Kamla Persad-Bissessar: Change

UNC Political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar

UNC Political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Address by newly-elected Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC), Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the inauguration of members of the new UNC National Executive at Rienzi Complex, Couva, on January 27, 2010.

“Behold they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. [Genesis 11:6]”

Today we start a new phase in our journey to return good governance to Trinidad and Tobago.

The election on Sunday was a very important part of democracy in our party.

We thank those who had the foresight to create a system that allows all our members to participate in the process of electing a leader and other members of our national executive.

And it was that democracy at work that resulted in what we have here today. The membership made a very strong statement for change and elected those of us here today to look after their affairs.

To the members of our party and those who worked in the respective campaigns, I wish to express my deepest thanks and profound gratitude.

I said during the campaign that this is your party and nobody will ever change that so long as I am your leader.

I remain committed to that pledge. The first step towards reconciliation, reunification and rebuilding of our nation has begun.

United we stand in this mission for that is the only way to go, for as the book of Genesis tells us:

“Behold they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. [Genesis 11:6]”

This is a victory of the people, whoever they happen to be, man or woman, of every creed and race and space and place.

This isn’t about me.

This is about the father who fears for the safety of his family even in his own home because of rampant crime; this is about the mother who doesn’t know where the next meal is coming from; this is about the village whose desperately pleas for water; this is about the ailing old man who can’t get proper medical attention at our nation’s health institutions.

This is about a nation regaining itself, righting itself, resuming its path of real progress, stability and peace.

This is about the future we owe our children.

What occurred on Sunday night was not just the result of a few weeks of campaigning. This has been a long, patient journey that tested me in every way. But the more challenging it became, the more determined it made me, the more it strengthened me.

And the stronger the barbs thrown my way, the greater my resolve.

But it is also important not to become insensitive to the things said. I believe it is important to feel the hurt, to remain human, to be in touch with those very feelings that others seem to have lost.

To remain grounded, not to lose yourself in the process, to constantly remind yourself why you took the decision to enter politics in the first place and to be guided by the sweet innocence of your early ideals. This has been my mantra throughout it all.

And throughout it all, I put the Lord in front and walked behind.

Now I feel reverently honoured by the will of God placed upon my shoulders through your support of my candidacy.

My message this afternoon goes beyond lines and other boundaries, real or imagined, and the message simply is that change is no longer just in the air, it has arrived at your doorstep.

On Sunday night a few thousand people ensured that politics in Trinidad and Tobago would begin to take on a whole new meaning and that what before separated us would now bring us together.

That the old way of doing things would now be replaced by the only way of doing things-with tolerance for each other, with the greater good in mind, where personal political ambitions are secondary to nobler, national pursuits in the interest of every citizen; where the sense of despair that fills our nation now is replaced with the spirit of optimism and confident resilience for which we have become so well known the world over; where insensitivity to a brother’s or sister’s plight gives way to empathy and an inspiration to help; where the government is no longer the problem but the government becomes the solution; where walls of suspicion fall away and bridges of understanding and good intentions connect us like never before; where gangsterism is rooted out and Godliness and law and order and opportunity are firmly planted in its place; where the empirical political obsessions to create architectural grandeur are replaced by the political will to getting our priorities right, like placing the right resources to effectively deal with our crime problem, providing water and better health care, controlling the high cost of living and reducing poverty, replacing the enslavement of political handouts with real employment, skills development and entrepreneurial opportunities, returning the nation to fiscal responsibility so that our largest oil windfall is not matched by huge budget deficits compliments of a government’s squandering of precious resources and unchecked corruption.

This betrayal of the people’s trust must end now. The siege must end now. It is time to move on. The political tribalism that once divided us will now give way to a nationalism and patriotism for the hunger of a child in Laventille is the same as that of one in Penal, and the fear of a father for his family’s safety in Tobago is the same as the ones in Toco and the pleas for water in Cedros is the same as those in Diego Martin, and the cries of a patient for proper medical attention in Port of Spain is the same as the ones in San Fernando.

We are bound as one by the need for a better life. Hitherto many may have felt disillusioned as they examined the political alternatives.

And some within our party understood that and led by our new chairman, Jack Warner, chose to raise their voices and traverse the country to demand accountability, change and elections.

