He said, “Over the past 50 years, attempts have been made to expunge the contributions we have made to the development of TT”. Who the “we” are is obvious from the nature of the event and the inferences made in Mr Maharaj’s presentation. But we must ask further for his proof of such an allegation: who, when, where, what, and why.
We cannot fathom the logic of such a remark, in view of the fact that over the years that citizens of East Indians have risen to the highest offices in the land. We recall Noor Hassanali as President of the Republic; Basdeo Panday as Prime Minister; Persad-Bissessar as Prime Minister; Sat Sharma as Chief Justice; Police Service Commission chairman Prof Ramesh Deosaran; and Independent Senators such as Prof Harold Ramkissoon, Rev Daniel Teelucksingh, the late Dana Seetahal SC, Dr Rolph Balgobin and Subhas Ramkhelawan. Persons of East Indian descent like all others who have made us one people, one nation, have seized the educational and other developmental opportunities available to all citizens, and done exceptionally well in the professions and in making their contributions to their society without let or hindrance, in such areas as politics, economics, law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, religion, etc. Our citizens of East Indian ancestry have all prospered highly in business, ranging from big-business to small and micro-enterprises such as the tyre shop or the humble doubles-stand. Who can ever try to diminish the huge contribution of East Indians to the field of education, at primary, secondary and tertiary levels? Unlike the other groups who historically quickly left the land, East Indians today dominate the agricultural sector, providing food for the nation, and prospering therefrom.
East Indians have proudly achieved in such quantity and quality that it is now quite unbelievable that any attempt could ever be contemplated to “expunge” these achievements, in contrast to the claims of Maharaj. If Maharaj has any evidence of any attempted expungement, we’d like to see it.
As to the Public Service, this field has always been open to citizens of all types of background, although historically, not all groups would have equally felt to innately gravitate towards it, but might instead have sought opportunities in the private sphere.
Regarding Maharaj’s claims of a pro-north Trinidad bias in development, the plain fact is that the country must have a capital-city somewhere, it was long ago chosen as Port-of-Spain, succeeding St Joseph, because of the good waterfront access. It cannot be unexpected that most of the “machinery” of governance must be located in the capital near to each other. That is the simple factual history of how the development of Trinidad occurred, and is not due to any geographical bias.
Maharaj also attacked the integrity of public servants past and present by alleging they are largely “PNM plants” who undermined the People’s Partnership (PP) whom he said should therefore be elected for a second term next year.
A “great son of our soil”, a “fearless fighter” and “warrior”, may be attributes of Maharaj in serving his own constituents, but in the wider national context, they don’t blend with his highly divisive sentiments on Friday: sentiments which also should not be rewarded with Prime Ministerial endorsement, especially when he is being handed $750,000 of ALL taxpayers’ money.
The Prime Minister told the audience, “Sat has shown us that you must speak when you can, and where you can. This is a free country. You must not remain docile and afraid. You are a citizen of this land just like every other citizen.” Maharaj has never been debarred from speaking whenever and wherever he could, neither has he ever been pressured into being docile and afraid. But one cannot have his or her cake and eat it, by one minute espousing a colour-blind national unity, and next minute endorsing Maharaj’s offensive spiel. That is what happened at the Indian Arrival Day event on Friday with a very disappointing intervention by the Prime Minister of ALL of Trinidad and Tobago. Please.