Sunday, December 17, 2017

Moonilal: Using race the norm for PNM

The police should not investigate racist placards as this was the norm from the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) camp, says Government Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal.

He was responding to questions from the media yesterday, following the Parliament’s adjournment on Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley’s call for the acting Commissioner of Police to probe the racist placards that were held by some persons du­ring the march against the People’s Partnership Government last Friday.

Moonilal mocked Rowley, saying this was a case of himself pointing fingers at him­self.

“This reminded me of a particular indivi­dual, when I was at the UWI (University of the West Indies) St Augustine, what he would do; he would pelt a stone high in the air, on the house, and then he will run into the house and when the stone hit the roof, he would say who did that? Now, this is Dr Rowley trying to avoid the reality

that his party over the years, not today alone, but his party has promoted division and discriminatory treatment,” said Moonilal.

He said this will not be the first or the last time the PNM has used race in its campaign.

Rowley, he said, should apologise to the nation.

He said Rowley was drawing reference and focusing on two ra­cist placards which were outside the Waterfront, along Wright­son Road in Port of Spain, where UNC supporters were gath­ered but not the ones who were in the march.

“Why didn’t the organisers of the march take steps on the day to remove those persons and those placards from the legitimate march which they conducted? They are first liable for the people

who were in their march...they should have dealt with that; the matter is not for the Police Commissioner now, it is for the organisers of the march,” said Moonilal.

He said the United National Congress (UNC) did not put plants in the march to hold racist placards.

“The UNC or any other party will not go in a PNM occasion and so on to do that. I don’t think people want to risk their lives on a high, emotional day to create tension and so on,” said Moonilal.

He said further, there was a connection between racist placards and the reference made by former Tobago House of Assembly (THA) mem­ber Hilton Sandy, in 2013, to a Calcutta ship coming to Tobago if the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) had won the THA election.

“Could I ask Dr Row­­ley if he believes that the UNC was be­hind Hilton Sandy’s declaration about the Calcutta ship?” he asked.

Moonilal said the police have been doing a good job in preser­ving law and order.

“I really don’t believe that the police officers now should be asked to read every placard in a march. I believe that the organi­sers must adhere to the rule of law and must cease and desist from inflammatory placards particularly seeking to stir up racial hate and religious bigotry,” he said.