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instead of part of the problem
34 Dumfries Road
La Romaine, Trinidad, W.I
Tel/Fax (868) 652-8060

Viewpoint - April 01, 2013

Too many rogue and corrupt police officers in Trinidad

Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) is again renewing its call for the removal of corrupt and rogue cops from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. CBTT first made this call close to two decades ago and the group is adamant that bad eggs in the Police Service has grown to substantially much more than the three percent which our Police Commissioner Stephen Williams claims to be a more accurate figure.

CBTT has received hundreds of reports from citizens on corrupt and rogue officers in the Police Service. They want these crooked cops investigated but they truly believe that they will be sabotaged, victimised or even murdered if they report rogue officers to the Police. Many citizens still remember a Barrackpore farmer who, a few years ago, was brutally murdered by a rogue cop who was demanding bribes from him in exchange for dropping a petty case against this poor farmer. The man reported the matter to the Police who caught their fellow officer in a sting operation. In an act of revenge, the crooked cop murdered the victim.

Many police officers who have left the Service are adamant that there are too many corrupt and rogue cops in the country. People often wonder why there are hardly any sting operations to apprehend rogue police officers. We respect the views of Acting Police Commissioner Williams and others who believe that just a handful of corrupt and rogue officers exist in the Service. However, we wonder why so many citizens in the country disagree with the Acting Commissioner. He needs to find out why they have lost faith in the Police, when, according to him there are only about three percent of corrupt and rogue officers in the Service.

CBTT supports the Police Service and wants it to be successful in its fight against crime. However, this cannot be done if we continue to deny the existence of criminal activities among many police officers. Ten years ago, CBTT made one of its regular calls for bad eggs to be removed from the Service after a senior police officer was suspended for ordering four junior officers to release a prisoner who was held for trafficking marijuana. We wonder if the officer was ever reinstated on the job.

We believe that the real culprits in the drug trade are not being caught because some people are protecting them. Drugs seized have even gone missing at police stations and itís not ordinary citizens who are stealing them. Lack of evidence has been blamed for the continued protection of drug lords As a matter of fact, lack of evidence is blamed as the reason for the failure to arrest many criminals and other corrupt officials including corrupt and rogue police officers. The crime detection rate is very low and will get even lower once criminal elements in the Police Service continue to grow.

Itís clear that no amount of public relations by the Police will fool a population that is getting smarter by the day. The delay in arresting the police officer in the Sea Lots accident, which claimed the lives of three people, has not gone down well with the population. To make matters worse, the breathalyser test was not administered in time and the blood samples of the policeman were spoilt. Luckily, the pressure from the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and the media helped contribute to the arrest of the officer. We also wonder if the Police Commissioner has cleared the air on the Stacy Ramdeen incident in which a Caroni housewife mysteriously died during a police raid. There are also numerous instances in the past when alleged crimes involving police officers and their superiors have been swept under the carpet.

Viewpoint - March 25, 2013

Some principals and teachers continue to victimise parents and children

We are calling on the Minister of Education to come to the defense of two sisters who attend the Fanny Village Government Primary School. We just cannot allow some teachers and principal to bring our schools into disrepute. It seems that the school has decided that the children should be punished because a couple of teachers donít like the attitude of their parents.

On March 13 2013, the childrenís mother, who is also a teacher, tried to register her elder daughter to participate in a swim meeting. She was told by the school that they have no swim team at the school and that the procedure was not known. It should be noted that the two sisters represented the school at previous swim meetings. Isnít this a case of sabotage against the parent and their children?

These two young students, whose grades can attest to their scholastic aptitude, were not selected by their school for a field trip which comes off in a few days time.The parent spoke with the Acting Principal to find out why her children were being denied this opportunity and was told it was the teacherís decision. When she approached the teacher, she was informed that because of previous issues with the parents, the teacher needed to protect herself. The mother then pleaded with the teacher to be fair to her daughters but her reply to the parent was that she should have thought of that before. At one point, the teacher even walked out on the parent.

When the Acting Principal was asked to provide a written letter to explain the childrenís non- selection for the trip, she stated that such a written request would not be given to the studentsí mother. The Acting Principal informed the parent that she had no obligation to do so even when informed that the matter would be taken to the Ministry of Education. Itís unfortunate when the Education Ministry can be treated with such scant courtesy.

Both the father and mother are frustrated with the non-action of the Acting Principal in matters pertaining to their two daughters. They believe that their children have been treated unfairly and were subjected to mental distress. Their concern is that with the new system (C.A.C.) implemented to appraise students, it is obvious that their children may be put to a disadvantage.

Viewpoint - June 01,2010

CBTT supports Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar decision to go after corrupt officals

CBTT supports the decision by the new government to go after corrupt officials. No government in the past has been able to deal effectively with corruption. As a result corrupt practices have become rampant at every level of the society because not enough has been done to investigate and punish the perpetrators of this serious crime.

Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning had promised several years ago at Woodford Square to fight corruption but today the situation is worse than ever before. Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar now has the opportunity to go after those who steal the nationís wealth. She has promised that the fight against corruption and other criminal offences will be major priorities.

The previous government had failed to put a dent on murder and other serious crimes because it never listened to the views of its people. Basic measures like more police cars and patrol were not given priority. Many people believe that there will be fewer murders and other crimes in the country under a Kamla-led government which has promised to tackle crime with far-ranging criminal justice reform and introduce serious measures aimed at fighting crime.

The days of people joining political parties to engage in corrupt practices or to gain special favours must come to an end. We have public officials who live double lives-one for appearance sake and the other in a dark closet for fear of being found out. We agree with former Central Bank Governor, Winston Dookeran, that transparency and accountability are necessary if we are to rise to the occasion of our times. Challenging times are ahead for the new government because there are a lot of wrongs to be put right.

Mrs. Bissessar has started well by pointing out to her team the dangers of arrogant behaviour. There are countless politicians and other public officials who have fallen from grace because of a combination of self-minded focus and arrogance. It seems that some peopleís esteem of themselves is so low it's natural for them to protect themselves emotionally from getting hurt any further by exhibiting superiority or arrogance over others. They really need help. CBTT congratulates Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and hopes that her government will make this country a better place for all of us regardless of our creed, race or religion.

Viewpoint - May 01, 2010

Domestic violence is serious election issue

Domestic violence continues to be a major issue in our society, yet we are not sure if anyone on the campaign trail has tried to highlight this serious social problem. Maybe our candidates are neither victims nor perpetrators.

CBTT has been trying to highlight domestic violence for the past 17 years because we are aware of the serious implications attached to home violence. The leaders of political parties should begin to tackle the problem by refusing to accept anyone who is known to be a perpetrator of domestic violence. Itís difficult for a person to represent a community effectively if he or she is a poor exemplar at home.

A Trinidadian woman recently offered to help CBTT is it fight against domestic violence because of the trauma she suffered at the hands of her husband. She wrote: ďI got married in Trinidad in 1994 and the abuse started just days after the wedding. In 2001, my husband and I along with our two children moved to Florida, USA where my parents resided at the time. The abuse got worse and I finally ended up in a shelter with my two children. I won custody of them but my now ex-husband fled the country with both kids in 2002.

ďI have not seen my kids since then and have struggled and grieved a lot but after receiving counselling I am now a stronger and better person. I have only just gotten my travel documents, so I am now able to come to Trinidad to visit my children with the intention to work on getting them back at some point.Ē

She certainly needs to be careful because spousal abuse involves persons who are divorced or separated. She is among a growing number of victims who are now willing to come out in the open against spouses who are criminals in their own homes. However, too many victims still believe the crime is a private or personal matter while others fear reprisal if they report the crime. Another problem is that too many male police officers show disrespect for female victims of domestic violence. Some of these officers are perpetrators of violence in their own homes, so they have no moral authority to assist victims.

One male from the Gasparillo area is willing to give us a piece of land if we can get the funds to build a shelter for abused women and children. The man has witnessed many cases of domestic violence and wants to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Unlike many men who blame womenís behaviour for the violence inflicted on them by their husbands, he is adamant that many good women are victims of domestic violence which continues unabatedly because enough structures are not in place to deal with this crime. In the meantime many children who witness violence in their homes believe that it is an acceptable solution to the conflict. Thatís one of the major reasons for so much violence among students and other young people. We will eliminate a lot of violence in public life if we eliminate it in private life as well.

Viewpoint - December 01 2008

Too many men murdering their mates

CBTT is concerned over the recent spate of murders by men against their mates. In recent weeks four men have committed suicide after murdering their female companions while another 54-year-old Freeport man killed his 50-year-old wife of Siparia in Owings Mills, Maryland where they were residing.

Too many men, who crave control, believe that they own their wives or girlfriend. They appear on the outside to be friendly but they work hard to ensure that they are in total control of their spouses. A very dangerous time for any female in this sort of relationship is when she begins to empower herself, decides she's had enough, and makes an attempt to leave. Some abused women feel they aren't ready to leave because they feel powerless, trapped in a marriage or relationship that gets more dangerous by the day. This is so even though women have greater economic independence than previously.

The lenient sentences some perpetrators get based on pleas such as spur-of-the-moment impulse, insane rage, provoked beyond endurance, jealous rage, and similar fairy tales that judges tend to believe are satanic and demonic. Any man who is able to snuff the life out of a woman they profess to love is an unadulterated evil in human form.

These murders should not be tolerated even though some of the victims commit acts of indiscretion during their relationships. Thousands of people in this country are living with abusive and violent spouses, many of whom are potential murderers. One of the solutions to this growing social ill is for people to make wiser choices when choosing a mate. You either do so or face the stark reality of living with a very dangerous man or woman.

While a lot of emphasis is being placed on the increasing violence and indiscipline in our schools, we are failing to recognise that violence in the home is even more rampant. In many cases, the home environment is the breeding ground for violence and indiscipline among young people. That's why we need to focus more on family life in our schools. There is nothing wrong in attaining high academic qualifications but if we lack proper values and morals, we will always be a liability in our homes.

Viewpoint - November 01 2008

CBTT supports life imprisonment for child molesters

The Editor: Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) agrees that life imprisonment should be imposed on child molesters. CBTT, which has persistently called for life incarceration for child sex offenders, believes that the bill to protect children has come too late. Nevertheless, we support the bill's tough measures against child abusers.

Thousands of our children are victims of child abuse even though many people continue to deny this fact. While the statement made by Social Development Minister Amery Browne that the Rape Crisis Centre had dealt with 62 cases of child abuse in 2007 was true, the stark reality is that this number is a far cry from the many young children who are abused on a daily basis in this country. The Honourable Minister should also remember that former Police Commissioner Everald Snaggs revealed that police investigated 272 cases of sexual abuse among children in 1999, while in 2000 there was a startling 146 per cent increase, when the number rose to 617. Since then criminal acts against children have gotten much worse.

Adults who sexually molest young boys and girls are criminals and should be dealt with severely. And, by the way, the sale of alcohol to minors is also a criminal offence and a form of child abuse. It's heartbreaking when parents, guardians, teachers, counsellors and even spiritual leaders sexually molest the very children who look to them for guidance, security and protection.

] Child abuse occurs regularly even before many of our children reach 10, so it's important that parents be careful with whom their kids associate. We must not for one moment believe the church, mosque or temple is completely safe because many evil people frequent these places of worship to make others believe they are decent and respectable citizens. We need to identify the perverts so that our children will not become victims of child sex abuse.

It's well known that most of the crimes against children go unreported. CBTT believes that the bill to protect our children will make little difference if the criminals are not caught and brought to justice. Many of the murderers, kidnappers and other criminals are not caught and jailed, so it is difficult to believe that we are going to do better against child molesters, unless the Police and citizens work hand in hand to fight child abuse effectively in our country.

The media should be praised for highlighting the abuse of children. To a large extent, they have forced the authorities to act on the important bill to protect children. That's why it's important that the print and electronic media continue to highlight murder, kidnapping, child abuse, corruption and other serious crimes in the country.

Viewpoint - October 01 2008

Teachers being victimised by their own Board of Education

By Harrack Balramsingh, President, CBTT

I request the help of the Ministry of Education, the Teaching Service Commission and the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers' Association (TTUTA). My call for assistance concerns teachers of two denominational secondary schools in the South.

Firstly, let me point out that when an individual enters the teaching profession, normally he or she has to complete a two-year probationary period. If all goes well (and it normally does) then at the end of this two-year period the individual is "confirmed" and becomes "permanent". Of course given the bureaucracy the process usually takes longer than the two years. The individual must also undergo a medical examination. In my case, I was asked to take this medical test after about four years in teaching.

The main thing is that the teacher moves from "temporary" status to "permanent" status. This is a big deal because it affects your job status, pension and promotion. In the case of denominational schools there is an additional document that must be submitted to the Ministry of Education before the teacher becomes "permanent". This document is a letter from the denominational Board of Education recommending the teacher.

However, in the case of these two denominational schools, this letter has not been submitted for many teachers. The school board has refused point blank to issue the letters of recommendation for these secondary school teachers. The person who has to sign these letters is the Chairman of the Education Board. I wonder if he refuses to sign the letters because he wants to keep the teachers in perpetual servitude. If teachers are temporary they will not "rock the boat" and will forever be beholden to the Board. Of course, no board chairman will go on record as saying so.

I am talking about dedicated teachers, some of whom have been employed for the past 12 years! Today I wish to ask the Ministry of Education, the Teaching Service Commission and TTUTA whether they are aware of this situation. If they are aware, then the affected teachers need to know why nothing has been done to assist them. Imagine these teachers are employees of the Ministry of Education and yet the State is powerless to protect the interests of its own employees from the whimsical actions of one individual. How can this be? How can an uncaring Board have such an adverse impact on the lives of so many dedicated teachers? What happens to these teachers when they go to the bank for a loan or a mortgage and are asked for a letter from their employer stating their job status? You see, after many years in the teaching profession, they are still considered temporary teachers. Once again, I plead with the Ministry of Education, the Teaching Service Commission and TTUTA to act swiftly in helping these affected teachers.

Viewpoint - September 01 2008

Spousal abuse reaches all-time high

We wish to reiterate that that spousal abuse has reached an all-time high in Trinidad and Tobago. CBTT has been highlighting for years now that many homes are war zones and with every passing day, family violence is getting worse. Among the serious perpetrators are politicians, lawyers, doctors, counsellors, engineers, teachers, priests and other professional men and women. What is shocking is that many of these educated citizens act like beasts in their homes but behave like saints on the outside.

There is a perception that educated people are able to handle problems in relationships better than the average man. We need to change this perception because this is not so. Hardly anyone can question the fact that we have a better educated society today. However, as we stated in the past, we must place serious emphasis on good family values if we wish to have our children become exemplary fathers and mothers in the future. Maybe the University of the West Indies can consider adding more elective courses in family life.

It's a criminal act to physically abuse your spouse. We should preach this message with greater frequency to children from an early age since there are so many people out there who believe that it's their right to own and abuse their spouse. Spousal abuse is having a serious effect on victims, yet many of them keep quiet to try to save their marriage or to prevent further abuse if they report domestic violence cases to the police. That is the extent to which many spouses are under siege by their violent partner. Perpetrators need urgent help themselves because their violent acts, in most instances, are a reflection of their past upbringing.

More people than ever are confessing that they feel imprisoned and unsafe in their homes, yet they continue to protect the perpetrators. In some instances, the victims also confess that they are still very much in love with their abusive spouses even though they suffer great physical and psychological pain. This is indeed very sad and heartbreaking especially when people confess love to the very person who is causing them so much pain and suffering.

We are far from winning the war against domestic violence even though there are many genuine people and groups out there that are trying to put a dent on this serious social ill. It seems that we have to wage a relentless battle against violence in the home and begin in earnest to point out to victims that there is a way out of the violence from which they are suffering. The perpetrators with a history of domestic abuse in the home must be singled out and exposed , especially if they refuse to seek help.

Viewpoint - August 01 2008

CBTT supports move by TT top cop to rid the Police Service of rude and corrupt cops

Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) supports the planned move by Ag. Commissioner of Police James Philbert to rid the Police Service of rude and corrupt cops. This is long overdue. The longer corrupt, incompetent and disrespectful officers are allowed to remain in the police service, the more difficult it will become to control the drug trade and other serious crimes in the country.

CBTT has been calling for the removal of crooked cops for the past 15 years but corrupt officers have been allowed to remain in the police service to conduct their evil deeds. It is commendable that James Philbert is attempting to take action against bad eggs in his department so as to help restore public confidence in the Police Service.

Previous Police Commissioners have been unable to stem the tide of criminal elements in the Service. As a matter of fact, recent surveys done by CBTT suggest that citizens of Trinidad and Tobago have little or no faith in the Police. The people of this country have the greatest distrust for police officers and politicians. This should not be so because there are some very good cops and politicians around. That's why the corrupt ones must be identified and removed.

CBTT is pleased that Philbert has acknowledged the fact that bad eggs exist in the Service and is prepared to take corrective action. This is a step in the right direction so we must all support him in his attempt to deal with the criminal elements in the Police Service. Once he is able to get rid of rude, incompetent and corrupt cops from his department, he will succeed in the battle against crime.

Viewpoint - July 01 2008

Religious school board meets to discuss sexual misconduct by teachers

The Presbyterian School Board should be singled out for praise for deciding to meet to discuss the sexual misconduct and acts of violence by teachers of Presbyterian Schools. Other boards should stop hiding the truth and follow suit since some principals and teachers of other board schools had, in the past, been speared punishment, dismissal and even jail for acts of violence and sexual misconduct against minors and others.

CBTTtried in the past to highlight sexual misconduct by some teachers in the hope that the Ministry of Education would take note and make a more concerted effort to investigate and bring the culprits to justice. However, the deliberate cover-up by schools was responsible for keeping away such serious cases from reaching the Ministry as well as the media and public. As a result, many young children continued to become victims of lecherous adults posing as teachers and educators.

One teacher, who was, throughout his teaching career, accused by students of sexual misconduct, eventually ended up being a principal of a primary school. Another teacher from a board school, not affiliated with the Presbyterian, had a history of seducing his primary level students and even left his wife to marry one of them. Yet, this teacher became the principal of a religious school based solely on his length of service. We know of a teacher who was caught in a compromising position with his student on the school compound but was transferred to another school instead of being investigated and punished for his behavior.

Some teachers and principals in the past were suspended for years for sexual misconduct but were reinstated by the Ministry which cleared them of any wrongdoing. We wonder why they were suspended for so long in the first place.

Covering up the evils of a few teachers, just because their schools are religiously oriented and get super examination results, is an ungodly act in itself. Even if a teacher gets 100 percent passes for so-called prestige schools but are found to be guilty of fondling his students, he or she should be jailed for life without parole. Those who turn a blind eye to this evil act against our innocent children and so allow the victims no recourse have a lot to answer to the Almighty.

Most of our teachers have very high values and create a positive impact on their students. However, there are more than a few who have caused trauma and psychological damage to our children. Too many of us stood by quietly and pretended that sexual misconduct as well as violence by teachers were not major problems in our schools. For this, we shall continue to pay a dear price.

Viewpoint - June 01 2008

Life imprisonment without parole recommended for child sex offenders

Over seven years ago, we publicly invited the national community to join with Citizens For A Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) in praying for the abused children of the nation. Back then we were getting numerous reports of violence and sexual abuse against children by relatives, teachers and even owners of children's homes. We remember that many people criticised us then for making a mountain out of a molehill even though we were clearly stating the truth.

Today, the situation has to be much worse because very little has been done over the years to protect our children against abuse from sick perpetrators who are roaming our homes, schools and communities. Former Police Commissioner Everald Snaggs revealed some years ago that police had investigated 272 cases of sexual abuse among children in 1999, while in 2000, there was a startling 146 per cent increase, when the number rose to 617. After such revelations, we wonder why a more concerted effort was not made to address the serious problem of child abuse.

In our country today, there are more parties, rum drinking sprees, violence and bacchanal in the home and community than prayers and worship. As we stated before, even the highest educational institution in our land has a bar where some young university students can drink freely even before going to classes. We continue to make no apology for saying so.

Not all the abuse against children are alcohol and drug related, but our own investigation has shown that many of the perpetrators have a problem with substance abuse. In past years, CBTT could have reported many perverts to the police, but most of the victims were influenced by their mothers and other relatives to sweep the matter under the carpet.

CBTT has consistently stated that adults who sexually molest young children are criminals who should be shown no mercy. We find it very difficult to understand how some parents, guardians, teachers, counsellors and even spiritual leaders can abuse the very children who look to them for guidance, security and protection. We also wish to point out that many of the child abuse reports we have received involve stepfathers, so we plead with women to be careful of these men who profess to love them and their children.

We have pointed out that the majority of child sex abuse cases occur before the age of ten. That's why , we must be careful with whom our children associate. Today, we call for life imprisonment without parole, against those who are found guilty of sexually molesting these children.

Viewpoint - May 01 2008

Are police covering up Rajkumar killing?

Some months ago, Rishi Rajkumar was killed by an alleged drunk driver but so far no one has been arrested even though the perpetrator has been identified. We call on Police Commissioner Trevor Paul to investigate this matter since there seems to be a concerted effort by some police officers to protect the perpetrator. The top cop should clear the air on allegations made by friends and relatives of the deceased that a cover-up by police officers exists in this case.

Paul should know that among many good police officers there are also a lot of incompetent, inefficient and corrupt cops in his fold. The Rishi Rajkumar case is another opportunity for the Commissioner to find out why the driver who knocked down and killed Rishi, has not been called upon to answer serious charges levelled against him.

It's interesting to note that Rishi Rajkumar was robbed of his car sometime prior to his demise. We understand that no one was ever arrested for this crime even though the bandits were identified. One bandit even apologised for his part in the robbery. Paul should begin his investigation at the Freeport Police Station to find out if reports made on behalf of Rishi were properly dealt with by police officers.

By the way, we wonder if the Police Commissioner shares the view of a senior police officer who stated recently that some cops had become corrupted because too many citizens were willing to bribe these officers? Was this officer defending rogue cops who accept bribes from the public? We suggest that decent and law-abiding officers be allowed to set up sting operations against crooked cops so we can quickly get rid of the bad eggs from the Police Service. We doubt, though, that this suggestion will be taken seriously at this time. Maybe a new police head may get serious and place serious emphasis on wiping out the rogue element from the Police Service.

Viewpoint - April 01 2008

Depression caused by cheating and dishonest spouses

CBTT laments the large number of people who suffer from depression and suicidal tendencies because of cheating and dishonest spouses.This is what the group has discovered in its dealing with family problems over the past 15 years. However, we rarely hear the experts blaming cheating and other forms of dishonesty as major reasons for violence and suicide in the home. This fact may not go down too well with cheaters since the truth always offends some people.

While financial problems, loss of jobs, serious illness and loss of self esteem are causes for depression, the fact is that a loving and honest spouse can make a major difference to his or her partner when the going gets tough.

Another serious problem is the excessive jealousy by some husbands and wives. Many women are battered and confined by jealous men. There are also situations when males, fearing their jealous partners, are fearful of talking or even being seen in the presence of other females. Some partners commit suicide or kill because of jealousy. Others drink and abuse drugs. In some emotional and mental disorders, irrational jealousy is the first symptom to appear. Clearly, excessive jealousy is as a result of lack of confidence and poor self-esteem and is a serious illness.

CBTT believes that one of the best solutions to depression, mental disorder and suicide is for husbands and wives to do their part in creating a loving family environment.

Many of them pretend to be perfect mates and parents but the truth is that they create a lot of problems in their homes. In closing, we wish to state that social and religious workers, psychiatrists and counsellors, will make a difference in people's lives if only they themselves are honest in the home or society

Viewpoint - March 01 2008

T&T govt should intervene in deportee dilemma

The call by some citizens for a limited State of Emergency in certain areas in Trinidad to help curb crime is a clear indication that the anti-crime measures being adopted by our police and security agencies in areas such as Movant, Laventille and East Port-of-Spain have so far failed to get the desired results.

The wave of crimes in these areas did not surface overnight. Many residents who live there are aware that most of the gang related crimes are drug related. This drug culture has been passed down by many parents to their children.

Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) pleaded with the authorities years ago to introduce serious anti-drug programmes through community councils and other groups but these pleas were never taken seriously. Instead we were lambasted on many occasions by people who felt the organisation was making a mountain out of a molehill.

All kinds of courses are being introduced in community councils, which are admirable, but no genuine attempt has been made to highlight the grave dangers of alcohol and illegal drug abuse to family life. What is well-known about many of these community organisations is that they are very good at arranging regular functions with a well stocked bar where even minors are sold alcohol beverages.

I wish to point out, without any reservations whatsoever, that the La Romaine Integrated Educated Project (IEP) was the only community school in Trinidad and Tobago which had the foresight over 10 years ago to set up an annual drug awareness week in Trinidad and Tobago. It's is sad that the IEP's attempt was not taken seriously by other schools when it mattered the most.

The police must now rise up to the challenge in crime ridden areas and do what is necessary to help curb the gang violence which is becoming worse by the day. While we may be focusing on Laventille, Movant and East Port-of-Spain, more gangs are cropping up in other areas of the country. We may soon be calling for State of Emergencies in other areas as well if serious anti-crime measures are not put in place immediately.

Viewpoint - February 01 2008

Calls for change in T&T's education system

Sometime ago, CBTT's chairman Harrack Balramsingh wrote an article about the performance of government and denomination schools. It is interesting to note the comments from those who read the article. Sadly, they believe that the division which exists between the state run and denominational schools will continue for a long time to come. They are not happy that we continue to judge children by their academic success Ėas being "good" students and "bad" students- as well as by their success rates in external exams, so that we have "good" schools and "bad" schools. Clearly they believe that we should see students as our children, each one deserving the best that we can give him or her.

One gets the impression that it's all about "exam success" and not fully "academic success". You see, a person who achieves real academic success must not only be good at science, mathematics, computers, geography or history but must also be able to effectively communicate with others. He/she should be capable of working in culturally diverse settings, making responsible decisions and must display commitment to their families and communities.

One reader says that whenever the SEA, O'Level and A'Level results come out, we tend to place great focus on a handful of students and schools. People are not opposed to honouring sacrifice and hard work but who. can say that the 101st child or the 5650th child did not work or study or sacrifice as much or more than the child who came first?

Our primary school teachers are aware of the varying abilities and background of five and six-year-olds. And we haven't even started talking about those children who have hidden disabilities and who will never ever have these diagnosed, much less treated. They will go through their school life (and life generally) without the necessary help.

Some citizens point out that Christian, Hindu and Muslim scriptures advocate helping the poor, the disadvantaged and the needy. Yet, they believe that denominational schools (secondary) are firmly in the business of promoting educational "success" of a few while abandoning the mass of needy children who make their way through the government schools. One person asked: " Do you take in a child making 85% in the SEA, who is from an impoverished, single parent family or do you instead take in a child making 70% whose parents are willing to "donate" the sum of $10 000 to the school building fund?"

Certainly many people may not want to pen their names to an article with such statements; hence the reason, I am including their views in this letter. There is no need for us to become offended if we are truthful, honest and do not accept bribes from parents. One person said: "If the religious bodies are true to their respective faiths they would give up their privilege to choose the 20% intake at secondary schools and let the State allocate the spaces based on NEED (poverty, disability and other extenuating circumstances). By doing this, he adds, they fulfill their obligation to help the ones most in need of their "superior" organisation and years of expertise. Is this likely to happen? Probably never, according to most people.

Many citizens believe that religious boards should not be given all of the top SEA performers. But they are of the view that this will continue because too many people have too much to lose. One man writes that parents, especially the middle and upper class will kick up the biggest fuss you can ever imagine. They know how the game is played and they have the resources. Others are of the view that some parents will not sit idly by and see their children being placed in schools with "them kinda people children". Then the denominational secondary schools themselves, according to one lady, will raise a hullabaloo because this gravely interferes with their plans for success five and seven years down the road. These needy children will bring down their pass rate and also they are not the kind to win scholarships, she says. One man puts it this way: "Change comes very slowly but there must always be advocates."

Viewpoint - January 01 2008

More lives will be lost in 2008

In its New Year message to the nation, CBTT lamented the high murder rate in the country as well as the increase in corrupt practices and other criminal activities. While citizens are being asked to lead better lives to combat crimes, the State must introduce effective measures in the New Year to protect the lives and properties of its citizens. At the moment Trinidad and Tobago is a very unsafe place because while criminal activities have increased by leaps and bounds, very little has been done by those in authority to make citizens feel safe in their homes and neighbourhoods.

Promises have been made by the authorities to deal harshly with criminals but most of these promises are taking too long to be honoured. In the meantime people are continuing to lose their lives and properties and are being told that they should not blame the Police or the Government.

While it is true that our people can contribute to a better and safer society by ensuring that they bring up law abiding citizens in their homes, the Police and the Government have a duty to serve and protect the people from criminals. This is clearly not being done in any serious way. Any layman can see that police patrols in the country are far from adequate. Added to this, the many promises to install cameras at strategic locations throughout the country have not been kept.

Even more crucial is the fact that corrupt policemen continue to thrive in the Police Service. While not all police officers are crooks, the fact is that there are many cops who are very corrupt and these include some members of the Regiment.

It seems that Commissioner Trevor Paul has never visited the United States, Canada, England or other first World nations and witnessed the efficiency of their police patrols on the streets. The Commissioner should be sponsored by Government to visit these places so he could then acknowledge the inadequate Police patrol system in Trinidad and Tobago. Paul is clearly not blaming himself or the police for the upsurge in crimes because he believes he is doing an excellent job in fighting crime.

Hundreds more citizens are, once again, going to lose their lives in 2008 with many others losing valuables and properties. This can be avoided if promises are kept to implement serious crime preventing measures in all areas of the country in the New Year. Talk and promises would not help. The authorities need to be told: "Action speaks louder than words."

Viewpoint - December 1 2007

Time for transparency from church leaders

"If all of us practise the teachings of Christ, we will have a more loving and peaceful society. " This statement is contained in CBTT's 2007 Christmas. We believe that the Church is an important institution which has a responsibility to encourage its members to make spiritual progress and to show their faith by their behavior, both through their ethics and their good works.

However, as we have stated before on numerous occasions, this cannot be done effectively if church leaders are not proper exemplars. While many people are very good at expounding the word of God to others, they have serious problems in their own lives because they do not practise what they preach.

The time has come for church members to demand transparency and acceptable behavior from their pastors, priests, pundits and imams because too many of them, by their actions, have caused the exodus of young people from the houses of worship. CBTT continues to receive numerous complaints about arrogant and non-exemplary Church leaders and administrators who believe it is more important that they appear righteous to others than whether they are really righteous or not. Some of these self-righteous people read opinion polls and then try to do and say things which would garner them the most respect. They even propagate AIDS awareness and the giving of hampers at certain times of the year, then heap congratulations on themselves for their wonderful deeds like the Pharisees of old.

The day is coming when hypocrites will be called to account for all their presumptuous intruding into gospel ordinances, and usurpation of gospel privileges. Those Christians who walk unworthy of Christianity, forfeit all the happiness they presumptuously claim. Christ was serious when he said: "Many are called but few are chosen." A lot of Christians are invited to the Church but only a few of those that have been invited meet the criteria of proper respect to be fully accepted by Christ. We are sure that in the true spirit of Christmas, true Christians will not be offended by these statements.

If Christ's teachings are adhered to, then we would not be experiencing the many poor services in the country. Certain people with the responsibility and the power to provide proper services for our people fail to do so because they have little or no concern for others. Yet, many of these people profess to have a personal relationship with God. In a country of plenty, people still have to tolerate poor roads, inadequate water supplies and other poor services. And they have been doing so for years while promises upon promises have not been honoured by officials.

CBTT's Christmas message also stated that murder and suicide in the family would continue at unacceptable levels until we seriously decided to allow God to be part of our lives. True Christians, Hindus and Moslems who follow the teachings of their scriptures do not beat their spouses or participate in any corrupt or criminal activities. This also applies to politicians, who seek office or positions of power and then fail to deliver on promises they make to citizens.

We wish to spare a thought for those who fearlessly speak out against the ills of society in spite of the threat of victimisation. This is a Christ-like act which deserves commendation. The time has come for church members to demand transparency and acceptable behavior from their leaders. " Be strong and of a good courage, Fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

Viewpoint - November 1 2007

Too many corrupt cops in T&T says senior police office

CBTT which for years has been calling for the removal of crooked and corrupt police officers, is not surprised by allegations of Police corruption from Supt Chandrabhan Maharaj, formerly of the Firearms Interdiction Unit, and the Organised Crime and Narcotics Unit. Maharaj also contends that some rogue cops are involved in the drugs and arms trade.

Many other police officers have expressed similar sentiments but they refuse to go public for fear of reprisal. There are dedicated cops in Trinidad and Tobago but there are also criminals in the Police Service and this is one of the main reasons for many of the serious crimes in the country.

The leadership of the Police Service has not been able to stem the tide of rogue and corrupt officers within the rank and file of the department. Maharajís statement has not surprised the majority of the population because most citizens are aware that there are corrupt cops although some may pretend that this is not so.

CBTT has been saying over and over again for more than a decade that rogue cops contribute to many of the crimes in the country. They not only protect criminals but are themselves involved in serious crimes. On more than one occasion in the past, we were vilified by some people, including police officers, who probably believe that their crookedness would be exposed if serious investigations were made against corrupt police officers. CBTT reiterates that the longer we take to recognise the many acts of corruption, police brutality and victimisation of our citizens, the safety and welfare of our people will continue to be threatened. Criminal activities by officers have instilled great fear in many citizens including those cops who genuinely want to protect and serve their people.

We believe that if Supt. Maharaj had accepted his promotion, it would have been very difficult for him to bring rogue cops to justice especially when genuine support is not coming from the top. There must be a major shakeup at the administrative level before the situation can improve. Instead of getting any better, the number of criminals and rogues in the Police Service has grown to unacceptable levels. We again warn the authorities that unless we eliminate police rogues we are not going to encourage many qualified and honest young people to apply to become police officers. The youth of the nation have a very negative view of police officers because of those crooked cops who bring the Service into disrepute.

The time has come for us to do less talking and have an intensive investigation into the wrongdoings of police officers at all levels of the Service. We must ensure that corrupt cops are not appointed to investigate other corrupt officers.

Viewpoint - October 01, 2007

Cleaners in denominational schools claim discrimination

CBTT has received numerous complaint concerning pensions for cleaners in denominational schools. They claim they work just as hard as their counterparts in the government schools yet their salaries are lower. Many of them are pleading for an increase in salary along with a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) and a decent pension. Judging by the many complaints we have received it seems that many cleaners in denominational schools feel they are doing the exact work as their counterparts yet are treated quite differently simply because they are not employed in government schools.

Some say they donít know if the fault lies with the Ministry of Education or with the various Boards or if the blame should be shared. But what they say is that cleaners in Denominational Schools operate under severe disadvantages. They claim they have absolutely no job security. They are hired and fired at the whim and fancy of the various Boards. They complain that they do not have the privilege of due process of law.

They are paid much less than cleaners in the Government Schools. One gentleman told me that he had witnessed personally, in the case of a particular Board, that when there was an increase in the Grant given to the Board for the cleaners, these unfortunate workers were not paid the full amount. Instead the Board unilaterally decided that this increase was too much money for the cleaners. He wondered what happened to the balance of the grant.

Itís unfortunate that after 20 to 30 years of continuous service they have no pension to collect. If they are given even a small gratuity then that constitutes a miracle. Their status is temporary in cases of up to 25 years. These people continue to complain that they are struggling to earn a living for themselves and their families, yet they are treated in the worst manner possible. Those who dare to complain are informed by the "religious" Board members that there are many people waiting for their job. So those who don't like it are shown the door out.

We are pleading with the people in authority to address the problems of these cleaners. Itís unbelievable no one has come out in the open and state whether these complaints from cleaners at Denominations Schools are true or false. Maybe a few principals of these schools could state whether cleaners at their schools are being treated fairly.

Viewpoint - September 01, 2007

CBTT condemns vandalism of Siewdass Shiva Mandir

CBTT condemns the recent vandalism of the Siewdass Sadhu Shiva Mandir in Waterloo, Carapichaima. The attack on the ďTemple by the SeaĒ was not the first time that criminals had shown disrespect for places of worship. As a matter of fact, there are Hindus, Christians and members of other faiths who can attest to their holy places being vandalised in the past.

Citizens are being forced to hire their own security personnel to protect their lives and properties because the State has fallen short in this respect. Criminals are becoming more and more dangerous and church-goers will have to be extra careful to and from church. They may also have to protect themselves while inside their places of worship. Some religious leaders and their members have already adjusted their times of worship. Others depend solely on the Lord for their protection and safety.

Citizens may remember that some years ago, a bandit entered the Archbishopís House in Port-of-Spain and tried to rob the late Anthony Pantin. The man was recognised by the Catholic leader who once helped him. So it is very possible that there are also bandits and other dangerous criminals inside our places of worship.

Trinidad and Tobago has become a very attractive place for criminals because they are able to commit serious crimes, day or night, knowing full well that a proper security system is almost non-existent in most areas of the country. We must be prepared to experience more vandalism, robbery, kidnapping, murder and other crimes in our homes, churches and streets until the authorities decide to implement serious measures to protect citizens.

Vandalism at the Siewdass Sadhu Shiva Mandir is another wake up call for the State to place more emphasis on securing the lives and properties of all our citizens. Vandalising religious places is an attack on the rights of people to worship and must not be tolerated.

The open condemnation of serious crimes by the authorities is welcome but we plead with them to use their authority to provide more security for our citizens. Action speaks louder than words, so those who can make changes need to talk less and act more in order to fight crime effectively.

CBTT supports the government in all its anti-crime measures. We wish to see a safer Trinidad and Tobago for all our citizens. Thatís why we plead with the authorities, once again, to introduce more police patrols all over the country as well as the implementation of cameras and other crime fighting devices to help catch the perpetrators.

