- not persecute
late, one is having great difficulty in ascertaining, to use
local parlance, just who is the public. Does everybody
form part of the public and does everyone have equal status
Just as importantly, when is this public, you and I, ever
consulted on issues that are ostensible projected as in our
One surmises that in democratic systems, public offices were
created to seek the interests and welfare of the entire population;
to bring the lofty ideals of constitutions to the practicality
of everyday living. Not to seek vested interests to the detriment
of institutions, individuals and groupings.
In chapter 6 of our Constitution (clause 90 (2)) it is stated,
There shall be a Director of Public Prosecutions for
Trinidad and Tobago whose office shall be a public office.
Of late, one cannot but feel perturbed by the actions and
directives emanating from this office. This sentiment is shared
by not a few, many of whom are committed to the belief that
country comes first.
The case of Prof Naraynsingh, including its sub/associated
issues, is really troubling. No one should be above the law.
On the other hand, the law should not seek, with evangelical
zeal, to pursue a particular individual or individuals, unless
they are a great menace to society.
It is common knowledge that there are such individuals and
that they are not being pursued. Whats the fixation
then with the professor?
Thousands (maybe tens of thousands) would attest to the fact
that he has contributed very significantly to this country
and others through social work. As a professional he is a
vascular surgeon par-excellence, bringing credit to the UWI
and the country.
How come the evangelical prosecution does not extend to the
multitude of criminals with multiplicity of charges, who are
terrorising and traumatising innocent citizenry? One is of
the firm belief that the public is owed an explanation and
one is kindly requested.
There are those who would rail against this request. They
would bring up the issue about special treatment and about
one law for this one and another for that one. But is it not
only strange but also shamefully hypocritical that they are
loudly silent on similar cases and others in which inaction
is the order of the day?
A case in point is the still continuing kidnapping epidemic.
When it is pointed out that while a few Toms and Dicks are
victims, the majority are Harrylals, all sorts of pseudo-rational
babble burst forth. They declare, never mind the statistics,
these poor Harrylals are really random victims of crime.
Or they use the exception to prove the rule. The logic
offered, which would have pleased the irrationalists to no
end, goes something like this:
It has four legs, it has a tail, and it is braying, its hoofs
are sounding like donkey hooves but it cannot be a donkey
for it is dragging a chain. It must be a lagahoo.
There is a saying that perception is the reality. There is
a hardening of the perception that one segment of the public
is being singled out with the Harrylals being hit particularly
How does one reconcile the incredible investigative zeal,
spanning ten years, with the lack of success in apprehending
the gang/s of kidnappers?
How does one interpret the single pointed determination to
oh sorry a Freudian slip, to prosecute the
professor even after the court dismissed the charge?
Compare that with pointed lack of action when kidnappers with
extensive criminal records are walking free?
This column has previously warned about the dangers of such
perceptions/beliefs in a plural society such as ours. Again
a warning is being issued. Lets stop the slide into
chaos before it is too late.
This problem must be addressed in a meaningful way. Making
public pronouncements that everything is seen through a lens
of race and that is bad, is nothing but pathetic and cowardly
attempts to hide the truth and from it.
Those who are of that view must also think that Martin Luther
King and Nelson Mandela were wrong to address the issue of
race, that is, if they are consistent in their beliefs. But
then hypocrites are rarely ever consistent.
No matter how intelligent we are or how hard we try, it is
impossible to create laws and regulations for all and every
situation. Thus it eventually comes down to the office holder;
the quality of the person. The choice of holders of public
office is thus a most critical one.
Holders of these offices themselves are not above the law
and indeed the time has come to consider legislation to prevent
citizens from paying, through state funds, for the actions
of those public holders who do not act in the public interest
by trying to foist their own agenda as that of the public.
In a time of a galloping crime rate, ineffective interdiction
and abysmal rates of prosecution, one expects all energies
to be directed to solving our pressing law-and-order problems.
The population expects the Office of the Director of Public
Prosecutions to prosecute all criminals with equal fervour
That way no one would feel that they are being persecuted
in their own country to which they have dedicated their lives,
talents and resources.
Prakash Persad is Chairman of Swaha Inc
Village in we
man looks at photographs of women in the armed forces pasted
on a blackboard on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port-of-Spainone
of several displays in observance of International Womens
Photo: Wendy-Ann Duncan
aggravated by the playing of a song that encourages women
to wine and jam for a rough up by their menclearly
the DJ didnt get the brief on the point of the observance.
mother told me a story once about a teacher at a junior secondary
school who told parents that it took students at least two
hours to settle down after the start of classes, because they
couldnt shake from their heads the beat of the music
that boomed in the maxi-taxis they travelled in.
I could relate. Not to the teacher but to the students. And
the music doing the booming didnt come from a maxi but
from the Brian Lara Promenade, and it wasnt Carnival
Confused, I wondered who could be blasting Onika Bostics
All is Yours at 10 am, on a hot Tuesday morning in downtown
Port-of-Spain, as I hustled to work.
As I drew nearer to RBTTs Broadway entrance it dawned
on meits International Womens Day.
I had observed the signs of its coming the day before. The
old, washed-out white tents began to dot the promenade like
the annoying blight on my ixora plants. The bent steel pipes
to hold them up and the worn plyboard for the east/west corridor
posses to prance on also littered the promenade, forcing me
to abandon the shade of the trees for the scorching pavements
along Independence Square.
I heard the drums even before they assembled and were played.
International Womens Day, HIV/Aids awareness day, gender
affairs day, self-empowerment dayit doesnt matter
what day the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and
Gender Affairs observes, the bram is always the same.
Bring out the Best Village in we, send out the call to the
east/west corridor crews, turn up the calypso several thousand
decibels louder than is appropriate for a work environment
in the capitals busy business and public administration
Already aggravated by the playing of a song that encourages
women to wine and jam for a rough up by their
menclearly the DJ didnt get the brief on the point
of the observanceI braced for the full onslaught as
I hit the corner.
So did the drivers, many clenching their steering wheels tight,
muttering curses under their breaths as traffic crawled, while
the promenade filled up with the carefully co-ordinated PNM
troops from Laventille to Arima. I dont recall seeing
any buses from central or south Trinidad, or even Tobago.
Thank God, I dont think I could have handled the jamming.
The switch to Natasha Wilsons Sweet T&T did not
pacify me in the least. It was still too loud. Also irritating
were the primary-school displays on how women have advanced
in T&T and how the battle continues to overcome new obstacles
like the increasing rate of HIV/Aids infection among the sex.
When are we ever going to get away from the billboards and
cardboard posters to reflect any aspect of our cultural and
When are we going to get away from the patronising Afro-Indian
When are we going to get away from using dragging Best Village
As if on cue, the Spiritual Baptist groan is raised up by
a cultural group, pounding out a hymn as bele skirts flared.
How can any message get through to any woman or man in the
middle of all that noise? Thats all it was. Couldnt
the ministry go into communities and talk to women and girls
about how they feel about womens day? Teams could have
been sent to schools, hospitals, community centres. Conferences
among NGOs, churches and other interest groups could have
been organised. We need to talk, not dance every time, about
Needless to say, the music still blared in my head, like it
did for those students in my mothers story, even as
I got to my air-conditioned newsroom. I had to vent in our
editorial meeting about why the ministry only has one style
of commemorating things.
The grassroots propaganda is old and insulting. The village
people know how to think and speak, Madam Minister. Lets
talk, not shout at them. I hope in 2020, we wont still
be observing womens day or any day with the same old
Best Village songs.