Saturday, August 29, 2009
Forty seven years ago the voice of the people of Trinidad and Tobago found its true and free expression in gaining Independence from British Colonial rule.Inspired by the unique personalities of great souls, our freedom fighters gave us a Constitution of which we are all truly proud. Our Constitution has given us not just a political democracy, but also a social democracy, guaranteeing equality of all and empowerment of the weak and the marginalized. Every citizen of this wonderful twin Republic has cherished our hard won freedom because it is only as a secular democracy committed to social justice that we would be able to empower the poorest of the poor in this wonderful land of ours.The building of a free, democratic Trinidad and Tobago has been one of the greatest adventures of our visionaries this past century. In these forty seven years we have done much and we have achieved much. Yet, we have some distance to travel before we can say that we have fulfilled our founding visionaries dream of wiping the last tear of the poorest of the poor. This should remain our sacred duty as citizens of this country.Today, when we look back and look around I believe we can say with some sense of satisfaction that Trinidad and Tobago is on the move. There is a new dynamism in our people. A new sense of confidence in their capabilities. A new sense of hope in their collective future. They recognize we have a long road ahead in our tryst with destiny; and more to be done to redeem our pledge in full measure. However, the people of Trinidad and Tobago also know that they can do it. This new sense of urgency, this new outburst of energy of our people, has to be harnessed and channelised in the right direction for Trinidad and Tobago to regain its due place in the comity of modern Nations.As I have often said, the caribbean and the world today wants Trinidad and Tobago to do well. The world community wishes us well. Our external situation is benign and favourable. Our challenges are at home. There is no other institution more powerful than the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago in addressing these challenges we face at home and as a people we must demand that they attend this sacred responsibility.On this solemn day, as we mark the 47th anniversary of our Independence, I urge every Member of Parliament, the Prime Minister, every elected member of every constituency and municipality to resolve to translate our hard won freedom into true freedom for all. Let us resolve to create an environment in which the creativity and enterprise of our people can find its full and free expression. Let us resolve not to pursue divisive agendas, not to weaken our nation and society by dividing our people on narrow race, religious, communal, linguistic and regional lines. Unity in diversity are the wall and roof of the fabric of our nation which is Trinidad and Tobago.I truly believe that the service of Trinidad and Tobago is nothing more than the service of the hunderds of thousands who suffer. Every elected representative must remember this motto every day. I would like to see a Trinidad and Tobago of greater equality, a Trinidad and Tobago less argumentative and more cooperative, a Trinidad and Tobago that works hard with a sense of purpose and devotion. It should be our common and collective endeavour to ensure that every one of our citizens is educated and skilled so that every one is gainfully employed. Equality of opportunity in securing education is the best and the most durable means of social empowerment and social justice. Every child, irrespective of race, creed, religion or region, must have reasonable assurance of access to modern education and acquisition of requisite skills.From times immemorial Trinidad and Tobago has been at the forefront of the evolution of human knowledge in the Caribbean. We need to promote a scientific outlook, inculcate a scientific temper and foster a more enlightened and modern outlook in our people. We should once again regain that position as a modern, knowledge-based culture where science and technology are used to overcome age-old problems of mass poverty, ignorance and disease. Our agriculture sector is urgently in need of a second green revolution. We need to forge ahead with labour intensive industrialization and the development of a knowledge-based economy. We ought to be mindful of the welfare of all people and specially of our ecological inheritance, our environment and our natural wealth and resources.For all the benefits of development to reach the poor it is essential that the delivery systems of the Government, at all levels, are more efficient and purged of corruption. The cancer of corruption must be extinguished if democracy and development have to have a real meaning for our people. This Parliament has a very important role to play for attaining the national goals of development and progress. The representatives of our people have to ensure that all the institutions of our Republic - the legislature, the judiciary and the executive - are all responsive, accountable, transparent and honest in their functioning. This much we owe to our people and to all those who sacrificed their lives to give us our precious freedom forty seven years ago.A VERY HAPPY AND SAFE INDEPENDENCE DAY TO ALL CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
PORT OF SPAIN: The Guardian newspaper of Trinidad published a disturbing report in which it alleges that human traffickers are on the prowl, looking to lure children and women to sell them for big money. The report states that “children, because they live longer, are sold for over $200,000. Adults can fetch as much as $100,000. They are mostly used as sex slaves and sometimes for slave labour. “Sometimes, they are used to make pay-offs in the drug trade — a well placed source informed the Sunday Guardian.” The report stated that men owing drug lords are being lured into capturing humans, who will be sold for payment of their debts. A source, pleading for anonymity for fear of his life, said victims were drugged almost immediately after capture and their cellphones switched off. A Sunday Guardian investigation revealed that the lucrative human trafficking ring is operating in the Cascade/St Ann’s area, between Sangre Grande and Tunapuna, Diego Martin and in South. Women have mysteriously disappeared from the Cascade area without a trace during the past year and “several straying young boys have vanished from the streets of San Fernando“. The report further stated that the clandestine local trade, which operates through a well organised network and is supported by several powerful agencies, is linked to an international human trafficking ring. Even some policemen are convinced that there is a human trafficking ring in Trinidad and they suspect that a number of missing persons have been victims of the trade, but were reluctant to say more. According to the newspaper report, “fingers are pointing at a popular businessman, who has been described as the ‘big man’ in the human trade.” “He’s popular. He is also linked with other businessmen across the country.” The information was unearthed by a local resident after a female relative went missing several months ago. The man said his family, desperate for answers, launched their own investigation with the support of a police officer and local private investigators.