Wayne’s Choice

By Raffique Shah
October 12, 2014

Raffique ShahWayne Kublalsingh’s second hunger strike has bared the good, the bad, and the very nasty sides of his fellow citizens, although I feel certain none of this surprises the environmental activist whose dogged pursuit of his goals puts many of us to shame.

One does not have to agree with Wayne to admire the man. I have stated before, I do not know whether his opposition to the Debe to Mon Desir section of the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway is justified, if the alternatives he proposes are better. Like most people, including Wayne, I support the construction of a highway that will make commuting in Deep South Trinidad easier.

I understand his concerns over the dislocation of a large number of long-standing residents and the likely negative impact on the Oropouche Lagoon. But I know, too, that we pay a price for progress, although many might argue that the highway cannot be classified as progress.

Differences over this particular project will linger long after the highway is built, and those who clamour for it today may well learn it is not a panacea for their commuting woes. All the expansions and improvement works on the Uriah Butler and Churchill-Roosevelt highways have hardly reduced the traffic nightmares that commuters in central, east and north Trinidad face daily, especially during peak hours.

But back to Wayne and his hunger strike: he has galvanised and polarised the society in an unusual way. His decision to starve himself to death if need be to make his point has triggered human compassion among many people who do not necessarily support his cause. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to consciously decide to go hungry and thirsty, with all the concomitant risks.

The average fellow human does not want to see him die in the process, hence the many high-profiled interventions we have seen from early o’clock in this second hunger strike. Out of compassion, that most human and humane quality, they have appealed to the Prime Minister and Wayne to resolve the issues at stake before it ends in death.

We do not want to go down that road. There will be hell to pay if Wayne dies. He would become larger in death than in life. History is replete with examples of martyrs whose influence grew disproportionately after their demise.

But while the good people who understand this possibility intervene, there are many others, mostly supporters of the Government, who are wishing and willing Wayne to die, heaping scorn on his “farce” (their term), branding him a terrorist, and ridiculing him in the most vile manner.

Such people stand for nothing other than self-interest. They do not have the guts to pen letters using their own names far less take action for what is right. In fact, they do not know right from wrong, seeing everything through partisan lenses.

They derisively suggest that Wayne has been secretly eating food and drinking liquids, saying no one can live without water for more than a few days. That his body has deteriorated to the point where his doctor has withdrawn, speaking of imminent organs’ failure, elicits no human sentiment from this sub-human lot.

In their ignorance, they know not that of his seventeen hunger strikes, Mahatma Gandhi conducted three that lasted for 21 days—and he was older than Wayne is. They pretend not to know of the several hunger strikes undertaken by populist Anna Hazare, very recently (2011) in India, as he campaigned against corruption.

In fact, they will be surprised to learn of an Indian female activist who has not eaten food since the year 2000—a 14-year fast! Sharmila Chanu of the remote Manipur state, now 40, has led a campaign against a law that insulates members of India’s armed forces from prosecution for crimes against citizens in the execution of their duties.

Sharmila has not eaten solids, but she has been routinely arrested, charged and jailed for “attempted suicide”, and forced-fed through tubes at a hospital in the state. As soon as she is released, she resumes her strike, is re-arrested, and the cycle continues.

There is a comprehensive story about this incredible woman on Al-Jazeera online.

The pundit who heads the Inter Religious Organisation declared that Wayne’s hunger strike was political. When Kublalsingh and others fought against Essar Steel and a port at Claxton Bay, against the aluminium smelter plant in Point Fortin that the PNM Government was intent on building, I suppose their protests were political. Right, Pundit-ji?

When Wayne started this strike, I warned him that the PM won’t be moved and her supporters would ridicule him. I advised that he should not sacrifice his very valuable life over a highway route that most of the people who will be impacted seem to welcome.

I do not have the courage and resolve he does, so I will support whatever option he chooses. It’s his life, his body. For all of us, death is inevitable. How we die, though, is what makes a difference.

It is far nobler to die from starvation over a cause you believe in than to waste away from over-eating greasy foods and sugary snacks that will take most of us to our graves, not without agony.

Ah lie, Pundit-Ji?

