Sunday 1st June, 2008

Peter Quentrall-Thomas
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Time to change sex laws

Well, hurricane Ivan came and went in Grenada, destroying almost every church and nearly all the schools.

Have we learnt from that lesson? Did the Disaster Preparedness people (the ones who have a billboard on the highway that looks more like a piece of artwork than a direction sign) conduct a thorough investigation of every building they plan to use in a disaster to ensure it is structurally adequate to withstand not only a hurricane but also an earthquake?

After all, we are on the edge of an active plate and get tremors all the time, so we must expect a big earthquake sooner or later.

Have they put up unambiguous signs on each school building, church and hall, saying which buildings have been tested and how many people they can hold?

Of course not. In T&T we believe “old talk beats action” anytime. As one writer to the editor pointed out, they haven’t even put up signs around Trinidad saying which buildings you are supposed to go to.

And don’t expect organisations like the Association of Professional Engineers (Apett) to bring any pressure to bear. It is too busy protecting its members’ interests.

They haven’t even done a study of the collapse of the stadium in Grenada yet, so we can learn from that disaster.

They have taken so long, the collapsed stadium has been totally demolished and removed, so all the evidence is gone.

Of course, the fact that the designer, the project manager and the builder were all Trinidadian engineers has nothing to do with Apett’s reluctance to expose the truth of what went wrong.

Breaking billboard law?

Sadly, it would appear even the police are breaking the law, with its wash of billboards to the north-west corner of St James Police Barracks.

There is even a billboard advertising holidays in Grenada. One billboard asks you to call 684-1414 to “Rent this space.”

Is COP dead?

How many of you received an e-mail saying there was no need for Congress of the People members to bother voting in their up-coming internal elections, as they only had one candidate for each seat after two people “withdrew”?

Doesn’t that tell you COP is dead? They can muster only one person per executive seat? Or, is it that they stifled any opposition so unwanted contenders “withdrew’?

For a new, vibrant, young party to be so desperately short of talent is sad.

Of course, the incumbents like Winston Dookeran (who is a lovely man) seem unable to let go and give the young Turks a chance, thus reinforcing T&T’s greatest weakness, our unwillingness to punish failure.

Judges pathetic

Did you read where Appeal Court Judge Stanley John said the criminal justice system in T&T had collapsed?

I give him a 2020 Award for speaking out, but look at the areas he was criticising. The late filing of submissions before the court and the retention of lawyers just days before the appeals were listed for hearing.

So whatever happened to the much-heralded “case management”? Isn’t it mind-boggling they have fancy TV cameras so they can talk to one another anywhere in T&T, but they can’t even call up one another to see if they are ready to proceed before they reach the court room.

I wonder if the old joke about how wonderful Hell would be if a Trini were in charge was written after someone went to court here; ie when they have the prisoner the prosecution isn’t ready; when they have the prosecution the defence isn’t ready.

And when they have all three, the judge is ill or on holiday. And these legal luminaries want us ordinary mortals to look up to them as exemplars.

Sex in the dark ages

Have you noticed the police are so desperate to get their arrest average up they are chasing down innocent people having a little sex on the side.

Currently, the police force of over 5,000 officers make about 5,000 arrests a year or an average of one arrest per officer per year.

Isn’t that appalling? In 2020 countries it’s more like ten or more arrests per year per officer. But back to the sex.

So what is wrong with two consenting adults agreeing on a commercial transaction involving sex.

When I see the appalling conditions some workers endure, I’m sure sex can’t be any worse. Surely, it isn’t the sale or purchase of sex that’s wrong.

It’s the peripheral damage it may cause that gives rise to concern. But I bet you a penny to a pound there are more wives and children suffering because of rum than have ever suffered because of the sale of sex.

But is it illegal to drink rum? Of course, I don’t support child pornography, etc, but why don’t we update our laws on sex to bring them into line with 2020 countries?

With our terrible track record at spreading Aids, wouldn’t it be better to license prostitution and control it so frequent medical inspections are a condition of employment?

As Justice Alicia Chankar said to the five Colombian women the police so bravely arrested: “You all are not the first and certainly will not be the last.”

So let’s get over the hypocrisy and start to deal with the real issues.

Just a thought

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