Friday 22nd December, 2006

Gillian Lucky, MP
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Whatever it takes

Politics has to be set aside for the welfare of the nation. There is a time for playing politics and this is not such a time.

The most recent kidnapping of Vindra Naipaul proves beyond all reasonable doubt that, contrary to the assurances given by this regime that we are now in a time of relative calm with respect to crime, our position has actually worsened.

Detection rates are still low and the administration of justice requires an immediate upgrade. The criminal element has become more vicious and merciless as they continue to prey on innocent people, even during this Christmas season.

The criminals have violated every rule and crossed every boundary. No period is sacred and every human being, however fragile or vulnerable, is open game. These wicked people just do not care who they kill or injure. Their only focus is to get money at all costs.

The criminals do not fear the legal system and actually stand a better than good chance of not being caught or, due to a lack of evidence before the court, being acquitted.

Over time the Government has shown that it has been unable to deal with the problem of rising crime and the country has become desperate. Whatever is needed and whatever it takes, the nation needs to know that it has not been overtaken by a brutal bunch of bandits.

Over and over

Suggestions have been made over and over to this regime as to the measures that can be implemented on a short and long-term basis in order to address the problem. With the greatest respect to the gentleman, Minister Joseph, he is in over his head and is operating as a square peg in a round hole.

I have no doubt that Minister Joseph would perform well given the appropriate ministry but clearly the provision of national security is not his forte.

There are those who believe that this ministry ought to be manned by a person who has military experience and who has worked in the armed forces. I disagree with this view.

I also do not share the opinion of Mr Manning that a person who possesses common sense and a level head will get it right if given a ministerial function.

The evidence to support my position is overwhelming and confronts us on a daily basis. Just look at the performance of many of the ministers who clearly are clueless about the operation of their ministries.

Value for money

A big blunder in a ministry as critical as national security results in trauma to an entire country and the pressure has been unrelenting. For years we have had to curtail our social night life and to give up houses with lawns for apartments in gated communities.

Employing security officers and personal bodyguards has become the norm for anybody who operates a business, regardless of its size. We live in a lawless society and, despite all the millions that have been spent to buy crime-fighting equipment, we have not gotten value for our money.

This regime, as bad as it is, could not be so callous to deliberately allow innocent citizens to be at the mercy of ruthless killers. The incompetence of this administration must be indicative of the fact that it really does not know how to solve the problem.

Its inability to protect the citizenry demands that drastic action be taken. People have to call on the Government to allow those with the skill and expertise to assist in the fight against crime.

Politics has to be set aside for the welfare of the nation. There is a time for playing politics and this is not such a time. We face an election within one year and there is no room for the Government to mount a public relations campaign of political pretence that all is well.

The Prime Minister would be well advised, in his role as the head of the National Security Council, to address the nation on the issue of crime and the immediate action that will be undertaken by his Government to address the problem.

Lots of homework

The irony remains that earlier this week, while a law was being passed to extend the life of the legislation that prevents those who commit the offence of kidnapping for ransom from obtaining bail for an initial period of 60 days, plans were being made by the underworld to commit the same offence.

Thankfully, those who sit in the back bench of the Opposition supported the bill, having recognised the overriding interest to put country before partisan politics.

The Government was constantly reminded, however, that it had failed to fulfil its obligations to bring a package of crime-fighting laws and the equal opportunity bill as it had promised.

This regime has a lot of homework over the next three months, at the end of which it will be called upon to produce the fruits of its labour.

If there is no significant improvement in its performance, then appropriate legitimate action will have to be taken by all affected parties.

Time to mature

There are many who propose that the only way our country can move forward is with constitutional reform. I agree that we need to make fundamental adjustments to our Constitution in order to ensure that the best governance is given to our people and that each citizen is the beneficiary of equal opportunity and access to state resources.

But while we clamour for change and outline in theory the principles and procedures that must be adopted in the process, there is one fundamental issue that must be honestly and meaningfully addressed: our political maturity.

In this time of rising crime and the unmistakable conclusion that the Government cannot solve the problem, are we prepared to allow those who have a different political affiliation to come forward and offer their services free of charge in the name of country?

Or will we succumb to the old-style politics that suggests that the role of the Opposition is only to oppose the Government?

Are any of us brave enough to withstand the political fallout by doing the right thing for country and letting the political chips fall as they may?

These are the serious issues that I encourage all who wish to enter politics and those who currently serve to think about during this season of goodwill.

Permit me take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry Christmas.

Take time and pray for all who have been the victims of crime and their families and also for the safe return of Vindra Naipaul.




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