And so we congratulate Mr Warner and the Movement for Change for challenging the status quo and helping to bring us to where we are today. Had it not been for their untiring and selfless dedication to the cause of democracy in our party, the voices of our membership may have remained silenced and our nation would have suffered the result.

Ladies and gentlemen, one issue that we raised in the campaign was our party’s inability to convince the population that it was a government-in-waiting; while it said so, the reality was that it was never able to instil confidence in our people that it could do so.

Our mission from today is to make the UNC a government-in-waiting.

I shall recommend to our executive that we should immediately establish a shadow cabinet that will have responsibility for monitoring the day-to-day activities of the Government.

In effect we will become the national watchdogs on your behalf. And we will not allow the Manning regime to get away with anything.

We want to work with all of you – our members and non-members alike-to hear your concerns and develop responses to deal with them and to help fix what is wrong.

We know that many people who wanted to be a part of our party were denied that right.

Today I want to invite all of you to come home and bring the rest of the family.

There is room in the house of the Rising Sun for everyone.

And my arms are open wide to embrace each one of you as we begin this revolution of change that will sweep the Manning administration out of office.

But nation-building cannot be about one person and about the ideas of one small group of people who refuse to consult the national community.

I pledge to you that we will make sure that as we develop policy we consult you and listen carefully to what is important to you.

We will deal with those issues in the weeks and months ahead as we ask you to help us to help you take charge and let you be the ones who are truly in control of the destiny of this nation.

In closing, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to all the people in the media who have contributed to keeping the issues alive during the campaign for the internal election and for keeping on the national agenda daily, the issues that affect our people.

You are the guardians of democracy and you have never abdicated your responsibility to the people and the country.

You have my word that I will at all times defend your right to freedom because without a free media our democracy will be deformed.

Free speech allows for a marketplace of ideas in which our citizens would be able to judge for themselves-as they did in our just concluded election-what is right and what isn’t.

We must never allow organisational pressures to get in the way of that freedom. You carry a great burden of responsibility to this nation to report without fear or favour to ensure that today’s minorities are not prevented from becoming tomorrow’s majority.

I would also like to thank all those who supported our campaign in one way or the other.

For each word of encouragement, for every hug of reassurance, for each smile of inspiration, for every prayer of hope, for each hour spent by so many in countless ways, for those within and without our party who embraced this victory and wished our campaign well, I can only offer in return my heartfelt gratitude and pledge that your victory has only just started as I begin the task of reuniting our party and country towards the salvation of Trinidad and Tobago.

I am humbled by your faith in our mission, motivated by the goal ahead and reverently honoured by the will of God in the responsibility placed upon me through your support.

Indeed, I thank you all from the depths of my heart. Once you have faith in God as surely as the day follows the night, the sun will rise again.

Thank You.

14 Responses to “Kamla Persad-Bissessar: Change”


  • Change: Remarks by Kamla Persad-Bissessar

    TIME TO MOVE ON
    “THE SIEGE must end now. It is time to move on,” newly elected UNC political leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar said yesterday as she took up the reins of the party and revealed she will discuss the issue of possibly taking up the post of Opposition Leader with her colleagues.

    Kamla’s first move: Shadow cabinet to monitor PNM in power
    Kamla Persad-Bissessar began preparing for governance immediately upon her inauguration as Political Leader of the United National Congress, setting up a shadow cabinet aimed at making the Patrick Manning regime more accountable.

    Persad-Bissessar vows to protect press freedom
    New political leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad-Bissessar has vowed to protect the freedom of the media, saying it was a fundamental pillar of true democracy.

    Subhas: Plenty ‘bad blood’ still
    Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday extended an olive branch to her former executive colleagues, including Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday, inviting them to work on various committees in the party.

    Rienzi staff blamed for card ‘sabotage’

    ‘I voted without card’
    Jit said while her husband did not have the membership card, this did not prevent him from voting at the Tunapuna Hindu School last Sunday since their names were on the membership list. Jit said she was disappointed with the process saying many supporters who had membership cards were not allowed to vote.

