Sunday 30th July, 2006

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Not sympathy, but equality

I admire Dana Seetahal’s attempt to highlight the need for equal treatment for our nation’s disabled persons, however she is not alone in the misunderstanding of the issue. In insisting that the supermarket in question enforce the parking rules, she inadvertently displays the lack of regard for the physically disabled.

The supermarket and its employees are there to make money and it is not their job to police and somehow reinforce and educate its customers on the need to keep the designated parking spaces for those in wheelchairs, etc.

The fact is that people, indeed stupid people, park discourteously in a space not for them. You cannot police or legislate to enforce common sense. The additional fact that parking in a disabled spot might actually be cruel and potentially damaging to the disabled is totally lost on members of the public.

Ms Seetahal exposes the problem but the solution she suggests is untenable. You cannot place a police-person on every street corner to look for each and every infringement of stupidity or criminality.

What can be done to ensure Trinis follow the rules? They must want to follow the rules, they must understand the necessity for specialised parking spaces, they must understand that equality means elevating some to the equal status of others by introducing special measures.

This is a question of human rights and equality, curse words for some because of the miseducation meted out by so-called human rights lawyers in this country.

Only when Trinis understand and recognise the need to obey rules will they do so willingly, it is not a question of enforcement its about education and sensitivity training for all in an immature society.

If the law does not take disability rights then why should citizens? I believe the population is beginning to realise that there are minorities within minorities in T&T, and they do not need sympathy or protection, they require equality. There is a simple lesson in this, for example in Europe at traffic lights there are loud, audible beeps or clicks that tell the blind it is safe to cross the street. So you may think why should the Government spend extra money on a small minority for such special treatment?

Well the answer is simple, the blind should be able to cross the street with the same independence, dignity and safety as the rest of us. It is not a question of money it is a question of equality.

When you take care of those minorities within minorities then you take rights seriously and then the wider population benefits from having a higher expectation of standards for all, by inclusion and teaching our children about what equality really means. This stems from our ancient and inadequate laws, especially the laughable human rights section of our constitution, which some lawyers are so proud to take advantage of.

Learn more about equality and human rights, then you will understand as will everyone why they shouldn’t park in a parking space that is not for them even if there are no other spaces available.

Geoff Sinclair

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Nation can profit from bush

If you were asked what natural resources we have in Trinidad your answer would most likely be gas, oil and asphalt. But there is another natural resource growing right under our noses and believe it or not it is just being dumped every day.

I am referring to that valuable commodity we call “bush.” At the slightest sign of rain it comes bursting forth. This Government has established the make-work programme called Cepep whose primary job it is to cut and remove this “bush.” But what do they do with this “bush?” If we had an Agricultural Ministry with any foresight it would give consideration to establishing a composting plant whereby this natural resource could be turned into valuable compost.

The compost would then be sold to the farmers at a reasonable price so they could augment their soil with vital nutrients thereby encouraging healthier crops. Healthy crops mean hardier more resistant crops thereby reducing the need for chemical controllers, thereby reducing the price of agricultural produce.

Should there be an excessive amount of compost it could be marketed elsewhere, after all it is a big world in which we live.

Finally, if we do the math we would see that cost of cutting the bush less no return revenue equals a total loss. Compared with, cost of cutting the bush less revenue received from sale of compost equals a much better bottom line.

Richard Deane

Diego Martin

Security firms must secure their workers

It took the death of little Amy Annamunthodo for attention to be paid to the inept social welfare system that governs our country. I cannot fathom the reason why this physically abused child was continually returned to her family, even though all evidence pointed to the fact that the little girl was clearly at risk in her home environment.

It is of little wonder then, that it took the death of security guard Manmohan Ramdhan for scrutiny to be placed on the improper procedures at security companies.

It has been revealed that the security firm had violated regulations by dispatching two officers to do a cash-pick-up without a proper vehicle. This is just one act of overt violation, but what about the general practice of security firms sacrificing their employees’ safety by more covert measures.

Recently, while at a pharmacy in San Fernando, I observed a member of a particular security company informing the on-duty security guard that he would have to travel home, since the company could not drop him. The elderly security guard, who looked very fatigued, was given a paltry $20, which could barely cover his travel expenses, and found himself having to travel from San Fernando to Barrackpore in the night in inclement weather.

