In T&T: One more Misstep

6 December 2011


Political scientist says PP is taking ‚Äúpolitical opportunity to win the public over.‚ÄĚ

The image of this country has been damaged.

The “success” of the State of Emergency is not convincing and the alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and three Government Ministers was perhaps another “misstep”.

These are among the views expressed by political analysts Dr Winford James, Bishnu Ragoonath and former Law Association head Martin Daly, SC, yesterday.

They all questioned the success of the State of Emergency as they noted that Government failed to arrest any drug lords or “big fish” who run the drug trade.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar declared the State of Emergency on August 21 with a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

On September 4, the Parliament, through Government’s majority, approved an extension of the State of Emergency by three months, with amended curfew hours from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

After 106 days the State of Emergency ended at midnight last night.

On November 24, Persad-Bissessar told the nation that there was an assassination plot against her, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Government Ministers Chandresh Sharma and Dr Roodal Moonilal.

Sixteen persons who were held under detention orders of the State of Emergency were released last night as police did not have sufficient evidence to charge them. Two other men arrested in connection with the plot were also released.

James told the Express that the “different tunes” of Government members have left people more confused and unconvinced.

“I don’t think we have any evidence of it being successful…There are people who are saying we did not need a State of Emergency to do this…lots of people are not convinced about that. Who are the financiers (of the drug trade) that were caught? Who are the drug lords?” asked James.

He said the People’s Partnership made a promise in their manifesto to deal with crime and it seems as though they were taking “political opportunity” to win the public over.

“The public can’t see that they are doing much to govern the nation properly, so they wanted to give the people a sense they are doing something but a lot of people are not convinced they are doing well,” he said.

He said many were of the view that the State of Emergency was called to prevent the trade union movement from shutting down the country.

James said he is yet to be persuaded on the success of the State of Emergency.

On the alleged assassination plot, James said: “To my mind it’s another misstep the Government made here, one doesn’t want to take the assassination plot easily but one must be provided with evidence that is believable.”

He said while he does not have any proof to show that investor confidence will be affected, investors will question what is going on in this country.

“The question is whether people are going to regard you as being credible…Why make an enforced error as though they playing tennis, why make an error you don’t need to make,” he said.

While acknowledging that the State of Emergency was effective in keeping the crime rate down, Daly also noted that the inability to identify the financiers of the drug trade, the importers and producers was also critical.

He said the triumph of the State of Emergency was premature as he pointed out that we cannot have a State of Emergency in perpetuity.

“In order to see whether that success is lasting we will have to wait and see, I am certainly not prepared to consider drug seizures and holding people on outstanding warrants as successes of the State of Emergency, that’s normal police work. Is it that the marijuana fields became visible once the State of Emergency was declared?” said Daly.

This country’s State of Emergency as well as the alleged assassination plot against the Prime Minister made international news globally.

Daly said the image of the country was affected.

“It’s been damaged because the Government stirred up a lot of high- profile dust and when the dust is settled you don’t have anything to show,” he said.

Daly opted to not comment on the alleged assassination plot in detail, but said that “the apparent unsuccessful arrests and detentions are a very big failure”.

Ragoonath said he too was concerned that no major drug arrests were made.

“While we may have destroyed the narcotics and whatever else, there remains the issue as to why no arrests were made, in terms of all these drugs and ammunition seized,” he said.

“While on one hand something is to be applauded, it is also of concern that our security forces were unable to catch the so-called perpetrators of these crimes,” he said.

Ragoonath said the investigations into the alleged assassination plot are still ongoing and therefore did not wish to comment on that issue.

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