Would extending the State of Emergency be worth it?

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Like other hermits, who have nothing resembling a social life, the announcement of a state of emergency (SOE), and curfew, last week didn’t really hit home for me. Be home by 9 p.m.? I’m often in my house at 9 p.m. What to do at home after 9 p.m.? The same thing I do every night. Surf the Internet. Work. Live on BBM. Listen music. Watch YouTube videos, or catch reruns of “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, “Jersey Shore”, or “Basketball Wives”. Doh judge meh!
After the first few days of the curfew, I remained unperturbed, because I knew I was gonna be locked up in my house for the next few days tackling a pile of work. However, when I started to hear talk about possibly extending the curfew, I started to get antsy.
According to a Trinidad Express report, on August 26, Minister of Justice, Herbert Volney, suggested that a timeframe of six weeks to three months was required for the state of emergency, as 15 days “will not be sufficient time” to deal with criminal elements. Minister Volney also stated that “it’s a small sacrifice” and “people are prepared to make the sacrifice”.
I’m all for tackling crime, but if this line of thinking is seriously considered, would people really be all for it? Most Trinis are law abiding, so they’d obey the rules. But can’t we find other ways to strangle crime, and allow law-abiding citizens to carry on as usual – without the anxiety the current state of affairs brings? Some of you may say that you felt trapped any way, and your argument has validity. However, some people didn’t feel anxious or ‘unsafe’ until the announcement of the SOE.
In theory, sacrificing your normal, taken-for-granted civil liberties is noble. The question is, can people and the country afford the sacrifice? Here are some reasons why I think the state of emergency should not be extended, if the suggestion is seriously put on the table.
People are gonna be cross, angry, and miserable
Already, we’re seeing people become increasingly agitated by the restrictions. If even people like me might go mad being shut up in dey house for too long, what will happen to the people who are accustomed to going out Friday nights and weekends? I mean… is only so much curfew party you could host or go to. Trinis love to lime, so anything more than 15 days will be a serious, mental challenge.
The other night, I saw Sampson Nanton on CNC3 asking people in Movie Towne if they’re happy now – especially since they were getting more time to spend with family. What kinda stupid question is dat? Who’s happy to have a state of emergency announced in their country? Who lights fireworks for that announcement? Who tell him everybody like dey family, or has a safe, healthy home environment? Who tell him every husband or wife wants to go home to nagging? Who tell him everybody has food in their house, games, and television to entertain themselves? By the way, I LOVE my family!
Small businesses just can’t take it
Some of us have life nice. We go to an 8 to 4 and get a guaranteed salary. Some people, however, run their own businesses, their employees depend on how well the business does each month to earn their pay cheque, and some of these businesses revolve around night-time activities (clean thoughts people). Less crime is something all of us want. However, can you imagine what life would be like if your business takes a serious dip in income for six weeks to three months, or even six months (which is the longest a state of emergency can be held)? Note that these people would still have expenses to bear. Some may even have to let go of staff. More people on the breadline equals more people who will be tempted to find ways to make ends meet.
Big business will also feel the effects. The port, and other business places, have already changed hours of operations, and with the normal routine of daily life disrupted, citizens may not be as ‘gung-ho’ about spending money. Some clients may have also stalled projects until the SOE stops.
Stop people from lying
Almost every time I switch on the local news, and they’re interviewing citizens about how they feel about the state of emergency, people saying yes, they fully support it, we need to take back we country, blah blah blah. However, I know half of dem buggers does be cussin’ off camera. Even if they fully support the SOE, they’re upset. No one wants to be caught on camera speaking their mind, or saying while they’re in full support of extreme measures to curtail crime, that they’re less than pleased with the implementation – unless their name is Martin Daly of course.
Tourism will go into a coma
Poor tourism industry. You’re like the outside child no one cares about. Firstly, you need more funding. Secondly, the global recession mash yuh up, and now a state of emergency is certainly putting you in the emergency room. Unless we come up with a creative museum of state of emergency, and some seriously amazing marketing campaigns, I don’t see why tourists would willingly travel to Trinidad and Tobago over the next few months. You know embassies already like to warn people about coming to ‘sweet T&T’, once they smell any whiff of crime.
Someone from abroad messaged me last week, asking about the coup that’s happening in Trinidad. An acquaintance told me that a friend from abroad called, very concerned about her safety, as he also thought a coup was underway. When people aren’t fully in the know, they assume the worst, once they hear a country is in a state of emergency. Our international image cannot take a prolonged SOE, especially since our image was not squeaky clean in the first place.
With Christmas and Carnival coming up, and these two periods being the tourism’s main peak seasons, I’m sorry for all of those who depend on this industry for their livelihood. Tourism mightn’t have the amount of value as the energy industry, but less visitors means less contribution to national GDP.
From a social and economic point of view, extending the SOE won’t do much except make people more anxious, create more opportunities for negative emotions to perpetuate, divide communities along class lines, and put some serious obstacles in the way of business momentum.
Corrective action of crime was, is, and will continue to be needed, but an extended SOE will erode confidence in our way of life, and freedom of expression. Effective management of crime is the real issue here, and it’s best to let people know what’s taking place, in a very clear, consistent, and coherent manner. Whatever the next step is, crime-fighting measures must be well thought out, and have actual impact on the root of the problem, so that citizens’ sacrifice is well worth it.

