Dr. Fraser- Point of View
July 2, 2004

As we start the Carnival count down

I really have little time to carry on any sparring exercise with Otto Sam. I have difficulty understanding what he is all about but am convinced that he needs urgent help that I am sure is available somewhere. It might, however, be a result of his ‘Johnny-Just -Come’ or ‘Johnny-Come -Lately’ status. He probably doesn’t realize that there were struggles long before him and that we have gone through most of what he seems to be now discovering. {{more}}That, of course, is another matter! It is interesting, too, that whenever he is unable to respond to any argument, he takes refuge in some issue relating to his pursuit of a UWI programme. I don’t know if the intention is to inform the public that he is pursuing a programme at UWI. If not and he has a problem or problems that are not being addressed in St.Vincent, then I am sure the relevant bodies at the campuses will be prepared to assist him. So I will advise him to try that avenue and let us move on. There are more important things in life than responding to the utterances of some loose cannon.
As we move into this final weekend of carnival, the issue that is occupying the attention of many people on the ground is the recent failures to secure convictions for a number of heinous crimes that have been committed here. One only has to read last week’s newspapers to become totally frightened and frustrated with this state of affairs. While persons have been quick to point fingers at the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, the issue goes beyond him. It is the failure of a system and our inability or unwillingness to bring crime fighting and the justice system into the 21st century. We really operate as if we are in the dark ages. Now is the age of DNA. It is also the time when, more than ever, science has come to the assistance of crime fighting. It is frightening that persons charged with crimes can so easily get off on technicalities and lack of evidence. Then, of course, there are the no case submissions that are becoming popular. Something is desperately wrong.
If this is not addressed quickly and seriously, then people are going to lose confidence in the justice system. It might also send out the wrong signals to perpetrators of crime and to others so inclined. Have you noticed that in any trivial argument or dispute today persons are quick to talk about killing? We live in a violent society fed by ill discipline and utter disregard for law and order. One has to be careful, particularly, at this time of year. With all of this ignorance and with the amount of alcohol that is being consumed, crime is given a fertile ground. It was only last Friday evening while driving along Bay Street that a young gentleman who was walking leisurely across the road with a bottle of beer in his hands, looked in my direction and threatened to throw the bottle and mash up my f…ing windscreen. My crime was that although he was facing the car I did not blow my horn. You can’t win. Can you? The badjohns control the streets and set the rules. All of us then have to pay homage to them for they might kill and then walk the streets shortly after. I am suggesting to the authorities that we put these matters high on the public agenda, for fighting crime is not only an issue for, nor sorely the responsibility of the police and public prosecutors. The society, that is, every man and woman, has to become involved. The police need help, but they have to put their houses in order, too.
We need to invest much more in the training of the police. Every year a number of scholarships are available and persons are facilitated in securing training in a number of areas. Medicine and law are still popular, but many are moving increasingly into Accounting and Computer related studies, and other areas that are not critical to the country’s development. We do not hear, at least publicly, very much about training for the police and other personnel in related areas. We do not hear about scholarships advertised to pursue studies in relevant areas. I am not saying that they don’t exist, but we hear little about them if they do in fact exist to the extent needed. I am certainly not talking here about an occasional workshop. Police personnel and others have to be attracted to these areas. Scholarships have to be made available and equipment and physical resources modernized. There is, of course, always a cost involved, but these are costs that the nation must bear if we are to feel a greater sense of safety as we go about our ordinary business.
Today marks the beginning of the final countdown to carnival. In earlier times, the good, old days perhaps, we used to say that carnival was a time when we put all our problems behind us and let down our hair and enjoy it to the fullest. Carnival is, however, not a respite from the daily struggles of life. It is another aspect, another area of activity. Many of our people look forward to carnival, not necessarily to celebrate, but to use any opportunities available to make money and earn a living. Check the number of vendors now selling just about anything and I mean anything. To our crafts people, our entertainers, it is a continuation of business. Life goes on and many hope to catch up on opportunities that might have evaded them or not been available before. Even enjoying carnival is becoming something of a concern. With the increased number of activities cost is a major factor. Decisions have to be made about which shows to attend. Of course, many walk the streets, taking in the activities, but even this is becoming dangerous.
Carnival is no longer just fun, that is, if it ever really was. It is a continuation of our daily struggles. Those more religiously inclined use the opportunity to continue to speak about the ills of society and the transgressions against what is considered acceptable behaviour. But carnival is a reflection of our life. Very little that is done at this time is not done at other times of the year, but it becomes more noticeable for it all comes together now, the good, the bad and perhaps the ugly, too. Even some of the soca tunes this season appear to be bordering on the line between what is acceptable and what is not. If we think that there is a need to clean up carnival, we can only succeed if we clean up what prevails during the rest of the year. Carnival is a convenient whipping horse, but the problem lies elsewhere.