29 Mar 2011

Going, going, gone?

Things are coming to a head this morning. The government has officially condemned Mazin this morning. In a comment originating from the Office of the Prime Minister, titled: "Statement from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago", the People's Partnership Government "categorically condemned" Mohammed's "reckless ... senseless ... and divisive comments".

“Mr Mohammed must be held accountable for his inflammatory and unwise remarks which in no way represent the views of the Government. Statements such as the one by Mr Mohammed are divisive and serve no useful purpose other than to undermine the trust that is reposed in him as chairman of the PSC.

“When we see each other for who we are rather than what we happen to look like, when the grounds of suspicion fall away and no one looks for shades of difference to determine their own value, when realities are not created by pigments of someone’s imagination, then we would have arrived as a nation,” the Government release stated.

The Government declared that it was within this context it, “categorically condemns the statements made by Mr Nizam Mohammed, chairman of the PSC regarding the allegations of discrimination and the need for ethnic balancing within the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.”

With support withdrawn from the government, the way is now clear for Mazin to be removed as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission. Chances are it cannot come soon enough. However I do want to make a few points this morning on that issue:

  • Mazin is right when he says that the make-up of the police service do not reflect the complete ethnicity (my words) of the population of Trinidad and Tobago. This has long been pointed out, even by the now Attorney General (when he was in private practice). Every one of the higher ranking officers are of a certain ethnicity. Why is this so?

  • Mazin's point that there are not enough Indians is partly right and partly wrong. It is right because it is true but wrong because the intentions behind his statement. 20 or 30 years ago, the people entering the police service were of this same ethnicity. Indian parents push their children into alternative careers - medicine, law, engineering, teaching etc. The Indian mind-set is to push children into lucrative careers and to promote that children should always be in a "better position" than the parents were. The police service was not seen as a viable career choice. It is for this same reason that you rarely see Chinese, Syrian (for example) persons in the police service. Nothing wrong in that. But we cannot now expect 20 or 30 years later to find Indians (or Chinese or Syrian) in positions of authority within the service.

  • At the same time, government jobs under the PNM were "closed" to Indians. Whether this was a deliberate policy or not, it is a situation that is reflected in many areas of the Public Service. For example, out of nearly 50 Permanent Secretaries, there are perhaps five or six of Indian descent. The Permanent Secretary is one of the highest post in the civil service. It is no secret, and I have written about this time and time again, that there was favouritism and cronyism going on.

  • Mazin's statement that he was there in the Police Service Commission to correct the imbalance is totally incorrect. Morally and legally that was not his role. His position is now untenable given his openly stated views. From now on if he remains, when any Indian officer is promoted, one would have to wonder whether that officer was promoted on the basis of merit or "to correct the ethnic imbalance". Mazin has therefore put the entire Public Service Commission in a position of distrust and doubt. The government has now been left with no choice - Mazin has to go!

Time will tell whether or not Max will remove him. The sooner the better I would think.