collapsing from the inside
PNM Government is imploding from the inside. Has anyone noticed?
Because money is flowing like a dose of salts and the cost of living
is escalating, many are not noticing this occlusion. Others refuse
to believe what is happening and yet others are too ashamed. You
see it on the sullen faces everydayat City Gate, in the malls,
in the streets, in offices, everywhere.
Five months after being re-elected to government with a comfortable
majority, the Prime Minister has ambled his way along.
Unable to convince the experienced members of his Cabinet and relying
on the support of political greenhorns, the Prime Minister attempted
to buy a hugely expensive private jet with public money. Public
pressure was too much and forced the Government to call off the
deal, giving the flimsy excuse that Bombardier, the aircraft company,
did not want to sign an anti-corruption clause.
Then as consumer pressure was mounting, the Central Bank Governor
warned that unless something is done, we are going to be swimming
in double-digit inflation.
Crime became a back-burner issue as the price of food went through
the roof and the Minister of Consumer Affairs gave the nation a
poorly crafted script on television. The pressure started to build
even more as significant publics voiced their objections to the
Then three days later when things could not have gotten worse, the
Prime Minister fired the Trade Minister on the basis of third-party
hearsay. Immediately following Dr Rowleys dismissal, the country
became vociferous and called for a commission of enquiry to be comprised
of people of unquestioned integrity from outside the Parliament.
The Government spent a full three weeks in overdrive doing damage
control on the Udecott affair when suddenly there was a breach in
the security of the CAPE examinations. Whilst this was being dealt
with by the Minister of Education, the same Udecott gave a press
conference with its board of directors doing some public relationsat
least until Independent Senator Michael Annisette spoke.
Two days later police were in full force at Spring Village as though
the countrys national security was being threatened by aliens
from outer space.
What are we the public to make of all of this: from the display
of state power in the execution of state projects (without environmental
approval), to arresting civilians who are not threatening the security
of anyone? And the rains have not started as yet.
The Prime Minister at a breakfast meeting said that plenipotentiary
power is necessary, especially in the execution of state projects.
His reasoning is that the Public Service was designed for administration
and not execution. The inference here is that innovation, best practice,
Kaizen, TQM, Six Sigma etc are not important, or rather incidental.
What the Prime Minister seems to have forgotten is that power is
fire, and you do not give a baby a hammer as a toy.
What the Prime Minister failed to do during 1991-1995, he is now
trying to achieve in a roundabout fashion. The Government has killed
the service commissions by arbitrarily employing on-the-job trainees
and allowing them to oversee functions of the Public Service. This
is the Julien doctrine at work. Anyone who has gained a little experience
on the fast food counters can now be a supernumerary in the Government
of T&T. Recruitment is by vaps, and who knows who. Anyone can
Many years ago in the Plipdeco News, one of this countrys
fine minds opined that industrialisation was the key to development.
Yet when one looks at countries like Ireland and New Zealand that
have built their economies on agriculture and service industries
and still maintain pristine natural beauty, one wonders about the
wisdom of these fine minds. We have always been importing butter
and cheese. We do not have a fully fledged dairy industry.
During the 1980s we had a state company called the T&T Electronics
Company. Two and a half decades later and we are in the age of the
second and third generation electronic technological development.
We are in the Information Age. Where is that company today? One
of the ideas of a fine mind.
Basdeo Panday was reckless after being re-elected in 2000 and his
government fell within that first year of being re-elected. Corruption
was the issue. Is Prime Minister Manning heading down that road?
Tall buildings more important?
Prime Minister has said that becoming developed necessitated
a state company to have plenipotentiary powers and hence the reason
Udecott was formed. It was charged with the responsibility of building
the waterfront, among other projects.
He then proceeded to say this project was started the same time
construction of the Belmont Police Station was begun. Udecott was
not responsible for constructing the station. It was subjected to
the usual procedures to be followed for construction of state projects.
Our PM then went on to boast that the waterfront was almost complete
while the police stations completion was nowhere in sight.
The fact that the Prime Minster can boast that the waterfront project
would finish before the station is a clear indication of the Governments
The PMs version of development is not about building police
stations, schools, hospitals or other institutions that contribute
to the quality of citizens life. It is based solely on high-rise
buildings such as the waterfront project.
Somehow, in this mans vision, it is more important to have
high-rise buildings than police stations even though crime has reached
crisis proportions in this country.
If in fact the Prime Minister finds Udecott so efficient, and that
is the rationale behind awarding it so many contracts, then why
hasnt he given it the responsibility to construct the Belmont
UHF radios a must in disaster
would like to comment on M Hotins letter regarding disasters
(May 16). He is perfectly correct but one thing he omitted to mention
which is absolutely fundamental in all disasters is communications.
If a severe hurricane hits our islands it must be assumed that all
existing methods of communication will cease to exist. It has to
be assumed that all power lines will be inoperative. All overhead
cables will be blown down together with radio masts. Thus cell phones
will not work.
The only sure means of communication will be by hand-held UHF radios.
The range of these is limited but they will be the best we have,
or should have. I wonder how many such radios are held by the armed
forces, ambulance services etc or are available to these services
at the moment. It will be too late to issue them after the disaster
Also, where are the places of shelter and are they adequately equipped?
Why are there no signs to guide people to them? We cannot wait for
the emergency before putting them up.
It seems that many dollars have been allocated to the emergency
organisation but so far the planning seems to have been limited
to ads telling us the obviousthat we should have emergency
stocks of food and water.
I suppose if an emergency does occur we will spend all our time
blaming everyone else for our lack of organisation.
Better a victim than a criminal
doubt my nephew would eventually just be another statistic. On Friday
last he was a man who was shot in his head while trying to help
a friend in St Anns, and for the while good people, particularly
those close to him, would bemoan the crime situation, and thoughts
of hangings and other forms of retribution would regain prominence
in frightened and indignant souls.
It is funny, but he left Trinidad to get away from crime while mutual
friends are always concerned about me driving my maxi at nights
in some of the more dangerous places on the island. And I have had
my experiences with bandits. I have been robbed, I have been threatened
with death, I have spoken to bandits, and in my way have studied
I feel sorry for bandits. They are a kind of people who, when given
a really precious, expensive gift, promptly throw it away.
A few days ago we had a man who appreciated another person, a friend,
to such an extent that he was willing to risk his life for that
Then we had another man who seems incapable of appreciating anything
of real value, save his skewed self-imagehis rank.
When I think of situations like these I always conclude that it
is better to be the victim of crime than its perpetrator.
This brings me to the point of this letterthat the underlying
factors fuelling criminality are firstly an inability to appreciate
what is good. It is an inability to value those things which bring
real joy and fulfilment.
Secondly and related to the first is the development of a skewed
To repeat the often stated obvious, we need to address values and
education not only in schools but in homes, in cultural expressions,
in churches, on the roads, everywhere. We need to help our youth
develop a healthy sense of self. We need to encourage them to challenge
the definitions which maleficent elements try to impose on them.
We need to help them understand themselves. We need to encourage
them to define themselves in the light of their human dignity, not
in the darkness of one who hides from the sight of society, scheming
and hiding their true selves as if infected with an incurable plague.
We need to love them that much.
Great care at thoracic ward
I was admitted to the Mount Hope hospital where I spent two weeks.
During my stay I received excellent treatment from the doctors,
nurses and attendants in the thoracic surgical ward.
Special thanks to Drs Sylvester, Kampta and Wilson. They were all
very kind, thoughtful and attentive to me. Their patience and commitment
to duty contributed a great deal in making my stay at the hospital
comfortable and pleasant.
God bless you all.
Cuthbert M Jolly
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