Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

CLASS EQUALITY? by Bryan St. Louis

posted 13 Sept 2011, 20:08 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 13 Sept 2011, 20:11 ]
On 31st August 2011, as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, we celebrated our 49th Anniversary of Independence. We are now heading towards the horizon of our Golden Jubilee Celebrations as an Independent Nation on 31st August 2012.

However, in taking a critical look at what we have achieved over the period, we don’t have to look far, as we are still burdened with a political, cultural, social and economic system that is not friendly to the needs of the citizens of an independent nation, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

It appears that since Independence was given to us in 1962, those who were given the authority by the electorate to provide good governance to the citizens over the years, has allowed the status quo so inherited from our colonial past to be maintained.

This, in my view, was quite deliberate as it was meant to facilitate the opportunity for those who hold the reins of power to operate as owners of the nation and keep the citizens under bondage. As such, the legislators, since we were given Independence on 31st August 1962, especially under the governance of the PNM, who in fact were in power for approximately thirty eight (38) of those years, did nothing to create a society for us, where everyone counts.

As an independent nation we are still operating under a type of democracy modelled after the Westminster System of Government inherited from the British who gave us Independence. We are also still dependent on their Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as our highest court of Appeal.

In addition, after 49 years of Independence our Police Service is being managed by a foreign Police Commissioner who was foisted upon us by a local Prime Minster because he was not satisfied with the competence and ability of a local officer who was recommended for the position.

In addition, there are numerous instances of foreign nationals being appointed to important public offices which in many cases appeared to be detrimental to our national patrimony. It appears therefore, that those in authority have forgotten that independence means that besides exercising self-governance, you should also have sovereignty over your territory.

So by maintaining the afore-mentioned systems, the environment was created and fertilized for those in authority to operate without any regard for our motto: “Together We Aspire; Together We Achieve”, and our watch words “Discipline, Production and Tolerance”.

In addition, what is being done about the recognition and protection of our Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom? Is consideration being given to the right to life, liberty, security of the person, and protection from arbitrary arrest and the law, freedom of conscience, movement, expression and assembly, and respect of private and family life? If all these areas are being respected and adhered to, then why is there no social justice, equity and prosperity for all? Why can’t the average citizen have an equal opportunity to access the various amenities and facilities?

Why are we still suffering from an inefficient public service, an inefficient education system, intolerable road conditions, inefficient public transport, exorbitant food prices, unreliable health services, inadequate water supply, an unusually high rate of criminal activities, indiscipline amongst our youths, an inefficient justice system, a poor and unreliable police service, an undeveloped and unsustainable agricultural sector, an unidentifiable national cultural identity and a lack of sustainable employment?

Whilst these issues continue to plague us, those we elected into office over the years continue to preside over and be the facilitators of corrupt practices, nepotism and party acrobatics in public affairs.

The notion of Independence suggests that “every creed, and race must find an equal place” as is stated in our national anthem. I suggest however, that every class should also find an equal place.

So whilst we are presently celebrating our 49th Anniversary, we should reflect on the state of our politics and our social, economic, and cultural systems and determine what we as a people should do to ensure that our elected representatives perform their duties as befitting servants of the people and at the same time, put the necessary mechanisms in place to address our unique culture so that our social structures, politics, economics and culture could be so tailored in keeping with the requirements of our cosmopolitan society so that we could become a truly Independent Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, where there is Social Justice, Equity and Prosperity for all.