OPPOSITION Leader Dr. Keith Rowley’s heavily advertised but poorly attended “Conversation” held in his constituency, in his neighborhood, once again demonstrated the bankruptcy of ideas and vacuity of vision which failed to excite even his neighbours to participate in his “conversation”.
Despite all his empty promises about presenting a policy framework we are still to learn what exactly Rowley would do to improve the lives of citizens, reduce crime, strengthen the economy, provide well paying jobs and generally make Trinidad and Tobago a better place.
What we continue to hear is the usual political rhetoric with no substance. Where are his ideas for education, health care, infrastructure development, the economy and social services? As we speak we are unaware of his plans to create jobs for the graduates of our GATE programme? And what about law and order and national security?
For instance, Rowley pledged that a PNM government would confront corruption and deal with it through accountability, promising to “lead from the front” without providing details. He also said people generally have accepted that corruption is a way of life and added that the PNM, without providing specifics, would change that.
But how can anyone trust the PNM to deliver on this promise when it is the PNM that created corruption in public affairs during its first unbroken 30 years in office. We recall the scandals of the early PNM era that included the Gas Station fiasco, the Caroni Racing Track bacchanal, kickbacks for the purchase of planes, the Tesoro giveaway among others.
Once back in office the culture of corruption that PNM created and which Rowley knows only too well – bid rigging, nepotism, rape of the treasury, protection of criminals, Las Alturas and the Tarouba Stadium are but the tip of the iceberg.
Rowley’s PNM refused to support the landmark procurement legislation that the PP passed to guarantee accountability and transparency. Our Prime Minister, by contrast, has continued to blaze the trail of good governance by introducing and participating in Prime Minister Question Time in Parliament. She is never afraid to be held to account.
Rowley’s lack of vision and original thinking is also seen in his approach to crime. He is talking about modernizing the police service and dealing with rogue officers, which is exactly what the present government has already done.
Perhaps Rowley’s “conversation” was not well attended because the people were not prepared to sit through another monologue of recycled ideas that have failed in the past, or attacks on sensible PP programs that have worked well to enhance the quality of life of the widest cross section of citizens.
Rowley speaks about justification for expenses but he was part of a government which reserved millions in a slush fund for party people and billions to bail out a corporation that funded a PNM election campaign to the tune of $20M.
Rowley’s loose talk continues to erode his credibility. In all its years the PNM built one hospital that was riddled with problems that continue today; the PP completed and opened the Scarborough hospital, converted an office complex to a new state of the art hospital, has started construction of two more, will soon open a children’s hospital, opened health centres for longer hours, reduced waiting time for services and so much more. Yet Rowley has the audacity to speak about “spending more in health system, getting less health care”
He continues to insult the children of the nation by stating that while they go to school they are not being educated. We need to refresh Dr. Rowley’s memory about the political spite that caused the PNM to refuse to open the Biche High School or to build schools in rural Trinidad and Tobago. His view of children is that they are “dunceys” and “hyenas” and while he is quick to find fault with a system that is working effectively and efficiently he cannot propose one idea to make the system better.
We challenge Rowley and the PNM to tell the nation exactly what they would do for the people and for Trinidad and Tobago. No PNM administration has kept its promises; none has delivered even a faction of what the PP under Kamla Persad-Bissessar has in the past five years.
If Rowley wants to lead the country he has an obligation to show people that he and his motley team of novices can think beyond the PNM mindset. And perhaps he could try to follow the Prime Minister’s example of leadership and more people would turn up to converse.
Campaign Manager of the United National Congress (UNC)