Building a Nation Together


Reporters claim is Alleyne-Toppin Part II

Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the United National Congress have taken the women’s movement back a generation by their decision to use fabricated claims of rape and sexual harassment as political weapons to be employed against Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in a general election campaign.

It is now emerging that the vile utterances on the Parliamentary floor by incumbent Tobago East MP, Vernella Alleye-Toppin, which were approved by the UNC’s parliamentary caucus headed by Persad-Bissessar, was always part of a wider ‘noRowley’ campaign involving the use of the most heinous accusations against the political leader of the PNM.

The next step in the campaign seems to be a resignation letter from a female newspaper reporter who has admitted to being on the payroll of the UNC-led administration surreptitiously, through her access to million dollar contracts while owning no equipment. The allegations cleverly fall short of anything requiring a police investigation, but were designed to sully Dr Rowley’s character on the eve of a general election that the PNM is poised to win.  The public should note that the claims were made public on the day our political leader addressed the Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT), a group of female executives.

Mrs Persad-Bissessar has presided over an administration where actual accusations were made to the police against four members of her administrations, for offences amounting to rape and sexual harassment, including violence, an unprecedented development in our political history. Three of the alleged perpetrators are now before the UNC screening as ‘credible’ candidates, with their objectionable behaviour clearly no hindrance to their acceptability.

The Women’s League knows Dr Rowley and stands in support of our Political Leader in the face of this ongoing ‘noRowley’ campaign that has trivialised rape and sexual harassment, two issues that are of tremendous concern to women generally.

We condemn Mrs Persad-Bissessar, who has sanctioned the ‘noRowley’ campaign, for taking the cause of women back a generation, by undermining the claims of women who are genuine victims of these crimes and making it even more difficult for them to come forward.

I note with grave concern the announcement of the Prime Minister at a function for Permanent Secretaries held earlier today, that she had signed confirming the appointment of Mrs. Joan Mendez, who had served in the Office of the Prime Minister as Permanent Secretary, as Head of the Public Service.

The office of Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister and Head of the Public Service is the most senior appointment that can be made in the Civil Service and as far as I am aware, only the Public Service Commission has the constitutional responsibility to make such an appointment. Has the Prime Minister therefore abrogated this constitutional function to herself?

In addition, such an office holder is administrative lead in the Office of the Prime Minister and the person who convenes meetings of the Board of Permanent Secretaries and interacts closely with the Prime Minister and all government ministers on the performance and assignment of Permanent Secretaries.

I would have thought that in the light of the imminent General Election on September 7th 2015 that good sense would have prevailed and that such an appointment would have been deferred for the input of whoever is Prime Minister on September 8th 2015.

I am calling on the Chairman of the Public Service Commission for urgent clarification on the process utilised in making this appointment.


Dr Keith Rowley

Leader of the Opposition

The Editor

The Trinidad Guardian

Once again the Trinidad Guardian has unleashed an unwarranted attack on the Opposition Leader and Political Leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Dr. Keith Rowley in an editorial which was published on Thursday July 30th.

Under the heading “Pull plug on tonight’s non – debate” the editorial implied that Dr. Rowley did not co-operate with the Debates Commission in their attempt to organize the debate among the leaders of political parties in Trinidad and Tobago.

The editorial stated “Although the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader in his own way, have shown no interest in facing the nation in a televised debate…..” The editorial further stated, “And if Ms. Persad – Bissessar and Dr. Rowley were truly committed to such an exercise in democracy, they would not find it too hard to work with the Commission to iron out their differences.”

It is the most amazing statements coming from the editorial when the facts clearly demonstrated that at no time did Dr. Rowley and the PNM as whole provided any obstacles to the efforts of the Debates Commission to stage the historic event.

From the outset, the PNM responded positively to the request from the Commission indicating that “…on behalf of our Political Leader Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, we hereby accept you kind invitation.

“We wish to intimate that as occurred prior to our Party’s participation in the Debate hosted by the Commission preceding the 2013 THA Elections and the Local Government Elections we would wish to discuss all arrangement with your representatives…”

Thereafter, the PNM met with Debates Commission on May 25, 2015, there was no question of a July 30 date for the debate.