Viewpoint - August 01, 2007

CBTT commemorates 14th anniversary.

...and pledges to continue the fight against domestic violence, substance abuse, incest, child abuse, discrimination and corruption which exist in society.

In commemoration of the 14th anniversary of Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) on August 1, 2007, we wish to remind the national community of our continued commitment to help eradicate many of the social ills affecting the nation. CBTT will continue to do all in its power to fight against domestic violence, substance abuse, incest, child abuse, discrimination and corruption which exist in society.

In our 14 years of existence, people have come and gone for one reason or the other. Some wanted to be associated with us but opted out when we insisted that we must be neutral in all our undertakings. It is well known that many people are not comfortable in organisations that place great emphasis on accountability and transparency so they leave in a hurry before their dark secrets are exposed.

Many people are offended by the truth but we have always maintained that the truth shall prevail even though some may be offended by it.

We have consistently spoken out against some pastors, priests, pundits and other religious officials who care only about the monetary gains they receive from their members. We have had numerous complaints about certain religious officials who pretend to serve God in spirit and in truth but who are serious sex molesters to our children. On the other hand we have paid glowing tribute to all religious, social and community leaders who help in no small way to make Trinidad and Tobago a better place in which to live.

We have voiced strong objections to those politicians who swear they love and cherish people but fail our citizens when they finally get into positions of authority. We publicly stated over the years that there were some arrogant and corrupt officials in our schools who did as they please. On numerous occasions, we never hesitated to publicly express disgust against teachers who pretended to be role models when in actuality they were perverts.

Time and time again, we called on the relevant authorities to wage a serious battle against corrupt and evil police officers who helped bring the Service into disrepute. We have been criticised and chastised by some people including police officers for making these frequents calls. However, the vast majority of citizens agree with us that the Police Service consists of more than a few officers who are involved in corruption and other serious criminal activities.

CBTT with the help of other organisations pleaded for the past 14 years for the breathalyser to be introduced to help lessen the carnage on our roads. . We also called for a ban on all alcohol advertisements. Today we hear that alcohol is a major problem among police officers. The fact is that excessive drinking is also a serious problem among doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals. There are numerous citizens who can bear witness to this.

We also called for the removal of the bar at the University of the West Indies because we felt that the University should be setting an example to the nationís youth. We were chastised for making such a call by people who saw no wrong in the university approving the sale of liquor during school hours. Years ago, we pointed out that indiscipline and violence were related to alcohol abuse among students but we were told that we were making a mountain out of a molehill. Today, the situation is worse because more of our children are abusing alcohol and drugs.

Genuine groups donít sweep problems under the carpet; instead they recognise that the wrongs in society must be brought out in the open before they can be corrected. At the same time we admit that those brave enough to speak out against the social ills in society must be prepared to face victimisation especially from people with too much ďcocoa in the sunĒ.

We have not won many of our battles against the ills in society mainly because we must depend on people in authority to help us. However, at least we have attacked with full force those perpetrators who pose a danger to others and by extension to our beautiful Trinidad and Tobago.

Finally, CBTT wishes to thank all those who have helped us to help others. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for the kindness they have shown to their fellow citizens especially the underprivileged as well as the victims of physical and sexual abuse, exploitation and discrimination.

Viewpoint - July 01, 2007

High-level officials must set an example for the workforce

Some time ago a former Correction Commissioner in the State of Maryland, USA was fined $500 for allowing three correction officers to repair his swimming pool. This leaves us to wonder how many high-level officials in Trinidad and Tobago would have been fined for entering into business or financial relationships with subordinates.

There was no indication that the Maryland Commissioner William Fraser coerced the officers in this case but according to the Conflicts of Interest Board, high-level officials must set an example for the workforce.

Fraser told investigators that when he was assistant chief of department several years ago he "mentioned" to the correction officers that his above-ground swimming pool had a leak. He claimed they repaired it on their own time and that he reimbursed them for labour and material. Fraser may not have engaged in a corrupt act but he did admit to violating the City Charter provision which prohibits officials from entering into business or financial relationships with those under their charge. Why can't we have a similar provision in Trinidad and Tobago?

In this country, there are instances when government workers are allowed time off from their jobs to do special favours for their bosses. Some officials even divert materials and other valuable items brought for government buildings to their homes or other private properties. We know of school principals who give teachers time off from their classes to do private jobs for them.

The time has come for us to demand high standards from all heads of department in our Public and State enterprises. We must also deal severely with all those people in authority who believe that those under their charge must cater to their sexual demands.

Many government workers are not happy at being used by officials who believe that their positions of authority permit them to do as they please. In closing, we must admit that arrogance and abuse of power are rampant among many high-level officials here. We need to be thankful to those who are meek and humble in our midst since they are the ones who bring some level of sanity to our country.

Viewpoint - June 01, 2007

Make all our public high schools in T&T prestige institutions

It's unfair to compare the "so called" prestige schools in Trinidad and Tobago with the senior, composite and other government's secondary schools. It is well known that the Education Ministry sends the top performers in the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination to schools run by religious boards, so clearly these schools are supposed to perform academically superior to most government colleges.

What is difficult to understand is why governments after governments have not seen it fit to send the best SEA students to their own schools. Clearly we have been brainwashed into believing that our children will not perform as well in public schools as they do in schools run by religious boards. Queen's Royal College is a good example of a government college that has produced some of our greatest scholars. It must be remembered that some of our best primary-level students went there.

Once we place our top students in some of our best managed government schools, we are willing to bet that these colleges will gain prestige status in a very short time. You don't even have to change the teachers at these public schools because they possess many capable and efficient teachers. Of course there are the bad eggs that should be removed forthwith.

We wish to make it clear that we fully support schools run by religious boards but they should not be given all the top SEA performers. If these schools are good at handling delinquency and violence among our students, then they should be able to do an excellent job with some of the students who create serious problems at the junior, senior and composite schools. There are very good teachers and principals in the board schools so it possible that many of our students who turn out to be delinquents at the government secondary schools may instead become role models in the "so called" prestige schools run by religious boards. At least this is the view of ardent supporters of our board schools. We need to find out if this is really true.

It seems that the people who run our education system have no confidence in most of the government schools here, hence the reason for sending the vast majority of our top students to colleges managed by religious boards. It is well know in this country that we have always had problems with many institutions managed by the State. The Iron and Steel Company of Trinidad and Tobago (ISCOTT), Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), Caroni Limited, British West Indian Airways (BWIA) are some that come to mind.

This article may not go down too well with people who oppose change. Their wish is for the Ministry of Education to continue sending the best students to schools run by religious boards in order to preserve the status quo.

In closing, we wish to salute the many graduates of junior, senior and composite secondary schools who are making sterling contributions to the nation. These are the people who have brought a degree of prestige to many of our government secondary schools and for this we owe them and their teachers a great debt of gratitude.

Viewpoint - May 01, 2007

15 year-old pastor's daughter engages in sexually explicit dance with Akon

Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) pointed out repeatedly over the years that minors were being allowed to enter bars and clubs. I wonder why a concerted effort was never made to punish the perpetrators. If the 15 year-old pastorís daughter was not caught on film engaging in a sexually explicit dance with Hip Hop singer Akon at Club Zen recently., the chances are that this grave sin committed by bar and club owners may have continued to go unnoticed. We wonder if anyone has ever been fined or imprisoned for permitting minors into their clubs and bars.

CBTT has been repeatedly calling on the relevant authorities to enforce stiff penalties against all those who permit minors into their rum shops and clubs. We also pointed out that many of our students under the age of 18 could be seen drinking in clubs and bars as well as school functions and community events. This did not go down too well with many of the perpetrators including those rum shop owners who allow their very young teenage children to sell alcohol to adults and other minors. We have been severely criticised and cursed by some of these perpetrators whose main aim is to continue to exploit our young teenagers.

Many citizens will remember CBTTís unrelenting fight against principals who permitted the sale of alcohol to students at school functions. After years of complaints from us and a few other citizens, the Education Ministry finally decided last year to stop the sale of alcohol to students at school functions. We salute the Ministry for taking such action although it should have been done years ago.

CBTT has been stating over and over again that pastors, preachers, pundits, imams and other religious heads cannot be effective if they are unable to control their own home. Itís amazing how many of them boast of creating a better society when in fact their own homes are in shambles. While we try to seek answers to the increasing indiscipline and violence among many young people, the fact is that many of us contribute to the poor behaviour of children because we are far from being role models and good managers in our homes.

We wish to point out that our society will continue to deteriorate rapidly if we are unable to supervise our children properly from an early age. The best home supervisor is the parent who practises what he or she preaches to children. This is the true secret to a better Trinidad and Tobago and by extension a better world.

Viewpoint - April 01, 2007

Lewd wining should not be part of our culture.

Senior Magistrate Cheryl-Ann Blake and the Appeal Court comprising judges Ivor Archie and Allan Mendonca were right to refuse dancehall and liquor licences to promoters of the annual Ash Wednesday cool down in Manzanilla in light of the lewd behaviour of some patrons in the past. In the first place, our courts should not be granting liquor licences in public places like the beaches unless the area is blocked off to facilitate only the party-goers. Not every citizen wants to be associated with the wining and jamming and drunkenness associated with some of these fetes.

We have pointed out on more than one occasion in the past that many people lose their mental faculty when they overindulge in alcohol and as a result engage in abnormal behaviour. Many children who are exposed to this type of behaviour emulate adults by drinking, wining lewdly and even having unsafe sex.

There are some male students even at the primary school level who get the impression that itís all right to wine on their female classmates during their schoolís carnival jump-up. There are students who have objected to this type of behaviour and reported it to their parents. What is unfortunate is that the affected students and parents are afraid to report such matters to the school authorities for fear of victimisation. I hope the Ministry of Education takes note of this article because it seems that for the past 14 years we have been pointing out problems in the school system that the Ministry may not have been aware of.

Schools should be allowed to have carnival celebrations to highlight festivalís great cultural aspects. However, jump-ups and wining should be discouraged. Lewd wining should not be part of our culture. There are thousands of people who dissociate themselves from carnival because of the behaviour of lewd revellers who bring this great show into disrepute. I know of students who have never been part of the carnival celebrations mainly for this reason; yet they are forced to write essays on the topic because some teachers donít give them any options.

CBTT is happy that calypso and steelpan have become accepted even in the churches- a far cry from the days when they were not even heard at Lenten season.

Viewpoint - March 01, 2007

The time has come to talk less and act more on crime

CBTT has always believed that action speaks louder than words. Many of the people who can help make this country safer for our citizens have been promising to get tough on criminals for years now. The more they talk, the more the crime rate continues to climb. Even marching and protesting by concerned citizens have not been able to convince the authorities that they must act quickly in the best interests of our people.

Police Commissioners and others in authority have been threatening criminals. Clearly, they think that words are more important than action. Any viable poll will show that citizens donít believe that the authorities have really waged a serious battle against murderers, drug lords, crooked cops, corrupt people as well as perpetrators of domestic violence, incest, child abuse and rape. The time has come to talk less and act more so that our citizens will feel safer than they do now.

It is true that there are crimes and murders in all countries but we must admit that per capita, we have one of the highest murder and kidnapping rates in the world. Some of our own citizens are running scared to North America and they swear they feel safer there than they do in Trinidad and Tobago.

We need to point out that people who beat their spouses, sexually abuse their children and other minors have no authority to speak on the crime situation facing us because they themselves are criminals. We must be peaceful people in our own homes if we expect others to follow our lead. The fight against criminals must begin in our homes.

Serious and honest prayers will help both our family and country but God will never help us if we donít help ourselves. The Church can assist but too many of its leaders are running people away from their places of worship because of greed and lack of accountability.

It is only natural that criminals, rapists and those involved in shady deals will be critical of us and others who try to recommend tough measures to help our nation. We will continue to plead with this government and all future ones to act quickly and appropriately in the best interests of all our citizens. As a matter of fact, CBTT has been doing so for the past 14 years.

Viewpoint - February 01, 2007

3-year-old child dies after routine hernia operation. Faulty equipment blamed

CBTT is hoping that there is no cover-up in the unfortunate death of 3-year-old Faith Williams after a routine hernia operation at the Mt. Hope Hospital. The time has come to expose and punish those in the medical fraternity who treat patients with scant courtesy.

This unfortunate incident has again exposed the problems of health care in this country. Itís not the first time that someone in Trinidad and Tobago has died because of faulty equipments or poor medical practice. This situation surrounding Faithís death seems to be a very scandalous one and must be fully investigated and brought out in the open. If the medical equipment used in the operation was faulty then why wasnít it checked before? For too long now citizens have been complaining about the poor health care in the country and itís time that more pressure is brought to bear on those responsible for this serious problem.

Many Trinidadians living abroad, especially those with a history of medical problems, are afraid to return here because of our less than efficient public hospitals and health care system. Many of them believe that they will die early if they return to reside here. They love their country but hate the health services we provide here.

We should be able to boast of one of the best health systems in the world because we have the funds to do so. Instead we have many people, including politicians, going abroad to seek medical attention for cases that can be done here. You cannot blame them for doing so especially when they consider the fate meted out to Faith Williams and others before her.

CBTT calls on the Williams family to pursue the matter in court. Pressure must be placed on people who continue to bring our health system and by extension our country into disrepute. We wish to state that CBTT will not be party to any cover-up. We seek the interests of our nation and will continue to speak out on matters of national interests with the hope that patriotic citizens will support us.

Viewpoint - January 01, 2007

Police officers in United States cannot absent themselves from cases like some officers do in Trinidad and Tobago.

Unlike our Police Service, the New York City Police Department is much more equipped with the tools necessary to combat all types of crimes including drunk driving. The New York murder rate would have many times its present level if the Police Department there were in a similar situation as its counterpart in Trinidad and Tobago.

In New York City today, there are more police officers on the streets than previously. Police vehicles can be seen patrolling the streets of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx regularly-24 hours a day. Policemen, on foot, can also be noticed everywhere. Do we see the same here in Trinidad?

How do we expect to reduce crime in TT when we fail to do the same? Thatís why CBTT has been pleading for more police patrols throughout Trinidad and Tobago on a regular basis because itís one of the major ways to help reduce the escalating crime rate in the country. We have no doubt that many murderers, kidnappers and other criminals would have been caught if we had more Police patrols throughout the country. Lange Park, Chaguanas residents are not the only citizens complaining about lack of proper security in their area. People all over the country are expressing similar sentiments as those living in Lange Park.

Vindra Naipaul- Coolman and other kidnapped victims may have been safe and alive today if we cared more about our peopleís lives. Crime detection is too low in Trinidad and Tobago, so itís time we do the basic things necessary to protect the lives of people. Serious crimes are on the increase in TT because perpetrators are aware that citizens are not properly protected by the Police. Then again, we have to deal with the rogue cops and soldiers. We wish to point out that the Police officers, who are hired by the New York City Police Department and other Police Departments in the United States cannot absent themselves from cases like some officers do here.

The recent threat and attack on politicians must be a worrying factor because itís not a good sign. It may get worse if we continue to turn a blind eye to the many criminal elements in the country. Actually we are paying a dear price for our failure to act when it most mattered. Itís not too late but the situation is likely to get worse before it becomes better.

The same CEPEPP and URP projects which are assisting some people are now adding to some of our crime worries. It seems that many people are demanding regular and permanent work in these projects because itís a far cry from putting in a fair dayís work for a fair dayís pay. CBTT believes that government should get our support in the fight against crime but the government must act quickly in the best interest of the countryís citizens.

Viewpoint - December 01, 2006

Students in TT prestige schools also being bullied and beaten

CBTT laments the increased violence and indiscipline in our nationís schools. CBTT has been consistently calling on the relevant authorities for the past decade to implement tough measures to combat violence and indiscipline in schools As a teacher, I warned time and again that violence and indiscipline will get out of control if we donít act with haste. Too many irregularities in our schools went unnoticed for years and as result we are today paying a dear price for our failure to act quickly and decisively when it mattered the most. Instead of trying to solve the problems, some principals did all in their power to cover up the problems at their schools. Students and teachers who dared to expose the irregularities at their schools were both victimised and treated with scant courtesy by administration.

We cannot solve problems by covering them up and pretending that all is well. At some point in time, the evil will be exposed but not before the situation gets worse. This is what is happening today. The media is helping to highlight many of the problems in schools. However, what is reported in the electronics and print media is only part of what is really happening in our schools. The truth is that indiscipline and violence among students is a lot worse than reported.

Some administrators are poor leaders even though they have taken courses to help them with administrative duties. They have created more problems than solutions by their poor leadership skills. A poor principal is one that fails to be transparent and accountable in dealing with school funds. He/she does not set a proper example for teachers and students and does not treat all members of staff equally. I wish to point out that you cannot get the best performance from your teachers if you are arrogant, unfair and corrupt.

I wonder if the Education Ministry is aware that some teachers are actually abandoning their classes to pursue postgraduate degrees. These teachers, some of whom are heads of department and deans, may even be promoted ahead of their more dedicated colleagues. People have a right to upgrade their qualifications but not at the expense of the nationís students. A few teachers are even more committed to their private evening and weekend classes. The abandonment of classes by some teachers for one reason or the other has contributed significantly to the violence and indiscipline in schools.

I wish to point out that indiscipline, violence and bullying also take place at some prestige schools. Recently, a student from a prestige boyís school had to be transferred to another prestige boyís school because he was badly bullied and beaten by classmates for no apparent reason. The situation was so bad that the victim had to be taken to a therapist abroad. The affected student was subsequently transferred with the assistant of the school supervisor and principal to another so-called prestige school. I doubt that the Minister of Education Hazel Manning is aware of this situation.

A few years ago, I pointed out publicly that even security guards were being attacked by students. so clearly violence in schools has been a serious problem for a long time now. As a teacher, I tried to get the Education Ministry to prohibit the sale of alcohol at school functions. It was only recently that the Ministry implemented a new policy prohibiting the use of tobacco and alcohol at our schools. A lot of damages had been done by this practice over the years, so a lot of damage control is now needed.

There are instances when students have taken guns to classes. We are very fortunate that they did not hurt or murder anyone. Guns are easily available everywhere in the country and many teenagers are in possession of them. As a result, we must be vigilant.

CBTT recommends that School Boards be given a little more clout. They should be able to point out to the Education Ministry the problems that exist in the schools and not just concentrate on school repairs. There are some very ineffective boards which cannot get a quorum at some of their meetings. There are also boards that are headed by teachers of the school. Someone should be appointed by the Ministry to determine the effectiveness of these boards and how often they attend meetings. After all they are paid a stipend with taxpayerís money.

I wish to reiterate that if we donít solve our problems at the top first, then itís hardly likely that indiscipline and violence in schools will decrease. As I have said on numerous occasions, the situation in our schools will get worse before it improves. And it will only get better if the Education Ministry and the various stakeholders act with haste. In closing, I wish to plead with delinquent teachers and parents to get their act together. Our children are looking at us and will more often than not follow our lead.