soe2Like other hermits, who have nothing resembling a social life, the announcement of a state of emergency (SOE), and curfew, last week didn’t really hit home for me. Be home by 9 p.m.? I’m often in my house at 9 p.m. What to do at home after 9 p.m.? The same thing I do every night. Surf the Internet. Work. Live on BBM. Listen music. Watch YouTube videos, or catch reruns of “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, “Jersey Shore”, or “Basketball Wives”. Doh judge meh!

After the first few days of the curfew, I remained unperturbed, because I knew I was gonna be locked up in my house for the next few days tackling a pile of work. However, when I started to hear talk about possibly extending the curfew, I started to get antsy.


According to a Trinidad Express report, on August 26, Minister of Justice, Herbert Volney, suggested that a timeframe of six weeks to three months was required for the state of emergency, as 15 days “will not be sufficient time” to deal with criminal elements. Minister Volney also stated that “it’s a small sacrifice” and “people are prepared to make the sacrifice”. 

I’m all for tackling crime, but if this line of thinking is seriously considered, would people really be all for it? Most Trinis are law abiding, so they’d obey the rules. But can’t we find other ways to strangle crime, and allow law-abiding citizens to carry on as usual – without the anxiety the current state of affairs brings? Some of you may say that you felt trapped any way, and your argument has validity. However, some people didn’t feel anxious or ‘unsafe’ until the announcement of the SOE. 

In theory, sacrificing your normal, taken-for-granted civil liberties is noble. The question is, can people and the country afford the sacrifice? Here are some reasons why I think the state of emergency should not be extended, if the suggestion is seriously put on the table.

 

People are gonna be cross, angry, and miserable

Already, we’re seeing people become increasingly agitated by the restrictions. If even people like me might go mad being shut up in dey house for too long, what will happen to the people who are accustomed to going out Friday nights and weekends? I mean… is only so much curfew party you could host or go to. Trinis love to lime, so anything more than 15 days will be a serious, mental challenge.

The other night, I saw Sampson Nanton on CNC3 asking people in Movie Towne if they’re happy now – especially since they were getting more time to spend with family. What kinda stupid question is dat? Who’s happy to have a state of emergency announced in their country? Who lights fireworks for that announcement? Who tell him everybody like dey family, or has a safe, healthy home environment? Who tell him every husband or wife wants to go home to nagging? Who tell him everybody has food in their house, games, and television to entertain themselves? By the way, I LOVE my family!

 

Small businesses just can’t take it

Some of us have life nice. We go to an 8 to 4 and get a guaranteed salary. Some people, however, run their own businesses, their employees depend on how well the business does each month to earn their pay cheque, and some of these businesses revolve around night-time activities (clean thoughts people). Less crime is something all of us want. However, can you imagine what life would be like if your business takes a serious dip in income for six weeks to three months, or even six months? Note that these people would still have expenses to bear. Some may even have to let go of staff. More people on the breadline equals more people who will be tempted to find ways to make ends meet.

Big business will also feel the effects. The port, and other business places, have already changed hours of operations, and with the normal routine of daily life disrupted, citizens may not be as ‘gung-ho’ about spending money. Some clients may have also stalled projects until the SOE stops. 

 

Stop people from lying

Almost every time I switch on the local news, and they’re interviewing citizens about how they feel about the state of emergency, people saying yes, they fully support it, we need to take back we country, blah blah blah. However, I know half of dem buggers does be cussin’ off camera. Even if they fully support the SOE, they’re upset. No one wants to be caught on camera speaking their mind, or saying while they’re in full support of extreme measures to curtail crime, that they’re less than pleased with the implementation – unless their name is Martin Daly of course.

 

Tourism will go into a coma

Poor tourism industry. You’re like the outside child no one cares about. Firstly, you need more funding. Secondly, the global recession mash yuh up, and now a state of emergency is certainly putting you in the emergency room. Unless we come up with a creative museum of state of emergency, and some seriously amazing marketing campaigns, I don’t see why tourists would willingly travel to Trinidad and Tobago over the next few months. You know embassies already like to warn people about coming to ‘sweet T&T’, once they smell any whiff of crime. 

