Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 5th 2014 Contents A26
letters on sunday
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt October 5, 2014
A citizen dressed as Gene Miles supports the cause of the Highway Re-route
Movement (HRM) as she joins other women protesting outside the Prime
Minister's office in St Clair, last Thursday. Gene Miles in July 1966 testified in
a Commission of Enquiry against corruption in a gas station racket in which
she accused her boss, Kenneth Tam, senior factory inspector in the Ministry
of Petroleum and Mines, of wrongdoing in the award of gas station licences.
Some of the people on Thursday were also protesting against alleged
corruption---this time, related to the part of the highway which they say is not
necessary in that location.
GENE MILES TO THE RESCUE
Considerable attention is
being paid to Dr Kublals-
ingh's waning, one-man fast.
On the other hand, little
attention is being paid to
increasing nationwide obesity.
The imbalance needs to be
corrected...before it's too late.
It's rather odd that countering
the devastating impacts of
being overweight has been
back-burnered for so long. The
know-how exists; it's time to
mash gas. The problem can be
successfully grappled by apply-
ing the will.
In the vast majority of cases,
human corpulence is deliberate-
ly generated by bad lifestyle
choices. Poor diet and insuffi-
cient exercise lead the list. The
Health and Sports Ministries'
have made a number of incisive
initiatives towards better nutri-
tion and increased physical
education. These must be
encouraged and ramped up, to
get everyone cracking on mak-
ing personal physical fitness a
topmost priority now. In multi-
level government buildings,
employees and visitors without
complications must be encour-
aged to use the staircase...espe-
cially if going downstairs. VAT
could be removed from bicy-
cles, rollerskates, exercise gear
and gym fees, while the Fuel
Subsidy is gradually trimmed. A
"sin tax", similar to those
placed on alcohol and tobacco,
must be introduced on cripplers
like "sweet drinks" and food
products high in transfats.
The Education Ministry has a
vital role to play too: junk food
needs to be banned altogether
from school compounds and
fruit stalls introduced; starting
at the kindergarten level, rigor-
ous intra-school sporting pro-
grammes have to be given pride
of place again.
Once introduced, all these
measures will combine to help
T&T trim its excess fat.
If the status quo is upheld,
taxpayers will soon be weighed
down with the vexing burden
of having to pick up the
healthcare tabs for patients
whose diseases would have
been avoided, had the afflicted
adopted an appropriate
approach towards their own
health over time---a scenario
like that would lead to dread-
fully unwelcome lean times for
all.Let's launch the healthy-liv-
ing bandwagon while there's
Richard Wm Thomas
TOO MUCH FAT IN THE LAND!
While the Prime Minister was
away at the UN, co-sponsoring
a major anti-terror resolution,
her Cabinet back at home
unleashed its own brand of ter-
ror of governance against the
Acting Commissioner of Police,
the Police Service as a whole
and more importantly, against
This attack by Cabinet took
the form of an apparently gen-
erous decision to "buy out" the
leave of Assistant Police Com-
missioner Wayne Dick.
Now the effect of "buying-
out" leave, in this case, is to
"double-pay" ACP Dick for the
period that he is supposed to
be on leave. He remains on the
job, gets paid for working of
course, but, at the same time,
gets paid for the vacation that
he is due. Nice!
However, many questions
arise about this decision, not
the least of which are:
1. Does Cabinet have inde-
pendent authority to buy-out
2. Can Cabinet on its own
decide that Dick would stay on
the job---despite the complete
and unreserved disagreement of
Dick's boss---the Acting Com-
missioner of Police?
I humbly submit that the
answer to both questions is
"No" and I quote in support of
my conclusion no lesser
authority than the Constitution
of our Republic.
The relevant section of the
Constitution states as follows:
"Section 123A (1). Subject to
section 123 (1), the Commis-
sioner of Police shall have the
complete power to manage the
Police Service and is required to
ensure that the human, finan-
cial and material resources
available to the Service are used
in an efficient and effective
It could not be plainer: The
Commissioner has "complete
power to manage" the Police
Service---not the Minister of
National Security and definitely
not the Cabinet. Cabinet may
not like the provision, and it
may not be the most effica-
cious arrangement, but that is
what the Constitution states.
(Section123 (1) referred to
above simply lists the powers of
The Police Service Commission
with respect to matters not
under the authority of the
Commissioner of Police).
