PM tells voters: You’re responsible for who you put in office

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Keith Rowley –

THE Prime minister wants the voting public to take responsibility for the candidates they vote for in the local and general elections.

Dr Rowley gave his latest public endorsement of PNM’s local government candidates on Saturday, ahead of Monday’s by-elections in the UNC-controlled Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC) and Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC).

Speaking at the Fifth Company Baptist Primary School, Moruga, he said a vote for the UNC would not help the government advance its promise of local government reform.

“You have a second chance. Most corporations don’t have a second chance for anybody but here in Lengua/Indian Walk, you have a second chance to do right.

PNM’s Anderson Nanan and UNC’s Sarah Sookdeo will challenge Quinam/Morne Diablo, while Autly Granthume (PNM), Nicole Gopaul (UNC) and independent candidate Peterson Morales will contest the Lengua/Indian Walk district.

The districts have a combined population of nearly 17,000 combined eligible voters split almost equally.

The PM visited both districts hours apart on Saturday, addressing constituents and endorsing the PNM’s candidates.

“Mr Granthume,” Rowley said, “you and your father have a habit of cutting it close to the hedge. No more of that nonsense. We want a resounding victory that not even the UNC will question it.

“Encourage them (voters) to take some responsibility. We are appealing to the rest of the population to take responsibility.”

He said if the PNM doesn’t win the two seats “nothing will change in local government in Princes Town or Penal/Debe.”

Rowley accused the opposition-controlled municipalities of refusing to use their allocated funds but rather complaining about a lack of resources to sell a narrative of “discrimination, government incompetence and corruption.

“The only campaign they have is to bad-name the PNM and lie about the country.”

He said, unlike the Opposition, the PNM campaigns “on our policies, our programmes and our vision and our people and we want you to judge us by our record.

“Sixty-four years, and we ain’t tired yet, 64 years and we now start to develop the country, 64 years and we still the PNM.

“And when I ask you – regardless if you vote for the PNM before or not – when I ask you this time to go out and vote for the PNM candidate, I’m telling you immediately that there are benefits to be had, because your corporations will be strengthened.”

He said there was nothing to be gained by adding another UNC councillor to the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (or) the Princes Town Corporation because they “are all cut from the same cloth and will do the same thing.”

Rowley, who had earlier visited Morne Diablo, told supporters in Moruga he found that people in Morne Diablo could not get water for 15 years. Not because water wasn’t available, he said, but for a group he claimed had hijacked the water supply in the area, and others around the country, to sell it back using trucks.

“Where was (Morne Diablo’s) representation when they were being so raped? And that is what representation does. “You need somebody of quality of sincerity to stand up for you. Otherwise you will be a permanent victim, and victimhood is not a badge of honour.

In his earlier address in Quinam/Morne Diablo, the PM said he too had been victim to a “business model” to disrupt the water supply.

He said he experienced questionable water service from the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) at the PM’s residence in St Ann’s, as Morne Diablo had for years.

“I was shocked a little while ago, that in the constituency in Siparia…that something as heinous as capturing of the water supply by a small group of people – business-oriented people – who got their own resources…they sold water to victims in Penal/Morne Diablo.

“It struck me that you were not the only victims of that business model. Don’t feel too bad because the Prime Minister of TT experienced the same thing, too.

“You have to ask yourselves: how could that business model have been allowed to exist for 15 years?”