Janelle De Souza
MP for D’Abadie/O’Meara Lisa Morris-Julian and Minister in the Ministry of Education on Saturday encouraged young PNM members to “pick up the fight” and defend the political party in the face of attacks from the Opposition.
At a general membership meeting at Laventille Rhythm Section, she told members of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Laventille West Youth League the way things were now, politics was not a game but a battle so they needed to help protect their legacy.
She encouraged them to do so on social media by promoting and sharing the posts of their MP – National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds – and by letting people “know the truth.” She said they also needed to defend PNM political leader Dr Rowley as he was often attacked by the United National Congress (UNC).
She gave the example of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar who, on June 2 at a UNC meeting in Princes Town, said Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis’ name was “that of a slave master” because Robinson-Regis had called out Persad-Bissessar by her full name on a political platform nine days earlier.
“We all understand this calling somebody by their middle name. Don’t you all understand that concept? When you want to be serious, when you want to make a point, what do you do? You call somebody by their entire government name.”
She said Robinson-Regis was telling Persad-Bissessar to bring evidence on claims about a paedophile ring in the PNM but Persad-Bissessar “changed the narrative.”
“They (the UNC) put words, they put a connotation, they put issues that we did not bring there.”
While some individuals condemned Persad-Bissessar, saying her comment was not only unnecessary but racist, Morris-Julian said numerous members of the UNC backed and defended Persad-Bissessar while the PMN did not defend Robinson-Regis or “attack” the UNC hard enough.
She said they needed to understand what was going on in the country because knowledge was power, so they should never let the UNC dictate the narrative.
The name-calling spat started after Robinson-Regis, while addressing at a PNM rally in Arima on May 24, called out Persad-Bissessar’s full name, including her middle name, Sushilla. Persad-Bissessar retorted telling Robinson-Regis to “Stop calling my name.”
She went on to say, “What you so vex about my name for? This lady went on a platform last week and three or four times ‘Kamla Susheila Persad-Bissessar.’ Isn’t that a beautiful name?
“What problem you have with my name? Camille, at least I have a name from my ancestors, where you got yours from? Your name is that of a slave master.”
Coincidently, earlier that day at the unveiling of the Yoruba Village Monument, Hinds told an audience that the struggle for emancipation was “far from over.”
Speaking at the unveiling at the Emancipation Support Committee’s 2022 Yoruba Village Drum Festival at the Yoruba Village Square, he said discrimination was “alive and well” in today’s world.
He said people saw hairstyles and other expressions of “African-ness” and questioned it. He said if he, removed by many miles and generations, felt so strongly about Africa as his place of origin, he believed the descendants of those who enslaved Africans in the past may want to do so again if they had the opportunity.
Therefore, consciousness was critical and important. He said black people needed to be aware if their greatness, history and reasons they should be proud.
“I am a proud and self-contented, satisfied African man. It is not inconsistent with my Trinidadian-ness. It is not inconsistent with my PNM-ness. It is not inconsistent with my spiritual attunement. It is who I am.
“And I don’t feel greater than nobody, but nobody is to feel greater than I. Because I know the contribution that we have made. I know who we are. I know the rack upon which we stand.”