Living in Paradise

The reality is that T&T is a haven for Raymond Choo Kong to exercise his artistic freedom, a place where we can laugh away our problems. Crime, though a major social issue, has become integrated and accepted as the norm and hence our refusal to seriously address it.

Living in Paradise
Photo : Dool Hanomansingh

When I heard that Raymond Choo Kong was stabbed to death at his home in Arima, I did not want to believe it. I have been following his theatrical productions and have concluded that Trinidad is a paradise where there was nothing to worry about; a place to rock back and enjoy a good laugh. While many others are cynical and always complaining Choo Kong was a breath of fresh air, transporting our minds away from the so many social and political ills that plague this land.

The reality is that T&T is a haven for Raymond Choo Kong to exercise his artistic freedom, a place where we can laugh away our problems. Crime, though a major social issue, has become integrated and accepted as the norm and hence our refusal to seriously address it. The high backlogs in the courts, our failing education system and our failed politicians continue to be present with us. It is as though we “like it so” or we write a play lauding humor and laughter, pretending that all is well before a calamity strikes us down.

Had our petty prejudices not prevailed over us at the polling booths in 1956, this country would not have been in the mess it finds itself in today. Putting Bhadase Sagan Maraj in power was just too much to do. “We prefer the PNM rule us than a Hindu party,” was the refrain. Hate and contempt prevailed over good sense and judgement and we are paying for our folly. Caste and Brahmin dominance were invoked. Now 63 years later we are reaping the outcome!

But this folly was repeated in the 1961 election just prior to ceding independence to the people. The gerrymandering of electoral boundaries, the introduction of the voting machine, the flooding of the country with jetsam and flotsam from the islands, the unleashing of violence and racist attacks on the campaign trails were the order of the day. Unfortunately, many who could have made a difference opted to support the PNM and its messianic leadership.

Crime is a runaway horse in this country. There is no way that the current government can reign it in. “Jobs for the boys” is the motto that is used in hiring members of the security services in this country. It is never on merit but on the recommendation of ministers of government and party groups. The recent report in the New York Times on the collaboration of the Coast Guard in the trafficking of Venezuelans does not surprise many. Most of these jobs were given to draw  salaries rather than work.

I recently saw a video clip where a woman dressed in hijap was attacked for her phone. Thanks to the intervention of a “waca man” that she was not hurt and was able to retrieve her cell phone. Some of us have been made to believe that ‘bandits will never attack a woman wearing a hijab.” Such assurance does not hold today. A bandit is a bandit and has no respect for race, religion or class. A bandit is an extremely selfish indiviual and no association with the PNM will provide immunity from this social scourge.

The Carnival culture that pays homage to fete and having a ball must be curbed. The State has to stop wasting large sums of money in a festival that is destroying the moral fabrics of the society. Teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, vagrancy etc are outrageous given our small population and large public expenditure. More so, income inequality must be addressed. There is a business culture of import and distribute that stifles the development of agriculture and other indigenous businesses.

Our dependency culture is killing us. It is producing bandits and crooks; a large segment of the population has thrown away their tools, forgetting how to work. URP and other handouts disguised as “work” have to be redirected to real production. And most importantly, the State must withdraw it hands from failing state enterprises.