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I didn’t know it was for PP

Manwarren on ‘Power to the People’ ad
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne is embraced by radio talk show host Isha Wells outside the Parliament on Monday. Wells was part of a group of people calling for a hold on the controversial runoff poll proposal in the Constitution (Amendment) Bill. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

Actor and musician Wendell Manwarren says he was shocked when he heard the “Power to the People” ad he voiced being used to promote the Government’s now controversial proposals for constitution reform and the runoff poll in particular. The Constitution (Amendment Bill) 2014 was passed early yesterday after a marathon session in the House which started on Monday.

The bill was passed despite calls from the public and even coalition partner Congress of the People for a hold on voting on it so that there could be public consultation, especially over the highly-contentious runoff polls, since this was not part of the discussion during the Constitution Reform Commission’s (CRC) initial talks with the public.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had last week announced the runoff proposal alongside two-term limits for PMs, right of recall for non-performing MPs and fixed dates for elections. She went ahead with those plans on Monday despite public calls for a hold on the bill and for consultation. The ad, which features Manwarren’s voice prominently over a jingle, gained significant airplay last week as the debate raged. 

Some people who recognised his voice took to his Facebook page to express their displeasure that he would have contributed to a public relations campaign pushing the legislation, since his band, 3Canal, usually sings against oppression by the leadership. But when the T&T Guardian contacted him on the issue, Manwarren admitted he was taken aback when he heard the ad, since he was unaware it was going to be used in such a fashion.

“When I heard the ad play on air, I was like, ‘Oh ho! That’s what that’s for,’” he said. Manwarren said he was approached to voice the ad about three weeks ago but was not given any specifics. He said it was a job, so he proceeded to do the voicing. “I really thought the ad was for a NGO, because I saw the address,” he explained. “I did not know it was a government ad.”