OPEN ARMS: Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, centre, presents a prize to Vanessa Gopee after she placed fifth in the Mastana Bahar Queen Show. The prize-giving was held on Thursday night at Rampersad Brothers Ranch in Penal. —Photo: Dave Persad

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Rowley attends 'Mastana Bahar'

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

People's National Movement (PNM) political leader Dr Keith Rowley was the only parliamentarian to attend the prize-giving ceremony of the 2012 Mastana Bahar competition on Thursday night.

Rowley, who had earlier visited Debe Wholesale Market on the compound of National Marketing Development Company (Namdevco), was invited to hand over several prizes.

Rowley was also a guest at the Mastana Bahar all stars presentation last year.

Former PNM councillor Kazim Hosein said: "Dr Rowley was invited to the event by the Mastana Bahar production team. He also attended last year.

He was there from beginning to end. He had a nice time there. The audience and the production team greeted him with open arms."

The show was held at Rampersad Brothers' Ranch, Raju Trace, San Francique, Penal.

The venue is in the proposed path of the highway to Point Fortin and the property may have to be acquired by the State.

Show producer Khayal Mohammed said all Parliamentarians were invited to the presentation.

"We invited all national figures, but I understand the ministers were in Cabinet last night, while the show was being recorded. Dr Roodal Moonilal and Minister Stacy Roopnarine are big supporters of the show, but they were unable to make it last night. But Dr Rowley came and we welcomed him," he said.

Mohammed is the older brother of Minister of Communications Jamal Mohammed, a former producer of Mastana Bahar.

Veejai Ramkissoon, who performed a duet in the voices of a male and female, won the first prize, while Anthony Batson, who sang his version of the late Sundar Popo's "Nani and Nana", placed second. The Fun Lovers Tassa Group took third prize.

Hosein said Rowley decided to visit Debe Market on his way to the Mastana Bahar show, as he had opened the facility as minister of agriculture in 1992.

Rowley was welcomed with open arms by some vendors, while others rebuked him. He was accused of refusing to support the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin.

But Rowley said: "This highway was started under the PNM, the engineers designed the route and it was up to this Government to execute the project. Don't let it be said for one second the PNM does not support the highway because that is clearly not so."

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