Thereafter, the PNM met with the Debates Commission on May 25, 2015; there was no question of a July 30 date for the debate.

Following that initial meeting the PNM team, headed by chairman Franklin Khan, held several meetings with the Commission, led by Chairman Andrew Sabga, and formally accepted the terms and conditions of the Commission.

The Commission’s criteria for participation stated:

“For inclusion in the debate, each party or Alliance (as defined in the next paragraph) must demonstrate the potential to form the next government by nominating candidates in at least 50% of seats  (currently 21 candidates) to contest the election.  


Have polled at least 12.5% favorable vote in the last two of the four nationally recognized opinion polls (HHB,NACTA, UWI, SBS) conducted just before the period leading up to Nomination Day.”

I wish to point out that it was the Commission’s error that created the unfortunate furor when they indicated to the UNC that it was decided to stage the debate on July 30.

Despite the error and the public banter between the UNC and the Commission, the PNM steadfastly supported the Commission by sticking to the original criteria of holding the debate after Nomination day of August 17.

In conclusion, I wish to state that on July 14 the PNM reiterated its position as set out in the several correspondences that it confirmed its participation in the Leader’s debate as outlined in Commission’s criteria to be held on August 20 and 27, 2015, at the Chamber of Commerce, Westmoorings.

Ashton Ford

General Secretary,


Emancipation; it can mean different things to different people, but the underlying common principle is inextricably linked to freedom. As we here in Trinidad and Tobago embark on commemorating Emancipation Day, it would indeed be useful to engage in meaningful reflection on where the descendants of African slaves have come from, where we are today and where we hope to be in the future.

To think about what our ancestors went through during the period of slavery is very sobering. Slaves were not considered to be people, slaves were classified as property, wholly owned by their masters. We can only imagine the inhumanity and degradation suffered by human beings at the hands of fellow human beings. Moreover, even though emancipation occurred in 1834, the scars of slavery are still very evident on the landscape of the world.

Here in Trinidad and Tobago the descendants of African slaves along with those of other varied races who came and settled here, set out to build a nation. We have indeed come a long way from the days of being considered the property of other men, however, on this the commemoration of emancipation, we must ask ourselves; are we doing our best? Are we building strong family units? Are we playing a part in the development of our communities and nation? Are we doing better than the generations who came before us and most importantly, are we making certain that we set the stage so that our children and grandchildren who follow us will exceed our accomplishments?

As we work side by side with our brothers and sisters of different racial backgrounds, to carve out the best life possible for ourselves and our families, we must also be mindful that opportunities to so do must be accessible to all. No one group should be made to feel discriminated against or marginalised in any way, shape or form. Critical to ensuring this however, is the provision of good governance. It is only through good governance that we can all have access to available opportunities with a view to achieving our full potential as individuals and as a nation.

And so as I encourage you to reflect on emancipation and its meaning and significance, I also take this opportunity on behalf of my family and the People's National Movement to wish the nation a safe and happy Emancipation Day 2015.

Thank you.

Dr Keith Rowley

The People’s National Movement categorically refutes the ridiculous claims made by Health Minister Dr. Fuad Khan that he was “victimized by the former PNM administration.”

The PNM wishes to make it absolutely clear that as a political party we do not hire people whatsoever and therefore, if he experienced any difficulties in the Ministry of Health he cannot ascribe blame on our party.

What is worse, Dr. Khan did not provide the country with any details insofar as his application for employment in either the Ministry of Health or any of the Regional Health Authorities. As a long-long-standing Member of Parliament since 1995, the only complaints of political discrimination raised by Dr. Khan in the Parliament are those he suffered under the Basdeo Panday led UNC.

The PNM views Dr. Khan’s absurd statement as a deliberate attempt at stoking the ethnic fears of his former constituents who are now abandoning the UNC in droves.

Dr. Khan ought to be fully aware that it is under the present regime that citizens are undergoing blatant acts of discrimination in almost all aspects of life in Trinidad and Tobago.

In the circumstances, the PNM rejects Dr. Khan’s assertions as yet another attempt by the UNC to play the race card.


Ashton Ford

General Secretary




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