Hamel-Smith's new political party aims to tackle crime

From left, political leader of HOPE Timothy Hamel-Smith, deputy political leader, finance, Karen Nunez-Tesheira and deputy political leader, governance, Louis Lee Sing at the launch of their party at Paria Suites, La Romaine on Saturday. - LINCOLN HOLDER
From left, political leader of HOPE Timothy Hamel-Smith, deputy political leader, finance, Karen Nunez-Tesheira and deputy political leader, governance, Louis Lee Sing at the launch of their party at Paria Suites, La Romaine on Saturday. - LINCOLN HOLDER

Timothy Hamel-Smith, the political leader of Hope, a new party launched on Saturday, plans to tackle crime as one of its priorities.

Hamel-Smith, a former Congress of the People member who served as Senate president under the People's Partnership administration, said he believes his party has the solutions to curb crime.

Hope stand for Honesty, Opportunity, Performance and Empowerment.

Speaking to reporters at the launch on Saturday, at Paria Suites, in La Romaine, Hamel-Smith said: "I have done walkabouts here in San Fernando and what everybody, whichever community, from the poorest to the richest, are saying: security is the overwhelming need, and it is that fear that is driving people to say the two political parties that are pre-existing cannot deliver against crime."

He said he believes the party has the solutions that can help abate the prevalence of crime. While he admits there is no "magic bullet," if given the chance to enter into government,  he says Hope can lay the foundation to exterminate the issue by empowering people.

Being a party outside the established PNM and UNC, Hamel-Smith said it are also free from any influence that may shape either administration's policies against the best interest of the people.

"Why are guns and drugs freely entering the border? I mean you know the cry, 'Who letting the cocaine pass'? Something must be wrong. So then you ask yourself who is really holding the reins of government? Is it the drug and contract mafia? Or is it the people who are in the Cabinet?

"And...you come to the conclusion, the reason why they are not doing anything is because these strings are being pulled by the mafia, who determine what policies they have," he said.

"Because Hope is free from those connections. Hope says yes we have the policies, listen to them and you will see those are the only things that make sense to transform TT, to transform crime, to make it a place where all of have an opportunity to aspire and grow."

The party's manifesto includes partnering with Caricom-Impacs and international allies to secure borders, implementing X-ray container scanners at ports and revamping the criminal justice system.

In her speech, Melisa Raghunanan-Niamath, the party general secretary, said it also intends to make changes that will allow the President to be elected, have a fixed election date, salary cuts for MPs as deemed appropriate and for the Prime Minister to serve a limit of two terms.

The party's manifesto also promises to eliminate corruption to restore trust in the government, political party financing and registration, to move TT to the top 30 ranking for ease of business within five years, and to introduce character morality and civics as a core part of the school curriculum.

Although the general election is due in 2025, Hamel-Smith said he was not yet able to say if the party will contest all the seats across both islands.

"It's hard to predict that from now. But we want to be a national party. We have, therefore, the ambition to be the government of TT, all of the country, and therefore both islands are equally important to us."

Other members of the executive include former finance minister Karen-Nunez-Tesheira as deputy political leader of finance, former Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee-Sing as deputy political leader of governance, Steve Alvarez as party chairman and Deosaran Jagroo as party organiser.

Also present at the launch were members of the Congress of the People and the People's Empowerment Party.

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