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Raffique Shah


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Courting another revolution

July 23, 2006
By Raffique Shah

Looking around at the many idiot concerts being staged at the highest levels in this society, with some of the most senior office holders as principal actors, one wonders if these people have nothing better to do, if they fail to see the trees from the wood. How and why two matters concerning the Chief Justice can grab headlines for close to two years, and remain mired in the courts and even more so in the political arena, defies imagination and rationality.

The CJ, like the Prime Minister or any other senior office holder, is a citizen like everyone else. If there are allegations that he committed acts of indiscretion, should these not be resolved through the normal channels? Why should the entire police hierarchy, the Cabinet, the Law Association, opposition politicians, and now every partisan-man-Jack become immersed in an imbroglio that can, and ought to be, settled in open court?

As these big men and women play themselves, the country remains steeped in seemingly intractable problems, with ordinary citizens not knowing where to turn for relief. Crime continues to haunt ordinary people as it has for far too long. While the police and attorneys and judges stroke their egos and carry on, people are being robbed, raped, beaten, battered, murdered and much else. The hapless victims cannot turn to the police: it's either they don't have vehicles or they are preoccupied with more important matters like snaring the CJ. Victims cannot turn to the judges: they, too, are busy defending their indefensible turfs, or freeing hardened criminals on what seems to ordinary folk like spurious grounds. As for the politicians, if they are not engaged in stabbing each other in the back, they couldn't give a damn about their constituents until the election bell is rung.

Imagine the big debate scheduled in Parliament last Friday was some Bill that deals with security for the 2007 Cricket World Cup! I've had cause to draw to the attention of the Government that temporary security measures designed to protect a few thousand transients over a one-month period is a colossal waste of our resources. It's not that I am unaware of Caribbean governments' commitments to the ICC on this high-level tournament that is to be staged in the region. But if they had focused on security for their own people, as is their obligation, they would not have had to go to their parliaments to enact special laws for special people.

What they are doing is rubbing salt in the wounds of a people already dazed by the crime pandemic. And this holds true for almost the entire Caribbean, not just Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. The other islands, while they may enjoy lower crime levels, also cleverly cover up what their citizens suffer just so they don't lose the all-important tourist dollars.

We are in an unholy and bloody mess, and those who are charged with dealing with our many woes, who are being paid well to protect us, to provide us with basic infrastructure and other essentials to life, couldn't give a damn. The same judiciary that can meet ten times a night to sort out some petty matter when it comes to their own, leaves poor people's cases pending for years-and think nothing of it. The attorneys who, at the call of the tribe, can assemble in a flash to address an issue like the CJ's, will never respond to the plight of those for whom waiting for justice is like waiting for the return of Christ. In any event, the longer these poor sods have to wait, the more court appearances they have to make, the more money the attorneys earn.

And the unholy mess does not stop there. This dotish debate over the Trinity Cross is well, a cross too heavy to bear. Imagine the courts fast-tracked this matter, and the Prime Minister set up a high level committee to deal with it.

Did he not think it necessary to look at, say, endemic poverty, or escalating food prices, with greater dispatch? And instead of looking for priests who commit the most heinous acts against minors, the Catholic Archbishop has descended into this pointless pit with a suggestion that we have three highest national awards! How many people get this award anyway? You think starving Sumintra in Salibya, or rape victim Maria from Mayaro gives a damn about a cross or order or whatever?

Then when people resort to protest or revolt, these very snobs-on-high who don't care about the real issues wonder why "de niggers" and "de coolies" have to misbehave this way! I tell you, having been part of the 1970 "revolution", I know that those on high can turn up their noses at the masses for only so long. When people cannot take this damn nonsense anymore they will rebel with fury. Then, no CJ, no PM, not even the police, will have time to play the fool as Trinidad burns.