Good Evening Couva! Good evening Trinidad and Tobago.
Thank you for coming
While we are jubilant and happy. I want us to think about our brothers in the Bahamas
I know we still have some pains today is the first day of school and some schools remain unopened. I trust the Minister of education would wake up and do his job and get our children back in the schools and in the meanwhile if the children still at home parents you have a duty friends please help them don’t let them fall behind whilst they wait for school to open. Give them that hand up.
Just a couple days ago, we celebrated 57 years as an independent nation. And i want us to remember we all came on different ships but today we are all in the same boat. We may have come in different ships from all the great nations of the word but toady we are one nation T&T , where every creed and race should find an equal place.
Trinidad and Tobago is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world. Yes, it is!
We have our share of problems and challenges, yes, but where else in the world can you see people from different backgrounds, different cultures, races and religions living together in harmony?
To quote the words of a well-known song:
Sweet T&T, is my country
Every creed and race, have an equal place
We shall overcome one day,
one day I say
All this misery and pain,
pain and strain
We have to unite, to stand up and fight
And we’ll get things right, one day.
– Sweet T&T
I am a proud Trini to the bone, and I know all of you here are proud Trinis.
We are a people forged with courage, determination and an indomitable will to chart our own destiny.
However, we are now faced with two great challenges against our freedom of speech. Ok, we have 3 challenges
1st challenge is to get rid of Rowley
the first problem we have to solve is to get rid of Rowley and his government
Politically and democratically trough elections and we have to vote them out
Are we truly independent with sedition on our laws books still?
More than half a century ago, we, as a people, aspired to throw off the chains of colonial servitude and oppression and build a democratic society to benefit all people.
We have made strides, yes. But as we look closely at what is happening in our country today, we must ask ourselves – are we truly developing as a nation.
the sedition law. I see Rowley saying it is an old law and archaic law and get rid of all the old law. It is not a matter of getting rid of all the old laws. It is what is the intent of that law. And when it was passed what was the intention and that intention was to stifle long brown people and black people in our country. Todat this law has no place in a free and democratic country.And thee fore it should be repealed and completely removed of the statue books
We aspires 57 years ago to throw away all chains of colonial servitude and to build a democratic society.
We are celebrating 57 years of independence, yet worryingly, our own Government – this PNM Government is locking up people using the massa law- is doing the same as our colonial oppressors by using the archaic charge of sedition to torment a political opponent.
What have we allowed our society to become?
Have we thrown off the shackles of colonial tyranny and now allowed ourselves to again find our country under similar governance?
Are our news editors, journalists, unionists, religious leaders, civil society leaders, concerned citizens, political commentators and non-government politicians now being tacitly intimidated by the recent resurrection of the sedition laws?
A political opponent was charged with sedition in relation to comments made during a television interview last November in which he urged workers of TSTT, TTEC and WASA to be “prepared to die.”
Here’s what Watson Duke said then:
“This is your belief folks, this is your family and I am sending the message clear, let Rowley them know that the day they come for us in WASA, we are prepared to die and the morgue would be picking up people“.
Compare that to what PNM Member of Parliament Fitzgerald Hinds said on a PNM platform:
“I said to my colleagues, as a younger parliamentarian then, I said the UNC is badly wounded. We need to finish them out. Kill them dead. I want you to understand that on November 28, you have the opportunity to drive a PNM balisier deep into the hearts of the wicked UNC vampires. Take a stake with a balisier on top and drive it deep within their heart and finish them off once and for all.”
One speaker says be prepared to die for his union members while the other invokes his supporters to kill them dead.
I ask you – which is worse?
Yet there was no investigation, no charge, no protest from the government for one while the other is being prosecuted and persecuted.
What exactly is the specific criteria that is being used to determine what is free speech and what is seditious after 57 years of independence?
What are the criteria to determine who is charged and who is not?
