Courting another revolution

By Raffique Shah

Looking around at the many idiot concerts being staged at the highest levels in this society, with some of the most senior office holders as principal actors, one wonders if these people have nothing better to do, if they fail to see the trees from the wood. How and why two matters concerning the Chief Justice can grab headlines for close to two years, and remain mired in the courts and even more so in the political arena, defies imagination and rationality.

The CJ, like the Prime Minister or any other senior office holder, is a citizen like everyone else. If there are allegations that he committed acts of indiscretion, should these not be resolved through the normal channels? Why should the entire police hierarchy, the Cabinet, the Law Association, opposition politicians, and now every partisan-man-Jack become immersed in an imbroglio that can, and ought to be, settled in open court?

As these big men and women play themselves, the country remains steeped in seemingly intractable problems, with ordinary citizens not knowing where to turn for relief. Crime continues to haunt ordinary people as it has for far too long. While the police and attorneys and judges stroke their egos and carry on, people are being robbed, raped, beaten, battered, murdered and much else. The hapless victims cannot turn to the police: it’s either they don’t have vehicles or they are preoccupied with more important matters like snaring the CJ. Victims cannot turn to the judges: they, too, are busy defending their indefensible turfs, or freeing hardened criminals on what seems to ordinary folk like spurious grounds. As for the politicians, if they are not engaged in stabbing each other in the back, they couldn’t give a damn about their constituents until the election bell is rung.

Imagine the big debate scheduled in Parliament last Friday was some Bill that deals with security for the 2007 Cricket World Cup! I’ve had cause to draw to the attention of the Government that temporary security measures designed to protect a few thousand transients over a one-month period is a colossal waste of our resources. It’s not that I am unaware of Caribbean governments’ commitments to the ICC on this high-level tournament that is to be staged in the region. But if they had focused on security for their own people, as is their obligation, they would not have had to go to their parliaments to enact special laws for special people.

What they are doing is rubbing salt in the wounds of a people already dazed by the crime pandemic. And this holds true for almost the entire Caribbean, not just Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. The other islands, while they may enjoy lower crime levels, also cleverly cover up what their citizens suffer just so they don’t lose the all-important tourist dollars.

We are in an unholy and bloody mess, and those who are charged with dealing with our many woes, who are being paid well to protect us, to provide us with basic infrastructure and other essentials to life, couldn’t give a damn. The same judiciary that can meet ten times a night to sort out some petty matter when it comes to their own, leaves poor people’s cases pending for years-and think nothing of it. The attorneys who, at the call of the tribe, can assemble in a flash to address an issue like the CJ’s, will never respond to the plight of those for whom waiting for justice is like waiting for the return of Christ. In any event, the longer these poor sods have to wait, the more court appearances they have to make, the more money the attorneys earn.

And the unholy mess does not stop there. This dotish debate over the Trinity Cross is well, a cross too heavy to bear. Imagine the courts fast-tracked this matter, and the Prime Minister set up a high level committee to deal with it.

Did he not think it necessary to look at, say, endemic poverty, or escalating food prices, with greater dispatch? And instead of looking for priests who commit the most heinous acts against minors, the Catholic Archbishop has descended into this pointless pit with a suggestion that we have three highest national awards! How many people get this award anyway? You think starving Sumintra in Salibya, or rape victim Maria from Mayaro gives a damn about a cross or order or whatever?

Then when people resort to protest or revolt, these very snobs-on-high who don’t care about the real issues wonder why “de niggers” and “de coolies” have to misbehave this way! I tell you, having been part of the 1970 “revolution”, I know that those on high can turn up their noses at the masses for only so long. When people cannot take this damn nonsense anymore they will rebel with fury. Then, no CJ, no PM, not even the police, will have time to play the fool as Trinidad burns.

6 thoughts on “Courting another revolution”

  1. Give it to them Raf, I was part of the march for pease, bread and justice with youand all the union leaders. We need another march with you as one of the leader, arrange now and save sweet T&T.

