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Daly Bread: The Helon standard; why T&T society desperately needs Change

These columns have regularly lamented the failure of leaders in all sectors to think innovatively, act with empathy and set minimum standards for conduct in public life.

My heart therefore soared to hear in song: “Who set the standards in my T&T?  I really wish somebody here could tell me. Is just the same thing again and again. Like we leaders don’t use their brain.”

Photo: Calypso Monarch Helon Francis talks to the media at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain on Dimanche Gras night, 11 February 2018.
(Copyright Avalon/Wired868)

The accuracy of this Helon Francis commentary was exemplified during Carnival itself and days immediately following.

There were “same thing again” divisive contestations in which citizens immediately took sides regardless of the facts or without even knowing them or considering the strong nuances: San Fernando Mayor Regrello versus the Police, Cop versus White Girl, Attorney General Al Rawi versus the media and the clearly spoken ISIS word of his boss.

And then there was the most troubling example of all. East Port-of-Spain erupted, residents versus “Babylon;” those events occurred in the vicinity of Renegades panyard from which the melodious strains of What you fighting for, musically entwined with the hymn Let there be Peace on Earth, had recently entertained “imitation royalty”—middle class and poor alike—in a temporary zone of peace and oneness.

My reference to Babylon is not intended to disrespect the police on the frontline.  It is to underline the depth of our divisions and dire lack of objective justice, to which our leaders have never applied thoughtful social development strategies—preferring in some cases to have ambiguous relationships with the criminal elements, both high-strata and low-strata.

Fifteen years ago, I warned explicitly that we were heading toward “the simple breakdown of legal control in the face of anarchy and banditry.”

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley gestures during a speech on the 2015 election campaign trail.
(Courtesy Caribbean News Service)

In a Trinidad Express column published on 19 May, 2003, I exhorted that citizens should “pressure the Government whoever they are to take back control of the resources of the State from cronies and pardners, armed and unarmed. That is a political job.  It is not the job of the police. Their job is to attack with urgency and integrity the drug trade that underlies the gang murders.”

Here was my prediction: “If any Government does not act independently of the criminal element in the society, whether they are grassroots bandits or the devils in disguise in our Westwood Parks, the regulation of society in the interest of the common good will eventually become impossible. The laws of the land will have legal validity but will cease to be effective.”

In winning the Calypso Monarch title, with his composition Change the Change, young Helon Francis scaled the heights of socio-political commentary, which King Austin’s Progress established more than 30 years ago.

Perhaps Helon even surpassed those heights for this reason: In the course of his lyrical declaration, he deftly and accurately applied the principles of it to Trinidad and Tobago’s pitiful unreformed and adrift condition.

Helon and Aaron “Voice” St Louis are not saviour acts. Their work is just that—hard work—matched with ambition, smarts, scepticism about the dependency syndrome, humility and an unerring feel for the vibe on the ground. They cannot revive a style of calypso product rejected by the market; they must stay focused on the new market they are building.

Photo: Three-time Soca Monarch champion, Aaron “Voice” St Louis.

The Helon standard for change is set out in many places in the kaiso. His injunction against doing the same thing again resonates strongest. We have indifferently permitted our leaders to make the same pointless and frequently nasty responses, many content simply to keep their heads in the state enterprise feeding troughs.

“Stop changing ministers and change what we teach them.”

This line exposes the futility of our shallow practice of democracy, by which we merely exchange Bim for Bam and vice versa every five years or so.  It is a prescription to change the futile exchange that the electoral system delivers.

Our spineless movers and shakers should examine the Helon standard for change, adopt it and promote it as the true game-changing standard for the conduct of public business.

More than the prize for winning, keep him real. Give him the legacy of implementation of the new methods of change he has articulated.

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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21 comments

  1. Could someone explain to me what Messrs Daly et al has done to institute change here. Those guys sit and clink glasses with their unscrupulous peers in the Law Association while chastising others from other professions like the politicians who make half the money that they make while being asked to contribute 100 times more to the society.
    His colleagues with whom he sits and meets and votes are the ones representing dead people and overcharging poor live ones.
    They are at the root of most delays in the criminal justice system while taking fat cheques to represent big business such as RBC, Republic and TSTT against the workers of this country.
    Yet, he would have us believe that he is for the small man. Please people , widen your gaze and don’t let these people guide you along the wrong path

    • Isn’t blaming Daly for white collar crime just because he is well off the same as blaming any random poor person for blue collar crime because they happen to come from same communities as low strata criminals?

    • I am not blaming Daly for white collar crime. I am saying that he associates closely with persons within his circles whose reputation is no better than the persons from other professions against whom he pontificates

    • These guys will not leave their high paying jobs to receive menial salaries to do the jobs the guys they criticize everyday perform. It’s easier to sit at a distance and cry fowl

    • Roger do you actually know that he fraternises with white collar criminals? Or do you just assume all “High collar” people knock glasses together?
      You know if you said the reverse of that it would be considered racist eh.
      That is unless you specifically know that he does indeed spend time with white collar criminals.
      Why the speed to attack Daly anyway? Shouldn’t the talk be whether or not Archie is innocent?
      A probe only gives him a chance to prove his innocence.

    • Every man, woman and child is entitled to representation in defence of accusations and to assert his rights. The representative legal professional is not the accused…. don’t get your ideas confused.