I do my duty as Opposition leader, and we in the Opposition do our duty to hold the Government accountable; to ask these questions so as to protect all patriotic citizens from running afoul of this archaic law and an ever-increasing oppressive Government.
Signs of a dictatorship
This Rowley Government has tried to pass laws that would allow them to seize your property if they accuse you of a crime-even though there have no evidence. But we stopped them in the parliament
They want to pass a so called cyber crime bill that the media have warned is really about trying to criminalize journalism. they want to crimamanalise And we will stop them again.
Now they are misusing the Sedition Act to target all those who speak out against them.
Rowley’s comments about repealing the sedition act
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says the age of the Sedition Act is not the problem. Rowley, who was speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s Independence Day celebrations at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain yesterday, questioned whether other old laws should be thrown out as well. [Trinidad Express, Page 3, PM defends sedition law]
What nonsense and foolishness?
Rowley questioned if people should be free to make inflammatory statements under the guise of free speech.
He said, “I want to ask this, is it the act itself that is the problem or is it a right for a citizen, head of one sector of the country, to make disparaging, hurtful and damaging statements on another sector and say it is my right and free will to say so?”
Well that one takes the cake…I wonder how he could say this with a straight face?
You all know…the whole country knows the kinds of terms this man has used to describe me, and members of the UNC members of the nation.
so when he tells the women of the country “choose your men wisely”
They went against a religious leader now they are going after a union leader
Not the first case of sedition charges – Sat Maharaj
What other countries have done
Ghana has abolished its sedition laws. Indonesia has declared such laws unconstitutional, as has a high court in Malawi.
In India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Botswana and Liberia, such laws are still said to be used to stifle dissent by journalists and, in some instances, NGOs. Ironically the law criminalising sedition has been abolished in Britain. New Zealand has abolished it, as have many other modern democracies.
Remember, this is not the first time that freedom of expression was under threat.
it is a dangerous piece of law. When Duke said we are prepared to die.
Think back to the times when members of this Government issued veiled threats to public servants who were planning to protest.
The Prime Minister has turned Post Cabinet briefings into attacks on people who speak out.
Rowley’s “New Society” is really a tyrant’s society – where Rowley acts like a King. (Maybe that’s why he moved with such haste to refurbish Whitehall – he feels more like a King in there)
Tonight, I want to reiterate the UNC’s commitment to democracy and to protecting citizens’ rights.
We will not be bullied. We will continue to fight for you!
We also have now a new pervasive threat to our freedom of speech.
Outrage culture is the second great threat to freedom of speech in our country. Outrage culture is defined as when “people play the victim card and bend over backwards to be as offended as possible when they really aren’t.”
People on social media platforms and mainstream media also constantly rage against one another and relish taking offense to everything to society’s detriment. This causes outrage culture to devalue the importance of sharing ideas and tolerating different opinions.
This now has become a serious self-inflicted impediment to free speech. When persons voice concerns and opinions about awkward and complex topics such as race, sexism, gender, politics etc. they are attacked and vilified for bringing up the topic. There seems to be a concerted effort to play the victim card each time to prevent serious discussion about important issues and thus we as a society keep kicking the can down the road instead of frontally discussing our problems.
Outrage culture is depicted by dramatic outbursts in which people claim their moral superiority and crave public recognition. We see this in people’s politically and morally charged social media posts where the comments sections overflow with fights. The fact is criticisms and opposing views are not to be considered insults but rather should be viewed objectively and discuss them.
Outrage culture has become an integral part of society with many people enjoying hearing and judging others’ personal information, and outrage fuels this transfer of gossip.
However, using outrage as a framework for morals and identity can create an “us-versus-them” environment. People are on one of two ends of the spectrum and differing opinions are not tolerated by either side.
Media has taken advantage of people’s constant need for fighting. Regardless of political ideologies, race, gender or economic background there are articles, blog posts and news reports meant to incite viewers. To capture attention, media will use that fuel of anger, emotion and fear rather than address the actual issue at hand.
