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Safe opening

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

If the terror threat is, indeed, real and credible, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon was right to appear relaxed and happy as he walked past J’Ouvert partygoers in Port-of-Spain early on Monday.

At least until the time we went to press, Monday’s Carnival celebrations brought the usual—a good degree of chaos, drunken behaviour and some crime—but not a terror attack. Let’s hope today is the same.

It would be a double tragedy if terrorism were to reach our Carnival—the mindless disregard for human life terrorists display is bad enough but, additionally, any such act would destroy the spontaneity and innocence of our national party.

So far, well done to our security forces (with or without help from afar) and let’s understand what has actually happened, who ought to face our courts (as suspects remain in custody without charge) and how to prevent such plots in the future so that our Carnival remains as free and open as possible for decades to come.

In the meantime, all of us ought to do our part, too: remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.

Bad education

It’s very disappointing to hear that only about 30% of the nation’s students turn up for school on Ash Wednesday, although officially it’s a normal school day (it’s also troubling that about 15% of the school’s staff don’t turn up either). The call by Education Minister Anthony Garcia for parents to do their part and make sure their children attend school tomorrow is laudable but probably ineffectual.

As much as little support should be given to parents who overdid the Carnival celebrations, at least the education authorities can be pragmatic here: perhaps it’s time to throw in the towel and redraw the school calendar so that Ash Wednesday becomes a day off which can then be clawed back elsewhere in the year.

Against darkness

In our diverse nation, this week marks not only the beginning of Christian’s Lent (preceded by excesses of Carnival) but also Maha Shivaratri, in honour of god Shiva and one of the most important moments of the Hindu calendar.

The Great Night of Shiva is marked by vigil and prayers aimed at helping overcome darkness and ignorance, something we all desperately need to counter, irrespective of our religious background.

For all our Hindu readers, we wish them a purposeful and peaceful Maha Shivaratri.


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