SPEAKING NOTES OF THE HON. KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR, SC, MP
POLITICAL LEADER OF THE UNITED NATIONAL CONGRESS
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MONDAY MAY 8th 2023
INTRODUCTION – THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO MADE OUR PARTY INTERFAITH SERVICE A SPECTACULAR SUCCESS!
What a lovely Fyzabad welcome to all of us. I am very happy to share some time with you tonight. But before I do that, let me thank all the speakers before me – they did a marathon tonight.
Friends and family of the UNC here and those who are listening on the airwaves. I want to really thank all of you who gave tremendous support, last Sunday when we opened the Headquarters and we had our interfaith service – tremendous uplifting and inspiration for all of us.
I want to play a song for you. Can I play a song? Will you sing with me? I will not sing in the mic because Greg, my husband, said – “Kamla, never sing in the mic”. And this is the song of the goodness of God.
There are so many persons who have pain because a dear one has died. The crime in the country is horrendous. There are those of us who have personal pains because of loved ones in our own families. So if I am a little emotional tonight, you will forgive me. But I shared this song because it gives me tremendous inspiration because God is great. We believe in the goodness of God.
YOU MUST HAVE A MINDSET OF A WINNER.
I want to share with you… our forefathers had a winning attitude, in spite of all the pains, trials and tribulations. They complained but they never really complained, they just got on with their work throughout all the trials and tribulations.
And our forefathers, regardless of whence they came – out of India, out of China, out of Europe, Asia – wherever they came from, they just got on with the work through all trials and tribulations.
And they made a foundation for a better life for us all. Look at MP Bodoe, his deceased dad sacrificed and sent him to become a doctor. I am speaking of those who came before us preparing a foundation for us as we must now prepare a foundation for those who come after us. And therefore, look at MP Saddam’s parents who ran a roti shop to send him to school to become the great lawyer that he is…. MP Saddam.
Look at MP Moonilal – you may not know his story. you may not know the trials and tribulations of his family. I heard him speak tonight about how they were looking when Moonilal get the contract. Moonilal you have the contract you are the MP for Oropouche and you take that and work well. So look at him, his big sister, she helped him become what he is today. And so I’m saying, those before us, gave us a foundation that we must now build a foundation for those to come after us.
Look at Senator John, look at Senator John! Her grandfather was a fisherman catching fish in Charlottesville and her grandfather and her parents, her mom who is always with us – and they built a foundation and sent her to school, that she has become what she is today – give her a round of applause.
And all of us, look at MP Lee. Look at his story of MP Lee’s parents and your family. They all had a winning attitude, they worked for the improvement of others, and they always in the good of God. So to all our families we are on their shoulders, let’s give all our forefathers, all our families a round of applause.
Time will not permit me but I can tell you MP Rodney’s foreparents, they also worked hard to make Rodney the great person he is. I could talk about MP Ratiram, I could talk about MP Michelle Benjamin, I can talk of all of you as MP’s, as councillors, as Senators and just as normal God fearing, human beings that we must give praise and thanks as I say to those who gave us the foundation to do well in the world today.
You know is one thing we know for sure, the champions of your great party, they have taught us this, it is your tradition to grow whatever you put your heart into. Our foreparents did it, grandparents, parents – they did it, and today you are doing it now.
If it’s your family, you will grow opportunities for your children’s education; you will grow opportunities for your spouse’s better health; you will grow opportunities for your in-law’s business. You will grow opportunities for everyone to have an equal space in this place we call our home.
If it’s your job, you will start with one truck, you may start with one wacker. So if it’s your job you will grow that job. If it’s your religion, you will grow that religion. And if it is your will, if it is the foundation you will build, you will grow congregations. And we together must grow communities in our neighbourhood where we live.
And if it’s your party you will grow support. And there is a word for people like these, who do this work – they are called winners. You are your party’s winners. Every single one of you contributed to us being winners of over 300,000 votes – did you know that? Everyone of you contributed to us being winners. Everyone of you is a winner of our 19 seats. Everyone of you. We need everyone. And every one of you will use that natural winning drive to win wider support for your great party.
No one from anywhere in our country, who looks at how you have grown your family’s well being, can ever call you anything else but a winner. Today I want you to rebrand yourself and your thoughts because we are all winners in our own right. Will you be a winner on the road to victory?
