The digital and social media now regularly facilitates the uncovering of many matters that in earlier times might have slipped through the darkness of political obfuscation, including taking blatantly inconsistent positions on the same issue.
One example of a significant revelation is the massive wrongdoing that has occurred in the distribution of State housing stock under the heading of “Ministerial discretion.”
The housing allocation wrongdoing will never be reversed. It suits both political sides to access that lucrative drawer of the repeatedly raided national cash register to fix up relatives and friends, to reward political fidelity regardless of merit, or to unduly influence policemen, journalists, and others in the performance of their duties.
The electronic information age also assists us swiftly to discern trends in opinions when an act or omission affecting the public interest occurs or is uncovered.
The rising tide of commonly-held opinion propelled the recent removal of a Minister of Housing from the perpetually dodgy Ministry of Housing. The Housing Development Corporation is equally dodgy.
This week I would like to examine some of the other recently commonly held opinions that emerged from those trends and their positive influence on accountability. However, without accompanying political activism, these opinions will not be instruments of lasting change.
Before moving to take my soca to the seas, I would like to add a postscript to the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman murder trial.
In 1992 the United Kingdom Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of four big businessmen for conspiracy to defraud in connection with a takeover bid, named the “Blue Arrow case” after the name of the takeover target.
The Court did so because the length of the trial—only one year as compared to the two plus years of the Naipaul-Coolman trial—and other factors affected the ability of the jury to do justice.
A summary of the reasoning of the Court—derived from reports of the time—is as follows:
The time scale of the trial, the multiplicity of issues, the distance between hearing the evidence, speeches and retirement of the jury as well as lengthy periods of absence by the jury, while objections and legal submissions were made, combined to destroy a basic assumption of any criminal trial.
That assumption was that a jury determined guilt or innocence upon evidence which they were able both to comprehend and remember, and upon which they had been addressed at a time when the parties could reasonably expect the speeches to make an impression upon the deliberation.
Before we rush to try and abolish trial by jury or legislate for more short cuts through the laws of evidence it might be useful to draw up plans for intelligent reform of criminal procedure.
It is a commonly held opinion that the criminal justice system is a shambles. Traditional restraints against lashing out at the Judiciary may no longer be observed.
Meanwhile, soca on the seas is to set sail on a Bahamas bound cruise, officially labelled as “awesome.”
At present, it is a fiercely and commonly held opinion that the Government has no business giving financial support to a fete cruise from Florida to the Bahamas in the guise that this cruise will somehow promote tourism into Trinidad and Tobago.
In time, it will emerge whose private interests are being served by this cruise. Two Ministries of Government have been conned.
This cruise ship is worthy of the name the Awesome Conjob. Alternatively, perhaps this misadventure is yet another incident of subvention by contact, scornfully taking place when the economic axe is cutting deep into jobs.
The continued misconceptions of what our tourism product is or should be—what cultural products ought to be mainstreamed into the tourism product and what sustainable linkages we need to make with tour operators abroad—are equally troubling.
Tourism has always been one of the sweeter feeding troughs for fancy travel. I would remind readers of the profligacy of the Tidco posse in a UNC time, partying in expensive cities.
I am sorry the Ministry of Culture got drawn into the current misadventure, despite recent sensible guidelines which that Ministry had published about funding for cultural and heritage events and its other promising groundwork to redraw cultural event policy.
There is a macro level feeling that “we really gone through”, meaning that our country will not recover from its downward spiral even if we get back the fete and freeness energy sector revenue.
Sadly, I asserted long ago that we were likely to go through for the reasons set out in these columns over more than a decade, now published in my book, The Daly Commentaries.
The population is now almost fully understanding that electoral change does not bring political change and the syndrome of “exchange not change” has turned out to have real bite.
Political action must be urgently taken to mitigate the twisted socio-economic structure that is passed off as governance.