Trivialising suicide

Newsday Editorial
November 23, 2012 –

TAKE CHARGE OF WAYNE on the front page of NewsdayA letter writer to Newsday yesterday reminded us all of how precious life is. Sometimes we forget, such as when criminals strike down the innocent and the guilty. The writer, who gave her name as Merle Solomon of Santa Rosa, was critical of Dr Wayne Kublalsingh whose so-called martyrdom has now become a public circus. She reminded us just how precious life is and referred to the many terminally ill men, women and children who would willingly grasp the life which Dr Kublalsingh is apparently trying to throw away in the full glare of media attention.

We share the aspirations of most of the people who live or work in the southwest peninsula, that they need and deserve a decent road to Point Fortin and through the districts of Debe, Fyzabad and Siparia. Indeed the highway, promised since 1981, and repeated as a “project in the pipeline” in Budget Speeches over the past 30 years, had been supported by every political party which governed the country during this period. And its construction has been demanded, like the proposed Point Fortin Hospital, by the people of Point Fortin, Cedros, and surrounding communities.

The proposed construction, along a route apparently decided before the current government took office, seems to have the support of the majority of people in the areas to be served, and through which the highway will pass. We acknowledge that there is a group of people whose homes and lands will be acquired for the project, who are objecting to the route. And of course we acknowledge their right to object and to protest, within the confines of the law. Many people of Diego Martin had to give up their home to make way for the Diego Martin highway and even today many are doing the same so that the highway can be widened. The law of the land gives the State the right to acquire private lands for public purposes, and the State must compensate persons whose lands they acquire. If no such law existed we would still be in the donkey cart era.

But while we must recognise the rights of individuals and groups, we must also acknowledge the will and the rights of a majority of citizens, and indeed of the State, in matters such as this. There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind at this stage but that the highway will be built along the route selected many years ago, and not disputed by any previous government. The question for those in the Highway Re-route Movement whose homes or lands are to be acquired is the question of compensation, not in our minds, any question of stopping the highway construction. But we are also aware that legal action has begun, with a view to stopping the construction, so we accept that the courts may differ with our opinion here.

But leaving the legal issues to be resolved elsewhere, we return to Dr Kublalsingh’s hunger strike. In his ongoing fast he stands alone, not even the people for whom he is fighting are joining him in any way other than calling on the Government to act to end the fast. And of course, we have a passing parade of well-fed political ghouls stopping by to be photographed with Dr Kublalsingh. We would like to hear which of these, from various political parties and entities, are opposed to the construction of the highway along the contracted route?

In our view, there is nothing that the Government should do, either in terms of re-routing the highway, or in the Prime Minister “meeting” Dr Kublalsingh, in order to end the hunger strike. Dr Kublalsingh has undertaken a protest on behalf of other people. He is doing great harm to himself, and to his ability in the future to serve the nation in areas where the nation will support him, as it has in the past.

In fact Dr Kublalsingh’s many visitors of high standing should inform him of the startling incidence (14 percent) of attempted suicide among teenagers in Trinidad and Tobago as reported by the Global School Based Student Health Survey in a seminar held here this week. What example is Dr Kublalsingh sending to our young people?

Your mission is futile, Dr Kublalsingh. Please do not sacrifice yourself on this altar. Neither you, nor the country will benefit.,169620.html

8 thoughts on “Trivialising suicide”

  1. ’14 percent of attempted suicide among teenagers in Trinidad and Tobago ?’ It’s a cultural thing Newsday, so get used to it. As a matter of fact , if you bozos are so perturb about suicides in T&T , then rise up and condemn it , since in has become a major problem in certain unmentionable ,agricultural sectors of the Trini Barrios.Yes we understand , you too , along with the so called political luminaries , and media pundits , are ‘prisoners of de Dr Wayne K moment huh?
    Almost certain that you folks have no conception of who brought suicide bombing , as a practice in the world. I’ll tell you- predominant Hindu Tamils , who were came to Sri Lanka by the conniving Brits ,to work on Tea Plantation. Sounds familiar?

    Beware of opaque cultural norms I say! Others say dat ‘nation building ain’t easy,’ ennnnt T& T?

