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PM raises $1m for Life Fund

By Aabida Allaham

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has received financial pledges in excess of $1 million and services from at least 25 consultant surgeons free of charge.

This was stated yesterday by press secretary Garvin Nicholas in response to questions on how much money the Prime Minister has been able to raise in New York.

Nicholas had said previously that all the money would be deposited into the Children's Life Fund.

Meanwhile, Persad-Bissessar was on Sunday criticised by a popular Caribbean radio show in New York for her refusal to grant media interviews during her inaugural visit as head of government to the Big Apple.

A report carried by www.caribworldnews.com yesterday stated that WWRL 1600 AM's Caribbean Corner hosts, Rennie Bishop and Felicia Persaud, along with regular contributor Tony Best, criticised Persad-Bissessar for "wasting a major opportunity" by refusing to speak to the media.

The Caribbean Corner hosts added that given the historic election of Persad-Bissessar to the post, it was "mind-boggling" that she would make a ten-day visit to the media capital of the world and refuse to speak to the media.

The hosts also slammed Persad-Bissessar for agreeing to three meetings with the Diaspora, namely two in Queens and one in Brooklyn, arguing that the Brooklyn event drew largely black Trinidadians while Indo Trinidadians and people of mixed origin were predominant at the southeast Queens event.

However, the Express yesterday reported that Persad-Bissessar fell ill and was unable to speak at the India Day parade where she was invited as the guest of honour which took place in Madison Avenue, New York.

She did, however, attend the event and walked alongside the Bollywood superstar Preity Zinta.

Her other engagements for the day were cancelled.

When contacted yesterday about the issue, press secretary Nicholas said "the Prime Minister granted no interviews (on Sunday) because she was not well".

As for criticism that she was hosting three separate events for the same thing, Nicholas said "the PM was invited to the Indian Day Parade.

"To accuse this PM of racism is ludicrous".

On another note, when Nicholas was asked about the Prime Minister's itinerary and the five days in which she was not attending events, he said "she is working".

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