    …Warner scoffs at claims of plot
    The theatrical production of membership cards by former members of the UNC Executive reveals the ‘unbounded ineptitude of the deposed Executive and the disgraceful way they conducted the business of the UNC over the years’. Warner said to applause: ‘There are those who wish to distract us (from the march to government) with plots they connived long before the elections. It was the same men who tried to deny you your right to vote, who removed your names from the voters list, who are now trying to deny you this victory. Today we see the same custodians at Rienzi finding now what they themselves had lost…hoping no doubt, that this new find will change the course of this election.’

    Bas: I’m not spiteful
    Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday said yesterday that although he believes there was a deliberate plot to sabotage the UNC internal elections, he would leave it to his supporters to take action as he was not power hungry.

    Proud of my countrymen
    UNC voters made me feel a new confidence on Sunday night when they voted in another era of politics in this country. The decisiveness of their bid to bring about change was very impressive, given the seemingly determined efforts to thwart their resolve. If anyone needed further proof that democracy is alive and well in TT, the results of the UNC internal elections must give them, and all of us, hope.

    Fitun: Kamla’s election victory a move to new politics
    In a congratulatory statement on newly elected leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad Bissessar, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (Fitun) said yesterday her victory signals a need by citizens to break free of ‘traditional politics’.

  • Congratulations to you Kamla. I am very proud of T&T and once more there is hope at last. Hope that this country can be all that it can. You can do this.

    You are the next Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. May you serve the people well.

  • HOPE this is not another Political Game- Stop the Rumbling and Deal with the People’s basic needs.
    Heavy Taxes should be brought upon all Politicians in T&T – The new constructed House down St. Anns should be made into a house for Orphans. Put them Police them under BAMBOO sheds, and start to deal with all the mess we facing.

  • During Hurricane Gilbert, I lived in the Eastern Caribbean. It passed over my “island”as a 40MPH wind storm. It hit Jamaica hard, as a category 5 and destroyed many houses. A clergyman friend of mine, an activist Christian with a conscience, opened his house, which really belonged to the congregation, to a number of needy people. They tore the place apart. His stories, backed by his wife, were horrendous. Some children defecated in the bidet, not knowing; and their mothers refused to clean up after them. They tore fittings from the walls, spilled food and would not clean it up. By the time they got the whole troupe out, his wife was considering separation. Their church community posted them to another island, to work and have some R&R for a couple of years. That was how I met them. I mention this in response to the person calling himself/herself Sam, who suggested the “House Down St. Anns Should be made into a house for orphans.” Having volunteered at orphanages,(including St.MAry’s Childen’s Home) and in other run down places, I am saying that a bigger bit of foolishness was never uttered on this post.

    Few Trinis now live in bamboo huts. The last time I passed St. Helena Village, everyone seemed to have had a decent house.Even in BAmboo Settlement, they have settled into decent houses.

    These threats to tear down structures, and put the police in Bamboo sheds cannot have been written by a sane person. This is the sort of thing a Bas supporter might write, to put Kamla in a bad light.(Now,mind you, I am not on either side. I just love the parliamentary process!) I do not think any sensible person, PNM, COP or UNC would waste the patrimony of the people that way, while pretending to be for the people.Get some sense Sam unless you are the son of The Son of Sam, who is still in a place for the Criminally Insane in the US.

  • What’s wrong with you bloody PEOPLE !!!!! go attack you foolish government-(on all sides) who Killing all yuh- don’t attack me. Sick and fed up with you foolish TRINI’s who only have TALK.

  • BLUE CRAB MENTALITY- Ever really look at a bunch of Crabs in a barrel, well go learn something. When one crab is seeking to climb the barrel others just hook and pull down.
    This blue crab mentality is what is prevalent in Trini- Society, as with the head so with the Tail, Government as the Head, people and society as the Tail. When yuh come out ah the barrel, you would see what ah talking bout.
    Ah have to talk Trini language for all yuh to see what ah mean- eh !!!!!!! ent!!!. Al yuh set ah blue crabs!!!!

  • Kamla in Charge
    KAMLA Persad-Bissessar’s victory as political leader of the United National Congress has put her in charge of that party in the House of Representatives. Yesterday, House Speaker Barry Sinanan confirmed the responsibility for the appointment of the chief whip rests with the ‘party’s (political) leader’.

