Monday, December 18, 2017

'UNC just cloaking Moore in TOP clothes'


'Surprised at attention': Government Senator Christlyn Moore during a sitting of the Upper House at Tower D of the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, last month. —Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

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Tobago-born Minister of Justice Christlyn Moore has been described as a "straw man" and a United National Congress (UNC) mouthpiece following her scathing attack on the Tobago House of Assembly's Chief Secretary Orville London in the Senate recently.

Moore, an attorney at law from Lambeau, accused London of stifling the democratic process in Tobago by saying he would not forgive any Tobagonian who did not vote for the People's National Movement (PNM) at the THA polls on January 21, 2013, during a motion moved by PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds in November.

But former minister and MP for Tobago East Rennie Dumas, noted last week that democracy was alive and well on the island, evidenced by the open show of support for the Opposition Tobago Organisation of the People, by its supporters.

"Everybody is everybody... TOP complains about victimisation, but the reality is that if you walk outside you would see taxi-drivers driving with TOP flags, people going into compounds of administrative offices flying flags in cars, on their windows, and its not a problem in any way.

"When Orville said he will 'not forgive', it was merely the old school teacher way about him. There is nothing more to it," he said.

Responding to Moore's attack, the former PNM government minister seemed not perturbed about her stance.

He said: "Moore is in a sense a straw man. She is selected from Trinidad and has taken this stance because of her relationship with the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, as she herself has explained."

He said Moore had no space in the electoral process in Tobago, and did not come to Tobagonians as a member of any political party, and certainly not the Opposition Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP).

But the Justice Minister, in a sharp response last week, said it was not Dumas's place to attempt to define her political identity.

She said: "As a member of the executive of the TOP, it is not for former PNM minister Rennie Dumas to comment on or try to define my political identity. The TOP is a critical part of the government in power—the People's Partnership, and we have contributed two members of the House of Representatives, one member in the Senate and two members of Cabinet."

But the way Dumas sees it, "(Moore) is attacking from the safety of having no relationship to us. People have to understand that she is their (the Prime Minister and the Attorney General's) champion, and is in fact, a UNC champion."

He said the UNC is "attempting to clothe her and cloak her in TOP clothes", and while he was not questioning Moore's 'Tobagonianess,' Dumas said, "She is not a TOP, she did not come to us as a member of TOP, she was not elected."

As a consequence, he said, Moore had no political cost to pay for her utterances. "She is like a guerilla taking free shots from behind the protected borders of a state; in this case, Trinidad," Dumas said. He charged that she was really nothing more than the mouthpiece of the UNC, "just like Anil (Roberts) and the others, always on the attack for the PP government".

Her status, according to him, was unlike Vernella Alleyne-Toppin and Dr Delmon Baker, who are TOP MPs. "In their case, they must pay because they were elected by the people of Tobago and whatever they say, will have a cost," Dumas added.

He said Moore's political stance pointed to prime ministerial ambitions on her part.

"Maybe she sees it as 'she is coming', after all, if Kamla could become PM then what's stopping Moore? When Vernella was acting PM, she thought she would be Prime Minister too. "Where is she now?" he asked with a half-laugh.

Moore, meanwhile, said she was "surprised that my Senate contribution in reply to a motion brought by the Opposition PNM attracted the attention of former PNM minister Rennie Dumas".

She added, "As someone who himself has no political status in Tobago or elsewhere, his response is curious, especially since it remains in the realm of character commentary and ignores any discussion of, nor challenges, the facts that I disclosed."