There is searing irony in Security Minister Stuart Young’s recent pronouncements on crime.
The same jaundiced declaration is evident in the national airline’s statement on the now-questionable Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
Young hyperventilated over the foreboding tone of a travel advisory issued by the United States.
The American authorities warned its citizens that “gang activity, such as narcotics trafficking, is common” in Trinidad and Tobago and that much of the violent crime “is gang-related and geographically concentrated.”
Young saw red, said he has “engaged the US embassy here” on the matter, and – in his quintessential style – slammed “fear-mongers… trying to create some sense of panic.”
Fortunately, he did not censure the critics for sedition and treason.
One day later, responding to Opposition probing in Parliament, he acknowledged that there are some places where it is not advisable to visit.
Young’s awkward recognition ties in with the US’ identification of specific crime- and drug-ridden inner city communities.
It also flies in the face of general election manifesto promises of an “all-of-government approach” to crime-fighting, and bewailing the previous administration for T&T becoming “the tenth most homicidal and violent country in the world.”
The manifesto intoned; “The total murder total has exceeded 400 for the last two years…”
Interesting, the homicide rate has not gone past 500 over each of the last two years.
Almost 100 people have lost their lives in fewer days this year.
Yet the big security debate pertains to the police chief sporting camouflage gear!
And the masses, including calypsonians, so-called watchdogs of the people, have given the boss an A-plus grade.
A core issue with crime pertains to public confidence, which the security authorities cannot boost simply by public relations grandstanding and tough talk.
A rebuttal to a public advisory from the Minister would not suffice if people do not feel safe and the evidence confirms a soaring crime rate.
The scenario is equally relevant to the Boeing aircraft, which is now being routinely banned from the airspace of several countries.
The raw truth is that no aircraft should fall out of the sky, as has now happened twice with this aircraft model.
The attempt by Caribbean Airlines to tip-toe around the issue with public relations gobbledygook would surely not appease travellers who have lost confidence in the aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Authority would not withdraw its approval of the 737 Max until the completion of detailed scientific studies, which, of course, is a protracted matter.
But such research is unlikely to restore confidence if people fear for their lives onboard an aircraft in which all passengers on two flights perished within mere months.
That is why the national airline should move to officially disentangle from the purchase contract for 12 such aircraft model.
A full-scale crisis hangs over the Boeing plane, and it would not dissipate anytime soon.
Even eventual safety clearance for the aircraft would not ensure the return of faith of the people who buy travel tickets.
CAL’s waffling statement is as convincing and as credible as the official mumbo jumbo on crime.
Both vividly illustrate the warped communications that pervade the government sector.