    Here is my prediction folks. Dr Wayne Kublalsingh will out live these futile charade, and be de next PM of this country. Well , I take that back – de next Minister of de Environment. If Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, of Dole Chadee Fame , the one time Human Right Guru ,cqn become an AG and lead the Dole Chadee hangman charge , or Hall of Justice / Lavantille, Shirt Jack wearing Fraud,Lincoln Meyers a ……, then who knows?
    We luv dis land.

  2. The exact words of the PM herself:

    In the spirit of Christmas and the goodwill that comes with it I feel moved to make mention of the personal grief I feel on the self inflicted suffering of Wayne Kublalsingh. Many have asked me to visit him and I wish to clarify this once again. Wayne Kublalsingh insists that he does not wish to see me, his demands are for a technical review committee to evaluate the Solomon Hochoy Extension project and that while this committee is being established that the roadwork be halted. In fact, Wayne has made it clear on more than one occasion and continues to do so today that he has no desire to see me. His inappropriate and aggressive rejection of the Minister of Health and others whom the government sent in his interest is consistent with this stance. So the failure to meet with him is not of my own making but of Wayne’s refusal.

    The second point of clarification I wish to make is the falsehood that I reneged on a promise made to him. That is untrue. After meeting with Wayne and his group I promised and did suspend the work on the Mondesir portion of the highway project pending deliberations and the review of a technical committee which was appointed.The Highway Reroute Movement walked out of several meetings with the Minister of Works and the technical team. And when finally a report was made on the evaluation that included compromises based upon the group’s views, the results were again rejected by the Highway Reroute Movement.

    At this stage we simply could not give into the demands of Wayne Kublalsingh and his group to stop a project that would benefit hundreds of thousands of citizens for generations to come. Further I am advised that any halting of the project could see the government being sued by the contractors who have contractual obligations to meet.

    Wayne’s view is that the project is a bad one and must be stopped at all costs. His demand is not to meet me. So as Prime Minister what am I expected to do? Simply give into his demands to protect his life and give up the livelihood and future of hundreds of thousands of others who want the development but choose not to protest in that fashion in favour of it? I am not above meeting with Wayne, I have already done so and would do so again but that is not what is being asked of me. So I have done what any caring leader would do, I have penned a note to his mother in reply to one she sent me, I have sent emissaries to his side, I have placed an ambulance on standby.

    Naturally, Wayne’s health is of concern to me but what is also of concern is the development of the nation I lead. We have tried to reason with the Highway Reroute Movement, more than many would have allowed. Wayne chooses to deprive himself of food and water but as Prime Minister I cannot choose to deprive generations of the nations citizens of the development which the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension would bring.

    In suspending the roadway to facilitate discussions and reach compromises the state had to bear the burden of the costs but I did so to reach the very compromises offered by the technical team but they were all to no avail. The only result the group wants is the stoppage of the project that links major communities in the south of our island.

    I am fortified in my conviction of my oath of office which I repeat to you this afternoon that

    “ I Kamla Persad Bissessar swear to bear true faith and allegiance to Trinidad and Tobago and to uphold the Constitution and the law, and that I will conscientiously, impartially and to the best of my ability discharge my duties as Prime Minister and do right to all manner of people without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”

    I cannot favour any one group or allow fear to control my actions. I therefore make another appeal to Wayne’s dear Parents, Ray and Vilma, and his wife and brothers and sisters to take seriously their obligation for the action of their beloved son and not transfer this parental duty to the state.

