Express Editorial : Daily

Every July 27 is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the principle and pursuit of democratic engagement and governance.

The Jamaat-al-Muslimeen’s fatal folly of attempting to overthrow the government by the gun proved that there is no short-cut to a democracy based on respect for the rights of all and that we must be ever alert against the opportunistic adventurism seeking to exploit our anxiety for change.

After 30 years it is completely immaterial whether or not Jamaat leader Yasin Abu Bakr chooses to apologise or not for his deadly assault on the nation. The over-inflated ego and delusions of grandeur that led him to expect thousands to rush out and support him and his bunch of naïve, misguided zealots do not provide the humility for inconvenient truths. For, the truth of the failed coup of July 27, 1990 is that Bakr and his crew of 113 saw an opportunity for advantage and seized it.

There is no denying the 1990 climate of hurt, anger and general anti-government sentiment which provided both fertile ground and cover for the Jamaat’s plot against the people and the state.

ANR Robinson’s expulsion from his cabinet of Basdeo Panday and other leaders of the United Labour Front which had propelled his government into office had fuelled massive distrust and anger against him and his government mainly throughout Central and South Trinidad. Along the East-West Corridor and elsewhere, the anger was compounded by the cut to the public servants’ salaries and other stringency measures necessitated by the collapse in oil prices that had spiralled into a recession.

Even without the Jamaat’s intervention in July 1990 it is unlikely that Robinson and the NAR would have been saved by the December 1991 polls that swept them from office. But the democratic path leading to elections did not suit the Jamaat’s agenda. Convinced that it was under imminent threat by the State, the Jamaat undertook a covert operation to remove the government by force. It sent a team for military training in Libya and, with the collusion of persons in strategic positions, imported an arsenal of arms and ammunition. On July 27 they struck, taking the Parliament hostage and seizing control of the country’s lone television station, TTT. Bakr announced that the government had been overthrown, the prime minister and his cabinet arrested and that “the revolutionary forces” were in control of the streets. None of this was true. The government was not overthrown; the prime minister and his cabinet were taken hostage and not arrested and the streets were under control of the police and army and not the “revolutionary forces”.

Five days later, Bakr and his men surrendered with the rest of the country watching the end of the madcap initiative from the safety of their homes.

The episode came at the high price of 24 non-Jamaat lives with an unknown casualty among persons related to the Jamaat. It has been a teaching lesson for all of us about the terms of political association and the fragility of democracy ungirded by strong institutions. Judging by its increasing eagerness to join the political mainstream, the Jamaat, too, seems to be showing itself capable of learning.


When I first entered the world of newspapers in the mid-eighties, it was as a cub reporter at the Express. Physically, the newsroom was quite different from what it is today. The technology and production techniques would be unrecognisable now.

THE country is not at the juncture at which we need to panic, the Prime Minister told us yesterday, as he soberly assessed where we are in what was a relieving and critical adjustment to the Covid-19 guidelines.

I read Vaneisa Baksh in last week’s Saturday Express (Page 13) with interest but mixed emotions. Vaneisa is an experienced journalist, a cricket historian, lover of the game and someone whose articles are generally well respected.

Which political party will talk about investing services and monies into the development of our youth?

It is less than two weeks to the general election and I am yet to hear of plans or agendas which can support our young people to ensure that they reach their full potential and help to build a sustainable and inclusive society.

DUE to a fundamental misdiagnosis of the root problem, the traditional response is usually geared towards providing “universal” solutions to “all” citizens or of “making rain so that everyone could get wet equally”. The inevitable impact of such an approach is a widening disparity in economic and wealth distribution between the African diasporic group and other groups in the society. It should be obvious to all that the most likely winner of a 100-metre race (no pun intended) is the participant who gets the “jump start”. It is in these circumstances that the “false start” rule becomes operative and the race line-up is reset.

The upsurge of 24 new Covid-19 cases over the past 14 days needs to be fully addressed by the government.

With 10 of these cases having been confirmed in the four days between Monday and yesterday, the public is waking up to the reality that T&T has entered the dangerous new phase of community spread. And yet, from a public health policy perspective, it would appear that nothing has changed in response to this new worrying development.