Viewpoint - November 01, 2006

A textbook containing foul language being used in classroom

CBTT supports those groups and individuals who have come out against the use of the book The Humming-Bird Tree in our nationís classes. Such a textbook should never have entered our classrooms because it contains graphic foul language. The panel of teachers who selected The Humming Bird Tree to be used by minors in the classrooms, have clearly embarrassed the Education Ministry and have irritated and angered the majority of parents in the country.

Even though children may be exposed to obscene language in taxis, maxis and other places outside the classroom, they must be taught to eliminate foul language from their vocabulary. We are well aware that many adults including parents and teachers use obscene language regularly but that does not mean that our young children should follow their lead. We know of principals and teachers who use foul language in their schools and other public places but are quick to condemn and punish their students for the same sin.

In spite of the support of The Hummingbird Tree as a school textbook by some educators, we should not introduce such materials in our schools when other options are available. The Humming Bird Tree was introduced in the classroom like a thief in the night. In future, textbooks containing graphic foul language must first be made public so that we can decide if the majority of us approve of such materials in the nationís classroom.

There are people out there who believe that the book is the work of prose and literature and should be allowed in the classrooms. Many of these same people use Ďcusswordsí in their conversation to others, which is not only breaking the law but also setting a poor example for others to follow. I wonder if they believe that their constant ď cussingĒ is also the work of prose.

Viewpoint - October 01, 2006

Honour late President Noor Hassanali by building centre in his name

We should honour the late President Noor Hassanali by building a centre in his name to allow present and future generations to research the life and times of our Heads of State.

CBTT made the request in 1997 at a Republic Day function in honour of Hassanali. The late Head of State would have been delighted if such a centre was built while he was alive. However, it would still be a great honour to a great President if we fulfilled one of his wishes.

All of our Heads of State have served with great distinction and I am sure they will feel very honoured to have a centre where people can go for information on them.We should remember that President Hassanali crossed all racial barriers and truly dedicated his life to our country; so he deserves due recognition

Viewpoint - September 01, 2006

CBTT supports the Education Ministry's new policy prohibiting the use of tobacco and alcohol at the nationís schools.

CBTT will like to commend the Minister of Education Hazel Manning and her Ministry for implementing a new policy prohibiting the use of tobacco and alcohol at the nationís schools.

For more than a decade, CBTT had been trying to encourage the Ministry of Education and principals to adopt a no-nonsence approach to alcohol and illegal drugs in our schools. Eight years ago, CBTT's chairman Harrack Balramsingh joined with members of the Board of Education of the La Romaine Integrated Education Project (IEP) to initiate an annual alcohol and drug awareness week because he wanted to highlight the negative effects of alcohol and illegal drugs in our society. He pleaded with the authorities, year after year, to place a ban on the use and sale of alcohol at all school activities. Thatís why CBTT owes the Minister of Education, Hazel Manning, and her Ministry a great depth of gratitude for heeding our call. Our work was not in vain.

As a teacher, the CBTT Chairman spoke out on numerous occasions against the sale of alcohol to minors but hardly anyone listened since certain principals and teachers continued selling liquor to students at bazaars and other school functions without considering the ill-effects of their action. On one hand these educators were preaching values to their students and on the other hand they were contributing to a grave social ill in society. Teachers and principals are forever under the microscope, so they need to gain the respect of their students by setting proper examples in their schools.

It is not uncommon for teachers and support staff to plan private drinking sessions on the school compound. Some male and female teachers drink at nearby rum shops during recess and lunch times and then proceed to teach their classes under the influence of alcohol.

It has taken us a long time to recognise that many of the violence among young people in our schools and communities are drug and alcohol related. The Ministryís Policy on illegal drug abuse will be effective if it is able to find the culprits who sell drugs to the youth and proceed to deal swiftly with them. The Education Ministry with the help of principals and teachers must identify the drug traffickers among students and encourage them to expose the person or persons who provide them with the drugs.

Substance abuse is doing untold damages to our society. Thatís why the Minister of Education and her Ministry must be lauded for their bold and fearless initiative in banning alcohol and tobacco use on school compounds as well as prohibiting principals and teachers from accepting gifts or sponsorship from tobacco and alcohol companies. The Ministry of Education must penalise all those principals, teachers and support staff who fail to abide by the rules if its new school policy on drug abuse and prevention is to succeed

Viewpoint - August 01, 2006

Why delay the breathalyser?

We are in dire need of legislation which will allow police officers to obtain breath and blood samples from drivers suspected to be under the influence of alcohol. Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) is trying to highlight, once again, the importance of the breathalyser in light of the continued delay by the authorities in implementing it.

The vast majority of our citizens believe that it should have been implemented decades ago. People continue to lose lives and limbs at an alarming rate, yet we cannot seem to give priority to this very important legislation. Promises after promises have been made over the years to implement the breathalyser. CBTT laments these broken promises. One of our major problems is that we take too long to act on many matters of public importance.

CBTT and many other groups have been lobbying for years for the introduction of the breathalyser to be implemented to help reduce accidents on the nation's roadways but with no success so far. The continued delay in dealing with drunk drivers has been a major blow to our nationís road safety campaign.

Itís sad when the people we chose to represent us cannot do what is necessary to help protect innocent lives by recognising that a great number of road accidents are alcohol-related. We have no doubt that the breathalyser will eventually be introduced in Trinidad and Tobago but not before more lives are lost. Many people who have been fortunate to survive alcohol related accidents are physically handicapped for life.

In the meantime, over 90 percent of our citizens continue to wait patiently for this important legislation to be passed. It seems clear that a small minority of citizens, some with great influence, have been successful, so far, in delaying the implementation of the breathalyser.

Viewpoint - July 01, 2006

Trinidadians proud of the Soca Warriors

CBTT believes that the members of the Soca Warriors deserve the monetary award as well as the Chaconia Gold Medal given to them by the State because of their achievement on the football field. Millions around the world, who were unaware of our small country, now know a lot more of Trinidad and Tobago because of the effort of the Soca Warriors. The major reason our citizens here and abroad felt so proud to be a Trinbagonian was that our country was being showcased around the globe like never before. We must also be very thankful to coach Leo Beenhakker, FIFA vice president Jack Warner as well as all those who contributed to our team going to the World Cup for the first time.

Sports are of utmost importance to a country. Thatís why CBTT has been pleading for recreation grounds to be made available to all communities and villages in Trinidad and Tobago. Many youths who may have been stars in the sporting arena never had the opportunity to do so because of inadequate facilities in their communities.We must also remember that a recreation ground can also be used to keep citizens Ėboth young and old- physically fit since regular exercise is a pre-requisite for good health. Since many areas do not have this facility many residents are forced to exercise on the roads which can be very risky at times.

Now that many more people have become aware of our small country, they may want to visit TT on vacation or do business with us. It is important, therefore, to do all in our power to decrease the crime rate. We do not want countries to put out a travel advisory that warns their citizens about visiting here.

The patriotism we showed for our deserving Soca Warriors must also be displayed in our homes, communities and workplaces. We cannot be true patriots if we hate or envy our neighbours, friends and relatives or if we discriminate against others based on race, religion, colour or gender.

CBTT pleads with murderers, rapists, corrupt officials and perpetrators of domestic violence to repent for the good of the country if they really want to demonstrate patriotism. True unity is treating others with respect and dignity at all times.

CBTT wishes to thank the Warriors for the part they played in promoting our country and unifying our citizens. At the same time, we must never forget our 1973 football team which would have gone to the 1974 World Cup had it not been for the unfair decisions of the referee. He was later banned for disallowing the goals we scored against Haiti. It was a great injustice to a great team.

Viewpoint - June 01, 2006

Some schoolteachers administrators guilty of child sex abuse

CBTT is not surprised by the revelations of sexual abuse against children at the Cry Foundation Home in Claxton Bay and at many of the nationís primary schools. As a matter of fact, these revelations should have been made a long time ago. However, better late than never.

The problem has been allowed to reach epidemic proportions because for some unknown reason, we failed to act when it most counted. CBTT has been trying unsuccessfully for years to get the attention of the authorities by constantly mentioning in its reports that many of our children were being sexually abused by some teachers, parents and family friends.

As a teacher, the CBTT's chairman Harrack Balramsingh tried to expose acts of indecency against students but support was too slow in coming. The culprits got away with their evil acts and this accounted for the escalation of child sex abuse against young students. As we have stated before, some teachers who sexually abused children even went on to become administrators in our schools. We know of two primary school teachers who molested their female students, yet they went on to become principals of religious board schools. Both of these perverts had problems with drinking. Fortunately for our children they have both passed away. Even a few people who became supervisors were accused of disrespecting our students. If these child victims decide to speak out against their perpetrators, the country's citizens will receive the shock of their lives.

We need to wipe out all the heads that are rotten in order to have effective schools... Ministry records would show that a small number of school administrators had been suspended in the past for sexual indiscretions but hardly anyone of them was ever punished. Itís difficult to believe school principals and supervisors who claim they never received reports of serious sexual misconduct at their schools. They must have been sleeping on the job because even teachers are aware of this disgraceful behaviour by some of their principals and colleagues. However, they remain quiet for fear of reprisal. In the past, many supervisors, principals and heads of childrenís homes never wanted to bring shame and disgrace to their institutions so they kept covering up the sex crimes committed against our young children.

CBTT has called on more than one occasion for a hot line to be set up by the Ministry of Education to listen to complaints from teachers, parents and children, but this plea has never been taken seriously. Maybe the Education Ministry can allow us to set up a hotline on its behalf, once itís is serious about acting against those who are messing up the system. CBTT indicated on many occasions that the country would be stunned at what was taking place in many of our institutions. Readers would remember that we also called for a Commission of Inquiry to help investigate irregularities and other serious problems in our schools but there was no response to this call from the authorities

There is nothing wrong with childrenís homes being set up all over the country but they must be monitored properly because it is well known that perverts are everywhere including these homes. We also have to keep watch over the homes that are church related because too many adults use the church to cover up their evil acts.

The media must be highly commended for exposing criminal acts against our children. The report on the sexual misconduct of people at the Cry home and at many primary schools in the country has been a surprise revelation to many but the reality is that the situation is much worse than reported. We must continue the momentum against child sex abuse in society if we truly want to protect our children.

Viewpoint - May 01, 2006

The Integrity in Public Life Act 2000 is one of the best laws ever

It seems that more officials are obeying the Integrity Act, which clearly indicates that if the laws that exist in Trinidad and Tobago are seriously enforced, more people are likely to obey them. A sample of declarations filed by ten top public figures including nine politicians, according to one report, showed that they had avoided making the blatant omissions which occurred last year when at least eight Government Ministers submitted incomplete declarations. The eight Ministers had failed in some way to send in a full four-page declaration form containing a proper date and signature.

It is unfortunate that former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday had to set a precedent. Politicians and other public officers, who are required to comply with the Integrity in Public Life Act 2000. will be more careful when filling out their declarations.

Some of the officers, who did not comply in the past with the Public Life Act, must count their blessings for not getting similar treatment to that of the former Prime Minister. We need to make sure, though, that the law applies to all because people here and abroad will get the impression that the country is riddled with discrimination.

The Integrity in Public Life Act 2000 is one of the best laws that has ever been enacted in this country because it clearly requires more transparency and accountability from politicians and other high ranking public officers. CBTT has no doubt that more officials in our schools, Public Service and State Enterprises will be transparent and accountable if leaders in these departments are hurled before the courts and charged for corrupt practices.

Viewpoint - April 01, 2006

There are perverts even in our churches

CBTT laments the increasing murder rate in the country. Our failure to put appropriate crime-fighting measures in place when it mattered the most is the major reason why this once safe country is now at the mercy of so many dangerous criminals.

Long before 6-year-old Sean Lukeís buggery and murder happened, young boys were being sexually molested by male perverts, some of whom were close to the victims. What is very unfortunate is that young boys are now buggering other young male children. It seems clear that if the perpetrators cannot lure young girls into their trap, they will instead perform their wicked sexual acts on young innocent males. Pornography is today easily available to kids from a very young age and this coupled with poor examples by some parents and adults have helped create many young perverts in society.

We wish to point out that the internet is extremely useful to students but it can also contort the minds of our young people if not properly monitored. The internet contains thousands of X-rated sites some of which promotes buggery of young boys and girls.

Times are such that we cannot even trust some relatives and friends with our innocent young children. We need to be careful with some principals, teachers and guidance officers as well because there are instances when they have sexually molested those under their charge but few if any have been punished for the offence. There are some perverts even in our churches and other places of worship, so we need to learn how to distinguish the good from the bad.

CBTT laments the number of females who wine and gyrate on television in full view of our young boys. The persons who allow these people to do so should be held responsible for some of the problems in society. Adults who wish to wine indecently and have a good time during carnival could do so but not on national television when our children are viewing the greatest show on earth. Greater emphasis should have been placed in our communities and schools years ago to help keep more people away from alcohol and illegal drug abuse. We wish to reiterate that many of the crimes in the nation are related to drugs and alcohol, yet many of us continue to ignore this fact.

We are paying a dear price for sanctioning so many rum shops in our villages and communities. Some villages have many bars but no recreation grounds. How sad! We wonder why this has gone unnoticed for all these years. This is, however, not surprising when we consider that after almost 44 years of Independence, we are yet to pass the breathalyser which is supported by the vast majority of our citizens.

We wish to point out that the drug trade has become very popular among many of our young people. We cannot now correct the situation overnight but we can start by doing all in our power to get more people to live sober lives by waging a serious and permanent battle against illegal drugs and alcohol abuse.

Viewpoint - March 01, 2006

Complaints of victimisation nepotism, favourtism and lack of accountability in the workplace.

CBTT has received numerous complaints of victimisation from police officers, teachers, civil servants and other workers. While we are unable to assist them directly, they expect that this matter will be discussed publicly so that it can be addressed by the relevant authorities. Many of them are even contemplating going to court because they believe that they have been unfairly bypassed for promotion, while others have complained that the authorities have in the past failed to act against employers who pay them under the minimum wage and fail to forward their National Insurance deductions to the National Insurance Board (NIB).

Nepotism and favoritism are rampant in many Government and State offices and must be addressed by the authorities in order to ensure that productive, efficient and deserving people are not deliberately bypassed for promotions in favour of those who simply tow the line or are relatives and good friends of the authorities with the power to hire, fire and promote workers.

If workers complain that their employers underpay them or do not forward their deductions to the National Insurance Board, then they are usually threatened or fired from their job. Ministers of Government have in the past promised to take action against delinquent employers but those promises have remained just promises.

Many police officers, teachers and other State employees complain that they have been bypassed for promotion in favour of those who have less seniority and qualification than they do. Some of them are given low grades in their confidential reports just because they are a threat to others or because they refuse to tow the line. They are victimised if they speak out on nepotism, favourtism and lack of accountability in the workplace. It is well known that some people get their jobs and promotions because of political affiliation and they remain in their position regardless of how they perform and how many people they help destroy.

My colleagues and I predict that many more employees will take the State to court for unfair treatment and most of them will be victorious. The time has come for us to declare war against those who support nepotism, victimisation and exploitation in the workplace. We need to be careful that we donít deliberately ignore deserving workers because it may lead to anger and frustration which may cause even normal and peaceful people to act differently. If we want to create peace in our country we must ensure that workers get what is due to them.

Viewpoint - February 01, 2006

Police Commissioner underestimates crime in TT

Police Commissioner Trevor Paulís recent admittance that he underestimated the crime situation in the country was unfortunate because he more than any other citizen should be aware of our crime situation. The Police Service will continue to have problems reducing the murder rate and other serious crimes in the country unless it is given the manpower, equipments and technology to combat crime effectively.

Paul stated during a meeting of the Joint Select Committee headed by Professor Ramesh Deosaran, that he was committed to creating a safer society for all citizens. More than a year later the murder rate has reached unprecedented levels. Many people are even speculating that this year may be the worse ever.

What is needed is for government to provide funds to the Police to purchase more cars as well as all the modern equipments necessary to deal with criminals. Citizens all over the country are complaining that there are insufficient police patrols in their community and they continue to wonder when the Police will be provided with enough vehicles to do so. People are also anxiously waiting for surveillance cameras to be placed at traffic lights and other strategic locations in the country.

Commissioner Paul has the Herculean task of removing bad eggs from the Police Service. As long as we have rogue cops, prison officers and soldiers around, the more difficult it will become to reduce crime in Trinidad and Tobago in any meaningful way. Police officers who repeatedly absent themselves from cases involving fellow officers in the hope that the rogues will go free, must be removed from the Service. Itís taking too long to deal with the criminal elements in the Police Service, which is not helping to improve the image of this important institution.

It is well known that for many years, people entered the Police Service because only a primary school education was required to do so. The Service may have attracted more citizens if the prerequisite had been on par with that of the Civil Service. Many bright young people with the physical requirements never bothered to become police officers because they felt that the Police Service was reserved for people who did not do well at school. People are also hesitant to join the Police Department even today because of favourtism, nepotism and other problems.

Some officers in the past were not promoted even after many years of dedicated service and no one could give them a valid reason for this. Many qualified young people will also continue to shun the Police Service unless it deals with rogue cops and is give the latest technology and equipments to police the country more effectively In closing, CBTT wishes to point out that if proper facilities are made available to the Police and crimes continue unabated, then the Police Commissioner should be forced to resign. However, at present it will be unfair to ask the Commissioner to do so because he is working with limited resources.

Viewpoint - January 01, 2006


The Deosaran Files: Two Decades of Social and Political CommentaryĒ, Volumes 1, 11 and 111, were officially launched on December 12, 2005 at the Central Bank Auditorium in Port of Spain.

Anyone reading the Deosaran Files, edited by Ms. Vidya Lall and Mr. Ian Ramdhanie, will discover that many important social and political issues discussed by Professor Ramesh Deosaran over a decade or two ago have not been seriously addressed until this day.

The Independent Senator has been calling for Police reform, the implementation of the breathalyser and more transparency in public affairs but the powers to be have been taking too long to answer these calls.

For several years Professor Deosaran had pointed out the irregularies among teachers and school administrators as well as the increasing indiscipline and violence among the nationís children. If his comments and recommendations were taken seriously, we may not be experiencing today many of the social problems in our schools and the society as a whole.

President Maxwell Richardsí presence at the launching of the Deosaran Files was a clear indication that the holder of the nationís highest office was concerned about the serious social problems confronting our society and was prepared to support any initiative to make our country a safer and better place for all our citizens.

Viewpoint - December 01, 2005

Support blood donation drive

CBTT pleads with citizens to support a blood donation drive to help save precious lives.The drive is in recognition of International Volunteer Day (IVD) on December 5, 2005.This day belongs to all those volunteers who have made sterling contributions to society. We must remember that volunteers are special people who contribute to a better society for all of us.

A meeting chaired by Hazel Brown of the Network of NGOs was held on Monday (14-11-2005) at the United Nations House on Chancery Lane, Port-of-Spain to discuss the activities marking International Volunteer Day as well as the establishment of a Volunteer Centre in Trinidad and Tobago to cater for the needs of more than 500 non-governmental organisations.

There are people in this country who want to be volunteers, so this is an opportune time for them to come forward and contribute to the uplift of society. The proposed Volunteer Centre will come to fruition if the project receives greater support from the national community.