    • Lasana, all you have to do is to check the composition of the persons in the Law Association who Messrs Daly et al conferred and voted with regarding matters including the CJ. Doesn’t that group also include certain lawyers who have been known to overcharge the State and represent persons and accused of cutting and pasting?
      My point is that our local professionals all have the same M.O. (this includes your colleagues in the media) – they find it very easy to point fingers across the aisle at other interest groups and preach about how much better they should be performing but stay very clear away from serious introspection of their own profession.

    • Why hasn’t the Law association been clamoring for those within its ranks to be brought to justice and to be removed from Public office until that is done? All of them band together under the veil of professional courtesy. However, they are the loudest to condemn others in other spheres of endeavour, as though their profession is so clean cut

    • Roger Ivor Archie IS part of their ranks. I don’t get the criticism. Those people on the LATT are as much Archie’s colleagues as they are Daly’s.

    • Lasana, that is what they are trying to fool the public to believe. That is a very stratified profession. Magistrates and Judges, while persons with legal training govern the conduct of the lawyers who operate within the system. It’s like saying the CEO, Directors and Managers of TSTT are all communication workers. They may all be in the same industry but they certainly aren’t the same. Hence the ease with which the LATT people can point fingers.
      I ask again – why not the same energy and passion for those in their own ranks who are accused of far worse? In fact, those accused are sitting with the same SCs to vote about someone else and the SCs have no problem with that. Any association with real consciousness would not even allow these people to vote until everything about them is cleared. Guess I’m expecting too much from our “good citizens.”

    • Roger the man is not but attorney struggling to pay rent for his office. He is the Chief Justice. I’d admit that I don’t know enough about those circles to be able to speak about his relationship with the individual people in LATT. But I’m not convinced that there is a witch hunt.
      Just maybe he has done some stuff that requires explanation. And since he has proven unwilling to provide that explanation then a probe can help.
      I certainly agree that there are quite a few lawyers who should also face probes. But it is never a bad thing to start from the top to me.

    • I agree with the last part, except that the top to which I would refer is the top of the LATT. I have strongly suggested for some time now that each segment police their own. Let the Judges and any other commission deal with CJ (their own). By the same token, those of us who don’t buy the current narrative, want the LATT to deal with THE MOTE IN THEIR OWN EYES before pronouncing on others. Let Messrs Daly, Khan and the other legal luminaries critique and clean up the mess that is the legal fraternity. Only then, will they have any moral authority to preach to the rest of us about what us good and just.

  2. Change needs to start at home

  3. ..Change? How? When we keep returning to the same people – same tyes – to solve our problems..

  4. We have lots of talkers and soap box critics.Doers are in short supply. The doers no matter how small the thankless and honest contribution to society I salute. Those are the ones that stay the course.

  5. Stop hiding behind this column nah..

  6. Yeah, and the change needed is being hampered by Messers Daily and the likes. Chair the Integrity Commission nah Senior Counsel, start the ball ah rolling.

    • How is Daly hampering the change?

    • Change of any sort to be meaningful has to be a societal change, from top down ; not from down up. It must be reflected in how the high or well to do deal with their gains, and the way their powers are weilded. Justice dispensed one way, whilst the others are virtually denied.
      We need to see equality in the way it’s being dispensed, you need examples? Where is Brad Boyce ? Why didn’t Mr Panday serve his time, when sentenced? How long is Ish and Steve gonna be stalled…? You see Mr FFOS protesting when the Diego Martin and Petit Valley Hills are raped by certain developers, on behalf of certain segment of society? Port of Spain is being made a snarl, because Law Enforcement is blind sinded intententionally to create chaos. Have you driven down Richmond St lately? Traffic Branch used to remove vehicles from one side, from Duke down to Independence, for there was alternative parking, now they asked to give way to the businesses and DPPs employees parking. Now it’s more than a nightmare to traverse there. Want to look back further remember when Mr Munroe was churning his Calypso and entertainment promotions from where Movie town now stand, and was told in addition to noise pollution he was encroaching on the natural wetlands. Who is there now?

      I could go and unearth so many other things, but if you have been noting by my comments towards his commentaries, though not really personal, but to the influence and position he is associated with. Start the accounting from up high up, Integrity in Public life, not just with the farcical Parliament Accounting Committees, or Cowboy West at the PSC. Let it be seen and noted persons no matter what strata or walk of life they are associated, some sort of accounting for actions will take place. Just this week there was a drop in the perception of Corruption index, could we say if it’s a true indicator of the reality of what’s happening here?

      I hold to my position all these things highlighted on a weekly basis by Mr Daley, though revealing, though hitting truthful, what solutions are forthcoming, or will stop the flood gates or avalanche of lawlessness and decline? Let Mr Daley put up his hand and lead the charge of change, for we know that saying “if you not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem”…put up yuh han not just to highlight but be part of the solution, lead the Integrity Commission.

    • Andy I agree with much of what you say but I’d say speaking out is something. it definitely isn’t nothing.
      And Daly can’t just walk into Integrity Commission and take over. he has to be appointed. I don’t think he refused to serve. He was actually an independent senator in the past.
      I won’t single out Daly and disqualify him just because he has made a good living for himself.

    • You and I know better than that, on appointments of that sort, the same way the boys club meet and say who is to be appointed where and when…a birdie could throw his name into the air for appointment.

      As I mentioned previously, it’s not a personal attack on Mr Daley for what he has achieved, just my urging that it’s good for him to be articulate and discerning and very courageous to point out the topical and pertinent issues in this place, ah wah im transfer those qualities, in obtaining solutions to issues raised, jus saying.