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PM condemns Roodal’s rant
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has referred to comments made by Opposition Member of Parliament Dr Roodal Moonilal as a “dog whistle” in a bid to cause racial divide in this country.
The PM made the comment yesterday as he strongly condemed Moonilal’s claims his Government was behind the arrest and charges laid against former attorney general Anand Ramlogan.
Rowley noted the police investigation which led to Ramlogan’s arrest on Tuesday commenced under the last government and emphasised that it was under the guidance of an independent Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that Ramlogan was subsequently charged.
“Nobody from this Government is involved in these investigations…driving it or encouraging it. This is an investigation that started under the last government and its now reached the point of an arrest of one individual,” Rowley said during a press conference at the Piarco International Airport before his departure for the United States.
“In the first instance, Dr Moonilal made a comment in response to that and the comment is what I called a dog whistle. Meaning it is a sound to those who will hear it…with its content being clear…without being spelt out.”
Rowley said the statements made by Moonilal, who is no ordinary person and who holds the office of MP of T&T of long-standing and former leader of government business in the House, were divisive and would only serve to cause racial divide.
“I condemn that statement and I call upon the national wider community to take note and to condemn this and similar statements, because it is this kind of statement that creates division in a country like ours, the consquences of which can be quite grave if they go unchallenged,” Rowley said.
“He (Moonilal) is saying that this is oppression on the part of the Government, implying that it is an executive action of the cabinet and members of this party…not actions of an independent police, under the guidance of an independent DPP, where the requirements are for information to be converted into evidence and for evidence to be acted upon…under the guidance and watchful eye of the DPP, a place where the cabinet has no presence of involvement
“…he (Moonilal) is saying that this arrest of his former colleague is political action on the part of the Government and even further to say it is action against persons of East Indian background and he named a number of East Indians who had been through the court process and attaches this recent development to it and is indicating to the country that law enforcement in this country is based on your racial complexion.”
The PM added: “I condemn that and I call upon all the leaders of this country to condemn this development. It is my understanding, and I am sure that it is the understanding of the vast majority of the people of T&T, that in T&T the police does not take political instructions from political parties to prosecute or persecute any person.”
He said initially he had refused to comment on Ramlogan’s arrest as he did not want to fuel any impression the Government had “any horse in this race.”
Rowley also spoke of the matter where the state, through the Attorney General’s Office, had gone to court to complain about eight or ten people with respect to the handling of over $400 million dollars at the Estate Management & Business Development Company Limited (EMBD). One of the names mentioned was Moonilal’s, he said, and a warrant was subsequently issued to Moonilal with allegations of misconduct in public office in relation to the matter.
Rowley suggested Moonilal was using the development involving Ramlogan’s arrest to make a point that East Indians are now being targeted. He added that weeks before the general election in 2015, Moonilal made a comment that went unnoticed by the media, in which he (Moonilal) was warning the police not to allow itself to be used by persons for political means.
“Now that is an alarming statement coming from a Member of Parliament, a former minister of government, who has questions to answer about the handling of public monies and for which information was provided for a court in T&T and the court being so satisfied that allowed warrants to be issued on this matter,” Rowley said.
“I find it inexplicable that such a comment could have been made in this country by a person who still holds his post in the parliament and could have made a comment like that without challenge…today I challenge that statement.”
He added: “Worse, what Dr Moonilal was doing was protecting himself because as he named the persons who had been to court, Mr Panday, Dr Narayansingh, Chief Justice Sharma, he very carefully didn’t name himself, because while being currently under a warrant to account for matters under his own portfolio…so what he is doing is seeking to incite flavours of understanding of this development to make it appear as though the police is acting against East Indians under the direction of this Government and so therefore when he appears before the court under the warrants that now exist, he will be a victim of this same development.”
Rowley does not care about citizens, says Moonilal
In an immediate response to the Prime Minister’s statements yesterday, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said instead of dealing with the issues that are affecting the people of T&T and putting forward solutions, Rowley, “chose instead to sow the seeds of division in our nation.”
Moonilal said it was very disturbing to hear Rowley suggest that he has personal information on possible further charges to be laid by the police in the Ramlogan matter and to insinuate that other members of the Opposition will be in court soon.
“How does the Prime Minister know this?” Moonilal asked.
“We ask whether there is collusion between elements of the police service and the political directorate? Our democratic principles are being eroded when the PM can openly allude to future police action and suggest personal and intimate knowledge of police investigations.”
He condemned Rowley’s latest attempt at misleading the population and distracting from the issues that matter.
“It is worth reminding the public that it was the PM, the head of Cabinet and head of the National Security Council, who has repeatedly criticised the T&T Police Service, choosing to blame law enforcement for his Government’s inability to deal with spiralling crime.”
Moonilal emphasised that Rowley does not care about the people of this country.
“As he leaves on yet another trip, the matter of the ferry debacle remains unresolved and the re-appointment of Robert Le Hunte to the position of Public Utilities Minister, which is unacceptable,” he said.
“The Opposition maintains that Mr Le Hunte’s firing and re-appointment is a breach of the Constitution and laws of T&T, and the Prime Minister has to accept responsibility for bringing the two highest offices in our land into disrepute.”
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