People who are interested in donating blood can contact Rosemary Anatol of the Informative Breastfeeding Service (TIBS) at 628-8234; Elisabeth Spencer of Families in Action at 622-6952; Harrack Balramsingh of CBTT at 652-8060 or Jacquie Burgess of Women Working for Social Progress at 678-7549. Anyone who is able to assist us is welcome to join the Blood Donation Committee. There will also be another blood donation drive in January.

Apart from the blood donation drive, the local chapter of the United Nationís Volunteer Committee will embark on a clean up campaign. in recognition of IVD. In light of volunteersí contribution to these efforts, there will be a recognition ceremony and cultural event on December 5th in the AV room of the National Library.

Viewpoint - November 01, 2005

Good Cops in TT want war to be declared on their rogue colleagues

The Joint Select Committee (JSC) headed by Professor Ramesh Deosaran has been able to bring out in Parliament many of the irregularities in the Police Service It is now up to the authorities to act with haste in getting rid of the officers who bring the Service into disrepute. It is unfortunate that the JSC meetings in Parliament have not been carried live by the electronic media in order for citizens to become more aware of the many irregularities in the Police Service.

Allegations about a senior officer involved in kidnappings have been brought up more than once in Parliament but these have been vehemently denied by Police authorities. There have also been allegations against many other officers. Rogue cops are normally suspended with full pay even though it is obvious that they have committed a serious offence. The suspension in many instances goes on for years at the end of which most of the offenders are reinstated for one reason or the other.

CBTT is sure the JSC will recommend in its final report the removal of those who fail to act in the best interest of the Police Service. The problem is whether the Government and the Parliament will act quickly and decisively to clean up the Police Service of rogue elements. It will be a tough task since many of the corrupt cops will do all in their power to defend their turf. However, CBTT encourages the authorities to show strength and make the appropriate decisions without fear or favour.

Many decent and qualified cops are frustrated that the rogues among them continue to do as they please. These good officers in the Police Service are likely to be victimised, discriminated against or even murdered if they squeal on their corrupt colleagues. CBTT has been encouraged to write this article by some policemen who want war to be declared on their rogue colleagues.

Over the years, some senior officers have come to the defence of rogue cops by frequently denying that many of them are involved in corruption and other criminal acts. However, the information coming out of the JSC meetings in Parliament, which CBTT has attended, prove otherwise. Professor Deosaran and his committee members should be praised because they are not in the business of any cover-up. They want rogue cops removed from the Service but they must get support from the people who can take appropriate action against these officers. The authority must act now or face the consequences of increased crimes caused by corrupt cops.

Viewpoint - October 01, 2005

The Balram Singh Memorial Scholarship Fund

The Balram Singh Memorial Scholarship fund is legally registered with the Ministry of Legal Affairs. It was incorporated on June 7, 2005. The fund will assist students from poverty stricken homes continue their education.

The scholarship is in honor of Balram Singh who passed away last September at the age of 79.He was well known for his religious, social and community work which spanned five decades.

He was a Minister of Religion for almost 40 years and was a founding member of CBTT. He was also President of the Rambert Village Council in the 1960s.

He was denied the opportunity to attend schools of higher learning because of poverty. However, he demonstrated through his love for reading that one can attain a very good standard of education even though one may not have had the opportunity to attend traditional colleges and universities. He felt that while he was denied a chance to attain higher educational qualifications through traditional means, others should not suffer the same fate. Thatís why the Balram Singh Memorial Scholarship Fund has been set up in honor of this exemplary citizen who touched many lives both in Trinidad and Tobago and abroad.

Viewpoint - September 01, 2005

Stop teachers from drinking before going to classes

In its draft policy, the Education Ministry plans to create a smoke and drug-free environment in all its buildings, offices, schools and vehicles. It also plans to approve the use of alcohol only in certain instances. However, we wish to point out that alcohol is the most used drug on the school compound and must be banned from all school functions. Principals and teachers found selling alcohol to minors must be charged for breaking the law. These offenders have done untold damages to society over the years by encouraging drinking by young children.

Students of both primary and secondary schools have repeatedly reported to us that some of their teachers drink alcohol before attending classes. Thatís why we have often called on the Ministry to prevent teachers from drinking during school or lunch hours before attending classes. We cannot remember any Ministry official condemning this behaviour and taking appropriate action to correct it.

The Education Ministry should implement this plan in time for the new school year which begins in September. Many citizens are shocked that such a plan was never introduced many years ago. Public record will show that CBTT has been recommending a similar plan for over a decade now. However, better late than never.We wish to reiterate that while the draft plan has called on all school administrations to treat the possession of tobacco and illicit drugs as a serious violation, the fact is that the possession of alcohol by students must also be made a serious offence.

While there are several reasons for the increase in student violence and criminal activities, the fact is that alcohol and illicit drugs are two of the major ones. CBTT calls on those responsible for implementing the plan to act with haste and not wait for more problems to occur before doing so.

Viewpoint - August 01, 2005

CBTT pleads for deportees

CBTT is pleading for help for displaced nationals of Trinidad and Tobago and the region. Many of our citizens have been deported back from North America for petty crimes even though they have lived there as permanent residents for decades. CBTT has been assisting some of these deportees to fit back into our society. However, they need more help from individuals, organisations and government to ensure that avenues are made available to them to secure jobs, so they can survive here.

While many of our citizens may be quick to condemn deportees for even petty crimes committed, it is important that we understand that many of them were forced to leave spouses and young children even though they were penalised for their crime This is very destructive to family life for these people.

I wish to point out that domestic violence, rape, abuse of minors as well as corrupt practices are all regarded a serious crimes in North America, which could cause people to be deported back to their native countries. It is well known that these crimes are committed by many citizens living in Trinidad and Tobago but the law is much more relaxed here so many of the perpetrators are never fined or jailed.

CBTT is lobbying with organisations like Displaced Nationals in Crisis Coalition (DNICC)óa support group for deportees- headed by Trinidadian Marlene Jaggernauth to try to influence the American Government through the Congress and Senate to allow some of them to return to their families in the United States. Through the initiative of Ms. Jaggernauth and others, the US Congress has decided to address the problems of deportees.

Many of them are treated with scant courtesy by American and Canadian officials and are sent beck with little personal possessions on their return here. On many occasions they have no one to receive them at the airport since they have no family ties in this country. CBTT has helped some of them but many others remain unemployed even though they are willing to accept employment of any type.

A few deportees have had to change their name in order to hide their true identity because people here are quick to condemn a deportee even though they may have been wrongfully jailed or committed a petty crime. Too many people behave as if they are without sin even though they are not, yet they are quick to condemn others who have repented and clearly need a second chance.

We plead with the governments of the Unites States and the region to address this issue more seriously. Many deportees are skillful people who can make a meaningful contribution to society. Letís give them an opportunity to redeem themselves and not condemn all of them as hardened criminals.

Viewpoint - July 01, 2005

Improve health, transportation and security systems before building $850 sports complex

Many citizens are not convinced that $850 million should be spent on a sports complex at this time especially when so many of them are complaining about high food prices as well as the countryís health and transportation systems. Money is also urgently needed to build new police stations across the country and to repair and upgrade some existing ones. We need to purchase more police vehicles to facilitate police patrols on a 24-hour basis. The police also needs modern technology to help combat crime.

Commuters using the countryís public transportation system complain all the time about the long hours they spend waiting for buses to take them home after work. Itís time we come to the aid of these frustrated citizens. Visitors and patients to our public hospitals wonder why those in authorities cannot upgrade these institutions and build new ones in strategic areas of the country. Thatís why spending $850 million in a sports complex at this time will not go down too well with many people.

Some of the money can also be used to provide recreation grounds in all communities so that more young people will be encouraged to participate in sporting and other recreational activities. This may encourage them to keep away from criminal activities and substance abuse. If there are no recreation grounds for young people to take part in sports, the likelihood is that they may frequent the rum shops as a form of recreation. As a matter of fact, this is already happening.

Too many people in Trinidad and Tobago live in poverty, so itís going to be very difficult for them to accept an $850 million sports complex at a time when they are unable to feed their families properly. Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) advises that we should allocate some of the money to subsidise food as well as provide poor people with food stamps to help them feed their family.

Part of the money could also be used to upgrade the existing sporting grounds in the country so as to facilitate warm-up matches during the 2007 Cricket World Cup. CBTT is not against the building of a super sports complex. However, priority should be given at this time to the countryís health, transportation and security systems. We must also not forget the poor who are struggling for survival.

Viewpoint - June 01, 2005

Why head scan was not performed on Keith Shepherd

Itís very difficult to understand why a head scan was not performed on Keith Shepherd, the late TNT Mirror Newspaper editor, after he fell and injured himself during a football game. Any good hospital would have performed a head scan on Shepherd as soon as he entered the institution. Once a person suffers injury from a fall, a scan should be done to determine whether or not he/she suffered any brain injury. This should be a basic procedure in any hospital.

Many people are blaming the Port-of-Spain General Hospital for Keith Shepherdís death because of its failure to perform the scan as soon as the late newspaper editor was admitted to the hospital. Maybe his untimely death will help others since doctors and their staff may now wake up to the fact that they must first perform a head scan on all patients who are admitted to our health institutions after suffering a fall. Apart from Keith Shepherd, CBTT wonders how many others have died because of our hospitalsí failure to act appropriately.

Why do we have to treat people who go to our public hospitals as second class citizens? Why do we have to tolerate the shortage of beds and other supplies? Why donít we upgrade our present hospitals and build a few modern ones to help our citizens? We are pleading with the government to use some of our oil wealth to bring our health facilities on par with those in places like the United States, Canada, Great Britain and even Cuba to name a few.

Viewpoint - May 01, 2005

Religious heads should be like the Pope

CBTT calls on all religious leaders to emulate the exemplary life of Pope John Paul II who died on April 2 at the age of 84. The late pontiff, who headed the Roman Catholic Church for over 26 years, was revered the world over because of the quality of life he lived and the efficiency by which he carried out his work as leader of his church.

The only religious leaders that people respect are those who practise what they preach. Too many people who head religious organisations fail to live up to their religious calling and as a result have caused many people, especially the youth, to turn away from God and head down the wrong path.

Crime and delinquency among our young people would have been at a minimum today if heads of all religious faiths and homes had the respect and admiration of those under their charge. The late pope will be remembered as one of the greatest religious leaders of his time because of his significant contribution to peace among people of all races and religions.

All of us are also capable of helping to create a safer and more peaceful society if we truly practise the teachings of our various religions. Unlike some religious and other leaders, the late pontiff never lost the common touchóa quality which distinguishes great leaders from poor ones. Too many people suddenly become arrogant when they assume positions of power. They fail to recognise that great leaders like Pope John Paul II and Gandhi never lost the common touch. One only has to look at our schools where some leaders, who should be setting good examples for the children, are not making any difference to society because of their arrogance, inefficiency, and failure to treat everyone fairly.

In paying tribute to Pope John Paul II, CBTT pleads with citizens to practise humility, righteousness and fairness in dealing with others. If we do so, we will become good leaders, parents and teachers.

Viewpoint - April 01, 2005

Gov't to Crack down on delinquent employers

CBTT welcomes the increase in the minimum wage to $9 an hour. We are pleased that the government plans to put systems in place to ensure that employers comply with the new increase. Increasing the minimum wage is all well and good but if employers bluntly refuse to pay their workers what is due to them, then itís the duty of the government to take legal action against the offenders.

This was never done in the past with any degree of urgency; so many employers were able to cheat their workers and get away with it. There were instances in the past when poor workers were dismissed from their jobs for demanding that they be paid at least the minimum wage. Many others, who are paid below the minimum wage, remain silent because they need the meager wage in order to support their family. Itís a real tough struggle for them.

CBTT hopes that Minister Anthony Robertsí promise to crack down on offenders will come sooner than later since many of the affected workers are struggling to make ends meet. We also hope that the Labour Minister will take legal action against all those employers who deduct National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions from their workers but fail to forward these monies to NIS.

CBTT recently made a formal complaint to the Minister against an employer who pays workers under $6 an hour. This was done after officials of the Labour Inspectorate were unable to help the affected workers for nearly two years. The Inspectorate got promises from the employer that the approved minimum wage would be paid but the promise was never kept. Minister Roberts has acknowledged our complaint, so we now await the outcome of his investigation which we hope will not be a long drawn out one. The Minister should ensure that there is no cover-up in this matter.

Injustice is being done to certain poor workers in the country and the time has come to demand that they be treated with dignity and respect.

Viewpoint - March 01, 2005

Many Trinis living abroad in love with T&T

Many of our citizens living abroad are very much in love with Trinidad and Tobago and will like to return to make a meaningful contribution to their country. However, they are hesitant to do so because of the kidnappings, high murder rate and other criminal activities in their native country. Many of them are fed a regular dose of negative reports about this country from fellow citizens.

Trinidadians live in almost every corner of the globe and many have developed great skills which can be of tremendous benefit to their country. Some who left many years ago because of economic hardship, have worked hard to become successful corporate citizens while others have attained very high academic and technical skills.

Itís unfortunate that while many of our citizens abroad are expressing a desire to return to their homeland, others, including some of our businessmen, are leaving because of the fear of kidnappers and murderers. We admit that kidnappings and murders are of grave concern to many of our citizens. However, most of these crimes are committed by a small minority who seems to elude the Police more often than not.

CBTT has pointed out on numerous occasions that many of the crimes in the country are alcohol and drug related. Thatís why we have repeatedly called for a more concerted effort by all stakeholders to deal with this grave social problem.

Many citizens who live abroad as well as here are very critical of our Public health and transportation systems which they believe should be upgraded. Commuters including many of our public servants who use Public transportation complain regularly that they must wait in line for hours before getting transport to their homes after work. It is not uncommon for a worker from the South to leave home at 5 a.m. and reach back after 7 at night. This is unacceptable and places great strain on our peopleís lives. The Productivity level is also affected as well.

The time has come to hold people in our public service, schools, hospitals and State enterprises responsible for mismanagement, corruption and poor services... Certain corrupt people in TSTT, WASA, PTSC, the Police Service and other Government agencies must never again be allowed to bring the good name of these institutions into disrepute. When we provide better services for our citizens, we will make them happy and contented and encourage them to remain here, if they choose to do so. Improved services will also attract many visitors who are likely to promote the country abroad in a very positive way.

Viewpoint - February 01, 2005

Population saddened by closure of Trinidad and Tobago Television and NBN radio stations

CBTT is saddened by the closure of the National Broadcasting Network ( NBN) which served the nation well for more than four decades. Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) along with radio stations 610 AM, 100FM, 98.9 FM. and 91.1FM made an excellent contribution to culture and national development since Independence in 1962. The closure of this long standing media outfit, which produced many outstanding journalists, has left a void which must be filled immediately.

Citizens all over the country are mourning the loss of NBN. Many of its supporters wept when TTT and its radio stations were shut down on Friday January 14, 2005.

TTT and its radio affiliates have educated many of us as well as provided great entertainment over the years. For this, we must be thankful to the entire staff who served at NBN. They deserve our best wishes for the future especially since many of them are now unemployed.

Viewpoint - January 01, 2005

Declare war against criminals in 2005

A serious effort must be made in 2005 to put measures in place to deal with murders, kidnappings, domestic violence, child sex abuse and carnage on the nationís roads. The murder rate has reached unprecedented levels with 260 people losing their lives through violent means. This is unacceptable and must not be allowed to continue in the New Year. Guns continue to get into the hands of many delinquent young people. That's why a more concerted effort should be made by the authorities to bring to justice those who are importing these illegal weapons into the country.Ē

Promises in the past to implement the breathalyser have not been kept. In the meantime, the carnage on our roads continues to a great extent due to drunk driving. We cannot tackle road safety effectively without passing laws to prevent motorists from driving under the influence of alcohol.Instead of continuing to protect drunk drivers, there should be an all out war against drunk motorists in 2005, but this can only be done if the breathalyser is introduced.

Two thousand and five should be a year of action against criminals. It should also be the year when we begin a more serious campaign against corrupt cops, murderers, kidnappers and perpetrators of domestic violence and child sex abuse.

If New York City can have less than a dozen murders per million people - which was achieved in 2002 - we can do the same. However, tough measures must be implemented even though they may not go down to well with some people.

We must equip the Police Service with the latest technology in order to effectually fight the war against criminals and delinquent motorists. It must be done immediately if we are serious in tackling crimes and road accidents in Trinidad and Tobago.

Viewpoint - December 01, 2004

CBTT calls on TT Prime Minister to proclaim a Family Day

CBTT calls on Prime Minister Patrick Manning to proclaim a special family day in Trinidad and Tobago so that more emphasis can be placed on family life. Serious thought should be given to the idea because we need to begin a national effort to find ways to reduce substance abuse among young people and promote regular family activities.

A family day will do wonders for our nationís parents and children because it will focus on families playing, praying and communicating together. This may eventually spill over to other days of the year, thus bringing families closer together and by extension strengthening family life.

The most effective way to reduce criminal activities and substance abuse is to focus on family values. This can be achieved to a great extent by proclaiming a family day that promotes in a big way the importance of the home as a solution to our many social ills.

We plead with the government to consider CBTT's recommendation for a special family day to be proclaimed in Trinidad and Tobago. At the same time, we volunteer our services in promoting such a day to ensure its success, so that the best interest of family life and safety for all citizens will be served.

Viewpoint - November 01, 2004

The Balram Singh Memorial Scholarship Fund to help poor and deserving students

A Memorial Scholarship Fund will be set up in the name of the late Balram Singh, a founding member of the non-governmental organization Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT), who died over a month ago in Trinidad.

This was revealed recently (October 30) by the groupís president Harrack Balramsingh while speaking at a memorial service at the Church of God of Prophecy building in Rockville, Maryland USA for the late CBTT member.The scholarship fund has been set up in recognition of his life and work of the late Singh who served as a social, community and religious worker for five decades. The memorial fund will assist on an annual basis a very poor and deserving young person to pursue higher education. The annual amount donated will be US$2,000.00.

Many nationals from the United States, China, Nigeria, England and various West Indian Islands residing in Maryland, USA attended the Memorial Service for the late CBTT founding member who made many friends during his regular visits to the State of Maryland over the past 33 years.

Many of the speakers, including Americans David Daniel, Kerry Cox, St. Lucian Jemma Mills as well as Balram Singh's children Pastor Robin Balram, Kenrick Balram and Kashmatie Balram Sankar referred to the late CBTT founder as a remarkable person.

The Memorial Scholarship Fund is one of the major tributes being paid to the late CBTT member for his contribution to the uplift of society.

Viewpoint - October 01, 2004

CBTT has lost Balram Singh, a great person and foundation member who touched numerous lives.

CBTT wishes to pay tribute to Rev. Balram Singh, who died September 19, 2004 at the age of 79 after serving his country as a social, community and religious worker for some 50 years. This foundation member of Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT), who was also a minister of religion for over 40 years, was successful in changing thousands of lives, both here and abroad, because he lived what he preached.

Many remarked about the positive influence he had on their lives but none said it better than the head of the Rambert Village Mandir, Freddy Balraj, who remarked that Balram Singh was the greatest person he had ever come in contact with.

