Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is a relentless political campaigner, not leaving any stone unturned to corner and defeat his opponent, even if it means bending the truth.
Addressing party supporters in Barataria last Tuesday, Dr. Rowley was adamant that his government never interfered in the justice process as the UNC did when they enacted section 34 to save their friends. Obviously, he was making reference to Ish Galbransingh and Steve Ferguson and the effort of the US to have them extradited to the US to answer questions on perceived corruptions involved in the construction of the Piarco Airport.
The legal ramification of Section 34 is outside my limited legal knowledge and given the verbal diarrhea surrounding this issue I am at a loss. The Prime Minister speaks so much of half-truths and innuendos that he leaves me confused. I felt traumatized, fearing that such strong dosage of half-truths may damage me psychologically. Nevertheless, I must admit that Dr. Rowley is a convincing speaker to unsuspecting and naïve.
Dr. Rowley painted a picture that his government operates on principles. He said that Shamfa Cudjoe and Daryl Smith were the only two mistakes committed and these were done unknowingly to them and blamed the Opposition UNC for spreading propaganda. Shamfa, he said, did not abuse her free internet services but forgot to switch off her phone, thus causing her bill to skyrocket. As for Smith, he hired the worker, find her not performing to his satisfaction and had her dismissed.
But that explanation was done with style. I am certain that party diehards and other supporters of the party would find that to be a credible explanation to ward off criticisms. Great job Dr. Rowley!
Dr. Rowley charged that the UNC under Kamla changed the land use policy to allow the purchase of lands given to ex Caroni workers and that huge structures are being built on those lands. Dr. Rowley must know that the UNC government did not change any land use policy. The Kamla -led government simply amended the laws to allow the transfer of the lease. As for structures being built on those lands, that is a most vicious attack on ex Caroni workers.
For the record Caroni had a total of 77,000 acres and only a mere 15,000 went to the workers who have toiled in the company for generations. It would be interesting to learn who are the beneficiaries of the other 62,000 acres. What I do know is that a number of acres along the main transport hub in the country are given to private businesses for the construction of malls and other commercial buildings, roads and other infrastructure.
HDC has been a prime benefactor of Caroni Lands. This state corporation does not represent the national community. Its bias in its distribution of houses to mainly PNM supporters and its roles to boost the political advantage of the PNM in marginal constituencies undermines our democracy.
Malcom Jones, a former chair of PETROTRIN, presided over a board that took bad decisions that saw PETROTRIN stumbling and descending into serious economic challenges. With billions of dollars wasted in a gas to liquid plant and nothing coming to fruition, Malcom Jones was charged and taken before the courts. Lo and behold! When the PNM arrived in office in 2015, the Malcom Jones’ legal charges before the courts were withdrawn forthwith by the State.
Also before the courts was the Board of The UTT headed by Professor Ken Julien for misappropriation of funds -Pena Church and other projects that did not fall within the ambit of Board of The UTT. That case was soon withdrawn by the State when the PNM came to power.
Is the PNM serious about corruption in this country? The Rowley administration was besieged by scandal from day one. Sadly, Rowley has turned a blind eye to these issues and took no corrective measures but defended them as outline above.
PNM has a history of pursuing corruption selectively. While the UNC supporters are hounded down, the PNM people are allowed to walk away. A case in point is AV Drillings and the fake oil scandal. Anyone would have expected the PM to launch an independent investigation to establish the innocence or guilt of such an allegation. The result was the closure of PETROTRIN giving ride to speculations that the oil refinery was closed to cover up the fake oil scandal.
Corruption has been allowed to flourish but soon, if not already, it is going to engulf the entire nation. Citizens must work together to underline this urgent need to bring an end to corruption and the nation expects better from its Prime Minister in this battle.