Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 6th 2013 Contents A25
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
I am very afraid of the criminal ele-
ments in our society that still remains
on the prowl targeting the people who
worked hard and toiled for any prosper-
ity that came their way. Imagine seeing
your earnings swiftly taken away from
you by bandits with such ease and
nothing could ever bring it back.
To add insult to injury, we see various
charities and other NGOs coming for-
ward to support the communities that
foster this type of criminal activity. It's
In my opinion, criminals must be put
behind bars where they belong and the
people who give them support are aid-
ing and abetting their activities.
Minister unable to
I would like to draw to your attention
an article appearing in the Guardian of
August 2 headlined "Public Administra-
tion Ministry hosts Emancipation cele-
brations" which indicated in the first
paragraph that "the Public Administra-
tion Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan
was conspicuously absent last Tuesday
when her staff hosted its first ever Mr
and Ms Emancipation competition."
Please note that Minister Carolyn
Seepersad-Bachan normally visits her
constituency on a Tuesday. Regrettably,
Minister was only notified of the event
on the afternoon of Monday, July 29. As
a consequence, she was unable to
reschedule her constituency day be-
cause of pressing commitments at that
The Ministry of Public Administration
(MPA) has had many Emancipation Day
celebrations in the past and the current
minister has attended in previous years.
It should also be noted that the Perma-
nent Secretary was not able to attend
because of a previously arranged per-
Such events are organised by the So-
cial Activities Committee and it is the
custom to host them the day before the
public holiday. The committee, based on
the availability of performers and logis-
tics, agreed not to have the event on
the day prior to the holiday.
Both the minister and I expected the
function to be on the Wednesday, July
30, hence the difficulty to change our
As reflected above, the event has al-
ways had the full support of the minis-
ter, our leadership and indeed the entire
The members of staff of the ministry
are concerned that an article covering
the celebration started by focusing on
the minister's inability to attend.
Notwithstanding the concerns ex-
pressed by staff, we thank you for the
coverage of the event, which otherwise
captured the talent displayed and the
significance of the struggle for emanci-
I trust that you would make the nec-
Ministry of Public Administration
After the President's speech, the
leaders of the two major political par-
ties were asked what they thought of
his suggestion regarding an 8 am start
time for Parliament.
Mr Rowley is reported to have said,
"Five hours of stressful work is enough
for a day," and Mrs Persad-Bissessar
said that it may be difficult to start at
that time "as some parliamentarians
come from far distances."
The vast majority of the people who
work in this country begin at 8 am and
do an eight-hour day, five days every
The parliamentarians get chauffeur
and vehicle allowances.
Jack Warner begins work at 4 am
every day and will often work into the
Is it now any wonder that the PNM
and UNC have lost everything that they
once considered to be theirs, by right, as
evidenced in the recent Chaguanas
It's Your Write
The President gives his rea-
sons for changing some of
our senators. His reasoning is
extremely flawed because his
statement was inaccurate and
such changes cannot cover the
gamut of specialisations sena-
tors have to deal with in their
deliberations. But listen to our
President: "Where were the
detractors in the last three
years when there was no ener-
gy expert on the Independent
bench (this is untrue. Mr B Ali
resigned on September 1, 2012),
no person of disability for some
50 years and no internationally
recognised expert and academic
in finance (what about Mr
Ramkalawan?) Where were you
men and women of letters?"
This was the arrogant retort
by the President to criticisims
of his tampering with the Inde-
pendent bench, as he criticised
the choices of his predecessors.
The biggest challenge facing
us today even if the oil and gas
were not depleting is to trans-
form our economy to one that
depends on the exploitation of
science and technology---yet the
President removed Prof
Ramkissoon, a person who is
preeminent in the region in this
innovation thrust. We face cli-
mate change and global warm-
ing and we need to consider
alternatives to oil and gas.
Where, Mr President, are your
engineers on the Independent
bench to lead this thrust in the
The local oil and gas industry
is driven by foreign direct
investment (FDI) and its tech-
nology. When FDI asks us to
jump we ask how high and
recently we have all but given
away the shop to the new pro-
which we call fiscal incentives.
Another major concern we
have in T&T is spatial planning
and land use, yet the President
fired Dr James Armstrong.
Education reform is funda-
mental to the transformation of
the economy---yet the President
fired both Prof Ramkisoon and
Mr Lennox Bernard and hired
two lawyers, making it three on
the bench---a profession that
has no direct contribution to
make to the concrete develop-
ment of this and any country.
The President also saw it fit
to reduce the number of
women on the bench to one---
maybe he could not find com-
petent women; they hiding.
The point of this contribution
is that anyone can be as critical
of this President s choice of
skills, as he is of his predeces-
sors . What he ignored is that
he cannot adequately represent
all of the necessary skills that
may be required among only
nine senators. This constraint is
accommodated by the senators
seeking expert advice when
necessary, so much so that the
Parliament committees when
necessary can call in experts.
What he also ignored is the
impact of his firing on the rep-
utation and feelings of people
who did not compete for a job
but were asked to serve.
The move by the President to
fire sitting senators because he
wanted to retool the bench,
because he did not want to
recycle the old faces, reflects
his growing arrogance and the
hectoring attitude of the know-
it-all. Maybe this is the power
we did not think he had.
RETOOLING THE BENCH
work and produce
Further additional plaudits to our President at this
stage on his speech at the opening of Parliament would
seem redundant. Suffice it to say that I think that the
state of the nation has just been revitalised. Everyone---
back to work and produce.
There were, however, two disappointments. Mem-
bers of the legal fraternity considered that a "poor
precedent" had been set by the President in changing in
mid-stream, as it were, the tenure of four Senators.
Not illegal, mind you. They fear the break from tradi-
While probably not applicable in this case, tradition
blindly followed can lead to complacency and subse-
quent mediocrity. And there are many precedents for
the President's action. Pope Francis, having been
elected, made several new appointments/replacements
on attaining office. He broke with tradition in his dress,
actions and words.
In the business world a new CEO brings with him/her
a personal "cabal" (there's that word again) to effect
the change they see as necessary.
Gentlemen, the winds of change are here. Get with it.
The other disappointment is the words and actions
of the Opposition.
Having exhibited little leadership in the by-election
and unable to muster their membership, we now find
that they lack both manners and culture.
If they are to aspire to lead this country again maybe
they need to take a leaf from the President and effect
drastic change from within. A viable opposition is an ab-
solute necessity in our democracy.
We can but hope for an improvement!
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