The Captain vs the Major General

Is it no surprise that Minister Dillon has been removed?  The Prime Minister has chosen to sacrifice one of the persons who brought home his political victory in preference for an opposition player.  PM Rowley is either a masterful collaborator or the rocks he studies have gone to his head. Here are some excerpts from a Gary Griffith Press Release carried on TV6 on June 17, 2016 :

  1. The recent confirmation that the Armoured Personal Carriers have been scrapped by Minister Dillon, again emphasizes that he continues to play politics with National Security, with his sole function being to scrap, disband and dismantle everything that was of value in National Security, just because it was established by the previous Administration, regardless if it was instrumental in reducing crime or based on the direct request by the Protective Services.
  2. This illogical decision goes in line with his previous unfounded comment that our country is not at risk to terrorist activities, and had to be immediately contradicted by the Prime Minister, and rightfully so.
  3. Minister Dillon has not established one policy, but instead his sole actions have been to only shut down, dismantle or cancel every asset pleaded for by the Protective Services.
  4. This latest chapter of Minister Dillon’s agenda “ of shut down and dismantle”, rips into the heart of showing blatant disregard and disrespect for our Protective Services, as it was they who strongly recommended that APCs be acquired, as they are being asked to go into volatile areas, where semi-automatic weapons with high caliber rounds can rip into any regular vehicle and easily kill our Police Officers and soldiers in a second, but Minister Dillon has the audacity to say that these vehicles would not be appropriate, so he is right and every other country that has been using this to protect their troops and our own Army are all wrong.

These are harsh criticisms and a bitter pill for Retired Major General Edmund Dillon to swallow especially since it is being administered by a mere captain.

 

Within the first week of his appointment as Commissioner of Police, I am concerned; primarily because of the kind of power he now has, and there is very little in his past which assures me that the management side of the task is really being considered.  The new CoP has already signalled that he has “78 policies” ready for implementation. That’s commendable but one must remember Peter Drucker who said: “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.  Why is that statement important? You can have policies till it oozes out with your sweat, but unless the new CoP is able to engage the hearts and minds of the people he is leading, nothing will change.  His leadership style so far has not been seen as collaborative.  His army training is based on compliance and I have experienced the arrogance of his power plays.  Unless he is an absolutely “transformed” Gary, the “cockroaches” both within the TTPS and on the streets will eat his strategies for breakfast. Dr. Rowley courted the highest levels of the military and the police to be on his election slate.  He chose Brig. Gen. Ancil Antoine, Retired Major General Edmund Dillon and retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Glenda Jennings-Smith and he already had former police/lawyer and experienced MP, Fitzgerald Hinds.  Their collective experience with law enforcement and the military is more than 100 years. Despite this fire power, crime continues unabated. The fact that these four experienced persons made no headway is instructive.  Either they don’t know how to collaborate, or they don’t know how to manage, or both, or something else.  But for our country’s sake the Captain must outperform the Major General.

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The reign of Baby Bandit!

How could it be a “Baby Bandit”?
Baby BanditMy attention was attracted to the sobriquet “Baby Bandit” in reference to a slain youth-man who turned out to be known to the Police and the community. Both groups knew this person to be euphemistically “walking on thin ice”, allegedly involved in criminal activity. His death was recorded as #297.

The name is interesting. What would inspire the stringing together of these two words to describe a person. What is the symbolism behind the name “Baby Bandit”. Was he a bandit from birth and if so how? Was he born of a bandit? Was he following in the footsteps of a senior bandit? These questions and more swarmed in my head as I tried to find relevance and meaning. Even more perplexing was that in the same paragraph the following words were closely juxtaposed: baby, bandit, 297 and murders.

If this is not a wake-up call to cause us to change the game, then I don’t know what is. “Baby-bandit” is an acknowledgement of the Hobbesian perspective that: “life outside society would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” without a Sovereign who has the right to inflict severe punishment on anyone who stepped out of line. This is in fact the role of the government. Citizens agree to give up some of their rights in exchange for the Sovereign (in our case, the state) taking responsibility for ensuring a certain kind of protection for all of us to exercise some other rights. So far, successive governments have failed miserably in this responsibility. The murders are daily occurrences while the UNC and PNM squabble in Parliament and throw shade at each other. The low voter turnout in the recent Local Government Election is another message from the electorate, particularly the young voters, of their disaffection with these parties who are jointly responsible from bringing us to our current sorry state.

