Spoken to: Hilton Sandy

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Sandy apologises for 'Calcutta' remarks

People's National Movement (PNM) candidate for Roxborough/Delaford in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election Hilton Sandy has apologised for what was perceived as racist statements made at a public meeting on Sunday.

The Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) had critcised Sandy for his statements and provided an audio clip of Sandy at the meeting where he suggested that if they (his constituents) did not vote for the PNM, East Indians would move to Tobago and take over- that a ship from Calcutta was waiting to sail to Tobago pending the outcome of the election.

In a release to the press, Sandy apologised saying in the 45 years of service to Tobago,he conducted his duties with integrity and fairness, values upon which he built his private and public life.

"At a recent political meeting, I was unfortunately overwhelmed by the exuberant atmosphere and erred by referencing what has been perceived as a racial statement. To all who have been offended by this statement I offer my sincerest apologies," stated Sandy.

"During my years in the service of the public I have always been inspired and guided by the founding principles of the movement to which I belong that said that we are a mobilisation of all the forces in the community, cutting across race and religion, class and colour, with emphasis on united action by all the people in the common cause," he added.

At a press conference at the Parliament yesterday, when questioned Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said that Sandy should apologise and stressed that his comments were not representative of the PNM.

"It was unfortunate that Mr Sandy would make that kind of reference to some song, it was unnecessary and whatever implications it had, he should apologise for it and it forms no part of the PNM campaign, I know many people would jump to grab at it to prove that the PNM is running a racial campaign, we certainly are not, the people of Tobago subscribe to the principles of the national anthem, every creed and race must find an equal place," he said.

Rowley also refuted reports that both he and THA chief secretary Orville London had cheered Sandy when he made the comment, "That's an absolute untruth and in fact Mr Sandy was spoken to about it and I would expect that he would rectify his misstep or misgivings. It forms no part of PNM policy or PNM campaign."

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