31 August, 2009

Happy 47th Independence Day

We celebrate our 47th year of political Independence from our former colonial master, Great Britain.

This is a time to reflect on our progress, development, achievements and successes. Conversely we must also be mindful of our mistakes, lost opportunities and the road ahead.

Consider events around the world, learn from the mistakes of other countries. Develop and implement policies and laws that is best for our citizens, not just what the UN says is best.

As we prepare to host another billion dollar international meeting, this time on an even grander scale than the 5th SOA, we should consider what’s best for our citizens. Be good hosts and make all our visitors feel welcome, safe and secure, but do not disrupt the lives of ordinary citizens. Learn from the mistakes of the 5 SOA. There were many.

The CHOGM 2009 can have positive repercussions for T&T, but only if managed properly, and I don’t just mean shuttling VIPs around with no adverse incidents or photo ops with Queen Elizabeth 2nd. That should not be the only measure of success. How well do the citizens buy-in to the event; how free are they to protest some aspect of the event they did not like? Can they take their drums and other musical instruments and use them to protest several miles away from the main events? What tangible benefits does it bring the country?

We still import a lot of our arms and ammunition from Great Britain for defence. What about security independence?
We sill import numerous food items from Great Britain, what about food independence and food security?

If we continue doing what we’re doing, in the same manner, then we’ll continue to get what we always got.

If our laws relating to crime, housing, squatting, the environment, local government, firearms, and the financial industry don’t work well enough, then let’s take the time to re-examine them closely and make corrections.

The time is ripe to introduce Castle Doctrine law. Our citizens are so fed up of violent home invasions that they’d support this bold legislation, without hesitation.

Recent events, such as the Balandra bridge collapse that affected nine communities, shows we need an effective civil defence programme. If one man with one piece of heavy equipment can physically isolate nine communities - with hundreds of households - from the rest of the country, then we are in real trouble should Colombia and Venezuela escalate their long-running spat into full war. Or even Venezuela and Honduras, as was recently threatened.

Congratulations to Dianne Avalone Baptiste, who received the Humming Bird Medal (Gold) for gallantry. Baptiste, a 41-year-old Williamsville resident, disarmed a bandit, broke a flower pot on his head and restrained him until the police arrived.

She is one citizen who has displayed the spirit of independence.

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