I keep dreaming of a collaborative approach to solving this pandemic of criminal activity and while it might be a pipe dream, I shall continue to live in hope. In the run-up to the 2015 General Election, the People’s Partnership manifesto made 59 references to crime and this is how it crafted Pledge #6 to the people of Trinidad and Tobago: “The People’s Partnership is firm in its zero-tolerance approach to crime. Our unequivocal commitment is to preserve law and order and to rid the country of the blight of crime. Crime and law and order remain the number one issue facing our country and this is our top priority for our second term in office”.

OK, so you did not get the second term you hoped for but the crime is even worse than when you left office. Why can’t you adopt a bi-partisan approach for the sake of the country you claim to love?

On the other side, the PNM Manifesto stated “The PNM will simultaneously reform, upgrade, modernise and transform our Police Service and utilise the strength of partnerships through an inter-agency approach. The new approach to fighting crime will focus on Regional Corporations and Municipalities. This will facilitate the establishment and operationalisation of Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs).”

Was this mere word-crafting to win votes?

Crime is the major anxiety of our people and provides an opportunity to demonstrate true leadership by both Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley and Leader of the Opposition Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar. History will reserve a special place if they are able to demonstrate leadership by confronting this major anxiety and committing to its resolution. If they are able to take a collaborative approach, they will have signalled a new era in the history of Trinidad and Tobago.

If they chose to continue the “one-upmanship game” they will have consigned us to a life of continuous bickering and fighting. In the absence of collaboration, their joint legacy will be the introduction of the reign of “Baby-Bandit” as the blood of our people wash the streets of Trinidad and Tobago. History will not be kind to either Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley or former Prime Minister Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar.Competition creates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balgobin issue is not over!

Since 2005 there have been allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Dr. Rolph Balgobin. To quote an Express Newspaper report of January 04, 2017:

Screen Shot 2018-07-09 at 15.40.57Former  (Arthur Lok Jack) ALJ Chairman and (at that time) University of the West Indies Principal Clement Sankat yesterday confirmed that he had inherited the issue when he became Chairman.”   

He said that,  “… there was an issue dealt with at the board. The result was that he [Dr. Balgobin] resigned and a new director was appointed. There was a discussion with Rolph on how to manage relationships in the future,”

Leaving one to assume that all he got was a slap on the wrist, effectively.  This is the unfortunate level of protection which the “patriarchy” extends to its members and it’s time to put an end to it. Dr. Balgobin must not be allowed to retreat from this issue while the wounded women remain the subject of whispers and “couyon mout”*.

In the same newspaper article:  A former director told the Express yesterday that if Balgobin had not resigned, he would have been fired”.  This suggests that at least some of the directors acknowledge that what he did was wrong.

Despite this major cloud, this Dr. Rowley-led PNM Administration appointed and retained Dr. Balgobin as Chairman of Angostura Holdings Limited, flying in the face of demands for his removal pending a transparent, independent and thorough investigation about the allegations.  In fact, women received a metaphorical slap to the face by the administration’s support for the expenditure of more than three million dollars (some of it belonging to taxpayers) to defend Dr. Balgobin.  The “patriarchy” is alive and well in this country and women will continue to be peripheral to core decision making.

There are at least 3 reasons why the new Chairman of Angostura, Mr. Terrence Bharath must commission a transparent, independent and thorough investigation into this matter.

Firstly, there is a need for closure on this matter.  The majority of Angostura’s employees are female and every effort must be made to assure them that the matter has been fully ventilated and resolved.  An effective resolution will also send a powerful signal to women throughout our country that organizations are prepared and willing to take the necessary action to ensure safety and equality in the workplace.

A second reason is to demonstrate that as the new Chairman of Angostura Holdings Limited he is committed to ensuring that Angostura retains a sound reputation amongst a significantly large portion of their customers.  Organizations must never underestimate the spending power of women.

A third reason is that Chairman Bharath must demonstrate his commitment to a process which is procedurally fair and transparent.  There is an old saying, “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear your words.” In this case, if the Chairman allows silence, he will be signalling by his actions that he is prepared to turn a blind eye to allegations of sexual harassment.  

That would be an unfortunate note on which to begin his tenure!

