Building a Nation Together


The Editor

The Trinidad Guardian

Once again the Trinidad Guardian has unleashed an unwarranted attack on the Opposition Leader and Political Leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Dr. Keith Rowley in an editorial which was published on Thursday July 30th.

Under the heading “Pull plug on tonight’s non – debate” the editorial implied that Dr. Rowley did not co-operate with the Debates Commission in their attempt to organize the debate among the leaders of political parties in Trinidad and Tobago.

The editorial stated “Although the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader in his own way, have shown no interest in facing the nation in a televised debate…..” The editorial further stated, “And if Ms. Persad – Bissessar and Dr. Rowley were truly committed to such an exercise in democracy, they would not find it too hard to work with the Commission to iron out their differences.”

It is the most amazing statements coming from the editorial when the facts clearly demonstrated that at no time did Dr. Rowley and the PNM as whole provided any obstacles to the efforts of the Debates Commission to stage the historic event.

From the outset, the PNM responded positively to the request from the Commission indicating that “…on behalf of our Political Leader Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, we hereby accept you kind invitation.

“We wish to intimate that as occurred prior to our Party’s participation in the Debate hosted by the Commission preceding the 2013 THA Elections and the Local Government Elections we would wish to discuss all arrangement with your representatives…”

Thereafter, the PNM met with Debates Commission on May 25, 2015, there was no question of a July 30 date for the debate.

Thereafter, the PNM met with the Debates Commission on May 25, 2015; there was no question of a July 30 date for the debate.

Following that initial meeting the PNM team, headed by chairman Franklin Khan, held several meetings with the Commission, led by Chairman Andrew Sabga, and formally accepted the terms and conditions of the Commission.

The Commission’s criteria for participation stated:

“For inclusion in the debate, each party or Alliance (as defined in the next paragraph) must demonstrate the potential to form the next government by nominating candidates in at least 50% of seats  (currently 21 candidates) to contest the election.  


Have polled at least 12.5% favorable vote in the last two of the four nationally recognized opinion polls (HHB,NACTA, UWI, SBS) conducted just before the period leading up to Nomination Day.”

I wish to point out that it was the Commission’s error that created the unfortunate furor when they indicated to the UNC that it was decided to stage the debate on July 30.

Despite the error and the public banter between the UNC and the Commission, the PNM steadfastly supported the Commission by sticking to the original criteria of holding the debate after Nomination day of August 17.

In conclusion, I wish to state that on July 14 the PNM reiterated its position as set out in the several correspondences that it confirmed its participation in the Leader’s debate as outlined in Commission’s criteria to be held on August 20 and 27, 2015, at the Chamber of Commerce, Westmoorings.

Ashton Ford

General Secretary,