Senior Political Reporter
Arima Central Councillor Sheldon “Fish” Garcia who resigned from the UNC recently has consented to be a PNM Local Government Elections nominee for that area, while former UNC Youth Arm Officer Kaveesh Siewdial has joined the PNM.
Both were among the latest UNC members to depart from the opposition party to join the PNM. Also resigning recently from the UNC was Warrenville/Kelly Village councillor Samuel Sankar.
Siewdial, who was at last Thursday’s PNM San Fernando meeting, was welcomed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
Garcia, who resigned from UNC on May 15, submitted a consent letter to the PNM on May 18 to become a PNM election nominee.
Following the Privy Council’s May 18 judgment against the extension of the Local Government term, the law to facilitate elections between May 18 and August 18 will be passed in the House of Representatives on Monday and in the Senate on Wednesday.
Both Garcia and Siewdial are sportsmen.
Garcia spoke yesterday after a football game and Siewdial after a cricket match.
Garcia said, “It’s basically that I’m coming back home to PNM, I was PNM since 2005, assisting Penny Beckles in Arima.”
A well-known Arimian in sports and community work, Garcia joined UNC in 2020. He was hailed by the UNC after the 2021 by-election for Arima Central when he became the lone UNC councillor in the PNM-controlled Arima Council. He won with 734 votes to PNM candidate Dr Juliet Bernard’s 692.
UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had said Garcia’s win “strengthened and fortified” the UNC. But in his May 15 resignation letter to Persad-Bissessar, Garcia said despite his best efforts, support from the party and most of her colleagues, financiers and supporters had been “almost, if not completely absent.”
Arima Central Councillor Sheldon “Fish” Garcia, back with the PNM, is seeking to contest that seat for the party.
Garcia’s consent letter to become an Arima Central PNM nominee–which was submitted by a PNM party group–stated, “I, Sheldon Garcia, give my consent to be nominated as the candidate for People’s National Movement for the Arima Central Electoral District for the upcoming Local Government Elections scheduled to take place in 2023.
“I trust that you will find me worthy to serve the burgesses of the electoral district that I care so passionately about and whom I served diligently for the past two-and-a-half years. Be assured that I am not a member of another political party and that the PNM is and will always be home to me.”
Garcia, who attended the PNM’s April Family Day, said, “PNM members in the area are very happy I’m returning. UNC members also know me as a person and based on my performance, I’m optimistic about getting majority support. I’m for the people and all sides know that.
“I know it’s a nomination process and I’ll be among other nominees, but I come with high standards, so let the best man or woman win. My focus in everything I do is to ensure people get what they need and my credo is to do my best in all for all.”
Past UNC Youth Arm officer Siewdial resigned from the party in March. Siewdial was at last Thursday’s PNM San Fernando meeting and was seen shaking hands with PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley in the presence of PNM chairman Stuart Young and PNM’s local government coordinator for San Fernando, Kazim Hosein.
Siewdial, of Chaguanas, was UNC Youth Arm chairman from March 2019 to March 2023.
“My resignation was a personal decision for the betterment of the country and to enhance youth development in T&T.
“I took a couple of months to examine the landscape and after PNM’s Toco Family Day where I saw the camaraderie and unity in PNM, my decision was easier. I met senior government officials and my membership form was approved this week.
“I think young people are attracted more towards development aspects of T&T and I saw this Government was offering youth development programmes so I felt I could have added some impetus and additional input to help our youths.”
Siewdial holds a double major in Environmental and Resource Management and Geography and starts law studies in November. He was offered a scholarship for the model UN online symposium in 2021 and participated in similar other programmes. In the UNC, Siewdial, during the COVID lockdown, created a free SEA app.
His “debut” with the PNM at the San Fernando meeting was “very welcoming.” He said, “... I felt extremely comfortable. And appreciated.” Siewdial said he would be campaigning for PNM in the upcoming elections wherever the PM felt he could make the best contribution.
PNM embraces Siewdial, UNC shrugs it off
A PNM statement yesterday said, "The PNM warmly welcomes Kaveesh Siewdial, one of its newest members and we continue to welcome and embrace all citizens who want the best governance for Trinidad and Tobago and its people."
UNC officials shrugged off the departures from the party saying the UNC "was strong and would win Local Government Elections." One UNC chat group which asked the question, "How many more will go?" stated that "eyes were on Councillors Sheldon Garcia and Samuel Sankar." The latter who said he would be in the local government campaign has not yet stated with whom.