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*”Twist the mouth in the direction of someone you wish to ridicule especially without them seeing”.

Transparent, Independent investigation is still needed!

MEDIA RELEASE FROM FIXIN’ T&T.

FIXIN’ T&T welcomes the official resignation of Dr. Rolph Balgobin from Angostura Holdings Limited but is appalled that it took over a year given the allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him. Let it be known that this resignation in no way absolves either the Government or the Board of Angostura from their abysmal dereliction of duty and responsibility to afford the alleged victim a fair and transparent hearing. History will not forgive any of the individuals associated with this failure along with those who, over the years, may have been complicit in protecting Dr. Balgobin at the expense of his alleged victims. It has been reported that the government intends to retain Dr. Balgobin as Chairman of CL Financial. If true, this would be an outrage and suggests that the boys’ club is well and truly alive in protecting its own in this country.

As head of the government, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has repeatedly failed female victims of violence and sexual harassment. FIXIN’ T&T recalls his callous insensitivity to victims of domestic violence when he blamed the victims for their choice of partners. This attitude has been reflected in his government’s hands-off approach in circumstances that warranted Dr. Balgobin’s suspension pending the outcome of a credible inquiry into the complaint by a senior female executive at Angostura. It was on display again when then Sports Minister Darryl Smith was accused of sexual harassment by a contract employee. Until he was forced to fire Mr. Smith from his cabinet, Dr. Rowley at no stage seemed interested in giving the benefit of the doubt to the alleged victim. Now that the inquiry into that matter has been completed, FIXIN’ T&T calls on Dr. Rowley to make its findings known and not hide behind legal red tape.
FIXIN’ T&T reminds Dr. Rowley that leadership creates culture. His actions and inactions in these matters neither inspire confidence nor augur well for women, women’s and gender based issues. Instead of seemingly seeking to protect the alleged sexual harassers, proper leadership dictates that they be removed from all positions of ‘power’ pending the outcome of thorough, transparent and independent investigations into the allegations leveled against them. A good and interested leader would also be at the forefront of ensuring the effective implementation of the requisite meaningful legislation that would protect those vulnerable and deter potential sexual predators.

DR. ROWLEY…DO THE RIGHT THING!

Property Matters – Sandals MoU?

Afra Raymond continues to gnaw at the roots of the “Scandals” oops “Sandals” Agreement because citizens have a right to know the details.
I applaud him. Crafting a strong future will only be done if today’s actions are open, honest and transparent. It takes courage to be an Afra Raymond!

AfraRaymond.net

Adam Stewart, CEO Sandals

This is a continuation of my 8 March 2018 article on the Sandals MoU. That MoU was declared as no secret by our PM to the Parliament on 12 October 2017 and that was confirmed by the then CEO of the Sandals group, Adam Stewart, as reported on 27 February 2018 in the T&T press.

My 27 February 2018 request for that MoU under the Freedom of Information Act (embedded below) was therefore made against that background of both parties’ declaration that there was no secret. The Office of the Prime Minister responded on 22 March 2018 to refuse my request, citing that the MoU contained a confidentiality clause which prevented its disclosure at this time. I have since written to the OPM to request a reply in conformity with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act – I am still awaiting…

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Laventille nights and President Weekes!

Curiosity got the better of me and I chose the much publicized “Laventille Nights” with our country’s first female President over the usual Friday evening “lime”.            I wasn’t sure if it was at Beetham or Sea Lots. Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 09.42.45
As we drove along, blue lights signalled the presence of police cars at Sea Lots so that was our cue to drive into Sea Lots. Our car worked its way through the narrow streets and I counted 8 marked police vehicles, several heavily armed police officers and 7 dark tinted SUV-type vehicles.
The interview had already begun as we settled into the garden chairs. There was a continuous murmur as the interview continued. The 50 or so children in the audience looked between 5 and 11 years of age with a few babies on the shoulders of young women. A handful of young men sat in the stands of the basketball court and of course, Burkie and his partner with their obvious gold chains.
I commend President Weekes for responding positively to the request but I am challenged to understand the objective or the intended outcome. I am equally challenged to understand the thinking of the parents who would herd their children into a gathering in the basketball court when they should be in bed and asleep. The dearth of adults was also alarming.
The star moment came when the father of Andrea Johnson expressed his total delight and pride at the accomplishments of his daughter. The necessary thanks were then expressed and the President’s entourage departed.
As the President’s entourage disappeared, the entertainer Voice was introduced and the children became fully awake. When I left, it was to the trailing sound of the famous line in his hit song, “This Is The Year For Love” and I wondered: What has changed? What difference will our first female President make? What is the leverage needed to move our society?
The following evening, I drove past the entrance to Sea Lots and this time, only darkness engulfed the area, not a flashing blue light … not a uniformed police officer … only a shadowy figure in the distance. Life continues and I fully expect that the next time Sea Lots residents will receive a visit by heavily armed police officers and 7 marked police vehicles will be to quell some disquiet or extract a wanted citizen.

