Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 1st 2015 Contents she said was asked of Barack Obama
before the US presidential elections.
"Do you smoke marijuana?"
The PM replied, "The answer is
However, al Rawi was highly crit-
ical of the PM s Leadership
Exchange even though he did not
view the programme.
He went on to critique it, nev-
ertheless. He said the public was
excluded from the event.
"I am very familiar with the
CNMG studio and the main studio
is a massive auditorium which could
have easily accommodated several
"Therefore, it was very conspic-
uous that no member of the public
was permitted entry and the iden-
tity of the interviewers remained a
closely guarded secret until the
event came off.
"Public suspicion that the inter-
view was staged is rife throughout
Al Rawi added, "I don t know
what were the terms and conditions
of the interviewers. Were they paid?
Where did the questions come
Told that previous debates staged
by the T&T Debates Commission
were not open to the public either
and had a selected moderator who
asked questions worked out in
advance, al Rawi side-stepped a
response by referring to a PNM
event called "Conversations with
He said the PM s Leadership
Exchange came nowhere close to
"Conversations with Dr Rowley",
in which Rowley and a few candi-
dates held outdoor conversations
with people which was broadcast
CNMG had originally planned a
debate between Persad-Bissessar
and Rowley. Rowley said he will
participate in the debate being
organised by the T&T Debates
Commission in August, after nom-
ination day on August 17.
The PM has said she will not
take part in that event because she
was told the debate would have
been on July 30.
Wells and Ramsamooj could not
be reached for a response.
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The response to Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar s Leadership
Exchange on Thursday night has been
overwhelmingly positive, Caribbean
New Media Group (CNMG) CEO Ken
"Ninety per cent of the feedback has
been positive. And I have the evidence,"
Ali said yesterday.
He was responding to questions about
statements made by People s National
Movement (PNM) public relations officer
Faris al Rawi who said the PM s Lead-
ership Exchange was "public relations
gimmickry" and criticised what he said
was a staged, closed-door event.
Al Rawi also asked how the inter-
viewers were selected, if they were paid
and who determined what questions
The interviewers were Isha Wells, a
former PNM councillor, who wore a dis-
tinguishing red beret during the show,
political analyst, Derek Ramsamooj and
Dr Morgan Job, former government min-
ister, author and talk show host.
Ali said most of the media was invited
to the show which aired at 8 pm on
CNMG Thursday night. "The door was
left open until the start of the show for
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, in
case he decided to turn up."
He said he selected the panelists and
expressed surprise that even Wells was
"Isha Wells? A PNM operative?" he
Ali also said he did not know what
questions the interviewers planned to
ask. "I gave them free rein and told them
to ask what they felt like asking, without
being disrespectful to the Prime Min-
"Listen, let the critics talk. I don t
want to join this debate," he said.
Wells asked the PM a question which
Collin Michael, 50,
I found that she
spoke brilliantly on the
topics and I hope she
meant what she said
in some of the
answers and bring
those things into
Carol James, 63,
I thought it was
biased because there
wasn't anyone really
asking questions from
the opposition side.
Al Rawi: PM's show PR gimmickry
...CNMG CEO says it was a success
PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar passes an evelope to Morgan Job, before the Leadership Exchange at state-owned
CNMG studio, Maraval Road on Thursday night. Also in picture are Isha Wells and Derrick Ramsanooj.
PHOTO: JEFF MAYERS
What do you think about the Prime
Minister's leadership exchange?
Kawal Sampath, 28,
It was something out
of the way. She took a
bold step in doing what
she did and I commend
her for that.
Hollis Peters, 72,
I believed that the
whole thing was a set
up just to show the
dominance that the
Government has. In my
view one side is afraid
to debate and the other
Valerie Hazel, 42,
To me it was very
educational, real nice.
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