Monday, December 30, 2002

The Express editorial today rightly berates Patrick Manning for his semi-secret meeting with Laventille gangsters:

"No one can fault the Prime Minister for agreeing to meet with any member of the public, as he does weekly at his party’s Balisier House headquarters or his San Fernando West constituency office....

"But Mr Manning has done much more than that. While insisting that his first Balisier House meeting with Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Imam Yasin Abu Bakr was in keeping with his 'open door' policy, Mr Manning complicated matters by endorsing a purported truce engineered by the Muslimeen leader and warring Laventille gangs in the run-up to the last general election.... Having convincingly won the last general election despite a public outcry over his seeming alliance with Mr Bakr, Mr Manning has now gone further by holding a meeting with a bunch of cut-throats at the Ambassador Hotel.

"The Prime Minister, of course, would reject this description, insisting as he does that his secret meeting was held with community leaders. And this is the first problem with Mr Manning’s Ambassador Hotel rendezvous. By agreeing to meet these people, he has added credibility to their delusions and consolidated their alleged leadership status won, usually at the point of a gun, and maintained by extortion of the poor who dominate their areas.

"The Prime Minister has also compromised the ability of the police, who no doubt would recognise these people for what they are, by giving respectability to a bunch of people who are nothing but common criminals.

"The failure of the alleged truce engineered by Mr Bakr should have been enough to warn Mr Manning of the futility of any such agreement. In any case, it is a quite foolhardy approach to solving the crime problem. Are we to next expect meetings at the Hilton with the leaders of the kidnapping rings to ascertain their suggestions for wealth redistribution?"

Meanwhile, Laventille East MP Fitzgerald Hinds has spoken out on the crime issue — to say the police "may not be exerting best efforts in the space they occupy", & that "the solution to our problem will have to do with the concept of love and business of prayer."

Well, if Manning persists in making deals with gang lords, & Howard Chin Lee persists in his general cluelessness, & MPs like Hinds persist in parroting platitudes instead of coming up with some real ideas to solve our social problems, divine intercession may be T&T's best hope. Happy new year.

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