Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 8th 2015 Contents A22
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 8, 2015
Iwas bemused by the ghoulish
Halloween images that emerged
out of Trinidad. Our mimic people
putting on scary masks of the dead,
a ritual of First World countries.
A growing trend by a mimic people
unaware we are living in the land of
Why not just go on a hunt to find
the head of the body that was decap-
itated, or the wounds of the Eng-
lishman and his wife butchered in
Tobago, or the murder of the Super-
intendent of Prisons Mr David Mil-
lette? Instead of teaching our children
about our own folklore and the sig-
nificance of remembering the dead,
they put on masks of the dead in
the tenth most murderous country
in the world.
This lack of self-awareness is
nothing to the utterance of the
Opposition leader who issued a
statement on crime.
"Dr Rowley has a direct duty and
responsibility for issues of national
security, as he is the chairman of
the National Security Council.
"He must speak, he must act, and
he must assure the nation that ini-
tiatives are being taken to bring this
crisis to an end."
Even the murder of Millette has
not forced Dr Rowley into saying
something to a population that is
quickly retreating into a daily life of
intense fear of crime.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar continued:
"The Prime Minister must end
this routine silence on critical issues
of importance to citizens. Every mur-
der is intolerable, and the Govern-
ment is acting as if it has no respon-
sibility for the safety and security
of the people of Trinidad & Toba-
"The number of murders escalated
immediately after the PNM Gov-
ernment took office, and now
appears set to exceed last year's mur-
der rate, with the Government
appearing clueless to address this
I agree that Government must
tackle crime as a matter of great
urgency, but surely Bissessar doesn't
have this short a memory or the
moral authority to release that state-
The former prime minister got rid
of the most sincere and competent
police commissioner we've had---
Canada-born T&T Police Commis-
sioner Dwayne Gibbs---and put Jack
Warner (awaiting extradition from
T&T to the US to answer fraud and
money laundering charges) in charge
of National Security. Jack Warner
mashed up whatever good Gibbs was
trying to do. That's why we are
where we are.
Crime doesn't happen in a day. It
cooks slowly. Gibbs was lynched by
the Persad-Bissessar government,
used as a scapegoat, and vanquished
because he had a plan. The plan
meant straightening out other ele-
ments of the T&T Police Service
which the Persad-Bisssessar gov-
ernment didn't have the guts to tack-
le.Like I said, Gibbs had a plan and
it was working. He is a foreigner. He
aimed for excellence. The Police
Service felt threatened by the com-
missioner's claim of a whopping 25
per cent decrease in serious crime.
We not taking that.
After president of the Police Serv-
ice Social and Welfare Association
sent a pre-action protocol letter to
former commissioner Gibbs, accus-
ing him of "breaching the Police
Service Regulations in relation to
the 21st-century policing project,"
in March, 2012, I interviewed Gibbs.
He was holding on. He said, "With-
out doubt, the things that get thrown
at me take away some of the energy
I should be using to focus on the
transformation of the service. Dealing
with it doesn't allow the complete
concentration I need to do my job.
But my focus hasn't changed. I am
here to build up the Police Service,
to help the citizens in T&T feel safe,
and I am not allowing it to distract
from our ability to keep working on
rolling out the 21st Century police
"Since we began rolling out the
21st Century Policing Initiative there
has been a reduction of homicides
by 20 per cent and serious crime
including larceny in homes and
motor vehicles by 25 per cent."
Surely that was good news?
"The Cabinet-approved 21st-Cen-
tury Policing Initiative required an
entire paradigm shift in the delivery
of policing services to the nation to
bring modern, contemporary, inno-
vative policing to T&T. The TTPS
designed a policing model which
requires officers to police the streets
instead of sitting in police stations;
placing officers in neighbourhoods
and communities, patrolling and
working with residents to prevent
crime. Visibility combats and pre-
"We work on the premise that
committed, competent and caring
officers combined with modern
technology and state-of-the-art
equipment is crucial to the suc-
cess of the 21st-Century Policing
"My challenge was and remains
to update an archaic, increasingly
ineffective system, reduce crime
and victimisation, improve road
safety, and provide a citizen-cen-
tred Police Service."
I asked Gibbs if his system was
tough on police officers.
"The new deployment system
and shift schedules no longer
build in rest/sleeping period.