17 thoughts on “Wayne’s Choice”

  1. A factual article and shared sentiments. The problem as well none of us will know the aftermath after the construction of this piece of highway that Wayne is taking objection to. Who knows there may be a string of accidents and deaths on this segment of the highway and more myths coming into being.

  2. Is there not a legal process through which the State can obtain legal custody of this hunger striker and have him force-fed?
    Regardless of your position on he construction of this highway,this man should not be allowed to die. It is correct to say that most of his “visitors” are Opposition delegates who are playing a game of their own for political purposes. It is also interesting to note that Rowley is extremely and unusually cautious about his public statements on Kublalsingh. recently the PM and the AG have made advances by recommending that the IRO pay Wayne a visit and that the Privy Council case be accelerated. They obviously realize the implications of his death.Since the professional scientific views regarding the environmental impact of the construction of the highway are diametrically opposites, who does one support?
    Kublalsingh should be arrested and force-fed for his good.

    1. TMan, I enjoy reading this column very much, so help me to understand some of the things you mention.

      What is there to gain politically by visiting Dr. Kublalsingh? You see, I have intentions of visiting the Doctor, so if I have something to gain, I am all for that.

      Who made the advances recommending the IRO pay a visit to Dr. Kublalsingh, the PM or the Ag? I have a problem in understanding how two people can make the same recommendation. I have always felt that the PM makes the announcements and not the decisions. Who really made this decision, because if the AG made this recommendation, as you stated, then my feelings are spot on?

  3. TMan, since your purpose in writing serves to engage those of like mind, show some concerns to Dr. Kublalsingh’s well being so those opposed to your political persuasions can’t say that you are insensitive and garner the government’s position of no contact with him seemed destined to move no one, you should another point of view. Dr. Kublalsingh’s behavior and commitment towards the hi way construction argument is sincere and honest, whether you or anyone else like it or not he is consistent when one considers his record in preserving the environment. He is, without doubt an environmentalist, no if no buts and no maybes. Let me engage you and ask you to remember the (aluminum plant) Alutrint construction in LaBrea, who was against it? Dr. Kublalsingh and who else – Kamla, who was against it when the UNC hated PNM proposed the building of the hi way to Point Fortin? – Dr.Kublalsingh and who else? – Kamla! Does this startle you? Let me quote you “recently the PM and the AG have made advances by recommending that the IRO pay Wayne a visit”. Well, I have my reservations about the IRO and what it has become but to watch the head of the IRO one Mr. Seepersad Maharaj accuse Dr. Kublalsingh of “playing politics” is way too much to take. Dr. Kublalsinghis on record of being an environmentalist, that means preservation of the environment and a lover of nature, what is wrong with that? If,in our rush to “develop” we don’t take time to “listen” to those who wish to preserve the earth the way the almighty gave it to us, then how can we call ourselves “civilized”?. When a government becomes immersed in power and the only ears, eyes and minds they listen to is theirs, it means that we are very much on the road to dictatorship. To begin with, since when the IRO became an institution that the government can “dispatch” to perform a task on their behalf? Based on its outcome, it appears that Mr. Maharaj was doing the bidding for the government, is this what the IRO has become, an organization that can be dispatched to do the bidding of a government? Why hasn’t Kamla abide by the Armstrong report? Why couldn’t she wait until the process is exhausted with a firm ruling on the continuance of the hi way? So, tell me how is Dr. Kublalsingh playing politics? His record on the environment is consistent, we know who he is, his cause never deviates, if he is “playing politics” what does he have to gain? Someone else is “playing politics” and it is not him, that person is Kamala Bissessar. Why? because she is not consistent nor honest. Whilst it was not their original goal on the hi way development, it has become the cornerstone of their financial plans to make sure they make ALL true major decisions on the development of this hi way. It has many financial and political implications which has nothing to do with opening up hi ways for faster travel. In fact it is ALL about who gets what part of the pie. Kamlq is the guru in this respect and how it is divided determines what her future is going to look like. Dr. Kublalsingh could be wrong about what he believes, but at least allow the process to play out to its natural conclusion, it in the end Kamla wins, then by all means continue, what is wrong with that? What is in play here is EXPEDIENCY!

