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Letter: The search for 'ah big wuk'
Published on June 17, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

It is possible that, as research suggests, democratization under certain historical conditions may relate to the deteriorating rule of law. In a society where the perception of corruption and somebody who always know somebody co-exists, there will always be challenges or opportunities.

Growing up, I remember hearing people talk about police corruption. My father was allegedly robbed, beaten and eventually died while police said it was an open and shut case. It became real that the institutionalized legacies of police power, inherited from our two-party system in the most part, has severely constrained our democratic efforts to reform the police.

Improvements in the national, regional and international transportation infrastructure have increased Trinidad and Tobago’s utility for the operations of traffickers of all sorts, who allegedly systematically use it as a transit route to neighbouring countries with vast markets. Although there is sufficient intelligence to define the nature and construct of the illicit trade in cocaine and concubines, there has been minimal, if any, opportunistic use by law enforcement.

Easier cross-border movement is also facilitated by regional integration. In most cases, criminals engaged in cross-border operations are well organized and sophisticated. These transnational organized crime groups exploit existing loopholes to maximize profits, and diversify criminal activity. This also undermines the rule of law.

The current global economic hardship as well as certain geo-political arrangements has seen significant increases in illicit transnational trafficking from conveniently open ports to other higher population centres. The trafficking and abuse of drugs is a major threat to public health, national security and stability, including the rule of law.

Criminals, or community leaders to be politically correct, are now more cultured in the use of firearms and violence, which has certainly become more common. If only the Dana Saroop Seetahal Symposium or the International Conference on Gangs, Violence and Governance could attract information that traces the evolution of approaches to crime and the distinction in motives.

Our democratic transition has created an environment of partisan competition that, combined with decentralization of the state and fragmentation of its coercive and administrative apparatus, exacerbates bureaucratic conflicts. These factors prevent the government from various reforms, projects and programmes to sufficiently guarantee public security and earn citizen trust, even as the same factors reduce capacity, legitimacy, and citizen confidence in both the police and a democratically elected government.

According to Professor Cathy Davidson, nothing about the current industrial age education system, with its silo-type knowledge and emphasis on professionalism, is designed for adaptation to rapid change, interactive thinking, iterative process, or collaborative methodologies, all informed by deeply humanistic and social attention to such major issues as intellectual property, security, privacy, freedom, and even the definition of the ‘self.’ Everyday life and everyday work brings most of us into constant contact with these recurring issues, but education, hardly at all.

The politics of education as the solution to modern day problems contributes to a radical formulation of education through its revitalization of language, utopianism, and revolutionary messages. Cross-national policy borrowing rarely has much to do with the success, however defined, in their countries of origin; rather, it has much more to do with legitimizing our related policies.

On the other hand, active policy borrowing involving the appropriation of identifiable aspects of another country's policy solutions, including ways of implementing and administering them, is more likely when there is some synchrony between the characteristics of the different systems involved and the dominant political philosophies promoting reform within them.

Unsurprisingly, a common solution to the problems in T&T is associated with policies that produce concentrated costs and diffused benefits; described in academia as “policy entrepreneurs.” These are actors, at the string level above the puppets, who find a way of pulling together support on behalf of interests not well represented in government. Policy entrepreneurs would dramatize an issue, galvanise public opinion, and mobilize support for policies that would not otherwise be approved.

“Learning” is neither a noun nor a verb. To use the word “learning” means that one makes a value judgement about change and identifies some changes as valuable. The critical question in this is who has the right or power to identify or define what counts as learning. It is because of the mythical learning processes that T&T continues to champion; we will remain trapped in a cycle. Simply throwing money at education, policing, projects and programmes or any other injury may only produce, at best, certified but semi-literate and numb citizens.

This vagueness must be of national interest. Are Laventille, Beetham and the other hot-spots learning? Is the sugar belt still learning? When will they learn? Is it that they first need to learn to listen?

Fighting over roles, responsibilities, rewards and remedies will keep us busy from seeing the real problem of the erosion of our human rights, social protection and self-respect against a backdrop of social apartheid as we either “look for ah big wuk” or “look to put dong ah big wuk.”

Omardath Maharaj
Reads: 4782

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