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Fuad Abu Bakr: Conditions in T&T ripe for something to explode
Leader of the New National Vision (NNV) party Fuad Abu Bakr, son of insurrectionist Yasin Abu Bakr, is blaming prevailing speculation about a coup on fear-mongering by politicians. However, he warned that existing conditions were ripe for “something to explode.” In an interview with the Sunday Guardian, the 28-year-old double degree holder described himself as a businessman by profession, an activist by passion, and a politician by necessity.
“I have found my purpose in service to man and helping others,” Abu Bakr said. In an interview with the Sunday Guardian at the Femmes du Chalet on the waterfront on Thursday, Abu Bakr said he was initiating a series of “revolutionary” political strategies, and while beating effigies of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley was part of that plan, a coup d’etat is not.
“I have a lot left, but I am keeping it quiet. I thought this (beating of the effigies) would have passed over a lot quicker. I am glad it is making waves the way it is because I have actually postponed plans for other protests,” he said. With degrees in both law and business, Abu Bakr could be doing almost anything else, yet he said he felt compelled to enter politics.
“I refuse to be led unless it is by someone with an ideology. As a young person, I feel as though it is time for that generational shift. I feel as though new blood has to come, people who don’t have the baggage,” he said. Abu Bakr described the rumours of a second coup plot as “extremely laughable,” but warned that people were so frustrated “things could explode.” “You never know,” he said.
Despite that statement, Abu Bakr denied that he or any groups that he knew were planning a coup. “The people who control our society, they push fear upon us because if we are afraid we cannot take the time to know each other. They rule by divide and conquer and that is archaic politics. We need to demand better from them,” he said. He said instead of pointing fingers at his father and his father’s actions, more could be learned by examining the circumstances that created similar situations.
“We need to point fingers correctly...If we don’t just blame, we don’t just say ‘oh that guy was mad.’ But if we look at the historical context, we need to become a more educated and informed people,” he said. He said the country needed revolutionary thinking. “T&T is in a really bad place,” he added.
Abu Bakr said there were no existing political parties that he would join and that was what prompted him to start his own. He said he had been courted before by both the PNM and UNC. One party, he said, asked that he head up their youth arm, but he declined.
“I look at the People’s National Movement (PNM) and if it was really a national movement for people, I wouldn’t be here, but to me that is not what it is. I looked at the United National Congress (UNC) and if it was really a united congress of the nation, I would have been there. But what it is, is the interest of a small few, a bigger pool being manipulated and bought, divisive, negative, and racial ideas that are being pushed on people—that is the core of these organisations,” he said.
He said there were one or two positive people associated with both parties, but those were outnumbered by the negative ones. “Don’t get me wrong, there has been a lot of positives, because even the worst person can have their good days. So I draw on positives that Mr Basdeo Panday did. I think Mr Dhanraj Singh was a positive guy, very colourful but very loving and close to the people. Mr Eddie Hart...I hear about others but I have not seen it first hand,” he said.
When asked to name a current politician that he admired, Abu Bakr said that was a “tough job.” “The action of your peers sometimes reflects on you as well, so the positive contributions sometimes are lost. I think Faris (Al Rawi, PNM PRO) sometimes articulates himself well. On the UNC side, Dr Fuad Khan is free-spirited,” he said. When the Sunday Guardian pointed out that he named two politicians that share his religious beliefs, he added former Minister Verna St Rose-Greaves to the line up.
“I have lots of respect for Verna St Rose, I think she is passionate. Not everyone would articulate themselves in the same way,” he said. He said political parties preached divisiveness, while the NNV was more about inclusion. “I always said to people, if my party was to get into government, I would be drawing upon the resources of our entire nation regardless of creed, race. The culture of other political parties has taken away from where the nation needs to be,” he said.
Beating the bobolee
On the beating of the bobolee, Abu Bakr said, “That is a cultural expression in T&T, considering this is where I learned it.” Abu Bakr said there was no right season to do anything. “Right is right and wrong is wrong at whatever time.” He said his political ire was not directed at the Prime Minister as a person but at her politics, her office, and the entity that she led. The same, he said, went for Rowley.
He said the same arms of the UNC which called for an apology, needed to call for their own leaders to apologise for “irresponsible statements” they had made. “Government officials saying ‘we will crush all the cockroaches’ and ‘unleash the dogs of war’...Wow. I heard those statements and no one came out to castigate or chastise that. It seems as though right is wrong when it is not in their favour,” he said. He said many people would like to make the strong statements and actions that he did, but many were afraid.
“I don’t know if bravery runs in your blood, but I sat back for a while and thought about things. I felt this strong desire to change the society that I plan to live in, and I feel as though if I could contribute positively and make T&T better in a real way, I would have fulfilled my goal.”