THE EDITOR: Contrary to popular belief, crime is not a political issue. Rather, crime is a public relations concern for politicians.
Most nationals are not concerned about crime as a social issue. Instead, they are concerned about their personal safety. This is why, despite opinion polls and commentary saying that crime (including corruption) is citizens’ greatest worry, election polls — which reflect people’s true priorities rather than their stated ones — tell a different story.
Thus, in 1995 the United National Congress (UNC) led by Basdeo Panday was elected by 256,159 voters. During its five-year term, the Panday administration was plagued with charges of corruption. Yet in 2000, the UNC received over 67,000 more votes than it had in 1995.
Then came the PNM in 2001. Between then and the 2007 general election, the homicide rate rose from ten per 100,000 to 30 per 100,000 — a 300 per cent increase, totalling 1,700 killings. Yet in 2007, the PNM won the election with 300,434 votes, a 15 per cent increase over the party’s 2001 tally.
By 2010, the PNM had on its plate tall buildings, Calder Hart, the Guanapo church, and over 2,700 murders. Although the party lost the election, the PNM’s support between 2007 and 2010 had dropped only by five per cent and, in the marginal seats, the against-PNM swing averaged a mere nine per cent. This is why both the PNM and the UNC do not take any serious measures to reduce crime. They know that there is little political benefit to doing so. After all, how many citizens would support the shutdown of URP, repeal of the minimum wage, and legalisation of marijuana and cocaine? Yet any one of these measures would reduce the homicide rate.
But politicians won’t take such action, especially when it’s so politically effective to use futile legislation like the Anti-Gang Bill to fling mud at one another.
KEVIN BALDEOSINGH, Freeport