LESSONS LEARNT …from the fall of Young!

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OPINION

The fall of Stuart Young is a tragedy of tremen­dous magnitude and as much as one may wish to speak negatively about this Minister of National Security, watching him crash to the ground in the manner that he did is indica­tive of the fact that somebody dropped the baton and failed to do his or her duty.

This is our Minister of Na­tional Security and yes you are not bound to like him as so many do; we can criticize him as much as we want if in our opinion he is failing us and not rising to our ex­pectations, but to watch on social media platforms, images of him collapsing off a stage onto the ground in the manner that he did is worrisome and embarrassing.
This was not a function to which he was invited it was his function. This was a function un­der the auspices of his Ministry and to my mind the makeshift step reflects the shoddy thinking of the persons who prepared it and the respect they have for this Minister.
I am very much concerned when images of a fallen Minis­ter go viral especially when it reflects the incompetence of the people some of whom he himself may have handpicked to serve him.
I am even more incensed when the very images are converted into memes to make fun of some­one’s pain. We, need to be a bit more sensitive and considerate and should not use one’s dis­comfort even to score a political point.
As I sat at my desk watching the vids of the fallen Minister, I wondered what went wrong, for even as Minister of Works and Transport that never happened to me.
To think that he had just com­pleted his presentation that was supposed to be the defining mo­ment with regard to the opening of the Penal Fire Station; an op­portunity to register points within the national community that the Government is working for them, only to have the story undermined by his collapse is worse than the pain of a dislocated shoulder.
This makeshift stage was not even built by the Ministry of Na­tional Security. This stage was built by the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and To­bago (UDeCOTT), the leading Government project manage­ment entity in our country, the same Corporation that renovated the Red House for $450m; Presi­dent’s House for $89m and the Prime Minister’s Tobago resort for some $27m, just to name a few.
The stage was built by the Corporation that holds responsi­bility and oversight for some of the largest buildings ever built in our country, hundreds of Hous­ing Development Corporation (HDC) homes and a host of other edifices. What should have been the news ought not to have been Stuart Young’s fall, but to what extent could we trust the compe­tence of this Corporation and the people who have been tasked to do the job.
The news should have been how safe is the work of UDe­COTT and the human cry to test some of these buildings which to­day have not been placed under any kind of stress should have erupted across this country. We always focus on the wrong things and make a joke of them and ig­nore the serious things which contain the propensity to bring harm.

I am angry

UDeCOTT alone is not under the gun because questions sur­rounding the Minister’s advanced party and their role in the early visit to the site must come under scrutiny.
What did they do upon their ar­rival at the venue? What did they check? Who gave the approval for Minister Stuart Young to be present for this event and told him that it was safe to do so?
This is the Minister of National Security and these are the cour­tesies we expect our Ministers to receive whether we like them or not; whether we belong to the same political enclave or not. Be­cause at the end of the day they are representatives of our country and how they are treated will re­flect the brand Trinidad and To­bago and manifest images about the kind of people that we are.
Who walked upon that stage and jumped on it to see if it was safe?
Who ascended and descended off the makeshift stairs and can report that it did not pose a threat to our Minister?
If my diction here reflects an­ger, it is because I am angry be­cause no one who has committed their life to public service should be humiliated by such incompe­tence!
As a previous Minister of Na­tional Security, I understood the foibles of being human and used to instruct my advisor to ensure that all environments where I am called upon to speak are safe not only for me but also for all offi­cials attending the function.
On either side of the staircase, persons will be positioned to as­sist the Permanent Secretary, any other official or I have to descend from the platform back to our seats; to extend a helping hand as a matter of courtesy for males, and as a matter of publicly dis­playing chivalry for the females.
The closest person to Stuart Young was more than six feet away and seated, which means that there was literally no reac­tion time from anyone to prevent that fall which the Minister suf­fered.
The reactions of those seated closest to him manifested the horror that our Minister suffered and even when the Fire Service sped to his assistance, I asked myself are we serious, are we real because the accouterments that were expected were not even
there.
Why did Stuart Young have to walk out the building as a spec­tacle with some Fire Service woman holding his hand while he grimaced in pain?
Is it that the economy is so bad that we did not even have a wheelchair to take our Minister out or even a stretcher since no one knew how grave the injuries were at the time of the fall?
Who made the assessment that he was strong enough to walk? On too many occasions the ball was dropped and if the process of systemization is not in mo­tion to determine the many gaps which have become visible after this tragedy, then it is bound to repeat itself and should it happen the victim might not be lucky to walk away with just a dislocated shoulder.

We cannot allow this tragedy to just slip by

There must be a Health and Safety Officer for this Minister, and I am not saying this out of disrespect or to suggest that he is prone to danger, but the reality is for every single event, such an of­ficer should be checking and test­ing to ensure that the infrastruc­ture is safe.
The funny thing is if there is such an officer and she or he did do the tests and rendered it safe for his or her Minister, will that officer wait for termination by the Ministry or will that officer resign?
We cannot allow this tragedy to just slip by, because in this politi­cally charged world with so many sinister minds, we now have to be careful that traps and pitfalls are not now deliberately set to em­barrass, humiliate or even maim our leaders.
There are so many lessons the fall of Stuart Young presents, and so many errors we now see that could have been avoided, and what we expect now is due dili­gence in the execution of all du­ties relating to all Ministers.
This country must not witness another Minister fall in the man­ner that Stuart Young has, wheth­er that Minister is PNM or UNC or some other party.
The only real news is not the fact that Stuart Young has fallen, but the tenacity of our Minister of National Security to rise after such a terrible fall.