ATTORNEY GENERAL Faris Al-Rawi is no Kees Dieffenthaller, but when it comes to being MP for San Fernando West, he said “I come for this wuk! Sign me up!”
Al-Rawi said he is ready, willing and have shown to be quite capable in response to whether he will consent to be nominated for a second try at running the constituency.
Al-Rawi’s seat is one of 25 opened for nominations for the 2020 general election by the People’s National Movement (PNM).
In the 2015 general election, the PNM won 12 of the 25 seats which are now before the screening committee. Of the 12, eight were won by first-timers. Al-Rawi was one of the eight while the remaining four have been held by seasoned politicians, inclusive of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
Speaking with Sunday Newsday on Saturday, Al-Rawi said he would submit his paperwork to the party for selection in the nominating process. He was confident that he would be nominated for the post having developed and implemented a comprehensive plan for the constituency and the broader population through the Government's legislative agenda.
Another first-timer, Adrian Leonce, MP for Laventille East/Morvant, said: “I am always willing to serve once given the opportunity. The highlight of my time was making an impact in the lives of my constituents. The low point was just the opposite, not being able to provide for them for whatever reasons was really a low point for me. I recalled a lady coming to me for assistance and she died before she could get the help, so that was a real low point for me.”
Leonce said he believed that MPs should be focused on assisting their constituency, backed by a mandated budget and not be juggling both ministerial and constituency responsibilities. Asked if he ever felt snubbed by not being made a minister unlike other first-timers, Leonce said no as that was never an issue for him.
“I am living a life of purpose in terms of serving and not just serving on a party level but serving the people. I did not sign up to be a minister, serving the people has nothing to do with that.”
He laughed when asked if the job was what he expected back in 2015, adding that he had high expectations to do more but understood the economic constraints he had.
“This forced me to be innovative and develop a relationship with people to get the job done with limited resources.”
Al-Rawi said while he understood Leonce’s position, he disagreed adding that local government reform will address Leonce’s genuine concerns. He said the position of being both AG and MP gave him a greater appreciation for being an MP.
Asked about the highs and lows of the job, five years later, Al-Rawi said: “My high was and I don’t want to sound cliché but the privilege to develop and execute a national and constituency agenda. My low was having to deal with the United National Congress (UNC) and their adamant position in the insistence not to support legislation. The hardest and most wicked part of the job has been the UNC.”
Al-Rawi said he was not expecting the country’s economic prosperity to be what it was when he got into office but expected that there would have been corruption under the former administration.
Last Saturday, party chairman Colm Imbert said they were opening the nominations for 25 seats which will be closed on March 30. The remaining 16 will be announced at a later date. The PNM’s announcement came one day after the UNC closed their nomination of candidates for all seats.
The other PNM incumbents whose seats are open for nominations are: Port of Spain North/St Ann’s West, Stuart Young; Tunapuna, Esmond Forde; St Joseph, Terrence Deyalsingh, San Fernando East, Randall Mitchell, Point Fortin Edmund Dillon and Moruga/Tableland Dr Lovell Francis. None of them responded to calls and messages about whether their consented to be nominated.
The four seats in the 25 held by seasoned politicians are Diego Martin West held by Rowley, Diego Martin North/East MPColm Imbert, MP for Laventille West Fitzgerald Hinds who said he consented to being nominated as well as Arouca/Maloney MP Camille Robinson-Regis.
The constituencies opened for nominations are:
2. Barataria/San Juan
3. Caroni Central
4. Caroni East
5. Chaguanas East
6. Chaguanas West
7. Couva North
8. Couva South
10. Diego Martin North East
11. Diego Martin West
13. Laventille East/Morvant
14. Laventille West
16. Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West
18. San Fernando East
19. San Fernando West
21. St Augustine
22. St Joseph
25. Point Fortin