    Letter to Max Ready
    UNC POLITICAL Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday moved closer to becoming Opposition Leader as UNC MPs were urged to endorse her for the post by signing a draft letter that has been quietly prepared for despatch to President George Maxwell Richards should she garner adequate support during talks with all of the UNC MPs.

    Over to you Bas
    I guess the only question lingering after Sunday’s UNC election is whether Basdeo Panday can “catch de spirit” of a statesman and do the uncharacteristic — cede power to the opposition party’s new political leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

    No UNC Dollar Fete this year
    There will be no UNC Dollar Fete this year. Instead, the annual event will be replaced by a thanksgiving party in celebration of Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s victory as the UNC’s new leader. For the last three years, the UNC has been hosting the popular fete at a fee of $1. Thousands of patrons usually attend.

    Give up seat in Parliament
    Former St Augustine MP John Humphrey is advising Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday to not only relinquish his office, but to resign as MP for Couva North.

    Caroni Central MP resting at home
    Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday said yesterday that Caroni Central MP Dr Hamza Rafeeq who fell ill on Sunday, is recuperating at home.

    Gopeesingh: No political blackmail
    Caroni executive urges MP to support Kamla

    Accused sees lawyers – Claim of UNC election sabotage
    Karen Kissoon, the woman once loyal to Basdeo Panday, who is now scorning her as a saboteur, went to her lawyers Tuesday, the day she was blamed for the ‘hidden’ boxes holding undelivered United National Congress (UNC) party membership cards.

    Enill: UNC just following what we started
    United National Congress leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday her shadow Cabinet will consist of Members of Parliament and executive members working together.

    Constituents: Kamla a symbol of change

    Ryan: Kamla may pull COP members
    POLITICAL scientist Dr Selwyn Ryan said the COP could lose members to the UNC in wake of last Sunday’s election of Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar as new UNC leader.

    Dookeran: Parties must unite to win election
    If Prime Minister Patrick Manning calls snap elections, the opposition will have a snap response-it will have to fast track what has to be done to ensure there is a ‘one to one contest’ against the PNM. However, if the opposition is afforded the luxury of time normally required under the electoral system, then it will be a formidable force to reckon with.

    Oma’s niece ran UNC office
    PAMELA Ramsingh, the woman who replaced Dr Glenn Ramdharsingh as the manager of the United National Congress’ party headquarters at Rienzi Complex, Couva, has been relieved of her duties as the party’s new national executive attempts to restructure the operations at the party’s base.

    Siparia MP to fight for local govt workers
    UNC political leader and Siparia MP Kamla Persad- Bissessar yesterday said local government reform should not result in persons losing their jobs and said the Opposition party will fight to protect these employees’ rights.

  • When the UNC regain power of T&T there main focus should be on revitalising the countries security and agriculture inductry. Bringing back the fast response 999 to decrease the criminals manning let loss. Bring back the development of schools and continue with planns for expanding and building hospitals.

    We need to start think ahead, stop being PNM, stop trying to develop for decades and finally be DEVELOPED.

    The only party which can do this is the UNC, first world brains and stratergies.

    But first lets stop being typical indians and fight with each other. Its time to stop masses of people from leaving Trinidad with their skills, allow them to use it right here.

  • It seems that your main focus is on goals but not on strategy. How is the UNC going to deal with the issues that you have outlined? I have heard a story of a past PNM government opening a health centre(or something like that), cutting the ribbon and all, only for the building to be closed because there were no doctors, nurses or anyone else who was trained in health care, to use the first world status facilities.

    I read in the news of many “schools” being constructed but can one “build” a school? No, only buildings can be built. They can be designed for an intended purpose but the result is dependent on how you approach the problem. The building can just as well be used as a drug den, gang headquarters, porn studio and an institution to prepare teens for the world of work(in CEPEP).

    Remember when colm bimbert was accused of not doing enough about the drainage problem, so as to reduce flooding? He stood in arrogance, in parliament, and read a long list of the drains that were built and rivers widened. I call this, “declaring himself a fool,” since no man would be proud of doing a great deal of work, at great expense, and achieving nothing in the end. I guess it must be easy when it’s not your money(and you don’t live in a flood-prone area).

