Daly Bread: Facing the music; the problem of accountability in crime and in pan

Last week commenced with the prime minister making more shallow statements about the prevailing rampant murder in response to meek and mild interview questions. In local parlance, the TV interview was sorf.

Today I am asserting that facing the music is a common problem for the prime minister regarding rampant murder and for Pan Trinbago regarding its reform of the Panorama competitions.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley fields questions from the media.
(Copyright AFP)

Here is the prime minister’s spin: “It would not be fair to the government to be measured by this situation that didn’t arise overnight and is not a feature of this administration.”

I ran to a few dictionaries to verify my understanding of the word ‘feature’. It means a distinctive or prominent attribute or aspect of something. Murder is an everyday occurrence during the current administration (as it was during previous different administrations) and has been a prominent aspect of life in Trinidad and Tobago for many years, including the last four and a half years.

The prime minister is of course in a real bind. He thought the Gary Griffith appointment would take the government off the hook. But the Griffith thing is not working, and there is nowhere in Trinidad and Tobago where citizens are safe from rampant murder.

The prime minister continued: “While we would not have eliminated, or even reduced, murders as we have embarked upon, there are a lot of other things that the government has been successful at, so I would hope that the population will judge us on the broader canvas than this chronic problem that we are grappling with.

“We have not made the level of progress that the citizens expect, and demand and are entitled to. We are in fact facing an ongoing crime wave.”

While bodies are dropping every day, admissions of defeat as plain as those contained in the statements quoted cannot be put in a better light by comparison to anything else. The government simply does not know how to face the music on the everyday occurrence of murders, the majority of which are committed with impunity. Last Thursday’s post-cabinet belated fable of unnamed destabilisers does not cut it.

Photo: National Security Minister and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and MP Stuart Young (right) has a word with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright Trinidad Newsday)

The prime minister’s statements reflect a syndrome of ‘leave me with power but let me out of responsibility’. So too did the grossly self-serving statement of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA). The SWRHA ducked the wider implications of the kidnapping of two doctors employed at the San Fernando Hospital—one of whom perished—because it did not happen on their premises.

A same old PNM v UNC election contest will not change anything. The prospect of such a contest with the same old baggage leaves much of the population as cold as the fear in homes and streets everywhere.

Meanwhile, although uncomfortable to be out beyond 11.30 pm or midnight, the time at which many pan lovers desert the streets and pan venues, I am facing this year’s pan music. I am hoping that the new Panorama arrangements will work to promote our prodigious talents within an appropriate and marketable package.

I asked last week whether we will have crisper Panorama shows. Last Saturday’s small band 10-hour semi-final was a deep disappointment.

Immediate focus is required on the time that each band takes to ‘set up’. A visible electronic clock keeps the band within the agreed playing time. A fixed time for set-up is essential. The same clock can indicate set-up time and tell us when that time has been exceeded, with point deductions for exceeding the time.

Photo: The Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, still the pride of Laventille, performs at the annual Panorama competition.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

This is not heresy. In basketball, there is a shot clock regulating the length of time to take a shot at the basket. In lawn tennis, a fixed time for the player to serve the ball has been introduced and is shown on a clock. The greatest players have suffered point deductions for failing to serve within the prescribed time.

As a longtime advocate of prime bands in prime time, I am confident that the prospects for turning the medium Aband finals and large band finals, now sensibly separated, into major marketable events, remain promising.

Pan Trinbago must not mess this up. They too cannot have power without responsibility.

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About Martin 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 and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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One comment

  1. There is no question that in our age there is a good deal of turmoil about the manner in which
    society is run. Probably at no point in the history of man has there been so much discussion
    about the rights and wrongs of the policy makers…[Citizens have] begun to suspect that the
    people who make the major decisions that affect our lives don’t know what they are doing…
    They don’t know what they are doing simply because they have no adequate basis to judge the
    effects of their decisions. To many it must seem that we live in an age of moronic decision

    C. West Churchman

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