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The Spectacular success of West Indian cricket teams in three International Cricket Council (ICC) tournaments last year must not be taken for granted and can act as a pivot for the region to restore its reputation as a viable force in world sport.
This point was hammered home by president of the West Indies Cricket Board Wycliffe “Dave” Cameron when he hosted a lively town hall meeting on Thursday at the Preysal High School in the company of his vice-president Emmanuel Nanton and leading officials of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board.
Cameron, who returns unopposed as WICB president for a third consecutive term later this year highlighted several other notable achievements in 2016 which he said have placed the regional game in an enviable position.
“No cricket board in the world can boast of holding three ICC championships at any one time as West Indies do, and we must commend ourselves as last year was very big for regional cricket,” said Cameron.
He also pointed to significant progress which has been made in the relationship between the WICB and its marquee players; the improvement of the regional board’s financial position; the positive results from restructuring the regional game; and an increased emphasis on youth development.
Cameron also said that a return to the core values enunciated by his administration when he ascended the presidency of the WICB in 2013 has helped chart the way forward and is the basis for many of the gains achieved in the recent past.
Among the principles being strictly adhered to, and demanded by his administration are accountability, integrity, respect, excellence, teamwork, inclusiveness and innovation and they form the framework for all decisions reached by the board.
Cameron also disclosed that for the first time in the 90-year history of the WICB, the regional cricket organisation can boast of acquiring its own property, the former Sticky Wicket facility which is now a High Performance Centre in Coolidge in Antigua and Barbuda, co-jointly owned with the islands’ government.
The Jamaican financial expert said he is also proud of the growth of the Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket initiative, a holistic development programme combining academics with basic cricket coaching, pioneered in Trinidad and Tobago for primary school children and now involves 140,000 children around the Caribbean.
Cameron told the participants in the town hall meeting, the second in a swing through the six WICB territories, that his board has also hired qualified personnel to several key positions including Chief Operations Officer, who is a female, which has strengthened its human resource capital and enhanced its ability to deliver on his vision going forward.
He admitted though that the resuscitation of West Indian fortunes in the longer formats of the game, namely Test and one-Day Internationals remains a great challenge and is a work in progress, but he remains hopeful that the groundwork is being laid for meaningful success in the near future.
“The decline started long before we came into office in 2013 and it will take some time to get to where we want to be, among to top Test playing countries in the world once again,” said Cameron.
He pointed to the current Super50 tournament’s new franchise-based restructuring which he said had achieved several major successes including the staging of more matches, bigger scores by players and teams, and the employment of cricketers full-time under retainer contracts.
“We are not yet turning the corner but we are on the right path with the focus on the players,” Cameron said.
The WICB chief said that there is an incorrect perception that the WICB has been negligent in seeking the interest of their players, but he said nothing is further from the truth as his board has been having regular interactions with its most valuable asset.
He pointed to a trip undertaken before the ill-fated tour to India to Miami, Florida by the players, management and top officials when wide ranging discussions took place and everyone had their say in an amicable atmosphere.
Following this, he said ongoing interaction with board officials and players had yielded significant results and restored trust between both parties, and this is evidenced by a de-escalation of the heated rhetoric and antagonism which formerly characterised their relationship.
T&T’s Under 20 Men footballers will kick off their CONCACAF Final round quest for World Cup qualification against Bermuda at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium Costa Rica today from 1:00 pm.
The Team, under headcoach Brian Williams will be looking to qualify this country to a third Under 20 World Cup following appearances in 1991 and 2009. T&T progressed to the CONCACAF final phase but failed to advance out of the competition in Kingston, Jamaica.
Team captain Jabari Mitchell believes their dream is alive and the squad is ready to conquer their opponents. “I think right now we are fired up and ready to take on our opponents from the opening whistle.” Mitchell said. “We have a strong desire to represent the country to our best ability and the players understand what it means doing well in a tournament like this and going on to qualify for a World Cup. The main thing is for us to apply ourselves well and go out there and get the job done,” he noted.
Williams is optimistic of a good start but also mindful of the opponents as T&T lost 2-1 to the Bermudans at the CFU qualifiers last year. “We have a good understanding of the Bermudan team. We know what happened the last time these two countries met at the CFU level and I think the players will remember that going into the game. We are focused on the task at hand and we know a good performance and winning start will be a huge boost to our chances of advancing to the World Cup,” Williams said.
“We maintain our objective and we remain humble. We did a lot of mental preparations. We worked on team building during the Colombia training camp. We had a very good session yesterday. All our players are fit and available for selection on Sunday. I am pleased with the way things are at this point in time” Williams explained.
“We have our striker Nicholas Dillon back from Belgium and he is looking very fit and sharp in the sessions and that is a boost for us. He missed the last game against Bermuda and I am expecting us to have a better game than last time around,” Williams said.
Dillon joined the team in Costa Rica after completing a successful trial in Belgium where he signed Second Division club, K.Patro Maasmechelen. One of Bermuda’s key players is forward Osagi Bascome who recently signed an extension to his contract with English Championship Division club Bristol City.
The Championship opened on Friday with Honduras defeating Canada 1-0 and Mexico overcoming Antigua/Barbuda 3-0.
T&T faces hosts Costa Rica in their second game at the National Stadium on February 22nd and El Salvador at the same venue on February 25th.
The National Stadium and Estadio Ricardo Saprissa will both be used for the tournament, to be played in a new format consisting of a group stage, a classification phase, and the grand final. Under the new format, designed to increase the number of meaningful, competitive matches, the top two teams from Groups A, B, and C will advance to the Classification Stage, where the Confederation’s four tickets to the World Cup at this level will be determined in round robin play among two groups of three teams each.
The top two teams of each of the two Classification Stage groups will qualify as CONCACAF representatives to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017.
Montel Joseph (Boreham Wood F.C./ENG)
Denzil Smith (Shiva Boys College)
Simeon Bailey (Barataria South Secondary)
Kori Cupid (Presentation College)
Isaiah Garcia (W-Connection FC)
Taryk Sampson (Ma Pau Stars)
Shane Sandy (Naparima College)
Morgan Bruce De Rouche (QP Rangers F.C)
Micah Lansiquot (Mucurapo East Sec)
Stephon Marcano (Fatima College)
Kierron Mason (Marabella Crisis Centre)
Jabari Mitchell (W-Connection)
Noah Powder (New York Red Bulls)
Joshua Sitney (Alcons/TRI)
Nicholas Dillon (Central FC)
Joshua Leach (Police FC)
Taofik Lucas-Walker (DC United Academy)
Rushawn Murphy (Malick Senior Comprehensive)
Kathon St Hillaire (St Anthonys College)
Josh Toussaint (St Anns Rangers)
This year’s Milo Games will celebrate it’s 30th Anniversary, making it the longest sponsored School Games in T&T.
The inaugural Milo Games was in 1987 and the Milo Representative were Marcelle Dolly and Lennox Toussaint. That day thirteen schools participated but on March 7th this year, a total of 22 schools will be battling for honours.
As a prelude to the Games, sponsor Milo will host a Milo Sports Quiz before the Milo Games Launch on Friday March 3rd.
The Games is expected to be the largest of all time with the theme, ‘The End of an Era.” Schools have already made arrangement through the Ministry of Education to transfer their activities to the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
The Management Committee has invited all the former Chairpersons of the Zone headed by the brilliant Yvonne Pinder. she will have with her George Delaney and Gilbert Inkim, Regis Jordan, Elsa McConnney, Elizabeth Goddard, Lorna Blackman and the man who kick-started the West into top gear, Martin Oliver.
The Minister of Education, The Honourable Anthony Garcia and Minister Lovell Francis have been invited, along with Minister of Sport, Darryl Smith.
Other specially invited guest include the Advisor To The Minister of Education, Cheryl Ann Wilkinson, Anthony Creed, Rawle Phillips, Mennen Walker-Briggs, Avril Sampson, Elma Joyeau Campbell, Ann Marie Xavier and Burey George.
Last year in front one of the largest crowds in the history of the Milo Games inaugural winners from 1987, Diamond Vale Government School, recorded their 29th success under their new Principal David Weekes.
Newly promoted Central Sports defeated Tableland United by 10 wickets on the second day of their TTCB Premiership clash at Felicity, yesterday.
Starting the day on six without loss in their second innings, Tableland were undermined by Shazan Babwah, Stephen Shaddick and Rakesh Maharaj with two wickets apiece and bowled out for 102. After their first innings effort of 133 all out was overhauled by Central Sports 180, it meant they gave them just 56 runs to win, which they did without losing a wicket. Opener Kamil Pooran hustled the result with an unbeaten 40.
At the Oval defending champions Queen’s Park Cricket Club conceded first innings to Merryboys, falling for 237 in reply to the visitors 318. Queen’s Park eventual total of 237 represented a recovery, as they were 137/7 at one point. All rounder Tion Webster flexed his muscles in getting 67, while skipper Justin Guillen made 40 at the top of the order. The man doing the damage for Merryboys was national player Marlon Richards, who bagged 5/69. With a lead of 81 on first innings, Merryboys closed the second day in a spot of bother on 53/4, as Webster came back to take 2/14. They now lead by 134 runs, with six wickets in hand going into the final day today.
At Charlieville the clash between Alescon Comets and PowerGen was totally washed out due to the inclement weather. At Wilson Road, rain also affected the clash between Clarke Road and Victoria, as only one over was bowled. Victoria resuming on 269/7 reached 271/7 when the heavens opened.
All matches get off at 10am today.
PREMIERSHIP I SCORES
At Pierre Road: Alescon Comets 341/8 (Kirk Edwards 156, Keon Joseph 33, Andy Gobin 57) vs PowerGen.
At the Oval: Merryboys 318 all out (Mario Belcon 98, Isaiah Rajah 72, Lincoln Roberts 60no) & 53/4 (Tion Webster 2/14) vs QPCC 237 all out (Tion Webster 67, Justin Guillen 40, Marlon Richards 5/69).
At Wilson Road: Victoria 271/7 (Gary Mathurin 63no, Keddy Lesporis 41, Savion Lara 36, Kerron Kanhai 34, Yannick Ottley 2/27, Jyd Goolie 2/34).
At Felicity: Tableland 133 all out (Shazan Babwah 5/50, Stephen Shaddick 4/38) & 102 all out (Stephen Shaddick 2/16, Shazan Babwah 2/22, Rakesh Maharaj 2/12) vs Central Sports 180 all out (Jahron Alfred 52, Kissondath Magram 41, K Negus 4/52) & 56/0 (Kamil Pooran 40no). Central Sports won by 10 wickets.
Cue Card reeled in front-running course specialist Royal Regatta to win the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase.
It was a ninth top level victory for Colin Tizzard’s remarkable chaser who is now set to take his chance in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup next month.
Richard Johnson set out to make all aboard Royal Regatta but Paddy Brennan always had the pair in his sights and asserted in the straight. Royal Regatta couldn’t go with Cue Card thereafter and paid the price for his exertions as Shantou Flyer stayed on from miles back to claim second.
Tizzard, who is 10/1 with William Hill to saddle the first three home in the Gold Cup, said: “It’s nice to see his well-being, really.
“After the last race (second to stablemate Thistlecrack in the King George) he was a bit wrong and had a big, fat leg and we said he wasn’t right, but he has been perfect all the way through.
“He is 11 and you wonder ‘how many times can he keep doing this?’ but he is back again. Today he jumped beautifully and he destroyed them. It was everything you want to see and more. “Paddy Brennan was instrumental, he said it would not hurt to go back to two miles five, as they go a fast pace and it will be Cheltenham Festival pace and instead of having three months off you can take this in, then back off him a bit.
“In the ring he looked as well as ever and on form he needed to do that. He has been a brilliant horse for a long time. I spoke to Jean (Bishop, owner) and it is her ambition to win the Gold Cup.” He added: “The plan is to run Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Native River in the Gold Cup, and possibly Theatre Guide as well.”
Having watched her star horse take a tumble in the Gold Cup 12 months ago when still full of running and in search of a £1million bonus, owner Jean Bishop is now hoping he can put the record straight in just under four weeks’ time.
Master of Ceremonies at the Jetsam Awards 2016 Anthony Harford was on target when he said, “Tonight’s Jetsam Awards has dispelled rumours that the industry is dying. Look at the turnout, fantastic.” He said, “With continued support for the industry, the challenged racing industry will survive.”
When it was the turn of Linford Carrabon, President of the Arima Race Club to face the membership he said that the presence of stakeholders at the awards ceremony indicated their passion and commitment to the development of the sport.
He said, “Like the national economy, horse-racing is also facing some challenging times and what we do in 2017 will determine the future of racing. The changes we make this year will be necessary if we want the sport to continue and remain alive.”
When the Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon walked into the winner’s circle, she implored horse-racing stakeholders to find ways to develop the industry even as they face diminished prize purses and reduced injection of cash from Government.
After congratulating the winners in the various categories and acknowledging their contributions from last season she said, “The government noticed the valuable contribution the industry continues to make to the economic landscape of T&T”
The Minister told the audience that the Government is aware of the challenges which the industry is encountering and it is committed to the enactment of the Gambling (Gaming and Betting Control) Bill which will ensure that there is a modern legal and regulatory framework for gaming, gambling and betting.
But she underscored that there was much more to be done by stakeholders.
The local racing industry stands to suffer a $2.5 million drop in prize money this year, and Gopee-Scoon stated that, “The current economic climate restricts Government’s ability to make cash injections. The development of the industry however, needs more than direct financial support. It is well noted on any balance sheet, that the industry is healthy, owning valuable property. Those who love the sport and are committed enough, together with those who hold responsibility, meaning the boards of the T&T Racing Association and Betty Levy Board, must take horse racing seriously if the industry is to be sustained and grow. I am trusting that the racing fraternity will not relinquish the objective of developing T&T as the horse racing centre of the Caribbean.”
Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams has denied reports he criticised Minister of Sports Darryl Smith for not acknowledging his club for their achievements over the years.
“My statements obviously were incorrectly interpreted,” Williams pointed out in an immediate response through T&TFA media officer Shaun Fuentes.
The custodian, who is on a 27-man squad selected by national coach Dennis Lawrence to begin training tomorrow for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, was quoted as saying that Smith was disrespecting professional football in T&T.
In his comments after last Sunday’s T&T Pro Bowl semifinals, Williams said “When we won our second successive Caribbean Club Championship last year, we received no recognition from Minister Smith. It was the highest profile sporting achievement by any team from T&T in 2016, yet we didn’t even receive a letter of congratulations.”
Williams’ disappointment was also echoed by team managing director Brent Sancho who claimed the minister has refused to acknowledge the pro league clubs by refusing to meet with them individually, yet has met with T&T Super League teams to give his support.
However, despite Sancho’s comments in January, the Sport Company (Sportt) which is the implementation arm of the Ministry of Sports met with the Pro League teams and among the discussions were the monthly subventions of TT$50,000 per month grant to help off-set club expenses which includes salaries.
Williams in his release yesterday also said, “Let me first say that I am not one to play politics with the game that I love, neither do I have interest in either attacking the Ministry of Sport or the Sport Minister. My name has been used a lot in the past by others to get their various points across. Contrary to what was previously reported,my main focus after the game was to get mentally prepared for the final which would be tough regardless of the opposition. My statements obviously were incorrectly interpreted.”
He explained further that, “Moving forward, my main focus is winning the Pro Bowl then preparing for World Cup qualifiers in March. I also hope to do my best so that my name is seen in the media in the future for sporting achievements only.”
Only recently the Central team won its third major title in the top flight domestic football league, after only four years of being involved. They defeated San Juan Jabloteh 1-0 to claim the $1 million cash prize and will be looking for another major title in the pro bowl which carries a winners-take-all cheque of TT$100,000. Sancho noted that Smith has been supportive of super league clubs although they have not yet been formally ratified by the TTFA.
Sancho pointed out that Central FC is the only club from T&T to win the CFU Caribbean Club Championship back to back while also winning their domestic league. “It’s an incredible achievement especially when you recognise that Central has only one foreign player. We won the CFU with a 100 per cent local team.”
Former T&T senior football team captain and coach Russell Latapy has issued an appeal to players to let their “football do the talking”.
The current national Under-17 and 15 coach directed his statements at current day players on the national team, professional players and aspiring national players, saying that as athletes their primary focus should be delivering on the field of play.
Latapy said: “For a long time I’ve stood by and listened to some of the younger players voice their opinions regarding the game of football. I would like to share my thoughts, especially, at this time when a player, namely, Jan-Michael Williams, in his lack of wisdom and understanding, can boldly make statements about the Honourable Minister of Sport and the Sports Ministry.
“Firstly, acknowledgement comes with achievement. The type of achievement required to be successful in football is playing at a high level, motivating other players, and building team spirit and camaraderie for your team and country while working tirelessly to be at the top of the CFU and Concacaf. It is also taking responsibility for your actions and not blaming others.
“Secondly, if you want acknowledgement you do not need to ask for it. Acknowledgement involves playing professionally for an extended period in a league that is considered a top professional league and not just for a few months.
“So kid, my advice to you is: talk less, defend more and I look forward to you being part of a successful national team.”
Central FC press release
Latapy’s advise is in reference to a news release from Central FC club to the media on Friday in which national goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and the club’s managing director Brent Sancho criticised the honourable Minister of Sport Darryl Smith for allegedly not recognising the achievements of the club and not supporting the Pro League.
According to the news release, “When we won our second successive Caribbean Club Championship last year, we received no recognition from Minister Smith,” said Williams. “It was the highest profile sporting achievement by any team from T&T in 2016, yet we didn’t even receive a letter of congratulations.”
Williams continued, “The club did receive a congratulatory letter from both the president of Fifa and Concacaf, commenting on the outstanding achievement. It’s very disappointing as a player in our national sport to see the lack of respect for our achievements.”
The release pointed out that Central FC managing director, Brent Sancho remains mystified by the lack of interest from minister Smith.
It continued, “Of course, being a former Minister of Sport for the opposition, people would expect me to criticise Darryl Smith. I try to steer clear of political statements but I cannot stay quiet any longer. As a former footballer, I am amazed that the minister has never acknowledged the TT Pro League clubs. He has refused to meet individual clubs and has taken no interest in the professional league, yet he’s held meetings with the new Super League owners, which has not yet been formally ratified by TTFA.”
Sancho said that the actions of the Minister of Sport directly affect the support available from potential sponsors.
Sancho added, “It’s crazy because on one hand the minister is cutting funding to the Pro League and saying clubs need to be more self sufficient, but he does nothing to help them achieve this. He should be regularly speaking of the accomplishments of the Pro League, which would greatly assist clubs in become self-funded.”
Sancho pointed out that Central FC is the only club from T&T to win the CFU Caribbean Club Championship back to back while also winning its domestic league.”
The release also pointed out that, “It feels Smith is attempting to shut down the professional league.
“There can be no other explanation. Ok, you make cost cutting decisions, but why start at the top? Our professional football is admired overseas. It provides employment for hundreds of people, many of whom would possibly find it difficult to secure meaningful employment elsewhere. Imagine what we could achieve with proper support from the Ministry of Sport and corporate T&T.”
“Secondly, if you want acknowledgement you do not need to ask for it. Acknowledgement involves playing professionally for an extended period in a league that is considered a top professional league and not just for a few months."
Before Dr Rowley became the prime minister, before he was appointed political leader of the People’s National Movement, we should remember that, for a while, he was treated as a pariah by members of his own party. Along with being dismissed from the Cabinet, there was also a very ‘public’ falling out between himself and his former boss. It came to a head with Mr Manning’s infamous address to the Parliament.
“Mister Speaker, I see hate. Mister Speaker, I see bitterness. Mister Speaker, I see acrimony. Mister Speaker, I see animosity. And Mister Speaker I see a man completely out of control.” Though they would eventually reconcile, it still left a lasting validation on the personality of Dr Rowley. And it’s a reputation that he seems either unable or unwilling to shrug off.
The Prime Minister recently suffered from a temporary affliction commonly known as foot-in-mouth disease. It resulted from some now infamous comments that he made during the first ‘Conversations With The Prime Minister’ meeting that was held in the PNM-friendly township of Maloney.
His statements, which pertained to women and domestic violence, have since been thoroughly debated in the court of public opinion and, unfortunately for him, the judgment was not in his favour. We shouldn’t be surprised by Dr Rowley’s insensitive perspective; after all, in the past he’s made several sexist remarks at political rallies, all of which were answered with thunderous applause from the audience. But this instance raises a couple of things for us to consider about him. Firstly, it appears that penitence is not in his nature, else he would have simply apologised. And secondly, it’s the question of why we as a nation continue to look past his obvious character flaws when his leadership style leaves a lot to be desired.
Dr Rowley has long been known to be a ‘gruff’ person with a no-nonsense attitude. Compared to former prime ministers, the current one lacks an amiable quality. He doesn’t have the serene dignity of Robbie, nor the devilish charm of Uncle Bas, nor the bombastic charisma of ole Patos. In fact, he doesn’t even have an endearing nickname like his predecessors, and is instead often referred to as ‘Growley’ or equated with being a Rottweiler.
Such boorishness might have been acceptable as the party’s chief enforcer or when sitting on the opposition benches, but now he is the head of the Government, a position that requires less of the iron fist and more of the velvet glove. Perhaps we are willing to look past it because Dr Rowley is seen as a man who knows how to get things done. And if he is being harsh with us, it’s because he is telling the inconvenient truths that we need to hear. But if we look back on the last year and a half spent in office, there are few accomplishments he can boast about, especially with respect to the issue of violent crime.
During the lead-up to the September 2015 election, at a PNM cottage meeting held in Goodwood Park, Dr Rowley stated that the Government cannot play politics with crime. As leader of the Opposition, it was easy for him to wield criticism as part of his campaign strategy. But now, as Prime Minister, those very words have come back to haunt him. During the course of the evening, he said, “The yardstick that we [the PNM] will use to measure our success in crime fighting, is how you feel about your security.”
The irony here is that not only has his administration politicised this issue by blaming the UNC, but they have also failed to gain the public’s confidence that they will ultimately prevail. No one believes that any government can completely eliminate crime, or that it can be dealt with overnight. But he hasn’t kept any of his promises, and the country doesn’t need to be talked down to, not when people are losing their lives and their livelihood. If all he plans to do is resort to victim-blaming and asking young men to think carefully about choosing a life of crime, then perhaps he doesn’t fully understand the responsibility that’s involved in being Prime Minister.
The lack of expectation was aptly expressed by a tongue-in-cheek statement made by Darryn Boodan in one of his columns (Express: September 22, 2016). “In publishing his memoirs so early, Dr Rowley is the first T&T Prime Minister to tacitly admit that he’s probably not going to do anything worth writing about in the next four years.”
Thus far, he hasn’t been able to convince us otherwise and has only succeeded in confirming that his reputation is rightly deserved. He doesn’t have to change into ‘mister nice guy’, but he has a job to do and it includes having a more respectful approach, both to the concerns of the citizenry as well as their criticisms.
Dr Eric Williams supposedly described his authority as, “When I talk let no damn dog bark.” Well, he’s long gone, so it’s time to let our prime ministers know that when we the people talk let no Rottweiler growl.
The recent statement by the Attorney General that the requirement for a three-fifths majority in certain legislation has made him tired of the way that the Opposition has handled such legislation in this Parliament is very disturbing.
The Constitution has built-in checks and balances for any occasion when Parliament seeks to legislate in a manner that will cause it to infringe fundamental human rights and freedoms.
As I indicated in my column on January 22 last, at the Queen’s Hall Conference on the independence constitution in April 1962, the then president of the Bar Association of T&T, Hugh Wooding, advanced a proposal for T&T to adopt the Canadian Bill of Rights 1960 as the model for its chapter on fundamental human rights and freedoms.
The Eric Williams Cabinet accepted the proposal and removed the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 model and replaced it with the Canadian model, suitably modified.
That decision was implemented in the final draft for the independence Constitution and ushered into our system of government the need for special majority legislation, outside of any constitutional amendment, if ever Parliament were to consider any legislation that sought to infringe human rights and freedoms.
The three-fifths majority in both Houses of Parliament was smaller than the special majorities required for amendment of the Constitution. By doing this, T&T had accepted a version of consensus government that no other Commonwealth Caribbean country would ever adopt. In terms of the Senate there was always a fixed formula that would require any government to seek the votes of senators other than those on the Government side because there is no built-in government majority there.
However, in the House of Representatives, if the Government fails to win a three-fifths majority of the seats at the polls, then it has to engage in consensus dialogue with the Opposition in order to enact legislation that infringes human rights. It cannot apply single-party hegemony to such a situation that it did not earn because the will of the electorate denied them such a majority.
The first time that any government ever faced such a situation was in the 1991-95 Parliament where the PNM won 21 out of the 36 seats.
On May 19, 1992, Mr Justice Aeneas Wills overturned the Maxi Taxi Act 1979 on the ground that it did not have the preamble and the certificate for a three-fifths majority and was therefore unconstitutional among other issues relating to property, etc.
The Parliament was required to urgently enact legislation in order to ensure that the country’s maxi-taxis could continue to operate legally. The PNM did not have a three-fifths majority in its own right and so it had to negotiate with the Opposition in the House of Representatives. The bill was passed in the Senate on May 28, 1992, with the Opposition abstaining, but there were enough independent senators to permit its passage.
When the bill went to the House of Representatives the following day, there was interesting debate between the Government and the Opposition. However, there was an adjournment based on prime minister Manning’s desire to negotiate with the opposition. The next day, the bill passed in a sitting that lasted only 25 minutes because of the overnight agreement and concessions made on all sides.
Prime minister Manning and attorney general Keith Sobion were able to solve an issue in 1992 that required consensus with the Opposition by not applying the single-party dominance model that is being expressed by the PNM today.
The recent decision to strip the Marriage Bill of its three-fifths majority requirement and the recent statements of the Attorney General with regard to future legislation that may involve infringements of human rights without the three-fifths majority are deeply disturbing and at variance with past PNM administrations that did not have a three-fifths majority.
When your party does not earn a three-fifths majority, it is necessary to have consensus governance with the Opposition under the constitutionally-grounded rules of engagement for infringing human rights that were agreed at Queen’s Hall and Marlborough House in 1962 and reinforced in 1976 when we became a republic.
The Hugh Wooding-led Bar Association in 1962 introduced these constitutional rules of engagement. The Reginald Armour-led Law Association of today has decided to reserve its position on the Attorney General’s recent statements until it sees something tangible put into the public domain.
They need to ensure that they do not lose sight of the long-standing traditions of the bar that are at stake here both in terms of the Wooding legacy and the societal need for human rights protection. If they surrender in the face of such a threat, then the society will lose a powerful voice that could protect it.
No Attorney General, faced with the need to uphold these enshrined constitutional protections because their party did not win a three-fifths majority at the polls, has ever publicly complained about the need to employ abandonment of these checks and balances in order to advance the legislative agenda of their government.
The fate of the Maxi Taxi Act 1979 is instructive.
Sahadeo Ragoonanan is one of those individuals who apparently have a second career writing letters to the editor, on issues ranging from trade unions to slavery to bright headlights. And some weeks ago, Mr Ragoonanan was sufficiently exercised by the high price of roast pork to pen a letter on that topic, which was published in the Guardian on January 25 under the headline, Beef with price of pork.
He wrote: “Religious, irreligious or areligious, many of us consume pork in one form or the other, be it baked, stew, curry, processed or roasted...south Trinidad is noted for the best roast pork...A ‘quarter’ pork is in the vicinity of $30. That is, $120.00/lb! My beef is with the price...a pound of imported pork costs around $9! Now tell me, is that fair to the consumer?”
Mr Ragoonanan’s argument is premised on common but erroneous assumptions about economic transactions. His first error is actually contained in his own observation that south Trinidad is noted for having the tastiest roast pork. Since that is so, it means that the establishments to which he is referring—and I myself only know of two, a rum shop in Princes Town and a Chinese restaurant in Gasparillo—make roast pork that is worth more than pork from other compass points, since taste is added value. This reveals the irrelevance of $9 a pound for raw pork as compared to $120 per lb for the roasted product.
Mr Ragoonanan finds that mark-up outrageous, however, while the businesses believe that $30 per quarter is a fair price. And they are right, and Mr Ragoonanan is wrong. I know this without having tasted said roast pork because, if the seller was wrong, he would lose customers. It is the consumer who must decide what is fair to himself, since nobody is forcing Mr Ragoonanan or anyone else to eat roast pork.
