TRINIDAD – Rowley living in fear
Opposition Leader claims people are out to kill him
PORT OF SPAIN –– Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday told a People’s National Movement (PNM) rally in Scarborough persons linked to the government wanted to have him killed and were assassinating his character.
Pointing to scandals such as Section 34, Emailgate and Prisongate and saying Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and a former attorney general (Anand Ramlogan) were under various probes, he alleged the government had created and fuelled crime, and then expressed his personal fears.
“And today, as I speak to you, a few months ago I was in Trinidad and I sit on a platform a few months ago and for the first time in my career of over 30 years I feared for my personal safety,” Rowley admitted.
“Lo and behold, as I speak to you now, I’m surrounded by people who you pay [that is, police] to protect me from people who will have me killed.
“First time in Trinidad and Tobago, the opposition leader is under attack from the government. And when I’m not under attack from their friends who they hire to kill me, I’m under attack from their friends who they hire to lie about me,” Rowley charged.
In a likely allusion to a former Express reporter’s recent allegation of sexual harassment, Rowley added: “But you the people of Tobago, I don’t have to tell you who I am.
“You know where I’m from and you know who I am and I’m Tobagonian.
“And you know that, but just imagine what the world is seeing and hearing of us.” Newsday tried but was unable to contact Persad-Bissessar, Minister of Housing Dr Roodal Moonilal or Minister of Communications Vasant Bharath for a response to Rowley’s allegations. Rowley said government had made things worse after its five years in office.
He also hit the United National Congress (UNC), the main party in the People’s Partnership, over certain phone calls being made to members of the public featuring
a recording of Persad-Bissessar’s voice appealing for voter support.
Questioning the validity of the government’s proposed health card for citizens, Rowley alleged the same company paid to devise the health card was now behind the UNC’s campaign to phone up each voter.
“Would you believe that all those people who the UNC paid to handle to operate the health card are the same people who are calling you on your phones asking you
to vote for Kamla? They tossed aside the health card idea and are paying people taxpayers money to run their election campaign.”
Charging the health card had already been listed as an expenditure item for taxpayers to pay for, despite the policy behind it not being made clear, Rowley said: “We don’t know what its operations will be. But they already hired somebody to plan its operations.” Otherwise he scoffed at the Kamla 2015 theme of the UNC’s campaign, saying that in contrast the PNM’s campaign was centred on the party; not on any one man or woman.
“We are advancing to you the PNM. We are a team. They are ‘Kamla’.
“The PNM is not a one-man nor one-woman show. It is a party, an organization.”
In Tobago, he said every other party there in this election, except for the Platform Of Truth, were proxies of the UNC.
In light of former SIA head Nigel Clement last week winning a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal, which Rowley says amounts to millions of dollars to be footed by the taxpayer, he declared a new PNM government would review the case, with a view to settling out of court and so averting costly lawyers’ fees.
“Now that the court [has ruled] that Mr Clement’s firing was wrong, I am demanding that they [the state] discontinue the matter and save the taxpayers the legal fees. All that they are doing here is paying their friends millions and millions of dollars [in legal fees],” he said. Rowley promised constitutional reform to give Tobago internal self-government and to give Trinidad local government reform to allow corporations to be funded like the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
“We will mandate local government bodies to develop and maintain A-class sporting facilities within their local districts. Young people will then be able to compete in annual national games based on regional competition. This will develop sports in Trinidad and Tobago,” he promised.
Rowley said that every year since 2010, the national budget had been larger than the year before, but nothing had changed for Tobago.
“How come, in a budget that is the largest in the history of the country, must the THA have shortfalls in its budget?”he asked.
He repeated his pledge for a ferry between Toco and Tobago, saying it would run trips every hour.
“As it stands now, the population of Trinidad and Tobago are separated by a ticket. We will change that once and for all. That would open up the economies of both Tobago and East Trinidad,” he said.
Rowley praised the role of women who had kept the PNM alive for over 60 years and going strong. Hailing Tobago West candidate, former opposition senator Shamfa Cudjoe, he said: “She has five years of experience in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. She is qualified as is ready to serve.”