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40 children attend Smith’s vacation camp

Sports - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 00:31

GROS ISLET—Jamaica Tallawahs ended a three-game losing slide when they disposed of St Lucia Stars by 21 runs on Saturday night, pushing the embattled hosts further into strife and closer to elimination from the Caribbean Premier League.

Rovman Powell’s Man-of-the-Match 64 fired Tallawahs up to 204 for five off their 20 overs at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground and the target proved beyond the Stars’ capabilities, despite 46 from captain Kieron Pollard and strong support knocks from Trinidadian Lendl Simmons (45) and Australian David Warner (42).

While Tallawahs leapt to the top of the standings on eight points, Stars remained bottom on four points, with just two matches remaining in what has been another wretched campaign comprising just two wins in eight fixtures.

Rovman Powell top-scored with a Man-of-the-Match 64.

Reeling from three straight defeats in Fort Lauderdale last week, Tallawahs rebounded in style, with Powell spearheading the batting enterprise that saw Johnson Charles getting 34, Kennar Lewis, 33, and David Miller an unbeaten 32.

Charles put on 34 off 22 deliveries with Glenn Phillips who made 17 before holing out to long on with seamer Kesrick Williams (3-34) in the fourth over.

And the visitors lost their second in the seventh over when Charles picked out long off with 18-year-old Afghan leg-spinner Qais Ahmad after notching five fours and a six off 26 balls, as his side slipped to 56 for two.

Promoted to number four, Powell made the move count, hammering two fours and five sixes off 37 balls as he added exactly 100 with Lewis, whose 34-ball knock including a four and two sixes.

When Lewis edged Williams behind in the 17th over, it triggered a slump where three wickets—including those of Powell and captain Andre Russell (5)—fell for eight runs in the space of seven balls.

However, South African Miller turned on the style, stroking two fours and three sixes in a 13-ball cameo, as Tallawahs gathered 40 from the last 16 balls of the innings.

Stars were reeling at eight for two in the second over before a series of partnerships threatened to bring them back into the contest.

Warner added 44 for the second wicket with Andre Fletcher (21) before putting on another 45 for the third with Pollard.

The left-handed Warner struck five fours and a six off 26 balls before top-edging a catch into the deep off leg-spinner Adam Zampa and Pollard then carried the fight to the Tallawahs, adding 59 for the fifth wicket with Simmons before having his stumps rattled in the 17th over by Russell.
Pollard faced 27 balls and crunched four fours and two sixes but his dismissal saw the innings lose intensity as Simmons was left without valuable support, as he clobbered four fours and three sixes in a 26-ball



TALLAWAHS 204 for five (Rovman Powell 64, Johnson Charles 34, Kennar Lewis 33, David Miller 32 not out; Kesrick Williams 3-34)
STARS 183 for eight off 20 overs (Kieron Pollard 46, Lendl Simmons 45, David Warner 42; Andre Russell 2-15, Oshane Thomas 2-27)

Categories: News

Mendez Village crowns All Stars champion team

Sports - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 00:27

All stars cricket team captured the 2018 Mendez Sports Club Windball Cricket league title after recording a 51-run victory over Family II in the final play at Mendez Village Recreation Ground on Saturday night in Siparia.

Batting first All-Stars led by all-rounder Jason Jairam, who scored 39 runs posted 109 in their allotted 10 overs. In reply, Family II could only muster 58. Jairam also took two wickets to secure the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.

The organisers congratulated All-Stars, Family II, Mendez club, Wet fowl, Family Alliance, Mahadeo, Branch Road and Mendez Reloaded for playing the game in high spirits and with sportsmanship during the duration of the competition which was designed to provide entertainment to the community.

While many from the community contributed, the organisers said a special thank you to Rona Jodonanan for her contribution which made the competition possible.

Categories: News

Affirmative ready to run derby upset

Sports - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 00:26

Maharaj will send out his derby hopeful Affirmative hoping that he will live up to his name on Independence Day (August 31) when he goes to post for the final event on the Arima Rec Club (ARC) nine-race holiday card on Friday.

Affirmative has raced only five times in his career winning twice, placing second to Princess Sophia twice and once finishing third behind General JN in the Midsummer Classic.

Last time out he made every yard of the running to win the Breeders Classic over course and distance and he will be very difficult to beat come Friday. Last time out he had the Streaking Far 1 1/4 lengths behind and this filly will no doubt boost the form when she goes to post hours before in the Oaks Stakes over course and distance.

Wilmer Galviz will have the leg-up on the Walter Debysingh trained three-year-old chestnut colt by Charismatic Cat /Rosalinda. This will be Affirmative last run before the prestigious Derby when he will meet the likes of ,General JN and Cape Canaveral who has won all his starts impressively and by wide margins.

Cape Canaveral is trained by Glenn Mendez who is the only trainer to has ever won the ‘Triple Crown” on two occasions at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.

With 53 kilos he does not look over-burdened and must win this race impressively to give his connection the feel that they have a chance in the Trinidad Derby.

However, Affirmative has shown a progressive profile and he should improve past his rivals which include fellow three-yearold and stablemate Master of War. The Harold Chadee trained grey Rough ‘N’ Tumble has won well in his last two starts and must be expected to go close again for Ubardo Casique.

I expect the Glenn Mendez trained Lombard Street to run another game race and he will be expected to go close in this event. But all being well, I would expect Affirmative to give his classic aspiration another boost with an emphatic triumph in this event.

This will set up a great clash with the formidable General JN and the unbeaten Cape Canaveral in the Derby.

Categories: News

Trinidad to co-host regional Super50

Sports - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 00:24

Fans in T&T are in for a cricket treat after the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 tournament, as this country will co-host the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Super 50 series in October.

The Group A in the preliminary round will be played here, while Barbados will host Group B, as well as the semifinals and the final. The tournament bowls-off on October 8 with two matches per day, leading to the final on October 28. There will be a total of 20 matches in Trinidad and 23 in Barbados. Five teams will be based in T&T and another five in Barbados.

Apart from hosts T&T, the other teams in Group A are Windward Volcanoes, Guyana Jaguars, T&T Red Force, Windies B and Canada. In group B the battle will be amongst Barbados, USA, Leewards, Jamaica and the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC).

