• 07 Feb, 2023

Trinidad Government rubbishes people with Indian names

Trinidad Government rubbishes people with Indian names

Trinidad Government rubbishes people with Indian names

Once again, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has publicly shown that it treats citizens with Indian names as inferior “Others”. Except, of course, for its own PNM party members with Indian names such as Rohan Sinanan, Kazim Hosein and Christine Kangaloo. Once again, Minister of Housing and Development, Camille Robinson-Regis has demonstrated this fact. Robinson-Regis is also the leader of Government business and the head of the PNM Women's League


During the rollout of the More-Ways-to-Pay HDC Government Housing Project a few days ago, she said publicly in reference to former UWI Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie:


"I consider him my good friend despite his name being Tewarie." SEE video clip:






On her Facebook page (16/1/23), mixed-race Marsha Loraine Walker wrote: “Jess heard the video playing while I was creating my tiktok.  She literally walked in from basketball so she had ZERO idea that it was PNM or anything that could cloud her judgement. She immediately declared.  That's so racist.  That's discrimination.  That's so many things. If my 13-year-old could spot it, so could you. Shame on the crowd for laughing, you know better, and I believe you can do better.  Shame on the PNM for 60-plus years of using race to divide and conquer.”


In a media release, the Parliamentary Opposition UNC called for an apology from Robinson-Regis. “The casual racism and the constant mocking of names must stop. The Women's Arm is making it clear that friendships ought never to be considered on the basis of one's last name, and believes these casual utterances and inappropriate jokes only serve to teach division, hate and intolerance to our population. It must be condemned at every level of society.


We hereby demand public disclosure of recipients with Indian names of the Government’s subsidised HDC Housing programmes. Camille Robinson-Regis was appointed Minister of Housing and Urban Development on March 16, 2022. As Minister of Housing and Urban Development, she oversees the Government’s home improvement, subsidized housing, monitoring and evaluation, land settlement, regularisation of tenure of squatters and urban development policies and programmes. In this portfolio, Minister Robinson-Regis also has responsibility for statutory boards, agencies and other bodies which fall under this Ministry such as the Trinidad and Tobago Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company Limited (TTMF), Land Settlement Agency (LSA), East Port of Spain Development Company Limited, Rent Assessment Board, Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Committee and Port of Spain Shopping Complex (New City Mall and East Side Plaza).


How many people (in percentage?) with Indian names has she appointed to sit on these boards ? It should be about half, representing the ethnic population of Trinidada and Tobago.  On December 22, 2022, it was announced that Adande Piggott was appointed chairman of the HDC Construction Company, along with board members Winston Kurt Salandy, Keith Thomas, Zaida Rajnauth, Chaika Matthew and Jamel Reid. Joanne Deoraj was appointed chairman of the HDC Asset Management while Dante Selmen-Carrington, Jeffery Reyes, Shereese Smith, Robert Green, Shervon Noriega and Gail La Touche were appointed to the board. Keston Mc Quilkin was appointed chairman of HDC Facilities Estate Management Company Ltd while Jayselle Mc Farlane, Aaliya Hosein, Sharon Archie, Andel Andrew, Susan Shurland and Keli Gbekor were appointed to the board.    How many people with Indian names received keys to brand new homes under her tenure and her Government predecessor?


It was a ZOOM topic


What’s the issue with people’s non-English names?” was the topic of an Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre (ICC) ZOOM Public Meeting last year (12/6/22). SEE unedited video recording:  


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZh2q1KgV4o&t=698s The preamble to the webinar reads:  


“Minister Camille Robinson Regis, an MP from the governing PNM, the African-majority party, called out the entire name of the Opposition leader, ‘Kamla Susheilla Persad Bissessar’ of the UNC, the Indian-majority party, three times consecutively to the raucous laughter of her followers at their political forum. It is odd and somewhat personal when people are addressed by their first, middle, maiden and marital names three times consecutively. What is the motive to ridicule the name or the person? Kamla retorted, ‘Why are you calling my name? Keep my name out of your mouth. At least I have a name from my ancestors, you have the name of a slave master. There was an uproar for a week, and we’ve returned to normal.  So, it’s got to be asked, “What’s the deal with non-English names?


“Camille’s distasteful motive in pronouncing, emphasising and repeating an Indian name followed on the heels of an article published in the Guardian  (1/5/22) by political scientist Dr. Winford James. In his article, James tried to dissect the syllables of a beautiful Indian name and ascribe a vulgar meaning to it, equating “Hardik” with “Har-shit” and “Hard D*#k”? The shaming of Indian names by Dr. James, a former university linguistics lecturer, especially during Indo-Caribbean History and Heritage Month in May, is unforgeable.”