Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley shows a document which he read from during the PNM’s meeting on Thursday night at the Barataria Community Complex. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB –
The Prime Minister on Thursday refuted claims by the opposition leader that members of the opposition recently enthralled in a now discontinued corruption case surrounding the Piarco Airport were persecuted by the PNM, as lies.
“She has the gall to talk about good news and say that PNM was behind people being charged and it is persecuting people. Kamla Persad Bissessar, yuh lie,” Keith Rowley said.
Rowley, speaking to citizens in Barataria on Thursday night, said that Persad Bissessar “knew what she was doing” when on Monday at a political forum said the PNM was behind the arrests and charges. He warned that believing her could not only lead to more corruption but could affect similar court cases with the same people currently ongoing abroad.
“When they can get up and tell the world that the complaints of the state are political prosecution and persons should not be held accountable, I am asking the country to reject it. It creates the environment to breed more corruption especially when there is a tinge of racism. When police hold a person people could say it is because I am a UNC or I am an Indian. If you could raise that as a defense, where does the corruption end?”
At the UNC’s Monday Night Forum Persad-Bissessar said the collapsed case was a part of the PNM’s playbook to hold on to political power by tarnishing the image of the UNC and its members. Former Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday, his wife Oma, former minister Carlos John and businessman Ishwar Galbaransingh were all called in the Piarco Airport corruption scandal.
Rowley, using the a Tobagonian adage said that the UNC has a bad habit of holding close people with skeletons in their closet. Rowley brought up questions being put to him about the US Department of State’s rating of TT and putting it on a tier 2 watch list. The watch list indicated that public officials, including members of parliament may compliant or involved in human trafficking, thus slowing the prosecution process and resulting in TT having no convictions in human trafficking matters.
He raised PNM’s issues with corruption, going as far back as the Dansam Dansook case which led to two then sitting PNM ministers having to resign, and the Marlene Mc Donald case where she too, had to give up ministerial posts because of her suspicion and charges of corruption.
He said that people enthralled in court cases or suspected in illegal activities had no place in the PNM party but the UNC had a bad habit of holding close people with skeletons in their closets, reminding the crowd of section 34, the then Attorney General Annand Ramlogan’s involvement in the reversal of the extradition of Jack Warner and the LifeSport scandals.
“If alligator come out a river and tell you water dirty no doubt am,” he said. “When the leader is faced in front the whole country with members of your cabinet pointing to members of your selection who you put inside the parliament; and that now stains the country because the Americans have put in a report that in TT there are people in the parliament who either have been or are involved in human trafficking, the shame would make you say anything.”
“If I were leading that party no one like that would be a dog catcher much less a parliamentarian,” he said. “We operate to a different standard. You think anyone could be on a million dollar bail and sit in parliament behind me?”
“I was in the parliament when they contrived section 34 and the single purpose of it being proclaimed was to give the opportunity for people well known to Kamla Persad-Bissessar not appear in court.”
“Tobagonians went and embarrassed themselves and voted for Duke and the UNC started jumping up and down. We grow up knowing about foot in mouth, Duke have foot all about.”
“Notice the embrace,” he added. “The more despicable you are the tighter you are hugged by Kamla Persad-Bissessar – but again we learn in school that birds of a feather flock together.”