Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 22nd 2018 Contents A20
Thursday, February 22, 2018
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It is slightly ironic that the public body responsible
for hiring public servants is itself begging to hire staff
in order to do its job. According to the state’s Chief
Personnel Officer, his department alone is 40 per cent
short, making it harder for it to fill vacancies across
the public sector.
It’s an odd anomaly but perhaps it just highlights
the dysfunctional state of our public sector. Hiring
more personnel, though, isn’t the answer.
Public services in our country are, by and large,
poor and inefficient. And, as we witness when visiting
many public offices, quite a few of our state employ-
ees don’t seem to be terribly busy. If there at all.
The public sector also seems allergic to more mod-
ern and simpler processes. Whilst in a growing num-
ber truly e-government is a reality, here we continue
to perform most transactions on paper. And in tripli-
The problem with our public service is not a lack of
personnel but unproductivity caused by outdated pro-
cesses, absenteeism and lack of leadership. Instead
of hiring more people, the Chief Personnel Officer,
supported by ministers and all permanent secretaries,
should focus on making our public service more pro-
ductive, efficient and honest.
It’s widely believed that intelligence provided by
foreign sources was fundamental in helping put the
nation on a terror alert just before Carnival.
The ongoing dialogue between the government and
partner nations that form the Five Eyes (US, UK, Can-
ada, Australia and New Zealand—the last one without
diplomatic representation in T&T) is welcome and
ought to continue if we are to avoid becoming the
next playing field for extremist organisations.
We must do our part as well. A key step is to demon-
strate to foreign partners that our protective services
can be trusted with even more sensitive intelligence.
A tall order.
Cleaner and tidier
Residents of areas where carnival takes place will
welcome suggestions of new legislation designed to
spare them from noise pollution and the mess left in
front of their houses. After all, paint, mud and even
chocolate may be great fun for revellers but not so
much for those who have to clean up afterwards.
These are sensible proposals, many of them in
line with what this newspaper previously suggested.
There’s a fine balance to strike, though: overregulate
and carnival’s spontaneity will be lost forever; leave
it completely unregulated and disruption is too much
and unfair on residents.
Keep it small
LITTLE SONGBIRDS: Members of St Mary’s Mucurapo Girls’ RC School perform in the Primary School Choir category during
the 32nd Biennial Music Festival at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s yesterday.
PICTURE KERWIN PIERRE
form of humour directed at them
removed the façade of absolute
authority they believed they
crafted and as such was/is intol-
As such, over the years the mas
is fast becoming sterile, empty of
that original expressiveness that
made full use of our dialect.
For some, that is precisely the
intent. But be careful what you
History has shown us time and
again that when you interpret
voices of divergence with dissent
and then proceed to stifle it, the
results from that built-up pres-
sure comes back at you in ways
you usually cannot handle.
Encourage the people to ex-
the mas of all that.
Like the co-opting and diluting
of blues, psychedelic rock of the
1960s, gangster rap and reggae,
indeed, the creation of “pretty
mas” in the 1920s as a way to
de-politicise the deceptively hi-
larious, frequently raunchy as-
pects of ole mas—which Dr Hollis
Liverpool in his book, Thoughts
Along the Kaiso Road, informs
us masked collective outrage—is
being allowed to whither away.
They found ways to extract the
gay abandon aspect, commodify
it, and now we have Mas 2.0 —san-
Ironically, even that, in one as-
pect is a form of subversive pol-
rof Carol Boyce-Davies
informs us of this in Left
of Karl Marx, her book on
activist Claudia Jones,
one of the leading lights behind
Notting Hill Carnival.
She points out that in exploit-
ative, authoritarian, industri-
al-centreed societies where the
incessant demands for increased
production (intentionally?) fos-
ters a sense of resigned despair,
gaiety, humour and merriment
are themselves political.
For the insecure of course, any
don’t know who the person
or people were who thought
it was a great idea to capital-
ise and isolate on the party/
fete aspect of Carnival and
make that the main feature of
all aspects of the mas. It may be
someone who doesn’t have a
sense of history or, alternatively,
someone who does have a sense
of history and is uncomfortable
with what they know.
Either way, it spoke volumes
that for 2018 the veteran “Blue
Boys” was the only ole mas band
to register and appear for J’Ouvert
in San Fernando (down from two
bands last year).
Equally instructive was the sight
of the near completely theme-less
jersey bands, many of which had
their revellers “fenced” inside
ropes held by often burly security
It was almost recalling a sup-
posedly bygone era when the
then masqueraders incorporated
the pageantry of the absurd into
their messages of aloofness.
For the large masses of work-
ing people in Trinidad, Carnival,
particularly J’Ouvert—was always
about subversion, defiance—sar-
casm dressed up in deceptive hi-
It was one of the very few av-
enues by which they were able
to openly express how they felt
about the unfairness of their
lives, the hypocrisy of Victorian
“morality” (that is still very much
is with us) and that of those who
Someone found a way to purge
As such, over the
years the mas is
of that original
that made full
use of our dialect.
For some, that is
intent. But be
you wish for
Stifling out the ole mas
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