Last update: 06-Dec-2013 1:00 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Toppin, Cudjoe in ‘gyul’ fight
A Tobago “gyul” fight erupted in yesterday’s Senate budget debate, via the sparring contributions of PNM Senator Shamfa Cudjoe and Government MP Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, who dubbed Cudjoe a “Bethel badjohn.” Alleyne-Toppin also claimed “Caucasian people” in Tobago had told her Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Orville London “didn’t like Caucasian people” and that, like the PNM’s “Calcutta ship” remark, was hampering Tobago’s tourism sector.
Cudjoe, in her budget contribution, accused the Government of starving Tobago of funds. She said Tobago was being punished with the budget funding and the THA was being given a “time-out.” She said Tobago would not engage in “prostitution via cheque” to trade its dignity for a “couple dollars.” “Tobago is facing the same issues it faced three years ago.” she added.
Cudjoe said Tobago was having a teenage pregnancy problem and received insufficient funding even for that. She claimed there was no Cepep funding and the people who braided her hair and did her nails usually had Cepep jobs. Cudjoe said if the Government was serious about Trinidad and Tobago walking side-by-side, “we should share the benefits as well as the burdens” and the State should allow Tobago to borrow on the international market.
She lauded Finance Minister Larry Howai’s leadership in handling the Milshirv issue. She said Howai promised to probe her allegations of corruption on the Port-of-Spain port. She said the only way goods came to Tobago was by people. “Know somebody, grease somebody hand, pay for somebody staff party,” she said.
Cudjoe said while Tobago did not have a big murder problem, burglaries and break-ins were on the rise. She said when she went away in August she returned to find her house broken into and vandalised and her jewelry stolen. Alleyne-Toppin, replying in a fighting mood, said she had taught Cudjoe and the latter, like PP Tobago West MP Delmon Baker, was a “Bethel badjohn.”
Alleyne-Toppin said Tobago received more funding under the PP than it ever had under the PNM and former prime minister Patrick Manning often said he “didn’t know what Tobago wanted.” Saying Government must get quality for money, she added: “It’s like pouring money into a bottomless pit. When we give funding we must know what’s done with it. This PNM-led THA is a runaway horse and we have to rein in that horse.”
Alleyne-Toppin said Tobagonians had painfully learnt more about the PNM after the January THA elections, since, she said, about 1,700 people, but closer to 5,000, were sent home between last week and yesterday from Hilton Sandy’s THA division. She said she had dismissal letters to prove it. Not only had Caucasian people told her London “didn’t like” Caucasians, she said, but the foreign workers who had built the Scarborough Hospital had also told her: “They don’t like us here.”
Alleyne-Toppin said the situation was akin to the Calcutta ship remarks made by PNMites during the January election and if people felt they were not liked in Tobago they would not go there. She said she ran a guesthouse and the Calcutta ship remark had cost her business. “So let’s stop talking, as we say in Tobago, ‘blimblimitis’,” she added of Cudjoe’s accusations. She said since Tobago Cepep was controlled by the THA, the only way to get such a job was to support the PNM.
“In Tobago URP means ‘UR PNM’ and Cepep means ‘Continuous Employment Painting Pebbles,” she added. Alleyne-Toppin said the THA had adopted the PNM perspective, “nepotism, cronyism, tribalism, kickbacks and sweetheart deals.” She said the THA did not recognise the Social Welfare Board and with Tobago having 15 to 20 amputations a month, people had to beg for assistance under the table to get wheelchairs.
Noting the PNM rejected internal self-government for Tobago and disbanded the Tobago Ministry in the 1970s, Alleyne-Toppin was scornful of PNM founder Eric Williams’ image as the father of the nation. She said: ”How can you cut off some of the children? That reminds me of some of the fathers of today.”
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