Dr. Fraser- Point of View
October 15, 2004
Vincy Heat and theTrammels of Independence

Vincy Heat

The crowd at last Sunday’s football match against Mexico left much to be desired. We might even say that it was conspicuous by its absence. Fear of a mauling by the Mexicans kept a lot of persons away who did not want to witness the indignity of a massive defeat on home ground. Many would no doubt have regretted that decision because Vincy Heat did this country proud on this the eve of the country’s independence. {{more}}I don’t know if it has soaked in as yet on the consciousness of our people. A team from this small country of a little more than 100,000 persons was able to frustrate and embarrass the highly rated Mexicans for 90 minutes. The Mexicans came away with a win but one based on what was undoubtedly an off-side goal. I sat in a position where I was clearly able to see it. I waited expecting to see the flag raised and was shocked when the goal was allowed.

Obviously the Mexicans came prepared to administer another trashing a mere four days after their seven/nil drubbing of our boys. They seemed to have been stunned in the first 15 minutes by a re-energized team strengthened by the return of a few of their overseas-based players. What has to be emphasised is that for more than 45 minutes our team played with 10 men. This is one occasion in which a defeat was like a victory. It was unfortunate that one of our men received a red card, something that put our team very much on the defensive, for it is not difficult to imagine what could have happened. There should be no holds barred now, for we have demonstrated that it is possible for us to operate in the big league. I want to congratulate our football team and hope that their performance on Sunday would have set the standards by which they will continue to operate.

Have we lost the meaning

of independence?

One would have hoped that after 25 years of independence we would have been widening the avenues for democracy and for the total development of our people, but we seem to be taking a number of backward steps and frustrating our march forward as a democratic people. Why is it that any opinion contrary to that being held by the ruling party has to be seen as part of a hidden agenda by the party in Opposition? Why does a different view about the Cross Country Road translate into maliciousness? It is as though there are only two sets of opinions or rather two sets of people, those stamped LABOUR and the others NDP. Any criticism of any actions of the ruling party then makes the individual an acolyte of the NDP. Is it not possible to hold an independent opinion?

It is interesting that in booklet no.2 of the Constitutional Review Commission, sections 9 and 10 deal with “Protection of Freedom of Conscience” and “Protection of Freedom of Expression”. It makes me wonder what a new constitution will do in the face of this kind of backward thinking and absurdity. We are fond of speaking about democracy and governance but obviously that is as far as we are prepared to go. These are things to talk about but not act on. We have now to look beyond the constitution. It is the people who have to guarantee that a constitution works. How do we ensure that this is more than the paper on which it is written? What is likely to change if and when our constitution is amended or overturned?

We live in a society where ideas do not contend. We are always trying to find some dark motive behind any uttered expressions or views. I would have thought that the end of slavery and colonialism would have taken us on a different track and provided the means to widen and encourage freedom of expression. This is obviously not so and the fear is that the review of our constitution becomes another venture into nothingness.

I am prepared to state what I believe, once I do not infringe any laws in so doing. I have a history of speaking out and writing on matters about which I believe. My views are my own and not those of any other body. If my views coincide with those of other persons, entities, bodies, so be it. Some of us are always subject to criticism for many of our people are prepared to remain silent about a number of things in the society. We tolerate a lot of nonsense once it does not affect us, but we should all familiarise ourselves with the poem by Martin Niemoeller, where people refused to speak up because it did not affect them, until when they really came at them, there was nobody else to speak up. Niemoeller ends, “Then they came for me – and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

In the late 1960s and 1970s our society was a very lively and refreshing one. We were debating and discussing all sorts of issues. We cried out against the banning of books and were ensuring that an atmosphere existed, that encouraged the spread of different ideas and views. That has now ended and we have gone into a state of stupor. When I read the life stories of some of the famous dictators I used to wonder how they were able to get away with what they got away with. Now I fully understand. There is a challenge ahead of us that should accompany our efforts to come up with a new constitution. That challenge is to create an atmosphere that would encourage persons to express their opinions regardless of whether or not they coincide with the established views, and in fact with the views of those to whom we give the mandate to run our country.