UNC activist complains of criticism in the House

Ravi Balgobin Maharaj -
Ravi Balgobin Maharaj -

UNC activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj has complained to Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George about criticisms of him allegedly made by Port of Spain MP Keith Scotland in the House of Representatives on April 26.

The House was debating a private motion on health care delivery filed by Caroni East MP Dr Rishard Seecheran.

In that debate, Scotland said legal challenges by the opposition were a contributory factor to the scenarios alleged in the motion. "In the past three years, no less than nine court matters have been brought by this activist, who is self-proclaimed to be a tool or a medium of the honourable members on the other side.

"This government has had to spend over $14,620,340 on legal fees, having to lawyer up before a court to defend the health system and the health care workers of TT. Couldn't this money be better spent in the health care system, getting needed drugs?"

He said the challenges also placed health care workers under more stress, as they had to endure additional work to depose and gather information for these legal battles.

"For the layperson, there could be nothing more stressful than having to appear in court, particularly to answer ghost allegations. This is what the health care workers, hundreds of them, faced over the past three years by this so-called activist."

Scotland went on to slam the opposition for what he believes is an attempt to use the neonatal deaths at the Port of Spain General Hospital for political mileage.

"I call on the honourable members of the other side: stop politicising these deaths. It is beneath you. Stop spreading misinformation and propaganda. It does not do the families any good. It does not do the healthcare workers any good, and it certainly does not do the country any good."

In his contribution, Scotland did not identify the "activist" by name.

In a signed letter to Annisette-George on May 3, Balgobin Maharaj claimed Scotland had made malicious, false and baseless statements.

He asked Annisette-George for permission to have the Clerk of the House read his written response to Scotland's statements "in the interest of truth, fairness and transparency."

Balgobin Maharaj believed this is necessary because he is not an MP and cannot appear in Parliament to defend himself.

"I am entitled to vindicate my legal rights as a citizen regardless of my political affiliation and the courts are quite capable of adjudicating these cases in a fair and unbiased manner."

Balgobin said he is not a puppet of the opposition and has not initiated any legal matters which have placed stress on health care workers.

He also claimed never to have lost any legal matter concerning issues in the public healthcare system.

Balgobin Maharaj called on Scotland to provide details of any legal matters Scotland raised in his contribution in the House on April 26.

"This malicious, baseless and scurrilous attack will not deter me from pursuing my cases in the public interest. If anything, it has strengthened my resolve to do so."

Should Annisette-George approve Balgobin Maharaj's request, his response could be read by the clerk into the record at a future sitting of the House.

The House last sat on April 26 and has adjourned to a date to be fixed.

Scotland and Annisette-George were unavailable for comment.


"UNC activist complains of criticism in the House"

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