even though we might be on opposite sides of the issue. As one emanating from the South like yourself, I too have often expressed my reservations about the state of some of our communities there. Most of our natural resources come from the south and we should be part of the distributive recepients. But the argument I was making was not about that. I was not saying that those areas should not get help when natural disasters occur. I was simply making the observation that, residents from those areas were vehemently opposed to paying property taxes and now when disaster struck, they are the first to ask for help from the government. That in my mind is representation without taxation. You know this to be true and you can defend your stance in whatever way you choose. I cannot be upset with you if you choose to defend such a stance. But at the same time you should not be against me for making the observation either.

  10. Raff I followed every coma and full-stop in the saga of the property tax and every sitting of the House from Feb 2016 to the present.
    It was Colm Imbert who first politicised the issue in the House and that is why T&T is polarised ethnically/politically on this issue. It was never a voluntary scheme if you read the Hansard Reports. SC Peake at the last minute played the voluntary card but the Judge rejected it and ordered a stay.How can the procedures for the tax be voluntary with deadlines and penalties but derived outside of the law ?.Why is it when Indians are together it is racial but when Africans are together it is solidarity? What you have against Indian lawyers when they are together fighting for a just cause? The PNM has been mishandling the property tax since 2009 and up to 2017 and there are more bungling to come from their incompetence and arrogance.

    1. Stephen, you are an educated and accomplished foreign service professional. I expect that when you write, you should have the capacity to inform those less fortunate, because you possess the knowledge of foreign intrigue and diplomacy. Our minds are not all tied to the navel string UNC and PNM policies. When I want to be political, I am not afraid to say so but I expect a higher level of conversation from you. I wish to exculpate myself from such simplistic characterizations as UNC/PNM mindset because it cheapens one’s intellect. I am sure you can make a case without the unfortunate cheapening of racial invectives.

    2. Raff here is the Hansard Report. Anything tells you that it is voluntary?

      ‘…I am pleased to advise that phase one of the implementation of the property tax regime, which involves the development of the valuation roles has been proceeding smoothly. Starting with residential properties, in the first instance, the Commissioner of Valuations has requested that property owners submit valuation return forms, along with any supporting documents on or before May 22nd, 2017. This form has been mailed out, and has been made available at all offices of the Valuation Division. Madam Speaker, we do not intend to extend this deadline since it is necessary to get on with the job of assessing the rental values and determining the applicable property taxes so that tax collection can commence…”

  11. Kian wrote “How do you rationalize the events: The property tax issue comes up, it is predominantly opposed by Indians in the public, private and professional sectors. They make all the arguments that the tax is unfair, the government want to get into your bedroom, it is non of the government business, it is against the law, it is the PNM, PNM this PNM that PNM is evil, etc etc etc. Hurricane Bret comes along and there is devastation in the Indian areas, who are the most belligerent in seeking government help to allay their fears – the Indians!.”

    The property tax that your government plans to collect is going into the General Fund. Dr. Rowley and Guy smiley Franklyn Khan were all in support of local government reform. Dr. Rowley is on record as saying he will “mark his money” that he gives towards property tax to ensure it stays in his area. One cannot call this property tax and why should anyone support giving money to the government without knowing how and where it will be spent.

    In developed nations people pay property tax, the money stays in the municipalities and is used right there to pay police, fire service, fix and build schools, take care of parks and recreation centers…the regional councillors get to decide where the money is spent to develop communities. The PNM administration do not want councillors to decide where the citizen money will be spent they want to take it all and put it to pay for their bad spending habits. The UNC was prepared to give each regional corporation $10 million to spend on projects they deem necessary. The Jamaicans do that because they collect property tax.

    To date Finance Minister Colm Imbert has sold bonds abroad at the rate of return over 4%. When those bonds mature, where are they going to find the money to repay? Manning did the same thing and when such bonds mature the government have to pay. That is why they need the property tax money, not to fix the nation but to repay bad debt and poorly negotiated loans with high interest. This finance minister is the worst and does not have a clue what he is doing except to go to parliament and blame the last administration for the nation economic woes.

