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Rowley on 50th anniversary celebrations: No unity, just lavish PR stunt
In the aftermath of the country’s celebrations marking the nation’s golden jubilee, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday slammed the Government, branding the affair as a lavish public relations stunt. And instead of bringing the people together and even the Government and Opposition together to mark the event, it catered only to a selected few, those in political office, Rowley added. He was the feature speaker at a conference held by the Arouca/Maloney constituency at the Maloney Multipurpose Complex.
The Opposition leader said the Government created a programme for the jubilee celebrations which failed to harness national unity and instead suited the ego the Prime Minister and Government ministers. “Out of the Ministry of Multiculturalism came a document which purported to be a document of celebrations from the Government ... it had nothing to do with any national mobilisation of any oneness of a people or any involvement of anybody else but the Government and its friends.
“That document was so repulsive, it was so offensive that it was the subject of great scorn and indignation on the part of some in this country. It was a programme that was incompetent and demonstrated that the Government didn’t know what it was to celebrate a golden jubilee,” Rowley said. He also accused the Government of handing a blank cheque to the Minister of Planning of Development just before the celebrations.
“This was to spend money left, right and centre ... making millionaires here and millionaires there. And now that it is over nothing was done that will be memorable to say this is what the Government and the people did together to celebrate our golden anniversary. The Government was incompetent and malicious and the Government felt that it could convert it into a public relations political gimmick,” Rowley added.
He said although the millions were spent on celebrations, the people were not mobilised and the Government failed to bring the country together. “We expected the Government to take the lead and bring the country together, absolutely no overtures and they brought nobody in from outside of the Government. What they ended up with ... and the hundreds of millions they spent on ... it was a Government matter and for the Cabinet to have a general good time and play themselves.
That is how they saw the golden jubilee,” Rowley said. Local athletes who succeeded in the London Olympics were also subjected to political games by the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration, the Opposition leader said. “The same politicians who couldn’t care less about the centenary of Dr Eric Williams, the same politicians who converted the golden jubilee into politicising became the crass. \
So crass were they that when they came to the airport it wasn’t for the Olympians who were presented and celebrated. They extracted the gold medalist and in the most base way presented him and embarrassed the rest of the team ... that is UNC style.”
As the PNM moves to complete a third year in Opposition, Rowley said the party had appreciated the necessary changes to become stronger. He also dismissed talk that there was division within his own party. “There are those who are saying the PNM is divisive.
They had absolutely nothing to say when the Government failed to celebrate Dr Eric Williams’ centenary because they are afraid of the Government ... they are afraid that the Government would deny them their food, deny them their favours or deny them their contracts. Rather than stand on principles and values and be people of integrity they stay silent when the Government does wrong and underperform.”
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