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Time to think again

By Keith Subero

This is a good time for us to start rethinking.

The mas is over and there is a President-elect. Let us start re-thinking our approaches, for instance to our governance, to crime, to dissecting our social problems and, if we are to be honest, about the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) report on the Point Fortin Highway. There should be a lot of rethinking there too.

In fact, let us re-imagine ourselves, because there are just 1.5 million of us -- a talented, creative, extraordinary people in a small space, with a $60 billion budget and all the worldly ingredients to make a great callaloo.

Let us try to rework our imagination so we will get at least part of it right.

This year again we may not have gotten the organisation of Carnival right, but let’s do it differently. Let’s publicly challenge Allison Demas, as the new NCC chairperson, to it do better next year.

Let her identify for us the real weaknesses in our current strategies. Let her give us, very early, her vision for T&T Carnival. Is our Carnival to be a series of regional people’s street festivals or promoted fully as an international tourist attraction? Should we be investing millions in the infrastructural requirements to host thousands of tourists? Or should the model embrace both?

Over 100 festivals are estimated to have been spawned worldwide from our Carnival, yet our strategies fail to exploit its potential. Ms Demas, young and talented, should be the point person in identifying the management competencies and resources that could add value to a re-imagined T&T Carnival model.

It is the same for pan. Pan Trinbago must re-imagine pan. It must recognise that its model of electing the most popular pannists to organise pan is dead.

Pannists are artistes; the promotion of pan today demands the modern management skills which have never resided in any Pan Trinbago executive. Its membership must not nip and tuck but acknowledge the need to re-imagine pan. They must make that fundamental shift from Pan Trinbago’s retarded system, controlled by a few popular pannists, to a professionally managed structure which could effectively brand Trinidad and Tobago’s pan in the 21st century.

In the UK, pannist Terry Noel is already re-imagining the pan. His band, Melodians UK, has played before the Queen, helped establish pan music at examination level in British schools and performed in Russia, the Middle East and South-East Asia.

It will play the works of classical British composers on the sound track for the British exposition and also perform at the Venice Biennale Arts Festival from June to November.

In some quarters “re-imagination” is being expected from our President-elect. His namesake, the original Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Dominican friar, argued that reason and revelation were viable and parallel pathways to the knowledge of God, reason being accessible to a few but revelation being available to all.

We may not demand that our modern-day Aquinas write another Summa Theologiae. But the President-elect has the opportunity to lead as a “why” man, extending his constitutional authority judiciously, beyond his ceremonial duties, to deal with areas that concerned the original Aquinas, such as “Rights”, “Justice,” “Theft and Robbery,” “Cheating” and “the Essence of Law”.

Students of political theory are still required to deal with the ideas of Aquinas and his description, like Aristotle, of man as “a political animal”, but whom he placed within the context of Christian philosophy.

He wrote that God gave a ruler power “that he may realise justice on earth”, and as the custodian of justice, the ruler is, or may be the legislator, the executor of law, or the supreme judge.

The original Aquinas may have stretched over centuries to bequeath a heavy burden upon our President-elect particularly as there is fear in some quarters that we are heading into -- as Thomas Hobbes, another Medieval theorist, described society in his time -- “a war of all against all”.

The President-elect must appear to have an immediate impact. From the first of his weekly meetings with the Prime Minister he should seek answers from her to questions being asked across the country, such as the reasons why Jack Warner continues to be in her Cabinet.

She must be asked to explain her rationale for having a Minister of National Security, who is under a police investigation for his alleged role in the FIFA bribery incident at the Hyatt Hotel, retained as the line minister for the Police Service.

The President-elect must also call on the Police Service Commission to ask the acting Police Commissioner why his investigation into Warner is taking almost two years so far.

The President-elect may request, respectfully, for his own clarity, and hopefully to ease public anxiety, the real reasons why the Cabinet went forward with Clause 34.

At some point that public unease may demand a further deliberate intervention in the Warner matter. Another intervention may be required in response to the public outcry against the performance of the Attorney General in the Ish and Steve matter and other issues and the legal costs being imposed on the taxpayer.

We need to begin re-thinking, and the President-elect has an opportunity to help us.

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