Sunday 4th November, 2007

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Election eve portrait

I look on in silence as a rising tide of ignorance threatens to engulf the island people. The promise and potential of an Athens of the New World is being blindly devoured by petty tribal rivalries and insecurities of skin and hair, ancestry and religion.

That bright illuminating spark of true Caribbean culture, its hybrid brilliance aglow before Independence, is put out, sold out to a cult of greed and power at any cost.

A cancer of corruption corrodes the body politic, a corruption of spirit, a primitive, barbaric immorality of soul. The beautiful island TAPESTRY is being torn to shreds. A monument to enormous gaudy crassness replaces it, casting a dark, dangerous and murderous shadow.

I look aside in shame. I feed the birds. I water the plants. I engage the company of the dogs and the cat with love, respect and wonderment.


via e-mail

COP seems the fisherman’s friend

We know that in the past seven years, the PNM has been disastrous for the fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago.

First PNM Minister John Rahael granted approval for 80 more foreign long liners to catch, unregulated, any quantum of any fish, at any time, anywhere in our offshore waters. Local fishermen and consumers lose. There are no benefits.

Then Minister Narine granted approvals to oil companies to conduct seismic surveys in Tobago and on the north, east and west coasts of Trinidad. Flying fish disappeared; catch rates of all species collapsed nationwide.

UNFAO studies show that these seismic surveys cause a 60-kilometre displacement of all fish and diminishment of catch rates by up to 70 per cent for some commercial species for more than six months. Yet, these surveys have continued unabated.

Instead the minister announced cultivating Tilapia farming was the way to go.

Then the PNM leader announced a water taxi, which will deprive our vessels of a large pathway with its big wake and which will run over our nets and ride roughshod over our San Fernando community.

To date there is no right of way on any of our coasts, even though industrial traffic has escalated. Must citizens die first?

The PNM announced it is building a $153 million, 300-metre causeway and fisherman’s island off Moruga even though less than $10 million has been spent in its seven years on fishery upgrades in all of the 55 landing ports in T&T put together.

Under the PNM, fishery mismanagement has caused inflation of 25 per cent per annum, while falling catch rates has benefited no one.

There has never been real consultation under the PNM, only condescending, dismissive lip-service. On the eve of the general elections, we have noted that only the Congress of the People has even mentioned the fishery in its campaign.

Of all of the candidates, Wendy Lee Yuen, deputy leader of the Congress, is also the only professionally qualified applicant for the position of Minister of Agriculture Land and Marine Resources, regardless of which party wins.

Some memories may be short but we remember, too, that she was the president of Namdevco and resigned because she objected to the corruption and mismanagement of our nation’s resources and was not permitted to stop it.

Fishermen and Friends of the Sea urges all of our members to vote carefully and wisely, for our future.

Gary Aboud


Fishermen and Friends of The Sea

Crunching the numbers

It is sometimes useful to stop and translate the “numbers” the public is fed—especially now at election time.

Here are some interesting numbers to crunch on:

When full employment means only five per cent unemployed, that number means 65,000 people are without jobs.

When poverty levels “dropped to 16 per cent” of the population living on less than $700 a month, that number means 208,000 people are living on an oil-rich island, in filth and squalor.

When $1million is approved for a youth improvement band called Divine Echoes, that is the monthly income of 14,000 of those people living below the poverty line.

At the very least the Divine Echoes should have earned its pay by playing at the PNM Youth Rally, heralding the start of its mission to convert our youths away from the music of Sizzla and the likes!

For that same million dollars, we could have had flood assistance of $3,500 paid to 285 of the people recently affected in Beetham, St Joseph and elsewhere.

But the best crunch of all is the figure of $184 million paid for a house.

Here are some equivalents:

That is the cost of 592 houses at $250,000 each. Which really is a large village of comfortable homes!

Or it is the cost of 1,480 self-help homes at $100,000 each

Or it represents the monthly salaries of 29,600 employees at $5,000 per month. Which would be the lifetime income of 82 people at the same monthly income.

That puts things in their right perspective.

But it doesn’t explain what will happen to poor President Max, holder of the highest office in the land (the president is higher than prime minister) on November 6 when the prime minister moves into his palace, leaving Max living in the coop in the yard because his roof is still leaking.

