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PM allays concerns over Calcutta statement

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar reaches out members of the large crowd which turned up at Bon Accord at a meeting organised by the Tobago Organisation of the People ahead of the THA election next Monday.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says she spent last Sunday morning in Tobago like every good Tobagonian. She went to church.


Addressing a large crowd of cheering supporters at a Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) political meeting in Bon Accord later that night, she said: “In that church I felt very blessed because of the love shown to me. Never at any point did I feel afraid.”


Persad-Bissessar made the disclosure in response to reports that a crowd of placard-bearing PNM supporters planted outside the church told her to leave the village, saying she was not welcome.


TOP candidate Dr Anselm Richards introducing the PM at the Bon Accord meeting, apologised to her on behalf of sensible Tobagonians. “You can come and go as you please,” Richards told Persad-Bissessar. “She home!” supporters shouted.


The PM on Sunday began a hectic round of activities with the TOP. The hotly contested THA election is next Monday,  January 21.


THA Chief Secretary Orville London, asked yesterday to comment on the Plymouth incident, said he was not too concerned. “I don’t know if there’s a political figure in the world who has not been jeered.


“That’s part of the job. That, for me, is a non-issue,” London said at a lengthy news conference at the Mt Irvine Bay Hotel. The conference was held at the same time as the PM handed out land deeds to Tobago residents at the Metal Industries Complex in Bon Accord.


Shortly after, she commissioned a gas facility at the Cove Industrial Complex and then headed up to Roxborough to open a gas station.


London said he was sent a general invitation to the events and therefore would not attend. He said a general invitation was not fit for the office of Chief Secretary and he did not consider it.


The PM, in her address at Bon Accord Sunday night, told supporters she would pilot the Tobago self-government bill in Parliament tomorrow. As long as she has breath, she said, she will fight to ensure Tobagonians are freed from 123 years of colonial shackles. She said a joint select committee (JSC) will receive the bill straight from Parliament without being put through a voting process.
London is calling for the bill to be withdrawn from Parliament and to be put out for consultation. The PM said the JSC is a tripartite committee comprising members of the Government, Opposition and Independent benches. Further, the JSC has powers to call for widespread consultation, she said. Touching on the “Calcutta ship” issue, she reassured supporters that Trinidad will not buy out Tobago.
 “They are trying to frighten you. If the Government wanted to take over the THA, why would I give you the powers to pass your own laws?”
Referring to charges that TOP leader Ashworth Jack walked with prepared notes at the THA election debate last Thursday night, the PM called on the T&T Debates Commission to clear up the matter.
“If what they were saying was true, the commission would have disqualified him. During the debate the matter was not raised by the commissioners or the facilitator,” she said
Late Sunday afternoon, Persad-Bissessar, accompanied by Jack, did a walkabout in the Mason Hall district, which he represents, where they were well-received by residents.
Party activists handed out jerseys, hats and cups to villagers who came out of their homes and cheered the entourage.
Addressing supporters at the end of the walk, the PM again gave the assurance: “Do not be afraid of the People’s Partnership or Trinidad.
You can only benefit from a closer relationship between the THA and the Government.”


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