A knee-jerk reaction was how former prime minister Basdeo Panday described this country's state of emergency, almost 48 hours after it was enforced. Panday said he was not worried about the technicality of it, but the importance of it. "Why have it in the first place?" he asked. "What does the Government want to do in a state of emergency that they can't do without it? "To arrest people without charging them? "They must say what is their intent," Panday said in a telephone interview yesterday. A 15-day state of emergency was declared on Sunday night with an eight-hour curfew at identified hot spots around T&T.
Panday's criticisms stem from what he described as the Government's "weak" explanation that the call was made after 11 murders in 48 hours. "That just shows it was a knee-jerk reaction which was not thought out properly...There was no need for it," he said. Panday, who was also National Security minister during the UNC administration, is of the view that the Government does not have a crime plan. And if they did have one, he said, it was ineffective. "They don't know what they're doing...They are basically acting on impulse," Panday said. "When you look at the news at airlines cancelling their flights and the international implications that such an action can have you form the opinion that this Government is acting on vaps," he said.
Panday said that for such an action to be a success, the Government should have bought the confidence of the people on this issue. This, he explained, would have enabled the population to work with the Government to eradicate the crime scourge. When it was pointed out that the Government has had the support of the population, Panday observed that voices, such as the trade union movement, had been silenced. Furthermore, people's rights had been taken away from them without them being able to say anything about it, he said. Former National Security minister Martin Joseph, who declined to comment on the present state of affairs in the country, said simply: "There are no short cuts to ensure that you have a proper, functioning law enforcement agency."