Vote wisely.

K Scarborough

via e-mail

Campaign clean sweep

I sincerely hope when all the campaigning is over that the political parties make a clean sweep of their posters and banners.

We have endured sufficient “rubbish” for this political season, let us not have to endure eyesores as a daily reminder.

Clean Scene

via e-mail

Wrong blame

It is amazing how the COP fails miserably to expose and attack the PNM. Is there a hidden message here?

All attacks are launched at the UNC, in particular, Basdeo Panday, Jack Warner and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj. The UNC is not yet in government and is not responsible for our third world status even though the price of oil is US$90 per barrel, yet the COP spin doctors, programmed as they are, leaves Manning off of the hook.

Is this an indication of an illogical mindset, or a coward, or self-emasculated one?

The UNC Alliance must be greater than its real existence for being responsible for all of Trinidad & Tobago’s problems, while not even yet in power!

I call on the robotic COP membership to leave the UNC alone (you have resisted calls for unity from the UNC Alliance) and attack the PNM.

Your leader fumbles on the issue of unity much to the nation’s chagrin The PNM holds the reigns of power. The UNC-A is in opposition just like you COP. Why blame your brother? Do we control the public purse?

Attack the real enemy COP and that is the PNM .

Kline Khan

San Fernando

Your vote counts

In the last election when I voted (THA elections) the candidate for my area won by two votes! The number of voters in my household was exactly two... this is all the proof that I need to know my vote can and does count.

You cannot know what the final result will be until after the votes are cast. Do not let anyone discourage you from your right to choose who you want to speak for you.

Go out and vote—that is all you can do. Then on the night after your vote is cast, you will know who will speak for you.

Your vote matters.

The only thing you will be until you die, is alive. And if someone else thinks your vote is going to “split” the vote so they will not win, then tough luck. That is their problem. Your problem is choosing someone to represent you in Parliament for the next five years.

Go out on election day. Vote. Your vote will make a difference regardless of what anyone says. Choose who you want. It is your right.

Tobago voter

via e-mail

Manning’s dangerous mischief

The embattled and yet ambitious wannabe maximum president has embarked upon a dangerous course of public instigation to communal violence.

Not for the first time he has sought to divert attention from his administration’s failures by ascribing escalating criminality to irrelevant origins.

It seemed clear enough that refusal to pay protection money to local thugs in his own party stronghold, whether politically sanctioned or not, was the face cause of the attack on David St Clair. No one charged that this was a political attack.

One can only conclude from Mr Manning’s irresponsible statement that he believes a blood feud exists between his supporters and those of the COP.

In 1995, Mr Manning in a similar less veiled appeal, asked his party supporters to go home quietly after its loss at the polls. Why he feels it necessary at this time to incite a T&T blood letting by open instigation is ominous.

What is even more ominous is his assertion that the security forces have been given the appropriate instructions. What instructions has he given to the security forces?

It is an increasing imperative that Mr Manning be stopped in his tracks.

He can start to acknowledge his errors by apologising to the nation for his most recent appeal to criminal elements by suggesting the false flag of blood feud for criminal cover.

MF Rahman

via e-mail

Dead enemies no threat

I have been observing the propaganda and insults being waged by certain forces against the UNC-A.

The UNC-A is being placed at the lowest end of the political ladder and is being described as a party of washed-up has-beens who don’t have a chance in the electoral fight. Well, if this is the case, why bother to launch a massive attack on a dead political entity?

A few examples make it clear that the UNC-A certainly poses a political threat and some are becoming desperate.

The new talk in town is that Jack Warner wants to buy-out T&T, while the man is taking money from his own pocket, helping people and providing employment.

Another talk in town is that Panday is too old for politics and is corrupt. Yet the Privy Council has exonerated the man. The man moves around like a 40-year-old and looks younger than most politicians.

They are saying the UNC-A are having fetes, not meetings, but little do they know that times are changing and it is always a good idea to have a mix in your presentations: variety is the spice of life.

And, even though thousands are turning up at UNC meetings, the polls rank the party last and describe it as a spent force.

Robert Ramdass

UWI post graduate

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