“I demand that those UNC ads be removed!”
That was the roar from People's National Movement leader Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley last night as he accused Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar of abusing black people “in the most disgusting and disgraceful way”.
Rowley vigorously rebuked the UNC leader during last night’s final PNM campaign meeting - in Sangre Grande - before Monday’s election.
Rowley said, “Tonight is the last of these meetings… I’m a little bit tired, but it’s been quite a journey.”
In his final volley at the UNC, Rowley took issue with certain UNC ads featuring several Afro-Trinidadians people. He said he’d noticed Persad-Bissessar had a tendency to use race in her campaigns and had seen it in the Chaguanas West by-election several years ago, where the PNM had candidate Avinash Singh. Rowley said Persad- Bissessar's big issue with that was that the PNM had taken “one of their own”.
He said that was the first time he realised she had a propensity to use race in political situations.
Rowley added when someone had once spoken also about the “one per cent’’, Persad-Bissessar also used that to her advantage.
"She latched on to that and beat it like a drum. Then she called me an Oreo (cookie), meaning I’m black on the outside and white inside! This is a person who wants to be prime minister! She tends to use race as a dog whistle and racial epithets as part of racial armoury!”
He said yesterday she had reached a limit by insulting Afro-Trinidadians by picking up destitute people and using them.
“I want to say I’m a proud black man and you have offended me and insulted all black people by that caricature in your (UNC) ad!”
He said the ad came from the same place in the UNC as when T&T had a crime problem years ago and people were killed in Arima, and it was felt by the UNC that crime and criminality was “black people’s behaviour”.
“That was how they see us and that’s what they think of us - and we reject that!” Rowley declared
“If you want to lead Trinidad and Tobago you must apologise for the caricature in that ad – it’s not only black people who didn’t produce hungry little children or at the mercy of others,” he said.
Rowley was particularly offended by the use of bananas he said was in the ad.
"It’s because monkeys eat that. In the UNC ad, it means if people feel hungry, feed the monkey bananas – well, you go to hell with dat! We better than that in Trinidad and Tobago!”
He said the PNM's legacy included encouraging interracial solidarity and her wouldn’t allow Persad-Bissessar and her minions to threaten it.
“We are better than that! I demand that those ads be removed!”
On yesterday’s Estate Management and Business Development Company Ltd judgement, he noted a call was made to the judge not to give the decision before Monday’s election. But he said that would have been a ridiculous precedent in jurisprudence.
“Of course the judge didn’t listen to them. But while their names were in the documents in the courts, they were watching us saying nothing was being pursued - but they never believed Government would have gone after white-collar crime,’’ he said.
“The wheels of justice turn slowly but they do turn - (today) it turned a little bit as the judge threw out the case and said ‘you have a case to answer'."
He said it amazed him "... that people watch you in your face and talk about unblemished records".
“Unblemished record? Go tell that to the judge!”
Rowley said if it was one place the UNC shouldn’t get a vote was in Toco/Sangre Grande, since “They turned their back on you before!”
He said the UNC would have to "buy out every stove, fridge and washing machine and bring it to you". But he warned voters not to fall for bribery and corrupt practices.
Rowley thanked all of T&T for allowing him the opportunity to serve, for which he was honoured to do. He said initially, if people didn’t understand some things, they would have later understood what the Government was doing.
“Come out and vote on Monday – this election is important!” Sangre Grande pick up your bed and walk with the PNM!”