OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has filed a no-confidence motion against Minister of National Security Stuart Young for denying citizens entry to TT during the ongoing covid19 pandemic.
Alleging poor management of migration and border control, she accused Young of failing to discharge his duty and of “a clear and present danger to the national security of Trinidad and Tobago,” in a statement on Wednesday.
Young in reply said he was unfazed by the motion and said Persad-Bissessar was simply trying to use him to seek political relevance.
At a virtual UNC meeting on Monday, Persad-Bissessar challenged Young to state under which law was he deciding which TT nationals to let into the country by granting exemptions.
She said Young did not get powers to deny citizens entry under any of the Immigration Act, Public Health Regulations Act or Quarantine Act.
Persad-Bissessar alleged the exemption process was riddled with “discrimination, inequality and unfairness,” while an influx of Venezuelan migrants continues. She also claimed Young had no power to extend the stay of Venezuelan migrants registered to live and work in TT amid their homeland’s turmoil.
The House of Representatives has not yet sat for the year, but with Private Members’ Day being on the last Friday of each month, the motion could be debated as early as January 29.
A statement from the Opposition Leader’s office on Wednesday said the motion was needed due to the “draconian and authoritarian” decision to keep TT’s borders closed.
“The closure left tens of thousands of nationals stranded abroad, making TT the only nation in the world where nationals require an exemption directly from a government minister to return home.
“This ministerial authoritarianism is unacceptable and unconstitutional.”
The statement claimed the exemption process is “evidently riddled” with discrimination, inequality and unfairness.
It said in recent months, many were inexplicably delayed in their return.
The Opposition alleged a run-around from the minister and that close family members of the PNM administration had no problem getting exemptions.
The statement also blamed Young for the “chaotic and poorly conceived” migrant registration policy, the rapid deterioration of security of the national borders, and the secret award of private security contracts.
The Opposition also raised concerns about the influx of Venezuelans. The statement claimed migrants have been allowed to persist with no immediate attention to border management. The Opposition alleges that “Venezuelan pirates” have been advertising their trips to and from Trinidad openly on social media. “We charge that Stuart Young has sabotaged our nation’s border security by preventing the use of multiple air and naval assets because they were purchased under a UNC-led Government.
“The lack of proper border security has allowed a growing human- and weapons-trafficking network to flourish with the effects further crippling our nation.”
A full case will be presented in the House outlining every alleged detail and instance where he has allegedly placed TT’s security and reputation at risk, it said.
The statement said all 19 UNC’s MPs support the motion against Young.
“Every day he remains in office is a further threat to our safety and security as citizens of TT.”
Stuart: Kamla struggles for relevance
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Young said Persad-Bissessar had once held the post of prime minister but now struggles for relevance.
“Even those outside of the political gayelle are openly stating that Mrs Persad Bissessar is no longer relevant.”
Young said it was “downright shameful” that Persad-Bissessar as senior counsel, was not seized of the laws of TT.
“The borders of TT have been legally closed since March 2020 based on the advice of our public health experts. This measure is a pillar of the public’s protection in the face of a global pandemic (covid19.)
“The closure of the borders is legal and done in accordance with our laws.” Young marvelled at the time and energy the Opposition spends on him.
“They have even resorted to lies and misinformation as their usual tools of trade when referring to me.”
He said the Opposition motion attacking him was simply part of its continued misconceived and desperate plan.
Civic-minded and right-thinking citizens, he argued, would wonder why Persad Bissessar and the UNC were so focused on him “and come to their own conclusions.”
Young said, “I will continue to stay true to my oath of office and carry out my duty without fear or favour, malice or ill-will.”
Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards announced four repatriation lights over the next ten days for nationals stuck abroad, addressing a virtual press conference on Wednesday morning.
On Thursday, a flight from New York, US will arrive in TT and on Saturday, a flight from Barbados.
She also said that on January 23, an “exercise” from Canada will be conducted.
Asked by Newsday if this flight was solely for the stranded farm workers there, she said there will be a flight specifically for them and another for other nationals stuck in Canada. She said the Ministry of National Security approves about 130 exemptions per flight.