Daly Bread: Gov’t must address long-standing policy deficiencies on pan and CAL

EPL Infrafred Sauna

I first used the phrase “panyard model” in a column published on 1 February 2007 entitled Restating the Case for Pan.  That was 16 years ago.

With acknowledgement to the earlier seminal advocacy of Lloyd Best for schools in pan, I hope that readers will permit me to take some pride in putting down the foundations of the concept of the panyard model and for regularly advocating for it.

A steelpan team performs at the 2023 Panorama competition.
Photo: Pan Trinbago

My focus has been on the peace dividend of music instead of guns as well as on the artistic infrastructure, which is ready to become a core market for entertainment and cultural tourism and to contribute to diversification of the economy.

From the outset, I asserted that: “pan is an instrument of peace, a productive, labour intensive, potentially sustainable occupation, involving youngsters on the margin; but the social development possibilities have not been grasped.”

Panyard possibilities, beyond the concentration on success in Panorama, are finally attracting a little more of the attention they deserve, such as a telecommunications company-related foundation selecting eight panyards for establishment of technology centres.

Unfortunately, the government still has no coherent policy for the development and funding of panyard development on an incentive basis. This omission was underlined in the course of the celebrations this month of the first World Steelpan Day.

The speeches were so many and so self-congratulatory that audiences reportedly became restless while waiting on the music—but all we got was a promise of a convention next year to discuss the future and further elevation of pan.

Minister if Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell (centre) is flanked by NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters (right) and Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore in Woodford Square on World Steelpan Day 2023.
Photo: Pan Trinbago

Contemporaneously with our celebrations of the first official World Steelpan Day, 50 years of Hip Hop are being celebrated in the US. Amazingly, Hip Hop’s birthday also falls on 11 August.

It is accepted that on 11 August 1973, DJ Kool Herc “threw a back-to-school bash with his sister” in an apartment in the Bronx, New York and, as is well known, he tried “scratching” on the turntable.

“Scratching” was the movement of two copies of the same vinyl record back and forth on the turntable during the extended breakdancing. This produced rhythmic sounds.

DJ Kool Herc is regarded as the founding father of hip hop.

He accompanied these sounds with MC-ing, that is the rhythmic spoken accompaniment (which became rapping). Kool Herc is Jamaican born. Of further interest is Ladies First: a story of women in Hip Hop, available on Netflix.

We cannot be confident that pan and soca, now sampled in many film music scores and popular music, will be as definitively recognised as originating in Trinidad and Tobago in the way in which the origin of Hip Hop is established. We better get serious about practical measures toward the further elevation of pan.

Last week, even as citizens were dancing in the streets to pan, travellers experienced considerable disruption in the operations of Caribbean Airlines.

Photo: A Caribbean Airlines advert.
(via CAL)

The competing interests of the pilots and the airline will no doubt be eventually resolved through the collective bargaining and trade dispute process. However, some of the statements made by Government revealed a lack of appreciation of the function of Caribbean Airlines in our socio-economic structure.

It is inconsistent to describe Caribbean Airlines as “a luxury” and to dismiss the pilots as “all about entitlement” but to have its operations classified as an essential service in the Industrial Relations Act.

In columns published in 2002 and 2006, when the national airline was still operating as BWIA, I raised whether the commercial issues affecting Caribbean Airlines could be separated from the developmental and social issues.

Photo: A CAL aircraft.

The function of our national airline is another major issue on which our governments have been largely reactive, similar to the haphazard treatment of the arts and entertainment sector. The extent of state investment in our national airline requires more than ad hoc decisions on support from the Treasury.

As elections come and go, it remains deeply troubling that we have crude insults, old talk, and superficial public relations utterances in abundance, but little coherent policy in many areas of governance.

Above all, in crime and national security, government failure to take necessary and effective measures to protect us against violence has forced citizens to live in fear, as there are fatal or brutish outcomes every day.

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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. I do not understand why Mr. Martin Daly has a concern about the undertaking by Government to have “a convention next year to discuss the future and further elevation of the pan”. That seems to be a logical, practical, mature and comprehensive approach to dealing with this matter. The Government ought not to simply “dish out” policy without first consulting with stakeholders. In any event, if the Government were to take God out of its thoughts and act unilaterally, such an approach would be counter-productive as it would receive strong resistance from stakeholders for, among other things, disrespecting them, and lead to a consequential very hostile and uncooperative environment.

    The Government has, over the years, sought to allow the stakeholders the space to be creative and develop this artform in a manner that would redound to the benefit of T&T. The Government has supported such efforts via State subventions to the representative body, and the provision of the requisite complementary infrastructure. Perhaps at the conclusion of a comprehensive review at the proposed convention, consensus could be reached for a more direct involvement of the State in such activities and the accompanying architecture. Pan-in-school must feature in such discussions. In the broader interest of national development, a mechanism must be found to address the current resistance to such an undertaking by some elements in the educational system, given the restrictions under the Concordat.

    I am somewhat taken aback that Mr. Daly who is a senior counsel of long-standing, and an experienced practitioner in the field of industrial relations did not see it fit to condemn what was obviously a very repulsive, lawless act by some of CAL’s pilots. There is no justifiable excuse for such action. It is a pity that Mr. Daly was not retained by TTALPA as I have no doubt that given the high esteem in which he is held, the pilots concerned would have heeded his advice for restraint and the debacle of the last few days would have been avoided. Irrationality, Immaturity, recklessness, unprofessionalism, and incompetence have no place in industrial relations. Some 40 years ago, the then US President Ronald Reagan did not resort to “boofing”. He calmly, without hesitation, dismissed some 11,000 air traffic controllers when they abandoned their work stations.

    Regarding a related matter raised by Mr. Daly ìn his article – Jamaica, given its economic profile, has been forced to confront the issue of whether a state-run national airline is a necessity. Air Jamaica has long ago ceased operations. This unfortunate incident orchestrated by some of our pilots a few days ago should force us to review our own situation. Let us not waste this opportunity.

    On the issue of crime and violence raised by Mr. Daly – we need to stop pussy-footing and adopt the very harsh measures that have proven to be very effective in Singapore, and other countries in that region of the world. There is no other way. We need to stop the foolishness about differences in “culture”. Culture is not immutable. Also, tinkering with the current system and/or improving the management of it, while retaining the current infrastructure, will not yield the desired results. Our politicians must put country before party and adopt the Singaporean model. Other influencers must stop condoning serious crime by excusing lawlessness on spurious grounds such as poverty, unemployment and other socio-economic ills, especially having regard to the numerous opportunities available for immediate employment, and the training courses (inclusive of a stipend and a meal in many instances) that cater for the acquisition of lucrative skills, which routinely go abegging. Socio-economic support is also available via the Government, NGOs, the private sector, sympathetic neighbours, friends, family members, Good Samaritans, etc. That notwithstanding, it is not disputed that there are socio-economic issues that need to be addressed comprehensively. A key component in addressing such issues is a change of mindset by some disadvantaged persons. However, well-meaning influencers must recognise that serious crime is a lucrative business. Those miscreants will continue to pursue that line of business until there are meaningful consequences for their actions. Let us stop expecting, so to speak, the relevant law enforcement authorities, inclusive of the judiciary, to clean the Brian Lara Promenade with a toothbrush rather than a power washer.

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