Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) head, David Abdulah, revealed that he had rejected offers of high position made to him by each of the past two governments, speaking at an MSJ public meeting on Thursday night at the Mount D’Or Community Centre.
Asked by sceptical locals if he was just another vote-seeking politician, he said he had recently turned down an offer to sit on the Petrotrin board made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, and had previously declined an offer by the then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to become Minister of Social Development, a post eventually filled by Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh.
Abdulah said a strong nation could only be built on the foundations of strong communities and strong families. “Tonight we are hearing a cry from the people – not give them ‘this’ or give them ‘that’ – but for leadership and a vision. “ He said people must come together with a common purpose, vision and goal. “We believe the system has to be changed. The relations between political and economic power must change.”
Saying it is every citizen’s right to live in a decent society of accessible healthcare, education and road transport, he said, “The question for us is, how do we change the system?”
Lamenting that doctors in public hospitals tell patients they can only get surgery by going to their private practices, Abdulah said this is a conflict of interest that should be formally banned. “If enough of us say we are fed up, we could get change,” he advised. “We have to make a stand.”
He said the gap between the rich and poor is growing, consequently with a reduction in social mobility, such as would block advancement of the children of a poor, single mother. Abdulah said the millions of dollars in the fake oil scandal could have funded community facilities to uplift people’s lives.
However, citing Christ’s Apostles and US civil rights icon Rosa Parks, he advised, “A few people with passion, commitment and a love of country, community and their children, can start that process of change. When enough people identify with a movement, it is enough to bring about change in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Earlier in the question session, a resident lamented the deplorable state of Mt D’Or Road. A woman blamed alleged indiscipine at the local primary school on the fact of teachers residing outside of the area and so not knowing the character of local youngsters. One woman bemoaned parents who take welfare money meant for their offspring, saying. “The children have no food but the parents are looking good.”