|Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Guardian File Photo)|
One was related to the unprecedented increase in murders in the country. The other was for the government's failure to provide timely access to the Children's Life Fund.
The speaking notes provided to JYOTI were not delivered but are presented for information to illustrate the urgency of the issues that the opposition had hoped to debate in the House of Representatives.
Madame Speaker, I thank you and Honourable colleagues for this opportunities to raise these issues as matters of urgent public importance:
· The failure of Government to address the unprecedented increase in the number of murders in Trinidad and Tobago, and
· The failure of the government to provide timely access to the Children’s Life Fund to financially disadvantaged children in need of urgent life-saving medical treatment
It is important to make clear from the very start, that we see raising these issues as our public duty to citizens, and to the future of a nation that still can recover and progress.
If, Madame Speaker, the Government fails to do its job; the Opposition will rise to the challenges and either enlighten them on how an Administration is run, or we will do some of their work for them.
This is the second time in the past month the issue of unprecedented increases in the murder rate is being raised as a matter of urgent public importance in this House.
It is not to bemoan the point.
It is not to, as many colleagues on that side are fond of saying, ‘about politicizing crime’. Preventing and prosecuting crime are a Government’s responsibility; and it is ALWAYS therefore a political issue.
And it is not to add to the unhealthy, widespread and deep fear and terror across Trinidad and Tobago.
This is a matter of forcing the Government to see that they are spectacularly failing to provide a fundamental right of the people – SAFETY.
Madame Speaker, murders in Trinidad and Tobago are now occurring at a rate of more than one per day.
There have been 23 weeks and 162 days for the year, but there have been over 208 murders.
Madame Speaker, the situation as we know it, is one where 1.3 million people are terrorized while in their homes, and mortified when out of their homes, at that thought that they could be next.
This is a matter specifically of the failure of government to deal with the escalation and the unprecedented number of murders.
Where the people see action, they are inspired to confidence.
Where the people feel confident, they are inspired to comfort.
Where the people feel comfort, they are inspired to believe that they are being served.
Quite the opposite, there is hardly a person, anywhere, in any town, on any form of public transport, in any situation or neighbourhood who will tell you that they feel safer today than they did nine months ago.
The urgency of this matter comes from the fact that while murders are being committed at a higher frequency than days of the year, the only persons actually feeling the brunt of the law are persons driving over 80 KMs per hour; or persons whose mobile calls are dropping each time the name of the party, leader or senior members of those on that side are mentioned.
Yet, while citizens feel the weight of the law for these issues, each day murders are being committed with impunity in a manner and at a rate never experienced before in our country.
Madame Speaker, the situation in unadulterated truth right now is that the ONLY growth industry in the past 9 months is CRIMES and MURDER!
If this continues unaddressed it sends the signal to the criminal element that their crimes will go unpunished and they can continue their onslaught on the lives of our citizens.
More lives will be lost on a daily basis.
Today the murder toll for the year stands at more than 208 persons and it increases as we speak. As a country we cannot stand idly by and simply allow our citizens to be slaughtered each day.
This is an extremely important issue for the population because in addition to the increasing number of murders is engendering widespread fear and deep distress in our country, it is also damaging the international reputation of Trinidad and Tobago.
It is of public importance because with each passing day mothers and fathers are losing their sons and daughters, husbands are losing their wives and wives are losing their husbands.
Our children are becoming parentless with each murder that is committed. We are losing our citizens each day and there could be no more important matter than protecting the lives of our citizens.
The increase in murders and the failure of the government to address this matter is not simply a matter of public importance; it is a matter of great public importance and, at this moment, the most important issue to us on this side and to the citizens of our country.
CHILDREN’S LIFE FUND
Madame Speaker, the second very urgent issue which I raise on behalf of the people of Trinidad and Tobago is the failure of the Government to provide timely access to the Children’s Life Fund to financially disadvantaged children in need of urgent life-saving medical treatment
The matter is definite because it pertains specifically to the failure of the government to ensure timely access to the Children’s Life Fund to financially disadvantaged children in need of life saving medical treatment.
The matter is urgent because several children who were in need of life saving medical treatment have already died because of government’s failure to provide timely assistance from the Children’s Life Fund and, the lives of other children similarly circumstanced are in dire jeopardy.
It is urgent because on a daily basis the financial burden on the less fortunate family in our society increases and with that, the number of children who are unable to access urgent medical life saving medical treatment due to lack of financial resources increases.
The failure of the government to provide immediate access to the fund is resulting in the loss of the lives of our children daily.
The matter is of Public Importance because the pain, suffering and death of our children are of grave concern to everyone, especially in circumstances where this could be avoided by the provision of timely access to the fund.
The failure of the Government to ensure timely access to the Fund to children who are financially disadvantaged frustrates the purpose, policy and objective of the Fund which was established in the public interest to care for the most in need in our society.
Children are without question our most precious and important resource.
If there is anything we must protect at all times, to the fullest extent, it is our children.
The future of our country is inescapably tied to their good health and well-being.
They are the ones most in need of our support and care and protection.
Madame Speaker, this points to the reason for raising both of these issues together, as very urgent matters of public importance.
The Government in place has not only failed to protect the population from the onslaught of murders; it has also failed to even use already established processes and institutions to protect the health and wellbeing of children.
As with crime, the PNM has a very clear and unmistakable history of happening to be in charge at exactly the time that crime and murders spin completely out of control.
Similarly, the PNM has a very clear and unmistakable history of being in charge when children die waiting for healthcare, because the Government hasn’t the heart, compassion or decency to help them, as is its DUTY!
If a Government cannot understand the vulnerability of the people to criminals, and its sick children in need of healthcare and support, then Madame Speaker, what exactly is its purpose.
Who does the Government serve if not people, and children?
Why is it that a crisis has been allowed to fester so deeply and widely that people are now asking whether the Government CANNOT in fact stop criminals, and serve the citizens and children.
…because they are beholden?
…because they are afraid?
…or because they just do not know what to do?
We in the Opposition have brought the issue to this House, it is now for those who claim to be in control, to ACT like it.
I thank you.