  4. ‘Legal Custody … Blah , blah blah !’
    Yeah ,and Don’t we wish the Brits had thought up that too , and force feed dat evil ,globally admired ,trouble maker called Mahatma Gandhi ,who was trying to halt their beat down of your ancestral, brown South Asians relatives ,re their quest for independence , in Mama India , Eh TMan?
    Not certain who is worst , your barbarian Spiritual guru Sat , or you ,and his ardent female ,student and political benefactor ,in Auntie K.
    Here she is ,trying ,yet failing ,to mimic authentic Iron ladies ,such as Israel’s Golda Mier, Britain’s Dame Thacher , Dominica’s Eugenia Charles, and India’s Inderia Gandhi, while simultaneously, doing the limbo dance /Tasha whine flip flops , as she recognize ‘dat water more Dan flour,’ as de man appear to be close to kicking de bucket.
    Tell her don’t worry TMan , this Doc Kabalsing ,would outlive even her great grand child .This is all part of his bag of tricks ,to force her hands ,as it were.
    He should be warned ,that burning tires to cause traffic on the Beetham- as played out by low end Afro Trinis – that cause traffic back logs, or threatening a wounded political leader ,with tenuous grip on power , and her regime ,won’t work , especially on the verge of another election ,de UNC is about to loose ,after one term in office.

    Ooops ,I did it again , fall into the trap of responding to dis neo tribal ,PP mouthpiece / aka ‘de Trologian in Chief ,’who never ceast to remind us of how civilize his adopted Euro folks ,in Canada are.
    Maybe we should remind him , that his leaders ,and their government , inherited a thriving democracy,where citizens are free to protest as they wish ,so long as no laws are broken.
    Long live de Republic of T&T!

  5. Kublalsingh is reminiscent of the indentureship drivers, men who wore “tall boots” and were authorized to kick the indian laborers into producing more for massa.

    Penal, Siparia, Debe, MonDesir… Areas that faithfully supported the UNC are being subjected to Kublalsingh “tall boots”. First it was the environment. That was a major “tall boots” kick for the UNC until it was discovered that the highway will not pass through the Oropuche Lagoon but by the edge of it. Of course he has been able to convince Northerners to join his cause.

    Second was economics, it is costing too much. That “tall boots” kick was assisted by several northerners, little did Kublalsingh know that Penal has produce billions in oil revenue and none of it was reinvested in the area by the PNM. Those big buildings in Port of Spain, Penal money built that.

    Third “tall boot” kick was directed at the PM. He align himself with another “tall boots” kicker name Ramesh. Together 3 times they fired their kicks at the PM and three times they loss in court. Knowing that the Privy Council will not in most instances (3times) supercede the courts in TnT, Kublalsingh fainted in high drama as he fired another kick at the P.M. It was discover that his friend Ramesh did not file.

    If tall boots kicker Kublalsingh die tomorrow it would not matter to people in the south. The people in the north would start ripping off their clothes (especially the women) and trying to kick the P.M. Shouting at her “u kill de man”. No she brought alive the dream of over 200,000 people.

  6. Good analysis, Mamoo.
    It should be noted that Shell Oil in Penal was one of the first oil operations in the Caribbean and the Western hemisphere, producing enormous wealth from earlier times on, most of which was consumed in the North by successive PNM governments.
    The only reference one hears in the North regarding Penal is derogatory, often referring to the “backward” people who live there.
    The PM and many Cabinet members are all Penal people with a full appreciation of the value of the highway.

