Building a Nation Together


Dear Editor,

One year ago Ralph Maraj issued a call to the People's National Movement (PNM) and in particular, Political Leader Dr. Keith Rowley, to present the Party's five year proposals to the nation.

He was persistent in his call using every opportunity through the entire media forum, namely radio, television and newspaper columns, to criticize the Party and Dr. Rowley for not acceding to his suggestions. This, despite the fact that Dr. Rowley has been working on and unveiling a range of policies to various interest groups and the fact that they are open for public comments on the Party’s website.

But his latest outburst, which was published in the Express newspaper on May 25th under the heading "Partnership outshines PNM" beats all his previous outrageous public utterances.

It is obvious that he did not attend the PNM's Annual Sports and Family Day at Nelson Mandela Park, Port of Spain and therefore was in no position to complain about the size of the crowd. In fact, the article seemed to be simply a collation of UNC talking points.

When the PNM, in Opposition, could mobilize over twenty thousand people to attend the event without any assistance from the taxpayer, and successfully complete the programme which included cricket, football, all fours competition, athletics and the march past of 31 Constituencies, along with entertainment from several artistes, any impartial observer would come to the conclusion that this year's Sports and Family Day was indeed an outstanding success.

The Political Leader's address featured current affairs that impact on the governance of the   country, particularly the brazen attempt by this UNC-led Government to interfere with state agencies, especially the Integrity Commission. He issued an open challenge to the Prime Minister to call the general elections if she is so confident of having the support of the electorate.

We will not, under any circumstances, bow to the pressure of people like Mr. Maraj and others who would like to dictate to us how we conduct our business as they pursue a UNC agenda. While they have spent the year assassinating the character of Dr. Rowley, in an out of Parliament, the PNM has been unveiling policies.

If the UNC chose last Sunday to launch its campaign that is their right so to do, but the PNM will conduct our affairs in accordance with our plans and programme.

And in case Mr. Maraj has a memory lapse, I wish to remind him and the national community, that the PNM began working on our policies since 2011. Ironically, Mr. Maraj was part of the team that started the process, having participated in the exercise up to the time when he was a facilitator at one of our retreats in St. Joseph.

Since then, the party successfully contested three major elections and underwent several significant changes including the adjustments to the Party's Constitution, holding of Internal Elections under the historic “One Man One Vote System”, which was followed by the staging of the Delegates Convention at the Hyatt Hotel and Conference Centre to deal with the Strategic Policy Document; and in November the Party held its 45th Convention at the Grand Stand, Queen's Park Savannah.

It is imperative that I make the point that, while the Party undertook all these activities involving massive consultations with the involvement of the population and the Media, Ralph Maraj maintained his illogical stance that we were not communicating with the electorate.

He is free to shower praises on the Prime Minister for her address at the UNC Rally last Sunday, which did not deal with the several scandals, missteps and corruption that have plagued our beloved country over the last five years. In fact, many of them were recycled initiatives copied from the 2010 PNM Manifesto which she tore up at a similar event five years ago.

Dr. Rowley continues to deal with several national issues whenever he speaks. This is the case whether on a political platform or the Seminar for Candidates and Campaign Managers at St Joseph; or also at the Radisson Hotel in another Session which was held for the Candidates, Campaign Managers and potential Platform Speakers.

Both addresses by the Political Leader received extensive coverage by all sections of the Media.

Mr. Maraj is free to choose to endorse any Political Party he likes, but in so doing he must get his facts straight before making false claims against the PNM, whose policies he was championing just over five years ago, when the Party was in Office. As a former PNM MP, Cabinet Minister, and also Special Advisor and Speech Writer to Prime Minister Patrick Manning for nine years, he should also know that we do not operate by the whims and fancies of individuals, especially those who would like us to peak at the wrong time.

Mr. Maraj should be well aware that the PNM is not using or abusing State Resources in the Election Campaign, and that is the issue he should be concerned about if he is as Independent as he claims to be.


Ashton Ford

General Secretary