Now it is understandable that laypersons have a poor grasp of economics, but this ignorance unfortunately also extends to professional commentators in the media. So Paolo Kernahan in his January 28 column in the Trinidad Guardian wrote: “The nature of modern economics is predicated on infinite growth. The paradox should be obvious and terrifying to all; infinite growth reliant on finite resources has no future.” But the most concise definition of economics is “The study of the allocation of scarce resources”—which is to say, the exact opposite of what Kernahan says economics is. He is right, however, in stating that economic arguments (sometimes) proceed on an assumption of continual growth, but he misunderstands the concept in three ways: (1) GDP growth does not necessarily mean increased use of non-renewable resources; (2) infinite growth is a dummy variable used in economic models for simplification in order to calculate truly scarce inputs, such as labour—ie, it is an abstract premise; (3) economically viable resources increase with technological and scientific knowledge.
In an effective capitalist system, natural resources can never be exhausted since, as those resources become scarcer, their prices will rise and become too expensive long before they are used up. Because of technological advances and increased demand, substitutes then become affordable, as is happening right now with solar energy gradually replacing petrochemicals. And, presumably, Kernahan will not argue that sunlight is a finite resource, although this is technically true since our sun will become a red giant in about five billion years.
In similar fashion, senior journalist Tony Rackhal-Fraser, formerly known as Tony Fraser, in his January 29 Guardian column, wrote what he described as “reality checks” as he indulged in the new international sport of bad-talking American president Donald Trump. “US and European transnational corporations (TNCs) pillaged the raw material resources of developing countries for their industrial development. In turn, that led to endemic underdevelopment in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean,” Fraser asserted. This sentence alone rests on two fallacies: the Africa-is-rich fallacy and the zero-sum fallacy. The zero-sum fallacy assumes that, in economic transactions, one party benefits only because the other loses. In fact, in most transactions, both parties end up better off. The Africa-is-rich fallacy is based on the premise that raw materials have some inherent value, so Africa is rich because it has, say, copper and nickel deposits. But these minerals only have value because of technologies developed by the self-same European and North American societies.
Rackhal-Fraser goes on to assert that, “It is the American TNCs which moved production abroad to enhance their profit margins through the use of cheap and poorly organised labour.” Again, the error here is to assume that the labourers didn’t also benefit from the presence of the TNCs, which as a matter of empirical fact usually paid higher wages that most local companies and offered jobs to persons whose best alternatives were often precarious farming and prostitution.
Finally, there is well-known environmental activist Wayne Kublalsingh who, in a letter published in the Express on January 26, called for “flagship farming economies”. But Kublalsingh, of course, is a man who can survive without water and food for months while living on tulsi leaves. And the fact that many respected people in this place believe in Kublalonomics is one reason we are still a Third World country.
Kevin Baldeosingh is a professional writer, author of three novels, and co-author of a history textbook.
Why is Tobago (far more so than Trinidad), an island of real beauty and potential to attract visitors, failing to earn a significant share of a growing world and Caribbean tourism industry? What is it that is preventing an island that is said to register above average in the indices by which a tourism destination is judged, has so consistently fallen away in attracting visitors to share in the beauty and culture of the island?
The figures tell the story: in 2005 there were 88,000 foreign arrivals in Tobago, the figure has declined consistently over the 11-year period to a mere 19,000 foreign visitors to Tobago in 2016. While this dramatic decline has occurred in Tobago, destinations such as the Turks and Caicos Islands, Belize, Cuba, and Guyana registered double digit growth in arrivals in 2016.
One response to the question is that we, in T&T, who thought the energy industry would always support a comfortable, even luxurious lifestyle for significant portions of the populations, have never truly considered and sought to understand tourism, one of the most buoyant and largest industries in the world.
My wondering on this failure to develop tourism in Tobago and Trinidad was triggered by the release by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation of data on the performance of regional tourism in 2016. The report includes data from Caricom and the wider French, Dutch and Spanish-speaking region.
Globally, international tourism arrivals grew in 2016 to 1.2 billion travellers, a 3.9 per cent increase, one million more visitors than the figure for 2015; the arrivals in the Caribbean in 2016 increased by 4.2 per cent to an estimated 29.3 million. And while tourism destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Antigua, Barbados, Cuba and Turks and Caicos, Guyana, Grenada, Bermuda and others did exceptionally well in 2016, T&T experienced an overall seven-per-cent decline in 2016, the figures include cruise ship and stop-over arrivals, states the CTO.
Visitors to the Caribbean spent US$35 billion in 2016. A fully developed tourism economy in Tobago and Trinidad could surely earn significant chunks of forex for T&T. Moreover, the linkages that tourism makes in an economy from the airline ticket to the bene balls and doubles vendors spread the tourist dollar all around.
With respect to benefiting from the US tourism dollar, T&T with its manufacturing and agricultural sectors, its education base that produces from managers to people at lower levels of the service industry is far better placed than say the Bahamas, which expatriates some 85 cents of each dollar it receives from tourism. The T&T tourism industry has the ability to keep 70 cents out of every dollar from visitor spend.
Compared to many other island/destinations in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, the latter in particular, has a far more naturally attractive and diversified geography. However, compared to other destinations, they far outstrip T&T in planning to earn large chunks of the US$35 billion to improve the quality of life for their citizens.
So what’s the problem? First, it has to do with the failure of succeeding governments to give serious consideration to tourism as an industry and a major foreign exchange earner, says Chris James, chairman of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association.
Undoubtedly there remain strains of our colonial past which suggest tourism to be a subservient, crawling on hands and knees, genuflection to white foreign tourists. It is also reality that whereas we as a society and economy have had the energy industry with high international prices as a gift without too much effort outside the work done by a narrow group of technocrats and government decision makers, we find it difficult to contemplate and undertake the kind of planning and work effort required to make a success of tourism.
The private sector, with the Government providing facilitation, should be out front with the effort to develop tourism.
Unconsciousness of the potential of tourism, says Chris James, shows itself in “the lack of destination marketing” to raise the profile of Tobago.
In addition to the need for destination marketing, the CTO report identifies “greater air access from the source markets to the region, the realisation of significant investments to enhanced infrastructure (airport redevelopment in St Maarten and Bermuda) and product (hotels including Courtyard by Marriott in Jamaica in April of 2016 and Four Seasons in Anguilla in October 2016) and improved marketing,” as reasons for the success of Caribbean destinations.
James notes that outside of CAL, Tobago is not served directly by the international airlines; the island gets what falls off the table of the major Caricom destinations, including St Lucia, Barbados, and Antigua.
In the middle of the Carnival season, the number of visitors to the festival is said to be falling. We have argued and cussed out about our historical and cultural diversity of religion, foods, musics and more instead of making use of them to attract visitors. And what of this golden egg that is Carnival?
This 200-year old festival in which we have an historical advantage, one that derives from developing original products which can be imitated in dozens of carnivals around the world but hardly duplicated for the authenticity nurtured and developed over the period of time, has not been fully developed as a tourism product.
As well exemplified this year, the organisation of the festival is dominated by conflict amongst the interest groups instead of a focus on the benefits that can be derived. To be continued.
In order for us to grow as a society there must be informed discussions on everything that touches or will touch and concern our lives, our country’s economy, national security, education, healthcare, the environment, to name a few. This requires knowledge through education by schooling, parents, the legitimate media or otherwise. People must know their rights and obligations and never allow themselves to be hoodwinked by anyone, especially self-serving politicians.
