Proud and heartfelt congratulations to national javelin thrower Keshorn Walcott for his sterling performance in winning gold at the IAAF Diamond League event in Lausanne Switzerland earlier today. He has once again made us exceedingly proud and set a new national record and posted the second best throw for the year on the international circuit.
Keshorn is certainly an inspiration to young people especially those who grow up in rural districts who now know that it not where you come from but who you are and what goals you set yourself in life that matter.
Dr Keith Rowley
The People’s National Movement (PNM) is calling on the national community to reject the decision of the Prime Minister and United National Congress Political Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, to inject the issue of race into the 2015 general election campaign.
The PNM, throughout its history, prides itself on the fact that, despite the multi-ethnic society of Trinidad and Tobago, this country, due to the enlightened posture of the PNM both in government and opposition, has avoided the ethnic conflagrations that have occurred in similar societies both near and far from Trinidad and Tobago. Under the PNM, all ethnic groups have risen.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar and her party supporters over the last year, especially as their electoral prospects continued to dim, have increasingly resorted to playing on the ethnic fears of her supporters. In the highly charged atmosphere of an election campaign, this is a dangerous development and one that should concern every right-thinking national of Trinidad and Tobago.
In the only occasion of any statement that could be remotely considered racist being uttered on a PNM platform, our Political Leader, Dr. Keith Rowley, the records would show, immediately called for an apology from the candidate for Roxborough, Hilton Sandy, and distanced the PNM from it, as published and broadcast in the Media during the 2013 THA elections.
“The People's National Movement is distancing itself from the comments made by the THA Infrastructure and Public Utilities Secretary, Mr. Hilton Sandy.
Political Leader Dr. Keith Rowley said Mr. Sandy owes the country an apology for saying that ‘a ship from Calcutta, is waiting to invade Tobago once the TOP wins the upcoming election’.
It was unfortunate that Mr. Sandy would have made that type of reference to some song. It was unnecessary and whatever implications it had, he should apologise for it because it forms no part of the PNM campaign. I know many people would jump to grab at it to prove that the PNM is running a racial campaign, we certainly are not."
Dr. Rowley also dismissed reports that the comments were sanctioned by himself and THA Chief Secretary, Orville London.
"I did see somebody, some one of your colleagues in reporting Mr. Sandy's comment on the song, saying that he was cheered on by the Leader of the PNM and the THA Chief Secretary, that's an absolute untruth. In fact, Mr. Sandy was spoken to about it and I expect that he will rectify his misstep or misgivings."
Such statesmanship has been increasingly lacking from the Prime Minister. Instead of condemning the racially tinged campaign of the UNC, the Prime Minister, even as she hugs babies of every hue, has been actively leading a campaign of stabbing her political opponents at night with naked appeals to the ethnic and racial stereotyping that we have, as a society, worked years to overcome.
The PNM condemns this policy which has been used to vilify its political leader and culminated in the vile pronouncements of the then Member for Tobago East which was given desk thumping support by her Parliamentary colleagues. The racial stereotyping strategy is now being employed by the Prime Minister to misconstrue and misinterpret the well-founded criticism of Laventille West PNM candidate, Fitzgerald Hinds, of the home acquisition exploits of Mrs. Persad-Bissessar and her People’s Partnership sidekick, Ashworth Jack of the TOP.
We should note, that this is the not the first time that Mrs. Persad-Bissessar has resorted to open appeals to race when she finds her back against the wall. On June 29th 2013, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar appealed to the residents of Felicity and relatives of Avinash Singh and stated: “The PNM has chosen one of your children from Felicity to fight against your Party...”
Since then, as the PNM has continued to expand into areas and groups once considered the preserve of the UNC, the rhetoric of the Prime Minister and other UNC leaders has become even more blatant.
We still await any condemnation, from the Prime Minister, of the massive billboards placed on the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway with a racist message and bearing the Hindu ohm sign.
As all assessments points to a resounding victory for the PNM in the upcoming general elections, we expect the Prime Minister to become even more strident as she moves from coded statements to open appeals to race. We have every confidence that the people of Trinidad and Tobago will look past this and see the real face of the Prime Minister that is now being unveiled publicly.