Someone from abroad messaged me last week, asking about the coup that’s happening in Trinidad. An acquaintance told me that a friend from abroad called, very concerned about her safety, as he also thought a coup was underway. When people aren’t fully in the know, they assume the worst, once they hear a country is in a state of emergency. Our international image cannot take a prolonged SOE, especially since our image was not squeaky clean in the first place.

With Christmas and Carnival coming up, and these two periods being the tourism’s main peak seasons, I’m sorry for all of those who depend on this industry for their livelihood. Tourism mightn’t have the amount of value as the energy industry, but less visitors means less contribution to national GDP.

From a social and economic point of view, extending the SOE won’t do much except make people more anxious, create more opportunities for negative emotions to perpetuate, divide communities along class lines, and put some serious obstacles in the way of business momentum. Additionally, how long would it take for the country to recover from any economic losses?

Corrective action of crime was, is, and will continue to be needed, but an extended SOE will erode confidence in our way of life, and freedom of expression. Effective management of crime is the real issue here, and it’s best to let people know what’s taking place, in a very clear, consistent, and coherent manner. Whatever the next step is, crime-fighting measures must be well thought out, and have actual impact on the root of the problem, so that citizens’ sacrifice is well worth it.

 

Update: The Prime Minister has announced that the State of Emergency would be extended, and curfew hours would be amended.

 

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Karel Mc Intosh

Karel Mc Intosh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Outlish Magazine. She's also the Lead Communications Trainer at Livewired Group, where she conducts workshops in business writing, social media, and other communications areas. A real online junkie, when she isn't surfing the Internet, she's thinking about surfing the Internet. Find out more about her here or tweet her @outlishmagazine.

2 Comments

  1. Sampson

    September 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Karel, what nonsense am I reading here in the paragraph I highlight below? Context my dear. Context. The question had context, which was obviously left out in your summary, which context is lodged the word “now”.
    In other words, the simple interpretation of the question is, “during this time that you are spending home with your family, are you happy about it?”
    As an old journalist yourself, you should know that any question that can be answered “yes” or “no”, is not a foolish question. In fact, you yourself quite perplexingly answered both yes and no immediately after determining the question to be “stupid”. The “stupidity” is often in what people deduct from the answer.
    For instance, “Is the sky black?” is not a stupid question. It is black sometimes. Depending on perspective, the answer might be yes or no, or to the armchair critic watching TV and hearing the question at night, it might be “stupid”.
    That’s simple enough. But neither is the question, “Is the sky polka-dot?” a foolish question either.
    The stupidity is in the deduction of what the person answered, not the question itself, particularly if the question, “Is the sky polka-dot?” has such context as when directed to someone with a mental disorder or is visual challenged.
    I need not delve into the merits and demerits of open-ended questions as opposed to closed questions – the question, “Are you happy…” being a closed one that triggers an open-ended follow-up question, a skill journalists (and lawyers) can use quite effectively during live interviewing, the most simplistic follow-up being, “tell us why”.
    Curiously, you were at home, presumably with family, watching the TV, when the “stupid” question was asked. Were you happy? The assumption is that your answered is no based on your swipe at the question itself, but your “I LOVE my family” seem to suggest that you were happy to be home, whether forced or not, perhaps even happier than me – I wasn’t in the comfort of my home, I left home to go do work and who likes that on a Sunday evening? If only I could have been “happy to be home” presumably like you.
    So Karel, my former co-worker, re-read your paragraph below and think it over clearly because I’m palpitating to hear your response, or is that too stupid of me to ask?

    “The other night, I saw Sampson Nanton on CNC3 asking people in Movie Towne if they’re happy now – especially since they were getting more time to spend with family. What kinda stupid question is dat? Who’s happy to have a state of emergency announced in their country? Who lights fireworks for that announcement? Who tell him everybody like dey family, or has a safe, healthy home environment? Who tell him every husband or wife wants to go home to nagging? Who tell him everybody has food in their house, games, and television to entertain themselves? By the way, I LOVE my family!”

  2. Isaac Rudder

    November 15, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Sampson, while I understand your frustration, I think you should lighten up bro.

    Karel wasn’t telling you that you’re stupid or necessarily being dead serious when she said the question was stupid. She was piconging – u should know the difference dude. “What kinda stupid question is dat?” literally translates into “I don’t understand how this question makes sense/is pertinent.” It wasn’t a personal attack. Lighten up bro, and laugh at it. We’re fun loving here at outlish, we don’t go out to hurt anyone’s feelings

    Smile

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