Moonilal: UNC kept Government on the ropes in 2021

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Dr Roodal Moonilal –

OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said despite restrictions on expression owing to covid19, the Opposition had succeeded in keeping Government on a back foot in holding them to account, giving Newsday his views on Sunday on how the UNC had performed over the past year both in and out of Parliament. He reckoned the Government could collapse within 12 months.

Moonilal said 2021 had been “an extremely challenging year” for political activism and parties in the Caribbean but the UNC had successfully chartered those very difficult waters.

“We have been able to keep the Government on a back foot, even on the ropes in some of these matters, notwithstanding the illegal and unconstitutional smothering of the democratic system, the oppression of the people, the restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly.

“The UNC has had a record year in terms of our advocacy for our rights and equality and transparency, particularly as it relates to the management of covid, matters of corruption, matters of crime and so on. The UNC has been on the vanguard to defend the Constitution and the rights of citizens.”

He listed the UNC’s exposes on the alleged mismanagement of the pandemic, the débâcle of the Police Service Commission and Commissioner of Police and allegedly poor governance in several ministries.

“We have also exposed the Prime Minister and others in issues of acquisition and procurement of private property in Tobago.”

Moonilal boasted of the UNC’s virtual meetings on Mondays and two news briefings weekly, all advocating for justice and against discrimination.

“It’s been a very successful year for the UNC notwithstanding the limitations the Government has imposed under the guise of managing the pandemic.”

He said next year, the UNC must keep up the pressure, in demanding the Government provide complete transparency, accountability and justice.

“The Government is unravelling at a very, very quick pace.

“The matters involving the Attorney General now and the allegations of interference in what is clearly a police and criminal matter are very serious allegations.

“The ongoing saga in Tobago is where the new THA is unearthing an avalanche of corruption issues.”

Moonilal alleged a continuing mismanagement of the covid19 crisis.

“The Government had begun its vaccination programme too late, it was completely ill-conceived and today they can’t get the medication to manage the covid disease. Next year the UNC will intensify its actions to hold the Government to account to expose the injustices and inequalities in the society.”

Moonilal described the NFM’s recent rise in the price of flour as “a criminal act.”

He said, “I do not give this Government just 12 months. I think it has entered the final year in office. It’s a race between covid and the end of the PNM.

“Given the draconian measures Dr Rowley has announced such as mandatory vaccination and his management of the economy, we believe he should return to the polls for a mandate.

“I think in the aftermath of the calamity in Tobago (that is, THA elections), I think the last thing in the world he would want is a general election.”

He said the UNC had been the first to raise covid19 in Parliament and the first to distribute masks, with UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar being the first to write abroad to seek vaccines.

By contrast he said the Government had initially just asked people to simply cover their face with a rag known as a saphi.

Asked about the Government’s mandatory vaccination plan, Moonilal said such a measure had no WHO approval but was just a knee-jerk reaction.

He said instead the Government should have built public confidence in the vaccine, advising, “It is not a medical and scientific issue but a social and cultural one.”

He said the country needed a national mobilisation strategy, including perhaps paying a $200 vaccination incentive.

Moonilal insisted on the public’s right to know which vaccines were weakest, to even let people start over their vaccination regime with more efficacious brands.

“You have to think outside the box. The Government must come clean.”

Moonilal offered his condolences on the deaths of two calypsonians – Kenwrick “Kenny J” Joseph and Clifton “Mighty Bomber” Ryan.

“Today I want to extend condolences to the family, friends and fans of Kenny J, a very proud son of Barrackpore which is in our constituency. He has been a great entertainer and a personal friend of mine for many years. I am deeply, deeply saddened by his passing.

“I understand the calypsonian Scrunter (Irwin Reyes Johnson) is also hospitalised. We want to wish him a recovery as well.

“We have also lost Bomber another calypsonian.”