 

 

 

 

On Angostura Farm, all animals are holy but only cows are sacred!

“Doudou!”

“Darkie!”

“Red ting!”

“Slim ting!”

“Tick ting!”

“Tall ting!”

Their catcalls come at us from all sides, across the street, across the room, in the Stadium, in the Oval, in City Gate, at the taxi-stand, everywhere. Their candid remarks about our bodies are delivered without hesitation, with no concern for their impact on us; we might as well be dumb animals.

Their objectification (unabashedly expressed in the constant “ting,” (tall or short, slim or thick, white or black or red) knows no bounds. Nor does their lechery. And it respects few barriers, the major one being the presence of a male significant other.

Nowadays, things are a lot worse. Of course, there still are those ordinary, right-thinking men who stand up for what is right and insist on proper treatment of women. But they are, I am clear, outnumbered.

One effect of this growing anti-woman, man-is-boss attitude is that women unable to enjoy genuine freedom of movement on the streets. We find that we are now constrained to make complex arrangements so that we are almost always accompanied by a male. But, as attested to by the recent flare-up in the debate about whether mace and pepper spray should be legalised, it is not just to reduce our exposure to these unsavoury remarks but to protect ourselves and ensure our physical safety.

However, I find that idea much less uncomfortable than the idea that thousands of women have been socialized into thinking that catcalls and other similar aggressive behaviour are really compliments and, therefore, completely acceptable. Perhaps, sadly, it is a generational thing but there was certainly a time when many women would wonder aloud, “Why is it that men don’t understand that I dislike their crude comments?”

“Crude comments.” Say that to the members of the Boys’ Club and they will respond, with a dismissive wave of the hand, that it is “only man talk.”

“Whappen,” they might add, “ah man cyar even make ah joke with ah ooman now?”  Don’t be fooled into thinking that that behaviour is confined to the “bad boys” on the street corners; it is an all pervasive attitude, exhibited wherever men get together.

And that is why there is a need for radical change as regards how women are treated in both public and private spaces, high and low, in Trinidad and Tobago. I do not think the households where the narrative continues to be that “A woman’s place is in the home and her role to rear the children and make sure everyone is properly fed” are defined by level of income or of education. I do not think that men in only one type of environment socialise their male offspring into thinking that “roughing she up” is the manly thing to do; environments across every stratum of the society ooze male dominance and feminine abuse.

The attitude of man’s sense of entitlement as far as women are concerned is deeply embedded in our psyche, making the problem systemic. It will only be solved when we take a systems approach to understanding it and shifting the needle. My continuing focus on sexual harassment is fuelled by the lack of action with a view to embedding a system to help people understand the issue and their own reactions.

When I repeatedly call for legislation, it is with the full understanding that, without clearly articulated consequences for not making changes, the status quo will remain unchanged. When I repeatedly call for policy implementation, it is with the full understanding that the conversation about sexuality and sexual harassment must take place so that people will understand the changing norms and the new boundaries. When I repeatedly call for the removal of a top official still under the cloud of sexual harassment accusations, it is with the full understanding that that person’s actions speak so loudly that audiences cannot hear his words.

On at least one issue, audiences cannot hear their government’s words either. The current Rowley-led PNM Administration continues to be silent on the issue of an independent, transparent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations made against the Chairman of the 30% government-owned Angostura Holdings Limited. The absence of any action to remove the Angostura Chairman is a message, loud and clear, that, as far Government is concerned, all animals are equal but only certain cows remain sacred.

So if women continue to be on the receiving end of constant catcalls and treated like dogs, for Dr Rowley and his Cabinet, including no small number of women, that is really small ting.