Judge: Selfishness the root cause of domestic conflict

Much of T&T’s high crime, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and racism oc­cur be­cause cit­i­zens have lost their sense of cit­i­zen­ship says High Court Judge Jus­tice Frank Seep­er­sad.

Speak­ing at a re­gion­al Ro­tary Club sym­po­sium held at Na­pari­ma Col­lege au­di­to­ri­um on Sat­ur­day, Seep­er­sad said self­ish­ness was the root cause of do­mes­tic con­flict,  the tar­get used to rank T&T as num­ber 97 on the World Peace In­dex.

He not­ed that cit­i­zens were no longer pa­tri­ot­ic or re­spect­ful of di­ver­si­ty and this trig­gered dis­cord. This dis­cord, he said, re­flects in the way busi­ness is con­duct­ed in pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions.

“Our pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions have to be mod­ernised, a more rel­e­vant ed­u­ca­tion­al frame­work is need­ed, bu­reau­cra­cy can­not frus­trate the ease with which busi­ness is un­der­tak­en and mu­tu­al re­spect must be the mantra which de­fines how we live and in­ter­act,” he said.

Seep­er­sad added, “Do­mes­tic con­flict will on­ly de­cline when we re­ject trib­al­ism and par­ti­san­ship and em­brace the re­al­i­ty that our di­ver­si­ty is our most prized as­set. We need to stop the fight­ing and start trust­ing each oth­er.”

As T&T moves to cel­e­brate Re­pub­lic Day to­day, Seep­er­sad said it was im­por­tant for cit­i­zens to forge a na­tion­al iden­ti­ty.

“This would then en­cour­age us to con­tem­plate how our ac­tions im­pact oth­ers. Then we may ap­pre­ci­ate that the sums ex­pend­ed un­der-in­flat­ed con­tracts premised up­on kick­backs could be bet­ter used to pur­chase hos­pi­tal beds or im­prove health care. Jus­tice would not be viewed as a clois­tered virtue nor would some Ju­di­cial Of­fi­cers op­er­ate as if they are un­ac­count­able while perched in ivory tow­ers,” he said.

“ Self­less ser­vice would en­sure that em­pa­thy, ethics, equa­nim­i­ty and eq­ui­ty would de­fine the ap­proach to ju­di­cial con­duct and ad­ju­di­ca­tion. All must feel that they had a fair op­por­tu­ni­ty to be heard and cit­i­zens must be able to re­spect all those who lead pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions,” he  al­so said.

 He al­so said while the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers among the var­i­ous arms of the State was im­por­tant, there was al­so a need for all arms of the State to act with co­he­sion.

“In­for­ma­tion should be shared so as to achieve the de­sired ob­jec­tive of re­al­is­ing our fullest po­ten­tial.   When court de­ci­sions are made which re­veal in­ter alia in­her­ent leg­isla­tive flaws, where there is a need for leg­isla­tive in­ter­ven­tion or where a breach of au­thor­i­ty has been es­tab­lished,” he added.

Seep­er­sad said if cit­i­zens be­come less self­ish and pause to con­sid­er the im­pact that his in­tend­ed ac­tion may have on oth­ers, this will lead to a de­crease in crime.

He called on cit­i­zens to dis­re­gard di­vi­sive­ness and dis­cord.

“It is pos­si­ble to prop­a­gate pos­i­tive peace in this land but this ob­jec­tive will on­ly be re­alised if each of us is pre­pared to re­ject self­ish­ness, look deep with­in, change our at­ti­tudes of di­vi­sion and em­brace the tru­ism that

we must all work to­geth­er,” Seep­er­sad added. It is on­ly then that true peace, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and pros­per­i­ty re­turn to our shores.

Mean­while, econ­o­mist Dr Roger Ho­sein said the T&T’s econ­o­my is in a bad state be­cause of cor­rup­tion and waste.

Say­ing the  T&T’s econ­o­my has ranked 93 on the World In­dex and 105 in ease of do­ing busi­ness on the World In­dex, Ho­sein said it was alarm­ing that more peo­ple were not part of the pro­duc­tive labour force.

“If you have an en­vi­ron­ment in which one per cent of the labour force be­tween 2005 and 2019 has been mur­dered, and you have a labour force on the de­cline from 638,000 to 634,000, where  the em­ployed labour force stands at 595,000 and par­tic­i­pa­tion of peo­ple in labour force has fall­en be­low 60 per cent, then you have a prob­lem,” Ho­sein said.

He added, “When you have a so­ci­ety where there is an in­creased el­e­ment of cor­rup­tion, dif­fi­cul­ty in do­ing busi­ness and low rank­ing on the glob­al peace in­dex, we will find our­selves in a po­si­tion where the econ­o­my since 2007 has not grown. Since 2007, the econ­o­my has pro­duced 3.4 bil­lion bar­rels of oil and gas but the econ­o­my has con­tract­ed by mi­nus 0.1 per cent on av­er­age per an­num.”

He called on cit­i­zens to be­come more pro­duc­tive, co­op­er­a­tive and self-re­liant.

Reporter: Radhica Sookraj