Let us take, for example, when President Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson had to appoint a prime minister in 2001 after the 18-18 deadlock in the general election. He was required by the Constitution to appoint the member of the elected House of Representatives “likely to command” the majority of support of the members. The then UNC had won the majority of the popular vote, and the then leader of the Opposition and of the PNM made it clear that the PNM stood alone. Notwithstanding the PNM’s obvious inflexibility as to any kind of alliance or accommodation, President Robinson appointed Mr Manning as prime minister on the basis of “moral and spiritual values”, without referring to the test prescribed by the Constitution itself.
He later in his autobiography stated that he made the appointment on the basis that he was of the view that members of the House who would uphold their oath would support Mr Manning, which was subjective and speculative in the extreme. He had applied the wrong test. The country did not know anything about the correct constitutional test, and those with vested and PNM interests supported his unconstitutional act.
The political pundits were quiet. The consequence was, amongst other things, the post-2001 mayhem of murder, kidnappings, and institutional decline plastered over by temporary energy windfalls and vanity projects, none of which—but the last two—have since abated.
Knowledge is power and citizens must learn what their Constitution says. Otherwise we will fall for the incessant rantings of politicians vying for attention as in the recent “controversy” regarding the Attorney General “removing” the three -fifth’s constitutional majority which otherwise “protects” our rights under the Constitution.
Our rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution are neither absolute, nor incapable of abridgement or infringement by the State provided it is in the public interest, and with the requirement that any act which does so is passed by a three-fifth’s majority in the House. Even then, the courts have the power to declare that such an act is unconstitutional because it is not reasonably justifiable. So the Constitution requires that the House is the first check and balance and the courts are the second.
That aside, it did not stop the Attorney General in the face of lack of support for the Marriage Act (Amendment) Bill (which I support) to turn that bill into one that did not now require a three-fifth’s majority, on the basis that while it breached freedom of religion it was correcting laws that breached inequality of treatment.
Yes, the Attorney General’s unprecedented step has caused concerns, as it may suggest that he expects that no one will challenge his bill and even if that happened, it would remain on the statute books for some time before final determination by the courts. That approach by the Attorney General, if so, is inconsistent with his duty to act in the public interest and to uphold the Constitution.
Faced with the Fatca standoff and perhaps emboldened by his earlier approach, the Attorney General made a statement addressing the Association of Real Estate Agents that he would not be stymied by the obstructionist Opposition and would “remove” the need for the three-fifth’s majority. Nobody knew whether he meant that he would bring bills to Parliament that were crafted to not require a constitutional majority, or whether he would pull another Marriage Act (Amendment) Bill rabbit out of his hat, or he would do away with the provision in section 13 of the Constitution that required a three-fifth’s majority.
For the record, in this final regard, the Government requires by section 54 of the Constitution an even bigger majority (a two-third’s majority) to remove the three-fifth’s majority which, of course, is highly unlikely to even happen.
Notwithstanding that, no one could fathom what the Attorney General was really saying. There have been all sorts of public statements by opposition members which are noticeable only for their reliance upon ignorance, like in 2001, of our Constitution.
We cannot go on this way. Knowledge is power. In a world where knowledge is at our fingertips at the click of a button, let us make an effort to learn and understand the supreme law that created our Republic that guarantees the rights and freedoms of each and every one of us. If we don’t, those with power will continue to strip away our rights without us knowing it.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have agreed to engage the services of lobbyists at a cost of US$240,000 to deal with the issue of the loss of correspondent banking facilities currently facing the region, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has said.
Rowley made the statement yesterday at the Diplomatic Lounge of the Piarco International Airport following his return to this country from the Intersessional Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government held in Guyana.
Rowley said the issue of de-risking in the banking sector was one of “great interest” and “strong concern” at the CARICOM meeting.
“The other area which was of great interest and I would not want to say alarm but strong concern is the whole question of the threat to our banking system and the threat that this poses to economic collapse in the region if we are in fact to find ourselves determined as a high risk area and lose our correspondent banking facilities,” he said.
According to a report by the International Monetary Fund correspondent, banking with global banks allows smaller banks access to the international payments system including the facilitation of money transfers and currency exchange.
“Without these banking relationships, businesses are cut off from international trade and financing, families are unable to collect remittances from relatives working abroad, and foreign investors may be unwilling to invest if there is a risk they will be unable to repatriate their profits,” the IMF stated.
A survey conducted by the Caribbean Association of Banks shows banks in T&T are among 12 countries in the region who have experienced loss of correspondent banking.
Rowley said Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne presented a report on the issue at the CARICOM meeting.
“It (the report) maintains that we are at great risk and a decision was taken at this meeting to encourage all countries to move with great urgency to ensure that we pass the necessary legislation to ensure that we are compliant with the international standards demanded of us and that we ensure that we make every effort to lobby in the relevant quarters so that our case is made known and we do not get treated adversely by accident,” he said.
“Against this background the work of the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda indicated that he identified by that effort adequate lobbying arrangements in place but there was a cost to that and the cost is US$240,000 and the heads agreed that that cost should be incurred and the lobbyists should be hired and put to work to join the efforts made by CARICOM to ensure that we stave off any further de-risking or loss of correspondent banking access because we at the level of CARICOM understand the devastating effects that that is having on those territories which are already exposed to it and could have to those countries which may fall to be de-risked or who may lose their correspondent banking business,” Rowley said.
T&T has also been selected to host the Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) 2019.
“We will immediately commence preparations so when the time comes we will give a good account of ourselves hosting the region in Trinidad and Tobago,” Rowley said.
Calypso Fiesta at Skinner Park was as dull as the rainy weather which pervaded yesterday afternoon in San Fernando.
There was excellent delivery from Terri Lyons who sang “The Phrase” and satire and humour from Heather Mc Intosh who sang “Games,” but the sting and tongue-lashing, the baptism of fire reserved for politicians were sadly missing.
The majority of the 41 calypsonians steered clear of bashing the Government. Even when there was criticism, it was so masked that anyone could have easily missed it.
The theme was more nation-building by contenders who demonstrated their patriotism by wearing the national colours for their performances.
Even two-time monarch, Roderick “Chucky” Gordon, deviated from the biting commentary fans came expecting from him. Four-time king, Weston Rawlins, “Cro Cro,” a known supporter of the current administration chose to do a tribute to the late prime minister Patrick Manning.
Lady Gypsy, whose real name is Lynette Steele sang in position number three before a sparse audience. She delved deeply into the way die-hard supporters of the ruling party were being treated. Outfitted in a red body suit with matching red boots and long, gold plaits, she rang her bell, summoning past leaders to change the behaviour of its current leadership.
Even though he resigned from the United National Congress and realigned himself to the People’s National Movement, the Skinner Park crowd, which had grown by late evening, was still unforgiving of Winston “Gypsy” Peters.
Singing in position number 31, the toilet paper came out for him as he delivered “Angry Land.”
At the end of his performance, Gypsy noted the toilet paper which he addressed extempore style.
Spotted in the crowd was public relations officer of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation, Ras Kommanda, who cheered on while Joanne “Tigress” Rowley performed.
Kurt Allen put a satirical spin on the state of the country with “My Corn Tree” in which he, as a farmer, sought answers as to who was “forking up” his corn tree as soon as it started to produce good fruit.
Selvon Noel, aka Mistah Shak, singing in position number two, put a new twist on the social ills plaguing the country and the world, believing that we were living in a “Twilight Zone,” the name of his composition, based on the strange happenings internationally.
Tobagonian contestant Lady Baynes, sang “Tighten Yuh Belt Is Guava Season.” Dressed as a farmer with branches of guava laden with leaves stuck in her clothes, she gave a good delivery of the recession the country is facing.