Dormitories have been taken out
and replaced with change room
facility and a quiet room. This
ensures that officers are not
sleeping in the police stations,
but are on the streets preventing,
detecting and responding to
"We were able to reduce work-
ing hours of police officers by
increasing our manpower with
new police recruits going through
the Police Academy's Enhanced
Induction Training Programme.
"In the past year, we have had
more promotions than the entire
history of the TTPS. Officers of
various ranks have been promot-
ed through a transparent and fair
process. We created history when
ten people were appointed to the
rank of assistant Commissioner
of Police, three of whom were
That could have been a success
The Opposition is there for
checks and balances. But first, I
would like the Opposition leader
to tell us why she got rid of
Secondly, I ask Prime Minister
Dr Rowley, please bring Gibbs
back in any capacity you think
fit, but bring him back.
It looks like election time for
Jamaica. Their last poll was
on December 29, 2011---sand-
wiched between Christmas and
the Old Year's. Constitutionally,
Prime Minister Portia Simpson
Miller has up to April 2017,
that's five years and three
months after the current parlia-
ment's first sitting.
But everyone expects her to go
much sooner. Why? Jamaica is
stuck in an IMF programme.
Salary increases were agreed this
year, but still have to be paid
for. So the budget next March
will be no fun at all. Better to
get the election in first.
Portia's party has promised
there will be no Christmas
poll---but that's with a Christmas
period quite narrowly defined---
running from Santa's big day up
to twelfth night on January 6.
My neighbours put up their
Christmas wreath on October 25.
Jamaica has held 16 elections
since universal suffrage began in
1944. Six of them were held in
If Portia wants to play before
the reindeer start flying, she will
have to move soon. But these
things can run fast in Jamaica.
She needs to give only 21 days
A mid-December election
could be announced in late
Meanwhile, Portia has been
pulling in the mass rallies as
only she knows how. Today,
she's to be in Brown's Town.
That's her third road show in
If she calls a big one in
Kingston, get ready for the drum
roll. And if that doesn't happen
this month, look for it early in
the new year.
Meanwhile, her People's
National Party is tying up its
candidate selections. Making
those polling day picks is a
painful process in Jamaica. There
is more audience participation
than in this country, and more
This rounds, the selectorate
has dumped a few back-stabbed
bodies---some of them youngish
MPs who made their debut turn
Jamaica's director of Elections,
and now managing director at
the Jamaica Observer---last
month wrote a letter to his own
He wrote of candidate selec-
tion contests with "irregularities
in almost all constituencies." He
said "the general secretaries of
both political parties ... clearly
either condone corrupt practices
or are incompetent."
That's not nice.
But he is not the only one to
lose patience with the Jamaica's
In December 2011, barely half
the electorate turned out to vote.
And next time? Almost half of
the younger voters told a Sep-
tember opinion poll that they
will not bother.
That's a pity, because they
could count for something. More
than 145, 000 have joined the
voters' list since the last elec-
tion. And youth unemployment
is at almost 32 per cent.
Of those younger than 35,
more than half thought the elec-
tion result would not make
But party loyalty still plays
strong. A PNP deputy general
secretary, Wensworth Skeffery,
talks of a "rich family tradition.
He told the Gleaner: "When you
canvass, people will say, 'Bwoy,
it's just because mi a born PNP
or my grandfather will turn inna
Though Wensworth says
there's another group which
looks at "achievements, plans
Portia's "favourable" rating is
down to 36 per cent, from 50
per cent in the lead-up to the
2011 election---and 78 per cent
in 2006, when she first swept to
power as prime minister. The
pollsters report comments such
as "non-performer," "useless"
and "incompetent." Up to 57 per
cent do not want to see her re-
But after five years with the
IMF, perhaps that's not such a
Unlike Kamla, she lets others
do the talking, but she out-per-
forms her party. Her PNP and
the opposition Jamaica Labour
Party are level-pegging in the
polls, with support from just
over a quarter of the electorate.
Both, let's say it, could be doing
Opposition Leader Andrew
Holness has also suffered from a
slide in his "favourable" rating,
which is down to 43 per cent,
from 53 per cent a year ago.
Adjectives? He gets "weak,"
"useless" and "inexperienced."
That last one is after four
years as education minister, a
month or so as prime minister,
and more than five years as
Last Thursday, he told
Jamaica's "articulate minority" to
put down their smartphones and
vote. To get their country back
on track they will have to stay
smart long after polling day, and
BRING BACK DWAYNE GIBBS
PORTIA: READY FOR A PRE-CHRISTMAS POLL?
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