    1. Mamoo, since you have taken the time be present an argument without insults, I shall in turn respond without impugning your integrity or intelligence and maybe at least for the rest of this conversation get away from this UNC/PNM mentality. I operate from my knowledge and experience and that is where my response will flow from.

      Property Tax:
      Much is said and written about this issue and the contention is that in advanced countries the property tax is used to pay for Police, Fire, health, schools, parks and recreation, community development, social and transportation programs. I agree with that fact. My question to you is, who now handle these responsibilities? The answer of course is the Central Government. That being the case, who is the responsible authority to control property taxes? I will leave you to answer that in your own way.

      Local Government Reform:
      I think you attempt to acknowledge (or challenge) the government’s proposed local government reform to empower local government to control their own destiny. I am not sure if you agree on that or not but to my memory that is what is being proposed. As of this writing, I don’t know if it is law. From my knowledge, if this proposal becomes a reality, municipalities will be funded from the property taxes generated from them. Allowing $10M to a member of parliament to spend in their representative area could never be sound policy. Because it invites too much room for corruption. That policy could NEVER be trustworthy and be relied upon to cover all the needs of the people.

      With reference to the financial state of the country’s debts. The national debts are all at maximum credits and the government has to fund its payment, whether they like it or not. You and I are not economists to state with any degree of confidence that the finance minister is wrong or right in his efforts to manage the national debts with the fluctuations in revenues from oil, gas and petroleum chemicals. One can make political comments to the contrary but no definitive projections that what the finance minister is doing is WRONG.

      As long as you keep your arguments civil, I will remain civil with my response, because my intelligence and knowledge take me way beyond party affiliations and commitment to party leaders. I love my country and will argue with anyone to make it a better place. I do not feel constrained by arguments of race and regionality to make a valid point. I feel a sense of belonging when arguments are objective and intended to work towards a better Trinidad and Tobago.

  12. Raffique Shah has opened a can of rotten worms by presenting such a flawed and biased article to the public. He has revealed more about himself rather than about those of whom he speaks.
    When politicians defend the rights of their supporters they cannot be accused of “stoking the fires of race”. They are simply doing what all politicians do in any arena.
    When Shah excuses the “barrage if insults that reeked of race” as implied in his article, he is in fact demonstrating a clear racial preference which is racist.
    To describe Indian leaders as “architects of a racial backlash” is to rationalize, ignore and excuse the racists themselves.
    To interpret the ruling of a reputable judge as incorrect is presumptuous. Let the Courts and the appeal system prevail.
    To suggest that a victory celebration by Indian lawyers is provocative and deserving of a racial backlash is cowardly.
    To describe UNC supporters as “stupid” is arrogant and deserving of disqualification as a journalist.
    To encourage the nailing of “politicians of a certain ilk” to the race-cross is equally ignorant and provocative as the racial attack on the Judge.

  13. JUSTICE Frank Seepersad says he will “unapologetically” continue to discharge his constitutional duties as a judge as he yesterday frontally addressed the recent attack on his integrity.
    Before him is a judicial review application by several of the Piarco Airport corruption accused who are seeking to stop a magistrate from hearing the corruption case against them.

    At the start of hearing yesterday, Seepersad invited attorneys to voice any concerns they may have with him presiding over the application.

    “Having regard to these recent developments, the court wishes to reiterate that it has no control over the matters that are placed on its docket but, as always, the court shall unapologetically continue to fearlessly and impartially discharge its constitutional obligations in a way that is transparent and judicious, even if its attempt at proficiency causes discomfort in some quarters,” he said.

    He further explained that when the case came to him, he referred it to the judge-led case calendering committee to make a decision on whether it should be reassigned.

    Seepersad said having considered the issue, the committee found no rational basis to remove it from his docket.

    “Over the last few weeks there has been a significant degree of disquiet and misinformation in the public domain in relation to the methodology and manner adopted with respect to the assignment of certain matters to this particular judge.

    “Some three days after scurrilous social media statements made their way onto the front page of a daily newspaper, the Judiciary issued a statement which sought to explain the computerised random nature of the docketing system under the Civil Proceedings Rules.

    This was followed by welcomed statements by the Law Association and leading members of the bar.” He said for him, the public’s confidence in the administration of justice was of paramount importance.

