Home / View Point / Martin Daly / Sailing on the Awesome Conjob; the Naipaul-Coolman case and soca on the seas

Sailing on the Awesome Conjob; the Naipaul-Coolman case and soca on the seas

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.”

Photo: Trinidad Express senior political reporter Anna Ramdass received a HDC house on the recommendation of a Government Minister. Ramdass said she informed her editor that she received a Fidelis Heights unit while Express editor in chief Omatie Lyder said she was aware of it and "monitored" Ramdass' work.
Photo: Trinidad Express senior political reporter Anna Ramdass received a HDC house on the recommendation of a Government Minister.
Ramdass said she informed her editor that she received a Fidelis Heights unit while Express editor in chief Omatie Lyder said she was aware of it and “monitored” Ramdass’ work.

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.

Photo: Former Extra Foods CEO 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)
Photo: Former Extra Foods CEO 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)

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.

Photo: A court room gavel.
Photo: A court room gavel.

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.

Photo: The Orient Queen Cruise Ship. (Courtesy Hulubei.net)
Photo: The Orient Queen Cruise Ship.
(Courtesy Hulubei.net)

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.

Photo: Minister of Tourism Shamfa Cudjoe. (Courtesy Newsgov.tt)
Photo: Minister of Tourism Shamfa Cudjoe.
(Courtesy Newsgov.tt)

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.

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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46 comments

  1. I’m not surprised in the least.

  2. And the sheeple do and say nothing but take shit and ask for more.

  3. Food production, not tourism, should be the main focus now that oil revenue is low again. Learn from Venezuela’s crisis…as a nation we need to grow our own food crops and manufacture our own toilet paper and diapers. Stop importanting everything…including tourists.

  4. The biggest problem in developing a true tourist industry is our unrecognized identity crisis. Some of us mistake this for an Indian country, others an African, not enough realize we are neither. Many of us think we are a Caribbean destination where we’re actually geographically part of South America. What we have to offer isn’t white sands and crystal clear waters like Jamaica, Barbados and the Lessor Antilles, we have South American flora and fauna, a plethora of religions and religious celebrations, a uniquely multiculturally influenced culture as well as cuisine.
    We keep trying to compete by other people’s rules!

  5. “A mash-up of East Indian, West African, French and Spanish flavors give this Caribbean country better food than any all-inclusive resort could ever compete with.”

    Ironic since our idea of tourism is a government subsidized foreign boat ride!

    • And we already have several food festivals in Trinidad and Tobago. The Gov’t can help market and advertise that instead.
      Say place advertisements in the right places for culinary enthusiasts or people who like novelty holidays.
      What say you Jason Baptiste?

    • Lasana in that last comment alone you made more sense than Shamfa has since assuming the role of Minister of Tourism.

    • Hahaha. If only I had a party card and knew how to say “Yes Boss!” convincingly! 🙂

    • Lots of potential. We underestimate that people want to have authentic experiences when they travel. We just need to market it and make it accessible. And it means a lot more PR rather than just placing ads.

    • Like sending food to trade shows or something Jason?

    • The cruise industry is one of the most dangerous industries for Caribbean tourism imho. Cruise ships are more and more replicating the “island experience” on the boat itself. Pools, rock climbing. There is the constant threat to Caribbean islands that if they don’t play ball the cruise ships will simply move their vessels to Europe. The cruise ship industry is owned by literally 5 major companies who all operate in a type of consortium

    • Lasana in my day we partnered with agostura even matouks at tradeshows

    • That soca on the seas boat going to have more trinis leaving trinidad to go miami for a fete. What the government should done was partnered with a cruise line to dock at hyatt for the carnival and bring some additional rooms and then sail to Barbados for their normal southern Caribbean route

  6. the funny thing is…soca on the seas is not shamfa.
    it is not even any of the ministers. it came from the adviser to the comm deve minister gyan dolsby? the person’s name , i did not commit to memory might be an arlene holman.??

    i share all this with you to prove a point i have had since this line up was called…there and these are largely cold puppets, silent agents, cardboard cut outs

    and yes, the idea is as lame and fishy as they come
    i have asked for a network map to be made of holman…what is she getting out of proposing such a lame ass pathetic bring no results or benefits small project./ and all these females look like fools in the process. but. then again. you can only appear who you are

  7. And we’re consistent with our myopic emphasis on exporting the country through carnival and fete.

  8. The verdict of big cases in this country helps me realize how fast time can fly. I’m always like “way, that was ten years ago? Already?”
    It’s ridiculous. And unjust to the victim’s and the accuser’s side.

  9. Judicial reform is badly needed and long overdue.

  10. What we should be investing in is cottage industry tourism, offer free seminars and loans to encourage and support private citizens open home businesses that in turn support tourism nationwide…..not just in the North.
    Help people establish bed and breakfasts, offer guided tours, transportation, restaurants. Then spend some money on advertising our culture, cuisine, festivals, flora and fauna abroad to introduce ourselves to adventure travel enthusiasts………instead of sponsoring foreign boat rides!