If he were here, the legendary Owen Baptiste would had have a mouthful to say on current issues. Thundercloud expression and all.
“Now, down to the work!” he’d have then declared to any reporter after he’d concluded.
Even for those who didn’t have the privilege of meeting him, OB, as an icon of journalism and consciousness has left enough of a direct legacy to serve T&T. If heeded.
Those left behind might take comfort to know that his departure will reinforce as beacons, his guiding lights of educating and informing. Services now heavily needed by the country OB loved to extremes, and over which he fretted and agonised.
Souls like OB with passion for country, who’ve been suffering higher levels of concern due to T&T’s circumstances, would have been further pained at the furore concerning the recent infamous Bayside Towers pool party. A situation holding implications on the COVID-19 front.
Government’s attempt to steer clear of the “hot potato” issue, which rightfully sparked national outrage. Peppered responses heightened after Police Commissioner Gary Griffith’s initial weak statement on the matter. So much so, in a second, he promoted some hope for firmer action against partygoers.
The issue was magnified triple-fold due to the offenders in the particular scenario and the concerns about perceived disparity between locals and foreigners which arose since Government’s amnesty for Venezuelans.
It’s now a year later with T&T suffering 2,013 active COVID cases plus 50 deaths up to yesterday evening. Added to that, a short venture outside of one’s home might also provide enough reasons to employ some of the choice language OB sometimes wielded.
Bayside management did the necessary to notify apartment owners of the law—then called police when the pool party went haywire. Consequently, the questions on heeding the law remain for party hosts and frolickers. Griffith shouldn’t have to worry about what might occur “if 20 people in a gated community go to a pool all at once,” once community management notifies owners – and if owners heed it.
But clearly, not everyone’s adjusting to the “new normal.” Or thinking of being their brethren’s keeper.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s explanation on the absence of reference to private pools in COVID regulations—where public pools and water parks are dealt with—may at this stage of sentiments, still may not sit well.
His argument that inclusion of private apartment complexes in the regulations might affect Government’s HDC apartment complexes is telling: Government is landlord/vendor of HDC complexes where thousands rent or purchase.
Al-Rawi’s San Fernando West constituency alone has 11 HDC developments. It breaks down to many voters in a situation where Government already has a slim parliamentary majority, is heading into another tough COVID-hit term – and can ill afford more to “jumbie” the ground.
Concerns that citizens are being disadvantaged by foreigners’ presence and by how police implement the law in certain quarters is therefore a sizeable equation for Government’s consideration. If only for stability – economically and security-wise.
But: COVID regulations may need more than observations (as the AG says they’re under). What changes will come at today’s COVID media briefing remain ahead, including penalty increases or other changes to cover violations.
With public trepidation as a result of the COVID cloud and employment market, Government’s Budget should at least cover lower-income workers following job cut action at oil giant bpTT. Which others may see as licence to emulate.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s recent Guardian interview -indicating T&T’s tight situation – has set the stage for the package and indications are that property tax is definitely ahead and Government “may” devalue the TT dollar if deterioration continues.
With that scenario alone and other concerns of the collective consciousness, the package will have to be secure enough to level playing fields. For all.