Saturday, July 6, 2013

Kamla says Jack's resignation caused "anguish"; grateful for former MPs contribution

Edited excerpt from Kamla Persad-Bissessar's speech Friday night at the SAJA Girls' School in Charlieville:
On Monday night you were with us at Vishnu Boys College in Caroni we started discussing some important issues and I promised I would continue the dialogue.

I told you then not to join that march that was held today (Friday) because it was meant to be a collective effort of many anti-government groups and the PNM to try to undermine and overthrow us … they have been trying to do it since we defeated them.

And today the PNM and their allies were holding hands with their trade union friends trying to embarrass us in the eyes of our CARICOM partners.

But not all the trade unions were holding hands with the PNM.

Some of them understand that it is wrong to allow the PNM to infiltrate and hijack the labour movement.

So The All-Trinidad Sugar Workers Trade Union took a position, which I respect...
thankfully the All-Trinidad Sugar Workers Union did not align itself with the PNM because of the suffering that the PNM imposed on sugar workers by closing down the industry. 

The OWTU and the Joint Trade Union Movement are comfortable marching with the PNM because that is who they really are - wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Your great party is under constant, relentless and daily assault.
Never in the history of this country has one party been exposed to such constant attacks... 
This school and the one that stands next to it are monuments of our service to this community. We built these schools and many others in mere months when I was your minister of education in the Panday UNC administration.

There is continuity in the new UNC leadership … we are continuing to build.

Remember what the PNM did with the Biche High School. They closed it down after we lost because of the rift between Ramesh Maharaj and Basdeo Panday.

They were vindictive and wicked and that is what they will do with you if you do not have a UNC MP who will be in your government.

Fortunately for the people in Biche, we opened that school after we came back to power.
We put an end to the suffering that the PNM inflicted on them.
And tonight I want to extend my congratulations to all our children who were successful in this year’s SEA examination … especially the top three …

  • Sandhya Sookhoo (Grant Memorial Presbyterian School)
  • Kay-Lynn Ramlal (Cocoyea Government Primary School)
  • Troy Samlalsingh (San Fernando TML (Trinidad Muslim League) Primary School)
And I want to tell each one of the children starting secondary school in September you will get your new laptop computers.

You are the future. We believe in you and we will make sure that there a computer in your bookbag so you would be prepared for thec hallenges of the 21st century...

  • We build schools and hospitals instead of skyscrapers!
  • We extend water services and repair roads and drains!
  • We build police stations and fire stations and community centres!
  • We put lights in recreation grounds!
There is so much more that we have done  … and so much more to do. Just look around you right here in Chaguanas West and you would see a country on the move. Your former MP is telling everyone that he has no strife with his leader … and I want to tell you I have no quarrel with him. On Monday I raised some issues that were important because people asked about it.

I shared with you, the people of Chaguanas West, information that I thought was relevant as you contemplated your choice in this important by elections.

I am disappointed that this information was interpreted as an “attack” on your former Member of Parliament by certain factions.
In fact one television host immediately labeled it as mudslinging. Nothing was further from the truth.

As many of you know ever since this matter developed it was suggested that our great party, for whatever reason, was being unfair to the former Parliamentary representative, that the United National Congress was turning its back on someone who had made a great contribution to our success, that the party, and I in particular was ungrateful.

Let me tell each and every one of you, no one, absolutely no one, would understand the anguish I have experienced over this entire matter.

No one is as conscious of the contribution and sacrifice made by so many persons towards the resurgence of our great party.
High on that list, and he will remain high on that list regardless of whatever circumstance we encounter, is the name of Austin Jack Warner.

On Monday evening, with great pain, I outlined to you why we as a party, with a greater responsibility to country and nation, had absolutely no choice but to select Khadijah Ameen as the candidate.

The Opposition has taken what they consider to be a scoring point by suggesting that we knew all along about some of the vulnerabilities I outlined.

What this highlight is that the PNM and several citizen groups were calling for months for the head of Mr. Warner. 
But let us understand the calls were shrill and self-serving. 

We initially sought and received high-level legal opinion that there was no conflict between a Minister of my Government also holding a senior position in a non-governmental international sporting organisation.

Innuendos and allegations began swirling but as Prime Minister, I felt satisfied there was no compelling evidence.

Even with concerns expressed by our coalition partners, I remained supportive.

I had discussions with Mr. Warner and was always assured that the allegations and innuendoes had no basis in fact.

In the face of widespread but sometimes contrived media reports, I gave Mr. Warner the benefit of the doubt.

In fact in a Cabinet reshuffle, I entrusted the critical responsibility of National Security to the Mr. Warner….such was the faith and trust I had in him.

But ladies and gentlemen, the matter came to a climax only in May when FIFA finally published the report of its Ethics Committee headed by eminent jurists.

It had also become of some concern to me that Mr. Warner had consistently found it expedient not to join official travel delegations, particularly to a Caricom meeting in Haiti where regional Security issues were center to the discussions.

Against this development, I now had no choice.

I immediately confronted Mr. Warner and outlined to him the dire consequences on our Government, of the report, including his failure to address the charges before the FIFA Ethics Committee.

The result of this meeting was Mr. Warner tendering, and I, with the deepest of regrets, had absolutely no choice but to accept, his resignation, as a Cabinet member.

He maintained his innocence of the charges and I urged him to in those circumstances to seek to clear his name...

Through all the years, your party stood with you, in the worst of times your party stood with you, and my Dear People, you stood with your party, you remained steadfast, and loyal and committed to what we were trying to achieve for each resident of the constituency, for each and every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, and for great Land as a whole.

In the last three years, your government - and yes, you were able to say with meaning “YOUR GOVERNMENT” - in all constituencies of this country, have listened and responded.

The acknowledged achievements we have made in three short years is because as a collective, your party, the UNC, with our coalition partners, have been able to mobilise the collective strengths of Government and People to achieve meaningful people centered results.

I mentioned earlier the January 2010 dynamic where you, the UNC people, chose to vote to take your party into government, rather than vote based on sentiment.

This is the decision some of you, again, face today.

I know it is a difficult choice I ask of you, but it is also a clear choice. 

Will you begin to break that great edifice you have now finally completed, to weaken the colossal strength you have earned by having a government of your choice. 

Should you destablise the foundation we now have of government power and people power cast together in a powerful alliance of common purpose and singular objective – that is the betterment of Trinidad and Tobago and its entire People.

I want each and every citizen of this constituency to go quietly over the next few days and ponder these things quietly but seriously in your minds and in your homes.

Speak to your elders, your wives, your husbands, your children.
Remember what it was like before your constituency was in Government. Reflect on the struggle that spanned generations.

Reflect on what you have achieved over the years and contemplate on the consequences if you make the wrong choice in this election.

Every election, politicians are fond of reminding people, elections represent meaningful milestones...
Are you willing to abandon the party you have built, with your hands and through your blood and sweat – the vehicle in which you rode into corridor of power?

The matter is in your hands.

You have a UNC candidate of significant stature and experience to join a Government that has demonstrated its commitment to purposes and its strengths to performance. I ask for your support for Khadijah Ameen.
She will to serve you well, and will complement our government, as we continue, as a dedicated team, to seek and achieve, with purpose and distinction, great things for the people of Chaguanas West and the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

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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