PEOPLE'S NATIONAL MOVEMENT

Building a Nation Together

  
  
  

Mr Chairman, Party officers, party members, supporters, fellow citizens of Trinidad and Tobago on this day the 29th March, on the anniversary of his passing, we pause to remember our founding Father Dr Eric Eustace Williams.

Dr Williams was a visionary who taught us so much, gave to so many and took so little from us for himself. Suffice it to say that he pointed us in the right direction of nationhood, with history lessons of self- discovery, economic lessons to grow our national wealth and lessons of tolerance, fairness and respect that preserved and strengthened the social fabric of this multi- ethnic, multi- religious Caribbean nation.

I am humbled and honored to speak to you today about the great opportunity that lies before our nation.

As many of you may know, I got my start in my professional life as a geologist. I was trained to understand the origins of the Earth, to study its complex elements and appreciate how the fusion of its raw materials are stronger and more resilient - together.  

In the study of geology, we learnt that the strongest, brightest minerals are those formed when intense heat and overwhelming pressure are applied to the humblest element, carbon, deep inside the Earth.

The outcome is sometimes a diamond that is more beautiful and enduring than other individual elements or compounds.     

In like manner the people of Trinidad and Tobago are like one diamond with many facets.

Ours is a brilliant blended nation, forged from generations fuelled by hope, ingenuity, and pure grit with boundless faith in our destiny. 

Whether our roots emerge from the soil of India, Africa, China, the Middle East or Europe, our soul is pure Trinidad and Tobago.

Whether we are Muslim, Christian, traditional or Full Gospel, Shango or Orisha,

Whether we are PNM, COP, UNC, ILP, MSJ  or undecided

We are always and will always be One Trinidad and Tobago. One diamond many facets.

Throughout the Caribbean - stretching to New York, London, Hong Kong or New Delhi - our people and our culture ignite the spirit of the world.

I have walked the suburbs of St. Clair and industrial centers of San Fernando and Westmoorings, I saw One Trinidad and Tobago.  From Laventille to Princes Town, I see Trinidad and Tobago.

It is the strength of our origins, under the pressure of our circumstances, that we have emerged a rock-solid nation united. Whatever our circumstances, we are all in this together.

But we still have much work to do.  As a nation, we have not yet realized the full measure of our promise.  Our first step is that we must reform our Government and transform how it serves it's people.

Where the current Government has led us is in the wrong direction.  It is burdened with rampant corruption, arrogance and the public's distrust of government is unprecedented and very worrisome.

In my walks, meetings and consultations there are two constants in every conversation, a desire for change and the aspiration that we can be better than we are being now.  I see in the past five (5) years there has been a scornful disconnect between the people and the Government . The people have become increasingly alienated by the indecency,the arrogance the unbridled greed and the corruption of the Offices of state and they are numbed by the Prime Minister’s tolerance and her protection of those who fail us so miserably.  

In order to bring about real change, we must put the people first.  The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago must be at the center of the process of governing and our leaders must see this as their ONLY mission.  We must choose leaders who choose the people over themselves. Leaders with vision, character and integrity.  Leaders that have the will to do what is right.

Leaders that will protect, serve and be true to the wider public interest  and not serve themselves and their interests from the public treasury and other national resources.

Therefore our choice, our responsibility as the sons and daughters of this great land is to choose leaders of strong character, fairness and integrity who had made the choice of putting the people first.  Leaders who see each of us as equals as our faith teaches us, no one of us more important than the other. Leaders that listen, take action and hold themselves responsible for the outcome of those actions.  We must choose leaders who understand our aspirations and those who would also hear our cries when we are suffering.

Thirty four years later we gather here today to honour the memory of the first Leader of this great party and of this nation which he did so much to birth and to shape. a man who exhibited all the qualities that i have just outlined. Qualities which he portrayed in the beginning of our journey; qualities which are desperately needed now more than ever.

As we prepare to exercise our fundamental right, to choose and shape our next Government through our nation”s vote, I want you to know: I am listening and I hear you.

What I hear you saying is that you want unity. I hear you rejecting racism, nepotism and hate. I hear you saying that you want a clean campaign, robustly fought without bitterness,  rancour or indecency, with respect for all and a willingness to accept the final outcome of a fair process. What I hear you saying is that you want accountability from your Government.  You want transparency in all our actions.  You want safety, security and prosperity and you want to trust your government to serve you and not rob you.. I HEAR YOU!

You want real and sustainable economic opportunity, without discrimination because of class, race, religion or geography. I HEAR YOU!   

You want your leaders to focus on your ambitions, not theirs, and dedicate their heart and soul to yours, like Dr Williams did.

You want One Trinidad and Tobago.

Integrity in Government  

If you allow the PNM to lead this next Government and give me the opportunity to serve as your next Prime Minister, I will lead this great nation by fighting for our shared values and I'll uphold your sacred trust.  Together, we will boldly confront the challenges we face.  

But this cannot happen unless we root out the corruption that has plagued our Government for far too long.

It is not okay to cut corners, make false promises, squander public resources and diminish funding for vital economic programs designed to train and employ thousands of Trinidadians and Tobagonians who desperately want to work at a job commensurate with their qualifications.     

As a nation, we should take pride in our strong middle-class. Yet, there remains - sprinkled throughout our twin-island country – areas that are drowning in crime, illiteracy and unemployment.  We must address the issues of Beetham and Trainline, Laventille and Enterprise. We must address the aspirations of Felicity and Point Fortin, Caroni and La Brea.

Too many Trinidadians and Tobagonians feel as if there is no refuge from their crushing circumstances. Too many amongst us feel that their best days are not ahead of them.

What does it say about our country and its leadership if we continue to allow these conditions to fester; to continue with ever increasing hopelessness as if the challenges they present are beyond our ability to cope?

I want to tell all of the people that have lost hope that their best days are ahead of them, to keep their chin up and get ready to work for change.  Get ready to play your part in a Trinidad and Tobago that welcomes and acknowledges your positive  contribution, whatever that might be and wherever you make it.

I believe that Parliament is so much more than a bicameral body of 72 elected officials. At our core, we are our brother’s and our sister's keeper. In office we must serve each and every citizen, treating each one fairly, no matter their location or party affiliation. In so far as our party tie caused some to challenge our commitment to this ideal I have calmed their fears without surrendering our symbol. I have taken off my tie. This is not only our moral responsibility but it is the oath we take as Parliamentarians, to “uphold the constitution and the law without fear or favor affection or ill will.”

Our role as elected MPs are the seats on which our entire democracy rest. We are the people’s champion, their advocates.  It is why elections matter.  It is why good government matters.  It is why the People’sNational Movement (PNM) matters. Putting the "people" first is our name, it is our legacy. It’s not a slogan or motto, it is IN OUR NAME!

It is our job to fiercely protect the integrity, viability and efficacy of Parliament.  It is also the responsibility of our Government to serve as ethical stewards for all state-regulated institutions - the Ministries, the Central Bank, the Police Service, and Local Government offices, among others. 

When unethical behavior raises its ugly head, your Government has the responsibility to take decisive action, demand transparency and hold office holders publicly accountable to the people they are sworn to protect.  A Government which has had to replace dozens of its members in its first term due to incompetence or corruption is not a Government working for you the people. It's a Government working for itself at the expense of the people.

This is why I am committed to a review of anti-corruption laws; the enactment of workable Whistleblower Legislation and to operating a smaller Cabinet led by people of proven competence with the right mix of skills, experience and integrity to get the job done well.  

Corruption erodes the foundations of our institutions, Departments and Ministries. It is a crime against the moral contract of our democracy. We must reject the notion of corruption as a way of doing business, as a way of life.

Some of us, with the high crime rates have had our homes, cars or businesses broken into and experienced theft. You would recall how violated and powerless you felt, how you questioned the absence of order in the society. Now imagine we have elected and appointed public officials whose first and only concern, every day, is to spend taxpayer”s money as if it is their very own to do with as they please. It is outrageous that we have had to endure this brutal kleptocracy with its expert kleptocrats heading billion dollar Ministries and state corporations accumulating personal wealth as though it is a perk of the office .  

Under my watch, it will NOT be business as usual.  We will strengthen the institutions on which our democracy depends. We will significantly improve our systems of accountability. The taxes you pay are to improve YOUR LIVES. The natural resources of this country  belong to you the people NOT the Government officials and are there to improve your children’s lives and secure their future.

 

Fight Crime and Expand Economic Opportunity

As I travel across our country, from the shores of Mayaro to the street corners of San Fernando, I hear your utterances about morally bankrupt leadership. I hear about the values of the country being frayed under the current Prime Ministership.  

I see the toll that crime is taking on our society and economy. 

