Last update: 20-Dec-2013 11:16 pm
Friday, December 20, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Prominent entertainer, motivational speaker and media owner Errol Fabien is sure he is contesting the St Joseph by-election on November 4. But he is still not certain whether he is facing the polls on behalf of a party or as an independent candidate. Fabien, 52, who admits he is swimming against the political tide, does not intend to spend a cent on his campaign which he says has already begun.
Q: Mr Fabien, your intention to fight the upcoming St Joseph by-election...is that a joke…a lark?
A: (At his Victoria Street, St Joseph, home, 5.17 am Friday) No. I am very serious about representing the people of St Joseph at the parliamentary level.
Exactly what got into you to embark on this big electoral venture?
Clevon, I have been on stage and the media since I have been 19 years old, “ponging” politicians, including MPs. I am getting older now, I want to get involved to help and I feel I could do it at that level.
There seems to be some doubt as to what ticket or party you would be going up on?
My options remain open, and the day may come when keeping options will close (chuckling). I am talking to constituents, and I know, Clevon, that just like in an accident everybody is right, in an election everybody going and win. People would tell you they going to vote for you, but on the day of the polls that is where the proof of the pudding is going to happen.
Why fight the by-election instead of taking on the general in 2015 alone?
My fighting the by-election is like a probation for an independent before the general comes, so people can decide if this independent could really do something for them or is it a waste of time putting an independent in the legislature.
Is it that you have made up your mind to run as an independent?
I have made up my mind that I am going and my options are still open.
Ok. Let’s play a little game here. On a scale of one to ten what is the chance of you going up for the PNM?
(In the porch of his home, where his two youngest sons and a grandson left their beds to join him shortly after the interview began.) This is a very difficult game (laughs) to play, so let me get straight to what you are asking me. The PNM hasn’t called me, and I don’t think they are interested in me going up for them. I don’t think I am interested in going up for the PNM.
So that is zero?
(Laughs again) That speaks for itself. Zero. The COP has spoken to me.
On a scale of one to ten?
(Chuckling aloud) I do not desire to go up for the UNC, and I do not want to be a government candidate. I have spoken to a senior person in the Partnership and expressed as much.
I have spoken to David Abdulah, and at this point I am still an independent.
Why you do not want to run on a government ticket?
My sense is that there is a lot of disenchantment with this Government, and in fact I went to a UNC stronghold in St Joseph—Bangladesh—and it is unlikely that people there are going to give a government candidate their vote. Clevon, as I said, I have knocked politicians over the years and as I mature over the years, I am realising more and more if I want to see the changes we are talking about...
(Pausing to greet his grandson 18-month-old Kadin, who sits on his lap) I need to get in there, and I want to get in there with a different voice.
As you must know, Mr Fabien, politics is not a nice game. What really motivated you to jump into the fray?
It is not. And that is why I want to get inside there, and sometimes when I listen to the parliamentary debates I feel there is some kind of war taking place in the Parliament. I feel it is a place for a voice that says, “Ok, guys, the people of St Joseph would like to get so and so,” without having an agenda to get back a vote or whatever it is, you know?
It might be naïve of me, it might be idealistic of me, but I feel very strongly that that sort of voice is needed. That parliamentarians should be speaking about the needs of their respective constituencies and not who is sleeping with whom.
Mr Fabien, apart from your celebrity status, why do you think you would make a good representative?
I think the visibility will assist me. What else do I bring to the table? I think the main thing I am going up for is a desire to effectively represent the people and want to take their needs to the Parliament. I feel I could get the councillors and the ministers to deliver to the people what they want, which is why they would put me into Parliament in the first place...to boldly represent them.
Mr Fabien, nobody wants to discourage you from your goal, but surely you must be aware that as an independent, you are swimming against the political tide?
Clevon, I am, but all my life I have swum against the tide. With Gayelle I am swimming against the tide and I could be a millionaire if I carry alcohol ads and foreign content to the station. I did not set out to make money as much as I wanted to make a difference.
Are you opposed to money?
(A big smile) I am not opposed to money. I want the station to be a place where it is an independent station and we do not belong to a party, a religion, a conglomerate... We belong to the people and we have paid the ultimate price for that. Gayelle is now downstairs my home here in St Joseph and this is an instance of my independence. I believe in the people, and anywhere you are on the planet you could turn on to Gayelle and that for me is making a difference.
Coming to think about it, you have been swimming against the tide in your personal life for a very long time...?
Yes. And finding a way not to drown. I am not afraid to swim against the tide in my recovery and that has not been an easy road, a road I have been on for 25 years, six months and counting.
Are you worried that your past may militate against you?
No. I don’t think so, and I have always made my past known to the public. I have never hidden it and as a matter of fact, I have always fought and still fighting to save others from facing the kind of past I have been through. As a matter of fact, it is an asset because I have demonstrated that I can turn around seemingly hopeless situations. I am not thinking only of staying drug-free, I use it to make positive difference to many institutions and people in T&T.
Fighting a national election is a costly affair. How do you propose to finance your campaign, Mr Fabien?
I have done something of a budget, and fighting a national election is not a costly affair, Clevon, it is a ridiculously expensive affair (loud laughter). Costly is too mild an adjective to use. But I have taken a position where I do not want to accept funding from businessmen per se, especially those who I feel are giving on one hand and the other hand outstretched for a return on their quote and unquote kindness.
You also know that political investing is the name of the game...
It is precisely because of that my options are open.
You spoke about preparing a preliminary budget to contest the election...
Yeah, so at this time I am looking to spend nothing on my campaign. I am looking to use social media, interviews with Clevon Raphael, interviews with many other media people, there is great cable and Internet penetrating in this constituency. I am online, a big following on Facebook and of course there is Gayelle.
There will be walkabouts but no noise from big music trucks, and I will be walking with a couple hundred people.
Mr Fabien, what’s the biggest problem facing St Joseph at this time?
The biggest problem here is the same throughout the country. The people’s needs and desires are not being discussed at parliamentary level, other things are being discussed.
Finally, Mr Fabien, have you began your campaign as yet?
I have pretty much. I have an appearance in the Sunday Guardian with Clevon Raphael (rocks back with laughter). I have started priming the pump, so to speak, of the social media. I am also walking, and the people are talking to me straightforward and that is giving me the confidence to push my agenda of St Joseph and my beloved country.
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