He served CBTT from its inception in 1993 until his death, with great distinction. President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Professor George Maxwell Richards and his wife First Lady Mrs. Jean Richards encouraged us to find comfort in the knowledge of his contribution and support as a member of CBTT. We will always remember the advice from Their Excellencies and try as much as is humanly possible to emulate the late CBTT member.

Until he fell ill recently, Balram Singh was part of all CBTTís programmes and initiatives to help build a better Trinidad and Tobago. What is noteworthy is that he worked with CBTT among Hindus, Christians, Muslims and members of other religious faiths to help the sick, needy and other disadvantaged people in society. He was also responsible for helping many couples with marital problems.

Today it would be wise for other ministers of religion to emulate him. He changed peopleís lives mainly by the quality of life he lived and not only by his fire and brimstone preaching. He was a man of high principles, a man of God, and a man of his family. He hated discrimination, racism, and corruption and often spoke out against these ills. He was not the type of person to sweep evil deeds under the carpet.

Three years ago, his wife of 58 years died. I made it my duty to visit him daily, not only to keep his company, but also to seek his advice on important matters. I admired him for the impact he had on peopleís lives. He treated all as if they were his own children.

Today, members of CBTT do not say ďgoodbyeĒ to this great social, community and religious worker who for five decades helped make Trinidad and Tobago and by extension the world a better place in which to live. We say "farewell", in the hope that one bright day when we cross that crystal river we will see him and together praise our God. Well done, Balram Singh, ďthou good and faithful servant.Ē Listen here to a song in hindi by Rev. Balram Singh

Viewpoint - September 01, 2004

Police absenteeism, so many cases thrown out.

The contents of the Reports of the Police Service Commission for the years 2001 and 2002, which were discussed in Parliament on 27-08-2004, contain very important information which, if heeded, will improve the Police Service and by extension lessen the crime rate considerably in Trinidad and Tobago.

Members of CBTT were present in Parliament and I must confess that after listening to the comments made by members of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) and the Police Service Commission as well as Police Commissioner Trevor Paul, we have become even more convinced that changes are urgently needed to help improve our Police Service.

Itís time that we recruit better qualified citizens to become police officers. We agree with comments made in Parliament on Friday that those wishing to enter the Police Service should come under public scrutiny. Photos of people wishing to become police officers must be placed in public places so that citizens can identify their previous activities which may make them unsuitable to become law enforcement officers.

Absenteeism among police officers was also discussed. It is not uncommon for many criminal cases to be thrown out after complainants fail to repeatedly turn up in court. It was revealed in Parliament that one police officer was absent on 18 occasions.

The national community is baffled over the many police officers who are exonerated from serious disciplinary charges brought against them. A large number of our citizens are interested in knowing the identity of the people who prosecute these offending officers.

The Report of the JSC, headed by Senator Professor Ramesh Deosaran, must be acted upon with a sense of urgency if we wish to have a better Police Service to fight lawlessness in our society. The committee has been appointed to inquire into and report on Municipal Corporations and Service Commissions with the exception of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.

Viewpoint - August 01, 2004

CBTT's recommendations to fight crime in T&T.

CBTT wishes to place on record its plan to help fight against the escalating crime rate in Trinidad and Tobago. We have been making viable recommendations for more than ten years but many of them are yet to be implemented. We more police patrols on a 24-hour basis commencing immediately. There should also be more than one police vehicle patrolling a community so that officers can respond to citizensí complaints in the shortest possible time. We are sure that many kidnappers and other criminals will be apprehended more often than not, if police officers respond more promptly to emergency calls for help. This can only happen if our cops have more vehicles at their disposal. Aircrafts must also be readily available to help search for criminals and their victims.

Give Police the equipments necessary

The Police must be given the equipments necessary to assist them in the war against crime. We recommend that hidden cameras be placed at strategic locations to help identify criminals. At the same time, there should be a massive campaign to get rid of bad eggs from the Police Service because corrupt cops definitely contribute to more crimes in society

Tackle illegal drugs, guns and alcohol abuse

A concerted effort must be made to prevent illegal drugs and guns from coming into the country. There are too many drug lords, traders and people with illegal guns in this small country. Unfortunately, most of them are never caught. We have not been vigilant enough in the past. As a result, certain individuals have been able to import these illegal goods freely. People, including customs and police officers, who aid and abet these criminals must be severely punished.

CBTT has mentioned time and time again that many crimes in the nation are drug and alcohol related. The fight against crime will not succeed fully if a serious effort is not made to help citizens lead more sober lives. We recommend the early implementation of the breathalyser to help reduce the carnage and murder on the nationís roads. Drunk drivers have killed many innocent people. This amounts to murder especially since it is illegal to drink excessively and drive. Substance abuse is also a major contributor to incest, rape, child sex abuse and domestic violence, all of which are serious crimes.

There should be a major campaign against substance abuse beginning in our schools homes and communities, otherwise the already serious situation will get even worse. CBTT believes that all alcohol advertisements should be banned immediately. Gas stations must also be prevented from selling liquor. No new liquor licenses should be issued to open bars in our villages and communities because there are already too many of these.

Increase age of consensual drinking to 21

The age of consensual drinking should be increased from 18 to 21. Those found selling alcohol to minors must be charged for this serious offence. This has not been happening often enough and as a result substance abuse among young people has increased greatly. Many of them even blame their addiction for crimes they commit. CBTT also recommends a ban on all alcohol sales at school bazaars and other functions. These measures, if implemented, are sure to contribute to a decrease in substance abuse and by extension many of the crimes in society.

Corruption is a serious crime

CBTT wishes to point out that kidnappers, murderers and perpetrators of incest, rape, and child sex abuse are not the only criminals in society. Corruption is also a serious crime. That is why we must insist on accountability and transparency at all times from all politicians, supervisors, principals and other officers attached to the public service and State enterprises. Close to 25 percent of citizens live in poverty in Trinidad and Tobago and funds misappropriated or stolen from our treasury can assist these unfortunate people to live a better standard of life. We emphasise that corrupt people will have a difficult time helping to solve crime in the country because they are part of the problem.

Provide more employment for citizens

We must provide employment for our people. In doing so, we must encourage more corporate citizens. Our tourism and agricultural sectors should be expanded to provide jobs for thousands of our citizens. People must be able to provide for themselves and their families. Employers must not be allowed to underpay their workers or collect National Insurance from their employees and refuse to send these funds to the National Insurance Board. Poverty may lead to crime and thatís why itís important to implement measures to ensure that poor people enjoy the basic necessities of life.

The fact is that it will take a lot of strength from the authorities to implement our recommendations. However, if we want to make this nation a safer place, we must take actions which are in the best interest of the country in spite of how unpopular they may be. We stand ready and willing to help the authorities implement them if given the opportunity to do so.

CBTT commends the governmentís plan to assist students with their tuition especially at the tertiary level. This is a very good gesture which is certain to assist many disadvantaged children obtain a higher education. We are all aware that some poor children may be enticed into a life of crime so itís necessary that we help them to become successful citizens and even future leaders of our nation.

Viewpoint - July 01, 2004

We must remove rogue cops as part of the battle against crime.

CBTT wishes to reiterate that no attempt to fight crime in Trinidad and Tobago will succeed if a concerted effort is not made quickly to remove rogue cops from the police department. Unlike what some people may think there are officers in the Police Service who are involved in serious criminal activities. Their colleagues protect many of them. Thatís why it may not be a bad idea to bring in foreign experts to investigate crooked cops. What we donít want is corrupt police officers being investigated by other rogue cops.

We know of many decent and law abiding cops who complain regularly that too many of their colleagues are rogues. They insist that these officers must be removed if the fight against crime is to succeed. Crooked officers and their cohorts will certainly object to the views of these good cops because they want to continue to use the Police Service to perform their evil work.

If we did not care for our country, we would have remained quiet on this issue for fear of reprisal. However, we refuse to do so in spite of the consequences. We will continue to speak out against people who bring this country into disrepute and we hope we get the support of many citizens.

A good police service will make a country safer. The fight against kidnappers, murderers and other criminals depends to a great extent on the effective work of our police officers.

More than a dozen people have called CBTT over the past week to complain about police brutality. They want justice against the perpetrators. Sometimes we wonder why rogue cops have been allowed to remain in the Police Service for so many years without being punished for their evil acts.

We wish to warn, once again, that as long as corrupt cops are allowed to remain in the Police Service the more the crime rate will escalate. It has already reached unprecedented levels and threatens to get worse because of our failure to deal harshly with those who take the law into their own hands. On behalf of all our law-abiding citizens, we, therefore, plead with the relevant authorities for the 100th time to act quickly in removing bad eggs from our Police Service.

Viewpoint - June 01, 2004

Drug trafficking is a major business activity in T&T

We were in New York recently to attend a conference on drugs and the family when we heard the shocking news that intelligence officers had intercepted a package of cocaine that arrived at the Trinidad Consulate

A few days earlier, CBTT's head, Harrack Balramsingh had informed Trinidadians living in the Brooklyn, New York area that drug trafficking was a major business activity among many citizens but some were critical of his comments.CBTT has no doubt that these critics would have supported him if the incident at the Trinidad Consulate had taken place before he spoke to them.

We have noticed that many people involved in illegal drugs are always critical of people who speak out against this grave social ill. They feel threatened, so they go out of their way to protect their turf. They donít care about the drug addicts they help destroy because they are only interested in making huge sums of money. Thatís how evil they are.

We wish to warn all those drug traders out there that their days are numbered. Some of them even participate in religious activities to cover up for their sins. But whatever is done in darkness will one day come to light.

We suggest that the government embark on a massive campaign to bring to justice all those who import and export illegal drugs and weapons. We must get the necessary equipments to check all goods coming in and going out of the country.

The interception of cocaine at our Consulate in New York is an embarrassment to Trinidad and Tobago. Thatís why we hope that the relevant authorities will pay particular attention to this viewpoint. We are willing to volunteer to be part of the fight against illegal drugs. The longer we take to recognise that illegal drugs is a major problem among our people, the worse the situation will become. Letís act before itís too late.

Viewpoint - May 01, 2004

Mandela visits Trinidad and Tobago

Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) recognises South African President Nelson Mandela as one of the greatest political leaders of all times. Thatís why we call on all leaders to emulate him.

His true greatness was revealed when he became the President of South Africa after being jailed by his opponents for almost three decades for his tough stance against his countryís apartheid system.

Instead of seeking revenge against his opponents, he chose to embrace them in order to create peace and progress in his native land. That is what true leadership is all about.

Mandela is respected not only by blacks but also by people of all races for his leadership quality and most of all for putting his life at risk in order to seek justice and equality for blacks and by extension for all people.

Mandela was selected four years ago as one of CBTTís four personalities of the 20th century. The others were Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Therese and Evangelist Billy Graham.

CBTT commends both the government and CONCACAF for working together to give Mandela a heroís welcome to Trinidad and Tobago.

Viewpoint - April 01, 2004

Support CBTT's Month of Prayer

CBTT observes its 10th annual Month of prayer in April and we call on citizens to join us in praying for our nation and for world peace.

If people pray sincerely on a daily basis, God will help them to become more passionate, honest, humble and exemplary citizens. Such people are likely to bring peace to their home, community, country and by extension the world.

Many people pray regularly but they show no godliness in their lives. These are the people who are likely to demonstrate anti-social behaviour and commit crimes. God is a good God and he will bless us abundantly if we worship him in truth.

True worshippers are people who believe in transparency and accountability in all their dealings with others. They do not discriminate against people based on race, colour or religion. We may be great preachers or teachers but the only way to know a genuine worshipper is by the quality of life he lives and the way he treats his fellow men.

The only way to face many of the personal crises in our lives is through pray because God gives us the strength and courage to cope with people who do us wrong as well as other problems that confront us.

CBTT calls for family worship in all homes. A family that prays together will stay together and will, more often than not, produce sane and sober children. In this way, we will contribute to less disciplinary problems in our school and less crime in society.

Remember that murder, domestic violence, child abuse, rape and other criminal activities are increasing because of the failure of many of us to demonstrate true love and respect for our families, friends and neighbours.

Viewpoint - March 01, 2004

CBTT is the voice of many citizens

The crime rate in Trinidad and Tobago is increasing rapidly because too many of our citizens are turning a blind eye to the many social ills confronting the society.

In light of this increase in crime, CBTT is calling on social, community and religious workers to make their voices heard. If we remain quiet on issues pertaining to murder, rape, incest, child abuse, drugs, corruption and other criminal activities, the crime rate will escalate even further.

Our country will pay a dear price if we continue to allow people to get away with serious criminals acts. We make a sterling plea to the relevant authorities to work closely with CBTT in purging the country of criminals. We need to act quickly because criminals and other wrongdoers are presently having a field day, since they know that itís more than likely they will get away with their evil acts.

CBTT has not been afraid to speak out against human suffering as well as the evil work of people, even though a few individuals have threatened to keep the group quiet. This is unlikely to happen because there are great people out there who recognise that CBTT is the voice of many of our citizens.

We must not harbour criminals, however young they may be, because if we do, we are in effect encouraging and condoning criminal activities in society.

Murderers, drug lords, crooked cops, corrupt citizens as well as perpetrators of incest, child abuse and rape must be exposed if we want a better Trinidad and Tobago.

Viewpoint - February 01, 2004

UWI bar should remain closed permanently

The Infinity Bar located on the compound of the University of the West Indies (UWI) at St. Augustine has not been in operation since last year. Many citizens including parents of students attending UWI were not pleased that alcohol was sold on the universityís premises, especially during class hours.

CBTT has been very vocal in its opposition to the bar. Those responsible for the closure of Infinity must be commended. We call on the authority to ensure that itís a permanent closure and not a temporary one.

When respected Professor Michael Beaubrun died last year, CBTT said: ďAs a mark of respect for the renowned psychiatrist, the University of the West Indies should remove the Infinity Bar from the school compound because our highest educational institute needs to set an example for our youth.Ē

We had called on the government to do all in its power to implement the breathalyser test in tribute to Beaubrunís outstanding work in the prevention of substance abuse. We said at the time of his death that over 90 percent of citizens supported the introduction of the breathalyser test. The present government has indicated that it will soon seek to pass legislation to prevent drunk driving on the nationís roads.

Once again, CBTT blames substance abuse and the illegal drug trade for many of the crimes in the country. Many of the nationís students are having serious problems with alcohol and the situation continues to worsen because we keep turning a blind eye to this social problem, since itís a legal drug. Many of our teachers and parents are also in need of help because they are unable to control their alcohol intake. Alcohol is being sold to minors at many inclusive fetes, yet few of us seem to take note of this criminal offence.

The closure of Infinity Bar will not stop students from drinking at outside rum shops. However, this is not a valid reason to have a bar on the universityís compound.

Viewpoint - January 01, 2004

All schools and libraries in T&T to have high speed internet access by 2008.

CBTT supports governmentís National Information and Communication Technology Strategic Plan which seeks to transform this country into a knowledge-based society.The Ministry of Public Administration and Information is right in placing greater emphasis on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) especially since our citizens must plan for the rapid pace at which technology is increasing.

The Ministry presented its Plan recently at the Cascadia Hotel in St. Annís and CBTT was happy to join with the many distinguished citizens who were there to give support to the Plan. It was pleasing to hear Minister Dr. Lenny Saith say that the Telecommunications sector would be opened up to full competition in 2004. Many citizens are eager for this to happen.

By 2006, all appropriate government information will be available online. By the year 2008, all schools and libraries will have up-to-date computers and high speed internet access. More than 50 percent of homes will have computers and internet access. It will be more convenient for shoppers because the majority of businesses will be online by 2008. Even government services will be provided online according to the Ministry of Information.

We should ensure that the cost for internet access is reduced considerably so that more people, especially low income workers, can afford to get online for longer hours. The competition in the telecommunications market is urgently needed to help lower the cost, as well as provide users with more efficient services.

CBTT hopes that governmentís National Information and Communication Technology Strategic Plan will succeed by leaps and bounds because it is crucial to the social, economic and cultural development of the nation. The large number of youth present at the launching of the Plan at the Cascadia Hotel is encouraging since they are the future leaders of our nation and must be competent in the skills necessary to live in a high-tech world.

Viewpoint - December 01, 2003

Too many administrative problems and cover-ups in TT schools.

Some principals and teachers in Trinidad and Tobago who tried to cover-up the wrongs in their schools for years, are now happy to have police protections at their institutions. School indiscipline and violence have been existing in our schools for years now. However, my colleagues and I who belong to the group Citizens For A Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT), were severely criticised by some people when we tried to point out to the Education Ministry and the public the reasons for the problems at many of our schools. The situation has now gotten worse and will deteriorate even further if we talk more than act.

Itís sad that some people even tried to shut us up but the majority of people knew we were making serious statements and recommendations in the interest of the nation. Today, with the exception of a few people who stand to benefit from corrupt practices, CBTT is taken more seriously by the population, because most of the reasons we gave for indiscipline and violence are now being accepted by many people in society. Disciplinary as well as administrative problems are now being revealed at many schools where certain principals and teachers tried to cover-up the problems for years. You see, whatever is done in darkness must eventually come to light.

We wish to repeat that while student councils are good for schools, the fact remains that many principals of schools in Trinidad and Tobago will not permit the students to criticise the running of their schools. This, in effect, will make the studentsí councils ineffective. For this same reason, many PTAs are also not functioning effectively.

The Ministry of Education is a good institution but there are people within the Ministry trying to bring it into disrepute. It is the Ministryís duty to ensure that these people are not allowed to do so. Many teachers are given time off by their principals and this is not checked as part of their sick and occasional leaves. So it is not uncommon for some teachers to be away from schools for many days although the records show otherwise. This is a corrupt practice and must be discontinued. Teachers have days for important business and emergencies and should use them for these reasons.

There has been teacher absenteeism in school for years now because of workshops, seminars and other meetings which take place during school time. Some principals and teachers are even permitted by the Education Ministry to abandon their classrooms to correct scripts for January Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and other examinations. There are teachers who raise funds when they have classes to attend to. The Minister of Education, Hazel Manning, should address these problems forthwith.

State schools belong to the Ministry of Education and people who are asked to help run these institutions must be accountable to the Ministry as well as to the public. They should have no hidden agendas nor should they administer the school as if itís their own. I find it strange that some principals refuse to be transparent and accountable to their staff, yet they are allowed to continue this corrupt practice for years. I worked with some principals who never submitted a proper financial statement to their staff.

Children are aware of teachers and administrators who curse, dress improperly and have problems with substance abuse; so they donít feel that these people should be telling them how to behave. How can we have peace in our schools when principals deliberately keep parents waiting in their schools all day without attending to them? We also wonder how teachers and administrators can cooperate when some principals take months to complete their teachersí confidential forms thus denying them their increments on time.

We need peaceful people to make peace in our schools. If school administrators and teachers display arrogance or verbally and physically abuse students, they may retaliate and the result may lead to even more indiscipline and violence in schools. Teachers who lack patience or who lose their cool easily when provoked by their students will experience tremendous problems in the classroom. We also blame parental neglect, lack of closer supervision of student activities and drug abuse for the wave of indiscipline and violence sweeping through schools.