As one of the Caribbean’s strongest economies – and the world’s fifth leading producer of natural gas - we cannot allow the scourge of street gangs, drug dealers, money launderers and other white collar criminals to stifle our progress and discourage investment, both foreign and domestic.

It is unthinkable that six neighborhoods surrounding our capital of Port of Spain account for over one-half of all murders in our country. The blood must stop flowing and as we develop the rest of the country our capital city must be a place that engenders a national sense of pride for the upliftment of the economy and the soul of the nation.

How can we expect an increase in investment - which leads to more resources that creates better jobs – if we cannot give the business community the confidence they need to continue making long-term investments?

What message does the scourge of crime and the under- performance of the  Police Service send to our young people? What message, that Ministers and Permanent Secretaries involved in Life Sport could slither off to enjoy the spoils of stolen tax dollars. That a man could be paid 34 million for a contrived contract and did not deliver as much as a paperclip and when challenged his response was “leave me alone or I’ll talk!” and a nation is satisfied with that and the responsible facilitators in the Cabinet just move on to hatch the next scandal. That they need more time to do more of it? I think not!

What does that say to the young people about the future of our country and the requirement for them to work, save and invest for the bright future that this country should be holding out to them?

Far too many of our youth are lost.  Without sustainable jobs, a proper education and competitive job and life skills, some are giving their lives away to violent gangs, drug lords and drugs. They need to hear a sincere call to a hopeful future.I make that call now!

It does not matter where you live, what you do or if your family is rich or poor. There is an inexorable connection between all Trinidadians and Tobagonians.  Our lives are inextricably linked just like the tapestry of our multi-ethnic society. 

The future of a child of East Port of Spain matters to all our futures.

The fate of the local store owner robbed in Siparia is the fate and robbery of all of us.

The pain of a father struggling to find work and provide for his family in Laventille is our pain.

The humiliation and despair of a mother in Carenage who cannot afford food for her children is our hunger and humiliation.

The anxiety of our young people facing a dormant job market and the draw of gang violence is everyone’s anxiety.

We are a proud nation with an economy that should be energized by economic growth and fertile soil for fresh ideas.  

We have the strong foundation and collective will to give all our citizens an opportunity to work towards realising their full potential

These are the reasons why we face such an important choice          on Election Day.

Conclusion

I want to say at this point that I have been in politics/ public office for over 30 years and I know not everyone would agree with me or vote for me. But as your Prime Minister, like I did as Leader of the Opposition and Minister that I would act with the necessary caution, care and decisiveness to serve you all, ,always true to that oath of office.

I would be a Prime Minister for all the people.

Despite our differences, we all share great hope and love of our country.  The color of our skin should not form the limits of our opportunity in life.  What God we pray to should not prevent us from showing love and kindness to one another.  We must stand up and repair the ethical and moral character  of our great nation.  

As it was in the days and dreams of Dr Eric Eustace Williams so it remains today. We want the best education and jobs for our children.  We want a nation that will fulfill its promise as a global leader in energy, manufacturing, banking and finance and the arts, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow. 

Now, we may not always agree on how to get there but the Father of our nation Dr  Eric Williams who left us 34 years ago built us a solid foundation and set us on course for the growth of a better nation. We must not fail!.

Our rich history is a testament to the heights we can reach and the obstacles we can overcome – if we only work together, side by side. We are all in this together!.

Like our earth, we are forged from the strongest elements to become one. Our diamond, Sweet T&T, is indeed more beautiful because it has emerged from the pain, the struggle and successes of our colourful past.

And now we are ready for our future, bright and prosperous but we need to work harder and embracechange because what brought us here may not be enough to get us to where we want to go. Greater effort is required for the great rewards that lie ahead.  

At every fork in the road, it has been our individual sacrifice coupled with a collective spirit that has triumphed. But as it was with Dr Williams and the team he led, where there are always choices to be made success or failure depends on what choice we make when standing at the cross road.

In 2015 Trinidad and Tobago is at the crossroad and as the calypsonian  advises us in song, we just cant go on this way.

I believe we can seize the future together - because we are not as divided as some would suggest; we acting as a people are greater than our individual ambitions or our personal or ethnic agendas. We can come together without waiting for the periodic tragedy to force us into each others caring and grace

We are one family. We must lift each other or fall together, as one nation.  As one people who succeeded together or failed to achieve as a result of national bickering or loss of self confidence.. 

As One Trinidad and Tobago, the one that Dr Williams dreamt of, the nation he loved and gave his life to build, today we say thanks and commit to keeping the wonderful dream alive .