The original intent for outrage culture was to call out the oppressors and bring serious issues to light but it is instead being used to commit covert racism. It is being used in our country to silence dissenting opinions. This should not happen no matter how disagreeable their different perspectives seem.
Whenever uncomfortable topics in Trinidad and Tobago are raised outrage culture is used to scuttle the discussion. This is why the problems never gets addressed, it’s because people are intimidated into not speaking out because of fear of getting ridiculed and attacked.
This reason is why covert discrimination is prevalent in Trinidad and Tobago.
Covert discrimination is born out of the social elite (haves) intent to maximize profit at the expense of racialized others, it stands shielded by institutions, mainstream media, culture, stereotypical assumptions, tradition and now outrage culture. Those who have would remain where they are
Whereas overt discrimination assumed blatant and insidious forms, covert discrimination hides behind the façade of ‘politeness’, political correctness and expediency (no you must not talk about that)
At the heart of covert discrimination one finds a deliberate policy of denial, omission, and obfuscation of issues/ persons/and groups.
So you see persons in the haves or elite, use their influence in the mainstream and social media to say don’t speak about discrimination or racism or sexism or gender issues and instead they attack the people who are trying to enlighten and expose it by painting them as ignorant, troublemakers or other negative names.
When in fact it is these same people who insist on preventing the conversation who are the ones benefitting economically at the expense of society at large (the have not’s).
What is done now is that outrage culture is invoked and the persons trying to speak about and expose these insidious injustices are attacked personally and shamed and bullied into silence so as to prevent the majority of the population from starting to ask questions of the social elite about the economic disparities in society.
That is why people who speak out against the social elite’s manipulations of race, religious and gender issues and for empowerment of poor people in society are commonly attacked and vilified in the media platforms.
So they use covert discrimination as a boundary keeping mechanism whose primary purpose is to maintain social distance between social elite and social non-elite.
Often its kill the messenger but never address the message in order to silence the discussion. Silencing happens when for society, hearing the truth is too much; when the truth hangs so painfully heavy on their shoulders that they’d rather get rid of the weight, than actually face the issue head on.
But why would the truth be a burden for some? Because when the truth is held up, it reflects the false securities that our society rests on: the elitism, the economic disparity, the racism, the sexism, the xenophobia, the oppression of the poor and marginalized.
let me give you an example 300 days out of 356 negative stories of people of Lavantille are spoken of negatively
An example of Covert Discrimination
And the people who benefit from those unjust systems or often, simply those with money in the social elite have a hard time letting go of their privilege within those realms.
To escape these truths, silencing and outrage culture are the weapons of choice against dissenting voices. They will do whatever it takes to maintain the power that keeps them comfortable at the expense of the marginalization so many.
I will give you an example of covert discrimination and how it’s enabled by an institution.
300 days out of 365 for the year you have negative stories about people from Laventille in the newspaper and very few positive stories. This disproportionate reporting in the media creates a very negative perception, so wider society is conditioned to believe everyone in that area is bad.
Therefore when people from Laventille go to get jobs no one wants to hire them for any good jobs out of fear, thereby exacerbating the cycle of unemployment and poverty.
Now if the same media would instead highlight positive stories in greater proportion to negative ones the perception will change. This type of disproportionate negative media coverage of the laventille community is an example of covert racism as it feeds a harmful bias against this community.
Now as leader of the UNC if I start to speak about this covert discriminatory bias and address it truthfully some persons will not be able to handle the truth.
So, through the weapons of outrage culture and silencing they will attempt to smear me and the UNC. Be warned that many times the people who jump up and say x y p q will not divide us are actually the ones who are perpetrating the most division in this country to the detriment of the marginalized and poor.
I urge you – ready yourself, stay strong, stay united and focused because we must ensure that future generations will have the freedom to express themselves.
