Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says he makes no apology for representing the largest block of Syrian, Arab and Lebanese in his constituency as he slammed Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for descending into “gutter politics”.
Speaking at a People’s National Movement (PNM) meeting in San Fernando last night, Rowley took issue with Persad-Bissessar’s reference to him as an “oreo” controlled by the “one per cent”.
He said Persad-Bissessar and the Unions are the two largest voices accusing the Government of lying as it relates to the closing of the Petrotrin refinery.
“And when that conversation doesn’t seem to be working as well as they would like they resort to my skin colour and colour of the skin of my constituents,” he said.
“The largest block of Arab, Syrian, Lebanese are in Diego Martin West and for that I make no apology and I don’t care who they vote for, I represent them and I think it is a shame and a disgrace of all the people and on the record of Trinidad and Tobago that a former Prime Minister, a leader of the Opposition can sink into such gutter politics,” he said.
“When all else fails, when rape fail, when paedophilia fail, resort to racism but me, I’m from Mason Hall in Tobago, that not fazing me at all,” added Rowley.
At the United National Congress’ (UNC) Monday night forum at Union Presbyterian Primary School, Claxton Bay, Persad-Bissessar said, ‘They (one per cent) tried to own Mr (Patrick) Manning but they couldn’t do that… they tried to own me but I sent them packing; they have their Oreo now who is their guy in Keith Christopher Rowley, and that’s how the one per cent friends and family of Rowley controls him.”
On Wednesday, Persad-Bissessar in the face of calls for her to apologise for the comment maintained it was not racist.
‘I do take note of comments by some that there may have been some insensitivity but there was not an iota of racism in my statements. My track record in public life speaks for itself. I acknowledge that relevant truths can be spoken with less sensitive words in future. The failed Rowley PNM PR team should focus on the bread and butter issues of real people instead of their continuous spin and deception. I will continue to expose this Prime Minister and his Government for the callous, uncaring bunch that they are,’ Persad-Bissessar stated in release.
Rowley in dealing with Petrotrin disclosed that at the three-hour meeting with the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) last week no way forward was presented to deal with the company’s debt.
He said they were asked about the numbers and the Union was of the view that the Finance Ministry does not support Petrotrin contrary to the facts stated via audits etc.
The Prime Minister revealed a document dated September 12 which came to the Cabinet called “provision of a Government guarantee in favour of Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago for US$56 million shirt term loan facility”.
He said this is over TT$300 million and it comes even whilst the union is telling people the Finance Ministry does not provide support for Petrotrin.
He added that another document dated September 10 spoke to a $56 million letter of credit from First Citizens bank.