I love you and may God bless the people of Trinidad and Tobago, Eric Williams’s people.    

The Tobago Council of the People's National Movement joins all right thinking citizens of this island and this country in condemning the scandalous and obscene statements made by Tobago East Representative Mrs. Vernella Alleyne Toppin, in the recent no confidence motion against Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley.

In one of the most despicable presentations made by any representative in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, Vernella Alleyne Toppin sunk to the lowest depths by casting aspersions on the long dead mother of the Opposition Leader. It is mind-boggling that Mrs. Alleyne Toppin as a former teacher, mother and grandmother could have degraded herself, her family and her Tobago heritage in this unseemly manner.

The Council is calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, who would have instigated the motion and who, especially in recent times, has portrayed herself as a champion of women's rights, to state her position on this issue and to take appropriate action.

The Tobago Council of the PNM reiterates it's support for the political leader who continues to display courage, focus and dignity in the face of relentless and unfounded attacks by the members of that United National Congress (UNC) and their willing minions in the Tobago Organization of the People  (TOP).

 

Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus, MD

Public Relations Officer, 

Tobago Council of the People's National Movement

(Office of the General Secretary)

2015 General Elections

LIST OF CANDIDATES APPROVED as at 19th March 2015

 

 

Constituencies

Candidates

Date

Approved

Status

1

Diego Martin West

Dr. the Hon. Keith Rowley

26/09/14

Incumbent

2

Mayaro

Mr. Clarence Rambharat

26/09/14

New

3

St Joseph

Hon. Terrence Deyalsingh

26/09/14

Incumbent

4

Couva South

Councillor Alif Mohammed

6/10/14

New

5

San Fernando West

Sen. Faris Al-Rawi

06/10/14

New

6.

La Horquetta/Talparo

Mr. Maxie Cuffie

08/10/14

New

7

D’Abadie/O’Meara

Brigadier Ancil W Antoine

08/10/14

New

8

POSN/St Ann’s West

Mr. Stuart Young

08/10/14

New

9

Pointe-a-Pierre

Mr. Neil Mohammed

29/10/14

New

10

Oropouche East

Mr. Terry Shaun Jadoonanan

29/10/14

New

11

Lopinot/Bon Air West

Ms.Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn

05/11/14

New

12

St Augustine

Ms.Alisha S. Romano

05/11/14

New

13

Diego Martin N/East

Hon. Colm Imbert

03/12/14

Incumbent

14

Port of Spain South

Hon. Marlene McDonald

03/12/14

Incumbent

15

Chaguanas East

Sen. Diane Baldeo-Chadeesingh

03/12/14

New

16

Chaguanas West

Ms. Abbegail Nandalal

03/12/14

New

17

St Ann’s East

Dr. Nyan Gadsby/Dolly

03/12/14

New

18

Oropouche Wes

Mr. Clifford Rambharose

22/01/15

New

19

Moruga/Tableland

Dr. Lovell Francis

22/01/15

New

20

Point Fortin

Major General Edmund Dillon (R’td)

22/01/15

New

21

Caroni Central

Senator Avinash Singh

22/01/15

New

22

Caroni East

Ms. Sara Alisa Budhu

04/01/15

New

23

Toco/Sangre Grande

Mrs. Glenda Jennings-Smith

04/01/15

New

24

Tabaquite

Mr. Kevin Craig Chan

04/01/15

New

25

Arima

Mr. Anthony Garcia

04/01/15

New

26

San Fernando East

Mr. Randall Mitchell

09/02/15

New

27

Tobago East

Mr. Wendell Berkley

08/-3/15

New

28

Tobago West

Senator Shamfa Cudjoe

08/03/15

New

29

Naparima

Mr. Dons Richard Waithe

16/03/15

New

30

Siparia

Mr. Vidya Deokiesingh

16/03/15

New

31

Fyzabad

Ms. Marsha Bailey

16/03/15

New

32

Princes Town

Mr. Nikolaiski Ali

16/03/15

New

33

Tunapuna

Councillor Esmond Forde

18/03/15

New

34

Laventille West

Mr. Fitzgerald Hinds

18/03/15

New

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is with a sense of deep disgust and abhorrence that the Women's League of the People's National Movement (PNM), condemns the unfortunate contribution in the House of Representatives on March 25th of the Member for Tobago East, Mrs Vernella Alleyne-Toppin.

Mrs Alleyne-Toppin in a debasing attack on Dr Keith Rowley Leader of the Opposition, placed on the Hansard Record an unadulterated  and outrageous fabrication, stating,among other gross inaccuracies, that Dr Rowley's conception was as a result of a rape, thereby accusing Dr Rowley's deceased father of being a rapist! For Mrs Alleyne-Toppin however that was not enough, she went on to label Dr Rowley a kidnapper, paedophile and gang rapist, all fabrications given life under the cover of Parliamentary privilege.

The Women's League expresses it's gross disappointment that this slander was allowed without let or hindrance in the Parliament resulting in a debasing of the Parliament itself. Mrs Alleyne-Toppin's utterances in the Parliament prove that she is a complete embarrassment to the Parliament, the people of Tobago East, the people of Tobago and the people of Trinidad.
         
The Women's League is firm in it's view that in the desperate UNC's unrelenting attempt to demonise Dr Rowley they will descend to any depths as evidenced by the numerous banners which hung over the streets of Debe on Monday night with the words "Hide your Children from Rowley", the Tobago Organisation of the People's Vernella Alleyne-Toppin's scurrilous attack on Dr Rowley feeds off this banner and she behaved in the Parliament like a a willing recruit in this UNC plot. Vernella Alleyne-Toppin has disgraced herself.
         
Mrs Alleyne-Toppin, by claiming that Dr Rowley was the product of a rape and is himself a gang rapist, as perpetrated one of the worst  and most disgraceful acts of slander under the guise of Parliamentary privilege and has crossed all boundaries of propriety.
           
Dr Rowley, as the Newsday article that Mrs Alleyne-Toppin quoted, has a son, the product of a legitimate relationship. Vernella Alleyne-Toppin's claims that Dr Rowley kidnapped and gang raped his son's mother and that she was underage are completely untrue and the hallucinations of a fertile and dangerous imagination.
         
The Women's League recalls that Dr Rowley entered public life in 1981 when he ran for Tobago West as a Candidate for the PNM his son was twelve years old at the time and no such outrageous claims were ever made by anyone.
         
The Women's League calls on all Tobagonians and indeed all right thinking citizens to express their disgust at the repugnant and repulsive behaviour of the Member of Parliament for Tobago East especially in the light of the fact that her claims made against Dr Keith Rowley the Leader of the Opposition, his deceased mother and deceased father are vengeful without any basis in fact, loathsome, outrageous, scandalous, vile and defamatory.

We therefore call on the members of the TOP and the UNC to condemn Mrs Alleyne-Toppin and disassociate themselves from her statements. The Women's League is disturbed this latest assault on the character of Dr Rowley could have taken place with impunity within the walls of the Parliament. 

Chairman of the Women's League
Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate

The People’s National Movement rejects the attempt by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to distance herself and her administration from the words of paid United National Congress blogger, Jaishima Leladharsingh.

Mr. Leladharsingh’s offensive views were well known to everyone who used social media where he was used to be attack any person who raised a voice in opposition to the UNC. For his work for the party he was rewarded with not just an appointment to the Agricultural Development Bank (CDA) and a directorship of the Chaguaramas Development Authority but other significant state appointments. As Prime Minister, and the person who chairs the Board’s Committee of the Cabinet, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar had a fiduciary duty to ascertain that persons appointed to boards are fit and proper.

We are only now being informed that apart from his appointment to the board of the CDA, Mr. Leladharsingh is also the Communications Manager for the Economic Development Board and the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation, both entities which fall under the purview of the Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie.

Dr Tewarie owes the country and explanation on why it took him a whole year to take action on Mr. Leladharsingh and why he only accepted his resignation from the board of the CDA without firing him from the other positions under the Ministry of Planning. His views bring not only these organizations, but the entire Ministry and government into further disrepute. By shielding him and retaining him in his other positions in the Ministry, Dr. Tewarie is, in effect, giving aid and comfort to someone who has no qualms in articulating such reprehensible positions.

The PNM remains troubled by Dr. Tewarie’s casual dismissal of the remarks by stating “that there was no malevolence involved.” It suggests a dangerous mindset at work in the People’s Partnership administration.

The remarks by Mr. Leladharsingh speak to a mindset of someone who holds the most reprehensible views of persons of African descent who comprise almost half the population. The PNM is demanding the dismissal of Mr. Leladharsingh from all state positions and for an explanation from the Minister and even the Prime Minister on why they have continued to protect someone with such malevolent and offensive views.

 

Senator Camille Robinson-Regis

Lady-Vice Chairman