GARY ABOUD OFFENDED BY ROGET'S STATEMENTS
Outraged over the call by the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) leader Ancel Roget for a boycott of stores owned and operated by the elite “one per cent” in T&T - certain members of the business community has warned against holding all Syrian/Lebanese business owners to ransom.
Mode Alive Trading Company’s chief executive officer, Gary Aboud, urged Roget to use the law in the fight against corruption.
In a release, Aboud said, “If Mr Roget wants to tackle those who bribe their way into power let him activate the law against them.”
Aboud promised, “I’ll assist in any way I can, I promise.”
Unwilling to be drawn into a game of race and politics, Aboud also cautioned Roget against making inflammatory statements, “If he wants to widen or inflame the racial chasms in my native land, I will fight him every step along the way.”
As a descendant of Syrian/Lebanese immigrants who contributed to and have since enjoyed economic prosperity in this country, Aboud said he was “offended” as a citizen of T&T, by Roget’s call to shut-down businesses owned and operated by the one per cent.
Adding that he would feel the same if Roget was targeting any other race in T&T, Aboud said it was not only members of the Syrian/Lebanese community that was enjoying economic prosperity as persons such as parlour owners, barbers, building contractors, doctors, lawyers, soca performers, fishermen, artists and also trade unionists and their members were benefitting.
He said if Roget had a problem with persons enjoying such returns on their investments, “He should ask his local MP to present a bill in Parliament to outlaw the achievement of prosperity.”
Aboud said economic prosperity was a person’s constitutional right - as even trade union members had the ability to start any business of their choice.
The businessman also questioned, “He wants to put a cap on everyone who achieves prosperity? Or he just wants to put a cap on the achievements of one minority?”
Admitting he too had been outraged by the inflammatory comments back in June, Aboud said equally so was Roget’s call for a boycott.
He described the trade unions’ response as “highly irresponsible.”
The elite one-per cent was first mentioned by businessman Mario Sabga-Aboud in the airing of travel star Anthony Bourdain’s segment on T&T in his culinary show Parts Unknown, during which Sabga-Aboud claimed the Syrian-Lebanese community was the most powerful ethnic group in T&T.
Following public outrage over the statements deemed insensitive and irresponsible, Sabga-Aboud later issued a public apology.
Sabga-Aboud is the chairman of Global Brands Group of Companies and founder of the popular Rituals coffee shop chain.
Aboud said the remarks were not a correct and true representation of the entire Syrian/Lebanese community.
Declaring that it was a dangerous thing to demand economic sanctions against certain members of the business community for the arrogant remarks of two persons, Aboud said it was important to ensure the response was “commensurate.”
Aboud questioned if there was an ulterior motive behind Roget’s call as he wondered, “Now Mr Roget wants to close down their businesses because of their self-pride or arrogance in thinking that they’re powerful? Is that really a good reason? Or is their something nasty lurking beneath?”
Turning his attention to the employees of these businessmen, Aboud asked, “Does Mr Roget have jobs to offer them?”
He said during Friday’s march, loud speakers were blaring messages to citizens not to shop inside “Syrian” shops, but concern had arisen as to who would employ and provide for the tens of thousands of staff if these businesses were to close down.
Aboud said Friday’s march was synonymous of an earlier time when vehicles drove through Berlin and Munich in 1938, warning people not to shop in Jewish establishments.
Roget’s promise that a published list of the businesses owned by the descendants of the Syrian-Lebanese immigrants was, “Akin to the Nazis painting the Star of David on all their shops,” Aboud said so too, “He might as well go on to consider painting some symbol on the “Syrian” establishments as well.”
Claiming there was a better way to resist the oligarchs of every race in this country, Aboud argued that it could be achieved through lawful or political means, and in ways that do not injure the working class.
He proposed that as a first step, attempts can be made to isolate every member of the oligarchy of every race that have corruptly received favours from the State.
He went on, “For every crooked businessperson, there’s a crooked politician.”
“Let’s follow the money with the Director of Public Prosecutions and see where it’s coming from and where it’s going to. Let’s pay attention to unoccupied buildings that are rented to the State for millions of dollars. Let’s look at the huge disparity in the price the State is paying for property rentals and the price the private sector is paying. Let’s pay attention to the disposal of State resources like land, oil fields, or quarries and ask how they came to be disposed of, to whom and at what price.”
“Lets look at the balance sheet of Petrotrin and the countless billions in subsidies, inflated wages, and with annual losses even in the boom years. Let’s look too at State acquisitions, and ask ourselves whether the taxpayer overpaid, be it for land, or building contracts, or wrecking services. Let us pay attention to the timing of these events, and see if they’re occurring during or just before an election.”
Aboud urged Roget and others to go in search of evidence that, “Where we find a bribe being paid, let’s put them in front a magistrate with no political agenda or alliance. Most importantly, let’s demand comprehensive campaign finance reform now.”
Concluding that Roget’s call was tantamount to inciting racial hatred, Aboud said it was a dangerous road that could hurt T&T more in the long run.