Teach your children. Wear that on your chest. And can you say it with me? We are winners! We are winners! Say it with me! We are winners! And the UNC is a winner! Put that on your chest as they say, bolt it to your chest! And wear it UNC and proud. Because if we don’t do it who will do it for us? If you are UNC and you cry every day and every night because somebody tell you something. Everyday in this life there is someone who will ill speak you – true or not true? But everyday in this life there are many who will say you are a winner. We are winners!
Teach your children that winning against any obstacle is embedded in our DNA – in the DNA of our forefathers who came from the great civilizations of the world in Africa, India, China, the Middle East, and Europe.
I want to uplift you a little bit because you know I was down – I had a mishap in our family, but I always believe in the goodness of God.
You are winners, and your children will be winners, and your grandchildren will be winners. Always have that mindset. First you have to believe it and then you have to make it happen.
So God bless you as I give you these words of inspiration.
WHO DEAD DEAD, WHO LIVE, LIVE. BUT LAZY ROWLEY MUST PLAY GOLF
Now we move to politics and the state of our nation.
Today, as our economy continues to collapse, as citizens continue to be terrorised in their own homes, everything is in a state of collapse – the very fabric of our society feels like it is being ripped and torn apart. But, Lazy Keith Rowley is on the golf course in Barbados, enjoying a luxury vacation paid for by whom? We will find out.
I am told he just returned, but he’s come back for a day or two and going off somewhere again.
And his attitude is who dead, dead, who live, live. Lazy Rowley must play golf.
People were asking me “when are you going Barbados Kamla?” What am I going to Barbados for? They say the man gone Barbados so we think you will go next. Our country is in tatters and in tears but this man is swinging a golf club in Barbados without a care for what is happening.
Many are struggling to buy basic food items like bread, meat, cheese, tomato, baigan – but our tax dollars are paying for the laziest Prime Minister in our country’s history.
Such is the shamelessness of lazy Keith Rowley that he even told the nation that he has nothing to answer to them for!
This lazy government wants power without responsibility! They want the privileges that come with holding public office, but they do not want the responsibility, the accountability that comes with holding office and they do not want to work.
You know I find it so shameless. I cannot imagine that people can be so brass faced and boldfaced. They are truly shameless. They have no care for anyone.
Moonilal told you tonight – the President is giving her husband – her husband silk. And that is bad enough – she giving the brother silk too man!
Can you believe it? Shameless people. We warned that this President would be a puppet. But we didn’t know she was going to be a puppet for her own family. We thought she would be the PNM puppet, which of course she is as well, now she is the puppet of her family.
And Saddam would have told you about the legal fees that Kerwin Garcia received. That Colin Kangaloo received under this PNM Government. They are just totally shameless.
It is clear to every person in our country that lazy Keith Rowley didn’t want to become Prime Minister to serve the people. He wanted to become Prime Minister to tee off on the golf course all over the world!
THIS IS THE LAZIEST GOVERNMENT IN HISTORY AND LED BY THE LAZIEST PRIME MINISTER EVER.
CITIZENS CONTINUE TO BE TERRORISED BY CRIMINALS
- This week this lazy government claimed that they spent 3 Million dollars to hold their failed crime symposium at the Hyatt. But you see, that’s not the truth, I am told by state officials that the government has spent almost 15 million dollars on the failed crime symposium when all the goods and services provided by the state are accounted for.
- Let that sink in, 15 million dollars for a wasted Rowley propaganda event. And if you ask the Prime Minister he will say “I don’t know. I don’t have to account.”
- Our ports have no scanners. Our CCTV cameras are all breaking down. The TTPS does not have the vehicles they need to respond to crimes, but the government felt that spending 15 million dollars at the Hyatt to talk about crime was more important than spending a single dollar on things that actually help fight crime.
- If you want to know what causes crime, go down to the prison and talk to the prisoners. They will tell you what caused them to get involved in that type of life. It would cost you gas money only to reach there.
- So, after 15 million wasted on crime symposium, today we woke up to hear from one our greatest cricket icons, Brian Lara in distress. One of his childhood friends was murdered in a shooting in Santa Cruz.
- Let’s take a look at what transpired.
- Look at how vicious and brutal these criminals operate. That is the state of crime in the country.
- Last year this nation recorded 605 murders. As of right now we have recorded over 200 murders. You know why this is occurring? Because the criminals feel emboldened. The criminals are looking at the incompetent Fitzgerald Hinds and saying they could do what they want.
- Bandits and murderers see how Rowley and the PNM have taken control and undermined the hierarchy of the TTPS.
