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
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.