Saturday 8th April, 2006

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New parties not the way forward

I read recently where a reader suggested that marches for peace and action were useless and that urgent political action was needed.

While I agree that only political will can resolve this truly horrible crime situation T&T now finds itself in, I disagree that forming new political parties is the way forward. It has to do with our collective psyche. A people get the leadership it deserves.

T&T is divided along race lines and therefore a government will seek votes along those lines. In order for any government to have any meaningful impact on changing the police service and legal system, including the Constitution, it must have a majority. This will never happen if the country remains polarised. And some say that it’s the politicians who divide us but that is false.

Now I see that nouveau riche politicians are forming political parties based on ideas, talk and assumed intellectual prowess. This approach is doomed to fail.

Firstly, because you cannot come from Westmoorings and never cross the lighthouse and hope to relate to the communities in Caroni, Laventille, Toco, Tobago and Mayaro.

Secondly, politics around the world is based on a voting base. What is the voting base of those new guys?

OK, maybe Panday in his younger days was a union man and representative of the people. Although this is clearly no longer the case, at least he can try to convince people that he once belonged to and was representative of his voter base.

Thirdly, new political parties are welcomed surely, but understand that any new blood is just that, blood. Newbies will become sacrificial lambs to the slaughter should their promises not be met. And let’s face it, reducing the kind of criminality T&T now faces will take a lot longer than just five years.

The culture of our country is not very educated. We wish to sweep things under the carpet rather than deal with the problem head-on, hence the enormity of the problem that now faces us.

It requires an entire overhaul of the way we think, act and relate to each other to bring about any meaningful social and political change. This is usually an organic achievement, with a society realising its breaking point often violently.

Ours is an immature, petulant nation willing to sacrifice long-term hard work for quick fixes. One example is people’s perception that hanging will quickly solve what years of police, legal, anti-corruption and social programmes have not.

Some believe that an almighty overpass/interchange will ease traffic congestion as opposed to reducing the number of cars and providing a basic, integrated public transportation system that people have confidence in and will therefore leave their cars at home.

For us all life and politics are transient and disposable. We have a lot of growing up to do.

Geoff Sinclair

[email protected]

No laptops for students at UTT

The PNM Government is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to convert the technical institutes to the University of T&T (UTT). I guess since election year is most likely next year, it would like to have this under its belt.

I recently received a brochure from UTT outlining courses it is offering. A note at the bottom says:

“It should be noted that all students entering the BSc programmes will be required to buy their own laptop computer: UTT is negotiating a special option for purchase from a supplier of suitable laptop computers, with the required software, and various purchase options will be available to the students for this purchase.”

Two things about this bother me:

* At UWI it’s not compulsory to own a laptop computer for any course.

* The fact that arrangements are being made to purchase from a supplier raises much concern about kickbacks as we are accustomed to in T&T.

Another major concern with UTT is the simple fact that it has three semesters. No university worldwide has three semesters. At UWI, there are two semesters, one from September to December and the other from January to June. There is a third semester which is, in fact, not really a third semester for those who fail courses and are repeating. The major problem associated with this three-semester system is the burn-out of students.

I have looked very closely at the UTT and came to the conclusion that it is designed to give away degrees to underqualified students. Sooner or later the employers would realise this when they compare the UWI graduate with the UTT graduate.

But say what, there are always government agencies. For decades the PNM has employed the unemployable, given them scholarships to qualify for their posts. Just check out WASA, T&TEC and TSTT.

Steve Austin


Top cop must lead by example

ONCE again we have a police commissioner who continues to belittle and insult the intelligence and integrity of the people by the steps taken against the officers involved in the report of Sean Luke’s disappearance.

In so-called developed, civilised societies the first step is to remove the officers from the station where the incident occurred, either by putting them on leave or on office duty, away from the public, while the investigation is on-going.

Was this the step taken by the police authorities? Are those police officers that were informed of the disciplinary action to be taken against them, if any, still working and taking reports at that station?

The people of this country have a democratic right to be informed and be assured that this is not the case. We have not heard the police commissioner make such a statement, which should have been his first step. We call upon the police commissioner not to continue failing to take the first step in basic procedures.

We also call upon the commissioner to respect the people and the society that he had long ago sworn to protect and serve. The people demand this respect.

Set the example, Mr Commissioner, for your officers to follow. Maybe if you show true respect to the people, your officers will follow your lead. This goes for the politicians as well and all other leaders.

Tell the people, Mr Commissioner, if those cops are still working at the Couva Police Station. The people demand to know and have a democratic right to know. No more secrecy, we call for open government, we call for transparency.

Eric Hercules


People’s Liberation Movement

Sound Your Horn For Car Pooling

Our nation is in a big traffic jam

is kayos on every street

Every sidewalk is like a parkin’ lot

every Trini owns a fleet.

Each family member owns a car

fully-loaded, foreign-used

No space; on the pavement dey park

traffic laws are being abused.

The traffic situation is gettin’ worse

an’ drivin’ we up a wall

Tank full ah gas, buh yuh car eh movin’,

is like de whole nation stall.

More super hiway is not de answer

We are suffering from gas brain

So is more foreign-used an’ local abused

an’ is back to square one again.

On every lane, on every track an’ hiway

there’s a gridlock every morn

De car pool system jes need a push

say yes! And sound yuh horn.

Vic Dolan Clarke

Diego Martin

Customs House not ready yet?

I WOULD like to know what is happening to the new Customs House in Port-of-Spain.

I was informed that the building was supposed to be completed by March 31, at a cost of $100 million. As I pass by I notice that construction is incomplete.

Can somebody tell me when this building will be completed and if there is any cost overrun?

Eramus Gravy

Retired Customs Officer

Filthy campers not welcomed

THIS IS a letter to all past and future beach campers who came and are planning to come to Salibia Beach, Toco, on weekends, and especially Carnival and Easter periods.

First, I invite all previous campers to this beach to see for themselves the hard work that Cepep and URP employees performed to restore our beach to its natural beauty.

This is the way you met our beach before Carnival. This is not the way you left it on Ash Wednesday to go back to your beautiful villages and towns.

Campers, from now on there will be no camping on the main beach areas that are being maintained by Cepep and URP.

There will be a marked-off area where you may be allowed to dirty and leave in a state that you will meet on the next occasion you make your camping expedition to Salibia.

We are fed-up with this type of behaviour from our citizens who should know that “cleanliness is next to godliness.” We will be protecting our beach from now on.

With the assistance of our district police, health authorities, village council, community groups of Toco, our Member of Parliament and our local councillor, we will see that you campers keep our Toco clean and beautiful in the future.

Adrian Watson


Mario Eco Company Ltd (Cepep)


T&T surrenders its independence

With the horrible, sadistic murder of Sean Luke, the chorus of blame and answer has again begun. Blame: poor policing, government inaction, society, bad parenting etc. Answer: prayer, church, better policing, government action etc. None offers any real explanation or solution.

Little Sean’s gruesome death, sad to say, was a tragedy waiting to happen. The greater crime is the reaction of the authorities: it took the involvement of the US Embassy to spur the police to serious action.

Doesn’t that say something about how we have squandered our independence? That we have come to care so little about our own people that only foreign intervention can get results?

Given self-determination, we have chosen to relinquish it. Ours is a basically a lawless society in which no one wants to take responsibility for anything. And we like it so—until someone has to pay the piper.

Brent Homer


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