Wednesday 4th October, 2006

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PNM ignoring rights of people

You can finally tell that an election is in the air: roads are being paved left and right. But here’s the PNM legacy to T&T:

Closure of Caroni 1975 Ltd—workers still not compensated, PR and Christine Sahadeo notwithstanding.

Prime agricultural land being earmarked for housing (voter padding?) and industry (Alcoa).

Closure of BWIA (while we prop up Liat).

Rising crime (Manning saying that crime does not affect the average citizen. For your information, sir, my home was broken into many times, my parents mugged, one of our cars stolen).

Increasing food prices—related to point number two?

Cost of living going through the roof.

Government driving inflation with costly and unnecessary construction. Whatever happened to the concept of decentralisation?

I could go on and on, but I won’t. My major bone of contention is the dictatorial way in which our country is being run. We have a PM who is way out of touch with reality. Think about it: he does not have to put up with daily traffic jams, not in his convoys. He does not have to even put up with normal travel hassles to overseas, not with a jet being loaned from Guardian Holdings. When he gets sick it’s off to Cuba!

And Alcoa.

Our oil and gas reserves are finite, estimated at 17 years at current consumption rates. Alcoa will be using 15 per cent of those reserves within the first five years of operation. They talk about being environmentally friendly, yet they have been cited numerous times last year alone for violations in the US. Building a large “park” around the plant makes no sense as we do not have that land to trade.

The Government is using the powers of the State to intimidate the population, to ride roughshod over our rights. The time to stop this is now! It is time that the people let those in power know that we will not be cast aside. They like to say that ministers serve at the PM’s pleasure. Let them remember that the Government serves at the people’s pleasure.

Nigel Sampath


Why TT$ not good in islands

Several people have remarked at the irony of other Caricom states accepting our financial aid but refusing our currency notes, ie, hard cash.

But this is all of our own doing. Many years ago when I travelled through the islands, I could spend TT dollars in Grenada, Barbados, or St Lucia; Bajan money in Grenada and St Lucia and vice versa; EC dollars in Barbados.

All that comfort changed for T&T when a PNM finance minister named Mervyn de Sousa attempted to introduce Caricom travellers’ cheques through the now defunct National Commercial Bank (NCB).

The Caricom travellers’ cheques however would not be marketable if the TT currency was also accepted freely in the islands. It was so much easier to fly to Grenada or Barbados with TT$1,000 cash in your wallet!

The PNM solution then was to make our TT dollars unacceptable in the islands. I do not know the precise mechanism used but it involved our Central Bank making it unwieldy or impossible for the banks in Barbados and Grenada to repatriate TT currency back to Trinidad.

The PNM travellers’ cheques failed also, because the island merchants never accepted them. The NCB failed, also, because the politicians were putting their hands in the till.

So now is we to catch!

Michael J Williams

Maracas Valley

Govt, Opposition must co-operate

Our Constitution deals with certain rights but not with the tone of relationships between Government and Opposition

A leader of the Opposition says the Opposition’s job is to oppose. No wonder bitter animosity is common in debates and taking firm root in population groups. (Thank God for the Parliament Channel that seems to have had a sobering effect.)

More appropriate is another accepted term: alternative government. This means that both groups have a sense of responsibility for the good government of the country.

It’s easier, then, for the Government to make its proposals, for the other side to critique them, pointing out the good, the bad and the indifferent; the debate flows and solutions come easier.

People will hear both sides and judge. But, above all, they will appreciate that their representatives are working in the nation’s best interest. That pushes away visions of Guyana, Uganda, Bosnia, Lebanon and the horrors those citizens suffered.

A co-operating Parliament will not subject itself to the childish spitefulness we see at times when an opposition, on gaining power, discards successful programmes because they ridiculed them in opposition.

They may even throw a new cloak on them and resurrect them as their marvellous creations.

Political parties must review the tone of debates. A committee of both Houses should review the code of conduct for parliamentary debates and public meetings.

The term “racial” should be taboo in its usual accusatory context.

“Discrimination” should be allegations to be referred without debate to an investigating committee for prompt action, with sanctions to follow if guilt is shown.

Incidentally, if discrimination is proved, dubious motivation of race is quite unnecessary.

Further, party symbols on government ministers on official business are not symbols of national unity. Winning the election confers on the party the privilege of “forming the Government.”

The party does not become the Government. It may even include people who are not party members.

Government represents the nation, not the party. If an emblem is desired, one with the nation’s coat of arms may be designed for use by all governments.

Party symbols are divisive, not representing the entire nation.

Van Stewart

Diego Martin

Stop whitening of black women

I am appealing to the National Association for the Empowerment of African People headed by Selwyn Cudjoe and the Emancipation Support Committee led by Kafra Kambon to protest the whitening of our black women in advertisements.

African models in these ads are looking either mixed with Caucasian, Indian or Dougla.

Why do advertisements continue to portray African women with straight hair, light skin, thin lips and narrow nose?

Are our ex-slave rulers trying to tell us that we pure black people are not beautiful as we are?

And where are Indian men in these ads?

Mary Isaac


Sangre Grande

Changes needed for better T&T

I have lived on this island long enough to know how good it was before party politics and tribal voting hit us.

Numerous changes must be made to our present or proposed constitution if citizens are to regain control or our economy and allow all sections of our society to grow.

We must not allow the present policy “of the rich gets richer while the poor gets ten days” to continue.

I list a few of the obvious changes that must be implemented if we are to drag ourselves out of this morass:

No maximum leader or executive president with the power of a dictator.

Anytime this country’s money is spent it must be debated and decided by a committee comprising all the politicians elected by the people—both government and opposition?

The positions of President of the Republic, President of the Senate and leader of the House must be independent and not elected by the party in power.

An executive president must be voted in by the people.

Politicians must not be allowed to lie in Parliament and be protected when they do.

Victor Jardine


Still waiting for call from Digicel

On September 11, I purchased a Nokia cell phone from Digicel with the additional credit of 180 free texts and minutes. This was supposed to be activated within 14 days from the date of purchase. The agent in the Park Street branch assured me it would be activated between September 24-25.

However, to the date of writing (October 2) the full package contracted for has not been received and numerous requests for a refund have been ignored. So I am now awaiting Digicel’s pleasure.

Potential customers of Digicel, I hope they treat you with more courtesy and respect than they have so far shown to me.

Anthony Nash








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