By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Nov. 30, 2012: When history is written in the oil rich nation of Trinidad & Tobago, it will be much kinder to Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh, the man who is putting his life on the line in a hunger strike to protect the environment and stand up for transparency, than it will be to Jack Warner, the Republic’s works and transport minister who has callously called Kublalsingh a “con” and urged him to quicken the pace of killing himself.
Kublalsingh’s dogged protest of the building of the Mon Desir highway in south-western Trinidad has turned him into a hero to many; made international headlines and is definitely embarrassing the Kamla Persad-Bissessar government as he completed day 14 of a self imposed abstention from food and water. He bravely continues to take a stand for justice for the Re-Route Movement, claiming the $800 million highway project to connect the southern city of San Fernando Point Fortin, which is the location of a major liquefied natural gas refinery at the southwestern tip of Trinidad, will fracture the lives of numerous families and severely damage wetlands, leading to flooding problems and the loss of crops. He wants a scientific study of the highway project’s impact done or for it to be rerouted, not scrapped and is sticking to his call, even though a doctor hired by his relatives warned that he is on the verge of organ failure.
Kublalsingh, 53, is a brilliant academic, University of the West Indies lecturer and environmentalist who earned a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University after a bachelor’s degree at the University of the West Indies and masters at Columbia University in NYC, is taking on saint like appeal, with some comparing him to the great Mahatma. He insists he plans to protest until his “body collapses and falls apart” or Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar agrees to the impact study.
By contrast, the man calling him a “conman” has only made himself look worst and heightened the shame being heaped upon the Persad-Bissesar government, forcing her own Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran to urge her to display “compassion and compromise,” especially now that the dispute is being noticed outside of this country of roughly 1.3 million people.
Warner is a former teacher, part-time lecturer, businessman and tainted football executive, who became minister under the Kamla Persad-Bissesar government and has stayed in the post despite being implicated in numerous corruption allegations, some of which date back to the 1980s.
The academic credentials of the two are also hardly on par – Dr. Kublalsingh earned a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University after a bachelor’s degree at the University of the West Indies and masters at Columbia University in NYC. Warner is a trained teacher who obtained a bachelors and a diploma in international relations from the University of the West Indies.
Kubalsingh lectures in literature at UWI St. Augustine Campus. Warner was part-time lecturer from 1973 to 1993 at UWI and at the Polytechnic Institute in sociology.
Kubalsingh has made a career of writing and fight for the rights he believes in. He has gone on hunger strikes, been thrown out of buildings, been physically and verbally abused, been arrested and his struggle our struggle continues.
Warner became General Secretary of the Central Football Association and went on to work his way up to vice president of FIFA, dogged along the way by many allegations of corruption and scandal, until he was forced to step down after being charged by the governing body with bribery in connection with payments made to Caribbean football officials. That will forever be Warner’s legacy.
Kubalsingh’s will be his willingness to die for a cause he believes in.