Tuesday 26th December, 2006

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In support of pan finals in South

The positions being stated by certain steelband leaders about the Panorama finals being held in Skinner Park, San Fernando, do not surprise me one bit.

Being around the movement as long as I have and listening to some of the leaders talk in public and in private, I knew that steelbandsmen are still in a dogfight and it will take us some time to rise to the occasion. What is this occasion?

Steelbands have become big business all over the world except in T&T. Today people are leaving universities and joining the steel pan industry, making it their career. But here in the land of its birth we are fighting year after year over a competition that is taking us nowhere. It’s a dead-end situation.

It is time we look rationally at the real position in which we find ourselves. How many bands really benefit from Panorama? After six to eight weeks of sacrifice, the majority of steelbands end up dejected in their panyards long before Ash Wednesday.

We talk about the tourists coming for Carnival to hear the steelbands. Is it five or six in Port-of-Spain, three from the East and one or two from South and Tobago? The tourists themselves complain that when they visit the panyards around Carnival they cannot hear a tune...it’s only one line for hours.

They want to hear and jump to steelbands on the streets of the mecca of pan. The festival is not Panorama. It is Carnival. We have taken ourselves away from Carnival because of this Panorama dotishness.

Pannists must not be distracted by the selfish few among us. We must seek to get back in the Carnival, that is where we all can benefit: all the pre-Carnival shows, bringing mas, competitions on the road from J’Ouvert to last lap. Only then will we all be able to enjoy our national cultural festival.

Let us look at Panorama 2007. The Grand Stand area in the Savannah is not available, so we seek an alternative venue. That should not be an issue. The Grand Stand was constructed with horse racing in mind, not Panorama. The horses were there for years and they were relocated. No horse, jockey, trainer or owner died because of it. So what is the big issue with relocating Panorama, particularly having the finals in South?

Isn’t it called the national Panorama? Is San Fernando not part of this lovely nation of ours? Come on people, let’s stop all this stupid talk about logistics and suitability of large town bands and children having to travel “so far” etc. Just try it, you may like it.

You go to Point Fortin Borough Day without a fuss. You try the Sugar and Energy Festival, San Fernando City Day, Arima Fest, Caribbean Panorama in Grenada. Going to Skinner Park will only take a little extra effort on your part and we know you can do it. Southerners have been doing it for more than four decades without complaining and extra financial assistance.

Let us not get carried away by those who prefer to hang out on “the drag” and not spend one red cent at the gates to see and hear the steelbands perform. They say pan is “we thing” and we shouldn’t have to pay. But at Skinner Park if you really want to see and hear the bands on stage you will have to pay to get in and that spells profits.

Patrick Arnold and his team deserve special kudos for their foresight and strength of conviction. It is a thankless job, but somebody has to do it.

Michael Leroi Joseph

PRO, Pan Trinbago

Time to pass those crime bills

Once again the citizens of T&T are being asked to accept mediocrity and failure as a part of life.

The people of this country continue to live in fear for their well being and the only consolation given are statements that crime is down. Meanwhile, politicians continue to play out cheap politics in the nation’s Parliament.

On November 18, 2005, Prime Minister Patrick Manning and then Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday made a commitment to the citizens of this nation to have nine bills (dubbed the crime bills) passed in the Parliament.

This decision, by both the Government and the Opposition, had come on the heels of the very successful Keith Noel 136 Committee’s Death March. To date, after more than one year, the Parliament has failed to bring the crime bills into law.

Who is responsible for this? Who is going to tell the mothers of this nation that their children have been killed as a result of their inaction?

It is an absolute disgrace that the political leaders of T&T can sit by aimlessly as our country falls apart, watching countless families being destroyed as a result of murders and kidnappings and not feel any pain.

YEStt once again calls on the parliamentarians to understand the responsibilities appointed to them and deal with the murderous crime situation. It is therefore imperative that all nine crime bills, specifically the DNA bill not only be immediately brought before the Parliament in a debate and passed into law but be enforced.

Stephen Cadiz


Woodbrook, PoS

Lesson for T&T in St Lucia polls

The defeat of the St Lucia Labour Party in elections this month did not come as a major shocker, although I expected the incumbent to pull off a narrow victory—not the 14-3 win that the polls predicted.

The governing party should have known that it had lost ground among voters because that is what I found when I was last on the island a year ago. If pollsters told them otherwise, then the party was misled—not that it could have done anything to save itself from defeat because voters wanted change.

I did not conduct a survey for the elections but when I was in St Lucia last year, voters told me they wanted change and were complaining about rising crime and corruption and a decline in revenues from the banana industry, which was falling apart.

I was surprised when I read that the polls forecasted landslide victories because that was not the reality on the ground when I moved around the island and queried voters.

Something went wrong with the normally reliable opinion polls of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (Cadres) of Peter Wickham and of Jamaican pollster Bill Johnson (from Carl Stone’s Poll).

The United Workers Party of former Prime Minister John Compton has won 11-6. Several seats were very close and may fall within the polls’ margin of error. The pollsters will have to figure out how and why they were misled, if indeed they got it wrong.

Congrats are in order for Compton who has pulled off a stunning upset. No one expected an 82-year-old former Prime Minister to make a comeback. It is unprecedented for Caribbean (indeed world) politics.

An important lesson for T&T politicians from the St Lucian election is the impact of crime and corruption. Unless the Government gets a handle on crime and cracks down on corruption, we could see an upset at the next polls.

Vishnu Bisram,

Director, Nacta

UNC must act like Opposition

Exactly what planet is the UNC living on? I have been looking on and wondering this especially in the last few days.

One newspaper shouted from its front page, “Enough is enough.” Another newspaper carried the photograph of a philanthropist kidnap victim! Inside the papers were stories of murders and robberies.

The news items on radio and television were hot with possible port closure and corruption probe.

And what is the UNC’s biggest news item? It elects Basdeo Panday, who is out on bail after appealing a conviction, as its political leader!

Do they recognise that there is life outside of Rienzi? Has the collapse of their party blinded them?

For God’s sake, worthless as the party is, it still the Opposition and should try to act like it until the next election.

Sirri Ramcoomar

Via e-mail

Buck must stop with minister

THAT Minister of National Security really has no shame!

Just as one woman was released by kidnappers (thank goodness) and another taken violently, he had the gall to say that the increase in kidnapping is caused by business owners who use “enforcers to collect debts.”

In any normal society where an individual constantly and continually fails to perform and seems to have no sense of personal responsibility for the job, that person would be fired.

When will the buck stop where it should?

Danielle Gianetti

Santa Cruz

E-mail: [email protected]

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