  3. With the Newsday editorial, the relatively trite comments of one blogger and TMan accreded as spokesperson for the PM, it seems obvious that Mr or is it Dr. Kublalsingh, stands alone.
    Now many of today’s internet savvy bloggers with their IPods and other instant devices that conect a thought before its really thought out, have no memory or knowledge of the long tradition of fast and self immolation as forms of protest? So they say to Wayne, Give up, don’t be a bad example to The Chirren and dem who hang themselves(and mothers who murder small sons then hang them out the window faking suicide).
    And yet, a protest resulting in a death, by a frustrated small time fruit vendor in Tunisia, and the visit to the bedside of the almost mummified man by the President of Tunisia, led to the riots that brought down the leadeships of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and leaves Syria hanging in the balance. No wonder Kamla does not want to meet with Wayne, no matter what Wayne says, or she says.
    I note with concern, possible plans to hospitalize, or imprison, and force feed him. Tis would be even more of a disaster, as it could lead to self-immolation.
    If an educated grown man decides to fast to the death to stop a project, and the Prime Minister’s response is that the contractors might sue, then she has squarely put a fiscal cost on the life of this man.
    Some facetious people have asked why certain others(politcally concerned people) have not joined him. Now, supposing there was an agreement that only one would fast at a time, and after he dies, someone else takes his place. Would this send a message we would want to hear?
    Now, supposing the court halted the project to save this man’s life, what would be the price the citizens of TnT would put on that? What price the compensation to squatters who may have no real claim to some of the land, just that they ran and built when they heard of the project?
    Court intervention, sought by members of his movement and his family, may be a way out for both sides. A cessation without loss of face by either side.

    If he dies, Kamla’s government would have created a martyr far more powerful, than if she had died allegedly at the hands of those who were trying to harm her, and which gave rise to the very unpopular state of emergency.

    I hope every overweight member of Kamla’s government, would think of the sight of Wayne’s skeletal body, every time they are tempted to put another greasy, sweet, starchy morsel or exotic meat, unavailable to you and me, into their fat mouths and protruding stomachs.
    Wayne is displaying a kind of discipline only an ascetic could understand. His body has been feeding on his internal organs, how much longer this could go on is anyone’s guess, unless the courts intevene.

  4. Nice level headed reasonable article. One media outlet published 15 stories on Wayne according to the P.M. This is called media over kill and glorifying Wayne as a hero of the people when he only speaks for some of those directly affected by the route. The re-route area completely goes against the purpose of the highway which is to ease traffic congestion in built up areas.

    To be fair those who are giving up their ancestral lands must be compensated in a manner that takes into consideration (1) Market Value, (2) disruption to enjoyment of property (as guaranteed in the Constitution), (3) disruption to family life (some who have family in the area will have to move), (4) movement away from regular job, (5) the breaking of emotional ties to the land and the area. (For many this is most difficult part) These factor must become part of the compensation package, along with adequate counciling. Giving people fair market value and disregarding the other factors is morally and ethically wrong. The offer must exceed a normal property offer. In so doing the government will be honouring the ancestral history and long connection made to the is called fair business practices.

  5. 8.11 AM Central time, USA. After reading the Express article this morning where Jack explains why he has moved from calling Kamla a drunk to rabidly defending her against verbal criticism, I realize that together they have hijacked free speech in TnT, and only sycophants can comment on this forum, which once lambasted all sides, with facts and succint opinions. I am proud of the piece I published here called “In the VAlley of the Dhoti, the Danshiki” criticizing a then member of Parliament, now deceased, for saying “Me ent no African”.I am proud of the piece I wrote criticizing Pope Benedict for incendiary remarks against Muslims, and I am proud of the piece I wrote appealing to the government of India to send its navy to evecuate all Indians, when Kamla and others appealed for help to fight discrimination against them.
    Apparently, monetary help came. They won the election, and now are working hard to shut people up.
    While my job as a retiree is secure, I feel very sorry for those who are still working in TnT and must stay muzzled to protect their ability to feed themselves. When you voted in 2010, did you vote for dat? Well that is what you get when you support campaigns based on lies. So, good luck to the sycophants, the apologists, the explainers. The rest of you, all I could say is, poor things. You will remain in my prayers.

  6. On November 23, 2012, in a comment above, I said he would fast to the death unless the court intervenes. The court has intervened. He has stoped fasting. Those who were quick to say “he is not a Ghandi” do not understand much.

    I can now decorate a house for Christmas(No external lights, I gave that up when the US invaded Iraq, and have stuck by my decision for nine years).

    Discipline is what it takes to achieve any and all objectives. This is a final salute to Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh from a UWI graduate.
    Go well, son of our soil. Go well. ( an ancient Igbo greeting fron Nigeria.)

