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Dear Editor: ANR Robinson inherited poisoned chalice; Abu Bakr made things much worse!

“[…] I would like Fuad [Abu Bakr] to tell the nation what other option the NAR Government had than to go to the IMF.

Far from being a heartless dictator, the then Prime Minister Mr ANR Robinson sought to retain all those persons employed in the Public Service by reducing their salaries and wages. Government had two options: retrench some staff, or reduce salaries and wages. The NAR Government chose the more humane latter option…”

Photo: Imam Yasin Abu Bakr surrenders to the Army forces on 1 August 1990, after his Jamaat-al-Muslimeen troops held hostages at the Red House and Trinidad and Tobago Television for six days.
(via Huffington Post)

The following Letter to the Editor—which responds to claims made here by Fuad Abu Bakr on the legacy of his controversial father, Yasin Abu Bakr—was submitted to Wired868 by Louis W Williams of St Augustine:

First of all, I wish to express my sincere condolences to Fuad Abu Bakr and the other members of the family of the late Imam Yasin Abu Bakr.

However, I would like Fuad to tell the nation what other option the NAR Government had than to go to the IMF.

Far from being a heartless dictator, the then Prime Minister Mr ANR Robinson sought to retain all those persons employed in the Public Service by reducing their salaries and wages. Government had two options: retrench some staff, or reduce salaries and wages. The NAR Government chose the more humane latter option. 

Of course, there was economic fallout, but the NAR had been handed a poisoned chalice. The Treasury was empty and the price of oil had hit rock-bottom.

Photo: Late former Prime Minister ANR Robinson (left) greets then UN Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuellar in 1990.
(via UN/ John Isacc)

The Imam was, indeed, a charismatic figure with great appeal among certain elements of the poor and dispossessed in our nation. In this context, he had done a lot of good work in the rehabilitation of many young persons who were addicted to drugs. 

He had also done his best in the field of education. His school attests to that assertion. His financial and other support to the poor was admirable.

That notwithstanding, the Imam was a very angry man who did not fully appreciate the likely consequences of his actions, which led to the loss and destruction of lives and livelihoods and created mayhem in the nation. 

Many (poor) small businesses folded up after the attempted coup as the losses were enormous. As a result, many poor people were left without jobs. The attempted coup was, therefore, counter-productive, as those persons who were supposed to be its principal beneficiaries suffered the most.

Photo: Port-of-Spain was ablaze during the 1990 insurrection, preciptated by the Yasin Abu Bakr-led Jamaat-al-Muslimeen.

In the aftermath of the attempted coup, there have been some, perhaps, unintended consequences:

1) There is an emerging culture of intolerance, especially among some of our young men. Accordingly, there is a resort to the gun at the slightest provocation. There is no respect for law and order. Bullying and intimidation are the predominant tactics employed to resolve disputes.

There is little or no room for alternative dispute resolution techniques such as mediation. In a word, thuggery prevails, which could lead to chaos and anarchy, if allowed to go unchecked

2) Expansion of the culture of victimhood and entitlement, as there is little or no room for the virtues of hard work and sacrifice in the lives of some young persons, especially young men. Instant gratification is the mantra; and,

3) Hate and vilification of successful people in the nation by some of the poor and dispossessed. There is the assumption that all successful persons have attained their wealth/status at the expense of the poor.

Photo: Looters hit Port-of-Spain in the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup on 27 July 1990.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

The attempted coup was an unmitigated disaster for Trinidad and Tobago. That kind of ‘democracy’ is not needed in T&T. Needless to say, in spite of his otherwise good deeds, that is what Imam Yasin Abu Bakr will be best remembered for.

It was a very dark day in the history of T&T.

How sad!

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the opinion by Fuad Abu Bakr on his late father, Yasin Abu Bakr.

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