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Jack under fire for media bid

PORT OF SPAIN — Political leader of the Movement for Social Justice David Abdulah says ownership of two media houses should not be placed into the hands of any politician.

He was speaking to reporters in response to reports that Minister of National Security Jack Warner recently held discussions with the Chookolingo Group to acquire majority shares in the Newsday and the Mirror newspapers.

During a press conference held at the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Paramount Headquarters in San Fernando yesterday, Abdulah expressed dissatisfaction with political interference in media ownership.

Asked how he felt about Warner’s bid for the newspapers, Abdulah said: “I don’t know that a person who is a minister of government can continue to engage in private transactions as a business person… It is a questions that the media should probe.

“The issue of how you control and spin ideas must be addressed,” he said. “There really ought not to be an approach by political people in government to control the media in that way … the information ought to be provided and available to citizens of T&T.”

He declined from speaking further, saying: “The media issue is a complex issue and would require more thorough discussions.”

Meanwhile, as he gave an update on the MSJ’s citizens campaign petition, which is being signed across T&T, Abdulah said the MSJ was willing to meet with all citizens to discuss poor governance in T&T. However, he did not say whether he will meet with suspected gang leaders.

“There are legal implications to meeting with a gang or gang members. I was part of passing that law. The MSJ is prepared to meet with all citizens but we do not condone illegal or violent activity,” Abdulah said.

He added, however, that the MSJ will give hope to every citizen including gang members.

“We are committed to finding hope for them by meeting with people in the community,” Abdulah said.

He said the MSJ’s petition has given a voice to the people, adding that “many citizens expressed satisfaction with the MSJ’s decision to pull out of the People’s Partnership Government.”

Among the issues raised were alleged corruption in many state enterprises, discrimination and nepotism, unfair distribution of natural resources, disrespect for labour, farmers, small producers and business people; absence of dialogue, participation and consensus building; and no progress in constitutional reform. (Guardian)

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