    1. In life we are not always right and not always wrong either. But we sometimes have to weigh our circumstances and get what we can out of it. TMan, I know you want to refute everything that Raff wrote, because in your mind, he is a sell out to Indian people, to acknowledge what many see and know as real. I know Raff since he was a country boy enlisting into the military without much integrated experience with others than his home people. Military life gave him a lesson in brotherhood that maybe you will never understand. In the military, you better analyze your position and location accurately, otherwise you become food for the enemy. Maybe this reality is what still resonates in his mind that causes him to call a spade a spade. I do not see him as an Indian. I see him as a brother in arms because we both served the purpose of defending our country against all enemies (regardless of race, color or creed).
      It is s high moral code to live by and it is what I try to inculcate in my writings every day.

      You seem to be saying that he is wrong in what he sees, knows and acknowledges. Because you think otherwise does not make you correct. People are generous when public perception is formed. What Raff has expressed about Indian people was not done because he does not like his Indian people but because he is too aware that we live in an integrated society and how we form opinions matter. I personally don’t make it a habit of blaming ‘Indian people’ but Im sure that there are many Indian leaders who do not mean well for this beloved country. I’m not afraid to say that publicly. I say that because I love my country and don’t want to see it go up in flames then retract and wonder why we did not speak about before bad things happen. We all should be like Raff, when you see something, say something. If we adapt that policy there will be no need for you to accuse me of being PNM and I accuse you of being a UNC. I believe those labels are too frequently applied to situations that do not deserve that application.

      1. I am the first to admit that within the UNC there is a small racist core which should not be tolerated. A similar core exists within the PNM which is equally unacceptable. Anthony Bourdain got it right after his visit to Trinidad when he commented that the society is highly stratified and he “not so sure” that it is integrated as his interviewees described it.
        With regard to Shah, you are correct in your biographical description of him, but an examination of his articles show that his objectivity is superficial. He attempts to balance his criticisms of the PNM and its supporters with parallel more vicious attacks of the UNC and its supporters. It almost appears that he is continuously placating his PNM readers or army buddies.

  14. Shah wrote “And who were the architects of this racial backlash? I submit that by their undisguised politicising of Seepersad’s injunctions, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Anand Ramlogan and Devant Maharaj, among frontline UNC spokespersons, were responsible.”

    Everything the UNC leadership does is covered by the subtle underpinnings of race. It is a sad commentary from the media that they play into the hands of the balisier crowd like Kian who sees race in everything. An intelligent discussion defies him because the old brain logic of we versus them permeates his false logic.

    The judge can only rule based on the law and if he does not rule base on law he is exercising powers beyond his legal limitations. I believe the judge ruled base on law and the privy council will vindicate him and expose the real racist. We await the answer.

  15. Historically Indians in T&T have been very docile since the beginning of Indentureship. Succeeding generations, following the period of education, became more vocal and political. The recalcitrant minority began waking up, identifying injustice and calling for representation. We did not “know our place” anymore.
    We were perceived as an increasing population and an imminent threat to the Afro-Trinidad political ruling class, represented by the PNM, which failed at many attempts to “permanently” recruit us as political but subsidiary partners.
    Even today,senior Afro-Trinidadian public civic servants describe me as “very disrespectful” when I demand my rights as a citizen in transacting my business in a variety of government offices.

  16. Even though it might seem to some, that nothing comes out of the heated arguments that might emanate from these topics. I believe that these conversations are very enlightening in terms of understanding our communities better. Although little is written by the minor populations, there is a greater sense that most of the oxygen is taken up by the defense of the Indians in this country. The opposite can also be true, that most of the offense is written by the Indians who defend their stance as people who are part of the citizenry .