But what could not be missed was the recrimination levelled at the Head of State, President Anthony Carmona. From his breach of protocol in addressing his wife as Her Excellency, to the Presidential Wine controversy, housing allowance and his “powers you think I have” speech, came in for blows.
Maria Bhola dressed as the President, walked her First Lady on stage, surrounded by a strong showing of security guards, to gave a stinging criticism of his breach of protocol at the official funeral for the late Patrick Manning when he gave salvation to his wife Reema, in her contribution My First Lady.
“I want to know who is the know it all who say that I breach protocol,” she sang, as she gave his explanation, that who want to vex could vex, that he does not want to be compared with his predecessor as in protocol and fashion they are in a different class.
“Public life is temporary, marriage for me is permanent, who trying to make problem with diplomacy cause me long term strife. Four words I live by is happy wife, happy life,” she sang to the delight of the crowd under umbrellas.
She has not heard from her son since last October.
It is the longest stretch that there has been no word and by now, Joan Crawford is not sure Shane Crawford is still alive. But she has resigned herself to what may lie ahead.
“I used to hear regularly from him, but this is the longest I haven’t heard. My belief though is if anything happens it’s by Allah’s hand,” Crawford said last Friday.
“Allah loaned me my children for a certain time. When he’s ready to take them, he will. They’re his—whatever comes, I’m prepared.”
For her, that includes tougher anti-terrorism amendments laid in Parliament last Monday.
She believes this may scare away nationals “overseas” (in conflict zones) who may consider returning. But she doubts any, including Shane, are interested in coming home.
Shane (aka Asadullah) Dominic Crawford’s mug shot and background is listed as number one on a security intelligence document on 105 people reported to have left T&T for Syria over 2013-2015.
His date of departure was listed as November 2013. He was then 27.
His address was Wallerfield and status was “Confirmed in Syria.”
In case anyone doubted, his mother said a video of him bathing in the Euphrates River subsequently emerged. She did not know he had left T&T.
“He called me from there and said, “This is it—you will not see me in this life again. We’ll meet in Jannah (paradise) Insha Allah.”
“He knew he wasn’t coming back. The first set (those who left) had no intention of returning.
“He used to tell me when someone enters a house and kills a family, Allah allows it. Whatever happens in life, Allah allows. When we were in a car once, I said he was driving fast, he said he’d never die in a car accident.”
‘Better a bomb drop and kill you’
Even if he lives a long life, she knows she won’t see him here again.
“Never! Never! Never,” Crawford said firmly.
“I wouldn’t want him to return after being branded a terrorist. Better he stay where he is.”
Actually, is better a bomb drop on you and kill you than to come back and go to prison here.”
Crawford, who had a record of alleged crime, left for Syria not long after being detained in the 2011 state of emergency, among 15 involved in an alleged plot to assassinate former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. No charges were laid.
“What else you could do if they brand you a terrorist?” his mother asked, citing reasons for his departure.
“When Muslims were oppressed, it saddened him. Wives may have wanted to follow husbands...
“He was a blessed child, I really miss him and I love him.”
She wishes she could see Crawford’s two other children who were born after he went to Syria, where his wife and first son joined him.
She hopes there would be a way for widows and children of deceased fighters to return.
But whether killed in recent months or alive, she accepts she would never see him here again.
“...Especially because of this proposed law—nobody coming home for fear of being locked up,” she added.
Clauses in the new bill
The 31 clauses target direct and indirect involvement in terrorist activities, seeking to close T&T’s “gate” on people desirous of emulating Crawford and others “overseas.”
Proposals were announced after National Security Minister Edmund Dillon recently confirmed 130 nationals are involved in terrorist activities overseas.
He cited 72 adults and 58 family members.
Dillon’s figures over April to August 2016 also ranged between 100 to 120—and now 130.
Proposals target those going to conflict zones—including under guise of “study”—becoming radicalised via electronic media and collecting money for travelling to commit terrorist acts.
Also targeted is financing of terrorists through third parties, and taking children to conflict zones.
Another segment will stipulate certain areas regarding which travellers to those places must inform the State of their departure/return. But travel is not restricted.
The bill allows Government to make requests to the Isis or Al Qaeda Sanctions Team international bodies for listing of people/entities.
If there is information a person is suspected of meeting criteria on these lists, the State can seek police probe concerning the person.
Proposed penalties include a maximum of 25 years in jail and $5 million in fines.
Another segment—to be finalised soon—targets returning terrorist fighters.
This involves accepting nationals back, though detention and subjection to the legal process may follow, officials hinted. It may also apply to spouses who were with fighters.
Two people from T&T targeted
The global issue of terrorism has increased urgency for Government to erect stronger operational and legislative fences for T&T which occupies a unique connection between the Americas, Europe, and the region.
Local courts have listed and recognise 333 terrorist entities/individuals—mainly international entities and a couple locals. This lays the groundwork for future action on alleged local culprits. Among those listed was T&T-born Kareem Ibrahim whose property was seized by the State.
Soon, Government is going to court on several local matters, listing three more entities. Nine others are in the works.
...Moreso, the State is going after two particular targets, alleged to be in the Middle East, viewed as “persons of interest”, following video footage reportedly of two T&T nationals.
Both allegedly have criminal backgrounds, being involved in thuggery as “bad boys.” International states as well as T&T have “eyes” on both.
Legal follow-ups regarding key personalities alleged to have gone to Syria, and their connections are also ongoing.
Overall, amendments to Mutual Legal Assistance treaties are being considered. Assistance has come from foreign counter-terrorism experts, some of whom met with Muslim community members via a government outreach.
Prior to Dillon’s figures, UNC MP Roodal Moonilal last April disclosed 400 in T&T were radicalised by Isis and men, women and children had left for Syria. Government believes that figure was based on Suspicious Transaction Reports from financial institutions.
The intelligence report subsequently obtained by the Guardian listed approximately 105 nationals leaving T&T—destination Syria—over 2013-2015. This included men, women and 43 children, among several groups.
Government considers much of the information—beyond the two cases at current focus—largely “circumstantial” and is examining material, including ‘intel’ of those reported dead.
Up to when proposed amendments were laid, Government could not give an official figure of who is dead among those who have left.
Continuing TOMORROW—Who’s going...
Activist Verna St Rose Greaves stormed the stage at the T&T Red Cross Children’s Carnival at the Queen’s Park Savannah yesterday.
Like a form of ambush marketing or ambush masquerading, a stark reality among the gaiety and innocence of children playing “pretty mas”, was the former Child Development minister’s grim portrayal of a bride in full bridal train holding a rag doll and carrying a sign to get her social message across: “No Child Marriage.”
The announcer said she was not competing in the six-nine category. Greaves disappeared after her dramatic entrance on stage.
In the aftermath, the sun was not at its fiercest to beat down on the babies, toddlers and teens crossing the stage at the 61st edition of T&T Red Cross Children’s Carnival: One Big Playground.
Approximately 259 junior revellers took advantage of the subdued sky and were spared being buffeted by strong winds that occurred last year.
The mini masqueraders’ vibrant costumes captured the light of the sun as they paraded on stage for the audience in the Grand Stand and in front the judges.
Thirteen-year-old Aaron Duncan performed three songs that had the audience singing along— “Mega Vibes,” “Born Ready,” and “Can You Feel It.”
