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Kamla Slams Rowley for Crime Talks in US

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has slammed the “scant courtesy” which she says is being handed down to citizens by Government’s move to have talks on T&T’s crime problem with US officials, rather than nationals or the diaspora.

Persad-Bissessar made the claim at last night’s UNC Anti-crime Consultation at Naparima College, San Fernando.

Persad-Bissessar also sent a direct message to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

“I want to tell the Prime Minister, who is busy in Washington, that if he don’t like what people are saying about you, the best thing to do is to get out of here tomorrow morning, get out, get out!

You cannot bouff people and tell them ‘shut up’ because you have a different opinion!”

Persad-Bissessar said she had the radio on in her car while she was on the way to the UNC meeting and she heard the news that the Prime Minister had held crime talks in Washington earlier that day.

“Not with the nationals, not with the diaspora, he’s holding crime talks with officials in Washington and this is the kind of scant courtesy that this Government intends to hand down,” she added.

Noting the Caricom crime symposium at the Hyatt in Port-of- Spain last year, Persad-Bissessar added, “They won’t come to San Fernando to talk to you—$5 million at the Hyatt and what happened since then? Nothing. Then the Government promised us they’d do anti-crime talks in our country but that became the Caricom crime summit they held at Hyatt.”

She thanked attendees for their comments that the UNC must meet the people and listen to them, “because obviously what they’ve been doing, it hasn’t worked, and it’s not working”.

During the consultations, where speakers included UNC councillor Vanessa Kussie, wife of deceased LMCS diver Rishi Nagassar, Persad-Bissessar called on Government to say if it was true that before the Paria Commission of Enquiry report was released to the public—but after the Prime Minister received the report—whether Government renewed the contracts of (Paria managers) Colin Piper and Mushtaq Mohammed for a further two years.

She said the report was very abrasive to both.

“So how can you do that, who’ll guard the guards? If they were the ones the report found was culpable in their behaviour, then why did you renew their contracts secretly during the period before the report was made public? And when the report became public, it was clear Piper was found to be liable in certain ways for his actions in that tragedy site,” she alleged.

Persad-Bissessar added, “That’s something Government should answer—why did you renew the contracts of these two people and who renewed the contracts? Was it Newman George and Paria’s board? Was it the Cabinet? As the Cabinet had the report since last year and delayed in laying it.

“If people are culpable in doing their jobs … one of our speakers said tonight if you hire somebody to do a job and they can’t do it, you fire dem! You don’t go and renew their contract for two more years! The CoE found Paria could be guilty of corporate manslaughter—what are they doing still sitting in those positions?”

Persad-Bissessar also said Rowley and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds seemed more concerned about Gary Griffith’s underwear.

“That’s what they came on the platform to speak about! Instead of telling us about plans and solution for crime, you (also) bouffing Mr Johnny (Abraham) …”

She also noted some people felt she and MPs should “talk down to them” and give UNC’s plans.

But she said the UNC spent years saying what its plans are and the consultations were for the UNC to hear what members of the public and qualified people had to say and see together how “we can build on all these suggestions to fight crime.” She said the UNC would give its plans at Monday Night Reports or Pavement Report meetings.

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