Viewpoint - November 01, 2003

Make the last week in October an annual Alcohol and Drug Awareness Week in all schools

The Board of Education of the La Romain Integrated Education Project (IEP) of SERVOL and the Ministry of Education held itís sixth annual Alcohol and Drug Awareness Week from October 27 Ė 31, 2003. It was the most successful ever.

Great support came from many principals, community and church groups throughout the country. Itís clear that citizens are beginning to recognise that the IEP boardís efforts are genuine and they are now supporting this noteworthy event

CBTTís head Harrack Balramsingh, who is also chairman of the IEP Board of Education encouraged the Minister of Education, Hazel Manning, during his closing address, to consider seriously the idea of making the last week in October an annual drug and alcohol awareness week in all schools.

It will do wonders for the education system as far as indiscipline and violence is concerned. This awareness week in all schools will also go a long way in reducing broken homes, murders, rapes, kidnappings, incest and other criminal activities. The IEP board has promised to assist her if she decides to implement this measure in the nationís schools.

It would be foolish to think that every citizen supports this drug awareness week. You see, some people who abuse drugs and act in a very anti-social manner are very unhappy when the facts about the dangers of drug abuse is mentioned. They will try as much as is humanly possible to put this programme in a bad light. However, the board members are not intimidated by the opposition. Instead, they are concerned by the large number of students who may lose their way in life because of their abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs.

The IEP boardís fight against substance abuse goes on. The members of the board of education, past and present must be highly commended for organising this very important event.

This year, CBTT was the major financial contributor to the awareness week. Damus Limited, First Citizens Bank, Gulf City and Republic Bank, Gulf City also supported financially.

The greatest and most vocal support of the drug and alcohol awareness programme came from the Ministry of Education. The Minister of Education, Hazel Manning has given her blessings to this awareness week and has pledged her uniquivocal support. The IEP board awaits her response.

Viewpoint - October 01, 2003

Too many TT motorists drive above the speed limit

CBTT calls on all motorists to obey the traffic rules in order to prevent the continuing carnage on the nationís roadways. Too many drivers exceed the speed limit especially on our highways, putting themselves and other citizens at risk. Many motorists are aware of the speed limit but they continue to break the rule because they know they can easily get away with it. The authorities must explain why so many motorists driving way above the speed limit on the nationís highways are not prevented from doing so.

Many adolescents and other young people just out of their teens, are regularly seen driving twenty or more miles per hour (MPH) above the stipulated speed limit on our roads, posing a serious risk to pedestrians, as well as to themselves and other motorists. These youngers must be removed immediately from our roadways and forced to attend road saftey classes before being allowed to drive again.

All the talk about curbing accidents on our roads has helped very little so far mainly because the authorities are failing to enforce the existing traffic regulations with any great degree of consistency.

Drunk driving will continue unabated until the breathalyser is implemented and even then motorists may flaunt the law unless it is properly enforced. CBTT issues another call for cameras to detect those who ignore the traffic lights as well as for the implementation of laws prohibiting people from driving when drunk.

Viewpoint - September 01, 2003

Support Crime Stoppers to catch TT criminals

Too many people were afraid to speak out against the evil elements in the country. That's why criminal activities have increased so rapidly. The special telephone number set up by Crime Stoppers was long overdue. CBTT encourages citizens to assist Crime Stoppers by reporting those involved in criminal activities so that citizens can feel safer than they do at the moment.

We admit though that some Citizens are still not sure that they will be protected if they cooperate fully with Crime Stoppers. They feel that someone will expose them when they go to collect their reward. However, CBTT pleads with the relevant authorities as well as corporate citizens to support Crime Stoppers so that more criminals will be brought to justice in the quickest possible time.

We also support the additional 1000 police officers to help curb crimes in the country. However, the selection process should be very rigid to ensure that only the good and decent retired cops are brought back. If crooked police officers are allowed to return, the excercise will be a failure. The many qualified young men and women who want to be part of the Police Service should also be given a chance to help their country.

We have always praised police officers who are dedicated and patriotic to their country. However, we plead, once again, with Police Commissioner Everald Snaggs to assist in removing cops who brutalise innocent citizens and commit sexual offences against those who go to them to report crimes such as domestic violence and sexual abuse.

CBTT also recommends the introduction of hidden cameras on our streets and buildings to help catch ciminals as well as motorists who flout the traffic regulations. At the same time, citizens must take the necesary precautions to protect themselves from the many criminals who roam our streets.Those who lime late at nights at bars and nightclubs must be warned that they are threading on dangerous grounds.

Viewpoint - August 01, 2003

Racism is a sin. Accept people for the way they were born.

CBTT believes that any Ďrace Ď committee will discover that the real racial problem in Trinidad and Tobago lies with older people and not with the young ones.The committee will also find out that many people strive to divide the races to suit their own ends. Politics is sure to come in for criticism since it is clear that some politicians attempt to divide people along racial lines.

It is the duty of parents and teachers to teach their children that racism is a sin and that we should never discriminate against people because of their race. This is the only way that our children will know that living in harmony with one another, regardless of race, is possible. While CBTT fully supports the celebration of Indian Arrival Day, it is bound to make other people feel left out because they believe a public holiday should also be set aside for them to celebrate their presence here, since they also arrived. This is a fact that is very difficult to deny.

CBTT encourages citizens to protest against the sin of racism in a non-violent way, so that unity will prevail in our country. We plead with people to display an unselfish attitude towards others. This is a sure recipe for unity and racial equality.If we claim to be a good parents, teachers, priests, social workers or citizens, we will not discriminate against others on the basis of race. When we recognise all people as equal, our children will emulate us and we will be on our way to a truly united country. Good race relations are not difficult if we try. And for heavenís sake, letís accept people for the way they were born.

Viewpoint - July 01, 2003

Make corruption an election issue

CBTT believes that corruption should be a major issue in this year's Local Government Elections in Trinidad and Tobago. The time has come for us to change peopleís perception that most politicians are dishonest and corrupt.

If a candidate is known to be involved in corruption, he or she should not be allowed to represent his/her community. Public officers must be accountable to the people and should face the full brunt of the law if they are involved in corrupt practices. We must have more honesty and integrity from citizens if we wish to move forward in the new millennium. The fight against corruption must be a priority because itís spreading at an alarming rate in every sector of our society.

Even the present kidnappings are part of the corruption because people want to make huge sums of money instantly without working for it. Employers who pay way below the minimum wage and who collect National Insurance contributions from their workers but fail to forward these deductions to the National Insurance Board are also part of the corruption. Some of our officials in our schools, churches, community councils and the public sector are totally against transparency and accountability because they are engaged in corrupt practices.

My colleagues and I wish to warn that the country and its people are going to suffer tremendously in the future if corruption continues at the present rate. We, therefore, must fight corruption by demanding the highest standards from our citizens. Those who steal the nationís wealth must be brought to justice.

Viewpoint - June 01, 2003

CBTT offers to help government implement the breathalyser

CBTT is willing to work with the government and other organisations to get the breathalyser introduced as soon as possible because too many accidents are alcohol related.

The present government has an opportunity to introduce the breathalyser, which all previous governments, for some strange reason, has so far failed to do. CBTT hopes that the government will stick to its promise to implement the breathalyser before the end of the year. Some people will oppose the breathalyser for a number of reasons but the government must do what is in the best interest of the nation.

Talk alone is cheap and will do nothing to prevent the carnage on the nationís roadways. We must, therefore, do all in our power to discourage dangerous driving, otherwise many more citizens will die or become seriously injured on our roadways.

What is urgently needed is stiffer penalty for motorists who disobey the traffic laws. There are too many reckless drivers who show total disregard for pedestrians and other motorists.

The time has come for us to introduce cameras near to traffic lights so that heavy fines can be given to those who ignore the red light and other traffic laws. An improved radar system is also urgently needed to assist the police in arresting those who drive above the speed limit.

CBTT laments the failure of the police to prevent the vast majority of motorists from speeding. Too many of them break the law by exceeding the speed limit on our roadways, yet few are caught. Itís time we get serious about preventing lives and limbs on the roads because the carnage is getting way out of hand.

Viewpoint - May 01, 2003

Priest blocks issue of bar licences at Easter fetes

CBTT has come to the defense of Roman Catholic Priest Fr. Ian Taylor for trying to block the issue of bar licences for several events over the recent Easter weekend. The Catholic priest must be commended for recognising the sanctity of Easter. Other religious leaders from all religions in the country should support Fr. Taylor by calling for a ban on alcohol sales at public events which affect the rights of their members to worship in peace.

We pay tribute to members of religious faiths who show respect and reverence for their religious festivities by remaining sane and sober. It is unfortunate when people use religious holidays to organise Ďjam and wineí fetes on the streets and even encourage children to participate.

Itís even worse when fete organisers are allowed to use our church compounds to sell alcohol, most times leading to drunkenness and revelry. No wonder we have an increase in alcohol abuse among our young people leading too much lawlessness and disorder in our society.

Itís understandable for people organising these fetes for many years, even decades, to become angry when someone tries to prohibit them from doing so, but the fact is that changes are necessary especially if they lead to a better and more sober society.

The magistrate of the Princes Town Court, Jai Narine, who ruled in favour of Fr. Taylor, should also be singled out for praise because he too recognised the need for people to worship in peace. It is unfortunate that police officers still allowed the free sale of alcohol in spite of the magistrateís decision to dismiss an application for a licence to sell alcohol at the Moruga event. This just shows that some police officers and citizens have no respect for the law in this country.

Viewpoint - April 01, 2003

Discipline in T&T schools must begin at the top

The Ministry of Education should be lauded for organising programmes to help stem the tide of indiscipline and violence in the nationís schools. However, serious attempts must also be made to ensure that discipline begins at the top.

There is no way we can have peace in our schools if administrators fail to provide accountability, transparency and exemplary behaviour to their own staff and students. Some principals raise funds in our schools and refuse to provide proper financial accountability to their staff. The Education Ministry should insist that school administrators account for funds. CBTT wonders why some principals refuse to release information on income and expenditure of school funds. This is a serious act of indiscipline which must be addressed with urgency because it adds to the problems in schools.

We also wish to point out that if the head of an institution is not respected by staff, students and parents, there is no way he/she can be an effective leader. Students become angry when principals and teachers drink excessively and go to classes. They also become mad at those who curse and smoke and abuse students on the school compound and then turn around and tell them how they should behave.We also have certain teachers and principals who need urgent help with their substance abuse problems, so it's difficult to ask them to help keep our children sober.

Students councils affected by autocratic administrators

Many student councils have their work cut out for them by autocratic administrators who really donít want their students to address issues that may expose them in a negative way. This is so because some principals do not want bad publicity for their school nor do they wish the public to know the wrongs they commit. CBTT is willing to come face to face with the Ministry of Education to discuss the many school problems which it has mentioned on numerous occasions.

The Education Ministry needs to appoint people to visit the schools and listen to the grievances of principals, teachers and students. We must not make believe that students are the only ones contributing to indiscipline and violence in schools.

Many children who can be helped with the proper approach and counselling, are instead suspended. This contributes to further indiscipline and violence. Some principals take the easy way out by suspending students as soon as they commit an offence. On numerous occasions CBTT has had to help suspended students who we believe should have remained in school.

Too many women administrators in co-ed schools

We blame the shortage of male teachers for some of the problems in schools. There are co-ed schools where the principal, vice principal and those acting for them when they are absent are all women. This cannot be an ideal situation, so we call on the Education Ministry to address this imbalance in our schools.

We agree with Fr. Gerry Pantin that teachers must be selected in our schools not only for their academic qualifications but also for their loving and caring attitude. The future teachers must be all trained to deal with aggressive students. In that way, we will have no need to constantly blame a shortage of counsellors for indiscipline and violence in schools. There will also be a reduction in the number of suspensions among students as well.

CBTT will continue to assist the Education Ministry and schools in dealing with suspended students and others who may have serious problems. Our volunteers are also willing to work with other groups in contributing to a better Trinidad and Tobago.

Viewpoint - March 01, 2003

More security needed this carnival season

CBTT supports increased security during the carnival season to protect law-abiding citizens as well as foreign visitors from becoming victims of robbery, rape or murder.

There are an increasing number of criminals who are intent on using carnival to commit serious crimes. Thatís why the protective services should make their presence felt at all major carnival activities.

This yearís carnival season has already been marred by violence. More than a dozen patrons at the recent fete on the Maska Limited compound in La Romain were either stabbed or robbed. We need to recognise that many of the crimes during the carnival season are alcohol and drug related.

The poor lyrics in some songs accompanied also by the lewd behaviour of many revelers are contributing to the decadence of the great show as well as to the wider society as a whole.

Last yearís carnival left some either dead or wounded, so itís natural for people to be more concerned this year because of the rise in criminal activities in the country.

Carnival can be enjoyed without drunkenness, lewd behaviour or one-night- stands. We need to protect ourselves from AIDS which is spreading at a rapid rate in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.

Regardless of what adults may think, the fact is that the majority of our young children will emulate their behaviour. So we need to act responsibly.

Viewpoint - February 01, 2003

CBTT supports minimum wage hike to $8

CBTT supports the Government's decision to raise the minimum wage to $8 an hour. At the same time, we lament the failure of many employers to pay their workers the previous minimum wage of $7.

Some employers are still paying their workers $4 and $5, so it's unlikely they are going to pay the $8 minimum wage. Others have records showing they are paying the minimum wage or above to their workers even though they are not doing so.

Some employers even deduct National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions from their employees but fail to forward these deductions to the NIS office. CBTT calls on government to investigate these employers and ensure that these payments are sent retroactively to the National Insurance Board. Why rip off these poor workers? They are crying out for justice and are in dire need of someone in authority to assist them.

The decision by Government to increase the minimum wage is right especially in light of the fact that most of these poor workers are not members of trade unions. Someone must stand up for these workers, many of whom are honest and hardworking citizens.

It may not be a bad idea for government to give a tax incentive to working individuals who hire domestic workers at their homes to care for their young children and disabled parents.

Viewpoint - January 01, 2003

CBTT offers to assist in reducing crime in T&T

In its recent New Year message, Citizens For A Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) openly offered to assist in reducing crime in Trinidad and Tobago. While there is no quick-fix solution to the upsurge in crimes in the country, the fact is that we must set up crime and drug prevention programmes in our schools and communities if we wish to decrease criminal activities in the future.

CBTT believes in a get-tough attitude against criminals and renews its call for government to take swift action against law-breakers. We support any attempt by the police to get tough on criminals as well as crooked cops.

It is a pity that many of CBTTís recommendations over the past 10 years have not been taken seriously. We have been severely criticised by people with hidden agendas for pointing out many of the wrongs in our schools, communities and homes. Our critics fought tooth and nail to bring the group into disrepute because there were afraid of being exposed for their evil deeds. Today, these very said people can be credited with many of the murders, kidnappings and other crimes in the country.

Unlike what many say, all is not well in our schools. Violence and indiscipline are going to increase considerably if more drastic action by the Education Ministry are not taken against those who contribute to this grave social ill.

CBTT wishes to make it clear that parents must also be blamed for the behaviour of their delinquent children. Many young children crave for attention and guidance from their parents and when they do not receive these, they turn to members of gangs. Then the parents of these children want to know where they went wrong.

While some students are violent towards their instructors, there are many teachers and principals who cause students to become resentful and hateful of others because of the scant courtesy they show to these children. Many students have become very angry with the system because they are treated unfairly and have all kinds of derogatory remarks hurled at them by some instructors and administrators. Students complain to us all the time that some of their teachers curse and insult them just because they happen to be slow learners or are not as academically inclined as others.

The recent killing of a policeman by a young teenager and the physical assaults of school security officers by students are clear signs that youth crime is getting worse. The recent spate of kidnappings is most unfortunate and will continue once these criminals are not caught and brought to justice. The police and citizens must work hand in order to arrest crime in the country. CBTT laments the many unsolved murders in the country and also wonders why the Chandra Narayansingh murder case is taking so long to get started.

Viewpoint - December 01, 2002

CBTT supports Police Reform Bills

CBTT supports the Police Reform Bills, which is now out for public comment, because we believe that radical changes are necessary in the quickest possible time in order to enhance the image of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. Corrupt cops must be identified and removed from the Police Service because they could add to the escalating criminal activities in the country.

The time has come for us to do less talking and have an intensive investigation into corrupt practices by police officers so that the bad eggs can be removed from the Police Service. Thatís why it is imperative that the Police Reform Bills be passed in Parliament without delay.

CBTT believes that there are many decent and honest cops who can do a lot to reduce crime if they are allowed to do their job without interference and intimidation from corrupt colleagues. However, there are cops who protect criminals. Take for instance the recent case involving a senior police officer who was suspended for ordering four junior officers to release a prisoner held for trafficking marijuana.

A large number of our young people have a very negative view of police officers because too many cops use the profession to harass innocent citizens. They are also aware of many crimes committed by police officers. It is not uncommon for some police officers on duty to be seen drinking alcohol in rum shops or to be heard using obscene language. No wonder there are so many young people who show little or no respect for these cops.

CBTT wishes to encourage young people with integrity to become police officers so that they can help the good cops to enhance the image of the police service.We believe that decent police officers who expose the wrongdoings of their corrupt colleagues should be commended and considered seriously for promotions.

Viewpoint - November 01, 2002

Emulate the humility of Lakshmi and Gandhi

As the nation celebrates Divali Ė The Festival of Lights- we call on our citizens to emulate the humility of Mother Lakshmi and Mahatma Gandhi.

Those who lack humility have allowed darkness to enter their lives and make them believe that they are superior to others. The greatest contributors to world peace have been humble individuals. On the other hand, arrogant people are a liability to their community and country because they fail to make a difference to the lives of others.

A person who has light in his life remains humble in spite of becoming wealthy or achieving a position of power. Some people have so much darkness in their lives that they are unaware of their arrogance towards others. A true man of God is a person whose life reflects humility.

Arrogance causes people to become intolerant of other peopleís opinion as well as their race, culture and religion. If the light of Divali and Christmas shines on the citizens of this nation, there will be more peace in our homes, communities, schools, workplaces and by extension Trinidad and Tobago.

Viewpoint - October 01, 2002

Politicians should unite for a better T&T

CBTT calls on the leaders and members of all political parties in Trinidad and Tobago to forget remarks made against them by their opponents during the election campaign so they can work together for the good of the nation.

The wishes of the electorate should be respected. The country stands to benefit economically and socially once the healing process begins immediately. T&T needs an effective government and a strong opposition to ensure that the business of the nation is run effectively.

If our politicians care for the citizens of the nation, they will put country before self and do all in their power to find methods to bring peace and stability to the country. We must never emulate countries where political violence is the order of the day.

The country is a democracy and people are free to vote for the party of their choice. For this reason, we must respect the views of others. What is very sad is that people who say they pray and worship God regularly are among those who cannot seem to accept the views or the race of others.

