Daly Bread: Ten thousand flowers bloom in panyards, but ole mas in Office of the AG

Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) has provided quality coverage of this season’s Panorama competitions, particularly through the engagement of knowledgeable commentators.

In the course of her closing remarks last Sunday morning when the medium and large band semi-finals concluded after midnight, Michelle Huggins-Watts, musicologist and formidable pan practitioner, commented on the number of young players in the bands.

Some young pannists perform during the 2023 Carnival season.
(via Pan Trinbago)

In that context, she advocated the need for the further development of pan music—to take the music beyond the Panorama and “the next two gigs”. Will anyone heed her advice?

Michelle was among many who noted the high percentage of youthful players. Using last Sunday’s semi-finals as the base for a homemade calculation, if half of the players in the medium band and large band category were youths then well over one thousand flowers bloomed before our eyes this year alone.

Adding participation from the earlier stages in bands that did not advance, participation in other categories including Junior Panorama, as well as reserve players and supporters attending the pan events year after year, the significant numbers and potential of the youth sector in pan can be readily appreciated.

It is one of the bases for my continuing and passionate advocacy of the panyards as places of nurture, accomplishment and self-esteem.

The Crown Cordaans Steel Orchestra performs in the Panorama competition.
(via Pan Trinbago)

I invite those readers who may wonder about the extent of my passion for the steelband movement to search for ‘Dedication’, David Rudder’s praise song to pan people. In that 1987 song Rudder retraces the cruel journey of the ancestors of those at the core of the steelband movement, how they regrouped and eventually “out of pain this culture was born”.

“Out of yesterday’s rejection” the pan pioneers invented our unique instrument. Following each verse of socio-historical information, Rudder delivers the chorus lines that end with the declaration: “Out of a muddy pond ten thousand flowers bloom.”

Unfortunately, intruding on the season of pan happiness is the ooze of another muddy pool, the one that the Ministry of the Attorney General has become. Dereliction of duty appears to have undermined the public interest when the default judgment was obtained in the Naipaul-Coolman related malicious prosecution lawsuit.

Late Extra Foods owner Vindra Naipaul-Coolman, 52, was kidnapped on 19 December 2006.
Her body was never found and she is believed to have been sawed up and disposed at sea by her kidnappers.
(Courtesy Indo Caribbean World)

The Ministry of the Attorney General failed to defend the lawsuit and left the legal validity of it untested because the file allegedly “disappeared”.

Retired Court of Appeal judge, Justice Stanley John, has been appointed lead investigator into the case of the disappeared file, which has since allegedly re-appeared. The alleged disappearance of the file as the cause of the failure to defend the claim has already been demonstrated to be a specious ground because, prior to the determination of liability against it, the State received notices from the Court Registry that the case was proceeding.

These notices should have caused the State to wake up and make inquiries of the Registry of the Court and to take steps to put in a defence against the claim before liability was determined by default of defence.

Attorney General Reginald Armour.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament)

The investigating judge is a person who established a presence in the regional judicial infrastructure beyond his career in Trinidad and Tobago.

Hopefully therefore he has additional detachment from our power structures when focusing on that part of his remit that reads as follows: “to interrogate the systemic processes in existence and to make recommendations for improvement with reference to the Departments of the Solicitor General and Chief State Solicitor and the management of civil proceedings in the name of the Attorney General.”

Curiously, the terms of reference do not expressly mention “the secretariat of the office of the Attorney General”. However, as the utterances concerning the default judgment fiasco have made clear, there is such a secretariat—apparently institutionalized by the current Attorney General’s immediate predecessor—and that this Secretariat is involved in the management of civil proceedings in the name of the Attorney General.

Former Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

There can be no argument therefore that the scope of Justice John’s investigation must include a serious examination of this secretariat.

No doubt, a robust investigating judge will pursue: what function does this secretariat perform that is not within the remit of the Solicitor General? Is it an instrument that bestows politically-driven control of the civil law departments of the State?

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One comment

  1. If those alleged kidnappers and murderers were dangerous before, just imagine what threat they will represent after getting millions of dollars in their hands.
    How much for an AR15?
    How much for a Glock with a full auto selector switch?
    How much to bribe a police officer?
    How much to bribe a magistrate?
    How much to bribe or threaten a journalist?
    What is the salary of a politically connected lawyer who knows how to frustrate the system to his clients advantage?
    That file didn’t just disappear, at best somebody overlooked it, at worst there is some kind of sick conspiracy to defraud the state, or as some might say “just another day in sweet T&T”. Is anybody shocked that Ramlogan is on the defence side?
    What is his reputation again?

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