Don't blame business community
Not a voice has been heard, not a single article penned in defence of the Syrian community, the rich or the upper middle class, as time and time again their names are bandied about in connection with contracts, business practices and, worse yet, drugs.
There is the perception that Mr Big or "The Big Criminal Mind" is some local white, Syrian or Chinese businessman who is untouchable as he somehow directs young men and women to commit crime as he or she remains protected by those in power.
Many are comfortable with that assumption and consequently no one says anything when politicians, news reporters or individuals in public places blame the ills of our society on the rich and the business class of our society. Perhaps it is time that one considers the true contributions of this sector of our society.
When one visits the malls of our country and shop in air conditioned comfort with parking facilities and security it is easily taken for granted. That shopping experience is not possible because of any political party or government; it is possible because the business community decided to provide T&T with shopping facilities that are comparable to those in the developed world. MovieTowne, Westmall, Gulf City, Mid Centre Mall and Trincity mall are a few of the many upscale malls that offer first world shopping.
Businessmen have invested in cinemas including the I-Max large screen 3D screens and first world sporting facilities like the Queen's Park Oval. These businesses provide employment for the graduates of our universities based on their qualifications and experience and not based on their political affiliation.
The business community provides jobs at almost every level of our society, from the store clerks and janitorial workers to security guards, salesmen, construction workers, engineers, marketing professionals, executive managers and CEOs.
In spite of their commitment to country and their endeavours to contribute to the aesthetic and social development of T&T businessmen are easily branded as drug dealers, unscrupulous exploiters of local labour, conmen, contract manipulators and selfish entrepreneurs.
Perhaps it is time for reflection. Instead of seeking to easily call names of successful businessmen and associate them with activities that border on criminal misconduct, we should pause for a while and examine the facts. Over the years there have been few, if any, businessmen charged for drug dealing, gun possession and murder. On the other hand there are almost daily incidents of drug arrests, robbery, gun possession and murder among the population that seeks to place blame on the business community. There are those who would argue that the gun runners and drug dealers are simply the pawns of the big businessmen and thus they are the expendable fall guys. This too may just be another way to evade responsibility for the shortcomings of those really responsible for criminal activity.
Over the years our senior security officials (with the exception of a few Canadians who are no longer in office) are local individuals from all classes, races and political parties of our society.
If there exists some major conspiracy among the heads of departments from national security, government and the Judiciary to protect sectors of our business community from facing the consequences of their criminal activities, then surely the blame must lie with those who facilitate such privileges. Any attempt to continue the assault on the character of those businesses who have invested in the development of T&T is a travesty and an excuse to perhaps look away from the real source of criminal activity.