27 May, 2010

Untapped human resources

Yesterday I went to a friend’s house to pick mangoes. I got into a conversation with my friend’s neighbour and discovered he is a retired police armourer. He spends his days tending a small kitchen garden and reminiscing with any other retired law enforcement or military personnel about “the good old days”.

This man has a wealth of practical know-how and real life experience. He is a classic example of an abundance of skilled retirees who are allowed to waste their golden years without passing on their expensively-acquired skills. Instead we hire the most expensive foreign ‘experts’ and complain about the economy. Yet we ignore the plethora of skill sets available, just for the asking.

A number of senior citizens would happily share their skills, knowledge and wisdom, if we only ask. The Japanese have recognized the value of their senior citizens and are harnessing this power, passing it onto the youth. The interaction helps both generations, as the seniors get to mingle with youth and feel valued. The youth get much needed skills, knowledge, the benefit of avoiding pitfalls, while understanding that “foreign” doesn’t necessarily mean “good”.

I submit that should we ask nicely, and he agrees, this single retired armourer can teach scores -- or maybe hundreds – of young people to maintain and repair small arms and weapons systems for our various agencies that require them. Some can become civilian gunsmiths, including airgunsmiths. Some can be inserted into any civil defence programmes. And boy do we need those skills!

With national security units such as SUATT, SSA, the TT Police Service, TT Regiment, TT Coast Guard, TT Air Guard et al, those skills are currently in short supply and high demand. The Forensic Science Centre also assists the Police Armourer, sometimes because of the enormous workload.

The incoming National Security Minister can tap this most valuable of resources. Just remember to ask nicely.

26 May, 2010

First woman Prime Minister

Congratulations to the People’s Partnership, a coalition of the United National Congress (UNC), the Congress of the People (COP), the Tobago O People (TOP) and the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC). Congratulations also to the 12 Peoples National Movement (PNM) newly elected Members of Parliament.

The final result: Peoples Partnership 29, Peoples National Movement 12. With a near two-thirds majority, the government-in-waiting will have little trouble passing important legislation. Now may be a good time to deal with the archaic firearms laws. So, along with “a chicken in every pot”, perhaps “a gun in every home”? Come on MPs, don’t squander this golden opportunity.

Trinidad and Tobago is about to get our first woman Prime Minister. Congrats Kamla! She was also the first female Attorney General, the first female Minister of Legal Affairs, the first female political leader of a major political party and the first female Leader of the Opposition. A number of ‘firsts’.

She has signaled a willingness to listen to the needs of the populace, by suggesting referenda for major thorny national issues and decisions. Let’s hope she is also the first Prime Minister to keep her word, on all promises and pledges. Mrs Persad-Bissessar will be sworn in this afternoon. One wonders about the curious situation of the foreign bodyguards, though.

Trinidad and Tobago is now in a state of euphoria, in direct contrast to the situation in Jamaica. The limited state of emergency declared by the Jamaican government in two parishes has brought daily life in the capital city of Kingston to a virtual halt. This situation needs immediate resolution. It shows what can happen when senior politicians make deals with criminal leaders.
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