Cabinet therefore does not
have the authority under the
Constitution to reach into the
Police Service, bypassing the
Commissioner, and to select an
officer---who, by the way,
reports to the Commissioner---
and give that officer direction
with respect to any matter
concerning his tenure in the
And, by the way, even if
Cabinet has the authority to
reach into the Police Service, it
would, from a managerial per-
spective, be entirely destructive
for Cabinet to take action over
the stated and complete objec-
tion of its commander in chief.
But this is precisely what Cabi-
net has done! Without neces-
sarily intending to do so, the
Cabinet has attacked the
integrity of the Police Service
as an institution of State and
has publicly devalued the office
of Commissioner of Police.
Cabinet's action amounts to
gross interference into the
management of the Police
Now, to say at this point that
the Cabinet decision has been
"referred to the Finance and
General Purposes Committee
for consideration" is a transpar-
ent diversion. The matter
should not have been before
Cabinet in the first place! Why
did the proposal for leave buy-
out for an Assistant Commis-
sioner of Police go before Cabi-
net? Who is running the Police
What the Dickens is going on here?!
Foreign policy may be defined as "...gov-
ernment's strategy in dealing with other
nations." Through its foreign policy, a state
endeavours to persuade others in accor-
dance with its national interest. Its persua-
sive power is effective primarily in
proportion to its national power. Political in-
fluence is used to induce other states to
act in a manner desired by the influencer.
President Obama and his team had a
purpose for attending the recent sitting of
the UN Security Council. We can be certain
that the US government had assessed the
international and domestic political envi-
ronment, set clear goals about what it
wanted to achieve, determined the options
available and finally decided on the action it
was prepared to take. This process, or
some variant thereof, would have informed
Resolution 2178 which was the major ob-
jective of US attendance at the Security
What was T&T's interest?
Unexpectedly, with no prior indication to
country or region, T&T featured promi-
nently as a co-sponsor of Resolution 2178.
When pressed for information about Cari-
com consultations on the matter, our PM
reportedly pleaded that there was "...limited
time for that kind of discussion."
Newspaper reports quoted her as saying
that "...it was only after we arrived in New
York that it was brought to our attention
that US was putting forward this resolu-
tion. They were inviting countries to co-
sponsor, so there was a very limited time
for that kind of discussion."
The logic is fundamentally flawed. An in-
vitation does not constitute an obligation
The one extending the invitation must
expect and respect the recipient's need to
check before committing. Not having time
to discuss with regional partners on a mat-
ter of this import does not cut it!
But now we know. T&T, completely
blindsided by the US government resolu-
tion, made a foreign policy decision on the
fly, bereft of analysis, deliberation or deter-
mination. We were induced by the persua-
sive power of the influencer!
Was the proverbial gun pointed at our
head? Were we acting out a bit role on the
world stage, craving global recognition by
basking in the shadow of a major player?
It is claimed: "To not have co-sponsored,
to not have been active in our commitment
in the fight against terrorists, I think would
have opened T&T to serious international
pressure and censure as well as greater
risks and threats."
From whom would such risks and
threats ensue: those exerting pressure and
censure? Only two Caricom countries and
eight from the entire hemisphere co-spon-
sored the resolution (Canada, Chile, Colom-
bia, Jamaica, Paraguay, T&T, United States
of America and Uruguay).
According to the PM's logic, the vast ma-
jority of countries in our hemisphere (in-
cluding Argentina, Brazil and Mexico) will
now be "opened to serious international
pressure and censure." Is this for real?
We are also assured about implications
for Caricom relations: "Indeed the President
of Guyana returned on the same flight as I
did last night. We did have some discus-
sions and yes, the answer is 'yes', we will
continue to engage our Caricom partners in
any fight against terrorists."
Finally, did we conduct a risk analysis of
this foreign policy decision?
This is surreal!
Foreign policy on the fly
How many times must citizens
ask that law and order be en-
forced on the roads?
The higher visibility (of traffic
police) is good, but any positive
effects are wiped away if they
are not enforcing laws.
Who cares if they are there, if
there is no risk of being pe-
This high visibility with nothing
much to show for it makes me
wonder if they are seeking to un-
dermine the police service by pre-
senting the TTPS as nothing
more than toy soldiers.
We obviously do not expect
this to be enforced in the entire
country overnight---but start
where there is the highest occur-
rence of rule-breaking, with the
most disastrous consequences:
the major highways.
Consistently penalise speeders
and other rule-breakers on the
Churchill Roosevelt and Uriah
You must start somewhere,
and it should have been started a
long time ago.
Come on, traffic cops: do your job
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