Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 28th 2014 Contents A7
December 28, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Congress of the People
activist Phillip Edward
Alexander says the Unit-
ed National Congress
communications team is
deifying Prime Minister
by putting her image
Alexander, the COP's
caretaker for Diego Martin
West, said although he
had taken issue with
Christmas billboards bear-
ing the image of Persad-
Bissessar, he remained a
firm supporter of the Gov-
ernment and hoped to be
screened as the candidate
to contest People's
National Movement leader
Dr Keith Rowley's seat in
next year's general elec-
tion.Alexander said he
warned the party that the
billboards would become
a public issue immediately
after they were erected
along the highways, but
his warning was brushed
aside. He also criticised
the former United Nations
"My real problem is
with UNC campaign
manager Rodney Charles.
This is his style, he has
made the entire campaign
about the Prime Minister
alone and nobody else. It's
almost a deification of the
Prime Minister. They are
deifying her, they are put-
ting her image on every-
thing and I am not along
for that ride.
"I support good work,
I support governments
that deliver, and this Gov-
ernment is delivering and
they will get my support.
If you want to talk about
water, roads and national
security, I could talk about
those issues. To say we're
just going to become a cult
of personalities and wor-
ship the leader, I am not
into that, this is not my
style," Alexander said.
Asked about allegations
that he had lost Govern-
ment contracts, leading to
his voicing criticisms, he
said "That is not true."
He said many people
had taken issue with his
criticisms because they
tried to discredit anyone
who raised issues with the
respective strategies going into 2015.
"This will not be decided by the base,
it will not be decided by the voters who
make a decision along ethnic lines. To
ensure a win, the political parties need
to convince the marginals. This 2015
election will be the battle for the mar-
ginals, so both parties need to present
credibility," she said.
Rampersad also warned that, unlike
the already decided base voters, the
marginal voter could be swayed.
"They measure performance, delivery
and integrity in public life. So both par-
ties need to be very careful when playing
politics," Rampersad said.
Continued from Page A6
PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley
-By the end of the first quarter of 2014, the People's
Partnership had relieved two ministers of their portfolio.
Former minister of the people, Glenn Ramadharsingh,
was accused of inappropriately touching a female flight
attendant on a Caribbean Airlines flight from Tobago.
While Ramadharsingh defended himself, claiming he
was reaching for the woman's name tag, the Prime
Minister did not accept that defence and dropped
Ramadharsingh from her Cabinet.
-One week later, former tourism minister Chandresh
Sharma was accused by then girlfriend Sacha Singh of
assault. The incident occurred in the parking lot at the
Grand Bazaar mall when Singh surprised Sharma by
including his child and the child's mother in what was
supposed to be a private meeting between the two.
Singh claimed Sharma slapped her and she filed
charges. The DPP subsequently dismissed the case
against Sharma but not before the Prime Minister
dismissed him from her Government.
-By May, a video of a man, resembling the then
minister of Sport, Anil Roberts, surfaced. In the short
clip, the man appeared to be rolling something in his
hands and claiming that he could not sustain more than
"two pulls." It was also the month that one of the
biggest stories surfaced, which showed that a
Government programme, Lifesport, was allegedly being
used to fund criminals. This story dominated the media
for months, with fresh angles and new information
surfacing almost weekly.
One director at Lifesport, Ruth Marchan, spoke out on
the issue in the company of her bodyguard. He was
killed shortly after the story appeared in the paper and
Marchan has since fled the country.
-In April, the Prime Minister was forced to comment
on the issue of alleged unethical conduct of attorneys
and inmates involved in prison-related lawsuits against
the State, because of which calls were made for the
Office of the Attorney General to be investigated.
This same issue led to the resignation of Solicitor
General Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell the year
before. The Prime Minister then called for the issue
to be investigated and appointed AG Anand
Ramlogan to investigate the goings-on in his own
-By July, just as the Government was recovering
from a shaken image due to losing two ministers
back-to-back, fresh information on the Lifesport
programme triggered Roberts' resignation. He
would later say that he was forced to resign
because Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
weakened in the face of criticism, but she has never
responded to that statement by Roberts.
-August brought the Constitution (Amendment)
Bill. This historic legislation included provisions for a
system of runoff elections, a two-term limit for the
Prime Minister and a system of recall for non-
performing MPs. After a marathon debate, the bill
was passed with a vote of 18 senators for and 12
against. It passed with a major amendment to the
runoff proposal, which will now allow a third
candidate to participate in the runoff poll.
-In September, it was the Opposition's turn to
come under the microscope when information was
ventilated in the public domain about the
construction and destruction of the Las Alturas
towers in Morvant. The towers were constructed
under the PNM's watch and there were questions
over who was minister of housing at that time,
Rowley or former PNM minister Emily Gaynor Dick-
Though both ministers initially denied
involvement, Dick-Forde eventually took
responsibility for the buildings. Despite that, the
Government has since launched a Commission of
Enquiry into the project.
-Again, in September, environmentalist Wayne
Kublalsingh embarked on his second hunger strike.
Kublalsingh had engaged in a similar strike in 2012
for three weeks to force the Government to seek
an independent opinion on the multi-billion dollar
Point Fortin Highway Project. This current action
seeks to force the Government to abide by the
findings of that independent report. Kublalsingh
has been fasting for more than 100 days.
-In November, Junior Minister in the Ministry of
Works and Infrastructure Stacy Roopnarine
challenged her boss Dr Surujrattan Rambachan's
involvement in board-level decisions at the National
Infrastructure Development Company and wrote to
the Prime Minister about it.
Roopnarine's e-mail was leaked to the media and
days later she rescinded, saying that she was only
apprised of the method and systems Nidco used to
award contracts after the e-mail was leaked. She
would admit weeks later that there were still
"challenges" after her letter to the PM was made
-In December, the Opposition PNM had a bit of
negative press when a group called
"tntwhistleblower" launched a sneak attack on
PNM chief whip Marlene McDonald. The
information allegedly linked her to a non-profit
organisation headed by her common-law husband
which received a cheque from her ministry months
before the company was even registered. McDonald
has since maintained her innocence in the matter,
telling one media house that she was unaware that
her common-law husband was in charge of the
-Also in December, the country witnessed a rare
public tussle between former PNM leader Patrick
Manning and its current leader. In what appeared to
be a power play, Manning defied Rowley's orders
and refused to meet with him at Balisier House.
Manning instead directed that the two meet in
Parliament. But Rowley stood firm and though the
two have not yet met, it was revealed that
Manning ran out of time to be nominated and
would no longer be eligible to contest the San
Fernando East seat which he held for decades.
POLITICAL YEAR IN SUMMARY
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