Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 2nd 2015 Contents A5
Monday, March 2, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The United National Congress, Congress of the
People and People s National Movement hit the
road with public meetings this week as the general
election climate heats up.
The May 24 anniversary of the People s Partner-
ship s fifth year in office is just over two months
away. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has
put her PP administration on notice for polls at a
minute s notice.
The UNC has chosen the East-West corridor to
resume its Monday Night Forum tonight. Location
is Brazil Secondary school on Arena Road.
Speakers include Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, La Horquetta-Talparo MP Jairam Seemungal
and other MPs.
Tomorrow the Congress of the People (COP)
launches a month long round of public meetings,
with the first in COP leader Prakash Ramadhar s
constituency at the St Augustine Girls High school.
Speakers include Ramadhar and other COP officials.
On Wednesday, the Opposition PNM holds a public
meeting near Gopaul Lands hardware in Marabella.
Speakers include PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley, San
Fernando West candidate Faris Al Rawi and other
PNM officials. (GA)
Parties hit road as 2015
election race heats up
Movement for Social Justice leader David
Abdulah said yesterday that he hasn t made
a definitive commitment to the umbrella
body proposed by axed People Partnership
(PP) minister Gary Griffith and would have
to report to the MSJ s council on last Sat-
urday s meeting with Griffith and others
before taking a position.
Speaking yesterday as well, Griffith said
last Saturday a meeting of ten people was
held on moves to pull together an umbrella
movement, possibly toward a political party
comprising various other groups, including
the MSJ, Independent Liberal Party (ILP),
Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) and
others. But he confirmed he hadn t "spoken
to Fixin T&T at this time."
Griffith said the vehicle was intended to
represent floating voters and whichever of
the two major parties showed respect and
recognition for them, the third force would
align and work with.
Ex-PNMite Louis Lee Sing didn t answer
repeated calls yesterday on claims he attended
the meeting or was part of the move.
On the possibility of another third force
of groups, Abdulah said, "I haven t made a
definitive commitment to anything. Obviously
the country wants an alternative, since the
public doesn t support the PNM or PP and
people are searching for material.
"A lot of conversations are taking place
all over T&T because people aren t comfort-
able with the two major parties. But whatever
happens has to be properly built since people
are cynical. It has to be based on trust so
people can have confidence in it."
Abdulah said he was aware of another
meeting of the group this week and had been
invited. He said the headline about the move
on yesterday s report was misleading, since
neither JTUM nor the ILP were part of last
Saturday s meeting.
ILP leader Jack Warner, who confirmed
he spoke to Nicole Dyer-Griffith last Friday
morning---the day before her husband Gary
met with the nine others---said of the effort:
"Umbrella movements have succeeded in St
Kitts and Guyana. ILP is keeping its options
open but I ll attend the (Griffith) group s
meeting this week."
Businessman Conrad Aleong, who resigned
from the Congress of the People (COP) on
Friday, also yesterday supported moves to
find a space for the undecideds/floating voter.
"There must be a space for them. In busi-
ness terms, the target market is available for
this (umbrella movement) right now.
"You can t give everyone the same product
with the same price, you need a product to
appeal to more people and there s no such
product right now---so we need to find one.
The COP should understand the serious peo-
ple of the party left."
Another businessman Joe Pires, who also
resigned from the COP on Friday, said that
he "entered politics" to make a change and
would support any vehicle whose focus is
T&T. Griffith said yesterday, "The Prime
Minister has always shown recognition and
respect for the third forces, but some of her
lieutenants---including Suruj Rambachan in
recent statements---and others like Sat
Maharaj see the floating voters as a nuisance.
That s disrespectful and arrogant."
Griffith also challenged Clive Weatherhead s
claims of a 42,000 COP membership.
"I ll eat my hockey stick if he produces
one per cent---not UNC members in COP
jerseys---at any COP meeting," he said.
Abdulah unsure, Jack, Aleong keen on third force talks
not yet swayed
Officials of the Office of Disaster Prepared-
ness and the National Operations Centre con-
ducted air quality tests in several parts of Central
Trinidad last night, after dozens of residents
reported nauseating gas fumes.