Is this how these security firms show their concern for their employees? Is it worth a man’s life to let him travel home at 12 am just to save a few dollars in gas money?

Given the crime situation in our country, one would think that these men and women who endanger their lives every day would have better working conditions. It seems though, that the lure of profits, no matter the cost, is accountable for such blatant exploitation.

In our society, we tend to stereotype not only people, but also occupations. Generally security work is thought of as menial and security guards as either less than human or super human. These individuals endure untold hardship, they work double shifts, sometimes they are inadequately garbed for their own protection, they stand on their feet for more than eight hours at a time and tolerate the scant courtesy of members of the public and of proprietors. Yet these individuals will still open a door for you and bid you good day.

You would think these security firms would understand the immense responsibility they have for their employees’ safety, since their line of work essentially hinges upon the protection of—life! Sadly, this isn’t reflected in their actions.

As it stands, I can only hope the relevant authorities would now be more vigilant of these companies and their practices.

Lindy-Ann Bachoo

UWI, St Augustine

Which side of the bridge, Russel?

I listened in amazement to Senior Counsel Israel Khan's criticisms about the recent vote by the Law Association, in favour of obtaining external, independent legal advice and whether AG John Jeremie had committed a contempt of court in his address to the nation. Khan attributed the overwhelming majority vote in favour of such action to the fact that “lawyers south of the Caroni bridge came to vote like sheep.” As Anand Ramlogan quite rightly asked, “Are they not equal members of the same Law Association who are entitled to vote?”

Mr Khan’s candid reaction shows why Indians feel alienated and marginalised. Khan clearly endorses the view held by the Port-of-Spain elite, that they are “second-class” citizens, who must contend themselves with paying their dues to the Law Association and taxes to the State, but must know their place in society.

If lawyers from South were the only ones who voted in support of this measure because they have a political agenda, the converse must be equally true of their counterparts from North of the Caroni bridge.

Is it then people like Russel Martineau have relocated to Barrackpore?

Shiva Maharaj

Rochard Road, Penal

Telecom body must say why

The Government is quick to talk about the fact that “nobody is above the law,” when it comes to the controversy involving the Chief Justice. I agree with those sentiments but wish to ask whether the law should not be applied equally.

• I cannot understand why the Telecommunications Authority dragged its feet, for well over a year, on the complaints of Gopio’s president, Devant Maharaj, against Louis Lee Sing’s radio station.

• The advertisement calling upon the Chief Justice to resign is scandalous and outrageous to say the least. It certainly makes a mockery of the presumption of innocence.

• The radio talk show host, who was also the subject of complaint, is well-known for his shocking, inflammatory and provocative statements, that tend to incite and stir-up religious and racial hatred against the Indo-Trinidadian community.

The Telecommunications Authority owes the public an explanation as to why it refused to investigate Gopio's complaint. Is Gopio not entitled to make a complaint, or is it that Lee Sing is above the law since the PNM is in power?

Ciola Rahael


Kudos for Grant’s metaphor

Lennox Grant’s recent column (SG, July 23) in which he questions the behaviour of AG John Jeremie is a metaphor for one of the major illnesses afflicting the country: the unbelievable gracelessness of so many of those who wield power.

Jeremie ought to know that publicly challenging a High Court injunction is arguably being in contempt of the Court. Maybe he was absent from classes the day when that topic was discussed. Or, still yet, he might be thinking that as AG he is exempt from following legal procedures, which in essence would place him “above the law,” something of which the CJ is being accused.

Bakar Mohammed

Vancouver BC,


SG provides good info

Reading last week’s Sunday Guardian on the Internet, restored my faith in our democracy and its preservation. Indeed, you are our Guardian of Democracy.

I note your responsible treatment of the present crisis with the Chief Justice, the Executive and the Police and more so, the debate on our Constitution in relation thereto. May I express my appreciation for the information you continue to provide.

In this regard, I suggest to those who do not normally read the Commentary Section, to have a read of the present articles by Dr Hamid Ghany, Mr Lennox Grant and Mr Anand Ramlogan. These will surely allow for enlightened and informed opinions by all on this grave crisis at present.

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