  7. What did Kublalsingh agree to in order to end his hunger strike?

    New Terms of Reference would see a cost benefit analysis report; a social impact assessment report and a Hydrology, Terrestrial and Marine Ecology report to be compiled as part of the review which is being overseen by an independent working group headed by Independent Senator Dr James Armstrong.
    This is in fact a repeat of steps already taken by technical experts. If the findings of this independent working group should differ from the original report, did Kublalsingh receive assurances from the PM that the highway would be stopped? The answer is negative. The government, like previous governments could easily shelve any report produced by this group.
    The government has skillfully found a way to end Kublalsingh’s hunger strike without any guarantees. He pumped his fist in victory, invoking his own name and vowing to send a “communiqué” to the media. He submitted to media attention and interviews almost immediately after ending his strike. He seemed to be enjoying his celebrity status. He also thanked the people of T&T for their support during his ordeal. How delusional to think that he had the support of citizens when polls indicated that over 70% did not support his actions. I guess he was basking in the glory of visits by old political opportunists and losers like Panday and other union bosses.
    My guess is that nothing is going to change and let’s wait and see if he resumes his hunger strike.
    It takes a monumental ego to pursue this agenda while accepting IV treatments and employing standby nurses and ambulance care. This man requires psychiatric care rather than national admiration.

  8. Ain’t dis something folks? Dey say “in the abundance of water , de fool is thirsty,”and I agree.

    We instead, in reality land , prefer to call dis tentative capitulation , ‘passing de buck ,’ Madam L. Being an authentic Euro Christian yourself, don’t it remind you of Pontius Pilot?
    Previous authentic ,’Iron Ladies ,’such as Dame Margaret Thacher, Eugenia Charles, and least we forget ,India’s Queen Indira Gandhi, would not have done such politically driven ,face saving ,jig and dance. They instead as leaders , would make bold/ decisive moves, them let the chips fall where they may.
    Now all she has done with this court maneuver ,is create an opening for the most immoral AG in the history of T&T , to get some political life.How u doing Uncle Ramesh? De men on death row thought you were a friend….. until DC was murdered by the state – with your blessings. Talk about activism .
    As for the good Doctor, we wish him continued success in his social advocacy, a la being a torn in the flesh of ,not only this government, but it’s replacement come two years – or less -from now.
    More importantly , we hope likewise that he would refocus his pro environmental stance ,to not only address issues that impact de narrow tribe , but folks across the entire nation as a whole, yes? Don’t worry Beetham , and Lavantille we , have your back ,and help is coming soon, beyond Xmas party, and Shaq basketball clinics! Yea we know , your civic leaders do not have the credential of a much revered Sandhurst, Oxbridge TRAINED ,UWI lectures, but stand tall!
    The gall of these clueless , phony historians, to compare the British /Gahdhi situation, with modern day realities.
    Let post colonial activists in Tunis,Saudi Arabia,Chechnya, Baharain,Burma Teheran, Syria ,Uganda, or Lagos , try same fasting foolishness ,and see what the result would be.
    Let an advocate,in any of the 50 states in Obama’s fiefdom, aka USA , try the same stunt , and see which grave they would end up. As a lifetime feminist ,if you doubt me, then instead of planning christmas decorations, start a petition, followed by a gandhi like fast , in your hometown Huston Texas ,to halt assault on young girls , re phony ,HPV cancer prevention drugs, and see how quick you end up with St Peter in de great beyond.
    Enough already with dis pandering , is what I say Madame L!You are too smart a woman to not figure out what has happened here.lET ME ENLIGHTEN YOU – De Trini populace , have been hoodwinked once again.
    Wake me up when ‘pro afrikan poor folks ,land reform , and equitable distribution of our resources,’ gets a better headline, than some ‘much ado about nada,’ issue.
    Wish one of your much touted UWI grads, would address this subject. Is there some correlation re oil,/ gas exploration/ processing in T&T -a la Point Lisas , and similar areas-as far as high cancer, respiratory illness rates- when compared with de rest of the nation? Round 2 Dr Wayne K , and your call. I luv dis land!

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