In each country, there will be two matches per day and after the prelims, the two top teams from T&T will fly across to Barbados to come up against the two top teams from that country. T&T, the most successful team in the history of the tournament failed to make it into the semifinals last time around and will be looking to do much better this time around.

The T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) will soon look to invite players to train for the tournament which should come after the CPL closes on September 16. They will then settle on a final squad and enter into a camp ahead of the tournament.

This year, T&T also played host to the regional Under-17 tournament which was won by Barbados by 0.1 points, while the regional Under-15 tournament was played in Jamaica and won also by Barbados. The Regional Under-19 tournament is currently on the way in St Vincent and T&T have already taken the three-day title, with the one day title to be settled this weekend.

Categories: News

Hinds among T&T match officials active in CONCACAF

Sports - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 00:24

Match officials from T&T including referees, assistant referees and assessors have been consistently involved in various competitions and events staged in the CONCACAF region in recent weeks. Cecile Hinds, Crystal Sobers, Joseph Bernard, Nicolai Nyron and Kareem McMayo were all on international assignments recently.

Back in July, Women’s referee Hinds was appointed to the CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship at IMG Academy Florida, USA, and officiated at one of the semifinals and also served as the fourth official at the third place qualifying match.

Men’s Assistant referee Bertrand was also appointed to serve at the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) Games in Barranquilla, Colombia. His performances earned him an appointment for the Final between Colombia and Venezuela. Women’s Referee Sobers was also appointed to the CAC Games and went as far as the semifinals where she carried the whistle for Mexico’s 3-1 win over Venezuela.

 was also the Assistant Referee at the recent CONCACAF League of Sixteen matches between Panama’s Arabe Unido and Portmore United in Kingston.

T&T officials, referee Nicolai Nyron and Assistant Kareem McMayo received appointments for the Caribbean Football Union Under-14 boys Challenge Series leg in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, three veteran officials of the game Michael Ragoonath, Neil Brizan and Jaggernath Goolcharan have been invited to participate in the CONCACAF Assessors Seminar from September 21-23 in Costa Rica. The focus of this seminar will be on the following activities: Assessing: All participants will be required to complete an assessment prior to arrival and Theoretical sessions in the classroom. Forty-seven assessors from throughout the Confederation will partake under the guidance of instructors Peter Pendergast, John Nielsen and Esse Baharmast.

Also, assistant referee Ainsley Rochard has been invited by the US Soccer Association to officiate at the September 7th International Friendly between Guatemala and Ecuador at Toyota Park Bridgeville, USA.

Commenting on the work being done by referees such as herself, Hinds noted, “I think it’s a sign of progress being made by officials from Trinidad and Tobago who are receiving appointments and being offered the opportunity to officiate at the various levels in CONCACAF.

Getting the chance to serve at the highest level is tremendous and will only serve to improve the standard of officiating in Trinidad and Tobago. With regards to my selection at the CONCACAF U-17 Women as an elite referee, it was an overwhelming and awesome experience,” she told TTFA Media.

She added, “Before I left Trinidad I had to prepare by attending practical and theory sessions at the Ato Boldon Stadium. The Championship itself was very time-consuming. We had one-hour training sessions every morning except for game days. We also had pre-match and debriefings on game days.”

The T&T Football Association Referees Department which is headed by Wayne Caesar continues to monitor and offer support towards the progress of local Referees in collaboration with the T&T Football Referees Association of which Joseph Taylor is the preside

Categories: News

Wallace, McCollin shoot down USA

Sports - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 00:19

T&T Calypso Netballers will be confident of making it two wins from as many matches when they come up against Canada at the 2018 Americas Federation of Netball Association at the Wildey Gymnasium, Bridgetown, Barbados from 4 pm today.

In their opener on Saturday, the Calypso Netballers led by the shooting of professional duo Samantha Wallace and Kalifa McCollin clobbered USA 86-29.

Wallace, 24, who plies her trade with New South Wales Swift in Australia ended with 41 goals from 46 attempts and McCollin, who is attached to the benecos Mavericks in England sank 24 of 26 attempts.

Former captain Joelisa Cooper chipped in with 16 and rising star, Tahira Hollingsworth got the other five goals for the Wesley ‘Pepe’ Gomes national women’s team.

On the other hand, Canada suffered a 28-70 loss to host Barbados in their first match on Saturday and came up against the USA last night.

Barbados which faced St Maarten in last night’s third and final match lead the table with a 2-0 record, the same as Grenada, but with a far superior goal difference.

Having missed out on participating at the Commonwealth Games held earlier this year on the Australian Gold Coast, team captain, Rhonda John-Davis, a veteran of five World Cups will be keen for her team to be professional in their approach as they look towards finishing in the top two teams in the six-nation round-robin event to qualify to next year’s Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England. 


On Friday
Barbados 105 vs Argentina 10
On Saturday
T&T 86 vs USA 29
Grenada 62 vs St Vincent and The Grenadines 49
St Maarten 35 vs Argentina 33
Barbados 70 vs Canada 28
Grenada 106 vs Argentina 11
Today’s Matches
Canada vs T&T, 4 pm
USA vs Grenada, 6 pm
St Vincent and The Grenadines vs St Maarten, 8 pm
Argentina vs USA, 4 pm
St Vincent and The Grenadines vs Barbados, 6 pm
Grenada vs T&T, 8 pm

Categories: News

Just a little respect

Columnists - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 00:06

The earth in Greek mythology is personified as Gaia, the ancestral mother of all life. Despite their pre-eminent role in the human civilisation, women throughout the ages have sought recognition and acknowledgement in the face of male dominance which often threatens to obliterate their psychological well-being.

The use of female symbolism in political theatre made an appearance at the recent People’s National Movement’s (PNM) Family Day where a sari skit was performed. A woman was draped with a yellow sari which was then unravelled by men dressed in red Gorilla costumes. Now, some of our political and religious leaders have discovered their feminine side and seek to occupy the moral high ground. This sudden desire to condemn the use of female symbols in the political realm ignores the last two decades where female symbols, images and sexual innuendos have been used without hesitation by all across the political spectrum to excite and denigrate.

Basdeo Pandey ridiculed Hulsie Bhaggan when she dared to challenge his leadership by calling her “pancake face.”

As the 21st century rolled over, Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her double-entendre, declared, “The only pipe I know about is Mr Bissessar pipe!”

