Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Rowley buffs Sando East for not supporting more PNM events
People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley has chided constituents of San Fernando East for blanking activities hosted by the party’s executive. “You are the problem,” Rowley said as he took his campaign for re-election to former leader Patrick Manning’s constituency at the Pleasantville Community Centre on Monday night.
Rowley, who is seeking to retain his leadership position in the party’s May 18 elections, made the comment as he sought to dispel fears within the constituency of victimisation because they support Manning. “I would have been very surprised if the people of San Fernando East did not solidly support Patrick Manning,” said Rowley, who has had strained relations with Manning since he challenged Manning for PNM leadership in 1996.
Manning was not at the meeting.
Rowley hailed Manning as an icon, saying that at the appropriate time Manning’s service to country, party and people will be appropriately acknowledged. He said San Fernando East has been and remains the frontline PNM constituency. “For those who might want to entertain thoughts of San Fernando East not being treated in any consideration other than that, let me just express my disappointment to San Fernando East.”
However, the political leader complained that when the PNM family day came to Skinner Park: “San Fernando East, our frontline, number one constituency, did not take an active part in that and I was very disappointed.” He noted that in 2010, the constituency also took an official position not to take part in the national executive elections. He also recalled that at the opening of the south regional office, a representative from the constituency was supposed to speak, but the representative blanked the event.
“So who come here to talk about who victimising who and who spiting who? You are the problem.” However, Rowley said he was happy that the constituency leadership was encouraging constituents to participate in the forthcoming elections.
Petrotrin PR on spill
Touching on the major oil spill in the south-western peninsula, Rowley described it as the worst disaster since Hurricane Flora. Rowley, who has received Petrotrin reports about the oil spills from the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, said by 8 am on December 17, Petrotrin had a document confirming that 7,453 barrels of oil were in the Gulf of Paria.
Accusing Petrotrin of a cover-up, he said: “Petrotrin is paying millions of dollars for public relations in the papers to tell you about an oil leak when the worst national disaster since Hurricane Flora took place in the south-western peninsula.” He noted that while seeking to do PR, Petrotrin did not challenge the $20 million fine imposed on it by the Environmental Management Authority for four violations stemming from the oil spill.
“It is the same foolishness that happened with Calder Hart and Udecott when I had to take a position with respect to Tarouba Stadium and other things because of a simple matter, when a Cabinet ought not to encourage a state enterprise to damage the interests of T&T,” Rowley said. However, he said at least Udecott did not poison anybody or threaten to burn down half of La Brea and nobody was begging for compensation.
He also criticised Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for not meeting with OWTU president general Ancel Roget, who wanted to also give her a copy of the documents.