  2. My goodness, is Mr. Shah the only one in Trinidad that is seeing what is going on or is everyone else just blind. He is a voice ringing out with the force of reason and balance, fairness and honesty. Unlike the people in power, he cares bout T&T and is willing to sacrifice a lot for it’s integrity, the masses should pay attention, or are they so caught up in all the drama that the light just can’t shine through. It’s getting more difficult daily to go beyound the tribal politics and the finger pointing. If it doesen’t stop soon – welcome Beirut….

    Keep the word Mr. Shah. keep telling the truth….

  3. Raffique,
    I have been reading your column for years and I have come to the conclusion that it is time for you to form a political party and contest the upcoming election. I believe that you are capable of bridging the racial and economic gaps that are tearing the country apart. I think that people would respect you as an honest broker who would do what is best for the country. You have demonstrated through your writings and your actions that you are a man of high morals and integrity. I encourage you to surround yourself with men and women of substance from across the racial spectrum and put this country back on course. I do not believe that any of the current crop of politicians on either side could garner the respect that you can. They are all tainted with issues of race, corruption or ineffecacy. You I believe, is loved, admired and respected. Raffique Shah for Prime Minister – Think about it.

    All who support this view please send Raffique a note of encouragement.

  4. Raffique,
    The three responders to your article online were unanimous in regarding you as a singular fountain of comman sense in contemporary T&T, and someone who, potentially, can bridge the chasm between where the country currently is, and where it needs to be. As a reader of your columns for many years, I join the unanimity of the previous responders, and wish to express strong endorsement for your efforts on behalf of national reconciliation and uplift.

  5. I think Raffique Shah has wasted this space, The logical thing to do would be to call a spade a spade and not try to link everybody in the same basket. It is obvious to any objective observer that the Prime Minister, CJ, AG and the police have gone out of their way to uphold the rule of law and for that they should be commended. So if Justice Sharma decides to railroad the system what should they do? Eh Shah? Not take him on . So come on Shah your attack should be on Sharma for trying to circumvent the law and thank god we have a government, despite everything still trying to go the legal way.

  6. I have long admired your forthright discussion of national and international events. I am also an avid reader of your column. I want to also take this opportunity to commend you for some positive comments you wrote about Lennox Pierre, whom I consider to be one of the major influences in my life.

    Once again, I believe you have captured the pulse of the ordinary worker who is trying to take care of his or her family on low wages, the unemployed, the youth, and the families who cannot afford the prices of food in the supermarkets. The day to day concerns of the people are low on the list of priorities of either this government or the opposition. At times I wonder whether we have just one party with two names—PNM and UNC—or two parties with one and the same political agenda.

    All of this bacchanal and pontificating about “the rule of law and the administration of justice, no man is above the law, and the independence of the judiciary,” and the criminals have already proven them wrong. Any time a kidnapper and murderer can walk out of court a free man because the witness for the prosecution “disappeared from the witness protection program and is presumed dead,” that criminal is above the law and the double standard stems from justice not serving the victim and his survivors. There is a difference between the “administration” of justice and the dispensation of justice and they continue to focus on the former and could care less about the latter, where the ordinary citizen is concerned.

    As far as my experience and observations have shown me, Trinidad has been a society which takes care of the elites—those with money, thriving businesses, professionals in government and the private sector, foreign company officials and diplomats—but “crapaud smoke yuh pipe” if you are low on the totem pole. I believe this accounts for a lot of the migration and “brain drain,” because this situation becomes intolerable. The big shots have every privilege—they have the money and still they can get into every function free of charge, while the poor “nobody” has to pay.

    I think the lines of demarcation—class—are clearly drawn. The citizens understand that the playing field in Trinidad is not a level one. I believe that the people are ready because the hammer blows are hurting more with every swing. Leadership, organization and a people’s agenda can turn the tables on this government of the transnationals and the indigenous class that has a vested interest in exploitation and profit.

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