UNITED National Congress MP for Barataria/San Juan Saddam Hosein has rubbished a viral video of an exchange between himself and Tobgao West MP Shamfa Cudjoe, saying he never said a seat should be created in the Main Ridge forest reserve in Tobago.
Hosein and Cudjoe clashed on Wednesday during the debate on the draft EBC (Local Government and Tobago House of Assembly) (Tobago) Order, 2021.
"I saw a video circulating where Ms Shamfa Cudjoe stated that the UNC suggested a seat be created in the Main Ridge," Hosein said. "That is totally, false, misleading and inaccurate, which statement was made to create doubt and confusion."
In the video, Hosein appeared to gesture to the Main Ridge during his presentation to identify vast areas which have not been proposed as new electoral districts.
As Cudjoe pointed out in the debate, the Main Ridge is the oldest forest reserve in the Western Hemisphere.
The order proposes the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) create 15 rather than 12 THA seats in order to avoid deadlocks such as the six-six tie that is the outcome of January's elections.
In response to Hosein, Cudjoe highlighted the Main Ridge's significance as a forest reserve, and animatedly chastised Hosein, saying, "Nobody lives there."
Taking to Facebook on Thursday, Hosein described the exchange as "logic vs Shamfa's donkey logic."
He wrote: "Had she paid attention or read the 13th EBC Report on Tobago Electoral Districts, I was referring to a particular Electoral District called Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford seat (which has an electorate of approximately 3,857 voters) and NOT THE MAIN RIDGE!
"In fact, I made no reference to the Main Ridge during the debate."
Instead, he said, a question was raised as to why the EBC took polling divisions out of the Bacolet/Mt St George seat, "favoring the PNM to create one of the new seats," and not from Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford, which the PNM lost.
"Shamfa," he commented, "not everyone is of your intellectual capacity, some of us can turn off roaming on our phones."
Hosein's jab was in reference to an incident in 2017 when Cudjoe, then Minister of Tourism, was asked to explain a phone bill, paid by taxpayers, which exceeded $59,000 over a four-day period. Cudjoe said her "abnormally high" charge was because her phone was on roaming. Over $50,000 of the bill was attributed to roaming data usage.
On Sunday, Hosein said he viewed the PNM as being given an unfair advantage by the three new electoral districts the EBC proposed.