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Minister on Rowley’s reception in Debe: It was well deserved (with CNC3 video)
“The severe tongue-lashing Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley received from Debe residents was well deserved.” Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj made this comment yesterday while responding to questions from reporters at the opening of the Cedros Breeding Unit, Bonasse. He said the people would not easily forgive or forget the discrimination and neglect they faced when the PNM was in power.
He added: “This was why some constituents tried to chase Rowley away from the area, calling him a hypocrite.” “The voice of the people is the voice of God, and his treatment was well deserved. When Dr Rowley and his cohorts were in political office, they had the power to make substantial changes to rural Trinidad but they chose not to.”
Saying it was not surprising Rowley faced rebuke, Maharaj said: “I am surprised that it was not worse.” He contended that the visit to Debe was part of Rowley’s “reimaging.” Maharaj added: “What you are seeing is part of the PNM strategy to reimage Rowley into something that he is not. We are seeing him appearing at Divali Nagar, a place he has never stepped foot into during the last ten years.
“He is appearing at Mastana Bahar and at the Debe market in an effort to capture at least 15 per cent of the traditional UNC base.” Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said it was sad Rowley had to face such rebukes. He said: “I took note of his surprise visit, after a long time, to Debe. Regrettably, I had no information of the visit beforehand, else I could have provided for his security and a pleasant welcome.
“Clearly Dr Rowley is taking the one man, one vote seriously because he is trying to meet everyone in the country. “The people of Penal/Debe have nightmarish memories of the PNM and Rowley, so they would not welcome him.” He added: “It was sad that constituents were rude but they were expressing their pent-up anger at the PNM. Dr Rowley should not take it personally.”
PNM Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon said Rowley was welcome everywhere in T&T. “Dr Rowley has been visiting communities throughout T&T. You can’t please everyone and there must have been one or two utterances that were highlighted. “The good is not always carried. But Mr Rowley is welcome everywhere,” she added.
Former president of the Penal/Debe Chamber Lincoln Ragbirsingh also said it was understandable the people of Debe reacted to Rowley in a negative way. He said: “I want to know how long it took him to find Debe. While I was chamber president he never visited the market.
“Is it only now he recognised that the people of Debe exist, and this is only because of the amount of development that is happening? We have our roads, bridges, highway and university.” However, current president of the chamber Sahid Hosein said the people should have shown Rowley more respect.
“You can disagree with people, but you do not have the right to treat people with gross disrespect,” he commented. He said there was a breakdown of state institutions and blatant disrespect for public office which must not be encouraged.
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