Alternative Opinions Re Nizam Mohammed.

I am beginning to look for the opinions of those who had alternative views about Nizam Mohammed's statements and what resulted. If you know of any others, please direct me to them.

Hopeful longing for an equal place.
By Anand Beharrylal
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Apr 6, 2011 at 12:36 AM ECT

The President's decision to revoke Nizam Mohammed's appointment as Police Service Commission chairman, whilst pleasing to some, will neither end the long overdue debate of racial imbalance in the police nor reassure the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago that equality is a right they are entitled to in 2011.

The decision of Nizam not to resign was the right one. No public official should resign if they speak the facts on an important issue within their remit. On the other hand, the decision of the President, whatever his reasons, sends a negative signal to the Indo-Trini members of the community who seek equality in T&T and are prepared to speak out about it.

The preamble to the Constitution states: "Whereas the people of Trinidad and Tobago … (c) have asserted their belief in a democratic society in which all persons may, to the extent of their capacity, play some part in the institutions of the national life and thus develop and maintain due respect for lawfully constituted authority''.

These profound words in the supreme law, that transcend moments in time, inform the way in which the public services should be constituted to ensure all persons in T&T (and yes, this does include Indo-Trinis) play a part in their operation to ensure due respect for those public services as lawfully constituted authority. Unfortunately, these words are honoured more in the breach than the observance.

The racial imbalances in the police service are matters of public importance especially where promotions are concerned, since Indo-Trinis seem to falter at the interview stage where there is an apparent absence of Indo-Trinis on the interview panel.

In England, one of the common problems encountered from the 1960s to the 1980s was that, in the public services, women and black applicants (a term referring to both African and Indian peoples) would often falter at the promotion interview stage, despite being otherwise qualified and articulate.

When the question "Why?" was asked, the answer was simply that they were outperformed in the interview by their white male counterparts, coincidentally before an all-white male panel. That there was discrimination could not be doubted. In time, changes included anti-discrimination legislation, independent monitoring, formal procedures for review with reasons for rejection, feedback on performance and ultimately members of both sexes and ethnic minorities on the interview panel.

Before these changes occurred, however, the white-dominated public services maintained their decisions were not motivated by discriminatory considerations, but were rather based on interview performance and suitability for the job.

The public services also maintained they were in favour of more women and blacks in principle. The trouble with this, even if true, is that it did little to reassure women and blacks there would ever be equality. This gave rise to the justifiable perception that in the public services there was a policy of equality in principle, but not in practice.

Even today, despite much progress, England cannot boast that it has eliminated discrimination.

In T&T, Nizam never argued that there should be substitution for one race over another in the police. The issue he raised was only about equality of treatment for Indo-Trinis when it comes to reaching the highest echelons of the police service, which incidentally is guaranteed by Section 4(d) of the Constitution.

This is not a criticism of the many hard-working Afro-Trini police doing their job. No one should hesitate to call the police in T&T if they are a victim of crime, whatever their ethnicity. Nor should it be misunderstood that the promotion panel should be all Indian.

What was and is being sought is that the two majority ethnic groups in T&T have equal representation in the main institution that wields the law enforcement powers of the state at the highest levels. Surely no one can argue that the Indo-Trinis are incapable of discharging these functions just as well as their Afro-Trini counterparts.

Indeed fellow commissioners Parker and George, at their press conference yesterday, are reported to have discussed the issue in February. They are also reported to have acknowledged that the issue of racial imbalance within the ranks of the police is an issue that must be dealt with, but just not now.

It is regrettable this acknowledgement was not publicly ventilated before the President's decision, but at least no one can say the commission is unaware of the issue; or worse yet only Indo-Trinis are aware of the issue.

One cannot help but wonder what time scale or who the commissioners have in mind to address the issue. But what is clear is that putting it off to some unknown time in the future is a denial of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution that all peoples of T&T have, which cannot be right when we know there is inequality.

Be that as it may we still have the national anthem with that enlightened line "every creed and race find an equal place''. Perhaps all Indo-Trinis are expected to do is keep singing it in the hope that one day, as with all wishes, it might come true.

• Anand Beharrylal is a lawyer

Can we forgive Nizam Mohammed?
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Apr 5, 2011 at 1:34 AM ECT

The understandable national uproar arising out of statements about an ethnic imbalance in the police service by Police Service Commission chairman Nizam Mohammed, may have opened a fantastic opportunity for us to leap forward as a people.

For amid the knee-jerk and gut reactions of indignation, rage and calls for his immediate removal, there may be many who quietly agree with Mr Mohammed. And herein lies the chance to really unearth and start dealing with a most exciting challenge in our young nation's history.

The situation assumes an entirely different complexion if we consider that, at the heart of the matter, Mr Mohammed's overtly expressed desire for a balancing act with numbers as a means of achieving the notion of equality, might really have been a covert cry for help.

A perceptive observer may discern that within the authoritative shout demanding equality for the group was a small, humble voice politely asking for a large, warm embrace of the same group from the whole in terms of acceptance, inclusion and true arrival.

Could it be that despite their great strides forward as a group in areas of academics, business, economic stature and (now) politics, could it be that our brothers and sisters of East Indian descent still do not feel a sense of acceptance and belonging by the larger society?

Having been generously vaulted into a position of leadership and full responsibility — blessed by the vote of all the ethnic groups — is it possible that Nizam Mohammed is expressing discomfort in the castle of the true "Trini" skin that he is now challenged to naturally wear?

And if this is so, to what extent are many of his "partners" feeling the same discomfort as suggested by early outbursts of agreement by MPs Sharma and Ramadhar?

On reflection, we may have been fooling ourselves to expect a quantum leap in the socialisation process by a group that has traditionally built itself behind a wall of religious exclusiveness, suspicion and fear and consciously distanced human relations management of the other major ethnic group.

Our challenge as a people now would be to take the high road and find strength and resolve in the "Trini" way of being: that fantastically complex and often confusing reality of our sense of collective sense which is also actually the original DNA of a significant number of us.

For example, it would have been this personal "Trini" reality that powered MP Anil Roberts to respond to the Nizam Mohammed situation as he did at a recent press briefing.

So in that context, let us pause and consider using Mr Mohammed's remarks as a wake-up call to summon the confident forces of our true "Trini" wisdom to patiently help the "Nizamites" — and to help us all — to shoot further upward as we evolve into the great, special "Trini" nation we truly can be.

Rudolph Williams
St James

Nizam Had A Point.
By Lisa Allen-Agostini
Lisa Allen-Agostini | April 5th, 2011

The past couple of weeks have seen the pillorying of Nizam Mohammed, erstwhile chair of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Commission, culminating in the revocation of his appointment by our nation’s President George Maxwell Richards. Mr Mohammed was effectively fired for saying there were too many black people in the high echelons of the Police Service; he made the statement before a parliamentary Joint Select Committee on March 25, 2011 (this Trinidad Express editorial nicely sums up the whole case and its upshot).

The outcry following Mohammed’s statement about the imbalance was loud and ugly. He was called a racist, even though as he himself reminded the public he had been on the side of Black Power insurgents and long supported racial equality. Now the hue and cry has drowned out his protestations of unbiasedness. There are many factors at play–Mohammed made an ill-advised move earlier in his appointment in a confrontation with two police officers and lost a lot of credibility thereafter, and there was subsequently a national petition to have him removed from office–but surely the bigger picture is that he is right about the imbalance in the Police Service and that it ought to be addressed. Read more....

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