Barrington “Skippy” Thomas, nominee for the Tobago co-ordinator position on the Unity slate, has accused Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar of abandoning its membership in Tobago.
“Where are our candidates for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election?” Thomas asked Persad-Bissessar during a virtual meeting of the Unity platform on Wednesday night.
Thomas was announced as one of 18 candidates contesting the UNC’s December 6 internal elections on the slate led by Vasant Bharath.
Mounting a virtual platform, he noted, “The THA has been dissolved and the date for the election shall be announced in short order.
“I ask the question, where are our candidates? Where are our party’s national perspectives?
“It seems as if Tobago has been completely abandoned by a UNC led by Sister Kamla. “
He noted that in 2001, the UNC had a membership of over 4,000 in Tobago.
“Tonight I ask Sister Kamla, whey dey gorn?”
Deputy political leader of the UNC David Lee told Newsday last week that the UNC will not field any candidates for the THA elections. The THA has been dissolved ahead of the elections, which must be held within three months.
Thomas said he is agonised at dissenting from his party’s leadership, but asserted dissent does not equal disloyalty.
“This movement is not about displacing Sister Kamla. This movement is about rescuing our great party that we all love.”
He said the Rowley Government constantly has the UNC members on the ropes, which is not good for members or the country.
“Let us look at how quickly the most unpopular prime minister in the history of this country gets his way. Rowley knows he has a free pass to whatever he wants as long as Kamla is the leader of the UNC.
“Have you ever noticed the cynical, condescending and contemptuous way the Government treats the Opposition, especially when the Government is under pressure?
“Every time Sister Kamla opens her mouth Rowley shouts, 'Sit down, corruption,' 'I don’t want no advice from you,' 'Drink yuh rum and get out mih face.'”
Bharath also noted the silence of the Opposition with respect to the lack of transparency in the purchase of two vessels for the inter-island ferry.
“Earlier this week we learnt that the inter-island vessel APT James has set sail for TT, and will soon be commissioned. This boat has cost taxpayers almost $500 million and is the second of two vessels bought by the PNM regime to service the domestic run. The total cost of both vessels is around $1 billion.
"Yet there was no transparent process to purchase either of these two expensive boats. All we are told is that the Prime Minister bought these vessels during a visit to shipyards in Australia. The Government continues to spend your precious taxpayers’ money as if it is their own sou-sou hand.”
Alongside this, he noted small and medium-sized businesses are shutting down. The Tobago chamber has estimated its collective loss to be in the region of $750 million.
“In countries with enlightened governments, there has been a second tranche of support, including aid for workers, financial grants for entrepreneurs, rent assistance, ease in bank charges and other measures. Here, the PNM regime is shutting its eyes as these small and medium-sized enterprises close their doors – many of them never to reopen again.
“In the midst of these urgent and pressing national issues, the parliamentary Opposition has more or less been silent.”