Saturday, February 17, 2018

Moonilal called on to apologise for his "landlord of criminal elements" statement


Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal during a tour of Cypress Hills Housing Community on Monday. In the background is the Range Rover luxury vehicle he has decided to give up, citing security concerns. PHOTO by DAVE PERSAD

Donstan Bonn

Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal has been called on to apologise for his remark on Monday that, as Minister of Housing, he was the "landlord of criminal elements". In a statement issued Tuesday by Peoples National Movement Member of Parliament for Laventille West NiLeung Hypolite, Moonilal was accused of denigrating the tenants of the Housing Development Corporaiton buildings.

The following is the statement issued by Hypolite

On behalf of the people of Greater Laventille area and Port-of-Spain and by extension the people of Trinidad and Tobago, I take objection and exception to the characterization of the tenants and employees of the HDC by Minister Roodal Moonilal. The remarks were made by the Minister in response to questions and articles in the media about his choice of transportation vehicles and the insistence of the installation of security equipment.

Minister Moonilalís self-aggrandisement by exploiting his ministerial position to create images of power, "Range Rover with Security Sirens and Blue Lights", unto himself is a very dangerous matter. His illusions of grandeur, he has sought to bring into reality as the publicly anointed successor of the Prime Minister must not be ignored.

Minister of Housing, Roodal Moonilal sought to denigrate the tenants of the Housing Development Corporation and those who work with the HDC as threats to his personal security and that of his family, because these persons have long criminal records. He deems himself as Minister of Housing "Landlord of criminals" In response to media questions, Minister Moonilal responded:

"As I said in the presentation, when you are a Minister of Housing you are the landlord of criminal elements. There are certain parts of Port-of-Spain where there are people who do work in the housing sector who are people with very long criminal records. This is part of it and those people from time-to- time need to see me for different things." Saying it was not wise for a Housing Minister to be in a private car, he said: "I did not want it to come to this but after seeing what they had done today, I think it was horrible that people will expose me and my wife to that level of threats, where persons with criminal records will know what vehicle I use and will be able to approach me anywhere."

As a servant of the people, Minister Moonilal took an oath to serve all citizens without fear or favour, malice or ill will. His statements about being landlord of criminal elements and about employees of the HDC are evidence of the bias and judgment he brings to his job as minister. His lack of objectivity and disrespect for the residents of this area, have affected the trust that citizens should have in a democratically elected Government. This Ministerís comments undermine natural justice and have not only tainted the administration of the HDC but also any policies that the Housing Ministry under his management will develop.

We demand an immediate public apology from this Minister on behalf of the residents he insulted and accused unfairly. An apology is also required on behalf of all citizens who will now be suspicious about any process or policy of the Ministry of Housing and the HDC. Fairness, human rights, transparency and accountability from this Minister of Housing cannot be expected.

We will await his apology.