Wednesday 9th June, 2004

 

Panday stands firm on police reform bills

 
 
 
 
 
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Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday addresses a gathering at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum at St Helena Hindu School.

Photo: Adrian Boodan

By Adrian Boodan

Government will get no support from the Opposition to pass the police reform bills unless there is constitutional reform, UNC leader Basdeo Panday has said.

He made the comment during the party’s Monday Night Forum at St Helena Hindu School.

Panday told the packed crowd the police bills were dangerous and sought to place too much power in the hands of the government, without the necessary controls to prevent abuse.

“What they want you to do is give them your vote to pass a law that perpetuates the discrimination in the Police Service,” he said.

“All of you who say we should support the police reform Acts, I want to ask you one question: yuh read it? The answer is no. Those people from some one of the chambers, DOMA, whatever it is, they read it? They know what it has in it?

“But they want that Act because they want to perpetuate the discrimination that is taking place in this country.”

Panday said with the resources of the State readily available, government was still unable to curb crime.

“This government is floating in money. It’s enjoying an oil and gas boom. Why can’t it solve crime? Why can’t it solve poverty? Why can’t it solve unemployment? Why?” he asked.

“Floating in money, swimming in money. They have spent over $60 billion since they came to power some 30 months ago, yet the police do not have the physical equipment to fight crime and they continue to live in inhumane conditions.”

He said if the police were given permission to march, he would march with them.

Panday queried the sense of a gas boom or an aluminium smelter, “if you, or your child or wife is likely to be kidnapped or murdered any time?”

He said the economy was not booming for the 10,000 retrenched Caroni (1975) Ltd workers, victims of crime and the growing body of the poor.

Recent international statistics showed people in T&T were getting poorer, he said, and economic growth over the past two years had been paralleled by growth in crime and poverty.

“The more revenue the PNM gets their hands on, the more crime rises. That’s a strange thing,” he said.

“People say crime is bred from poverty, but the country getting tonnes and tonnes of money and crime is rising because the population is not benefiting from that money. The only people benefiting from the boom are those who get the CEPEP contracts.”

Panday also criticised Prime Minister Patrick Manning for not allowing police to use the $65 million worth of spying equipment imported from Israel last year.

He said the surveillance equipment was lodged at the PM’s residence and was being used to spy on the Opposition and certain PNM party members.

“So (Keith) Rowley, if yuh think yuh safe, yuh lie,” he added.

Panday said Manning probably feared the police might misuse the equipment to spy on him, or use it in the way the diplomatic pouches were used to commit “their own crimes.”

He said government had broken its social contract to protect the people and the time had come for citizens to defend themselves.

He slammed National Security Minister Martin Joseph, saying he was misleading the population by saying all was well and crime was only a blip on the radar.

 

 

 

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