Home / View Point / Martin Daly / The negative progress of the Trini paradox; the price for mixing sheep and goat

The negative progress of the Trini paradox; the price for mixing sheep and goat

Here is another test for the failed Acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams and the rest of the failing police high command, who do not want their performance assessed by reference to “murders alone”—even though murders continue at more than one a day and are committed with almost complete impunity.

There was a report in the Trinidad Express last week that some residents of a coastal village did not want their community to be better lighted at night. There was the suggestion that there were activities best suited to the cover of darkness.

Photo: A dancer prepares to start her routine at a strip club. (Courtesy Literary Hub)
Photo: A dancer prepares to start her routine at a strip club.
(Courtesy Literary Hub)

The source of the report was the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries speaking to reporters, referring to a fishing depot and quoted as follows:

“It is the residents of that area who come into facility (sic) and they have interfered with the electrical installations. There are people who have an interest in keeping that area dark. There are people who have an interest in using the facility for non-fishing reasons and non-fishing activities.”

What an amazing assertion! It makes one wonder whether the Minister and the Police are living in the same country, such is the apparent disconnect between these different arms of the State.

With or without that report, it is apparently generally well known which coastal areas should be avoided at night—although if one spoke Spanish they might be more hospitable.

So Mr Williams, what about if we judge your performance on the open carrying-on of these non-fishing activities, which are perhaps the unimpeded delivery of lucrative cargoes including bevies of Latinas?

Has a police party been sent to the coastal village to let there be some light after the police apprehend the commercial princes of the favoured darkness?

Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams. (Copyright 103FM)
Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
(Copyright 103FM)

As the darkened fishing facility demonstrates, our country is made up of many opposite things that co-exist and carry on regardless.

Another example of the paradox is the now established lawlessness where the first rebuttal to an argument or redress of a perceived wrong is a killing. But we have in abundance disciplined producers—such as our performing artistes—whose work, for example, will again stand out in fiercely competitive pan music without a physical blow being struck.

Integral to this paradox is the high reward earned from illegal cargoes, contrasted with the humble living of genuine fisher folk and the pittances our artistes earn outside of the all inclusive stages.

The earnings gap, already wide, is widening still further as Government funding support of arts and culture—as subjective, incoherent and flawed as it has always been, whoever is in power—is decreasing following the drop in earnings from the energy sector.

These earnings were traditionally available to be flung about to purchase political dependency at the low end and campaign finance at the high end along with suck-eye opportunities to mismanage public funds for private gain.

Photo: Former Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan (right) shares a tender moment with UNC financier Ish Galbaransingh, who is wanted for corruption by the United States Government. (Copyright Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: Former Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan (right) shares a tender moment with UNC financier Ish Galbaransingh, who is wanted for corruption by the United States Government.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

Naturally, for me, this is a high season for feeling the pain of the paradox in the urban setting as I make almost nightly visits to the panyards; but the same pain is to be felt in rural settings where an honest living in fishing or agriculture is trivialised by the massive, blatant shadow of the other trades and trafficking operating in some of the same spaces, undisturbed by law enforcement.

I do not know what to expect as the Carnival tempo picks up but the streets and highways at night are eerily devoid of traffic. The self-imposed curfews are biting deep.

The Trini paradox is making negative progress. The bad side is winning.

Of course good and bad exist side by side in many countries but we are so small that they trip over each other, frequently in interconnecting relationships which, unlike many countries, have resulted in punishment being off the table. That’s why so many persons are “known” to the police but never face the Courts.

The interconnecting relationships have been a subject of comment in these columns.

Photo: Former "Honourable" Government Ministers Anil Roberts (left) and Jack Warner. (Copyright Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: Former “Honourable” Government Ministers Anil Roberts (left) and Jack Warner.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

Is high time to separate the goat from the sheep because otherwise is the whirlwind we have to reap.”

Thank you Karene Asche. I identify admiringly with Caught in the Whirlwind.

Thank you also Natasha Nurse—or, by her stage name, Sexy Suzie—for your current song Negative Progress: a paradoxical title, which I acknowledge and respectfully apply to a phenomenon on which I have commented for many years.

You deserve to have the good wine in your glass.

We do not need a grandiose ‘crime plan’ to stem the dirty tide.  We need competent and untarnished law enforcement—no mixing of the goat with the sheep or convenient dousing of coastline lights at night.

Law enforcement should have long ago been supported by diligent DNA capabilities, the upgrading and maintenance of which would have been a better investment than the Tarouba stadium, once also farcically justified as a tsunami shelter.

When will we urgently re-assess our priorities?

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Courtesy Caribbean News Service)
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Courtesy Caribbean News Service)

AboutMartin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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134 comments

  1. Off duty police officer “saves the day” in botched barbershop robbery. One of the patrons killed all bandits escape. Paramin barman saves his bar and patrons when he opens fire on the bandits. Patrons alive and well bandit dead…..Fairly clear who we should rely on for our safety.