    The West Indians I admire the most is Jamaicans. If you meet a Jamaican who look like George Bovell III and you ask him to identify himself, he answer would be unequivocal – Jamaican.
    If you meet a Jamaican who look like Byron Lee and ask him for his identity, his answer too would be unequivocal – Jamaican.
    If you meet a Jamaican who looks like Norman Sabga and ask his identity, his answer would be unequivocal – Jamaica. If you meet a Jamaican who looks like Gerald Ramdeen (and I have met many of them), you ask his identity, he would answer unequivocally – Jamaican. In the same vein, if you meet a Jamaican who looks like black Stalin and you ask his identity there is no doubt that his answer would be unequivocally – Jamaican. The point I am trying to make here is that most people identify themselves by the nature of their country of birth, character and traditions. In that respect, Jamaicans see themselves as a people distinctly adapting, qualifying, imaging and practicing the ways of the country they represent, which make them uniquely Jamaican.

    I take pleasure when I look at American TV. Indians (from India) are vastly emerging as an identifiable factor on American Television. They are present in law, medicine, finance, media, civil rights, business, humanitarian needs, cinema, show business and fighting poverty. One of the things that is noticeable and prominent in their manner of speech and mannerism is that when they speak, they unexceptionably refer to themselves as ‘Americans’ and support the American ideal in which they see themselves as being wholly supportive and identifiable. Most of these Indians are prominently considered hindus by religion, yet it does not appear that they use their religion to eject themselves, from social or cultural practices that one naturally associates with the American culture. If it’s Christmas, they are just as participative. New Years, Thanksgiving, Independence or any other major celebrations, they immerse themselves as American as apple pie. What is even more amusing, is their thick Indian accents when they expressly talk about their Americanism.

  17. I choose to write my comments in parts, because it is the epilogue of my comments on this thread dealing with this subject matter. It is my belief that those of us who write, do so out of a need to communicate. Most issues that we deal with, affect us in almost the same way physically. But how we see them is another matter. This being the case, how we see and identify ourselves will determine how we react to matters we deem important to us. In this country, race and class have always been the demarcating tool used to identify and fix problems. It is no less identifiable now than it was in the forties and fifties. If anything, it is more so because there are two major competing groups that fight for the same things but generally use different paths and looking for different beneficiaries.

    However identified, Than, Mamoo, raymond, Al, Loyaltrini and Stephen Kangal can be seen as representing a point of view that can be termed Indian. Not meaning to placate them as a group, their inputs do tend to promote, defend and intensify unmistakably Indian difference to all issues, no matter of much those issues affect ALL of society. Even though my writings are sometimes attacked by my Indian counterparts as ‘diatribe’ and thrash, I always try to promote a pluralistic or patriotic reality that I feel all should strive to emulate. The one thing that stands out in their stance, that is always present, is their view of themselves as Indians. Very rarely do they present a point of view that is patriotic. The views that they express are almost always, on how they (as a group) ought to benefit from the resources and not how they can make the society a better place for all.

    Whether acknowledged or not, there were many before who worked to make this country a better place for all. Among them are names like Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler, Captain Cipriani, Dr. Eric Williams, Albert Gomes, Roy Joseph among a recognizable few who have worked assiduously to build the character of this country. Resources like oil and gas was not the reason that fought. They fought the immorality of slavery, indentureship, classism, racism, education, opportunities for all and most importantly allowing us to gain a sense of sovereignty. Those battles were fought and won. They died with the scars and wounds they suffered on their way to gaining suffrage, recognition and respect for us as a people. Rather than honor them, many among the Indian community chose to find the flaws in these heros personalities, to delegitimize the success of their struggles to make life better for us.

    People like Raffique Shah are the new breed of Butlerites. They fight to make the arena of reality the same for all. But our friends will have none of it. They want to ensure an Indian reality that is different from the other inhabitants of this country. They stress their rights to benefit, they stress their right to be considered, they stress their right to be different and they stress their rights to be accepted on their own terms. The terms not dictated by history or commonality of purpose but one of rights and undeniable difference from the rest of society.
    The one thing we need to hear most and the one thing that they should stress most, is their commitment to making Trinidad and Tobago a better place for all. But that is evasive when you listen to the ramblings of leaders like Kamla and Sat Maharaj.

    Like the Jamaicans, we should be proud of who we are. The contents of our character should be like the Jamaicans. We should identify as Trinidadians, allowing the influences of our ancestry to become a part of our new realities, but not controlling the new realities. There should be respect for differences but not allowing differences to qualify as benefits to gain favor for the benefits that is to be shared by all.

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