PM: No candidate on rape charge could represent PNM

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at a PNM meeting on Saturday at Mason Hall Secondary School.  - David Reid
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at a PNM meeting on Saturday at Mason Hall Secondary School. - David Reid

The Prime Minister has warned Tobagonians that its problems would increase exponentially if the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) wins the December 6 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.

Addressing a political meeting on Saturday night at the Mason Hall Secondary School, Dr Rowley said Tobagonians must be mindful of the track record of PDP leader Watson Duke, who has been charged for rape and whose leadership of the Public Services Association (PSA) has been under tremendous scrutiny since a recent audit report.

Rowley claimed the PNM, unlike the PDP, has a solid constitution and structure. Referring to its screening process, Rowley said the electorate relies on the party to select candidates worthy of the authority vested in them.

He said within the PNM, people who have committed serious offences and are before the courts, would not dare off themselves to be screened as candidates.

“I could tell you that nobody could be bold enough to want to offer him or herself at Balisier House in Trinidad or in Tobago to represent the PNM in an election while you are on a rape charge.

“Because they know if that is the case, you will be soundly rejected by the PNM. Not that we are saying you are guilty but because you have been charged is because the police would have got evidence. That evidence would have gone to the Director of Public Prosecutions. It would have been evidence of such seriousness that the Director of Public Prosecutions would have instructed the police to charge him.

"And if that is the fact, then we are saying you are not a fit and proper person to represent the PNM.”

Noting the PDP started off with two seats in 2017 and won six of the 12 seats in the January 25 THA election, Rowley said Tobagonians appear to now have a different standard than that of the past.

Rowley said the PDP is attempting to hide Duke and is campaigning through deception.

"This gentleman who is putting himself forward as the leader of the PDP, Farley – who is not the leader – that should alert you that something is in the mortar other than the pestle.

"Why is the leader allowing an imposter to campaign as the leader? And of course, in the event that they win, you would have one as the leader and one as the secretary of finance. And that is where Tobago's problems will begin.

Both the PDP and the PNM are fielding 15 candidates in the upcoming election.

PM: Duke an embarrassment to public service

Rowley listed the names of people who held the position of PSA president since its inception in 1938.

He recalled the late Dr Kenrick Rennie, Clyde Weatherhead and Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, all of whom the audience may be more familiar, held the position within the last three decades. Rowley said in those days the PSA enjoyed stature and recognition.

“All the names I’ve called saw the PSA going upwards from strength to strength with greater respect as the largest trade union in the country. Then the PSA fell into the hands of Watson Duke and all hell broke loose...

“Accusations of all kinds, court orders of all kinds, ending up with the staff in the PSA office being summarily fired by Watson Duke and the court had to intervene and order him to replace….Am I telling any stories here?” he asked supporters.

Describing the PSA as a “shadow of its former self,” Rowley said the association is being led by Duke and a “handful of enablers that are an embarrassment to the public service and the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

He noted in more recent times, allegations of fraudulent conduct have again surfaced within the PSA.

“The president declared himself retired, got himself paid a retirement, half a million dollars, came to Tobago, fed Tobagonians at the Magdalena (Grand Beach & Golf Resort), launched a political party, which he owns personally, and then never left the PSA.

“What kind of man would encourage an organisation to pay him money – a retirement, collect the money, spend it and stay in the office as president? That is the man you want to put in charge of the Tobago House of Assembly.”

Rowley regarded the PDP as Duke private possession.

“I don’t know any other political party has that, where the party is owned by a member. And all of them who running up and down talking ‘bout they going to fix it, they going to fix it, and Tobago and Tobago and Tobago, they know that they are barnacles of Watson Duke because if he doesn’t want them, they gone.”

Saying the PDP has no constitutional strength and structure, Rowley asked supporters, “And you must put Tobago’s business into that?

“So, when he decide who he doesn’t want and they decide I want to stay. Your business, a multi-billion business (THA), becomes part of the bacchanal of the nation and they you will pretend that you didn’t know.”


"PM: No candidate on rape charge could represent PNM"

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