Friday, February 23, 2018

Kublalsingh: I ate too fast


something light: Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, leader of the Highway Re-Route Movement, prepares a meal of lentil peas yesterday. Kublalsingh recently ended a 21-day hunger strike. —Photo: TREVOR WATSON

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ENVIRONMENTAL activist and leader of the Highway Re-Route Movement Dr Wayne Kublalsingh yesterday admitted that after he ended his hunger strike outside the office of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar 12 days ago, he ate too much too fast.

Kublalsingh said the consumption of solid foods, after he ate nothing for 21 days, led to an adverse effect on his body when he should have stuck to a liquid diet.

"I started off eating too fast. I ate too many things too fast. I needed to have a more liquid diet, soups and so on, for a longer period. I did it (a liquid diet) for one week. I think I should have probably done it for a longer period. It caused some swelling in the joints," he said.

When the Express visited Kublalsingh at a residence in South Trinidad, he was preparing a meal of boiled lentil peas and porridge.

His movements were slow and his frame still thin, but he said he "felt fine" and saw no need for a medical check-up.

The movement leader said he had not weighed himself since ending his fast almost two weeks ago, when he weighed 102 pounds—38 pounds below his usual weight.

"I haven't seen the doctor since I left St Clair Medical Centre. I think I am okay. My family thinks I should take some blood tests, etc."

The activist said he spends his days indoors and "doing my own routine", which consists of exercising his limbs, meditation and deep breathing.

Kublalsingh said he intended to make pastelles with pigeon peas filling for his doctor, Dr Asanti Charles Le Blanc, who feared he was at risk for multiple organ failure during his hunger strike.

He does not believe that the 21-day hunger strike may have shortened his life.

"I think it was worth it because it showed me that Trinidad and Tobago is a population of compassion. We got a lot of support from a lot of different people. We got a lot of support from the civil groups, the churches and the media at the right time.

"I think they gave them (the Government) the push to establish this agreement with the JCC (Joint Consultative Council for the construction industry) so that they would set up the review committee" on construction of the Point Fortin highway.

He said during the latter days of his hunger strike, he sometimes "felt out of it" and that his "brain was going", but he never feared death, despite the warnings of doctors that his health was worsening.

"No, not at all (did I fear death). I had more important things to think about than the death of one man," said Kublalsingh. "I think it is very important to stand up to governments."

On Saturday night, Kublalsingh met with members of the Highway Re-Route Movement as they began preparing a presentation for a review committee set up in the last days of his hunger strike, formed after the intervention of the JCC and other organisations that tried to convince the Government to agree to the independent study of the highway construction.

The committee, led by Independent Senator Dr James Armstrong, has 60 days to reveal its findings of the study.

Work on the contentious parts of the highway is expected to include only earth preparation and grubbing works, and no land acquisition until the committee's review is finalised.

Kublalsingh ended the hunger strike after accepting the reworked terms of reference for the works on the Debe-to-Mon Desir section of the highway.

"I need to stay indoors and do some reading of some documentation for the review committee. We need to prepare a team of experts, our presentation, and a team from the Highway Re-Route Movement to present our views to the committee. We don't have a deadline, but we need to do it as soon as possible," he said.

—Susan Mohammed