Ragbir: I voted with my conscience and put country first

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

MP For Cumuto/Manzanilla Dr Rai Ragbir – FILE PHOTO

Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir told Newsday on Friday evening that he put the country’s interest, and his conscience, first when he broke rank with Opposition colleagues to vote in favour of Government’s Whistleblower Protection Bill 2024 in the House of Representatives.

Stopping to speak with Newsday as he headed to his car, after the sitting had concluded for the day, Ragbir was asked for an explanation.

“Well, basically I made a decision having looked at the Whistleblower Bill. I think it is very important at this point in time that we look at the country, we look at crime, and we have to do so collectively.” He lamented that certain individuals have not been held accountable for their actions or omissions.

“Me personally, I love my party. I love my political leader (Kamla Persad-Bissessar).” Ragbir said while he had not won a post on the UNC national executive, activity of the party’s internal elections had been a win for the country. Newsday asked if he was getting “cut eye” from colleagues after voting for the Government.

He replied, “That is okay. I stand tall, with who I am, my faith. I know it will happen. But we need to stand for country first and that is where my stand is.”

Asked if his stance was linked to fallout from the UNC elections, he said, “No, not at all. I have always been there for my party. I am a loyalist. I was deputy political leader in 2015. In 2017 I was made treasurer for two years. Subsequent to that I have always been there providing medical services and what not, for the party at every forum.”

Told that Persad-Bissessar had said he was PNM, Ragbir said, “Anybody has a right to say you’re a PNM, but my colleagues on the Government benches, I depend on them so my constituents of Cumuto/Manzanilla can benefit just like any other constituency. We have to work together. We have to get a better TT and we all have to do that collectively.”

Asked about his political future, he said, “I just take it one day at a time. Life is short. As a practising physician, I see people with little and also with everything. Tomorrow is a different day. You are not going to know if you are going to be here tomorrow. That is how I live my life.”

In a subsequent statement, Ragbir said the bill will benefit the country.

He said he understands some of his colleagues would be upset at his vote, but said no party caucus was ever held on the bill and lamented that in the past, the views of MPs were not sought.

He said he would have been greatly troubled to simply vote along party lines on this bill, because he had received numerous complaints about operations of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, yet when he told the complainer to make reports to the police, they did not do so out of fear of victimisation.

“No doubt in an effort to deflect from her own absence from Parliament, and failure to lead a competent process of considering this bill, the leader of the opposition, or some of her acolytes, will simply shout that I no longer support the UNC.

“I reaffirm that I remain loyal to the members of the UNC because this legislation is also in their interest,” the release said.