They have started a new narrative I saw Hinds saying the UNC
LET’S talk about today’s economic and Global reality
Apart of crime the country needs jobs
As the world moves rapidly towards an integrated digital economy based on renewable energies, artificial intelligence and automation, as a gas and oil-based economy, we will face challenges in growing and maintaining revenues, jobs and expenditure.
By 2040 most developed countries will have phased out combustion engines in favour of electric vehicles, changed power generation to renewable energy instead of fossil fuels and plastics for consumer use will be replaced by environmentally friendly materials.
This combined with other more plentiful supplies of oil and gas from new producers such as Guyana and the USA will severely decrease demand and prices for our energy products.
Artificial intelligence and automation will result in less conventional manufacturing jobs for people as all businesses will seek out the most efficient means of production and operation.
We as a nation must plan adapt to this new reality and must do so immediately.
Thats why we gave the children laptops.
They dont care about the children
To this end the UNC has been rolling out plans and ideas for implementation upon our return to service in 2020. Since April 2018 and in my last budget speech I have been putting out plans regarding proposed improvements for education, crime alleviation, job creation, state enterprise sector reform and tax alleviation.
I would like to focus on some ideas/plans for improving the economy to increase productive capacity, increase foreign direct investment, increase the ease of doing business and thus facilitate job creation. These can be implemented as soon as possible.
- Lower corporation taxes to a minimum of 18% over the next five years.
- Trump lowered taxes and it brought back business to USA.
- Businesses know best how to utilize their own money for growth. We should not overtax them only to attempt to return said taxation in misdirected subsidies.
- No property taxes on plant equipment, land and building of our local manufacturers. No tax on them to help create new business.
- Deregulate and simplify the processes for environmental clearances and approvals for new and existing businesses. Over regulation and prohibitive initial requirements increase start-up costs, cause time delays which chases away new businesses and often stifles fledgling ones. Often, after initial requirements are met there is no continuous assessment and the result is environmental degradation over the course of operations. To address both these issues, we should instead encourage businesses, once they are up and running, to implement an environmental management system such as the ISO 14000 series. This measure would lessen initial requirements, speed up time of getting the business operational and, yet provide continuous monitoring of operations over the course of its life span.
- We have ranked very well on the ease of doing business. We have fallen under this Rowley government.
- Pursue double taxation agreements with more countries in south America, west Africa and other commonwealth countries
- Strengthen legislation to protect minority shareholders
- Aggressively enhance legislation regarding contract law and mediation. Currently it takes between four and six years to settle contract disputes. A stronger legislative framework will serve to make contracts more secure, prevent unwarranted litigations, shorten resolution times and prevent unwarranted litigation thus encouraging investor confidence
- Implement Spanish as a compulsory second language in all schools. This will enhance our local businesses and workforce ability to infiltrate the over 422 million person south American market.
- As a matter of urgency implement computer technology and software development as core parts of the education syllabus. We must prepare to survive in the digital economy
- Increase the ease of doing business by implementing a quality assurance management system such as ISO9001:2015 in specific units related to business development, statutory approvals, credit facilities, tax clearances, financial accreditation in the following organisations: Legal affairs, utilities (WASA, TTEC, NGC), customs and excise, BIR, EMA, Town and country, FIU and building inspectorate. Aligning all these units under a common quality management system will increase the ease of doing business
- We can decrease our costs of exporting a container of locally manufactured goods by approximately 200 to 300 US dollars. This can be achieved by improving road infrastructure to decrease transport costs to ports from factory. Hiring of more customs and excise personnel to increase efficiency of their operations. Investing heavily in improving port infrastructure to attract new shipping lines. Increasing the number of bonded areas offsite the ports thus freeing up space within the ports for exporters. Strengthen management and technological systems to reduce inspection and documentation times and speed up throughflow times
- We should make Spanish compulsory in our schools
- Invest and expand the T&T Bureau of Standards to enhance their ability to test imported products and reject inferior products from entering our country. We are inundated with dumping of inferior products which is detrimental to our local manufacturers who adhere to higher quality standards
- Work with fellow CARICOM members to create new and to enhance existing trade agreements with South America. As CARICOM, we will be in a stronger position to get more profitable agreements.
