Dr Rishad Seecheran’s journey into politics began with an open mouth. The 41-year-old dentist’s patients would talk about how difficult life in TT has become when they visited the Chaguanas dental practice he shares with his wife, Sasha. The couple owns and operates Dental Plus Ltd.
He is the United National Congress’ (UNC) candidate for Caroni East. He replaced Dr Tim Gopeesingh, who announced in June that he would not be contesting the 2020 general election.
Seecheran was endorsed by the Caroni East executive as its candidate in a July 11 press release. It said he played a vital role in the constituency for several years as chairman, activist and role model. He grew up in Warren Street, St Augustine, and has lived in Lange Park, Chaguanas since 1990. He has two children ages six and four.
Seecheran became an active member of the party when he worked with Gopeesingh in 2012 and was then invited to become a part of the constituency executive.
“So I started off as the secretary and I was the secretary for quite a few years. I would take the notes and the minutes. Then I got more and more involved with the executive until finally they made me the chairman three years ago,” he said to Newsday during a phone interview.
He and his wife graduated from the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Doctor of Dental Surgery programme in 2005.
From then to now, they’ve seen “increased hardships” in TT.
“I deal with the common person on a daily basis. I get at least ten patients a day and this is just the average man on the street. As a dentist they come to you and they are anxious about the dental treatment and may have fears.
“They talk to you a lot to ease their minds and they tell me all of their issues and problems. So many of them lost their jobs. Dentistry is very expensive. So many of them lost their dental insurance through their employer and can’t afford treatment for themselves. They can’t afford treatment for their children…”
Seecheran said entire families who would come for their biannual check-ups and cleaning, could no longer afford to do so.
This left Seecheran and his wife wondering “where is TT going?
“And I made a conscious decision rather than always complain and shake my head, I am going to try and assist. The best way I could have assisted was to join my party and assist my party and that would be my contribution.”
The executive asked him to file a nomination last year when it opened as it was uncertain of Gopeesingh offering himself as a candidate again.
“I went through the process and at the end I was selected and I am grateful for that. I am willing to contribute to the development of TT.”
The political gayelle is a rough space and Seecheran is “extremely fearful” of politics’ dirty side.
He has seen “some things on Facebook about people that I know and I know it not to be true.”
He said people put “some of the most ridiculous things on social media” and just smear someone. “It is very, very unfair. At the end of the day who do you sue for defamation?” he said.
Seecheran intends to stay above that, however. He intends to carry himself in a certain way and try his best not to attack people.
He wants to have a very gentle persona so even if he is “smeared the majority of people would be able to make a judgment decision as a reasonable person in society.”
He walks in his constituency for about three to four hours a day and has seen a lot of need. Some residents have even resorted to using bamboo to prop-up the road because it is slipping.
The constituency needs a lot of drainage, road and water works, he said.
Seecheran intends to identify the people and areas most in need and assist them.
He said the constituency’s councillors did not have enough funds over the last five years to do the much-needed repairs because the Central Government gave very little funds. Seecheran said the People’s Partnership (PP) administration was criticised for being a box drain government but the “people need box drains” and small contractors needed the contracts to feed their families.