Thursday, December 13, 2012

Letter: Jamaica Observer owes T&T an apology

The Editor,

The Editorials of the Jamaica Observer dated October 7th and December 11th 2012 have ushered in a new definition for journalistic incompetence and clumsiness. 

Both represent an unparalleled and unwarranted assault on the Government and people of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and strike a ferocious blow unto our aspiration for Caribbean integration. 

In the October piece, the Observer penned that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago had practised political ethnic cleansing through its ambassadorial appointments and through a recent joint initiative with the government of Guyana towards food security. 

In its more recent piece, the Observer’s vitriolic and rancorous attack points to what it termed “ethnic stocking” or appointments to public office based on ethnicity. The editorial then sought to link that with the country’s positioning in the International Corruption Perception Index.

With expanding internet usage and new social media, the accessibility to regional and international press has stretched the vastness of the concept of the “public sphere”. What is written in Jamaica becomes part of one gigantic global media village and should therefore be able to withstand local comment and scrutiny.

In her June 22nd Ministerial realignment, Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar announced some 35 Ministerial postings. Sixteen of these were not of East Indian extraction. 

Of the 18 Diplomatic Missions represented by Trinidad and Tobago only 7 are East Indians. The Speaker of the House and President of the Senate are non- Indians. Consider the numerous State Enterprises and Statutory Authorities which are headed by non-Indians. 

This writer sits on a State Board headed by a Chairman and Vice Chairman both of whom are of African descent. Two of the three awardees of the Order of Trinidad and Tobago for Independence 2012 were non Indians, including a former Prime Minister who was a long standing member of the PNM.
The Observer should compare these statistical facts with what prevailed under the former political dispensation. 

Why was the Jamaica Observer mute on ethnic composition, ethnic cleansing and ethnic stocking when a former Prime Minister declared that he was on the search for Indians to join his government? The Observer might do well to research the phrase “recalcitrant minority” and to consider the first time the Holy Gita was introduced to swear in a Government Minister in this country?

Shockingly, without logical and rational judgment the Observer suggests that our nation’s ranking in the Corruption Index (notwithstanding our improved rating) is as a result of “ethnic stocking”. How therefore, would the Observer account for Jamaica’s positioning in the very Corruption Index, which places them lower than Trinidad and Tobago? Does the Jamaican Government also practice ethnic stocking?

Another vacuous assumption from the Observer is their theory of “regional ethnic cleansing” hypothesised by an innocent pilot project between this country and Guyana for self sustainability in food production. 

Both countries have a stronger historical leaning towards an agrarian economy. Guyana is therefore a natural partner in any regional experiment toward food production. 

In May 2012, the Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaican Governments established a Trade Facilitation Desk to facilitate trade between the two countries? In May 2011 a final Agreement for the acquisition of Air Jamaica led to the Jamaican government owning a 16% stake holding in Caribbean Airlines Limited. 

Are these examples of a conspiracy towards regional ethnic cleansing between Trinidad and Jamaica?The irony of the Observer’s misguided and injudicious editorial is that some supporters of the present Government have criticised it for practising the very opposite; that in the very fair dispensation of political appointments, “die-hard” members stand in the waiting line. 

Such is the price to be paid when political equity prevails over ethnicity and when political meritocracy replaces political hypocrisy. For that Prime Minister Bissessar must be applauded.

The Jamaica Observer is entitled as other media to practise within the tenets of freedom and independence of the press. That freedom and that right however, should never be the right to lead a political onslaught against a democratically elected government; an attack that lacks any factual foundation and bears little resemblance to the truth. 

As a citizen of this country, I too enjoy certain rights and freedoms. I am within my rights to consider the aforementioned editorials to be a flagrant abuse of journalistic independence and freedom of the press. I am also within my rights to call upon the Jamaica Observer to apologise to the Government and the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Korean pop star “Psy” responsible for the "Gangnam Style" mania recently apologized to the American people for anti-American lyrics contained in a song he sang in 2004. 

I consider the editorials of the Jamaica Observer to be inflammatory and anti-Trinidadian. It is said that “Journalism does not pursue truth in an absolute or philosophical sense, but it can and must pursue it in a practical sense. 

This "journalistic truth" is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts”. Verify the facts Observer! And do what is right! 
Ashvani Mahabir | Cunupia, Trinidad and Tobago

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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