When Patrick Manning fired Dr Keith Rowley from his Cabinet, he deemed him a “wajang,” which means a promiscuous female.

Roodal Moonilal, while in government, described female anti-highway protesters being dragged away by the police like a “bag of aloo”. Jack Warner, being questioned by BBC’s Andrew Jennings about FIFA at the Piarco International Airport, remarked: “ask yuh mudder. Just before the 2015 election, Dr Rowley, reportedly in reference to Persad-Bissessar, stated, “And she could jump high, she could jump low, she could drink this, she could drink that, she could bark at meh dog, I go ignore she cat.”

Of course, Rowley then introduced “jammetry” into our political lexicon when remonstrating with Persad-Bissessar over the Petrotrin “fake oil” scandal. Rowley continued in similar vein when in Parliament he likened women to a golf course. “You got to groom her every day, otherwise it turns into a pasture,” he said then.

So why are we surprised today at a sari skit? This indignation which is resonating throughout society would appear to be tainted with an element of political convenience.

Today in the many developing countries, women are proudly exhibiting their uniqueness and confidence in their feminine side.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, recently returned to work being the first elected world leader to take maternity leave and only the second, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, to have a child while occupying the highest political office in a country. Clarke Gayford, the partner of Arden, has been tasked with the responsibility of being the ‘stay at home” dad.

In Canada, the world looked on and applauded as footage of a Canadian minister breastfeeding her son in parliament went viral. Karina Gould then eloquently stated, “No shame in breastfeeding! Baby’s gotta eat & I had votes”.

Women are now also storming the bastion of male political power in the Caribbean. In 2018, Trinidad and Tobago had its first female President and Barbados its first female Prime Minister. In the often misogynistic political culture of the Caribbean, when strong women rise to the top they can expect an agenda of distraction which attempts to shift focus from their ability to their perceived sexual orientation as both Paula-Mae Weekes and Mia Mottley have already experienced.

The world, particularly the developed world, is embracing the role of women in political and business leadership. In the political realm on June 7, 2018, a new Spanish government was sworn in with 11 women out of 17 Cabinet ministers appointed. While on the business front, there was a quiet announcement on August 6, 2018, that the CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi, was retiring after 12 years at the helm, leaving a legacy of a 78% rise in share prices during her tenure.

A generation of women has strived to give to their daughters a new foundation. According to Nooyi,“Even though my mother didn’t work and didn’t go to college, she lived a life vicariously through her daughters.

So she gave us that confidence to be whatever we wanted to be. That was an incredibly formative experience in my youth.”

Today in Trinidad and Tobago, we are still struggling to provide hope for women to rise to the top and not be besmirched on the altar of political expediency. Wearing yellow saris to protest is political theatre to grab fleeting headlines. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has left Gaia and has ascended to the sala da concerti of Saint Peter. Her anthem of 1967, Respect, still resonates powerfully, particularly in the Caribbean “A little respect (just a little bit), I get tired (just a little bit), Keep on tryin’ (just a little bit), You’re runnin’ out of foolin’ (just a little bit), And I ain’t lyin’ (just a little bit).”

Dr Rajendra Ramlogan is a professor of commercial and environmental law at The University of the West Indies.

Dr Rajendra Ramlogan

Categories: News

Collective respect key going ahead

Business - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 00:02

When officials of state-owned Petrotrin and the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union sit down for talks tomorrow, economist Dr Roger Hosein says a “collective respect” is required by all the players around the table “recognising that it is not business as usual in Trinidad and Tobago, but rather business unusual has to be the operating principle moving forward and therefore a different and unusual level of cooperation and pulling in the same direction is required.”

Speaking to the T&T Guardian yesterday, even as the OWTU led its membership in a protest at the residence of the Prime Minister, Hosein said the current situation requires “careful judgement by all the players involved.”

The reality of Petrotrin today, he said, is one where, he said, “I am not of the view that change could be obtained without some form of creative destruction.”

While the union has a mandate to represent and ensure that workers’ jobs are protected, the company has a mandate to operate profitably and the state would want to see an efficiently operating state-owned enterprise, Hosein said.

“Some of these interests are conflicting and therefore the solution would have to be somewhere in the middle,” Hosein said.

But he cautioned that “no entity should rush and lay off 10,15, 20 per cent of the labour force, because the hardship experienced by these individuals will be real.”

He said he would support a “public-private arrangement in moving forward that preserves as much employment as possible, but that allows the company wiggling room for profitability.”

While he concedes that Petrotrin has been “badly run,” Hosein said the union must also take its head out of the 1930s, 40s and 50s and “change its behavioural pattern and some of its perceptions of the role it has to play in moving the company forward.”

He deemed it “absurd” that although production levels at the state oil company had fallen by as much as 50 per cent in the last ten years, salary levels have not fallen in some way related to the fall in production.

“It simply cannot be business as usual in Petrotrin,” he said.

Hosein said 2018 salary levels at Petrotrin “reflect production levels of 2000 and 2005 and therefore there is negotiating room for all to come out with some measure of success as it stands.”

“If I were leader of the OWTU,” he said, “I would have negotiated for a ten per cent cut in salary and kept all my workers. I would have tried to go for a strategy to keep my staff on the assumption that if I have eighty or ninety per cent of a loaf of bread I would still be able to feed my family, rather than try to get one and a half loaves of bread but some of the people in my family would probably remain hungry because they became unemployed.”

Petrotrin officials declined comment ahead of tomorrow’s talks yesterday, saying things are at a “sensitive stage.”

The T&T Guardian was told that the company remains optimistic that the union will understand the dire situation which the company has found itself in, where it needs to find the money to repay millions of dollars in loans which become due next year.

One official said, “The rating agencies are waiting to find out how the loans are going to be refinanced or else they are going to downgrade Trinidad and Tobago.”
In a January 2017 address to the nation, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley described Petrotrin as “a ward of the Treasury” as he told the country the state oil company has a $13.2 billion debt, including $1.2 billion owed to the Government.

Categories: News

Nurses body to monitor PoSGH rehab closely

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:56

The Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) says it will be staying on top of things to ensure that money allocated for the reconstruction of the Central Block of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital is not reallocated “to some other grandiose project in the build-up to the general elections.”

TTRNA president Idi Stuart told the T&T Guardian yesterday that they will be seeking details of the promise by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh that a facility to house 500 beds will replace the Central Block, which was condemned after last Tuesday’s 6.9 earthquake.

Patients from the Central Block have since been relocated to the North Block.

Yesterday, Stuart said while Deyalsingh has indicated that Cabinet had approved the construction of the 500-bed facility Government has not indicated where the funding will come from.”

He said the TTRNA will be monitoring the situation because of the previous experience when the “Couva Hospital, an institution which the country never needed, was given priority over the Central Block, condemned since 2009, the Point Fortin Hospital and the Arima Hospital, none of which have been completed.”

He said for a government “it is not marketable to say you build one block, it is more marketable to say you build a whole hospital. But we will ensure it remains high on their list”.

Stuart said conditions currently on the PoSGH North Block, where patients were relocated after the earthquake, are also “extremely cramped” now. But he said nurses understand there is a bigger goal.

“The bigger goal is the demolition and the construction of a safe central block to house patients and staff,” he said.

The Ministry of Health will be meeting with the association sometime this week and Stuart said they hope to hear what Government’s plans are and will be sharing their input. He said the association will also be taking a structural engineer to the meeting with the ministry.

“We intend to clearly state what our position is,” Stuart said.

Northwest Regional Health Authority CEO Wendy Ali told the T&T Guardian she had been on the PoSGH compound throughout the weekend and everything seems to be going fine. She said work was also being done to facilitate the reopening of the Haematology Clinic tomorrow. In addition, she said ward space was being prepared at the St James Medical Complex to “facilitate further admissions.”

Categories: News

Man on robbery charge fined $18,000

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:50

A 24-year-old Valencia man, who was charged with robbery with aggression and possession of marijuana, has been fined $18,000 by an Arima magistrate.

Keyon Le Blanc, of LP 117 Oropouche Main Road, was given one month to pay after he appeared in court last week.

The court heard that on August 22, 2018, Le Blanc was arrested for robbery with aggravation.

The incident allegedly occurred on July 23, 2018, at the Food Chain Mini Mart, Pinto Main Road, Arima.

He was placed on an identification parade on August 24, 2018, at the La Horquetta Police Station and was positively identified.

He was subsequently charged by Cpl Kerry Ramkissoon of the CID Pinto. Also involved in the arrest was WPC Smith, who also charged Le Blanc for having one pound of marijuana in his possession.

Categories: News

Thieves torch watchman’s car

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:49

A watchman had to run for his life after intruders made a failed attempt to steal livestock at the Chatham Youth Development and Apprenticeship Centre in Cedros on Saturday night.

Angry that they could not get at their intended bounty, the thieves torched the watchman’s car before leaving the site.

Fearful for their safety, the 30-plus employees at the centre are now calling for proper security measures and lighting at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs-run facility, which was established in 1966.

Recalling the frightening ordeal yesterday, Davanand Seetaram, 49, who has been working there for the last 15 years, said around 11.45 pm on Saturday, he heard a noise to the back of the compound where they keep the animals which include cattle, goat, sheep, pigs and ducks.

Saying that area was pitch black in the night, he recalled, “When I flashed my flashlight I hear a voice say ‘they coming.’ I run, but I did not see anybody.”

While he was running out the compound towards the main road, Seetaram said he looked back and saw his burgundy Almera on fire. He called a co-worker, the centre’s director, the police and his relatives.

Nothing appeared to be stolen from the centre, but the hinges of sheep’s pen were broken, Seetaram explained. The employees believe the intruders went to steal the animals.

The centre is a training camp for youths interested in masonry, woodwork, carpentry, agriculture and other skills. The employees said over the past few years they have had several break-ins and larcenies—the most recent being four days ago when the air condition unit was stolen.

Employee Ramsajan Manohar said the lighting system was very poor and there are no lights at the back where the farm area is housed. Another employee, Depoo Baldeosingh, complained, “We not taking no chances to go in the back there (in the night). We have no form of protection. We are not going to risk our lives.”

Baldeosingh was hired as a handyman, but like Seetaram, who was hired to care for the animals, they have to double up on their jobs because of a shortage of workers.

“It getting more and more worse because look at where it reach to now. My co-worker’s car burn down. What if he lose his life, what they will say next?” Is a real terrible situation on our job site. We need some sort of action,” lamented Baldeosingh.

Cedros Councillor Shankar Teelucksingh said the situation at the centre was alarming and immediate steps must be taken to address the employees’ safety and manpower shortage concerns. With $.5 million worth of livestock at the compound and no ongoing apprentice programme, Teelucksingh called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe to indicate what is the plan for the centre.

Teelucksingh said it appears as though the Government plans to shut down the facility, noting three years ago they shelved refurbishment works for the facility and workers have since been sent home and the facility is in a state of neglect.

Categories: News

Griffith not out to please everyone

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:36

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith says he intends to meet with members of the business and private sector in the coming weeks.

Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Griffith said it is important to hear from everyone as he strategises and puts measures in place to deal with the crime problem.

Already, Griffith has started “surprise” visits to police stations across the country, visiting nine on Saturday and he says his intention is to visit all 70 stations across the length and breadth of the country.

He explained that the “quick short inspections and visits” are aimed at hearing the concerns of the officers assigned to those stations “without anyone being prepared.” The visits, he said, are being done without the knowledge of anyone and will be impromptu.

He said the objective is to get a first-hand knowledge “to look at the situation, to look at the surroundings, look at the shortcomings, look at the requirements, it may be simple things that can be rectified, logistics support required.” Griffith noted that sometimes it may be simple things required to improve the public perception of professionalism at the police stations.

Thus far, he said, “I have learnt a lot and have seen minor things that can be easily rectified that will improve the image of the Police Service in the eyes of the public and which will also assist in trying to get the police officers at the stations to feel more comfortable in their surroundings.”

Noting that speaking to the officers at the stations was critical to his mission, he said, “I am able to understand what they think about the police service, what they think should be done. It is very important that I get that hands-on approach and get the feel of the troops on the ground, hear what they have to say.”

The top CoP said he has also been having discussions with every head of department, divisional commanders and head of the specific units “to personally hear their needs, listen to their concerns, get their recommendations, let them understand my thought process, how I intend to guide the Police Service in the near future.” So far, he said he has also held 50 meetings with the heads and representatives.

