Prakash defends his silence
By SEAN DOUGLAS Saturday, July 14 2012
click on pic to zoom in
SISTERLY LOVE: Gender and Youth Affairs Minister Marlene Coudray (left) is greeted by chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) Gillian Lucky ...
CONGRESS of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar has defended his low profile in the media including his silence over the recent demolition of an anti-highway camp at Debe by police and soldiers under the watch of Minister of National Security, Jack Warner.
Newsday asked him about two wings of the COP — Nalini Dial and Vernon De Lima supporting the protestors and Anil Roberts supporting the demolition — each calling on Ramadhar to issue a public statement supporting their view.
“There is one wing of the COP. That is the wing of the leadership in consultation with the membership of the party,” Ramadhar said. Referring to a statements by COP deputy leader Anirudh Mahabir, on Debe, Ramadhar said, “The COP made a statement that I authorised.”
“Very often people make the comment that they don’t know who is making statements. There are official statements from the COP which you all will always receive by the proper email”. Newsday said media houses have problems contracting Ramadhar for comments. “There are two people who as of right can make statements — the chairman and the political leader, and anyone authorised by me to make those statements,” he replied.
“So let’s get that very clear. Persons who speak, even though they wear COP clothing, unless they say they are authorised to do it, they speak in their own private and personal capacity,” said Ramadhar.
“It is important to know that, because we in the COP believe in the freedom of speech, and no party member will we ever want to have to tell to not say anything. We expect that they will understand this, if they truly believe in structure, to allow the party’s official statements to stand.”
Newsday asked about COP deputy Chairman, Vernon De Lima’s, call for Ramadhar to hit Minister of National Security, Jack Warner, over that appointment and over Warner’s demolition of the Debe anti-highway camp, even as senior COP member, Sports Minister Anil Roberts had publicly backed the demolition. In the melee, Ramadhar could not be reached by media houses, noted Newsday.
Ramadhar retorted, “That is not true. What it is, is that my statement then was that the party has made a statement...I am not going to be goaded by anyone to countermand anything the party has said.” Ramadhar said that De Lima’s remarks had been made in his private capacity, not as COP acting chairman and that the party has since spoken to De Lima.
Ramadhar said reporters can query the authenticity of COP media statements by simply calling the COP Operations Centre at Charlieville.
Newsday said Prakash is largely invisible to the media. He retorted, “That is not true.” Newsday said he is hard to get to talk to, but he disputed that.
“That is why structure is so important. I can’t personally speak on every matter, nor will I be drawn into any conflict with anyone,” said Ramadhar. “I’m the leader of the COP and we have structures, so we do not want a leader-centric organisation, and I’m making the deliberate effort to show structure and show how it can work and how it must work. For the long-term survivability and long-term direction of the country, we all must learn and move towards.”
He added, “It is easy to have bacchannal because you have one person saying something, and then calling upon the leader of an organisation to engage at that level in the conversation. We will decide on matters we will speak to, and in what form or fashion we will do it. So it is just about discipline and wanting to engage. Others are free to speak, but we are also free to not engage them on their level.”
Ramadhar said political discipline must now come from the people of Trinidad and Tobago, even as the COP creates a new political space for the population to move to higher moral ground.