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Result of hard decisions made
Energy Minister Franklin Khan yesterday defended the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) administration during its first two years in office, as he acknowledged there was bound to be a popularity fall-out due to the trying economic times and hard decisions which had to be made as a result.
However, he believes the party has not lost the favour of its core supporters and denied it was a worrying development for the party.
Questioned on the findings of the T&T Guardian-commissioned Louis Bertrand poll that public support for the PNM had waned in the past two years, Khan said, “We are in an economic downturn, so obviously when you do not have the goods and services to share with the population there will some level of disappointment. But to say that the party has lost popularity, at its core level, I don’t think so.”
Asked to comment specifically on the findings of the poll which reflected that the majority of population was dissatisfied with how the PNM was running the country, Khan promised to respond shortly.
“The actual polls are being studied now in detail and the party will be making a statement shortly.”
Khan noted too that he only became aware of the poll yesterday morning.
“Polling and statistics are very scientific events and you have to understand what the poll is telling you, what questions are asked and you have to do a clinical analysis of what it is. A lot of the polls conducted in T&T are not truly scientific polls based on scientific sampling theory.”
A statistician himself, Khan added, “I did courses at the university and I understand what it is. I have to drill deeper down into the poll and understand what it is asking and understand the numbers that are churning out, whether it is statistically valid.”
Pressed to say if the PNM had conducted any polls of their own to rate their performance during the last two years, Khan said he was unaware of such activity, as this was directly under Rowley’s portfolio and he could not speak to it.
Asked if he could offer a rating of the party and its performance thus far, Khan said while discussions have been had with others, it was not something he wanted to divulge at this time.
However, Khan stressed that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley had not run away as was being claimed by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
He defended his political leader, saying “Dr. Rowley is out of the country for medical reasons. It is not a dereliction of duty.”
Questioning why this was hard for the Opposition to understand, Khan added, “He has gone for his annual check-up. It has nothing to do with a poll coming out or what issues are facing the country.”
Noting that he himself recently had to undergo medical treatment, Khan added, “Your health and your family comes before anything else, so he was just taking care of his health in a cautionary manner based on what the doctors had prescribed when he last went up, that he should come for an annual check-up and this is the time for it.”
Also asked for an update on the medical condition of Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie, who remains hospitalised at the St. Clair Medical Centre, Khan, offered, “I am aware he had a medical event and he is hospitalised at St. Clair.”
Khan said all other details regarding Cuffie’s condition were being handled by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.
Editor’s note: Louis Bertrand and his HHB and Associates unit continue to be T&T’s leading team of pollsters and were the only ones to successfully call the seats the People’s National Movement would have won in the 2015 general elections. Bertrand, who is the firm's managing director, has been in the business for over 28 years and has done work for several media companies and government organisations.