    I am afraid that if an election were to be called tomorrow morning, I would have to support the COP(until they start lying and stealing). Their manifesto is the most impressive and is based on fact(statistical and otherwise) and not on wishful thinking. Don’t tell me what the problems are. I know it better than most people. Tell me your plan and you may win my support(provided that you have a track record of keeping promises).

    • i support kamla because i think that she is on the right road to a better future for the country. i think that her idear is on the right track for a better future for the country and her idears about improving in better school and hospital . a better education for our kids. I wish you all success in the coming years.

  • What “right road” is that slvia patrick, and can you name one of “her right track ideas” that she has enunciated that would be beneficial for our kids in the future.
    Oh I get it, how to mix a good Vat19 rum and coke , which would ensure that Caroni remain open for the foreseeable future.
    What gullible dreamers you Trinis are indeed, to fall for this closet Panday , business as usual ,machinations that is guaranteed to take our desperate country absolutely nowhere anytime soon sylvia!
    Let me guess it sylvia , you are your dads favorite or only child , and grew up under the tutelage of neo feminist radicals teachers that pumped into your head the stupid notion that women can make much better leaders than men , because they rule with their hearts, emotions , or similar nonsense in those Trini elite primary schools headed by crazy nuns- even as they still view all abortions as a crime.
    That to you in your undeveloped ,and twisted logic translates to the following: Kamela is a woman , that would mean better government, so I am going to be her number one fan?
    Tell me a single thing she has done , or program supported in the tribal enclaves of Siparia, and anywhere else across the nation , that make you come to the conclusions that she would be concern about our kids education, better health care , and broad based economic viability, and political stability of our country. As the man said in song ” who feels it knows it.” Does she know our pain sylvia ?

    • what do you stand for at all, it would seem that you just wait for the posts so you could condemn and make foolish remarks. What do you mean what Kamla has done?

  • Tell me mramps, for I see absolutely no merits in putting blind faith in any prospective leader that choses to follow similar non pragmatic /progressive policies as her recent predecessors , and or possible future rivals from across the isle, while- in this case, attempting to -hide behind some tenuous gender veil.
    What can I say mramps ,it is imperative that we all try to get ‘our rocks off,’ in what ever fashion that’s feasible, agreed?
    Some of us for example ,enjoys holding on to the jockstrap or nickers of rum shop political leaders and their carefully placed spokespeople, while others prefer to be a constant thorn in the flesh of agenda driven, conniving , fast talking ,phonies, that they believe might not really have the full interest of our ‘entire 1.3 million,’ or more loving people at heart. I hope that my emphasis was not lost on you, as there is no other groups that I find more despicable, than perhaps that of tribalist, whose sole concerns are the enhancement of their clans in a cosmopolitan society -like ours professed to be.
    All right , throw in as well , all ideologues, greedy, selfish elites, and military henchmen masquerading as new age , ‘lofty politicos?’ By the way, are those Ecacas, and Cedros fishermen still getting their catches confiscated , and receiving machete smacks across their naked backs by cousin Chavez loving gas and oil stealing Venezuelan treaty breaking officials?
    Sorry for I forgot , matters such as these are inconsequential to you , as you have a leader to try and elect, in let’s say 2049? Hopefully by then some of the political power brokers would recognize that it is futile to try and ‘pour old wine into new bottles’- or is it the other way around?
    I told some of you guys to stop getting caught up in stupid distractions while driving and blogging along this information highway. What you see , sometimes ain’t what you get , as those of us who can play the game of chess can attest. Now if we mere peons can be so deceptive , think about our numerous card carrying politicians of all strips- including gender.

    Mramps , the way to halt disgusting tribalism, or end up with the social disparities, and political crisis just like they have in India ,former Yugoslavia , Rwanda, Nigeria,Congo, Sudan, Sri Lanka , Bangladesh, Pakistan,Brazil, Columbia, Liberia , and Guyana, is to place less emphasis on hard core politics ,and instead push broad base civil society that caters to all race , creed , class, and ethnicity .
    I stand corrected.

  • Panday has degenerated into the lowest… It is a most disgraceful act performed by a man who founded a party and led that party into government. The very same house he is now vomiting upon. He has degenerated into the worst of human kind and should be put under very close scrutiny for stirring disunity in our very fragile society. He is truly a political bastard of the lowest order.R.G.R.

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