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TT TOASTS CARMONA

By Sasha Harrinanan Wednesday, March 20 2013

click on pic to zoom in

His “I do have power” speech, has made President Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona the toast of the nation.

The country’s fifth Head of State drew resounding cheers and applause for declaring the Presidency was not impotent, sounding a clarion call for all to help save our youth from crime, for a sense of right and wrong among citizens in his inauguration speech at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain on Monday.

His tough-talking stand on justice and social issues earned him praise from all quarters yesterday: the man-on-the street, businessmen and politicians.

“Fantastic” is what president of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA), Dominic Hadeed, thought of Carmona’s speech, saying it gave the nation a good sense of his goals and agenda. Hadeed said he felt confident of the former High Court judge’s ability to lead the nation.

“We’ve got a good President in Mr Carmona. Having been a High Court judge, a position in which he had to be impartial, he brings valuable skills to this most important of jobs. If he delivers even half of what he promised at his inauguration, the country will be in a much better place,” Hadeed said.

The TTMA president also hoped that Government and Opposition politicians alike would “heed the President’s rallying cry and really, truly, do what is best for the nation.”

“It is time they (politicians) put the needs of the next generation ahead of the next election,” Hadeed said.

Among those who attended Monday’s inauguration ceremony was president of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AmCham), Hugh Howard. Reflecting on what he described as “a powerful speech”, Howard said, “it was clear from the President’s announcements that he is fully aware of the issues that are really important and germane to the development of a credible and respectable society in TT.

“President Carmona sent a clear message about crime, declaring each of us must determine what we can do to make a difference. There is no room for apathy about gang violence in certain areas and I commend the President for saying so,” Howard said yesterday.Howard also told Newsday he welcomed Carmona’s commitment to make the nation’s watchwords — Discipline, Tolerance and Production, the mandate of his term in office.

“We need to embody these values if we are to develop as a nation, if crime is to be addressed and if the economy is to grow.

“Adults must set the right example, impart proper values to the children in their lives. At the same time, our young people should be given opportunities to learn and grow in a safe environment. With proper guidance and empathy, we can transform the lives of our troubled youth,” Howard said. Head of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) of TT, Pundit Harrypersad Maharaj, also shared his thoughts on Carmona’s maiden speech.

“It was very ambitious and hopeful. Now we wait to see how much of the President’s plan becomes reality. One of the things which stood out to me was his announcement that his mandate would be to ‘infuse new life’ into the watchwords of Discipline, Production and Tolerance.”

Maharaj made specific reference to Carmona’s statement that while “it is the right and duty of our citizenry to demand that, as leaders, they are responsible and accountable in the exercise of their functions...one cannot justly demand that those in authority be disciplined, responsible and accountable and not invoke the same standards of conduct in our own daily lives.” Carmona also said, “Being responsible and accountable is a two-way street. It is a duty that our citizenship imposes on us all, regardless of our social or economic status.”

Maharaj said these statements demonstrated the President’s commitment to “look after the interests of the people.”

“President Carmona made it clear the Office of the President is by no means a figurehead position. I think he has given the people a great deal of hope, that they have a president who, if needed, will act on matters he has the power to act on,” Maharaj told Newsday. Many citizens said Carmona’s speech resonated with them. The San Juan Business Association (SJBA) issued a statement about Carmona’s “ascendancy to the Office of President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.”

“We see this appointment,” SJBA president Abrahim Ali said, “as most fitting, given his esteemed judicial background and sincerely look forward to his professional and unbiased insight in matters of national interest.”

The Employers’ Consultative Association of TT (ECA) also sent best wishes to the President yesterday. ECA chairman, Keston Nancoo stated, “As a man steeped in the law of the land, holding high principles, morals and ethics, and one dedicated to transforming the future of our country, the citizens of TT and the region can look forward to an innovative brand of leadership that can only redound to the benefit of all.”

Member of the People’s Partnership coalition Government, the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), said Carmona delivered “a very instructive address, much of which we are in agreement with, particularly the sentiments expressed with regards to the youth of our society.”

“Our new President pointed out that we must make every effort to positively transform the lives of those youth whom the society has stigmatised and condemned, so that they can be assets and make valuable contributions to our nation’s development,” NJAC stated.

The party then called on all citizens of TT “to heed the words of our President, when he stated, ‘We need to rediscover our destiny of creating hope for a world in turmoil’.”

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