Sunday, January 12, 2014

Commentary: Rowley's crocodile tears won't make crime go away

  • “Don’t be hoodwinked by the Government’s attempt to lessen the severity of the increased crime rate when it blames gangs.” 
  • “Is this Baghdad?” 
  • “The Prime Minister and her Go­vernment have absolutely no moral authority what­soever to talk to anybody of this coun­try about crime.”
That’s Keith Rowley speaking, a man who claims to have a plan to fix crime (but it’s his secret) because so far he has not presented any ideas to help deal with the problem and he has refused to support government’s anti-crime legislative agenda.

An example of his hypocrisy is the fact that he was not even in the House of Representatives to vote on the Bail amendment Bill, which the House passed early Saturday morning. Yet the leader of the opposition is quick to lay blame for all the crime at the feet of the present administration.

For the records, when the PNM took office on Christmas Eve 2001 by presidential decree the Panday administration had put a lid on serious crime with murders dropping to 93 in 1999. Manning and his administration managed crime by consorting with gangs and their leaders, handing them lucrative state contracts and bribing them to stop killing one another. 

In the end all the ‘community leaders’ Manning had embraced ended up dead in gang-on-gang warfare and murders peaked in 2008 at more than 550.

Click on chart to read details in a new, larger window
With all the PR stunts, SAUTT and million dollar blimps, crime under the PNM was the worst ever in this country, even when compared with the present upsurge in murders. Kidnapping for ransom, which had been a lucrative criminal activity, reached 170 in one year. 

Rowley was a part of that administration and he never had a word to say about his government’s failure to take on the criminals. In fact his boss, Patrick Manning, even boasted about knowing “Mr. Big” but up to today that remains Manning’s and the PNM’s secret.

So Rowley is the last person to state that the Prime Minister has no moral authority to speak about crime. Even the figure of 405 murders – which is 405 too many – is small compared to the PNM administration’s record of 550. 

So why is the the PNM now pretending to have all the answers to ending crime when they had the opportunity to do it by instead sponsored the crime by entertaining the gang leaders.

It is interesting that Rowley is so eager to jump on this issue, almost as if it is his ticket to power. It doesn’t matter that people are dying daily. His only interest seems to be how to benefit politically by ignoring his own record and blaming the government.

Here are some questions citizens and the media should be asking Rowley:
  • If you have a plan to solve the crime problem, why not offer it today?
  • There is no reason to fear that the government would take credit for it because it would be YOUR plan so what is there to fear?
  • If you really care about people dying at the hands of criminals why are you ‘hiding’ your plan and waiting until you get into office (which could be never) to put the plan into effect?
  • Do you have any plan really or is this just political ‘ole talk’? 
The stats are clear – 6 out of every 10 murders that took place in 2013 involved people connected with some kind of gang or criminal activity. Of the 405 murders in 2013, a total of 197 were gang related and 47 others were drug related. 

The gangs didn’t form overnight; they were around since the days of George Chambers. Someone should hand Rowley a copy of the Scott Drug Report that documented the serious issues relating to drugs and gangs under the PNM watch.

Manning’s answer was to “make peace” with the gangs, plead with them to stop fighting one another and he rewarded them with contracts. He did nothing to help them out of the cycle of poverty and hopelessness; instead he kept them in a state of dependency to mainitain a voting bank. And Rowley was a willing accomplice of all of that as a member of the Manning cabinet.

The reality today is that if you want to combat crime you must go after gangs and their leaders because that is where the problem lies. Sociologists will tell you to go to the real roots of poverty and hopelessness that push people into deviant behaviour and ultimately crime becomes a last resort means of survival. The present administration recognises that too and has done more than any previous government with respect to poverty eradication. 

But the one fact that is indisputable is that gangs exist and their members are engaged in criminal activities that includes robberies, rapes, kidnappings and murder. And what we are seeing from the gangs is a brazen attempt to make the bloodiest statement that they fear no one and that everyone should fear them.

Rowley and his supporters can shed all the crocodile tears for victims that they want it won’t save any lives and it would only demonstrate that fighting crime is a political issue for them. Crime is a good political weapon and they will use it against the present administration hoping that if people live in constant fear they might reject the government and put the PNM back in office.

So don’t expect Rowley to solve the crime problem now or in the future. And yes, expect him to keep jumping on the upsurge in crime to malign the government and advance his political cause.

If he cares, he would put aside his politics and get on board with the government and support its crime measures. Last week he demonstrated clearly that politics is more important that the safety and security of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

They say people get the government they deserve so if the people of Trinidad and Tobago are so shortsighted and they have forgotten what it was like under the PNM, here's a reminder.

You would once again have to live under a recurring self imposed state of emergency, unable to out when the sun sets. You would have to hide your wives and daughters from rapists and you would have to bolt your doors and hide from thieves and thugs. That is what you voted against so don't let this convemnient sudden upsurge in crime frighten you; now is the time to fight back.

Crime is everybody's business. And Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has made that very clear. She told the National Security Council (NSC) she will no longer accept excuses for failure to deal with crime.

"At no time can crime be considered acceptable," she said.

If we all believe that - all of us: citizens, politicians, civic groups, religious institutions and NGOs - we would work together and deal with the "evil minority" that continues to terrorise decent, law abiding citizens. 

There are only two sides to this issue - you are either on the side of fighting crime or you are a part of it. Make your choice and live with it!

Jai Parasram - 12 Jan. 2014

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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