One sober objective voice finally registered its protest
against Mannings 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 its
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 Mannings eyes that
Indo-Trinidadians comprised less than ten per cent of the
Did the thought of racial equity and mixed communities not
enter the PMs 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
As they poured out at 4 oclock, 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
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
Is Manning rushing to mix up the public service? Why not?
Is he only willing to mix when it favours his racial political
In 1993, at Mannings 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!