Patron of the event, Reema Carmona, wife of President Anthony Carmona was met by Lister Ramjohn, president of the T&T Red Cross Society and Priya Singh, wife of George Singh, the promoter of Chutney Soca Monarch, whose company Southex promoted this year’s Kiddies’ Carnival.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian during the proceedings, Singh said he was surprised by the turnout, the size and quality of the bands.
He said that the creativity was very phenomenal and the quality of the costumes could compete in the Kings and Queens’ category at the senior level.
Regarding security, Singh said this year measures were done “a little bit different”.
He said the Drag area was locked off and the bands were placed in the back of the North Stand.
Singh said that was done deliberately to make sure the entire venue was secure and for the safety of the children, plus there was ample security.
He said the Band of the Year Award was named after Rosalind Gabriel in recognition for her service to children’s Carnival.
Singh said this was the first year Gabriel did not bring a band and she wanted to donate the trophy and she was in the Grand Stand to make the presentation.
Also present was Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.
The T&T Stock Exchange (TTSE) is now trading with similar leading-edge technology as other emerging market exchanges.
TTSE chairman Ray Sumairsingh confirmed this in a press release on Friday.
The state-of-the-art trading system—Avvento Trading Platform—represents a major milestone in the plans to transform the TTSE into a best-in-class securities exchange.
The new system is more efficient, scalable and flexible, and is in line with the TTSE’s strategic intent of introducing new products and making the system more accessible to local investors and in time, international investors.
The new system for the trading platform went live on February 6.
The first week was used to iron out teething problems however, after five days of live trading, the exchange is functioning normally.
The release stated, “The new trading platform represents a significant step in the TTSE’s strategic vision to move from a stock exchange to a broad-based securities exchange.
“It also seeks to further the opportunities for integration of the region’s stock exchanges as both Barbados and Jamaica have simultaneously launched the new trading platform.”
“Call me RamKING Sharma,” Omardath Maraj, a joint winner of this year’s Chutney Soca Monarch, jokingly said as our interview was about to begin.
His Whatsapp picture also proclaimed the name change.
The name “RamKING Sharma” is a play on the name of the song that helped Maraj claim his first-ever Chutney Soca Monarch title.
Maraj’s song “Ramsingh Sharma” is arguably one of the most popular songs in T&T for this Carnival season.
Earlier this week, the Sunday Guardian sat down with Maraj to discuss his phenomenal season.
Q: How did you get involved in music?
A: My dad had a little group and I started off with them. I started off playing the harmonium and branched off into drumming. We used to lime and sing and beat tables and all kinda thing and the talent picked up from there. I used to play harmonium and sing, so this guy invited me to a wedding in St Helena and I went down with my organ and he organised a drummer and a guy to play the dhantal and we mashed up the cooking. I used to play Anand Yankaran’s “Nanda Baba” and, well, anything you doing you have to sing the latest songs because that is what people want, so I also used to do (Xtatik’s) “Music Farm” and “Footsteps” and other socas with the organ and we used to mash up the place.
The first gig I got I was paid $100, and then I worked for three to six months doing weddings. Then the payment increased from $100 to $150 to $200 and so it climbed the ladder. We real sacrificed, we real drag the road. I remember waiting at Arouca Junction after an event and putting the organ on top the pavement and waiting for a taxi until six in the morning and the sun rising when I reach home. And as we started to get more popular, we started to do more weddings and then in 2004, I decided to do my first album which was “Ring Bang Chutney” and that is when I sang “Ring Bang Ring Bang” and I have not looked back since.
Looking back at how it all began and now becoming Chutney Soca Monarch, how does it all feel?
It feels amazing to accomplish this. Since “Ring Bang” I have never really had a dip, my career just seems to be going up and up, I have been able to bring out songs every year and people have been loving the music. The songs have always been on par and the name Spread Pal Crew has become a household name. Of course, 2017 has been my best year so far in the music. In less than a month, “Ramsingh Sharma” has blown up so big that I think it could be one of the number one songs ever in the chutney arena, and the response I have gotten from the crowds has been amazing. It is a really great feeling to have been able to accomplish something like this. To win and all was amazing.
What inspired the creation of Ramsingh Sharma?
I was coming back from a wedding in South in the wee hours of the morning around 3 am and I dropped out everybody and I was passing by Grand Bazaar and this song just came into my head, I started to sing “Ramsingh Sharma, the wetman from San Juan, he have them girls and they give him ganga channa.” And I twisted it around and I called a song writer and he said that song was not good, that it would not make.
And then I continued playing with it. I took it to the studio where we do dubplates but the fellas there could not come up with anything. And I studied what the song writer said that the song would not make it, that played on my mind.
Then I went on a tour in November with Crazy and I told him about the situation and he told me about a fella named Tempo living Morvant. I went down there and I asked him what he thought about the song. So he wrote something for me, I took his lines, and I took my lines and I switched up everything and I made up three verses. Then I went down by Raymond (Ramnarine) and them and I told them we had “Devanand,” we had “Balkissoon” and so now I bringing this one for you, and it all happened from there.
You said since 2004 your musical career has not dipped. What do you attribute to your success?
One of my successes in the music comes from honouring my parents and going to my temple. I really pray hard and God has truly blessed me. Last year, he blessed me with “Balkissoon” and now he has blessed me with “Ramsingh.” Honouring your parents and honouring God are roots to be successful. It is easy, it is simple, it is all written in the scriptures since way back.
One of the issues that surrounded the Chutney Soca Monarch is the fact that there was no female representation in the finals two years in a row. What advice would you have to female chutney soca artistes?
Well, there are not much females in the business. There are only a few and my advice to them is to keep working hard, try and come up with songs, watch what is going on in the country and write something that you think could hit the market. People are saying that there were no females in the finals but if you do not have a big song, then how can you make it? They are picking the best ten songs and in my view, they were the ten best songs in the final.
So what is the next step for you?
Right now, I’m just turning with joy, my goal is to represent T&T at the highest level. I love soca, I love chutney music. I feel like 2016 was mine and that 2017 will be mine also. My thing is to keep the flag flying high for T&T. I will be performing in Machel Monday and that is probably the biggest stage locally, so that says it all. But this year has been truly amazing. I went Ladies’ Night Out and if you heard how those people chanted “Balkissoon” and “Ramsingh.” When I watched back the video I cried looking at how the crowd was chanting the songs. It was amazing. And then in the Chutney Soca Monarch from the time they announced my name the crowd just went wild too.
Another woman has been robbed, abducted and gang raped following a home invasion in San Fernando on Friday night. The 34-year-old woman, who was left in the bushes by her attackers in the Claxton Bay, was found by a passing police vehicle.
The incident took place hours after three men appeared in the San Fernando Magistrates Court charged with abducting a 26-year-old cashier after she boarded a car she believed was a taxi, taken to a lonely area where she was robbed, raped, buggered.
The latest attack took place around 10.45 pm on Friday. The woman and her husband went to visit her brother-in-law at his home. Police said the brother-in-law was sitting on the steps when four men, two armed with a gun, accosted him and took him inside the house.
They tied up both men and stole cellphones, a quantity of cash and jewelry. The assailants took the woman with them in her husband’s car to an isolated area where they took turns raping her. She flagged down a passing police vehicle which rendered assistance and took her for medical treatment. Her husband’s vehicle was found yesterday morning in the Arouca area.