  7. Shell, Trinidad Petroleum Ltd.(TPL) and Regent before it became Texaco were all successful oil explorers in South Trinidad. It is a fact that the oil wealth generated (Southland) sustained the economy and growth for decades for the whole of T&T. It is a fair argument that derogatory comments were always made of people from Barrackpore, Penal, Debe etc. Most unjustifiably so. People from Cedros, Icacos etc. experience a nightmare when coming to Sando much less POS especially when passing through that 1 mile stretch in LaBrea owing to land movements at the Pitch Lake. What about the school children on the roads as of 4.00 am in the morning. Sacrifices have to be made just as the rich agricultural lands at the foothills of the Northern Range gave way to the development of Trincity, infra structure developments for the Southland is sadly lacking. The Southland farmers need to understand such. Establishing an extension of UWI at Debe, the highway development are successes we can relish and not the closing down of Caroni which was myopic because of total mismanagement. Decentralisation of the company was what was needed and not eliminating the best converter of solar energy into potential energy via the sugar cane plant. Again the need to supply the local market as opposed to regional and international markets of a needed commodity. I am not hearing arguments being put forward from the MP for Point Fortin.


    1. Loyal, I was in almost total agreement with your blog because my first job was with Shell Trinidad Ltd in Penal, an experience which I treasured immensely, until, you pointed to a link which I find dis-ingenuous. The link lacked the whole truth, which is what I constantly refer to in my blogs. When truth is presented truthfully, arguments critical to it have no legs to stand on but when it is presented to augment only your part of the conversation, then such truths are as good as lies. The link, which is really a political ad does not represent the whole truth which weakens your otherwise good blog.

      1. This once-noble mission now a circus

        Story Created: Oct 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM ECT

        Story Updated: Oct 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM ECT

        Dr Wayne Kublalsingh’s hunger strike should be renamed and referred to hereafter as the Wayne Kublalsingh Circus.

        Whereas one agrees the Highway Re-Route Movement started out on a noble mission, ie, to save the homes in the path of the highway, the struggle is no longer about that.

        Day in, day out, characters ranging from artistically-challenged masmen in self-imposed exile, nobody politicians and citizens without a cause are congregating for one gripe or another. They are no longer in the limelight, so they immediately stage a sordid performance for the cameras. They do nothing more than hide the lewdness of their political nakedness behind a flimsy fig leaf of environmental damage of the Debe to Mon Desir segment.

        How can these people be so unreasonable? What are the recommendations they are clamouring for? The hydrological, ecological study of the environment? What exactly does this mean?

        Up to this day, Dr Kublalsingh has not given the nation one good reason for his farce. He may have political reasons coming to see him on a daily basis, but none of them is willing to miss a meal. So they are coming to hug him and pray with him and empathise via their political vituperation, but not one iota of it has anything to with the highway.

        So failed labour leaders try to reclaim some grace by using the farce to highlight the failure of a Government to cower, so-called civil society groups brandish candles and deyas but rudely engage the Prime Minister on her thoughtful and sensitive visit to the St Clair hospital, with rowdy behaviour.

        I challenge anyone of those groups to come forward and explain, on their own terms exactly, the feasibility of the movement’s re-route proposal. The truth of it is not one single group knows anything that is south of the Caroni Bridge.

        How long is this going to go on? I therefore call on Wayne or Barry or the Angel of Light, or whatever he wants to be called, to desist from this farce.

        God bless this nation.

        Lystra Marajh


        1. I’m not sure this conversation is in the same context to which I replied. This is an anti-Kublalsingh conversation, which is very political and partisan. Whilst I admire Dr. Kublalsingh’s courage and committment, I have no alignment, affiliation or support towards the HRM. As a matter of fact if the talk is about circus, there is no better circus than that guy Ravi Maharaj who is trying to imitate him, you couldn’t get any closer than that! Cherio! my friends happy Kublalsingh fighting.

  8. “Good analysis “my foot! This lifetime Mayaro drunkard ,call Mamboo ,won’t know nada about analysis , even if such was to rise up from the ground , and smack him in the face ,mi amigo.
    ‘The PM has an appreciation of the value of the highway?’
    Yeah TMan , and so these were de changes , misguided voters signed up for , when they ousted that arrogant Sando bozo, called Patrick Manning ,huh?
    Sad but true as the entire country has become one massive, congested mess,with little relief in sight for frustrated commuters , as political ineptitude, and , non visionary/non progressive ,tribal politics has become the norm last PP style.
    One just wish that her,those unpatriotic Cabal handlers, and numerous unqualified advisory experts on PP payroll,would have seen some merit in the rapid rail scheme, or better yet , could have come up with even one coherent policy to enhance traffic across underachieving T&T.
    Well…at least de PM in waiting , is on top of things , ain’t he TMan?


