Opposition Leader derides PM’s account of SSA audit: ‘Dead-cat tactic’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. – PHOTO COURTESY OFFICE OF THE PARLIAMENT

The Opposition Leader says political strategists have labelled Dr Keith Rowley’s statements in Parliament about the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) findings a “dead-cat” tactic.

“The dead-cat tactic involves a politician deliberately making a shocking announcement to divert media attention away from problems or failures in other areas of society,” Kamla Persad-Bissessar said in a statement on July 5.

“Fascinatingly, no members of the cult referenced by him have been criminally charged for plotting the alleged coup to date.”

She continued to criticise the Prime Minister, saying he made allegations under parliamentary privilege to prevent any legal action from being taken for defamation, much like the “E-mailgate lies.” The E-mailgate saga involved Rowley publicly reading out in Parliament purported e-mails which alleged certain Opposition figures were conspiring to murder certain journalists, although later some of the e-mail addresses cited in the purported e-mails were found to be non-existent.

Parliamentary privilege protects the free speech, within their respective chamber, for MPs and senators from libel lawsuits.

She said on July 3, Rowley entertained the nation with a story about a religious cult operating within the SSA.

“He claimed this cult had been stockpiling weapons to affect a coup and replace his Government,” she said. “This story sounds remarkably familiar: a religious group stockpiling ammunition to overthrow the elected government. Did they plan to do it later this July as well? On July 27?”

She was referring to the July 27, 1990 attempted coup by the Jamaat al Muslimeen.

Persad-Bissessar accused Rowley and his public-relations team of doing more than just “spinning” a distraction.

She then referred to steel and energy Naveen Jindal who recently visited TT and has been touted in some quarters as a possible buyer for the mothballed refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre, all while facing corruption charges in India.

“They are orchestrating a diversion to turn attention away from critical issues such as corruption-accused Jindal, crime, property taxes, forex shortages, joblessness, increasing utility rates, high food prices, poverty, and other negative issues plaguing the country.”

She repeatedly threw jabs at Rowley, saying he was drowning in self-made failure and hopelessness and had no idea how to run the country.

“Rowley must stop embarrassing himself and making the Prime Minister’s office a laughing stock,” Persad-Bissessar added.

She suggested he should instead spend his time working to improve people’s lives.