Griffith has also deemed the setting up of a personal line—482-Gary—where the public is invited to provide information about crime, a success. Quite in contrast to what critics of the initiative may think, Griffith said it had proven to be very effective.

He said, “You can never please everyone and I am not here to please everyone. I am here to do a job. The fact of the matter is that we continue to receive thousands of text messages, so it shows in contrast to what one or two persons may think. This has proven to be effective.”

However, he said it is a “temporary measure until there is a more scientific approach to ensure that citizens have the opportunity to send information to me at the Office of Commissioner of Police without any fear of reprisal.”

The CoP said the initiative had provided an important opportunity to the public and there was a lot of information which has been passed on to the relevant units to verify if this can turn into viable information and evidence to arrest people or individuals.

“The 482-Gary line is just one of the many avenues you will see in the very near future that will bridge that gap and once that happens and it continues it will play a very big part to get results in major crime reduction,” he said.

Categories: News

Help us save Ky’Mani’s sight

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:34

The parents of 11-month-old Ky’Mani Thompson are pleading with the public to help them raise US$16,000 for their baby to undergo surgery in Miami to save his eyesight.

Ky’Mani has been diagnosed with Bilateral Stage Five Retinopathyof prematurity (ROP) and is in danger of becoming blind.

But, there is no paediatric vitreo-retinal surgeon in T&T to perform the surgery on Ky’Mani, who, according to a letter from Dr Anil Armoogum of the Ophthalmology Department of the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH), needs highly specialised care to avoid blindness.

Ky’Mani, the last of the three children to parents Sarah Greene-Thompson, 29 and D’Andre Thompson, 35, was born prematurely at 29 weeks with a weight of 1.365 kgs at the SFGH on September 13, 2017.

After being in an incubator for a month, Ky’Mani underwent a routine eye test for premature babies and was subsequently discharged.

Speaking at their La Romaine home about the situation, Greene-Thompson, an administrative clerk, said the disease affects premature babies and had it been detected at birth it would have been easily treated.

However, the mother was told by doctors that in Ky’Mani’s case the disease affected him later on, which is rare.

However, she recalled that she had complained several times to the doctors during routine check-ups at the hospital that Ky’Mani was not focussing and something was wrong with his eyes.

“They kept saying because he was born premie the muscles behind his eyes need to develop,” Greene-Thompson told the T&T Guardian.

She took her son, then five months old, to a private ophthalmologist who examined him and gave her a referral letter to take him back to the hospital.

She said he was again examined at the hospital, tests were carried out and he was diagnosed with the condition.

She said Ky’Mani was later scheduled and in the operating room for surgery at the SFGH but the surgeon cancelled it.

“He was prepped for the surgery and sedated. After he was examined the doctor told me that in his medical opinion nothing could be done because of the amount of scarring that has already formed in his eyes,” she said.

“And if (he) goes into his eyes into his eyes it is possible Ky’Mani could be afflicted with glaucoma, it could cause further damage to his eyes and they could become discoloured and look as though he is blind.

He refused to do the surgery.”

Greene-Thompson said Dr Armoogum subsequently referred her to a paediatric doctor at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami.

They contacted the institute and were given a consultation appointment for August 16, but they had to reschedule because they could not afford the plane tickets and the US$5,000 consultation and examination fee.

The cost of the entire process— consultation, exams and surgery—is US$16,000.

While they await a new appointment, the parents have been trying to raise funds through various food sales.

They also made appeals via social media and also set up a Go Fund Me account and reached out to the Hope of a Miracle Foundation.

The parents also sought help from the Children’s Life Fund but were told his case did not meet the requirements.

“We are nowhere close to raising the money. We are just trying to see what we could do but the grace of God,” Greene-Thompson said.

“We are just hoping that by some miracle we get through with the foundation to assist us.” Greene-Thompson, a slot machine technician, believes their son can now only see bright lights but said they have been told his sight will continue to deteriorate. She said Ky’Mani has no pain but the glare affects his eyes, causing him to frequently rub and squint them. The parents are still in the process of setting up a bank account.

More info

What causes ROP?

According to the National Eye Institute in the United States, ROP occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow and spread throughout theretina, the tissue that lines the back of the eye.

These abnormal blood vessels are fragile and can leak, scarring the retina and pulling it out of position.

This causes a retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is the main cause of visual impairment and blindness in ROP.

Persons willing to assist can send donations to https://www.gofundme. com/save-ky039mani039s-sight, or contact them at 394-3926 or [email protected].

Categories: News

Khan shrugs off possible ‘shade’ from Kamla

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:27

United National Congress MP Fuad Khan has shrugged off some “shade” (criticism) throwing from Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to those she claimed didn’t want to work for the party when needed.

At last week’s UNC Monday Night forum in Chaguanas, Persad-Bissessar warned that non-workers wouldn’t get the first choice at election time and the UNC’s young members who labour would.

Commenting on the suggestion that he may be one of the MPs who was being singled out, Khan said, “If she was aiming at her MPs, so be it.

Maybe I’m one of those who needs to up my game. But I’m sure everyone would know who she’s speaking of.

Criticism is always warranted once constructive and is accepted.”

He added, “So it’s wonderful the leader has indicated she’ll be going forward with a young vibrant workforce who’ll work to take us back into government, as we’re all getting old.

It’d be apt to see young people like Khadijah Ameen and similar others participate if this is what the leader wants for the future.”

MP Ganga Singh, who’s clashed with UNC hierarchy several times and was shifted to the end of the party’s Parliamentary backbench, declined comment on the issue.

Also contacted on the issue, Congress of the People (COP) leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said, “We’ve already indicated that as we refocus COP we’re talking to everyone concerned with developing solutions for T&T.”

UNC officials said Persad-Bissessar and several other MPs have gone to Florida for a fundraiser in preparation for forthcoming election-related activities. She’s expected back this week.

Last Friday, Persad-Bissessar also came in for criticism from Government Ministers Paula Gopee-Scoon and Camille Robinson-Regis for alleging a minister’s wife worked for a certain company which got state contracts. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed his wife was a consultant with such a company but denied preferential treatment given to any company.

Gopee-Scoon said Persad-Bissessar omitted to say that one of the contracts awarded to the firm in question was under Persad-Bissessar’s administration. She also alleged some PP spouses benefited from contract awards in Persad-Bissessar’s tenure.