We will look at building industries in:
- Food processing and packaging
- Manufacture of basic medical supplies and disposables
- Manufacture of medical furniture
- Manufacture of Office and School furniture.
- Manufacture of specialist chemicals for the oil and gas industry and medical industry.
- Garment manufacturing
- Metals Foundry for precision casting of primary component parts for use in secondary assembly industries.
- Glasswork for manufacture of panes, household glassware, optical lens and component parts for secondary assembly industries.
- Electronic assembly.
- E-waste recycling – disassembly of computers, printers etc. to recover reusables. Countries actually pay you to do this and then you can resell the recovered metals.
These are just a few of our ideas and plans for implementation. I encourage the government to pursue them as they are not capital intensive and are easily attainable and will increase efficiencies, making doing business easier, encourage new business and investment and create jobs.
While some ideas may find favor and others not, I wish to point out that the UNC has a proven record of delivery that cannot be disputed.
The UNC is a job creator with 50,000 plus jobs 2010-2015
We created those jobs without raising one TAX
The UNC brought down the unemployment rate to the lowest in our history to 3.3%
The UNC saved the most in our history in 2014; cash in bank in the HSF $31.1 billion US = $89billion TT and in our foreign reserves $…..
Our incentives in the hydrocarbon sector resulted in increased production for T&T
Our spending 2010-15 resulted in a net positive growth for the country which reflects high quality spending.
Low quality spending does not increase growth as is being seen presently.
My friends, we’re approaching the fourth anniversary of this Rowley regime. I have a few questions that I believe you should ask yourselves.
After Four Years of the PNM – Are you better off?
In a few days time, September 7th will mark the end of the fourth year and start of last year of the Keith Rowley regime.
I am asking you are you better off today
The question is are you better off today?
Do you feel safer today?
Do you have more job opportunities today?
Do you have better healthcare today?
Rowley has refused to open the Couva Children’s Hospital and instead turned a fully furnished hospital with over 200 beds into a drug store.
Do you and your children have better educational opportunities today?
Today, the new school term started. For the past four years we have routinely seen the Ministry of Education consistently fail to have all schools in a proper state for the new term.
Is this Government taking care of your needs in your communities?
Worrying Signs on the Economy
My friends, as you know the UNC team has been walking throughout Trinidad.
The feedback on the ground has been one of despair, of hopelessness. People are worried about the high crime levels, no jobs, and poor amenities.
Last week, on the eve of independence almost 200 workers at the University of Trinidad and Tobago were sent home – to “save” two million dollars per month. A few weeks ago one of the country’s largest manufacturers also announced plans to send workers home. But we have 20 million to build a palace for Rowley in Tobago.
How many sustainable jobs have been created by the PNM in the past three and a half years?
What’s needed in Trinidad and Tobago
- In every constituency, we need to take back our country.
- Everywhere people are lost, in despair, we are here to give hope.
- We must remain hopeful. We can and will overcome our challenges, together.
- We are at a very important moment, and we are being called upon to ensure that our country has a bright future.
- The legacy of our great party is one of service and delivery to all!
- We need to unite to rescue our country from the disaster of the PNM.
- UNC has a plan to transform Trinidad and Tobago, but we need all hands on deck.
UNC best option for T&T
T&T is not suffering from a lack of resources – it is suffering from too much of Keith Rowley!
That is why both the upcoming local government elections as well as the general elections are the most important elections in our nation’s history.
Do we choose to continue on the path of despair led by an incompetent man who is more interested in playing gold than being Prime Minister.
Or do we choose a better path? One filled with hope and optimism.
A path that believes that no problem is insurmountable, no challenge is too great if we face it together-united as one people.