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Now Dumas warns of social unrest
Yet another prominent witness in the commission of enquiry into the July 1990 uprising is warning that there could be social unrest if citizens are made to feel alienated from the governing process. Retired head of the public service, Reginald Dumas, yesterday told the commission of enquiry into the attempted coup: “If this absurd mode of governance continues, there may very well be some difficulties we would not like to have.
“We need a different form of governance, in which the population is more involved.” The inquiry is being held at the Caribbean Court of Justice Building, Henry Street, Port-of-Spain. Dumas was told his evidence had a tremendous parallel to that of social scientist Prof Ramesh Deosaran, who warned on Monday lawlessness was increasing and T&T was heading for another 1990.
Deosaran noted a growing resentment among the working class and called for a new mode of governance and for the business community to be more sensitive. Commission chairman Sir David Simmons, addressing Dumas, said it was clear from evidence given so far that the Government has no emergency plan if another uprising should occur.
Dumas, agreeing that lawlessness and indiscipline have increased, said the issue was one of good governance and the relation between the Government and the people was one aspect of that. He said for too long politicians had been going to citizens every few years for their votes and making promises. When they get into government, they forget about the people, he said.
“They like to use the same language, these governments,” he added. Dumas referred to the recent booing of Government ministers by Debe residents at a consultation over concerns about the construction of the Point Fortin Highway. He said when he saw the advertisement for the meeting he knew there was going to be trouble. “It said: ‘Come to the consultation and hear our plans.’”
He said if people felt they had a continuing stake in the development of the country there would be no protests or booing of ministers. “People would feel they are folks, too,” he added. Dumas also noted the race factor was never to be excluded.
“We like to shove everything under the carpet and say all of we is one. All of we is not one,” he added.
He said there were now 150 state boards, which cost a lot of money, and described the number as “nonsensical and ridiculous.” Dumas said he was told heads of the boards would sometimes appoint committees to deal with certain matters and then override their recommendations.
On the issue of healing from the wounds of 1990, Dumas said he would like to boldly appeal to the Jamaat al Muslimeen to apologise to the nation for their attempted overthrow of the government.
He said he had prepared a list of 30 people, not directly involved in the insurrection, who died from heart attacks and strokes caused by stress from the event.
Noting that acting Jamaat Imam, Loris Ballack, had made it clear to the commission he felt there was nothing to apologise for, he said:
“It would be a noble gesture. Islam, I am told, is a forgiving religion. I would suggest they forgive others they feel inflicted pain on them and give an apology for the pain inflicted on others. This would bring closure.
“I hope I am not attacked by the Muslimeen,” Dumas added.
On the question of the mysterious US military aircraft which retired air traffic controller Francis Bruzual said he saw at the airport during the 1990 crisis, Dumas said he knew nothing about that.
He said he was in constant communication with acting president Emmanuel Carter and acting prime minister, Winston Dookeran, and said he was amazed he never saw one of the nearly 15 vehicles that left the plane, nor knew of anyone who did.
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