The public utterings on the validity of the position of the re-route movement have been confusing to the public due to the diametric differences in the articulation of what did or what had not occurred. Historically, this country has been plagued by technical assessments of controversial projects that would appear to support the particular decision of a government in power rather than be an objective analysis of the issues at hand.
As an environmental group with over 15 years' experience in fighting various governments, we have grown almost resigned to fighting technical chicanery masquerading as technical expertise. It was the hope of many environmental organisations and individuals, that a government called the "People's Partnership", that pledged to render public protests redundant, would introduce proper public consultations, and a Ministry of the People would have safeguarded public interests.
The re-route movement may not be right, but they are entitled to an independent assessment of their objections/alternatives and they have not yet had any independent team examine their concerns/recommendations. No government minister in their many public and at times disrespectful and petulant pronouncements (Dr Moonilal in particular), has provided the slightest shred of evidence of an independent technical review of the concerns of the re-route movement.
The Prime Minister has said that a team has examined their concerns, but this is not the issue, and it is not reasonable since, independent is independent, and the team who reported to the Prime Minister was never agreed to by any of the stakeholders, was never independent of the Government's interests, never submitted its report for public viewing, and never met with the re-route movement or with the wider environment and social activist sectors, in a formal and recorded environment.
Whatever they produced, or advised was not produced or advised in a manner that can withstand public scrutiny. Closed-door deliberations are undemocratic, and betray the public trust with which we have based our mantra, "serve the people, serve the people, serve the people".
The Prime Minister has said that Kublalsingh walked out of a meeting, but why did he walk out? Is it not because he was confronted by the same technocrats and the same government officials that made the initial proposal? Are we from a culture where we accept we are wrong and own up?
No doubt, poor communication and an awkwardly managed campaign have created a sense of hopelessness for Kublalsingh, with little national support, and with a range of public misunderstandings, he has been swept into the waste paper bin of public opinion, where a range of public figures, some with nebulous motives, have been joyfully riding and kissing on his bandwagon.
While we can understand the reluctance of a government to respond to every hunger striker, lest tomorrow 500 activists, (including FFOS) with 5,000 separate issues turn up on the Prime Minister's doorstep, there is no excuse for traumatising the entire nation with the spectacle of an activist having to take extreme measures and risk his life or well being for an issue that reeks of injustice and is capable of easy resolution.
Accordingly, FFOS calls on the Prime Minister and her goodly Cabinet to please, please, please stop the highway now, until an independent team can be appointed comprising equal members from the Ministry of Works and the Re-Route Movement and chaired by an expert in the area of dispute resolution, with the power to make a casting vote on any technical decision to be decided.
The documents are all in the public domain and with swift action this can be resolved in a matter of weeks.
The other option is to allow our beloved brother Wayne to die, and to create a martyr who will live in the minds of the world and who will further weaken an already threatened administration. FFOS appeals to all citizens to call on their political representatives to appoint this review team headed by an independent person capable of resolving any potential deadlock.
Gary Aboud, Secretary,
Terrence Beddoe, President,
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea