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WADE MARK IS NOW HOUSE SPEAKER

By INVERA ARJOON Monday, May 31 2010

click on pic to zoom in

ON the heels of Friday’s announcement of Cabinet Ministers came the news yesterday that the new Speaker of the House is former senator Wade Mark while Dr Fuad Khan takes up the mantle as Deputy Speaker. Attorney Timothy Hamel-Smith will be the new Senate President and trade unionist David Abdulah will take on the role of Deputy Senate President.

When Newsday contacted Mark yesterday he said that while he would have preferred Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to make an announcement, he disclosed that he had been informed three days ago about his new role. An elated sounding Mark said that it would be “an honour and privilege” to serve at another level in the Parliament.

Abdulah responded that he was aware of the offer, but unsure if a formal announcement was made. The president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITUN) said he felt honoured to serve in the government of the People’s Partnership.

Abdulah confirmed that he was aware of Hamel-Smith’s and Khan’s new roles, though he cautioned that it was best that a public official announcement be made.

However, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced yesterday at an Indian Arrival Day celebrations in Penal, that Makandaal Daaga would be the country’s Caricom Cultural Ambassador Extraordinaire. It is a new position to be created and in delivering the feature address at the Parvati Girls Hindu College, Debe, Persad-Bissessar said she saluted Daaga.

Persad-Bissessar told a crowd celebrating the event yesterday, that Daaga spent decades working without recognition. He helped, she added, in the cause of promoting the ideals of poverty eradication and gave, especially young people, a sense of purpose through sports and culture. She described him a “selfless patriot”, saying: “We salute him and his life’s work.”

Persad-Bissessar said she recognised those before her who struggled for recognition and equality, for indeed she is one of the beneficiaries of the freedom such persons like Daaga fought for. “The Capildeos, the Pandays, the Butlers and the Daagas; the original freedom fighters of our nation.”

As she recognised the contributions of the East Indians, Africans, Chinese, Syrians and Europeans, Persad- Bissessar announced that the Ministry of Arts and Culture will be redesigned to become the Ministry of Multiculturalism.

This she said would give greater voice to the diverse cultural expressions of our common desires for individual and national identity.

There will be a realignment of policies, including human resource allocation, the prime minister said, to allow for a more equitable recognition and fulfilment of the needs of the diverse proponents of this country’s culture. “The time has come when we must pay greater tribute and recognition to the local Amerindian community, one which is too often forgotten and ignored,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She said the East Indians have preserved so much of the traditions and customs brought with them, but they have also created their own unique identity that has been fused into Trinidad and Tobago.

She said while yesterday marked the arrival of East Indians to Trinidad, one must reflect on the journey of all “our peoples” and the hardship they must have endured.

Africans and Indians today stand side by side in pride of their forefathers, she said.

She told the audience that while many take great pride that a woman of East Indian decent is today the Prime Minister of TT “may I humbly say that I would rather the nation feel the pride that one of the descendants of our collective experience of hardship and sacrifice, today represents their realisation and longing for a better life and freedom.”

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