Trinidad & Tobago

Doctors opposed to changes to Medical Board Act

Port-of-Spain — Members of the medical profession are against any changes to the existing Medical Board Act. The doctors say existing legislation is effective enough to deal with the registration and disciplining of doctors.

Some 50 doctors met last weekend at Mount Hope Medical Science Complex to discuss the proposed changes submitted to them by Health Minister Colm Imbert.

A spokesperson for the Medical Association said the membership unanimously rejected the proposal by Imbert to set up a special medical panel to register doctors in the event of a shortage of doctors in the country.

The source said: "It is not necessary to have such a panel because it will not have any teeth. And if disciplinary action is to be taken against a doctor, the matter will have to be referred to the existing board."

On the question of making changes to the membership

of the Board, the official said: "The association feels that the present arrangement in which seven doctors are elected to sit on the board should remain."

Imbert had proposed that government should be allowed to nominate a certain number of doctors to sit on the board. The association feels "political appointments to the board are undesirable at this time."

Imbert had also asked the association to state whether UWI graduates should be registered by the Board since the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom would not be registering these graduates.

It was the feeling of the association that "the Act should be amended to allow UWI graduates to get automatic registration."

Kidnap victim’s dad still hopeful of son’s return

Port-of-Spain — Wayne Prescott, father of six-year-old kidnap victim Marc Prescott, started Father’s Day on Sunday with a prayer that his son would return home safely.

Despite his sadness at not being able to share the special day holding and playing with Marc, Prescott’s wife, Jill (Marc’s step- mother) organised a surprise visit by his four-year-old twin daughters Cheyanne and Arianne.

Prescott was presented with a card by his daughters and a cake was also bought for the occasion.

The girls and Marc have been living with Prescott’s aunt Lyncia Bailey, 53, at Palmyra Village, San Fernando since their 22-year-old mother, Jenelle died four years ago shortly after giving birth to the twins.

Marc, however, has not been seen by the family since he disappeared after attending classes at the San Fernando

Boys’ RC School, Harris Promenade on May 14.

Asked to describe how he felt about not being able to share Father’s Day with Marc, Prescott, an offshore oil worker of Edinburgh Crescent, Cocoyea, said he was saddened.

"But I still have my other kids to look after and show them love," Prescott said softly.

"I don’t want to show them the sadness."

Prescott said he attended the First Baptist Church, St Joseph Street, San Fernando where prayers were said by members of the congregation for Marc’s abductors to release him.

"I have that faith that he is safe and I want to tell him that I love him very much. I miss him and I want him to come home."

Ethnic division no longer an option says Senator

Port-of-Spain — Ethnic divisions amongst Indo-Trinidadians can no longer be used to shape the political landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, Government Senator Mustapha Abdul-Hamid has said.

Additionally, the element of divisiveness amongst the Indo-Trinidadian population before the 1970s gave way to cultural unity which formed the framework for political unity decades later when the nation witnessed an Indo-Trinidadian political party rising into the corridors of power.

The senator was speaking at Indian Arrival Day celebrations hosted jointly by the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association and the Islamic Resource Society last Saturday night at the Centre Point Mall, Chaguanas.

Abdul-Hamid said there are different religious groups within the Indian community, each lending itself for consideration as a separate ethnic group.

He noted Indian indentured workers never arrived as one homogenous group in 1845, but brought with them all the factors of religious division.

"The fact they took a trip on the same boat was not enough to erase hundreds of years of division," he said.

Abdul-Hamid said local divisiveness was further propagated amongst Hindus and Muslims by visiting Indian missionaries in the first half of the 20th century, who preached the politics of India and discouraged relationships amongst both religious groupings serving to prolong animosities.

"Dr Williams (former PM Eric Williams) understood that very well and he made a deliberate effort to target the Muslim population," Abdul–Hamid said, adding Muslims could not see themselves then supporting the then Opposition Leader, Bhadase Sagan Maharaj, who was also the head of the Maha Sabha and the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers’ Trade Union.

He said the effects would be similar if current Maha Sabha Head, Sat Maharaj was to lead a political party.

Abdul-Hamid credited the Mastana Bhahar television show introduced in the 1970s. He said it was one of the most significant events in bringing Indian people together and breaking down the barriers of separation. He said political parties of the 21st century must focus on delivering the goods to the people.



Bakr: Stern penalties prescribed for troublemakers

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Speaking about the incident a day later, Stoute said: "My brother did not deserve to die. He was just an NHA (National Housing Authority) worker. But I am happy that my child is alive and well and very soon, I will be able to cuddle her again."

On May 30, two men were killed and four wounded when three masked men opened fire on them during a card game in Laventille.

The shooting and beating of Special Branch officer, Const Derrick Nelson, who was the bodyguard of Justice Herbert Volney, on June 1, did not happen in Laventille, but in Couva, central Trinidad. Nelson was shot, robbed of his service revolver, ammunition, cash, jewelry and thrown over a bridge. He fell 25 feet.

He died on June 7 at the San Fernando General Hospital. The attack on Nelson led to acting Insp Christopher Holder, president of the Police Second Divison Police Association to say that if the government fails to provide the safety and security for police officers, then officers should "shoot to kill" to protect their lives and those of civilians.

Commenting on Holder’s statement, Police Commissioner Hilton Guy said that he will not be party to that (shoot to kill). Speaking at a promotion ceremony on June 3, Guy said that now more than ever before, police officers were bombarded with unprovoked attacks from criminals, and the officers should use "appropriate defence measures to ensure their safety" when dealing with criminal elements.

