THE EDITOR: Where ignorance is fostered, it is sensible to shed light! I have carefully noted the efforts of Opposition Leader Mr Basdeo Panday and that of his party to create confusion, chaos, instability and doubt, by feeding inaccuracies into the system and then inciting anxiety and anti-social behaviour, among his dwindling band of supporters.
When Mr Panday could blatantly breach the so-called Crowne Plaza Agreement, which he signed, and which allowed for the appointment of a Speaker to, and the convening of, the Parliament.
When, further, Mr Panday could unashamedly breach his commitment before the eyes of the nation and then insult our sense of decency by using the noble and spiritually-based concept of civil disobedience, to incite violence and chaos in our society, then, according to Keith Smith, he is not a nice and/or a decent man.
Citizens must not forget that the Crowne Plaza Agreement allowed for a limited pre-arranged and pre-agreed legislative agenda, for a limited period of governance. All of these were designed to permit the Parliament to function, and the country to run smoothly, until presumably, a clear majority would have been delivered at the next elections.
Had there not been this agreement and with no clear majority, and no leader to properly claim to be the one who could command such a majority, we would have had to immediately return to the polls.
It was this agreement that gave the President the lawful authority to execute his constitutional enshrined duty, to select Prime Minister Manning.
When his party chairman Wade Mark could tell the country that Mr Panday would embark upon his corrupted version of civil disobedience, "if the PNM arrested UNC MPís in order to obtain a parliamentary advantage", he is being ridiculous in the extreme and demonstrates the dangerous element of insecurity that exists in the ranks of the UNC.
Mr Pandayís espousal of this plan is equally treacherous and ridiculous.
Mr Mark and Mr Panday, who is a lawyer and long-standing parliamentarian, should know that the only non-bailable offences known to our law are murder, piracy, hijacking and treason. If persons committed or commit other offences, bail is available and no parliamentary advantage can be enjoyed. The suggestion is so foolish, that it has only to be stated to be rejected!
At any rate, the PNM is not an organisation infused with powers of arrest. We are not a law-enforcing authority per se. The responsibility for detecting, investigating and arresting are all matters for the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Government recognises that these suggestions are deliberate attempts to mislead and incite the population and urges more responsible behaviour on the part of Messrs Mark and Panday. Government also hereby congratulates our citizens for their very cold response to these wild suggestions.
May I take this opportunity to remind the national community that there is a stable government in place and that the "ship of state" has long left port. There is no crisis in the country. If anything, there is a moral crisis in the Opposition UNC.
Your government has begun to settle its commitment to our public servants. We have put a comprehensive crime plan in place to attend to the problem which was worsened by the failure of the UNC and particularly their last minister of national security, who failed to address it meaningfully.
We have increased old-age pensions to $1000, as promised, and we have begun to return order and discipline in our nationís schools. Employment opportunities have been created for thousands who were left out of the temporary Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) over the last few years.
The country is moving forward and the duly and legally appointed government is carrying on with the business and welfare of the country. We do not intend to constantly badger our citizens and inflict trauma upon you, as has been done by the Panday administration. People are breathing and enjoying the fresh air of PNMís respect for all their constitutional rights and freedoms.
Trinidad and Tobago is too precious, for us to subject our people to reckless governance. We leave that to Mr Panday and the UNC. In the final analysis, the people will judge.
May God be with us as individuals and as a nation.
Minister of Public
Administration and Information
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