    Long live de Republic of T&T!

    1. Rowley knows nothing about the Southland. At least Manning lives in San Fernando and has a better feel for South issues, which he also neglected.
      Ever word that comes out of Rowley’s mouth is negative.He has developed the “raging bull” image to even further heights.
      He has also made major mistakes and continues to make major mistakes ranging from the email scandal to misinformation in the House.His bitter and impulsive reaction to T&T co-sponsorship of the UN /US resolution of anti-terrorist activity in the world was ill conceived detrimental to his already sullied reputation. He is proving on a daily basis why he is unfit to be the PM: negativity, impulsive,misinformed,lack of a clearly articulated platform, no vision, no quality members in his caucus.

  9. Kubs case of emotional terrorism.

    “Kubby an unemployed man holding a baby for ransom and demanding to see the Prime Minister. Upon meeting the P.M. He said he would release the baby but only if she agreed to his terms and conditions”

    That is a case of emotional terrorism design to extract maximum emotion for a particular cause. The PM met with him and ask her minister to explain to the group of 41 “blood sucking” civil society groups the simplicity of highway construction many of them do not understand the need for the highway having lived afar. At the conclusion of the meeting Kubs simply said the hunger strike will continue because the PM did not stop highway construction.

    Now in reasonable human terms he loss in court 3x but suddenly decided that he would not even abide by the Privy Council decision if they decided on the issue. His nature as an unemployed none productive member of society is well crafted in emotional terrorism. He plays on human emotion to have his way. Surrounded by people who have bought into this emotional terrorism they actually believe in his cause and have become “enablers”. From a host of women surrounding him this former UWI poetry techer has master the art of persuasion. “Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your ears…..” And yes a lot of ears have been lent in his direction starting with almost 4 to 5 media articles each day.

    The only tune playing in Kubs ears is the “Armstrong report”, the government for its part adhered to some recommendations but could not comply with everything. The baby in question as you might have guessed is the “Armstrong report”. As an emotional terrorist he is not prepared to give up this baby. No he can’t because that is all he’s got. He has held on to this baby beyond reason, logic or common understanding and sadly it will take him to his grave.

    Emotional terrorism is more dangerous than a terrorist holding a gun. You can see the gun and can disarm but this weapon is hidden and cannot be dislodge because it has become part of the terrorist persona!!!

  10. Put down de Barackpore bah bash Mamboo, especially when writing / making contributions on important subjects. You just wasted a few hundred words via your typical escapist , neo tribal diatribe .
    Hey TMAN , anything is more palatable, than having to endure 8 more months of your, ‘cabal manipulated, politically clueless , Siparia Queen ,’ with de angel smile , and devil heart.
    Sorry to burst your triumphalist bubble , mi amigo , but any politician – male or female- who lies in bed with dat racist, phony religious bozo ,Sat Maraj , or was an ardent student of ‘de country hating-,divider in Chief , of “dis is our time fame,” – Papa Baz, but worst yet, choose to practice similar disgusting , anti national policies, deserves nada but our contempt, Cuz TMan.
    These ungrateful bastards! Without Rowley placing the Sando delusional geologist bum , and his equally corrupt, Canadian Hart friend heads on a platter, think their UNC dominant party, would have stolen power?
    Don’t answer dat TMan.
    ‘Me think,’ it might be easier for some poor /scrunting blokes from de Beetham, or Los Bajos ,to drink some smelly, dirty ,Caroni river water , and live to tell the tale, than for you guys, and the self serving ,Trinidad haters in the PNM party, to stop ‘de much maligned ,Tobago Mason Hall Wajang from becoming the next PM. Get used to it!
    I’ve said it once , twice ,3 times my lady, but it’s worth repeating for these cyber comedians , and party hacks such as TMAN – “de person who can make me hate dis land of mine, ain’t born yet!”

  11. I am 43 years and there has been pertinent issues that have been forgotten and we have moved on. What scares me is, should Dr. Kublalsingh die, the government would just as well move on and it would seem he died in vain.

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