Residents of California, Campden and
Macaulay said the fumes got worse after 6 pm.
Couva resident Elliot Thomas said the scent
first started around 4 pm and continued into
"Many residents, even those from Lower Cam-
pden, reported smelling the fumes," Thomas
He explained that the area close to the Couva
Healthy Centre was badly affected and some
people were even scared to light their stoves for
fear of possible fires.
"Right now we do not know where the fumes
are coming from, but there is an NGC booster
station close by so people are speculating that
there may be a gas leak," he said.
A report was made to NGC and a spokesperson
said it was aware of the matter.
Contacted last night, Couva MP Rudranath
Indarsingh said when his constituents contacted
him he immediately alerted the NOC and ODPM
director Dr Stephen Ramroop.
"We had experts in the field doing field testing,"
Indarsingh said, adding that speculation was rife
that the fumes could have been caused by ongoing
drag racing on the Campden strip. However, this
has not been confirmed, he said.
The NOC last night put the Savonetta fire
station on alert during air testing.
A text message sent to Indarsingh from NOC
director Garvin Heerah, read: "NOC alerted the
Savonetta Fire Station and coordinated the
response. A series of air quality tests were carried
out in the vicinity of the emissions and the result
is safe. Intensification is irregular.
The Fire Services is not satisfied that the emis-
sions may be due to nitron or other fuels being
used in drag racing in Campden. Further checks
are being conducted by NGC and officers are on
the field doing air quality tests. NOC is continuing
to provide situational updates." Last November,
NGC reported a leak in its 56-inch cross country
pipelines. The leak was subsequently repaired.
Pupils from Sacred Heart
Girls' RC School follow
instructions from an
instructor during the
warm up before their
Character Builds, at
Queen's Park Savannah,
PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
Fixin T&T has disassociated itself from
a Sunday Guardian report that it was
involved in the move by Gary Griffith and
other groups to try and sway undecided
In a statement, Fixin T&T stated, "We
categorically deny being a part of any
'core group' with the other players named
and attending any such meeting."
The report, headlined Third Force
Threat, had reported on moveds by
Griffith to rally disenchanted former COP
members and other interest groups as a
FIXIN T&T NOT IN TALKS
MORE OF THE SAME
Disenchanted Congress of the People
members aren't convinced about the Gary
Griffith vehicle as the way forward. Asked
yesterday if he'd become involved in such a
drive, former COP deputy Roberts Mayers
said, "Not likely at all."
Satu Ramcharan and Kishore Ramadhar
(brother of COP leader Prakash Ramadhar),
who has criticised the COP leadership,
meanwhile questioned the Griffiths'
"This is more of the same---still seeking to
partner with the major parties. We're not.
COP members must assess whether this is
COP two or three," Ramcharan said.
"Those same people (Griffiths) didn't
have a problem with the PP until their
positions were threatened. Nicole Dyer -
Griffith refused to accept our motion to
leave the PP and she and others presided
over the meeting that evicted us from COP
and our no-confidence motion against COP's
leader. I don't see why she resigned now. All
of a sudden she's found a conscience."
He added, "I was interested in David
Abdulah who gave up his Senatorial post to
pursue pure politics, he's an exception. But
he has to be careful aligning himself with
political rejects, some of these were rejected
by the parties."
Ramadhar added, "What Dyer-Griffith is
saying is probably correct but she stayed
there too long to have credibility now.
"If they didn't see things going wrong all
the time one has to ask what is her
judgement and motivation now. She had
many opportunities and many others also
could have resigned long ago---including
Pires, Aleong, Phillip Alexander---but people
remained. We got suspended for our
criticisms, and others left ,so what principles
are they (Griffith) talking of?"
Former Arima mayor Ghassan Youssef said
Griffith was the best national security
minister and former Senate president
Timothy Hamel-Smith's removal needed
explanation, but the big picture was a
PNM/PP fight and he supported PP for
delivery and accountability in removing
persons clouded by issues.
NGC probes gas
leak in Couva
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