The National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) is of the view that Dr Keith Rowley deserves to have the words of the first of his three non-PNM predecessors, Basdeo Panday, thrown at him. And they are calling on the current prime minister to ‘do the honourable thing’ and apologise for the disrespect he has shown to the population’s ‘intelligence and sense of patriotism’.
According to NJAC, at the sod-turning ceremony of the new Desperadoes Pan Theatre on Wednesday, Rowley said that ‘economic diversification has been stalled by the behaviour and foolishness of people in the country’. And as examples of such ‘foolishness’, he cited the public response to ‘both the Sandals Resorts project and the Aluminum Smelter project’.
Contending that ‘Trinidad and Tobago has one of the most politically developed populations in the Caribbean,” NJAC dismisses the claim as ‘disingenuous’ and ‘one that shows contempt for the people of the country’. Dr Rowley, they say, ‘ought to know better’.
In 2008, Prime Minister Patrick Manning had removed Dr Rowley as trade and industry minister and subsequently called him ‘a raging bull’. But responding to the Calder Hart issue in 2010, NJAC stated that Dr Rowley, ‘a member of the then PNM government’, raised similar concerns about transparency and accountability.
The Uff Commission had highlighted those issues ‘as being relevant to all instances of public expenditure’ and Rowley called on the Manning-led government to ensure ‘that all 91 recommendations of the Uff Commission of Inquiry will be implemented’.
It was under the Panday-led government, which held office from 1995 to 2001, that Dr Rowley, a frequently acerbic critic of the UNC, was styled a Rottweiler.
It was then too that the then Prime Minister had unceremoniously dismissed a reporter’s question with the pithy, much quoted: ‘That’s insulting!’
The following is the full text of the NJAC release:
The National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) calls on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to apologise to the nation for the lack of respect shown to the people of Trinidad and Tobago in his statement that was made yesterday at the sod-turning ceremony of the new Desperadoes Pan Theatre.
The prime minister stated that economic diversification has been stalled by the behaviour and foolishness of people in the country while citing the population’s response to both the Sandals Resorts project and the Aluminum Smelter project as examples. NJAC sees this as a most disingenuous statement by Dr Rowley and one that shows contempt for the people of this country.
It is NJAC’s view that concerns which were raised by the population in response to the Sandals project were similar to the concerns that were raised by Dr Rowley in 2010 as a member of the then PNM government in response to the Calder Hart issue. Those are issues of transparency and accountability in public office. Those very issues were highlighted in the Uff Commission as being relevant to all instances of public expenditure.
In fact, in 2010, Dr Rowley is quoted as stating that Prime Minister Patrick Manning had ‘made a mistake in trusting’ Calder Hart, former chairman of UDECOTT. Dr Rowley also called on the government at the time to assure the nation before 24 May 2010 that all 91 recommendations of the Uff Commission of Inquiry will be implemented.
NJAC is of the view that, rather than chastise the people, the prime minister should be proud of the vigilance that has been exercised by the population on the various issues.
It is NJAC’s opinion that Trinidad and Tobago has one of the most politically developed populations in the Caribbean and therefore is not deserving of this lack of respect from a prime minister who ought to know better.
NJAC believes that Dr Rowley should do the honourable thing and apologise for this insult to the people’s intelligence and sense of patriotism.