Other members of security services are also under threat.

Security guard Glen Forde, 32, died at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital after he was shot in his stomach during a robbery on May 25 at Caribbean Steel Mills, Arima, where he was stationed. Forde, who worked with Pentagon Security Services, and a colleague were confronted by three armed, masked men. They took Forde co-worker’s firearm and four rounds of ammunition.

Forde was shot in his lower left abdomen during a struggle with one of the bandits. Another security officer was relieved of his gun on June 4. The guard, Marlon King of Paragon Protection and employed with Carib Brewery, was accompanying a delivery truck to a Morvant supermarket.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning has come under heavy fire for blaming the crime situation on the easy availability of guns from Venezuela. Manning had said on June 5 there was a link between the increase in the number of guns in the country and Venezuela’s political disturbances.

"There has been an increase in the number of guns in Trinidad and Tobago. We noticed it when developments took place in Venezuela and we must understand that that has had an effect here," he said.

Manning conceded that the crime situation has worsened since the PNM took office 18 months ago.

Opposition UNC MP Gerald Yetming said: "Crime is everybody’s problem but the government’s problem. It ain’t Chin Lee’s (National Security Minister Howard). It is now Chavez. Chavez is so powerful a man that he sits down in Venezuela and creating an increase in crime in Trinidad and Tobago."

Chaguanas mayor Orlando Nagessar also criticised Manning for making the link between guns in Trinidad and its availability from Venezuela. "I heard the Prime Minister saying on the news that the illegal weapons throughout the country came during the riot in Venezuela, but how did all of these guns enter the country without being seized? Someone had their eyes closed."

Oil company criticises Morean over remarks

Port-of-Spain — Attorney-General Glenda Morean has responded to American Oil Company Frank Wade Oil (FWO) saying that its criticisms of her were "unfortunate" but she did not provide any specific evidence to show that a former minister requested a bribe from FWO.

FWO on Friday stated that Morean was wrong to say that the company had been approached for a bribe by a former government minister during its contract bid for work to re-develop the Southwest and West Soldado oil and gas fields.

But, although the AG released some excerpts of FWO’s Summary of Dispute in the matter and an affidavit, there were no instances where FWO made reference to a former government minister asking for a bribe. However, reference was made to corrupt "and other unlawful conduct by officials of TT State enterprises".

FWO in its release on Friday noted that its claim was based on the termination of the tender contract and "not based on any allegation regarding a request for ‘improper consideration’ by a former minister. FWO notes that it did not allege that a former minister of the government requested any payment".

Last week the AG’s release quoting FWO’s Summary of the Dispute stated: "The summary begins with the statement that ‘FW Oil claims in this arbitration results from corruption and other unlawful conduct by officials of T&T State enterprises. In retaliation for FWO’s refusal to pay a US $1.5 million bribe in connection with an oil an (sic) gas contract...’"

The initial set of documents stated that "certain T&T officials demanded a US $ 1.5 million bribe and threatened to block FWO’s proposals unless the bribe was paid".

It also noted, "During the negotiations, however, and without FWO’s knowledge, certain T&T officials, hoping to benefit personally from the Trinmar project, had embarked on a course of conduct that would ultimately cause Trinmar to withdraw the award of the contract."

In a subsequent statement, the AG’s office sent what it described as "a portion of an affidavit supplied by FWO, which accuses a named government minister of blocking the project for his own personal interest". The minister’s name was omitted in the affidavit sent by the AG’s office.

That portion of the affidavit referred to a meeting with Trinmar representatives on March 19, 2001 in which Trinmar confirmed that the Soldado Project had been put on hold by Petrotrin. It added, "During this meeting FWO was also informed that the approved version of Trinmar’s letter of February 26, 2001 did not seek to withdraw the award from FWO."

It went on: "However, acting in his own self interest and without board approval, a … Minister…inserted the final paragraph of the letter withdrawing the award from FWO. He …held an interest in an …energy company that was a potential bidder for the Soldado Fields Project. It was thought that he was trying to ‘guide’ the Project to that company."

Contacted for comment last week, former energy minister Finbar Gangar said, "It appears that the Attorney General was misinformed when she stated a former minister had approached FW Oil for a bribe."

Gangar, who was energy minister under the United National Congress (UNC) government between 1995 to 2000, said he has never taken a bribe in his life.

He described the statements being made by the AG as a "national farce and a circus".

Probe ‘army’ beatings - PM

Port-of-Spain — Prime Minister Patrick Manning has called on National Security Minister Howard Chin Lee to launch an immediate probe into the reports of physical abuse of residents in El Socorro by members of the Defence Force on Thursday evening.

According to the reports, a contingent of men dressed in "ski masks" and transported by vehicles which appeared to be army trucks with their licence plates covered, assaulted several residents in the area. The residents claim the attack was in retaliation for a burglary at the home of a soldier.

As the PM announced the probe came reports of a similar incident in the same area in which a woman claimed that her home was broken into and she and her son were beaten.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said the men were dressed like members of the defence force and were shouting "Where the gun, where the gun".

The Prime Minister said in a statement that his adminis-tration had no intention of tolerating any instance of lawless-ness, especially among those charged with the responsibility of upholding and enforcing the laws of the land.

 Guyana News