Monday, February 19, 2018


D’Abadie/O’Meara residents glad Roberts out as Sport Minister, want him to give up constituency too


QUIT: Anil Roberts

Mark Fraser

 FORMER sport minister Anil Roberts, MP for D’Abadie/O’Meara, is yet to submit his letter of resignation as an elected MP to Parliament.

Speaking to TV6 News yesterday, communications officer of the Parliament Jason Elcock said Roberts’ letter of resignation, up to five o’clock on Thursday evening, had not yet been submitted to House Speaker Wade Mark.

However, several residents of the D’Abadie/O’Meara constituency yesterday called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to also accept Roberts’ resignation as member of Parliament (MP) for the area.

Persad-Bissessar on Thursday announced she had accepted the resignation of Roberts as minister of sport. She said she had advised acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith to revoke that appointment with immediate effect.

Roberts said in his letter to the PM; “I write to you today with a heavy heart to inform you of my desire to resign as minister of sport and as Member of Parliament for D’Abadie/O’Meara with immediate effect, based on the inexplicable public furore that continued unabated, based on information in the public domain”.

But in her statement at the post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday, Persad-Bissessar did not refer to Roberts’ desire to resign as MP.

She said, “I have decided to accept the offer of resignation as minister of sport from Mr Anil Roberts.”

Persad-Bissessar added she had advised Hamel-Smith to assign Minister of Science and Technology Dr Rupert Griffith to the Sport portfolio, in addition to his current duties.

In a programme which aired on TV6 News last night, several residents were quoted as saying Roberts’ decision to resign from both positions was a blessing in disguise. 

While many declined to speak on camera when the TV6 crew went to the constituency yesterday, citing reasons such as fear of victimisation and fear for their safety, especially in light of the allegations of intimidation and even a case of murder involving persons close to the Life-

Sport programme, this did not prevent persons from expressing an opi­nion—generally, the MP was out of touch with people at the grassroots level and he had not delivered du­ring his tenure. 

Residents spoke about bad roads, improper drainage and neglected community centres and sporting facilities within the constituency.

To people like Kane, Roberts had become a phantom.

“From my point of view, he was a big joke. He was a shadow MP and when I say shadow, shadow as in he never did much for the people, just give a little CEPEP (Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme) gang some work and put up some infrastructures here and there,” Kane said.

Others said they were of the opi­nion Roberts should have stepped aside since the “Room 201” video surfaced months ago.

“I think he should have stepped down long time now ’cause too many allegations have his name in it, like the ‘201’ video and many others. I think as a minister, he should have known better and, simply put, been a better example for the youth,” another resident said. 

Over in Carapo, people seemed equally dissatisfied. 

One resident said, “Roberts was never at the constituency office and is a waste of time. People coming and waiting on him, sometimes whole day you waiting, and he never show up.” 

Another constituent recalled she had visited Roberts to get help in obtaining a food card but was never assisted. 

Anil Roberts’ political future remains up in the air at the moment as while he tendered his resignation for the portfolios as MP and as minister of sport, as of press time yesterday, the Prime Minister has only publicly accepted his resignation from his position as head of the Sport Ministry. 

If the PM were to accept his resignation as MP at a later date, his constituency would not hold a by-election as the government is already in its fifth year.


Controversial video


In May, a video went viral, showing a person resembling a Government minister rolling a substance believed to be marijuana into a cigarette in a hotel room (201) with two women. Last month, Roberts told the PM he has never used drugs, inclu­ding marijuana, during his tenure as minister and “never taken, used or experimented with illicit or illegal drugs or ever been involved in any form or fashion with prostitutes”. 

Persad-Bissessar subsequently said she had no reason to remove Roberts from her Cabinet.