UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is unfazed by party supporters who are upset about the selection of UNC candidates for the August 10 general election. She made this point while addressing a forum hosted by the Ummah Muslim TT Muslim Federation at the Felicity Diplomatic Banquet Hall, Felicity on Sunday.
Persad-Bissessar said there were cries from UNC supporters to “bring the young people” to face the polls. But she observed, “When you make the changes now, well who vex loss.” Persad-Bissessar said she was not worried about those dissenting voices.
“We are going forward and we are going to win.” In the audience were new UNC candidates Saddam Hosein (Barataria/San Juan), Dinesh Rambally (Chaguanas West), Alhoy Hunt (St Joseph) and Ravi Ratiram ( Couva North).
Persad-Bissessar explained that all the younger UNC candidates were people who were not in the limelight.
“In our darkest hour after the 2015 elections, they stayed faithful and loyal to the party.”
She said because of this, “now is their time.”
To the former UNC MPs not contesting the election, Persad-Bissessar said there was “a space and place” for them in a new UNC government after August 10.
But she added, “First we have to win.”
Persad-Bissessar also urged UNC candidates not to attack the families of their political opponents. “Leave them alone.” She said UNC candidates should only focus on the competence of their immediate political rivals.
Hosein declared the people of Barataria/San Juan were “ready for the UNC.” As someone who is “sensitive to the needs of the Muslim community,” Hosein said he opposed anti-terrorism legislation which Government brought to Parliament. He claimed his opposition to the legislation was because it stigmatised Muslims. Hosein claimed the bill would have made it illegal to send zakat (the obligation that an individual has to donate a certain proportion of wealth each year to charitable causes) overseas.
Rambally told Persad-Bissessar, “It is your karma and destiny to lead this country again.”
He reiterated the UNC’s claim that the closing of TT’s borders to prevent the spread of covid19 has disenfranchised many TT nationals who want to vote on August 10.
He said National Security Minister Stuart Young’s statement about some TT nationals trying to bribe ministry officials to grant them exemptions to come home, showed that systems were falling apart. Hunt criticised the PNM for buying high-priced, inferior vessels from Australian shipbuilder Austal which could not protect TT’s borders. Hunt said crime will never be solved in TT unless you “clean up corruption.”
Ummah TT chairman Iman Rashid Karim said members of the group were willing to support the UNC in the election. Karim said representatives of several Muslim groups were pledging to work with the UNC to secure key marginal seats on August 10. He also criticised some members of the Muslim community for launching a “hostile attack” against Persad-Bissessar and the UNC.
Other Ummah members criticised the PNM for low levels in the country’s reservoirs, crime and poor education in TT.