Monday, September 5, 2011

PNM encouraged criminals, failed to deal with crime: PM Kamla

File Photo: PM Manning meets with gang leader Sheldon "Crock" Scott in Laventille during the 2007 election campaign
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Sunday used official statistics to show that the former PNM administration failed to effectively deal with crime and that under the watch of Patrick Manning crime increased to unprecedented levels with murders reaching a high of more than 500 in 2008.

She noted that with respect to murders, the average per year under the Panday UNC administration was 112; under the Manning PNM there were 3,082 murders - an average of 357 per year.

"There was a 218% increase in murders on average per year during the PNM’s Administration from 2002 to 2009 as compared to the UNC’s regime from 1995- 2001," she said noting that there were 126,978 serious crimes in the period 2003-2009.

She said the reason why crime continued to get worse was because the PNM encouraged it.

"Do you all remember the PNM leader meeting with the Head of the Jamaat during the 18-18 tie when his party was appointed the government?

"Do you remember when he promised to give back to the Muslimeen the land at Mucurapo? And after there was a public outcry he relented?

"Do you remember how the Muslimeen campaigned for the PNM and mounted platforms urging support for that party and threatening those who didn’t?

Do you remember the images of Abu Bakr celebrating at Balisier House on election night? Do you remember that?" she asked MPs during debate on the extension of the State of Emergency.

"Do you remember that billions of dollars, not millions, hear me clearly, BILLIONS of dollars went into CEPEP and URP and into the hands of these gang leaders with their ghost gangs and funded their nefarious activities?

"What do you think happened with all the alleged contracts that these gang leaders received through the PNM? How can any government sit and talk about co-existing with criminals?"

She said then former Prime Minister "in the full glare of the public and the media" met with gang leaders at a hotel in the city to guarantee that they stayed in power.

"It was so bold faced that when one of those gang leaders died, the PNM Political Leader and then Prime Minister is on public record as having said the country had lost a national hero," Persad-Bissessar said.

"The anointed “hero” was a gang leader whose criminal record was as long as from here to San Fernando East, someone who had publicly campaigned up and down the East West corridor for the PNM," she added.

She said the People's Partnership government does not "negotiate and wine and dine with the gang leaders at hotels like the last administration did."

She emphasised that, "The moment the PNM government of the day took the decision to negotiate with criminal elements in exchange for political support, it set off a dangerous course of events from which the country is still reeling today.

"The moment you sit and talk with an enemy such as that you have surrendered power; you have ceded constitutional power and legal authority to the gang leaders. How can any government sit and talk about co-existing with criminals?"

Persad-Bissessar said her government went after the "stock in trade" of gangs by swooping down on their supply of drugs. And she said the State of Emergency averted a planned retaliation from the gangs that represented a clear and present danger to national security and innocent law-abiding citizens of the country.

"The declaration of war by the State on criminals who terrorize our citizens was something they did not expect. After all, they had become accustomed to being treated as community leaders," Persad-Bissessar said.

She said while she was not at liberty to disclose the sensitive details of national security, it is a matter of public record the security services have, in recent times, made a number of important drug seizures that disrupted the “smooth flow of business” in the supply chain and jolted and weakened the entire network.

She gave examples of drug seizures:

  • Marijuana - 1229 kilos seized for 2011 valued at $18.5million. 
  • Marijuana for the same time period in 2010 - 3295 kilos estimated at $49.5million 
  • Cocaine for 2011 - 8477kilos valued at $296.7million. 
  • Cocaine for the same period in 2010, 6750 kilos valued at $236.3million 
"We responded decisively to preserve public safety and the results to date have vindicated our decision...Today the nation is safer because of that decision.

"The government has demonstrated that it will not allow the nation to be held to ransom by marauding groups of thugs bent on creating mayhem and havoc in our society," she said.

"Let us be clear about one thing. The state of emergency has worked. And it has worked not only because there has been substantial reduction in killings but also because serious crime is almost zero and road carnage halted...

"It has worked not only because we have arrested over one thousand criminal elements with hundreds on outstanding warrants.

"It has worked not only because caches of weapons and ammunition have been confiscated; but it has also worked because from the moment we took the tough decision to impose a State of Emergency a crisis had been averted.

"And that is how I measure its success."

The Prime Minister oncluded her contribution by thanking the protective services for their "yeoman service to protect and serve the people of Trinidad and Tobago".

She also thanked community organisations, "the real community leaders", the business groups, the business owners and employers for their patience and understanding and for their support.

"I also want to thank the members of the national media, print, electronic, television and online for going well beyond the call of duty and even themselves experiencing some inconvenience to ensure that they keep the public well informed," she said.

"And of course, I thank every single man, woman and child who has made the sacrifice in different ways in order to ensure that the Government and our nation can win this war on crime.

"The war on crime will continue! And for the sake of our citizens and in memory of those who did not live to see the day when the tide would finally be turned on criminals, we have no intention of losing this war...

"Today I stand before you because in our 15 month history in government, we have made our most difficult choice and most trying decision yet. This was neither an easy decision nor one taken lightly. But our nation needs action, decisive action, now. The nation needs political courage!

"There is a great evil stalking our land. Where others have shirked their responsibility, we have accepted it.

"That evil must be confronted with full force of our state and the full resolve of our people. Our nation has endured more than it could bear. Too many precious lives have been snatched away.

"The righteous blood of our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters has been spilled at the hands of the lawless, greedy, selfish, deviant and cruel. Today’s actions may be painful but necessary. We must sacrifice now or we shall pay a huge price later.

"The state of emergency is bringing back respect for the rule of law and a balance to the scales of justice. Give your children a better future. Give them a sense of hope. Give them a fair chance. Don’t let them suffer because of your silence. Allow them to live their dreams. Let them live longer. So that sons and daughters can bury their mothers. Instead of mothers burying their children. We are the children of history but the parents of the future. Let us join hands to create a brighter future for the sake of our children. It's now or never

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai