Ameen: No UNC boycott of Independence celebrations

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Khadijah Ameen

ST Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen, who is UNC deputy leader, said the party had not issued any directive for its officials to boycott any event marking the 60th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s Independence.

But, she said many may have been abroad and so absent from events. She was speaking to Newsday on Thursday.

However, Housing Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, in response, said the citizenry had resoundingly embraced the occasion to show their love and gratitude for living in TT. She said even if the Opposition had nothing to celebrate, prominent landmarks in the UK and Canada were lit up in TT’s national colours.

Independence Day, August 31, fell on Wednesday, with accompanying celebrations highlighted by a military parade.

Ameen told Newsday, “There was no instruction from the leader to boycott Independence celebrations. Several MPs are out the country. I attended celebrations in Sangre Grande.”

She also thought Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes had been on the parade route.

“Trinidad and Tobago is not only in Port of Spain.

“I’m also not in a celebratory mood. Too many murders, so many parents scraping to get books and uniforms for their children to go back to school. Every time I passed a music trailer on the road I feel pain knowing how many children that money could have provided books or laptops for.

“All the red, white and black cloth and non-recyclable plastic on buildings and roundabouts while people suffering?”

She said the Government could really have utilised the funding for Independence celebrations differently to benefit the citizens and the most vulnerable.

“I want to commend the members of our protective services who took part in the Independence parade yesterday – our servicemen and servicewoman – despite still living on a 2013 salary.”

Lamenting no pay-rise since 2013 under UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Ameen said many protective services officers could now barely pay their rent or send their children to school amid rising prices.

“I’m a patriot of TT and that’s why I’m ashamed of this Government.”

Accusing the PNM under Dr Keith Rowley, as the Opposition in 2012, of boycotting TT’s 50th Independence celebrations under the Persad-Bissessar-led government, Ameen said the PNM were now being hypocrites.

Robinson-Regis assured Newsday that Opposition MPs had been given official invitations to attend these events, recalling that Persad-Bissessar’s name was read out in the salutations at Monday’s opening of the Dr Eric Williams Memorial Library.

“The Opposition is always invited to the parade.”

Regarding the 2012 celebration, she could not recall what the event had been.

“They spent millions of dollars, and I ask what we got for it.”

Robinson-Regis recalled individuals who had given great performances such as in athletics/sports, plus the fact of TT inventing the only acoustic instrument in the 20th century, to say, “TT has a lot to celebrate.”

She said the citizenry, overall, “had spoken” by virtue of their turnout to many Independence events.

“All things were for everyone to celebrate.”

Robinson-Regis said TT’s anniversary was celebrated by the lighting up of Niagara Falls and the CN Tower in Toronto, and the flying at the TT flag at Westminster Abbey near the UK Parliament.

Of the Opposition she said, “If they don’t find anything to celebrate, that’s up to them, but certainly many people have a lot to celebrate.”

She rejoiced that many citizens had heeded the Prime Minister’s call to have “boundless faith in our destiny,” as espoused by the national anthem.