San Fernando West MP and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi continues to receive limited support from his party, since the furore over his role in the selection process of Gary Griffith as acting police commissioner.
Al-Rawi has not yet been defended formally by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, the People’s National Movement (PNM) party or the party’s National Women’s League. However, the San Fernando West executive declared yesterday that it ‘stands strongly in defence of our Member of Parliament, the Honourable Faris Al-Rawi’.
Today, it was the turn of the Women’s League of San Fernando West. In its press statement, the San Fernando West PNM Women’s League stated it has ‘all confidence’ in the Attorney General who, it claimed, was the victim of ‘unwarranted and unsubstantiated attacks’.
“These attacks are being peddled to create strife and chaos,” stated the release. “At this time, when our country is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, or at any time for that matter, this type of mischief is wearisome and unsettling to the psyche of our people and does not augur well for our nation’s wholeness and progress.
“In light of this latest smear campaign of mis-information, perpetuated by the Opposition, we wish to categorically and unequivocally state that we stand strongly in defence of our Member of Parliament, the Honourable Faris Al-Rawi.”
On 23 September, Dr Rowley apologised to the nation for Griffith’s appointment, which was made under Legal Notice 183 drafted by Al-Rawi. The appointment was subsequently declared invalid in advice given by retired judge Rolston Nelson SC.
Al-Rawi has also come under scrutiny for his perceived relationship with former Police Service Commission (PolSC) member Roger Kawalsingh and Griffith himself.
However, the San Fernando West Women’s League insisted that Al-Rawi has ‘worked tirelessly towards achieving a safe, just and better Trinidad and Tobago for our women and the vulnerable in society’ and noted his role in:
- The Electronic Payment into and out of Court Amendment Act (21 April 2021);
- The Sexual Offences Amendment Act (19 July 2021); and
- The Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Act (22nd June 2017).
“We all recognise the great strides made by our MP in ensuring that justice is preserved and the guilty expeditiously brought to account,” read the statement. “It therefore comes as no surprise that strangers to these ideals are at the forefront of these misguided and unfounded claims against our Member of Parliament.
“Every person in our society, regardless of their status, should be given the opportunity to be adequately heard, to have the truth to be told and the circumstances considered. Our MP has been robbed of these basic rights by premature and malicious claims.”
Al-Rawi’s defenders also publicly noted that the San Fernando West constituency barely belongs to the PNM.
“The constituency of San Fernando West is considered a marginal one and these attacks that are perpetrated against our MP are also because of his hard work and support at all levels,” stated the release. “Our Member of Parliament has been on the ground in our constituency, day after day, in every crack and crevice—encouraging persons to get vaccinated, and helping the sick and the vulnerable.”
At present, the PNM has 22 seats to the United National Congress’ (UNC) 19. If Al-Rawi were to resign or to decide to contest the seat on his own or if he were expelled, the San Fernando West seat would become vacant.
“These unjustified calls by the Opposition are a desperate ploy by their mischief-makers to plant seeds of deception and divisiveness in the minds of the gullible and misinformed, all in an attempt to win their favour,” the San Fernando West Women’s League continued. “The San Fernando West Women’s League is sounding the alarm to all right-thinking members of our Republic that we should be vigilant and remind ourselves that there are people in our society who do not support our progress, the rights and privileges of our women or natural justice.
“We remain, as always, proud of our MP, his achievements, his dedication and his commitment to San Fernando West. We all stand in solidarity with our Member of Parliament Faris Al-Rawi, a man of justice, a man for justice.”
The Women’s League release, sent by ‘jasonsanwest’, was unsigned and, up to the time of publication, the sender had not identified him- or herself.