Monday 18th February, 2008

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Fighting crime the duty of all

It is a phenomenon that causes a reaction of disgust and frustrated discontent among the uninvolved: the alarming and apparently unstoppable rise in the murder rate.

It is actually too easy to pick out the man in charge of security and heap the blame for the racing, rising murder figures on him, but the cause of crime cannot be easily ascribed to one man.

It is the responsibility of the entire community to be on the lookout for their neighbours and themselves and to report any suspicious actions they might notice in their neighbourhood.

Indeed, the most superficial look at the crime rate may tend to disclose an attraction to the immediate profit to be won without the sacrifices that attend to an investment in time, labour and money. It is the idea of instant gratification at any cost.

There is the tendency, lamentable though it is, to look at the result rather than the cost. Consequently, every man has a price on his head that may vary according to dollars and cents to the “prestige” involved in wiping out a gang leader, especially if he is attacked in his own stronghold. It is a concept that we see time and time again in the video shows that we watch.

The lure of the other world where the power goes to the most ruthless is the driving force of the lives of our young men who view all the materially successful as being criminals of the most vicious types, whose motto is simply “do unto others as they would do unto you, but do it first.”

I do not doubt that the murder rate is linked to other things but I do suppose that the value of human life is cheapened when we express our value for a human being in the value of what he possesses.

The majority of us do not value the quiet and diligent attitude of the many who rise to the top of society by the virtues of diligent labour and disciplined application. They throw back at you the cheap second-rate cliches from the movies about hard work only putting calluses in your hands but not green bills in your pockets.

The sure way to what they view as success is violence. It is gun rule they advocate.

Surely the old-fashioned way of life is one in which the means by which you achieve your purpose is as important as, if not more than, the ends themselves. It is the country’s preoccupation with what one has rather than how one got it that is the main cause of our concern.

It is easy to quote some sage on human behaviour to put a plaster on the sore that affects us but in the long run we are forced to go back to the old book which has stated that what we sow surely we would reap. Let us think carefully before we act.

George Damien



Check on your senior officers

This is an open appeal to the new Minister of Education to visit and spend some time in her various departments, although I know she is quite busy, to see the nonsense that goes on in her ministry where junior officers are being belittled by senior officers.

Some of your senior officers need to go on training sessions to learn to supervise because some are still stuck in the last century with draconian methods of supervising. Please enlighten them about Vision 2020.

The Prime Minister must be made aware that sometimes the senior officers are the problems, especially since he has plans to set up monitoring units in each ministry.

Venessa Smart


Minister, fix Passport Office

ON February 11, I got up at 2 am, packed my beach chair and journeyed to Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, to line up outside the Passport Office.

I arrived at 2.45 am, set up my beach chair, sat down and waited. After about 15 minutes, I saw other people joining the line ahead of me. I got up and did a head count from the start of the line to my seat. At that time there were 34 people ahead of me.

After some discussion I understood that the person in front of the line was there since 1.45 am. The long wait gave me an opportunity to think and reflect.

The Minister of National Security should take stock of his ministry that is not performing. I know there is no easy solution to crime and it is an uphill battle, but delivering passports should not be an uphill battle.

Why should citizens have to leave their homes at 1-2 o’clock in the morning, line up like cattle and then be turned away by your tin gods in uniform who feel they can talk and treat people (taxpayers) who pay their salaries like their little children?

That is unacceptable. God help your Government’s 2020 vision.

I was subjected to that kind of treatment. I took pains to ensure that my documents were in good order but your tin god found that my form was “too dirty” and turned me away without any consideration or regard for what I had been through.

I have shown my passport documents to several people and not one saw any reason to be rejected since all sections were clearly legible.

Mr Minister, the US Embassy several years ago had problems serving citizens visas. We were subjected to early mornings and long lines. But they solved the problem.

You do not need to reinvent the wheel. Why not piggyback on the US Embassy’s system and remove the hardship from our citizens. We do not deserve this kind of treatment.

Robert Charbonne


No rewards for dedication

Open letter to the Minister of Education, Esther Le Gendre:

My colleague who has been acting as principal of a primary school for over five years has recently been removed and asked to return to the classroom because he does not possess a Bachelor of Education degree.