Robinson-Regis condemned Persad- Bissessar’s claim of a PNM “wives’ club,” saying it insinuated women are incapable of holding their own and earning their own keep in the administrative hierarchy.

Categories: News

Venezuela gas price deal competitive—Khan

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:14

Government is giving no details on the pricing structure this country will pay for gas from the Dragon Field under the agreement signed with Venezuela on Saturday, but Energy Minister Franklin Khan is assuring that the pricing structure agreed to was competitive and followed “months of negotiation, serious intervention, serious sharing of information and serious sharing of economic models, to come up with an appropriate gas price”.

Speaking during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Khan said, “It is no cheap gas. It is competitively priced gas and is obviously no secret Dragon deal.”

Khan said Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, larger than Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States and has the fifth largest gas reserves in the world, which this country can benefit from.

“It’s a win-win situation, especially since we in Trinidad face challenges on the supply side,” he said.

T&T, he said, also has world-class gas infrastructure through which Venezuela can monetise its gas.

“This provides an ideal opportunity for Trinidad and Venezuela. If I can say so, I think it is a marriage made in heaven,” Khan said.

Khan said he took “umbrage” with the way the media reported on the deal signed in Caracas on Saturday by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro, as he dismissed a report in another daily newspaper that under the deal the T&T Government would be buying the gas at a mere US$1 per MMBTU. Khan said that was simply trying to create mischief by telegraphing to the Venezuelan people that the government was selling “cheap gas to Trinidad and Tobago”. However, he said the price being paid was substantially more.

Both countries, according to Khan, have benefitted, as T&T could import the gas, process it into LNG and for downstream petrochemicals “and still make a profit and it is a price acceptable to the Venezuelans to get a good monetary return for the resources they own.”

Khan said when Rowley was asked by T&T Guardian journalist Curtis Williams about the price, “Dr Rowley said these gas prices are subject to strict confidentiality clauses. However, he took the liberty to say the prices are very competitive and in some cases lower than what we are paying to domestic upstream producers in Trinidad and Tobago”.

He said it was widely known in the energy sector that “the commercial terms of gas sales agreement are subject to the strictest confidentiality clauses”. As he revealed that he could not even answer a question in the Parliament on pricing when asked some time ago, he said because of the confidentiality clause.

“No government past or present, UNC or PNM, has ever made known to the public any negotiated price of gas,” Khan said.

The PM did, however, reveal that under the agreement the volume of gas to be provided will be 150 million cubic standard feet per day with an option to go to 300 million standard cubic feet per day.

On Saturday, Rowley and Maduro signed two documents - a base term sheet for the Dragon Gas deal which set out the commercial term for the gas sales agreement, including volume and price, which was signed by the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, Shell as the private investor and the National Gas Company.

Another agreement was signed where both governments committed to the implementation of the project and to see it to finality. Khan said while it was a cross-border relationship with Shell, PDVSA and NGC, “at its most fundamental level it is a government to government arrangement”. He said the gas deal had the effect of securing “a long-term symbiotic relationship with Venezuela”.

He said it was a pricing model and template to allow them to move forward with other fields, including the Loran Manatee, which was the first cross-border project identified between the two countries more than a decade ago.

The Loran-Manatee field contains in excess of 10 trillion cubic feet of gas with 7.3 TCF on the Venezuela side and 2.7 TCF on the Trinidad and Tobago side of the border. Khan said Maduro suggested and PM Rowley agreed “we should develop agreements for the production of Loran Manatee.”

Categories: News

Maxie breaks down in tears

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:12

La Horquetta/Talparo MP Maxie Cuffie broke down in tears yesterday, as he made his first official public appearance before his constituents at an interfaith service held for him at the La Horquetta Regional Complex.

After much praise and worshipping of God and giving thanks, Cuffie dismissed claims that he was brain dead which surfaced during his rehabilitation period, saying, “I was not brain dead but I’m born again.”

Cuffie, who sounded as though he had a very slight slur, shared a bit of his experience, emphasising how scary the passage of the period was.

He said when he suffered the first stroke and was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital they had no medication, which is usually available at all public hospitals, to reverse strokes.

“They checked the other hospitals and none. Because of an arrangement with St Clair, they had it, but before they applied the medication they needed to do tests to see if I would survive it,” Cuffie said.

Joined at that time on stage by his wife, Hermia, she said prayers went up before a decision was made for him to undergo the tests.

“I looked at my head and my brain was looking like it was outside my head. I had to go to the US for rehab,” Cuffie added.

Breaking down in tears, Cuffie said it hurt him inside when he heard about the horrible comments people were making about him and the petition that went around for his removal “from serving his constituents and the country.”

Hermia said in the first week of her husband’s rehabilitation in Washington, Cuffie had a “second episode” where there was a strange shaking of his head. This also led to a second surgery, she revealed.

Cuffie proudly mentioned that when he pulled through, he and his wife renewed their marital vows.

Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, in her brief address at the event, thanked God for Cuffie’s return.

“He is a very courageous and respectable man. Maxie gave contributions in Cabinet and is always a team player and a gentleman around the table,” she said.

“Maxie is a miracle in front of us. Thank God for you.”

One of Cuffie’s doctors, who monitored his progress from beginning to end, was Strokes and Diabetes Specialist Dr Jerry Antoine. Antoine, who has been working abroad for the past 45 years but is originally from Arima, said he was contacted by Cuffie at about midnight some months ago.

“Strokes and diabetes are devastating in this country...I have seen miracles in action,” he told the gathering.

Earlier, Cuffie, his wife and Gopie-Scoon entered the hall at 4.38 pm. As he entered there were shouts of “Welcome back” and “God bless you.” But there were even shouts of “Dead man Alive” and “Miraculous Maxie”.

Cuffie returned to T&T on July 26 after his eight-month stay in Washington for rehabilitation and neurosurgery following a stroke last September. He had received surgery locally before going to Washington last November for further medical attention. Cuffie had neurosurgery in May and after completing physiotherapy was cleared to travel back home.

Cuffie is expected to return to Parliament when the current mid-year recess ends next month and also return to work at his new post of Minister in Public Administration. He was given that post when the ministry was split between Marlene McDonald (Public Administration) and Stuart Young (Communication) in June.

