Last update: 12-Dec-2013 12:41 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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United National Congress (UNC) candidate for the St Joseph by-election, Ian Alleyne, took the drama of Crime Watch with him as he campaigned in the constituency yesterday. Minutes after Alleyne and his team arrived at Quarry Drive, Champs Fleurs, a member of Alleyne’s group punched a resident repeatedly through a car window after the resident made a comment while driving past the UNC supporters. This was how a walkabout in the area began as cameras rolled.
Alleyne stood about two metres away, wearing a long-sleeved shirt, yellow tie and white-and-gold sunglasses. The brief but intense altercation seemed to be easily forgotten by UNC supporters, as about a minute after the first punch, the resident drove away and Alleyne and his team started speaking to other residents about their issues. The resident was seen at a house later on during the walkabout, but did not speak to the media.
The UNC walkabout was not the only one plagued with incidents of physical and verbal abuse yesterday as the campaign for the November 4 by-election heated up in the wake of Monday’s local government elections. Independent Liberal party (ILP) candidate Om Lalla’s supporters also had to deal with minor incidents as they crossed paths with opposing party supporters during their walkabout.
Yesterday, Alleyne was accompanied by Environment Minister Ganga Singh. Among complaints made to Alleyne was the fact that residents on Quarry Drive sometimes only received water once every two weeks, and had to use a galvanise-covered well for their daily needs. No matter what issue was related to Alleyne, his response was the same—he called a member of his team and promised residents they would receive help from the next day.
Upper Quarry Drive resident Michelle Williams cried on Alleyne’s shoulder as she told him of her needs. “I need a housing grant, my house falling apart,” Rodriguez said. Alleyne responded that someone would contact her today. When Rodriguez said she needed a food card and for roads to be fixed, he made her the same promise. “My son have nine O-levels and he doesn’t have a job,” Rodriguez said through tears.
Alleyne’s response was: “Let him come to the office with his CV tomorrow. I am sure we can find something for him.” Those who did not receive promises got UNC copybooks, T-shirts, buttons and mugs. In an interview during the walkabout, Alleyne said he was shocked by what he was hearing. “I am here to deliver. I am a performer. We already have projects in Mt Lambert, Bangladesh and Aranguez under my watch.” He said his arrangement with the Government was that he was only contesting the seat if he could deliver.
“So far I have been given all the resources so that I can deliver to the people,” he added. On the ILP campaign trail in Aranguez, San Juan, while the vast majority of residents welcomed leader Jack Warner and candidate Om Lalla, at least two openly displayed their objection during a walkabout. Almost one hour into the walk, a man closed his gate as the large group of ILP supporters approached his home on Mary Street. He was visibly angry.
ILP member Inshan Ishmael attempted to speak with the man, who started shouting: “Go from here. All of you are bandits and thieves, go from here! Get out!” The man then displayed a metal object in his hand, causing the members to move on. Warner and Lalla were quickly advised against approaching the man as they reached his house.
Minutes later, there was another incident in which two uniformed police officers were forced to direct traffic at an intersection in the area after a group of ILP supporters caused a traffic jam as they attempted to cross the road. An ILP member who was directing traffic was ordered to move by the officers. One officer with outstretched hands forced the man to the side of the road. This caused other supporters to shout “abuse.” The ILP member said to the officer: “Why you push me, you did not have to push me?”
The other officer who was seated on his motorcycle advised the member that he was talking to a uniformed officer. But other supporters again shouted “abuse.” Moments later, Ishmael cautioned supporters to desist and move on. The walk continued as Warner and Lalla reached the earlier group. Minutes later another man wearing a yellow UNC jersey stood in the middle of the road and demanded that ILP members and supporters “get out of here.” He shouted, “We don’t want you here, get out of here.”
There was no police present for this incident. The man repeated loudly: “You know my name? You know my name? They call me “worries.” He was cautioned by ILP supporters who were standing around him to be careful as he was swinging his hands claiming that “this is my space.” As Warner and Lalla approached, the supporters moved on with their walk. Later, Warner said the incidents were “democracy in action.”
Saying that he and Lalla shook “thousands of hands” as they walked the area, Warner described the walk as “ultra successful.” He said he did not expect such a positive reception from residents in the “UNC heartland” of Aranguez. Commenting on the ILP’s defeat in the Felicity district in Monday’s local government elections, Warner said if after the PP government gave residents there 4,000 food cards and 1,000 box drain contracts the party only won by 23 votes, the PP has a lot of work to do again.
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