Politicians have an important role to play in the affairs of the country and for this reason they must set examples for the children of the future. A recent poll conducted by the North American Teachers Association (NACTA) showed that the majority of citizens believed all politicians to be corrupt. This is not good for the country because young people may think that they are entitled to steal if their leaders are doing the same.

Itís unfortunate when many people support political parties for the sole benefit of getting special favours for themselves and their family and not for the nation as a whole. CBTT laments the racial pattern of voting in T&T since it has led to many unscrupulous people becoming parliamentary representatives.

Viewpoint - September 01, 2002

Another plea to abolish the shift system in T&T schools

CBTT commends students who passed for the high school of their choice. However, those who were successful in gaining entry to a junior secondary school should also feel proud of their success and not listen to those who make them feel less worthy.

CBTT can bear witness to the outstanding contributions that junior secondary school graduates are making to our society. Many of them have gone on to attain very high academic qualifications; yet we continue to make our junior secondary students feel that they are failures. How sad!

We plead with the authorities, once again, to make a serious attempt to abolish the shift system in all junior secondary schools. It is unfortunate that many of these schools continue to operate on a shift system more than 30 years after they were introduced to the nation.

There have been repeated promises to get rid of the shift system in all schools but so far these promises have not been fulfilled. As a result, many of our young students continue to be out of their homes at odd hours of the day. The government needs to place the deshifting of schools on its priority list.

Viewpoint - August 01, 2002

T&T Citizens should demand honest politicians

CBTT wishes to appeal to people in public life, including politicians, to set high standards that our children can emulate. The children of the country are confused by the behaviour of many of our politicians and public officers who tell them one thing and practise another. It is not healthy when young people have little or no faith and trust in the people who help run the affairs of their country.

It is time for citizens to demand honesty and sincerity from our public officers; otherwise the nationís future could be at stake. Any country with decent people at the top will prosper more because the likelihood is that there will be less crime and corruption in society.

The political climate in Trinidad and Tobago is tense. We, therefore, plead with the leaders of our nation to work together in a peaceful manner to help resolve the situation. Our citizens want a peaceful environment in which to live, so itís necessary for our politicians to act appropriately to ensure that harmony exists among our people. Peace can be threatened if our leaders donít put country before self.

Viewpoint - July 01, 2002

Pay higher salaries to early childhood teachers

CBTT is pleading with the government to pay higher salaries to trained teachers of recognised Early Childhood Care and Education Centres (ECCEC) in Trinidad and Tobago. Presently, these teachers are overworked and underpaid.

The vast majority of early childhood teachers in the country are paid a monthly salary of just over one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) although they possess CXC subjects and teacher training certificates from Oxford and the University of the West Indies (UWI). They also have no retirement benefits.

CBTT believes that these instructors should receive remuneration packages close to those employed by the Ministry of Education in the government primary schools. We wish to point out that many early childhood teachers from other Caribbean islands, who come here to receive their training, are better paid than their Trinidadian counterparts when they return home.

The Ministry of Education contributes less than one thousand dollars towards each early childhood teacherís salary. Fund-raising ventures must be organised to help compensate these unfortunate instructors. Parents are fed-up of having to participate in these fund raising events.

It should be noted that many early childhood centers are forced to charge a small tuition fee to assist teachers and maintain the buildings which house these schools. CBTT laments the poor and dilapidated conditions under which some of these schools operate.

The authorities should act immediately by offering these instructors a decent salary because the treatment meted out to them at present is one of grave injustice. While the Ministry of Education must be commended for expanding the early childhood education programme in the country, serious consideration must be given without delay to the upgrading of these hardworking and qualified teachers who help mould the lives of our children from a tender age.

CBTT will continue to lobby on behalf of these teachers for better wages and working conditions. They should expect a long hard battle to achieve what is rightly theirs. However, we are very hopeful of the Education Ministryís co-operation.

Viewpoint - June 01, 2002

First ever public education board in T&T

CBTT commends the Ministry of Education for establishing the first ever Board of Education at a public school in Trinidad and Tobago.

The introduction of Boards of Education is a step in the right direction but they should not be used as window dressing. We suggest that they work alongside school administrators and teachers to help manage our schools more efficiently.

The Education Boards should also be allowed to deal with teacher shortages as well as assist in the prudent management of funds allocated by the Ministry of Education to support their activities including maintenance of schools.

They should have the Ministryís approval in establishing a student council at each school, ensuring schools abide by the Education Act and its regulations, and approving schools' textbooks based on the list of approved materials provided by the Ministry of Education.

We believe that the Ministry should encourage boards to address the need for accountability and transparency in our schools. We are sure that principals with integrity will co-operate. At the same time, the Education Ministry must conduct regular audits to ensure that school boards comply with the regulations.

Viewpoint - May 01, 2002

Too many employers not paying the minimum wage

Too many employers in this country are paying their workers below the minimum wage of $ 7 an hour. Many of the affected workers remain silent because they believe they will be fired if they speak out against the injustice done to them.

Some employers have official records showing that they are paying their workers the minimum wage or above even though they do not. Others even deduct National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions from their employees but fail to forward these deductions to the NIS office.

The group Citizens For A Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) pleads with the authorities to make a serious effort to get employers to at least pay their workers the minimum wage. The affected employees are bitter because they believe they are treated like slaves in a society which preaches equality while it condones exploitation of a large number of working men and women.

Such treatment of workers is sure to lead to hate and even crimes because the affected people believe the rich folks in this country are getting richer while they are becoming poorer. CBTT wonders why so many citizens who claim to care for the poor and disadvantaged are not very vocal on this issue. Itís time we highlight the injustice done to workers who toil for long hours, yet are paid under the minimum wage.

It is heartbreaking when honest and hardworking citizens cannot even get the minimun wage they are entitled to by law. We are sure this letter will go down well with fair-minded and caring citizens but CBTT is certain to be criticised and even totally condemned for trying to address this grave injustice to poor workers. Many employers who donít want to pay the minimum wage, have already accused us of trying to take away some of their profits.

CBTT solicits the support of the media, the trade union movement, the government and of course employers in helping the affected workers so that they can live a better standard of life. It may even be a good idea for government to give extra incentives to employers so that they can afford to pay their employees a decent wage. CBTT hopes this article draws some sympathy for poor workers.

Don't blame Catholic priests alone for sex abuse

CBTT believes itís unfair to blame Catholic priests alone for sex abuse or illicit sex. Many priests and officials attached to other religious denominations are just as guilty. We, therefore, call on members to expose them for their failure to adhere to their religious oath.

Many parents believe their children are safe in places of worship, but the fact is ththere are lecherous people who take advantage of unsuspecting young girls and on occasions boys also.

CBTT wishes to advise parents to accompany their young children to religious services and even counselling sessions in order to protect them from those who use their positions to seduce kids.

Itís unfortunate when we cannot trust our children with church leaders and officials whose real job is to assist members get closer to God as well as help them cope with the trials and tribulations of life.

No wonder the society is deteriorating at such a quick pace. The many wolves in sheep clothing who fail to practise what they preach should be ashamed of themselves. CBTT calls on them to turn from their wicked ways or resign from any leadership role in the church. They must not be allowed to continue to bring their religion and other God-fearing people into disrepute.

We also plead with fathers and stepfathers to protect their young daughters and those under their charge instead of having sexual relations with them. Many of these male adults do untold damages to their girl children and contribute significantly to the decay in society. We also believe that teachers who seduce their students should be dismissed for this despicable act. The society is in serious trouble if fathers, priests and teachers cannot be trusted with our young children.

Viewpoint - May 01, 2002

Students cannot pass CXC subjects without assessments

CBTT wishes to point out to the national community that students cannot pass CXC the (Carribean Examination Council) subjects in which they fail to submit School Based Assessments (SBA). Other than illness there should be no reason for the non- submission of SBAs by students. It is also the responsibility of teachers and principals to ensure that all final year high school students complete their assessments.

Principals and teachers should notify parents before the CXC examinations take place that their children have absolutely no chance of passing their exams in subjects that require SBAs since they either handed in their assessments too late or never completed it.

While some students are delinquent in handing in their assessments, there are some principals who make their own deadline and refuse to submit studentsí SBAs even though the Ministry is still willing to accept them with an explanation. Others cater for late submissions for various reasons.

The time has come for the Ministry of Education to investigate the circumstances surrounding the non-submission of assessment marks for students. The Ministry pays for most of these students, so it needs to ensure that taxpayersí money is not wasted. Itís also sad when after five years of high school a student automatically fails to pass a subject due to the non- submission of an SBA project.

We, therefore, call on parents to ensure that their children submit their assessments on time. This is too serious an issue to take lightly. This year, all SBAs were expected to reach the CXC headquarters by April 30.

Viewpoint - April 01, 2002

UWI is limiting Trinidadian students

Too many of our young people are denied a university education because of limited space at the University of the West Indies. There are some tertiary institutions in the country that offer degrees from foreign universities but they are limited to only a few areas. It is time the University of the West Indies offers external degrees.

There has been a lot of talk about this happening but so far it's still to be implemented. CBTT suggests that the university use primary and secondary schools throughout the country, including rural areas, as centres on evenings and weekends to offer degree courses to those interested in furthering their education.

We believe that UWI should move with the times and become more innovative by offering degrees through non-traditional methods.

It is unfortunate that after decades of operation, Trinidadian students wishing to study law at UWI must do part of their studies in Barbados. There are tertiary schools that teach courses leading to the external degree in law from London University but the holders of these degrees find it very difficult to gain entrance to the Hugh Wooding Law School. It seems clear that many of these graduates are punished for not obtaining their law degree from UWI. What a shame!

CBTT pleads with USA to pardon some deportees

CBTT has pleaded with the United States authorities to pardon criminal deportees who have been rehabilitated and are genuinely remorseful for their past indiscretions.

We believe that serious consideration should be given to those who are permanent residents with strong family ties in the USA, as well as those who own property there. We wish to point out that many deportees are permanent residents of the United States and they often refer to America as their home because of the many years they spent there.

The Trinidad and Tobago government should ensure that criminal deportees with no families in their homeland are provided with some form of accommodation when they arrive here, since they may be tempted to go on the streets and engage in criminal activities to survive.

Many deportees, who broke the law while in the US, are genuinely sorry for the heartache and shame they have brought to themselves, their family and native land. CBTT is therefore pleading on their behalf for another chance to enter the United States to reunite with their families.

At the same time we warn Trinidadians and other West Indians going to the USA to respect that countryís law if they do not wish to suffer the same fate as the deportees. Permanent residents who are sent to prison in the USA can be deported to their homeland after serving their time. However, naturalised citizens of America are not deported if they are incarcerated there. A person deported after serving a prison sentence in the United States could be charged US$ 250,000.00 if he or she returns illegally to that country.

Let's remove monopolies in T&T

CBTT calls for a speedy end to monopolies to ensure free and competitive markets in Trinidad and Tobago since competition tends to benefit the consumer. It is unfortunate that a company like the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) has been allowed to operate for all these years without competition from other telephone companies. CBTT blames this monopoly for the high prices of cellular, internet and other telephone rates in the country. These rates are likely to decrease when the telephone monopoly is removed. Consumers of other goods and services will also benefit when competition is introduced.

T&T consumers are ripped off

We wish to warn buyers of foreign used cars to ensure that they do not become victims of dealers who charge exorbitant prices for very old vehicles. On occasions, some of these vehicles are passed off to consumers as newer than they actually are.

Citizens also need to be very careful of certain computer firms because there are instances when people have paid for new computers they never received. One such company known as American Computer Express (ACE) failed to deliver computers to many public servants even though they paid the full price for their computers. ACE closed down suddenly leaving these government workers to pay loans for computers that they donít own.

CBTT will do all in its power to assist consumers because too many of them are sold inferior goods. We are also concerned with the poor quality of fruits and other eatable items sold to our citizens. Then there are those who never give us the right weight for our goods when we go to the market. Thatís why we encourage consumers to let their voices be heard, so that we can get rid of vendors and other business people who cheat our citizens.

Viewpoint - March 01, 2002

Show your child you care by attending parents' days

Children get the distinct impression that their parents donít care about them when they repeatedly refuse to respond to parentsí days or to other invitations to discuss their kidsí progress in school.

Many parents of children attending junior and senior secondary schools show little or no interest in finding out how their children are behaving or performing in school. No wonder indiscipline and violence are on the increase in our schools.

There are parents who refuse to come to the school when asked by teachers, especially if a child has been in trouble repeatedly. They begin to shift all the blame on the institution for the childís problems. They actually give up on their child who may then become even more delinquent.

Violence in the country is getting worse because our homes are producing too many violent young men and women. Many of them are jobless because they acquired little or no skills in school since they were too busy committing acts of violence and indiscipline while they were students. Today many of them steal other peopleís properties because they either cannot get a job or have to maintain their drug habit.

My committed colleagues in Citizens For A Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) have never given up on these young adults because they need guidance and assistance if we want a safer and more progressive society. Itís difficult to change all of them but those who turn a new leaf in life encourage us. There are other organisations that are trying to assist also and for this we are very grateful.

We can no longer take violence and indiscipline in our schools for granted because some children are taking weapons, alcohol and illegal drugs to school. They are even gambling in the classroom. Armed students who mess with drugs and alcohol can pose a serious danger to teachers and fellow students. The time has come to face up to the fact that proper security is needed in the nationís schools especially at high risk secondary schools.

Parents should monitor the use of cellular phones and the internet by their children

The group Citizens For A Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) calls on parents to monitor the use of cellular telephones as well as the internet by their young children.

While cellular telephones are useful in cases of emergency, more and more minors are taking them to school and using them for the wrong reasons. There are suspicions that some students with cell phones disrupt classes by calling principals and teachers to report that a bomb has been placed on the school compound. This is a serious offence that must be monitored by the authorities.

There are adult males who purchase these phones for young female students with the sole purpose of seducing them. These perverted men are able to speak with these young girls without their parents keeping track of them.

We wish to point out that some children with expensive cellular phones are unable to afford basic school textbooks. Sometimes when parents are asked to explain why their children own cell phones instead of schoolbooks, they express shock that their young kids have these phones in their possessions. Others are aware but it seems they cannot do anything about the situation because they claim they cannot control their children.

CBTT advises parents that they should also monitor the use of the internet by their children. The computer can be a very useful tool for research but at the same time it can be very destructive to young children if their use of the internet is not properly supervised.

Many parents are unaware of the easy access of pornography and other dangerous websites on the internet. CBTT warns that indiscipline, violence and other anti-social behaviour will increase in our society if we fail to supervise the use of the internet by our young children.

Young impressionable minds need guidance; otherwise they may take the wrong path in life. Indiscipline and violence in the nationís schools would not have been on the increase if more parents had monitored their children from a young age. Two major reasons for juvenile delinquency are the failure of many parents to be role models in their homes and to properly supervise their children when it most counts.

Only exemplars can instill moral and values education in students

In order for moral and values education to work effectively, there must first be a complete ban on the sale of alcohol, especially to minors, during school functions.

Teachers who use obscene language, seduce their students or go the classroom smelling of alcohol cannot pass on moral and values education to those under their charge because children donít listen to adults who practise double standards. There should be no compromise by the Ministry of Education in dealing with principals and teachers who commit such crimes in our schools.

All is not lost in our schools because there are many teachers in the country who make a difference by their exemplary behaviour and efficient teaching skills.

CBTT recommends that good parenting skills be taught in our schools since most of the problems among our youth originate in the home. We cannot have parents abusing alcohol, cursing, beating their spouses and expect children to do otherwise.

The increase in broken homes has led to many of the problems among young people. We wish to point out that 75 percent of teenage pregnancies in the United States come from single parent homes. More than 50 percent of youths jailed for criminal actions lived in one-parent families as children, and 75 percent in chemical dependency hospitals came from single parent families.Ē

CBTT pleads with religious institutions and community groups to get into the act and teach proper moral values and behaviour to our youth.

Viewpoint - February 01, 2002

Send students on suspension to rehabilitative centres

The group Citizens For A Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) believes that schoolchildren found using alcohol or illegal drugs on the school compound should be sent to rehabilitative centres.

Suspending these students from school without placing them into a rehabilitative programme is not going to stop them from abusing alcohol or illegal drugs. As a matter of fact, they are likely to serve their suspension by becoming involved in criminal activities.

Many parents are unable to help keep their children away from abusing drugs and alcohol because they themselves have problems with substance abuse. Drinking has become a norm among many students mainly because they have been influenced by peers, parents and other adults as well as by the bombardment of alcohol advertisements. Schoolchildren are now taking alcohol to school and drinking it in the classroom.

Much of the school violence today is alcohol and drug related. It is difficult for any teacher to control a student who messes with alcohol or illegal drugs since many of them are likely to become violent if attempts are made to discipline them.

Thatís why CBTT has been criticising the sale of alcohol to students at school functions. We believe that the school is a place where students should learn good habits. The destruction caused by the sale of liquor to minors over the years is today haunting us because it has contributed to many of our youth and young adults becoming chronic alcoholics and drug addicts.

CBTT is working towards setting up a centre that would assist the Ministry of Education and schools in rehabilitating students involved in alcohol, illegal drugs and criminal activities. However, we will continue to stress on preventative measures to help combat the growing ills in our society.

Viewpoint - January 01, 2002

CBTT calls on government to upgrade public hospitals

The group Citizens For A Better Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) is pleading with the authorities to give priority to upgrading the countryís public hospitals. State medical institutions such as the San Fernando and Port-of-Spain General Hospitals must be upgraded to meet the standards of the private hospitals and nursing homes. Money must be found to build modern hospitals, some of which should be community based.

Crowded wards at our hospitals are the order of the day. The poor and average man who cannot afford to go to a private hospital, medical centre or nursing home is at a distinct disadvantage because he/she is forced to endure the present conditions that exist at our public hospitals.

Itís time the authorities ensure that there are also no shortages of medication and medical equipments at our hospitals. Citizens are also wondering why air-conditioned units have not yet been installed in the various wards.

There are many senior citizens abroad who wish to spend their last days here but the medical facilities available in Trinidad and Tobago discourage them from doing so.

CBTT recommends that a special fund be set up to assist poor people who are unable to pay for serious life-saving operations. Some citizens are denied these operations because of poverty. We must be more humane and assist them to live life to its fullest.

While some tablets and other medications are given free at health centres, the fact is that there are often shortages of these supplies forcing poor patients to buy them at drug stores. Thatís why CBTT renews it call for old age pensioners to get a substantial reduction when purchasing medication for their use. We hope the government takes our recommendations seriously because many citizens share them.

Viewpoint - December 01, 2001

The United Nations should be commended for sanctioning International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Physical, sexual or psychological harm against women are on the rise in spite of the mounting campaign both in Trinidad and Tobago and around the world to protect women from these acts of violence. The United Nations must be commended for sanctioning the day because it raises public awareness of the problem of violence against women. Legal, social, political and economic equality for women have been hampered because of the widespread violence against women.

Women may not say it in the open, but none of them is happy to beaten by a spouse, but they remain in the relationship for one reason or the other.There is no peace in a home in which domestic violence exists.

Women alone cannot solve the problem of domestic violence in the home. Men must come out of the c