Keith Rowley’s contention as reported in the local media that his People’s National Movement (PNM) can “turn around” the crime problem in Trinidad and Tobago lacks credibility if only because of the PNM’s abysmal record in dealing with crime, PNM’s past collusion with criminals, and the fact that Rowley has no plan to reduce crime.
The records show that between 2002 and 2010 when the Manning administration was removed from office there were 3,353 murders – an average of 479 a year, with a peak of 550 in 2008. That’s an average of 1.31 murders every day for seven years!
The records also show kidnappings during the same period reached 359 with a peak of 155 in 2007, the year the Manning administration won re-election. Yet Rowley has the audacity to tell people that the last administration was able to reduce kidnappings.
By contrast the new government under Kamla Persad-Bissessar has not only reduced kidnappings to zero, it has reduced the rate of serious crimes by more than 40 per cent.
What is also significant is that the statistics would show that when the PNM is in office crime – especially murders – rises exponentially.
Consider these figures. In 1995, (the Panday UNC administration took office in Nov. 1995) there were 171 murders and for the first time, kidnappings (29 in that year) became a serious issue. The Panday administration was able to steadily bring crime down reaching a low of 93.
Once Manning, the PNM and Rowley took office, murders and kidnappings escalated, increasing each year until murders peaked at 550 and kidnappings at 155. That is the PNM record from which Rowley cannot hide or extricate himself. Today if the PNM were in power the annual murder rate based on projections would be 700.
The PNM record is also one of entertaining gang leaders and rewarding them with lucrative million-dollar government contracts. Manning boasted about his meetings with “community leaders” and the former acting police commissioner, James Philbert, admitted publicly that he had been meeting with gangs.
Not only was a Philbert meeting with known criminals, he said he would defend in the “strongest possible way” any of them willing to repent and turn to religion. Philbert went so far as setting up a hotline and assigned Deputy Police Commissioner Gilbert Reyes to work with the criminals.
All this cozying up to criminals occurred during the watch of the PNM and now Rowley is trying to present himself and his party as angels in waiting and criticising the police as not being “up to the task”. Perhaps it’s because police under the new administration are not willing to cozy up to gangs.
Rowley has also trying to raise the ghost of the late commissioner of police Randolph Burroughs, who was implicated in the Scott Drug Report of 1986 for helping criminals and drug dealers.
Here is what the report said about Burroughs:
4.7 “A peculiar directive of the Commissioner in the opinion of the Commission was that he had to be informed in advance before any raids, which were to be carried out on suspected dealers…the Flying Squad, had also to be informed in advance of any raids.
“In some instances, these raids were futile and members of the Narcotics Squad formed the firm opinion that the occupiers of the premises were being unquestionably forewarned.
“In one instance, a very prominent drug dealer was even found to have a record of the unlisted telephone number of the Commissioner. Moreover, it was alarming to learn that drug dealers could boast of having policemen transferred and to threaten to have others transferred.
The Report concludes in Page 48
11.1 “There is no doubt that Trinidad and Tobago is now faced with a very severe and complex problem of drug abuse. It has been established that the use of illicit drugs is now commonplace in all strata of its society by persons of all ages and of both sexes.
“Evidence before us disclosed its use by school children, both primary and secondary; teachers; policemen of all ranks; entertainers; magistrates; bankers; businessmen and even Ministers of Government.”
The PNM has never had a plan to deal with crime and Rowley, who was a senior member of successive administrations that embraced criminals, is now blaming everyone – including children – for crime.
Crime is a national problem because the PNM created the problem and refused to deal with it, choosing instead to appeal to criminals to keep the peace while using expensive gimmicks like blimps and Public Relations to hoodwink the public into believing that they were fighting crime.
Rowley’s contention that crime continues to be a problem because the present administration dismantled the monitoring system is without basis. The government dismantled an illegal agency and ended a systematic and illegitimate operation to spy on citizens, including MPs, journalists and even the President of the country.
In spite of all the PNM propaganda, crime has fallen every year since the PP government took office. Crime is falling and criminals know they cannot find friends within the People’s Partnership government.
Rowley and the PNM are hoping to hoodwink our population into believing that critcising alone and resurrecting the memory Burroughs constitute a crime plan. We therefore call on Rowley to put up or shut up.
We challenge Rowley to articulate a functional and workable crime plan and not rely solely on criticizing the present administration without coming up with a viable and better alternative. The alternative government according to the Westminster tradition requires an opposition to present alternatives policies. Not Rowley’s PNM.
Instead, Rowley and the PNM have voted against everything that the present government has taken to parliament to deal with crime. In spite of that the government has been able to bring down crime significantly.
That is because of legislation such as:
The interception of Communication Act (which replaced the illegal spying)
Firearms Amendment Act
Trafficking in persons Act
Bail Amendment Act
As a result every type of crime has been reduced. There is a plan and it is working. It includes greater police visibility, modern crime fighting technology, CCTV cameras at strategic locations, a rapid response police unit and a highway patrol.
If Rowley and the PNM are serious about reducing crime they would put the politics aside and work with the government to find solutions instead of trying to hide the facts about their own failed plans and incompetence in dealing with this serious national problem.
For further information please contact:
Dave Tancoo | General Secretary, United National Congress (UNC)