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Louis Lee Sing pushes for compulsory national service (Read 1206 times)
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Louis Lee Sing pushes for compulsory national service
Sep 29th, 2009 at 11:31am
Use money from URP

By Corey Connelly
September 29 2009 -

Executive chairman of Citadel Limited, Louis Lee Sing, yesterday suggested that the monies allocated to the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) be directed to the proposed National Compulsory Service initiative.

“If ever you had an opportunity of killing two birds with one stone, that is it,” he said while delivering a comprehensive presentation on the company’s proposal for compulsory national service.

Addressing members of civil society organisations, at City Hall in Port-of-Spain, the protective services and other stakeholders, Lee Sing argued that the initiative, if implemented, would significantly reduce the work load of police officers, particularly in high crime areas along the East/West Corridor, and other parts of the country.

However, former Laventille East/Morvant MP Fitzgerald Hinds, in a subsequent presentation, said he was skeptical about Lee Sing’s suggestion to finance the national service plan with money from the URP.

“Interfering with the URP budget is a most controversial suggestion, and I wish him very well,” he said, eliciting chuckles from the audience.

Hinds agreed, though, that the URP had “moved away” from its original intent.

In his presentation, Lee Sing said Citadel Limited had been considering the“controversial” idea of national compulsory service for some time, given the escalating crime situation.

“Compulsory national service is necessary and needed at this time,” he insisted. However, he made it clear that national service did not mean military service.

‘There will be no military training. No training in handling weapons, neither in hand to hand combat,” Lee Sing pointed out.

The programme, he said, seeks to cater to at-risk young Afro-Trinidadian men between the ages of 15 and 25 from the East/West Corridor, and districts between Point Fortin and La Brea.

He envisaged that the programme would run for periods of two years, in which students would be taught basic Arithmetic, English, Computer Literacy, and other courses.

Lee Sing also said that participants would receive a stipend, 50 percent of which would be paid directly to the students, while the remainder would go directly to an account on their behalf.

Sat rejects compulsory national service call

By Dixie-Ann Dickson

Secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Satnarayan Maharaj says the Indian community rejects Louis Lee Sing’s call for Compulsory National Service. Maharaj made the comment yesterday during his contribution at the one-day symposium titled ‘A case for the compulsory national service’ hosted by Citadel Ltd. The symposium was held at City Hall in Port-of-Spain.

Maharaj said, “The Indian community rejects outright any suggestion that compulsory national service is an option for our nation. “When the NAR minister Lincoln Mayers floated this misguided fascist idea some years ago, the Maha Sabha mobilised the Indian community in opposition,” he said. “We stand ready to do the same if confronted once again with similar designs,” he added. He noted that the Maha Sabha had already implemented ‘National’ Service in its schools and mandirs which was entirely voluntary in nature.

Maharaj claimed the motivation behind the drive for this new compulsory national service was hinged on the inability of the present government to properly treat with the issue of crime. He said, “Now ‘National’ Service was being touted as the panacea of the crime problem.” He added the premise of this argument, which is to transform deviant members of society by this initiative, was fundamentally flawed, but should also seek to affect 100 per cent of the society. Maharaj further criticised the initiative stating that there had been no support from the greater national community or any discussions by the government and the opposition. He said the Indian community never relied on the State for handouts.

Related News:

Lee Sing wants replacement for Cepep, URP
Executive chairman of Citadel Ltd, Louis Lee Sing is calling for the replacement of unemployment relief programmes such as Community-based Environmental Protection Enhancement Programme (Cepep) with the Compulsory National Service. Lee Sing made the call during his presentation at the one-day symposium titled ‘A case for Compulsory National Service’ at City Hall, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

2,500 young lives taken
Acting Police Commissioner James Philbert says about 2,500 young men have lost their lives to violence and gang warfare during the past four years. He was making a contribution at A Case For Compulsory National Service at City Hall, Knox Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Its theme was Saving Lives: Building Communities. It was hosted by Citadel Ltd. Philbert said, “We have lost about 2,500 young men over the last four years. The cemeteries are rich. We have young men who keep coming back before the courts. We have to reduce gang involvement. We have had to introduce a repeat offenders programme to help them. When we look, we find they have failed the drug test, psychological assessment and evaluation.”

Lee Sing pushes for compulsory national service…
THE current funding for the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) should instead be used for a compulsory national service programme, executive chairman of media corporation Citadel Ltd, Louis Lee Sing, said yesterday. Speaking at a panel discussion on “A Case for National Compulsory Service” hosted by Citadel and held at City Hall, Port of Spain, Lee Sing suggested that the two-year programme should initially focus on young people from the East-West Corridor and La Brea to Point Fortin, who are in need of “very special attention” following which it should be extended to the whole country. The target group would be males aged 15 to 25 who are not gainfully employed or studying.

Sat hits Citadel Ltd
Secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Satnarayan Maharaj yesterday claimed that Citadel Limited, organisers of the Compulsory National Service programme, may not have wanted to include East Indians in the proposed initiative. He also accused the company’s management of discrimination in enlisting him, as one of two East Indians, to a panel of guest speakers of mostly African origin at yesterday’s event.

Daaga: Compulsory service can temper race relations
Political leader of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) Makaandal Daaga believes that Citadel Limited’s proposed Compulsory Service has the potential to temper race relations in the country.
“I think you are going to have very, very serious problems if you are going to ask Government to invest money in something in which the entire Opposition party would be against. I see plenty trouble in that respect.”

…System can work, say Seetahal and Philbert
Speaking yesterday at a panel discussion entitled “A Case for National Compulsory Service” hosted by media corporation Citadel Ltd at City Hall, Port of Spain, Seetahal suggested that the offenders could be offered the option of national service instead of conviction. She also questioned who compulsory national service would target and suggested that the only way for it to be compulsory was to pass legislation. “Serve or go to jail. Do we want to go that far?”
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