Saturday 31st December, 2005

 
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Hope lies in prayer and civic action

The PNM administration of the last four years has demonstrated its incapability to counter criminal activity, which is spreading as criminals take on the security forces with no fear of being apprehended.

Moreover, at times it seems as if the Government is not merely incapable but unwilling to take off the kid gloves and grapple with the criminals in the same way they are bludgeoning citizens to an early grave, cavalierly extorting people’s hard-earned life savings in exchange for the lives of loved ones and generally wrecking this country and denying everyone the kind of future they should realistically be able to expect, given T&T’s resources and the generally good people who have come to inhabit this place.

Additionally, the credibility of the Government to counter crime is slipping away, as one of its former senior ministers, former party chairman and blue-eyed boy of the Prime Minister is before the courts, with the possibility of at least one other following suit.

And if other ministers and senior party officials have not yet been charged, it’s not for the shortage of questionable dealings, $200 million cost overruns on construction sites and the shelling-out of hundreds of millions on all manner of projects, with the potential for massive squandermania and kickbacks.

The picture is as bleak at the level of the security forces. Incompetence is the prevailing condition; inadequate, even absent investigative skills; being daily outwitted by criminals and leadership that is always ready to shirk responsibility.

Like the Government’s, the credibility of the security services is fast dissipating as policemen and army officers are dragged before the court charged with the very crimes being investigated.

And just in case someone were to say that this is too harsh, the saga of the acquisition of the blimp, sky spyship, Zeppelin, call it what you may, is the classic example of incompetence and political chicanery.

Out of the blue, a second blimp arrives (“blimp” is perhaps the most appropriate nomenclature as the term has a circus-like feel to it) while the $24 million first blimp sits on the ground without proper explanation from those with political responsibility for spending taxpayers’ dollars and making policy decisions on the purchase of anti-crime technology.

Is it, for instance, a case of having first purchased the wrong blimp, hence the scramble to lease another?

But should the country not be given a plausible explanation about the first blimp? Does it lack the technology required? Is it a question of our security forces not having the kind of training required to operate the flying machine? If the latter, did no one think of that before the purchase? If that’s the problem, as Brig Joseph hinted, are officers now being trained?

But questions also surround the acquisition of the second blimp. In this age of fast-evolving technology, can a 12-year-old gadget adequately counter the wiles of criminals who are running far ahead of law enforcement?

But let’s forget all of that, Brig Joseph has told the population not to expect too much, as the evidence is that it takes five years for the blimp to make an impact.

But that was not the impression first given by National Security Minister Martin Joseph. When the country woke one morning and saw the thing hovering, Mr Joseph certainly counted it among the measures that the Government was and is taking to relieve the society of this incubus of crime.

Where does a population seek solace in times like these?

Most naturally in the alternative government. But what of that possibility? A badly fractured Opposition party attempting to patch up something for elections; the de facto leader of that party and a few other major figures in the UNC before the courts on serious corruption charges.

The country needs serious prayers and civic action in 2006.

 

 

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