In what is being viewed as a stinging attack against the Government, Ambassador Makandal Daaga, leader of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), one of the coalition partners, criticised perceived corruption in the country.Daaga made his statements at the Founding Congress of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), another coalition partner, at Palms Club, San Fernando, on Saturday evening.In his biting commentary, made before an audience which included representatives of all coalition partners, including TOP's Ashworth Jack, MSJ's Errol McLeod, UNC's Dr Roodal Moonilal and COP's Winston Dookeran, Daaga declared: "In my 50-60 years, I have never heard so much corruption in my land as in the last few days."There is too much corruption and people are stealing money as though they invented it," he said."It seems almost as though the rich have taken a vow to thief, thief, thief," he shouted, evoking loud applause from the audience.Daaga recalled former PNM minister Desmond Carthy's now infamous statement, "All ah we thief" to illustrate his point that politicians were corrupt and asked to be excluded from that group.
Daaga expressed support for the working class and identified with their struggles. He said he supported the principle, that in a country like Trinidad and Tobago where there was wealth, it should be shared equally among everyone.To this end, he said, those who were saying five per cent or eight per cent (with reference to negotiations with the CPO) was too much, should pay workers."That is their right," Daaga contended.He said the UNC and the COP could not tell workers they had no right to do what they were doing.However, more than once during his address, he pointed out: "I am not against my party."Daaga said history had made it clear that all the constitutional, political and economic advances this country had made were due to the struggles of the working people.
He said from way back, the "establishment" had always been angered by the fact that anyone in labour should hold the reign."The establishment has not change...It has merely replaced one for the other," he saidDaaga reiterated his pre-election platform position that unless the people recognised they were the Government, they would always be marching up and down, fighting for benefits.Many times during Daaga's address, Dookeran looked uncomfortable.It was not the only time Dookeran, the only one wearing a suit, appeared to be ill at ease, as he sat through more than an hour of anti-capitalist sentiments from the OWTU and MSJ's socialist partners from across the Caribbean, Latin, South, Central and North America.When his turn came to address the audience, Dookeran defended the Government's fiscal measures.