Also present at last evening’s function were several of Cuffie’s colleagues, including MPs Ancil Antoine (D’abadie/Omeara) and Nicole Olliviere (La Brea) and Sangre Grande Regional Corporation chairman Terry Rondon.

Categories: News

Roget believes refinery to be sold

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:09

The Government is looking to sell the Petrotrin refinery and is trying to scale back on the number of workers in order to ensure a sale.

That is the firm belief of Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) leader Ancel Roget.

Roget, who led a prayer session outside the Prime Minister’s official residence in St Ann’s yesterday, said he believed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley wants to get rid of the refinery.

If that is the case, then hundreds of Petrotrin employees could face the axe tomorrow after Petrotrin’s planned announcement following a proposed meeting with the union.

Roget yesterday admitted he was sceptical of the meeting with Petrotrin executives. (See editorial on Page A20)

“It is not a meeting, they are going to make an announcement,” he said in a telephone interview after his union ended three-hour long prayer session outside the PM’s residence.

Tuesday’s announcement could affect the livelihood of hundreds of jobs at the refinery, he said.

“Whoever they (Government) planning to sell the refinery to they want a much smaller staff,” Roget said.

He said some of the union’s recommendations to the company were taken and he suspects these will be used by the incoming owners. He said Rowley told the union he had received a recommendation from advisers on the best move for the company but did not share that information with the union during a meeting last week.

“He would only say that it would be painful and that the country does not need to be a refinery, that the refinery is the problem. He (Rowley) said that the region is moving away from liquid fuel,” Roget said.

Roget asked if the PM believed this, why did NiQuan Energy receive the Government’s support to invest and purchase the failed World Gas to Liquids plant.

“It seems there is an agenda to ensure the sale of the refinery,” Roget said.

Yesterday, just hours before the prayer session, Energy Minister Franklin Khan said Petrotrin’s debt could bankrupt the country. Khan held a media conference to shed some light on the Petrotrin situation and the deal signed with Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday. He said the restructuring of the state-owned company is expected to be rolled out tomorrow, following the meeting with the OWTU. (See page A5)

Over the weekend Rowley waded into the fray as well, saying that Petrotrin could not continue the way it was going and that things must change.

The T&T Guardian sent messages to both Rowley and Khan about Roget’s statement but did not receive a response up to last evening.

Categories: News

A black hole—Khan

News - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:07

Energy Minister Franklin Khan is sending a strong warning that Petrotrin’s current state of affairs has the ability to “bankrupt” the country, as he yesterday described the state oil company as coming to what is referred to in astrophysics as a “black hole.”

Khan’s stark warning ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between Petrotrin and the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union on the restructuring of the company, came at a news conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, as he described Petrotrin’s future as “the most fundamental issue the country faces in terms of our economic fortunes or lack thereof”.

“If Petrotrin is not handled properly, it could bankrupt this country. It is as serious as that,” Khan said.

Asked to explain this statement further, Khan said, “Once Petrotrin cannot face its bankers and put a plan in place to repay its debt the obvious corollary is that they will need a Government guarantee, which will throw all our indicators way off course, our debt to equity all these things. And then our repayment schedule, our debt servicing. It is unimaginable the dire consequences if not managed properly,” Khan said.

Khan urged citizens to support the Government in its attempt to bring stability and long-term viability to Petrotrin. He said while successive administrations, “both PNM and UNC, have kicked the can down the road” with respect to Petrotrin, it just could not continue as the company has serious systemic, structural and operational issues which must be dealt with.

He explained that Petrotrin “has a massive debt profile in excess of TT$13 billion and we all know about the famous bullet US$850 million payment due in November 2019.” He said if something is not done “Petrotrin and or the Government will have to find a cheque of US$850M to pay to the bondholders.”

“As we speak, Petrotrin owes the state $3.5 billion in outstanding taxes and royalty, that is the people’s money which is being consumed by a company to satisfy whatever inefficiencies that operate in the company,” Khan said, noting the company is also saddled with high operating costs.

He said it costs an average of between US$30 to US$40 for the company to lift a barrel of oil and when oil prices are US$40 it is obviously uneconomic. The company is also generating no working capital to reinvest because it is operating at a loss. He said Petrotrin’s local crude production is a mere 40,000 barrels per day but the refinery has a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day.

Saying this means in order to keep the refinery going the company has to import 110,000 barrels per day, Khan said, “What compounds this matter is that for every barrel of crude refined the company loses US two dollars and fifty cents to US three dollars per barrel, so you importing oil to lose money.”

But Khan explained that Petrotrin is a “net user of foreign exchange, so here you have your state oil company not bringing in any net foreign exchange, because the amount they are spending to import crude and lose money on the crude they import, it has made the refinery unprofitable.”

Khan also expressed concerned that salaries and wages account for 50 per cent of the company’s operating cost.

“For an oil company to be skewed so badly that in excess of 50 per cent of its operating cost is salaries and wages, something has to be fundamentally wrong,” he said.

Khan said Petrotrin was coming to what was called in astrophysics a black hole.

“That means an area of such intense gravity which if you come to it sucks you in and you cannot come out. Before we reach that stage we have to do something and something quickly.”

On Tuesday when the Petrotrin board and OWTU meet, Khan said it will be the first time “we will lay bare what our plans are, what consequences will follow and the way forward for Petrotrin.” Khan urged all parties to treat the matter with maturity, pragmatism, and a certain level of patriotism, because of the fundamental national consequences. He said as the numbers reveal themselves the situation will become clear.

He said after Tuesday’s meeting between the union and Petrotrin Prime Minister Dr Keith will address the nation on the future of Petrotrin on September 2.

Quizzed on options Government could look at going forward, Khan refused to say whether privatisation or a merger with Shell could be involved

Categories: News

Social media and campaign finance reform

Columnists - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 03:09

The right to report social media campaigning that a citizen believes to be unlawful and misleading is now under consideration by a Westminster Parliamentary Committee. The approach recommended is to make amendments to the corpus of electoral law.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies, and data privacy for individuals. Just as the Financial Conduct Authority which oversees the conduct of financial institutions, consumer protection, market integrity, competition, and relevant prudential issues is funded by a levy imposed on the banking sector, it is proposed that a similar levy on social media and technology giants would allow the ICO to attract talent and to monitor misinformation. This is in harmony with the Electoral Commission’s suggestion that all electronic campaigning should have easily accessible digital imprint requirements, including who is legally responsible for the spending and who has sponsored specific campaigning material.

