Speaking at the UNC’s Pavement Report platform at ASJA Girls’ College, Barrackpore, on Wednesday evening, Tabaquite MP, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan said he was one of those accused when, under the cover of parliamentary privilege, the then leader of the opposition Dr Keith Rowley read e-mails making serious allegations against PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several PP government ministers.
“Leadership and moral responsibility go hand in hand,” said Rambachan. “The institution of parliamentary privilege must not be used to defame and, worse yet, to promote blatant untruths. The forum of Parliament, which was used, must now be used to apologise.”
Failure to do so, he said, would be an affront to the integrity of the Parliament and to his personal integrity. But he was sure Dr Rowley would argue that there is no need to apologise simply because he read what was sent to him in his proverbial mailbox.
The question remains, he asked, has this saga ended?
Rambachan answered, “Maybe not, but how about getting to know who contrived the fake e-mails in the first place?”
He said despite “incontrovertible evidence” that the e-mails were fake, the matter was allowed to remain in the public domain, staining the character of those so accused of serious criminal intent. Damage like this cannot be undone, he said, especially where at the level of the Integrity Commission, he claimed, there appear to have been calculated attempts to create doubts about the innocence of the accused.
Now it is almost six years that this matter was first investigated. During that time in a country where rumour-mongering is a national pastime and where people enjoy labelling politicians, thousands have cast serious aspersions on the character of those accused in the e-mails Rowley read in Parliament by Rowley, he said.
But he added, “It is said that truth always triumphs and in this case, it has triumphed, even after six years.”
He further slammed the PNM saying people are fed up of the way they are being governed.
“Wherever you go here, people are clamouring for change.
“Good governance means, for them, less of a daily struggle and less crime,” he said.
People feel that they are idle spectators to their plight as citizens, and that the politicians don’t really care about them, but about retaining power.
“As such, they see political conflict dissolving the energy of the nation and progress that should bring prosperity stymied,” Rambachan said.
The situation could bring about a national revolt, he said but it was being seen seeing it in many other ways.
“A recalcitrant public service, public institutions which are unhelpful to the development of the country, frustrated private sector taking its business elsewhere, fights in schools, prostitution and, growth of bars and alcoholic consumption – although it might be cheaper liquor. Yes, there is a national revolt,” he said.
Rambachan said former PM Basdeo Panday was right when he once promoted civil disobedience not as a violent response but as non-co-operation, a state of withdrawal so that those who govern will understand that they have no power without the co-operation of the people.
“Who is questioning how our taxes are being spent? Who is questioning the efficient use of borrowings by the government which will be a debt for citizens to pay? When a country has to use resources to pay debts, the people are denied services,” he said.