UNC members rally around Persad-Bissessar

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

UNC members have closed ranks behind their political leader amid the firestorm of public sentiment over her slave master comment to Housing Minister Camille Robinson-Regis which was the response to Robinson-Regis’ apparent mocking of the UNC leader’s full name.

Speaking at the UNC’s Virtual Report meeting on Monday, the UNC members came to their leader’s defence.

Senator Anil Roberts said the PNM was using race talk to stimulate an emotional reaction in its followers. He said the PM’s Facebook post featuring a clip from the mini-series Roots was an appeal to emotion.

“Rather than calming the flames and emotions, in comes the PM to throw flames on the fire by posting this great programme which highlighted the evils of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

Roberts also disparagingly commented on other figures who have spoken out on Persad-Bissessar’s remarks including Marla Dukharan (who set up on online petition calling for the UNC leader to resign) and former UNC ministers Devant Maharaj and Ramona Ramdial.

Opposition MP David Lee said the remarks made by Robinson-Regis gave the impression that it was OK to ridicule names. He said he offered his full support to Persad-Bissesar

“My mother’s name is Rose Lee, and her middle name on her birth paper is Fooklyn and she was ridiculed growing up,” Lee said.

“That is our heritage, her parents gave her that name, and it means first girl child. My uncle, who was the first boy child for my grandparents, his middle name was Fookloy, and he was ridiculed in school. We are Chinese, we are proud of our names just as Persad-Bissessar is proud of her middle name Susheila.”

Lee said he rejects any attempt to tarnish his political leader.

Opposition Senator Jearlean John said when Robinson-Regis stressed Persad-Bissessar’s middle name, she wanted to make her feel ashamed of her name. She then said that the UNC was an all-inclusive political party where people of all race and creed are welcomed with open arms.