OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal declared he is not happy about the arrest of Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald and her common-law husband Michael Carew by police investigating corruption-related offences.
He called on all UNC supporters to desist from criticising her.
McDonald, who is also Port of Spain MP, and Carew were arrested earlier in the day. So far they have not been charged.
Speaking at a UNC Pavement Report meeting in San Juan on Thursday night, Moonilal said, "We must never be happy. We must never find joy and we must never find pleasure at the misfortune of others."
Neither he nor the UNC, Moonilal continued, received any joy or relief "that a member of the Cabinet is before the authorities, facing very serious questions and accusations."He told UNC supporters, "We must never gloat. We must never do that."
Referring to a statement the UNC issued about McDonald's arrest, Moonilal said this was a matter for the police and "maybe in the coming days, it may be a matter for the courts." While this is something the UNC cannot pronounce on, Moonilal said the party can condemn the Prime Minister for his silence.
"If anyone is responsible for this long and disturbing day, it is Keith Rowley."
Moonilal claimed it was Dr Rowley's poor judgement and lack of political wisdom that led to “this day of despair."
He reminded supporters that Rowley had appointed and fired McDonald twice. On this occasion, Moonilal added, "We don't know what will happen tomorrow."
Moonilal claimed this showed that Rowley is incompetent and has serious questions to answer.
He also alleged that on a public platform recently, Rowley said, "Thieves can't run TT." Moonilal said, "Tonight I zip my mouth on that statement."
He wondered whether this was "a small piece in a bigger puzzle."
Moonilal continued, "There may be a more diabolical plan afoot, of which today is one small piece." He warned UNC supporters that such an alleged plan may involve them.
Moonilal said he had worked with McDonald in Parliament for 12 years.
"So I find no joy today at all," he reiterated. He told supporters that McDonald remains innocent until proven guilty of anything. But he added that Rowley should not pretend he is Moses, or feel he could “come out smelling like a rose."
Earlier in the meeting, former UNC national executive member Shane Mohammed boasted that McDonald's arrest was evidence that the Government had collapsed.
Communications Minister Donna Cox confirmed a search warrant was executed at McDonald's home in Maracas, St Joseph earlier in the day. Cox said this is an ongoing police investigation and further information will be provided as it is made available by the police.
In a statement, the UNC described McDonald's arrest as "alarming." It also slammed Rowley for saying nothing about McDonald's arrest. The party claimed Rowley was "missing in action."
McDonald was fired as housing minister on March 17, 2016 after questions had arisen over her alleged recommendation of public housing for her male companion, Michael Carew.
As community development minister in the Patrick Manning administration in 2010, McDonald was questioned about donations from her ministry of $375,000 and $200,000 plus another sum to the Calabar Foundation. Carew was alleged to be a director.
McDonald had assured all was above board. An investigation by the Integrity Commission into the matter found no evidence of wrongdoing by McDonald.
She was fired as public utilities minister on July 2, 2017.
Rowley subsequently said McDonald's dismissal was connected to the presence of Sea Lots personality Cedric Burke at the Office of the President in St Ann's on June 30, 2017 when she was sworn in as minister.
McDonald was appointed a minister in the Public Administration Ministry in March last year.