Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 18th 2015 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Saturday, July 18, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The rift between the T&T Debates Commission
(TTDC) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bisses-
sar s negotiator Larry Lalla has widened, with
Lalla now accusing the body of being "biased and
"If their explanation is true, that they wrote to
me and stated the July 30 date had been decided,
but wrote separately to the PNM and said the date
was only proposed, then it brings their impartiality
into serious question," Lalla said yesterday.
"I appreciate that they are in a difficult position,
as there are only two possible explanations of their
reversal of their decision of a 30 July date.
"They are either incompetent or biased. Neither
explanation reflects well on them."
He added, "It is bizarre that they claim to be
an independent body and to be negotiating with
debate participants in good faith, but yet they are
now peddling dates in late August.
"I have specifically indicated to them that the
Prime Minister is unavailable in August. This again
seriously questions their impartiality and credi-
Lalla s strong charges came shortly after the
TTDC held a news conference yesterday to clear
the air on the confusion surrounding the date for
the "Great Debate" it planned between Persad-
Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Row-
ley.Noting that his integrity was being brought into
question by the TTDC s explanation, Lalla said,
"The TTDC cannot deny with any credibility that
they are the ones that fixed the July 30 date. I have
an email dated July 3 from Loraine O Connor to
Lalla offered a copy of the email as evidence.
He asked, "Are they really so careless that they
don t double check the correspondence they send
to the representative of a political leader on such
an important matter?
"I regret their false claim that the notion of a
30 July debate originated with the People s Part-
"The record in the public domain shows that
such date originated with their email, which stated
a decision had been taken to hold a debate on that
"I regret too their false claim that in some way
I broke an agreement of confidentiality. To so state
is offensive and wrong."
Lalla said he gave no undertaking to keep the
date confidential and if it was meant to be kept
from the public, O Connor s email did not say so.
He said in the circumstances it was best if the
TTDC departed the field, since it had lost all cred-
ibility and had proven to be partial and incompe-
Earlier in the day, in another press release, Lalla
said, "We have lost faith in the Debates Commis-
He also questioned the TTDC s ability to arbitrate
and set up a debate.
Lalla said the PM has agreed to participate in
the July 30 debate organised by CNMG and chal-
lenged Rowley to take part as well.
Chairman of the T&T Debates
Commission (TTDC) Andrew
Sabga wants all the political par-
ties which qualify to take part in
the forthcoming Leaders Election
But if for some reason Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
cannot participate, he says, the
debate will take place on August
20 and 27 as planned.
"It is our intention to secure
with all parties," Sabga said during
a press conference at the T&T
Chamber of Industry and Com-
merce, Westmoorings, yesterday.
"We are going back to our orig-
inal criteria that have been accept-
ed by most of the participants and
we will stick to that criteria and
our approach will be based on
international best practice. We will
stick to that and we are hopeful
we will get all players to take part.
"Once they qualify they are wel-
come to participate, but it needs
to be clear that it is the leader only
and not his or her deputy and not
an assigned individual. It is the
leader of the party that must par-
ticipate on August 20 and 27."
When asked if the debate would
take place without the PM, Sabga
replied by saying once there were
two or more parties that qualified
the debate would go on.
He listed two criteria under
which parties or alliances could
qualify: political parties must be
contesting at least 21 seats or they
must have polled a favourable vote
of at least 12.5 per cent in the last
two national polls conducted prior
to nomination day.
He also said following nomi-
nation day the commission would
be in a position to indicate which
parties or alliances qualified and
would then formally invite leaders
of those entities to be part of the
debate, adding this should be no
later than August 7.
The agreed format will be a
moderated event with a single
moderator who will be putting to
the candidates questions derived
from a team of panellists. In addi-
tion to the moderator, a panel of
four eminent people knowledge-
able about local politics and the
social and economic environment,
who are nationals of T&T, will
determine the questions before-
hand and those will be kept con-
fidential until the questions are
put to the debaters.
Sabga said while the names of
panellists have not been made
public, the commission has already
commenced discussions with
interested parties to seek agree-
ment on the moderator and once
confirmed the public would be
"We have made much progress
since our launch in May of this
year [with] the 2015 Leaders Elec-
tion Debate," he said.
TTDC chair wants full participation but...
Debates on with
or without PM
NO CONSENSUS ON JULY 27
Yesterday, Larry Lalla,
spokesperson for the People's
Partnership, sent out a media release
saying he did not have confidence in
the TTDC and he had accepted
CNMG's proposal to hold a debate on
Responding to this, Sabga said the
TTDC was the only "credible" option
at this time to hold such a debate.
He also said they had engaged Lalla
and in their discussions there was no
consensus for a July 30 date for the
debate. He said the talk of July dates
originated from the People's
"In our discussions with Mr. Lalla,
he had proposed four dates in the
month of July, that is four Mondays.
We chose the last Monday if it
would have been possible but we all
know the sensitivity of July 27," he
"Mr. Lalla also had conditions for
that date to come about. We tried to
secure consensus from all sides who
had already agreed to the August
date. It was difficult to get them to
Sabga said he understood that the
"stakes are very high" in this election.
"This is a very tight and heated
election. We are trying our best to
remain neutral at all times.
Independence is something [from
which] we will not waiver," he said.
Members of the
Chinese dragon group
for Pointe-a-Pierre Dr
David Lee entertain
UNC supporters at
Couva, during the
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