He recommended junior teachers for heads of department, a position that does not need a degree. He did not apply for a head of department position as he was principal of a school.

He is now back in the classroom, teaching the new principal the “ropes” of the office and taking orders from a junior teacher who is now head of department (whom he recommended a few months ago) since the head of department is in a higher grade (Grade 4).

If this is not a recipe for demotivation, tell me what is.

Minister Le Gendre, you must come out and tell the public about the number of senior teachers who have already sent in their retirement papers with five or six more years to go before their 60th birthday. It is happening in schools all over the country.

Senior teachers who did not desert their classrooms in search of a BEd degree are now being called “lazy” and disinterested in their own advancement. It has now reached the stage where fewer and fewer teachers are devoting their time to extra-curricular activities in exchange for principalships.

Tell us, Madame Minister, the number of senior teachers the education system has lost in the last three years and will lose in the next few years. Do not wait until the system crashes.

I congratulate those teachers who have obtained their BEd degrees, but years of dedicated service must count for something, shouldn’t they?

Laurence Percival

Senior teacher


Not another quarry, please

More than 30 years ago, the residents of Maracas Valley, particularly those living along the main road from Acono to St Joseph, were assaulted by trucks speeding to and from the quarry in Acono both day and night.

Complaints fell on deaf ears and to add insult to injury horns were tooted as the trucks passed the complainants’ houses, in the wee hours of the morning.

The assault continues but today the trucks no longer travel at night. They don’t need to, as they are larger and heavier with more than twice the capacity of the original trucks.

The roads of the valley are, not so slowly, crumbling under the weight of these trucks and the additional traffic as the once agricultural valley is changed into a residential one. The entire stretch of the road between La Baja and Balata will soon collapse into the river as some parts have already done.

There is talk of another quarry to be opened in Acono which will impact on WASA’s catchment area of the river and exacerbate an already inadequate and polluted water situation in the valley.

The valley and its roads cannot support another quarry in addition to the ones in Acono and El Chorro and I urge the landowners to rethink their plans.

I wish also to invite Minister Imbert to drive into the valley to see for himself the condition of the road and not depend on the engineers who are often absent and therefore provide inadequate supervision of road repair projects.

June Hezekiah

Maracas Valley

Illegal towers still standing

The radiation being emitted from illegal cell towers continues to remain a threat to the health and well being of citizens but our Government continues to be indifferent and apathetic towards it.

The former Minister of Planning and Development, Camille Robinson-Regis, in a media release dated December 31, 2006, stated that she “shares the concerns of the national community regarding cellular tower health and safety issues and remains steadfast in her commitment to the enforcement of the planning policy for public mobile telecommunications services... and will not renege on her previous statement that all illegal cellular towers which do not conform to the specification outlined in the planning policy... will be removed.”

That statement remained a promise during Robinson-Regis’ tenure of office and continues to be a promise, for which our politicians are very famous.

PM Patrick Manning gave his solemn undertaking during the election campaign to serve the people and it would be impolitic for him and his Government to renege from his promise.

I am in the circumstances calling on the Prime Minister as well as the new Minister of Planning and Development to refrain from following the footsteps of the former minister, who was noted for her promises but no action, and to proceed to enforce the laws by removing all illegal cell towers.

David Carrington


Keep it blazing Machel, Faye-Ann

I take this opportunity to say something publicly to two individuals.

To Machel Montano, another job well done. You continue to amaze me every year. Rollin’ is a song that is unforgettable, Balzin’ de Trail speaks for itself.

I am continuously blown away when each year in my mind I challenge you to come better than the last and you never fail. Make sure to be thankful to all those who make your story a continued success.

To Faye-Ann Lyons-Alvarez, I saw you take your heart out of your body and place it on that stage at the Soca Monarch and those judges went blind. Don’t let them steal your joy. You deserved that win and you know it. Your performance was outstanding and you gave your absolute everything to that competition.

Hold your head up. What is for you will always be for you.

In conclusion, to the entire HD family, flame on and keep it coming. To Faye-Ann, surf’s up, keep your head high always.

Keitha Davis

Via e-mail

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