Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 3rd 2018 Contents A16
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Executive Editor Lucio Mesquita
Head Current Affairs Unit Shelly Dass
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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley's decision to bring Port-
of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald back as a minister is
certainly cause for concern and it has been talk of the town,
as John Public tries to come to terms with the puzzling de-
And the reason is quite simple. As far as we know, the
investigations by both the Integrity Commission and T&T
Police Service into allegations of misbehaviour in public of-
ice by Ms McDonald remain open. Furthermore, the other
major infraction which led to McDonald's demise in her sec-
ond, and very brief, incarnation as a minister---fraternisation
with the unsavoury characters and the PM's sound roasting
of McDonald for it---also remains fresh in the national psy-
che. So while the PM, in defending his decision, has sug-
gested everyone deserves a second chance (or, in this case,
a third one), he certainly owes it to the citizenry to properly
explain his decision.
No one is necessarily denying McDonald is worthy of
holding a ministerial position, since based on her political
and ministerial past she is one of the more seasoned party
members to hold such portfolio. But how does Rowley,
having promised during the campaign trail to do things
transparently and differently to the previous People's Part-
nership government, justify returning McDonald to the
innermost belly of his Cabinet with these allegations still
hanging over her head? From where this newspaper stands,
unless the PM has received information which has exoner-
ated Ms McDonald, which he also has a duty to reveal pub-
licly, this is the wrong call.
This week's landslide event on the Lady Young Road in Mor-
vant has once again raised the importance of an emergency
evacuation plan for Port-of-Spain.
While the incident was not a major disaster, it led to a
string of events which ultimately caused traf ic gridlock for
hours not only in and out of the capital but within the city
as well, due to the blockage of one of its main road arteries.
Any proper emergency evacuation plan for the city would
entail a traf ic management system which should be oper-
ationalised to ensure that what happened doesn't happen
again. Once we have one, the emergency response bodies
would merely have had to initiate the traf ic management
system to reduce the impact of any major route blockage.
Clearly we are not there yet.
TKR looking good
This newspaper congratulates reigning Hero Caribbean
Premier League champions Trinbago Knight Riders on the
inalisation of a strong squad for the 2018 edition. Captain
Dwayne Bravo had already ensured he had the nucleus
of his side retained long before Thursday's player draft in
England. However, management made some further player
buys to shore up what seems a formidable side. Good luck
this season, TKR.
Wrong call, Mr PM
St Paul's Boys' Anglican School Choir sing their way to the top during their performance of Kum Ba Yah (Spiritual) Test
piece in Class JR-C2 during the 32nd Biennial T&T Music Festival at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando on Thursday.
PICTURE TONY HOWELL
Marlene's real job; Muslims consolidating
She was so involved, settling
in with her new job at the
munication Ministry that
Minister Marlene McDonald
didn't make it to the start of
Promoted from the last seat on the
Government backbench to a new one---
six up the row---she didn't get an early
chance to Christen that, either.
But the mood of hilarity in the Cham-
ber prior to proceedings---when she was
expected---signalled many were await-
ing her entrance.
"Rudy Indarsingh, I go buy you a bot-
tle of honey!" PNM's Fitzgerald Hinds
"You was on that committee that buy
the (Tobago) boat?!" Indarsingh replied.
"A proud moment...," Hinds
Not that MPs were debating it yester-
day but McDonald's latest job comes
within a package of consolidation de-
velopments in various sectors in the
Where she's concerned, PNM
sources said her job may be more than
in the Ministry.
That McDonald was Prime Minister
Keith Rowley's main pillar---Opposition
whip---over 2010 2015, and that she's
one of only a handful of seasoned Min-
isters is the tip of the political iceberg.
Never completely sidelined after last
July's dismissal, she'd continued chair-
ing Cabinet's Report Review team and
Parliament's Foreign Affairs team.
Most importantly, McDonald is a
strong instrument for PNM's "grass
roots" reconnection drive after sup-
port's been sorely tested by Govern-
ment's economic policies. Particularly
so following recent east PoS rumblings
which PNM's Stuart Young correctly
said cannot be ignored.
PNM of icials believe McDonald is
necessary to help consolidate the party
and return it to moorings ahead of up-
coming tests: a June internal PNM elec-
tion when some executive posts may
be challenged by those seeking to "take
the party back."
A Barataria by-election (replacing
late councillor Pernell Bruno) when
former PNM deputy Nafeesa Moham-
med---who lives there---was recently
ired from Government, and expected
fallout from that. Plus, 2019 local gov-
ernment and 2020 polls.
Caricom states are also consolidating
regarding counter terrorism strate y,
big item at Caricom's recent meeting.
It's particularly necessary considering
regional tourism dependency---and in
T&T's case, following movement on To-
bago's Sandals project.
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bis-
sessar also consolidated her political
stocks, one-upping Government in se-
curing agreement on a two and a half
year sunset clause for the Anti-Gang
bill.Consolidation of T&T se-
curity will be of greater
pro ile of T&T conveyed
following the Carnival
threat alert, Rowley's con irmation of
an Isis cell locally, plus Caricom state-
ments about 200 nationals known to
have "expressed sympathy and con-
tact" with Isis.
Rowley's promise to meet the Mus-
lim community when he returned from
Caricom---yet to materialise---may have
to include more seats. Efforts recently
intensi ied among newer independent
masjids to consolidate with older tradi-
tional Muslim groups.
Muslims of T&T spokesman Imtiaz
Mohammed said a meeting was held
Wednesday with the main Asja body
and other groups including attorney
Nafeesa Mohammed on the Anti-Ter-
rorism bill "and discussions turned to
unity of all bodies."
Nafeesa Mohammed added, "The
one good thing arising from the so-
called Carnival 'threat' is, Muslims are
While a planned media brie ing on
the matter with Asja fell through on
Thursday, another meeting tomorrow
continues talks on the bill, consolida-
tion of groups and a proposed March
Imtiaz Mohammed said "The ef-
fort is to sensitise the wider Muslim
community on issues. This is a critical
juncture. Recent statements---Carnival
threat etc---have been a wake-up call.
Things we've seen on BBC and CNN are
reaching home. It's become dif icult to
be a Muslim in T&T," he added.
"Those detained during the Carnival
alert may now ind it dif icult to travel
among Caribbean states after recent
Caricom statements. Some Govern-
ment statements have tarnished the
community and Islam's image. We're
particularly concerned about the PM's
statements. If we feel insecure, the
non-Muslim public may also feel inse-
cure around us---so overall this has the
potential to divide T&T."
There are 40--plus independent Mus-
lim groups---most led by young people---
with members totalling about 30,000,
Eyes now, on how respective consol-
idation efforts flow here on in.
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