Trinidad and Tobago lives on nervous energy. We are constantly rattled and are set talking, messaging and posting, prompted by extraordinary and usually negative events.
At times, things happen so quickly that another event erupts into the headlines before the shock and full implications of an earlier one can be absorbed. At those times my Freeport compere says to me: “Boy, topic, topic, topic.”
Trinbago is a grow room of topics. As a commentator, difficult decisions arise about the choice of subject matter of a weekly column when events pile up rapidly and readers contact me to urge that I deal with a particular event that is troubling them. There are also loads of foolishness and garbage designed to cover up blows, delivered by abuse of power, that may not affect the citizens as a collective body, but shatter, or have the potential to shatter, the life of an individual or small group of individuals.
The recent Christmas/New Year period was one such time. We are barely settled into the new decade, 2020, but so many things have piled upon us. For this reason, therefore, this week’s column will touch on more than one topic.
I must first return to the rampant murders and the impunity with which the majority of them are committed. This follows the assertion in last week’s column that all the authorities have done for 25 years is make excuses.
That column was preceded, three days before, by the Boxing Day front-page headline: Bloody Holiday. This week the headlines were: Bloody Monday and Strangled followed by Oropouche woman shot dead by ex-lover.
During the Christmas/New Year period there was no respite from the bloodletting. It should be obvious by now that there is no new messiah to save us from the bloodletting and there will never be one. As indicated, a range of policy prescriptions, founded on radical social development policy, is required.
As is the norm, three of the recent murders appear to arise out of domestic discord. The one in which a teacher was stabbed to death in front of pupils was described by the minister of education as ‘a senseless act of violence’. That’s a cliché.
‘Senseless’ is also a comment that demonstrates how our leadership and governance is lacking. Very sadly for this country, domestic violence makes sense to controlling men, for whom we have never reset the upbringing and education agenda, to teach them while they are boys, that masculinity does not include possessiveness and dominion over women. Reams have been written about engaging boys and young men as allies against all kinds of violence.
Another recent headline was Cloud over Camille. A simple question will put the issue surrounding Minister Camille Robinson-Regis’s issue into perspective. Are ministers of government exempt from making accurate source of funds declarations?
The issue was summarized in last Monday’s Trinidad Express editorial: “The facts uncovered so far do not support her explanation about the source of cash she took to First Citizen’s Bank in January 2016.”
It is particularly ironic and an insult to objective justice that there should be any breaksin’ about the source of funds of a citizen holding ministerial office when ordinary citizens—many quite unnecessarily so—were plagued with source of funds inquiries when seeking to exchange their blue notes.
The attorney general compounded the insult by pushing his mouth into the issue to defend his colleague on the basis of some bank letter he says he saw. I say ‘pushing his mouth’ because it is well known that an attorney general should practise detachment, not indulge in partisan defence. His office is a guardian of the public interest. It is not the guardian of party interest, family interest or personal affection.
I have also been pressed to pursue the one-legged marijuana law—legal possession without legal sources of supply, the rot in sporting organisations and the condoning, rubber-stamp supervisory bodies, as well as the new Panorama arrangements.
Who will be the licensed suppliers of weed? How do we separate athletic courage from hypocrisy in sports administrators? Will there be crisper Panorama finals?
These topics are in my grow room.