Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Reality check: Rowley on the Debe Campus

Keith Rowley
Keith Rowley is known for making false statements. You might recall his allegation that the Attorney General went to the T&T mission in the United States and enquired about the ethnic composition of the staff there.

It turned out that it never happened but Rowley and some of his PNM MPs insisted it was. And then the leader of the PNM had to apologise to the AG.

However, I have not heard him apologise to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the statements he made about the South campus of the University of the West Indies, which is under construction in Debe. 

Rowley called it an abuse of Prime Ministerial authority and declared that the project was not initiated by the university.

In remarks taken from Hansard during Rowley's motion of no confidence in the PM the opposition leader stated that there was no urgency to build the Debe campus.
Model of the South Campus of the UWI at Debe
Here's the Hansard record:

"The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago decides that she is from Siparia, she is now Prime Minister and she takes it upon herself without any initiation from the regional University of the West Indies, Member for Siparia, decides that the best thing to do for the University of the West Indies is to build a legacy of a law school in her constituency. The University of the West Indies—well if it is not in the constituency, in her neighbourhood in Debe.

"She decides to build a law school in Debe, put a law library in Debe. Mr. Speaker, we are a small country, Trinidad and Tobago is a small island. Are we going to have two state-funded law schools on this island? The answer is yes.

"How many private law schools on the island? Many. What was the priority in a period of stringency for the Prime Minister to want to build a university in her neighbourhood? I have no doubt that lawyers are good people and professions are good to be had, and the buildings—but is that a priority for Trinidad and Tobago at this time? It is an abuse of prime ministerial authority. Abuse!

That is only being done because she has the authority as Prime Minster to direct the Cabinet. And the university and the Cabinet could not speak truth to power, and tell the Prime Minister this is not a priority. I will tell you for sure, it was not initiated by the University of the West Indies."

Well it turns out that the south campus idea was a UWI one and it started as far back as 2006, while Patrick Manning was PM and Rowley was in the cabinet. Here is what UWI Principal, Professor Clement Sankat told reporters in San Fernando in January 2011.

"The idea of a South campus did not arise just so. These ideas were being mooted in 2006, 2007...When I became principal, I had indicated to the campus at a board meeting that this was one of my objectives. We have been doing our studies quietly to move in this area. Some have moved east, we are moving south." 
Prof. Clement Sankat: "The idea of a South campus did not arise just so.
And Sankat also confirmed then that everything was on schedule to begin construction of the South campus of the university in Debe, noting that it was a UWI initiative. "I have been having discussions with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and meetings with the various councils and committees of the UWI. 

"And as principal, I am also doing what I need to do within the UWI system to advance this concept of the South campus which is a satellite campus of the St Augustine campus."

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai