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Ramdhar: No one can accuse me of wrongdoing in public or private life

Published: 
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Prakash Ramadhar

Q: Why should COP members vote for you as political leader of the party?
A: I have proven what it takes to be a leader in the most difficult of times, inheriting a very bad equation in 2011. I have improved on that equation. I extended the influence of the COP within the Cabinet, where major decisions are made about the country, in that every elected member of the COP now sit in Cabinet.

 

My leadership has shown what is necessary for T&T where leaders need not be shouters but are able to overcome difficulties with diplomacy and fortitude. Where leadership must show forbearance and understanding, where no one feels cheated. The COP deserves a leader whose character and integrity is beyond reproach and who has proven himself to act with straightforwardness, honesty and strength in all my dealings. 

 

The record is there for all who want to see it. No one can point their fingers at me and accuse me of any wrongdoing in my public and, I dare say, private life. I challenge anyone to prove me otherwise.

 

 

Has the COP lost credibility as the third political force in T&T’s politics?
If the truth is told, we have not lost credibility. We have been the subject of vicious attacks by people who wished to destroy us, but I do not accept the definition what they say about us.

 

 

Do you honestly believe the COP is a subsidiary of the United National Congress?
Absolutely not. And I could point to several instances where I have criticised our partners very strongly and have been able to maintain our separate identity and points of view on many issues.

 

 

Two of the candidates vying for this position are claiming that the Prime Minister disrespected the COP for her position on Anil Roberts. Should they resign from the PP Government as a matter of principle?
That is a matter...and it is a very open question for them to answer. I am hearing demands on her to do things that the party itself could not do…to expel him from the COP.
 

 

The COP has no plums to offer anyone, why should you want to lead the party in such a scenario?
The plums that we offer may not be material but would lead to a far better society where corruption is mitigated by the recently passed procurement legislation in the Upper House, where the problems of the old Constitution will be repaired by the new one, where the environment would be protected, where there is greater equality for all citizens, where there is a stable economy, where there is meaningful employment and stronger institutions of the State.

 

 

What’s your immediate priority if you should win the June 29 polls?
To ensure that all the secretaries of the party do their job satisfactorily, and to ensure that the rules of engagement with our partners, which is the responsibility of the chairman, are properly ventilated.

 

Seepersad-Bachan: I’m resolute

Why should COP members vote for you as political leader of the party?
Why should they vote for me? Because I am resolute in my position which at all times adhered to the COP’s philosophies, principles and values.  They ( COP members) know that I can compromise and I will in the country’s interest. I will ensure that all our representatives—MPS, councillors, appointees to state boards—adhere to our political code of conduct and the principles declared in our People’s Charter which include objectivity, integrity, accountability, meritocracy, openness, honesty and dialogue.

 

 

Has the COP lost its credibility as the country’s third political force?
A spirit never fades away. Who is this third force? An example is the 149,000 we got in 2007 evenly distributed throughout T&T, a diverse group of people comprising different ethnicities, religious groupings, character, age, cultures, and gender as well. They believe in nationhood and the politics of patriotism which they know is indispensable to governance in the 21st century.

 

 

Do you honestly believe the COP is a subsidiary of the United National Congress?
There is a perception by our supporters and members that we have become a subsidiary of the UNC. The new political leader, by his or her actions, must change the direction of this party to remove this perception, and this is why we must reestablish our identity making us distinguishable from any other party. Strong identities of individual parties make a strong coalition government.

 

 

Two of the candidates vying for this position are claiming the COP was disrespected by the Prime Minister’s position on Anil Roberts. Should they remain in the PP Cabinet?
Before asking the question, we must ask whether it can be solved. The issue of disrespect of partners within the partnership can be solved by new terms of engagement. The Fyzabad Accord was never fleshed out to provide the subsidiary agreements or to facilitate clear and definitive mechanisms for engagements, giving rise to disrespect between partners. 

 

 

The COP has no plums to offer anyone, why should you want to lead the party in such a scenario?
Having plums to offer is not the COP way, it is not about allocating resources to supporters of the party, and we will continue to encourage competitive, fair, and merit-based systems for the allocation of state resources. This will ensure fair and equitable distribution of our resources. 

 

 

What’s your immediate priority if you should win the June 29 polls?
There can be no government in which the COP could be a part of without proportional representation, campaign finance reform, and the allocation of seats for the party which must be negotiated before the next general election in 2015. In terms of the COP, we are going to re-establish the ground-up approach, and our policy teams must also be re-established to initiate dialogue with civil society and other interest groups if we are going to represent the very much alive and vibrant third force.