The United National Congress congratulates the Honourable Prime Minister for the leadership she has shown in the past week in handling the visits of the international leaders – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and the President of China, Xi Jinping.
These high profile visits have raised the profile of Trinidad and Tobago and heightened our stature on the international stage and have brought immense benefits for the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Vice President Biden’s visit ended with pledges to strengthen regional security, trade and investment and support for renewable energy; President Xi has provided our country with billions of dollars in assistance in such areas of development as health, sports, defence and cultural exchanges. Both leaders were pleased with the manner in which the government handled the visits and publicly stated that.
However, in typical fashion, the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) has been attempting to dampen the benefits from these visits with spurious arguments about protocol breaches.
However, the Leader of the PNM should look in his own house before casting aspersions on the government and the way it conducted its affairs.
The government followed the proper protocol when it invited Dr. Keith Rowley to attend the formal events during the state visit of President Xi and when President Xi went to the Parliament to meet with the members of the Opposition, where was the Leader of the Opposition – in Tobago, where he ran away to play golf, snubbing a world leader to advance his political agenda. That is certainly the hallmark of a part-time Leader of the Opposition.
It is a shame that while Dr Rowley was hiding out in Tobago, other high profile members of his party, including members of his Parliamentary caucus understood the protocol and were present for the state banquet and at Parliament when President Xi visited. Unlike their leader, they demonstrated good judgment and respect for our national image at a time when the eyes of the world were on Trinidad and Tobago. Again, Dr Rowley was playing golf.
We find it totally out of place as well for the PNM to accuse the Honourable Prime Minister of wanting to usurp the role of the President of Trinidad and Tobago.
We wish to remind Dr. Rowley and the PNM that it was the former PNM leader, Patrick Manning, who so craved the presidency that he affixed the national coat of arms to his official vehicle in breach of all protocol and the country’s laws. It was our leader, the Honourable Prime Minister, who ended that on the very day that she became Prime Minister and removed the coat of arms from the PM’s vehicle and restored it to its rightful place.
Dr. Rowley is under pressure following his poor showing in the recent failed no confidence debate in the government. In that matter after presenting bogus documents in an attempt to mislead Parliament he and his MPs bolted from the House instead of standing behind their motion and voting for it.
And now, when handed an opportunity to show leadership and statesmanship he chooses to run away again in the hope that somehow he could embarrass the government to cover his own incompetence and political immaturity.
The UNC reiterates that Dr. Rowley is a disgrace to the office he holds. He is unfit to be a leader and should be removed.
Dr Rowley and the PNM are so out of it, that in a statement issued to the media on Monday, they referred to the Chinese President as the ‘Vice-President of China’ on two occasions. The second paragraph of the statement which emanated from the Opposition Leader’s Office and which was posted on the Express on-line website within minutes, read in part: “… with the visit of the Vice President of the People’s Republic of China to Trinidad and Tobago. Splashed on the front pages of our newspapers were photographs of the Vice President of China”.