Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 8th 2014 Contents A5
Monday, September 8, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Highway Reroute activist Dr
Wayne Kublalsingh almost broke
down in tears yesterday, as he
chastised Independent Liberal
Party chairman Jack Warner for
actions he undertook as a minister
in the People s Partnership during
the launch of Democracy Watch
It was the first time that Warner
and Kublalsingh had met with a
common vision, following the
destruction of the Reroute camp
on June 26, 2012, by Warner, who
was the then minister of national
Kublalsingh, who was one of 11
speakers, accused the Government
of being undemocratic. He said in
March 2012 during a meeting with
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, he was assured that the
valuable agriculture lands would
be protected, yet Warner came and
broke down their camp.
"The Prime Minister promised
to protect our social, ecological and
social assets. She promised to save
our temples, mosques, churches
and schools," Kublalsingh said.
"We told them if you have to
take these assets away then show
us why you want it. Justify it! Do
a study. When they eventually did
the study what did the Prime Min-
ister do? She thrashed the study."
Slamming his fists down on the
wooden podium and looking
directly at Warner, Kublalsingh
shouted, "So when we say govern-
ment is undemocratic, don t come
and mash up our camps 5 o clock
in the morning?
"Who are we Mr Warner?
Answer the question? Who are we?
Are we nothing?"
Warner s face was expressionless,
but he bent his head as Kublalsingh
Kublalsingh said it was up to
independent voices like Democracy
Watch to stand up for democracy.
In a shaky voice, Kublalsingh
added, "I almost feel to cry when
I think of what had happened. Mr
Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj stood
up for us and he was our voice. I
thank his great soul for his con-
tribution to us."
Kublalsingh s movement is trying
to get the Government use an alter-
native route for the Debe to Mon
Desir leg of the Point Fortin High-
way. However, Government is
insisting it will go on with the proj-
ect as planned, and recently won
a battle in the High Court against
As Government moves to bring
another deficit budget for the fiscal
year 2014-15 today, former attorney
general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj is
warning citizens that over spending
will bring T&T on a downward eco-
He was speaking at the official launch
of the social group Democracy Watch
at Gaston Court, Chaguanas, yester-
Maharaj, who delivered the feature
address, said citizens must realise that
the excessive spending and wanton
wastage of T&T s resources will have
a devastating effect on the country in
the long term.
"What will be left for our children?
We are spending $60 billion to $70 bil-
lion a year in every budget and what
do we have to show?" Maharaj ques-
He told the audience that they must
stand up against the People s Partner-
ship Government and ensure that good
governance prevails. He said young
people could not get jobs after grad-
uating and those who found jobs could
not even afford to buy a house or raise
He urged the members to band
together to bring about change.
"Stand up and fight for democracy,
no matter the consequences. If we
believe in something, be prepared to
face the consequences.
"I believe that youths are entitled to
have a happy life. I believe that the
people of T&T can change this," he said
to loud applause.
He also said Democracy Watch will
remain a non-political organisation.
"People may join political parties but
be prepared to be an agent of change.
Take up the torch of democracy,"
Victoria Leps, an aviation manage-
ment and security consultant who has
been residing in Dubai for the past ten
years, lamented that too much money
was being wasted in T&T. She said in
2013, Dubai, which has a population
of 9.2 million, had an expenditure of
"Our budget was US$9.7 million and
we have a population of 1.3 million.
How can a nation spend more than
three quarters of the budget of Dubai
when we have such a small population?
Where is the money being spent? What
do we have to show for it?" Leps ques-
She also said that T&T is suffering
from a haemorrhaging of profession-
"There is an exodus of people who
leave here grudgingly because they can-
not get jobs in a proper manner," Leps
Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader
Lyndira Oudit, who spoke to the media
after the launch, said the Prime Min-
ister s announcement that poor families
will get a grant for purchase of baby
milk was not clearly thought out.
"Milk money by itself is a good idea
but there was not much thought into
it. Who is going to deliver it? How are
they going to provide it. We propose
a fuller comprehensive programme,"
She expressed hope that political
entities who share a common vision
will come together under Democracy
ILP chairman Jack Warner also said
he hoped that Democracy Watch could
serve as a catalyst for a unifying of
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Members of the Democracy Watch pose for a photograph after yesterday's launch at Gaston Court, Chaguanas. Front
row left to right is Jackie Carr-Brown, Jowelle de Souza, Victoria Leps, founder Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Amina
Roland and Mary King. Back row is Anthony Cape, Adam Andalcio, Denzil Johnson, Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, Nirvan
Denimadho, Kerland Brathwaite and Judah Racha. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Jack begs for forgiveness
Years after destroying Highway Reroute camp
Ramesh hopes Democracy Watch is change agent
Kublalsingh ready for talks
In an interview afterwards, Warner
said he understood the pain that
"I am sorry and I have in some way
to make peace with Kublalsingh,"
"I haven t figured out a way as yet,
but it is something I have to do. There
are people in this country who I have
offended by putting this Government
forward. I have apologised about a
dozen times because I made a mistake
by believing this Government was sin-
"I was wrong and I am sorry."
Warner said he hoped that Democ-
racy Watch could serve as a catalyst
for other political parties to come
together in a coalition. "Outside there
is so much anger disappointment, bit-
terness and hate. I don t know if this
country will ever come back to what
it was before," he said.
Kublalsingh later told the media that
he was open to discussions with Warn-
"I am extraordinarily happy that he
apologised and I am willing to meet
with him at any time to build a cordial
friendship with him," Kublalsingh said.
"I think that is a very appropriate
mature and wise response. He was
good friends with my father. However,
I cannot be civil in the face of an atroc-
ity like that so I had to speak my mind."
Kublalsingh said he was preparing
himself spiritually for another hunger
strike if the Prime Minister did not
heed the calls of the Reroute move-
Members from several political parties and trade unions, including the
ILP, Movement for Social Justice and Congress of the People (COP)
attended yesterday's launch.
Among these were president general of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union
Ancel Roget, MSJ leader David Abdulah, ILP political leader Lyndira Oudit,
national award recipient Jowelle De Souza, fired People's Partnership (PP)
senator Mary King and supporters of the Highway Reroute Movement.
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