Moonilal: UNC could have toppled Government, but for absent MPs

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal. – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal on April 29 told Newsday the absence of five UNC MPs on April 26 prevented the Opposition defeating the Government in Parliament and causing a snap general election.

Moonilal said Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally was one of five MPs missing the crucial vote in the House of Representatives to give an extension for the Government to submit its public accounts for Trinidad and Tobago.

Also absent from the vote were Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes Alleyne (who had requested leave), Naparima MP Rodney Charles, Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir and Mayaro MP Rushton Paray.

“As Mrs Persad-Bissessar said yesterday, last Friday we had an opportunity to defeat the Government on a very important motion that sought an extension of time for the Auditor General to prepare a report that she had already prepared and submit it to Parliament.

“Had the Government been defeated on that motion, that could well have led to the collapse of the Government and a snap election being called. It was a critical motion, and had the Government been defeated, the Government could have collapsed.

“Regrettably, five of our colleagues did not see it fit to be in Parliament at that time for that motion.”

Moonilal said it did not matter whether or not the Opposition had advance knowledge that the motion would be moved.

“We are dealing with the PNM. They can do anything. To say you did not have knowledge that there would be a motion is irrelevant, because the PNM can do anything, as they have done.

“We are elected by the people. We are a nominee of our party, elected by the people, to be in Parliament. As (UNC founder) Mr Panday told us years ago, in politics and in war, those who are absent are always wrong.”

Moonilal also responded to a statement by Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally, who claimed the UNC could not win government under leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who Rambally alleged was leading the party “like lambs to slaughter.”

Rambally’s statement had noted two prior occasions in which the party had resisted leadership change and gone on to lose general elections.

He said, “Since the defeat in 2015, the UNC membership has been waiting for and wanting a revamping, reorganisation and revitalisation so that the UNC party can find its way back into governance.”

Rambally added, “The PNM is killing us (and) the UNC leadership is too busy killing itself to care.”

He also urged the UNC to be truthful in its own introspective analysis.

Responding to Rambally’s statement in a WhatsApp message to Newsday on April 29, Moonilal said, “It’s sad that colleagues have ingested the PNM’s poison and then vomit PNM propaganda.”

Earlier, when speaking to Newsday, Moonilal also criticised the timing and content of Rambally’s statement that was published in media on April 28.

“I thought it was most unfortunate that such an article would be written and published on the day that the party celebrated a glorious 35th anniversary of service to this country.”

He said the UNC in government had a remarkable record of success and achievement, rooted in the principles of the party and its leader, Persad-Bissessar.

“Our record is unparalleled in terms of reform to the law, to the parliamentary process, the social policy, the infrastructure development, education, health, housing… ”