- What you are going to have happen is a Commissioner of Police who is handcuffed to Rowley and the Cabinet of the PNM. Will she be able to be independent when her job depends on a Cabinet note from Rowley?
She doesn’t have that security of tenure as other officers do. That they can be independent and be fierce in their job.
Her job depends on Keith lazy Rowley, her job, whether she gets one month extension, whether she gets two months or three months or a year.
Who makes that decision; not the independent Service Commission.
That decision will be made by lazy Keith Christopher Rowley.
You know the song, who pays the piper calls the tune.
If your job depends on Rowley then who is your boss? what will you do? Who will you listen to? Whom will you follow?
Then they will come every Sunday morning and put up headlines, UNC people going and get lockup.
Remember that. When you have a police Commissioner who depends each day of her job on the Rowley cabinet, on Rowley himself. Then what’s going to happen. So I am warning you, you know. Today is me, tomorrow is you they’re coming for. Today it may be you, tomorrow its you.
This is a dictatorship and this is spiralling totally out of control. I don’t think there is any point of return from what the Rowley lazy government is doing.
Bandits and murders see how Rowley and the PNM have taken control and undermined the TTPS. Sections of the TTPS are under the control of balisier house. Believe it you know.
You thing you are living here and it does not touch you. It will touch you today and tomorrow it will touch your children and your grandchildren.
So what do we do.
STAND YOUR GROUND
Do not ever give up, stand your ground.
I have a clip here of the Palmyra murder.
So the caption in this clip is, ‘baffled that someone could just walk into their home and gun down her elderly husband’.
You know I talked about home invasion and this lazy clueless Rowley, what did he say Capil. He said people coming to pick a mango or zaboca in your yard and you want to get a law to kill that person.
No understanding of what people face when this woman and her husband, they just walked in a gunned down the man in Palmyra.
Today it’s him, tomorrow it’s you, or your children or your husband. Think of it, it is never never far away from you.
- Since I spoke about the Stand Your Ground Law, which allows for adjustment of current home self-defence laws, I have got tremendous support from the public because they understand it. Stand your ground.
- At the PNM sports day last week, Rowley accused me of saying things I never said! So on top of being lazy he is also a liar. Whats the word Rudi a congenital liar in addition to being lazy. Well Row lie of course, Row lie and they have lie more too, the AG, we will come to him in a minute.
- I want to tell the country tonight that stand your ground laws will benefit every law abiding person in our country. Everyone is being affected by crime, crime does not discriminate. Crime has no face and it has no race, it is everyone who is affected by crime in our country. No face, no race. It is everyone of us.
- We are all Trinidadians and Tobagonians. We all have to deal with the issues of crime together. That is the only way we will make our nation a better and safer place.
- I tell you that current self defence laws are not adequate. I saw an article by a lawyer in the paper about stand your ground, explaining fully that:
- “The problem with the application of the current common law”… “with particular reference to householder cases,” they “lack a clear and transparent application of the current law.”
- And all I’m saying, let’s clarify that law. That when you’re in your home, in your castle, you stand your ground for anyone invading your home coming to do evil and to do ill to you and your family. I will not back down on stand your ground law. I will not back down.
- And if it is, if it is we have to wait that we form the government… this government have said clearly we have no interest in stand your ground laws, none, none. Because they think it is designed for a man coming to the yard to pick mango and zaboca. We are talking about invading your home, not your zaboca tree, not your mango tree. They are in your face, in your house.
- Look at what happened, that owner of the Mini Mart set on fire. Can we put that clip up please. This is what’s happening everywhere. We cannot turn a blind eye. A proprietor was set ablaze at his business place on Friday. Recovering from his injuries.
- Imagine you set a businessman on fire.
- Imagine, the PNM has abandoned innocent law-abiding persons to the mercy, and I say mercy of the criminals, stand your ground.
- I ask you stand with the UNC as we stand our ground against this wicked and lazy, corrupt government.
- Then we come to the legal fees, that others spoke of. But I want to do it a little differently to share with you. So while the criminals are running rampant, sections of the police are becoming a PNM party group. You know where your money is going. It is going to PNM eat a food lawyers and grovellers. The last time I talked about PNM eat a food lawyers, fellars vex, they cuss me all over in town. I am not afraid of anybody being angry with me.
- I will stand my ground, because it is true.
EAT A FOOD LEGAL FEES FEEDING FRENZY
While criminals are running rampant and sections of the TTPS are becoming a PNM party group, do you know where your money is going? Well it’s going to PNM EAT A FOOD Lawyers and grovelers.
At least now we know why some of them grovelled for the worst AG in our history Reggie Liemore. Someone told me they were crying all over the place that Kamla called them grovelers.
I am doing it again i am going to name some of them!
According to a report in the Trinidad Guardian the PNM spent one Billion dollars in legal fees between 2015 to 2023.
I cannot even imagine what 1 billion is. Maybe the only honest Indian in the PNM can estimate 1 billion.
How much we could do with that money for the benefit of the people.
And once again we have activist and legal luminary Ravi Balgobin Maharaj to thank for filing the FOIA or else no one in this country would know!
I want to pay a special thank you to Ravi for his constant efforts in obtaining transparency and accountability for the citizens of the country.
According to the report :
Based on a compilation of the data, the highest legal fees went to Russell Martineau and Co. ($46.6 million) I don’t even know what a million looks like imagine one man..legal fees. And this is the lawyer who said the AG just made a mistake. B because he was paying you 45 million, he had to be a good boy.
Fyard Hosein ($28.5 million) The personal lawyer handpicked by Faris.
Deborah Peake ($24.7 million), Claude Denbow ($22.8 million), Gilbert Peterson ($18 million),
Seenath Jairam ($19 million), and Douglas Mendes ($10 million).
The data shows junior counsel lawyers collected fees over eight years.
These included attorneys Amirah Rahaman ($13.8 million), Netram Kowlessar ($12.6 million), Ravi Rajcoomar ($12 million), Tamara Toolsie ($8.1 million), Vanessa Gopaul ($7.8 million),
It doesn’t stop.
Dharmendra Punwasee ($7.8 million), Ravindra Nanga ($7.7 million), Rishi Dass ($6.7 million), Raphael Ajodha ($4.4million), Andrew Dalip ($3.6 million) and Terrence Bharat ($2.8 million).
Among those receiving payouts was guess who, Mr “lie More” himself Attorney General Armour who collected $17.5 million. Of this sum, $3.2 million was collected during his tenure.
They are lazy and incompetent but they are collecting their “paisa” their money.
Junior attorneys in Armour’s Marie de Vere Chambers, Vanessa Gopaul and Raphael Ajodhia, collected a total of $12.2 million.
The Freedom of Information data obtained by Maharaj did not include the legal expenditures from the critical Ministries of Finance and Energy, which will take the figures for payment to attorneys even higher.
The report adds : Kerwyn Garcia, the husband of President Christine Kangaloo, collected $14 million.
Today we were told he is collecting Silk.
Fitzwilliam, Stone, Furness-Smith & Morgan collected $23 million. President Kangaloo’s brother Colin Kangaloo has been a partner in this company since 2000.
I want to ask tonight will the President’s Husband and Brother continue to get millions in dollars in state briefs eating food from the taxpayers?
The report also states :
Meanwhile, attorney Roger Kawalsingh, who was a former member of the controversial Bliss Seepersad Police Service Commission, collected $18.2 million. He was also the attorney for Vincent Nelson, KC, who is the main witness in the collapsed case against former AG Ramlogan and attorney Gerald Ramdeen.
Kawalsingh was paid over $5 million for services he rendered to Nelson, KC. Nelson is now suing the State for breach of an indemnity agreement Kawalsingh had assisted in negotiating on his behalf with former AG Al-Rawi.
While the PNM is undermining the rule of law and breaching the constitutional rights of citizens, PNM grovelers are getting away with billions!
So, don’t get fooled by these grovelers. They eating a food but always want to shamelessly pontificate on others. I commend Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj for exposing them to the public.
The sad part about this is that all that money spent and these grovelers lose most of the cases for the state.
But no one in the PNM has a problem with this. They had a problem about 500 dollars for baby milk for poor mothers. Great are the grovelers.
This is why they gutted the procurement laws to facilitate these large legal fees to their friends. When the UNC returns to office we will put back the teeth into the procurement law.
We will ensure that the procurement laws will be returned to the original form.
THE ABDUCTION OF BRENT THOMAS – A SHAMEFUL BLOT ON OUR DEMOCRACY
Let me remind everyone here tonight of the fact. A T&T national was abducted in Barbados by three police officers from Trinidad and Tobago and forcibly brought to Trinidad via a CARICOM aircraft.
