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What’s all this fuss about young people?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It is distasteful to hear the senseless politics being played out over the appointment of Makeda Antoine as Ambassador to Geneva. This young lady is suitably qualified and has been given an opportunity to craft a diplomatic career.

A glance at Ms Antoine’s cv reveals not only her Masters level academic qualifications but experience at the level of manager and director in organisations. This is not another fiasco as over someone appointed by the United National Congress (UNC) during their time in office. Makeda Antoine’s qualifications and experiences are real.

It can be argued that it is official People’s National Movement (PNM) policy to give suitably qualified young people the opportunity to lead.

It was Dr Rowley who made the call on the election campaign trail for “young people to take responsibility for the future of your country”. This is no idle talk as it was the PNM that changed the law in 1976 to move the voting age from 21 years to 18 years.

We cannot deny our young people the opportunities available to the population by discriminating based on age. Should we say to a qualified person, go and live another 20 years and apply again? A similar point was made by Independent Senator David Small, who recently advocated for retired pilots of Caribbean Airlines to not come back on contract but give way for the younger pilots to be employed and start their careers.

The political landscape is ripe with examples of people advancing to leadership positions at a young age and making us proud. According to the Parliament website, Ms Haffezar Khan was 21 years old when she won the St Augustine seat for the ULF in 1976. She was a receptionist at radio Trinidad and a reporter for the Bomb and Sunday Punch. She was the only woman in the opposition and the youngest woman to be elected to Parliament in the Western Hemisphere at the time. She went on to study East Durham College and Sunderland University.

Additionally, Ian Anthony was 19 years old when he was elected MP for La Brea; Ashton Ford was 29 years when he became Mayor of Arima; and Patrick Manning entered parliament at age 24 and went on to become Prime Minister of T&T.

This diplomatic posting to Geneva is one of the highest levels of appointments and requires us to put our best suited national to represent our interests. Ms Makeda Antoine is a highly suitable appointment so we wish her all the best and we are confident she will make us all proud.



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