The committee wants the state to table proposals for an educational levy on social media companies that will finance a comprehensive educational framework that will make Digital Literacy the fourth pillar of education, alongside reading, (r)iting and (r)ithmetic. The levy will also be used to roll out a unified public awareness initiative that will set the context of social media content, explain to citizens their rights over their data, as well as set out ways in which people can interact with political campaigning on social media. Many of these measures are coupled to campaign finance and allegations of attempts to influence elections through social media.

Furthermore, it urges Whitehall to review the existing rules surrounding political work during elections and referenda, including: increasing the length of the regulated period; definitions of what constitutes political campaigning and absolute transparency of online political campaigning; a category introduced for digital spending on campaigns; and reducing the time for spending returns to be sent to the Electoral Commission. It is envisaged that the Electoral Commission will establish a code for advertising through social media during election periods.

It also urges the commission to propose more stringent requirements for hefty donors to demonstrate the source of their funds, and backs its suggestion of a change in the rules covering political spending sothat limits are put on the amount of money an individual can donate. Other recommendations include a public register for political advertising and a ban on micro-targeted political advertising.

It is also suggested that the Government consider whether the Advertising Standards Agency could regulate digital advertising to establish clear legal liability for the tech companies to act against harmful and illegal content on their platform including content that has been referred to them for takedown by their users, and other content that should have been easy for the tech companies to identify for themselves. In these cases, failure to act on behalf of the tech companies could leave them open to legal proceedings launched either by a public regulator, and/or by individuals or organisations who have suffered as a result of this content being freely disseminated on a social media platform.

Another suggestion is that the Government consider establishing a digital Atlantic Charter as a new mechanism to reassure users that their digital privacy rights are guaranteed after Brexit. The committee also suggests the Government avoids using the term ‘fake news’—and instead puts forward an agreed definition of the words ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ and that tech companies be subject to security and algorithmic auditing. The committee also floats the idea that the Competition and Markets Authority considers conducting an audit of the operation of the advertising market on social media given the risk of fake accounts leading to ad fraud.

Additionally, a requirement for tech companies to make full disclosure of targeting used as part of advert transparency to launder ‘dark ads’ away. The committee suggests that the UK’s Defamation Act 2013 means social media companies have a duty to publish and to follow transparent rules—arguing that the act has provisions which state that if a user is defamed on social media, and the offending individual cannot be identified, the liability rests with the platform. The committee is especially damning of platforms being used to spread hate and fuel violence against ethnic minorities disseminated through fake accounts leading to ethnic cleansing.

In 2016 the Government of T&T hosted a forum on Campaign Finance Reform. The UK Anti-Corruption Adviser to David Cameron, Sir Eric Pickles, and two representatives from the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr Tres-Ann Kremer and Lisa Klein provided advice on boosting technical capacity, drafting legislation, and enforcement on campaign finance.

Categories: News

A learning moment

Columnists - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 03:06

Last week the society was jolted in more ways than one. After 56 years of independence we came to the realisation that many of us are indeed ignorant about the beliefs and culture of many other citizens. In many respects, the whole “sari skit” episode and its aftermath revealed degrees of ignorance at the highest levels of government which were blamed on a faulty education system.|

When people complained that they felt disrespected, it was portrayed as seeking to promote divisiveness and regarded as foolishness. Why? Well, we got our answer in the realm of ignorance. For all these years the Hindu community has been misunderstood purely because they have a different value system and beliefs from others in the society can now be understood today because it has been ignorance lurking as the culprit that that has divided our society all along.

The fact that there are people in this society who have a different sociology and anthropology should not be any surprise to anyone. The fact that that ignorance has led to their core beliefs and values being ridiculed on the altar of being different so “they” are the problem was all unravelled in a skit at a family day under the premise of undressing a woman to prove a point about political hegemony.

Never mind that undressing the woman was an act of violence in its own right, the apology ended up being confined to the religious and ethnic domain and the broader gender sensitivity was ignored as well as the portrayal of certain men in animal costumes was not addressed.

One little piece of “fun” has, fortunately, turned into a major learning moment for our society. We have struggled to find a “one-size-fits-all” theory to put ethnic, religious, and other differences to bed so that “all ah we could be one”. The skit showed that there is still a deep-seated desire to advance the cause of political hegemony over and above the cause of political unity. The reality is that we are all one national family with different beliefs, values, and traditions however, the problem is acceptance of diversity on an equal plane across the board.

The Indian members of the Government were taunted about being asked what they thought of the skit. Really? No one ever heard from them during the movement of the controversy from foolishness to ignorance. What was significant was that there was no post-Cabinet media briefing two Thursdays ago. Why? Were there divisions in the discussions around the table?
In addressing the ignorance of the story of Draupadi in The Mahabharata there was a learning moment. Those who enacted the “sari skit” found a way to express their political hegemony by completely undressing the woman at the centre of their attention to reveal the rise of the PNM over the UNC in the Tabaquite constituency.

That was the fake version. Because the real story of Draupadi is that when she was being undressed she prayed to Lord Krishna to protect her modesty and the unravelling of her sari never ended and she won in the end.

The deeper psychological issue being exposed here is that when “fun” skits are being researched for presentation at a political family day event, there should be greater sensitivity to what is being intended. It is true that this is politics and anything goes. Sometimes, that approach causes setbacks from what was intended, like in this instance.

A division arose in the executive of the PNM constituency group in Tabaquite. The chairman and the vice chairman had different perspectives on the event based on reporting by Gail Alexander in the Guardian on Saturday, August 18, at page A6. The chairman was not inclined to apologise at that stage and the vice chairman apologised in his personal capacity.

It was clear that there was growing division in the ranks of the party and later that night came the apology from the Prime Minister himself. So where are we now? There is a realisation that ignorance was the culprit on the religious front. The stereotyping of the Afro-male and the violence against women angles remain unanswered perhaps waiting for another day when they can be addressed.

It is now time to celebrate independence. Hopefully, the shortcomings in our education system identified by the Prime Minister will be addressed through curriculum review.

Categories: News


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