Sunday 10th December, 2006

Anand Ramlogan
Online Community
Death Notices
Classified Ads
Jobs in T&T
Contact Us
Privacy Policy

One sober objective voice finally registered its protest against Manning’s “mixed communities,” in the form of former NAR President of the Senate, Michael J Williams.

Similar comments would easily be flippantly dismissed as self-serving and racist, if it came from Indo-Trinidadians, so it’s good that someone else said it.

Williams identified the basis for social development as “equality of opportunity for all citizens, and residents even, on an open market, and let freedom of choice prevail.”

Day-to-day interface between people of different races in proportionate numbers at the workplace was, by far, more likely to produce understanding, appreciation and hence, the racial imbalance in the public sector should be addressed.

The idea of artificial mixed communities in the absence of equitable distribution of state resources is a non-starter.

Last week, the Government hosted a five-day “heads of foreign missions” conference at the Hilton Trinidad.

How could it have possibly escaped Manning’s eyes that Indo-Trinidadians comprised less than ten per cent of the crowd?

Did the thought of racial equity and mixed communities not enter the PM’s mind when he looked at the audience that projects and represents T&T to the rest of the world and realised that the single largest ethnic group is virtually absent from the hierarchy of our foreign missions?

And why did Mr Manning not take the opportunity to rectify this glaring racial imbalance in the new ambassadorial appointments of High Commissioners to Canada (Susan Gordon), Brazil (Monica Clement), Nigeria (Victoria Charles), Uganda (Patrick Edwards) and Kuala Lumpur (Sandra Braithwaite)?

Instead of “mixing it up,” Manning reinforced the exclusion and discrimination against Indo-Trinidadians in this critical area. Why?

Mr Williams’ observation about the need for racial balance and mixing in state agencies is pertinent. He said:

“Many years ago, when I had to get EC-Os at the Central Bank in order to buy US currency, I could not help but notice the racial imbalance in the employees who occupied the twin towers.

“As they poured out at 4 o’clock, a foreigner passing by could well have imagined that he was in Ibadan or Nairobi. And Amoy Chan Fong, if she appeared, might have passed as a visiting IMF official.

“At a state enterprise, too (NP), while waiting in the lobby for an early appointment, about eight employees of the same ethnicity come through the door, before one of a different ethnicity appeared.

Last year, a client for whom I was doing a discrimination case compiled a racial pie chart of the most senior and powerful offices in the public service (heads of divisions, directors, chief technical officers, heads of departments and permanent secretaries), using information supplied by service commissions.

Of the 105 names listed, there were only 18 Indians. Today, there is no Indo on the executive of our police service and army.

Is Manning rushing to mix up the public service? Why not? Is he only willing to mix when it favours his racial political base?

In 1993, at Manning’s request, the UWI Centre for Ethnic Studies had compiled a report on the employment practices in the public and private sector in T&T.

Professors Selwyn Ryan and John La Guerre submitted their report to then PM Manning in November, 1993.

The report concluded that Indians were “heavily under represented” except in areas where merit and technical criteria must prevail, as in the judicial and professional sectors, where Indians were more than adequately represented.”

The situation in state enterprises was no different from the public service. “Of the 17 companies studied, only five had a reasonable representation of Indo-Trinidadians. Six had Indo-Trinidadians on their boards while on the remainder, they were under-represented.”

This under-representation has always been a source of bitter resentment. At the time, Manning promised the Indo-Trinidadian community that his government would take “immediate steps” to redress the glaring inequality in the public service.

He lost the next general election some two years later, without having done anything much towards implementing the recommendations of the report.

Thirteen years later, we see Indians getting half the spanking new houses constructed by the NHA and HDC, half of the hierarchy of the police, army, fire, prison is Indian, more Indian civil servants have been made permanent secretaries and to cap it off, Fr Manning just appointed 40 Indian ambassadors!

Ah blind man could see that Manning genuine and that mixed communities is the solution to our problem. No wonder Indians singing “God Bless Manning!”

©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

Designed by: Randall Rajkumar-Maharaj · Updated daily by: Sheahan Farrell