Former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas says there is need for a national discourse on race relations and other issues affecting the people of T&T.In an interview yesterday, Dumas said a six-member body should be established to get the views of nationals with a view to finding solutions to the problems."We are not one in T&T, as is being claimed by politicians and others in the society," he insisted.He said if T&T was one, the controversial statement by former chairman of the Police Service Commission Nizam Mohammed about the need to address the ethnic imbalance in the service would not have been said, or received the objection from large sections of the national community.
"We need to talk about race, we must talk about race and the other issues affecting us," Dumas said."The issues that divide us must be confronted in a formal and direct way with a view to finding lasting solutions."Dumas said the perceived unfair treatment of Tobago by Trinidad, religious discrimination and gender issues must be discussed openly and not emotionally at the proposed national discourse."Race has become the flavour of the month in T&T," he added.
Dumas comments were sought in the wake of last Friday's debate in Parliament where both the Opposition People's National Movement (PNM) and the People's Partnership (PP) Government accused each other of engaging in racial discrimination.Responding to a call by the leader of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) Makandal Daaga to stop the race talk, Dumas insisted: "We must talk about it in a principled way."It is causing a problem already...it's already deepening the division in this country," he added.
Dumas said the national discourse should be established under the auspices of the University of the West Indies (St Augustine) and the University of T&T.He said the discourse should be taken across the nation for the views of as many citizens as possible."It should be funded by the public, with assistance from either the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) or the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)," Dumas said."We must stop sweeping it under the carpet and pretending all is well here. All is not well. We are not one."