  2. Priority #1: 70 million to power wash and replace chairs in stadium; set aside 90 million and then say you did it for less – now that is governance….who got the contract? (Ignore FOI request)
    P#2: Give 15 million to Union ‘friends’
    P3: Buy paintings for 3 million

    BTW, What has come of the US$2 million money found in the stack of plywood which was supposed to be connected to a known person?

    Why isn’t Mr. Daly speaking on the ‘molasses pace’ of the judiciary? The Piarco enquiry is how old? 15 years +?

    When the police arrest the criminals, what then? Released on bail for 10 years? Or if convicted, get more discounts in Court than in courts?

    The whole system is a sham, and the police is the perfect scapegoat.

  3. If what was just reported on the cnc3 news about the doubles vendor murder is accurate then there goes the little confidence people may have had about reporting crimes .

  4. ..”We do not need a grandiose ‘crime plan’ to stem the dirty tide. We need competent and untarnished law enforcement—no mixing of the goat with the sheep or convenient dousing of coastline lights at night.”..Q.E.D..

  5. Ok, here is the flipside to that story Mel Lissa. Sheldon Froix was shot dead when liming in a bar after an off duty police decided to have a shootout with a would-be robber.
    Froix was a soldier, top hockey player and a lovely fellah.
    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/2_killed__suspect_wounded_in_Valencia_shooting-136194028.html

  6. Lasana
    “Citizens are applauding the response of a business owner and villagers in Paramin after two bandits were killed in an attempted robbery.”

    http://www.looptt.com/content/video-citizens-praise-bar-owner-after-paramin-robbery

  7. Lol. Aye Trump ent ban Muslims eh. Just some Muslim countries. There is a difference.
    Trinis haven’t learned to channel dissatisfaction constructively yet. Not consistently anyway.
    … we jamming still…

    • He banned immigrants from some Muslim countries, while giving priority to Christians from the same… de facto Muslim ban. Vernal’s point is well taken, but I don’t think there’s sufficient enough grassroots outrage and support for the type of sustained, coordinated protests in TnT as we are seeing mobilized against Trump.

    • In my opinion, people tend to be too hard on the civic groups that exist now. We mock them because they raise their heads when a girl has to pay to go in Aria or what not.
      But I think we should be trying to encourage protest groups instead. Then the mechanism will be in place for when there are causes we DO believe in.

    • Lasana exactly what value does a protest group in sweet T&T have? Who takes them on?

    • I know Mel Lissa but maybe we should cut them some slack and let them get some momentum. They might grow to be useful.
      I feel we can be too harsh on them most times.
      The first thing you always here: “Where allyuh was when such and such happen…”
      As if they can possible protest every single ill in society.

    • The problem I think Trinidadians have in holding their leaders to account is that Trinidadians really don’t see themselves as one people with common interests, which is strange given that as diverse as Americans are they are far more capable of doing so.

    • Lasana I have no issue with protest groups you know. I myself have marched and protested a thing or two ( maybe 3) in the past. But no one in authority is listening so I done with bunnin in the hot sun

    • Protest groups in Trinidad are strictly partisan so therefore they are easily ignored.

    • Well, many groups in Trinidad lack moral authority to speak on issues as well as many of them have their agenda.

      We are very good at criticising those who stand up and speak out on causes they believe in, but we are not providing support or solutions. We are not good at working collectively for a cause, because we do not strength of conviction, or it does not affect me.

    • The “American ideal” Vernal. That might be what binds them together. The cool aid of American exceptionalism.
      All we had to compare with that was the West Indies cricket team and Brian Lara.

    • I agree with you Mel. Personally, I feel it is high time Trinis try a lil boycott and see how it feels.

    • The police need to open up more on their theories if they have any about this level of viciousness we are now experiencing. I am sure they know . I would say one thing doh, if a big drug dealer is killed the people who took products on credit may feel the debt has also died . You are wrong .

    • I wish there was a way for us to withhold our tax dollars from footing TTPS salaries. That I will gladly support

    • Vernal, sometimes people are pigeonholed conveniently too. Fixin TT is a case in point. They were supposedly PNM before. Now they are supposedly UNC. Political parties love that trick to get their fanatics to ignore civic groups.

    • Other than that I only willing to protest for my rights to own a firearm. IMO Arm the citizens so they could have a fighting chance against the bandits as it seems that no one has a solution

    • I really don’t think that will help Mel.
      One: criminals have the element of surprise; two: they are likely to be more violent if they think there is a chance of a shoot out; three: more guns could end up in the wrong hands; four: only gun sellers will benefit from this arm’s race…

    • Not to mention the high level of domestic abuse in households already. You want to add a loaded firearm to that powder keg?
      It will be a race to see if it’s the wife, the hubby or one of the children who uses it to solve an argument first! Lol

    • You may be correct eh Lasana but there’s no solution short of getting rid of TTPS

    • The police beg for info but the population are afraid to share what they see and know . What do we do now ?

    • Mel Lissa, arming citizens only creates another Avenue through which criminals procure arms …. that is one of the biggest mistakes the Americans made.

    • You see what happened to the bandits in Paramin yesterday?

    • I taking a firearm yes. I will feel safer

    • Share that link nah Mel Lissa. Somebody get an unwanted parang in Paramin? Lol

    • They parang the wrong house.
      Hold on let me get it

    • You remember when Ken Gordon lost his sidearm carnival day and some yout find it in Tong?

    • Not even Rambo sleeps with his hand on the trigger. You’re always at a disadvantage to a skilled burglar, even if he only has a knife.
      And a loaded firearm is a dangerous thing to have about. And if it isn’t loaded, how does it help?

    • After that shoot out at the Diego Martin barber shop, I think they shouldn’t even let police take home firearms! Or at least they should not be able to have it unless on their own private property.
      I want the right to refuse access to anyone armed on my business premises unless they have a warrant.

    • One of the most frightening prospects is that of untrained citizens owning firearms. A home invader breaks in and two sets of bullets start flying into the surrounding community.

    • Vernal Damion Cadogan where’s your data to support that it has been a mistake in USA?

    • Cities like New York have been taking states with lax gun laws to court for the firearms found in those cities used in crime that were legally sold in the lax gun law states.

    • Lasana Liburd but isn’t the officer on duty , even when he isn’t? We cyar set field for bad bowling. The barber shop situation was a bad one but I fully support officers taking their handguns home. In the USA all officers have the option of taking their service weapons home. In some precincts the officers even select their weapon of choice for official duty which is then registered as their service weapon. Some officers leave their service weapons at work but legally carry a weapon of choice. Officers are encouraged to carry their badges whether in the clock or not and they have to power to arrest 24/7/365.

    • Brian that’s why I qualified it to say they can have it on their private premises. Why should an off duty policemen be allowed to take his gun to the mall, for instance?
      Must I trust his judgment that he will know when to start firing? Is it justifiable for a policeman to open fire in a crowded area?
      I saw only on-duty policemen should have guns because their movements are presumably authorised by a supervisor. I would grudgingly have them take guns home for their own safety. But that is it!

    • Lasana Liburd well if you can’t trust his judgement then he shouldn’t be an officer period! The same rules of engagement apply on duty or off

    • Brian, in the UK officers do not carry guns unless they are responding to a particular threat. So maybe they know something that America doesn’t.
      Bet there are hundreds of slain black youths in the last few years who wish they were stopped by British policemen.
      Keron King explained this quite well already.
      You see in Britain, citizens decided that when they give someone a badge they are not giving them the right to shoot citizens.
      And, yes, I would like to see policemen do with their jobs with less weapons rather than more. Maybe they will treat citizens differently.
      I have seen policemen operate in tense situations without weapons. It is wonderful.

    • Lasana Liburd as stated in a previous post – those are decisions shaped by cultures! The U.K. And USA cultures have evolved differently and so I expect many differences. Such discussions without consideration of cultural and historical developments are ….. useless

    • Trinidad has to find a model that fits within our culture and social expectations

    • And Lasana here’s another view. These are important discussions for our society to have but we are not – because these are conversations about how we want to change and develop. It’s interesting that the most important discussions are happening on FB and not in the hallowed halls

    • Yes. I agree on all three points there Brian. Very true.

  8. Did you notice how the American taxpayer didn’t just sit back and wait for Trump’s Muslim ban resolve itself?

  9. No, he’s being paid by the taxpayer therefore the taxpayer is entertaining him …. same as Lord Pussyfoot!

  10. Who entertaining him? He’s entertaining himself yes.

  11. I don’t know why the ass we entertaining CoP Williams, he’s a proven failure!

  12. “We do not need a grandiose ‘crime plan’ to stem the dirty tide. We need competent and untarnished law enforcement”
    Amen my brother!

  13. We will not solve nor slow the occurrence of murders, rapes, robberies etc in TT until we treat crime holistically as the result of the decay of our administrative and social institutions. Scapegoat the commissioner as much as we want. Fire him and put another and let’s see if it improves. No national security minister can do it either. But we willfully avoid the deep discussions, because of course the deep discussions will lead to discussions of lawlessness which cuts across all classes and levels of society. As I’ve posted before the following bit of graffiti written on a wall in Laventille about ten years ago “politician is bandit, police is bandit, priest is bandit. So who is we? We is bandit too “. At least the writer acknowledged the large scale social deterioration, though he himself used it corruptly to justify his behaviors. Give him credit, he confronted something the rest of us are avoiding. Keep drinking and wining

  14. I often wonder how ex flying squad members were allegedly able to gather so much evidence about the drug trade in such a short time using primitive means ? I think Mr Williams is not able to rally his troops and by extension the public to change this madness .

  15. I also said that the facility is opposite the Police Station.

  16. I wonder when we going to adequately blame the legal fraternity and the courts ?