The package of tapes containing serious allegations of criminal conduct within the corridors of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago requires the urgent attention of the police so as to determine the veracity and extent of the criminal conduct referred to.
Under these circumstances the public interest requires that action be taken to obtain and preserve evidence where it exists as well as provide protection for witness or witnesses who may be in a position to assist with all relevant investigations.
To the extent that any of these allegations are sustainable it points to a disturbing trend of criminality in public affairs and disturbing developments of moral decay, which can only confirm our worse fears.
Normally it might be possible to dismiss these unsavoury exposes as election bacchanal, but given what we have been living through for the last five years and the person making the allegations or providing the information is a former chairman of the ruling UNC Party, a former National Security Minister and a former Acting Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, whichever way we chose to respond to our latest predicament would tell us that there are serious issues and choices confronting the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Our expectation is that the police service will rise to the level of competence expected in this matter o as to provide the population with the comfort that criminal wrongdoing without consequences has not become a feature of life in Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr Keith Rowley
The PNM has taken note of a letter written by the then acting President, her Excellency, Raziah Ahmed to the Prime Minister, dated June 17th 2015 and published in today’s newspapers, regarding the date of the upcoming General Election.
In this letter, the acting President confirmed the date of the Election as September 7th 2015 and stated that: “The Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission would be immediately requested to prepare the Writs of Election”.
However, three weeks after this letter was written, there is no evidence that the Writs of Election have been issued or published, and there has been no official statement on exactly what happened after the acting President wrote that letter of June 17th 2015.
Section 33(1) of the Representation of the People Act, Chap. 2:01 makes it clear that: “An election shall be instituted by a writ of election issued by the President under the Seal of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago addressed to the Returning Officer for the electoral district for which the election is to be held; and every such writ shall be forwarded to the Commission for transmission to the Returning Officer to whom it is addressed.”
Further, Section 69 of the Constitution states that:
“A general election of members of the House of Representatives shall be held at such time within three months after every dissolution of Parliament as the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, shall appoint.”
Accordingly, in order to comply with the law, the date for the General Election must be contained in a Legal Notice and/or Gazette, published by or on behalf of the President. It is the EBC’s responsibility to select the Returning Officers for each Constituency, but it is the President who must issue the Writs.
The PNM considers it untenable that three weeks after the Prime Minister advised the President of the date of the Election, that no Writs of Election have been published, and we therefore call on all parties involved, whether it is the Election and Boundaries Commission or the Office of the President, to act with the required urgency, and to do what is required of them, in order to ensure that this issue is put to rest and the legal requirements of Section 69 of the Constitution and Section 33 of the Representation of the People Act, with respect to the publication of the official date for the General Election, are met.
People’s National Movement
The overall goal of Trinidad and Tobago is to maximize our national development efforts with a view to ensuring that each and every citizen enjoys a good standard of living and reaches his/her full individual potential. The overall goal of the Labour Movement is to ensure that citizens develop their full potential while contributing to national development through fair and honourable participation in the country’s labour force in the public and private sectors.
However, we are well aware that there are times when the State and Labour appear to have an adversarial relationship as though fighting for mutually exclusive goals and outcomes. Whenever this happens, the people of Trinidad and Tobago are not well served and development can be stymied. We must understand and believe that we are all on this mission together.
The importance of the Labour Movement to national development cannot be overstated. And as such, a more symbiotic approach to labour relations in both the public and private sectors would be ideal.
We can acknowledge that a perfect labour relations climate may never truly exist. However, we can certainly work towards making it better and more mutually beneficial to all concerned. A first step in this positive direction may be to accept that we did not do everything right in the past but resolve to do much better as we move forward into this challenging period of the new world order of the 21st century.
I believe that there is no better time to make this personal and national patriotic resolution than today, Labour Day. We all basically want the same thing. We stand a better chance of attaining our goals if we work together, listening to each other and achieving our not mutually exclusive goals, together.
And so, on this the day of workers, I take the opportunity to wish each and every citizen, a safe and happy Labour Day 2015.
May God continue to guide us through all our future endeavours and may they always be for our own good and the good of Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr Keith Rowley