MP Moonilal dealt with this issue earlier. But tonight, I want to reveal that I will be writing to the Prime Minister of Barbados and copying it to all leaders of CARICOM concerning this illegal abduction.
I will be calling on CARICOM heads and the Barbados government to initiate a full public enquiry into this illegal abduction.
Monday 8th May, 2023
The Honourable Mia Mottley, S.C., M.P.,
Bay Street, St. Michael,
I write to you as Leader of the Opposition of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on a matter of great concern involving the alleged illegal abduction of a Trinidadian businessman on Barbadian soil, according to evidence and findings outlined in a judgement which was delivered by Justice Devindra Rampersad, in the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago on the 25th April 2023 (judgement attached for ease of reference – CV2022-04567 Brent Thomas and anor v the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago and anor).
It is reported that on October 5, 2022, Trinidadian Brent Thomas, the owner of Specialists Shooters Training Centre, an authorised importer and dealer of firearms and ammunition, was at a hotel when he was taken by a large group of armed men dressed in black, placed in handcuffs, taken to a police station and put in a cage in the back of a Barbados Police Service van.
It is alleged that Thomas was kept in the back of the police van until midday without water, food or the opportunity for a phone call, before relocating him to the cell in another police station where he remained until 5 p.m. that day.
Thomas was reportedly taken to Grantley Adams International Airport where he was taken into a small plane and taken back to Trinidad by Trinidad and Tobago police officers ASP Birch and Acting CPL Joefield. ASP Birch allegedly told Thomas that he was in possession of seven warrants for his arrest and would be taking him back to Trinidad.
In ruling against the State, Justice Rampersad found that the detention and transporting of Thomas from Barbados to Trinidad and Tobago via a non-commercial (Regional Security System) aircraft constituted an “abduction”, and ruled that Thomas’ constitutional rights had been breached and that his arrest and detention were therefore “unconstitutional, unlawful, arbitrary, unnecessary and disproportionate”.
The learned judge noted the following at paragraph 167 of his judgement:
“167. There is no doubt that Barbados is a Commonwealth territory for the purpose of the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act Chapter 12:04 as defined in the Schedule to the Order made under section 3 of the Act. Further, Barbados has enacted its own international obligations in relation to extradition in its Extradition Act, 1979. Therefore, the rule of law and due process of law would have been easily attainable by following the process thereunder. However, that was not the process followed at all. Instead, it is undoubtedly an inescapable inference that the Barbados Police Force detained the first claimant upon the request of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, whether through ASP Birch or otherwise. There was no other reason given as to why the Barbados Police Force would have detained him because there was no evidence of any illegality committed by the first defendant while in Barbados such as would have rendered him liable for arrest and detention.” (Emphasis added)
The learned judge continued at paragraph 169 as follows:
“169. Words cannot express the abhorrence that the court feels towards this unlawful act in a supposed civilized society governed by a Constitution in which the freedoms of the citizens are supposed to be protected. The preamble to the Constitution itself alludes to the people of Trinidad and Tobago recognizing that men and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law23 while expressing the desire that the Constitution should enshrine the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms24.”
The evidence presented, and the judgment of the Court represent a very dark day in both our islands’ proud jurisprudence and subscription to the rule of law. The illegal abduction of a person between our Caribbean island States is a very serious matter which warrants urgent investigation in both countries.
In this regard, in the interest of the people of our two nations, I respectfully call upon you, as Prime Minister of Barbados, to initiate a full, public inquiry into this matter.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, S.C., M.P.Leader of the Opposition of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
CONCLUSION – KEEP THE HOPE
In conclusion, my fellow members of the United National Congress, let us carry forth the spirit of this evening’s discussions and embrace the power of hope.
In the face of challenges, it is hope that strengthens our resolve, fuels our determination, and propels us towards a better tomorrow.
We have heard the voices of the people, their concerns, and aspirations, and it is our duty, as leaders and representatives, to address them with sincerity and unwavering dedication.
Together, we can build a nation that uplifts every citizen, that creates opportunities for all, and that fosters an environment of unity and progress.
I invite each and every one of you to join us next week in Tabaquite as we continue our journey towards a brighter future. Together, let us forge ahead, guided by hope and fueled by our shared vision for a prosperous and inclusive Trinidad and Tobago.
Thank you, and may I hope illuminate our path as we work tirelessly for the betterment of our nation.
May God bless you and may God bless our nation!