the various defence forces heed the order to come to attention
at Tuesdays Independence Day parade, they will do so
as major national security development plans by these units
begin falling into place.
Prime Minister Patrick Mannings No 1 headachecrimehas
taken a back seat to more pressing medical matters for him
But others like former Senate President Michael J Williams,
still saddled with the problem, remain hopeful of feasible
In Williams case, he hopes he does not suffer the same
fate as his predecessor colleague, Dr Wahid Ali, did recently.
And its for that reason Williams is hoping the Prime
Minister returns from his surgery in Cuba today with a properly
Williams expressed his concerns about the Governments
lack of consultation on various national issuesincluding
crimein a colourful letter this week hoping the Prime
Ministers pacemaker surgery and projected improved health
will foster a change of attitude in the Manning administration.
Prime Minister isnt properly consulting with the population
on many things, and within his own party there are many top-level
people who tell me privately, there is no consultation with
them either, Williams added Thursday.
Certainly, there seemed to be no shortage during the Prime
Ministers absence of PNM Ministers who said they did
not know anything about his surgery, his subsequent delay
and the reasons behind all of it.
Several days over schedule, at last notice the Prime Minister
was expected to return home tonight.
Just how much of a satisfactory condition (as
Whitehall stated) hes in is left to be seen.
Also, details of his Cuba stay to be heard (one would hope)
and how much hurricane damage, airline flights or new medications
really figured in this.
Meanwhile, new anti-crime strategies adopted by Mannings
administration this week were still left wanting
in the view of some.
But agencies other than the police have been sprucing up as
Last Tuesday, prior to the Defence Force anniversary parade,
heads of the various armed forces delivered a power point
presentation to their commander-in-chief at Presidents
House on long-term plans for T&Ts security.
Defence Force head Ancil Antoine, Col Phillip Spencer and
several Coast Guard captains based their presentation on a
document entitled T&T and the Defence Force on the
Road to 2020.
The contents, meant to align historical and current development
initiatives, include the following:
n Shifting of Camp Ogden in the north to central Trinidad.
n Moving the Mausica battalion to San Fernando.
n Strengthening of Camp Hope in Tobago.
n Armed light aircraft for the Coast Guard (plus attack helicopter
and fast patrol boats).
n Leasing of helicopters within a few months, augmented by
US pilots on contract.
n Projections of guarding oilfield, offshore energy sites
and LNG docking locations via helicopter.
n Acquisition of more Coast Guard vehicles.
n The suggestion has also been made by the Coast Guard for
a separation of power to establish a new CG air wing with
different uniforms and crew.
The presentation was impressive enough to prompt President
George Maxwell Richardsaddressing the Defence Forces
anniversary parade the day afterto put officers on notice
that T&T is on a war footing.
Observations at the meeting were also made about the intelligence
aspect and several constraints in this area, including in
current operations with the police, a source confirmed.
Governments anti-crime battle from all evidence is proceeding
based largely on intelligence. But certain grey areas exist.
National Security Minister Martin Joseph has been short on
details regarding the recent creation of another post of Police
In the last budget, the Government announced the Peter Joseph
Special Anti-Crime Unit of T&T (SAUTT). At a June press
briefing, former Police Commissioner Everald Snaggs said police
had merged intelligence gathering with SAUTT.
Considering the merged SAUTT/ police intelligence operation
headed by Brig Joseph, some police officials have queried
the need for the new PC (Intelligence) and how the situation
Legislative moves, however, continue to figure in the plan.
Parliament resumes next Friday with a few bills from the last
couple months to be concluded, along with the 2005 Budget,
At least one anti-crime measure will be on the next parliamentary
schedule expected to start in October after Parliament prorogues
This will be a revised version of the Anti-Kidnapping Bill
which the Government signalled intention to present in July.
Business groups, though, are still preparing for a possible
re-emergence of the foiled police reform bills.
Various groups, mainly in north, commissioned a legal opinion
from attorneys last month. It is not complete, they said Wednesday.
Prior to the unsuccessful debate, Public Administration Minister
Lenny Saith had said the Government could always bring the
bills back to Parliament if they failed. But not before six
months, according to parliamentary regulations.
On Wednesday, Saith did not confirm or deny that the bills
may be brought back to Parliament early in 2005.
been no decision on that moveit has not come up yet,
Former Senate President Williams, who supported the legislation,
believes the bills should be brought back to Parliament. But
only after proper consultation with the public.
Noting the fate of former Senate President Dr Alimugged
recently while exercising Williams said: The situation
is worrisome. The police must be brought under control, but
by whom is the question. I dont think the Prime Minister
and his team are competent to handle it. The Government has
to accept responsibility.
population wasnt properly consulted on the bills. They
should have been articulated more thoroughly to them. I find
nothing wrong with the bills as they are and Id agree
they should be brought back to Parliament again. But the public
must be consulted.
Williams added: The Government must also apply the principle
of consultation wider on national issues and major matters
such as resiting ones Parliamenttheres been
no consultation on that either.
He also said: Before general election several persons
were persuaded to support the Prime Minister. Some of them
now on State boards. Tell me, however, that he hasnt
changed from what he was. I hope his improved health now will