|KEEP PP IN POWER |
By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Saturday, May 31 2014
Allow the People’s Partnership Government to complete all it has set out to do by giving them a second term in office, secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Satnarayan “Sat” Maharaj, appealed yesterday to participants at an Indian Arrival Day celebration in Debe.
Maharaj, 83, said no government other than that of the People’s National Movement (PNM) has been able to serve for more than five years, blaming public servants for thwarting non-PNM administrations.
“(Former Prime Ministers) Basdeo Panday and ANR Robinson could not have lasted more than five years because they had to get past the civil servants who have been planted by the PNM. They planted two generations of civil servants to block you. This Government must get its second term to properly deliver,” Maharaj said.
He made the call, for what amounted to a vote for the People’s Partnership campaign in the 2015general election, at Parvati Girls’ Hindu College, Debe.
Among the dignitaries was Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bessessar who honoured Maharaj, presenting him with cheques worth $750,000.
In handing over the cheques, one for $500,000 and the other for $250,000, Persad-Bissessar hailed Maharaj as a “great son of our soil”, a “fearless fighter” and “warrior”.
“I want to thank him for the hard work he has been doing in all our communities and to encourage him to encourage others not to be silent.”
Maharaj is known for his outspoken, at times controversial, advocacy of the rights of the Indian community for many decades.
“Sat has shown us that you must speak when you can, and where you can. This is a free country. You must not remain docile and afraid. You are a citizen of this land just like every other citizen. You have the same rights and same freedom of speech,” said Persad-Bissessar.
Persad-Bissessar noted that in all his years, and notwithstanding who said what about Maharaj, he always stood up for people.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to the Indian ancestors who sought a better life for their families in their journey from India to TT and other nations. She noted the family values of the ancestors and called on the nation to return to their ideals in which the family is the primary source of nurturing for children who become responsible caring adults.
“There is a general belief that much of the violent anger and anti-social behaviour that we witness in our country stems from a break down in family values, of irresponsibility of parents and lack of respect of the youths to their elders. But if we know these are the problems then we already have the answers for some of the negative behaviours around us,” she said.
She also highlighted some of the projects her Government has been able to fulfill since being elected into office in 2010, such as education, health care and infrastructural developments. “My Government is the only government that has invested in every part of TT whether North, South, East and West. Anywhere that you go, you will see development taking place. So do not get fool with rhetoric that the Government is only investing in a certain part of TT,” she warned. On collecting the two cheques, Maharaj thanked the Prime Minister adding the monies did not amount to $190 million, the sum which he said that other major cultural groups have received.
“This will be used by our children, by our schools, colleagues and for good purpose. No one in the SDMS collects a salary, they always give of their time and wealth. All the principals are here and not one of them has asked for gas money. All we ask of you is equity, that is all we ever asked for,” he charged.
Maharaj said he wanted to remind the nation that the history of the Indians in Trinidad is an integral part of the country’s history. Maharaj noted the history of TT ought not to be written without giving the “Indian section” a large part.
“Over the past 50 years, attempts have been made to expunge the contributions that we have made to the development of TT . I have had to mention to all and sundry that nearly everything that was developed in the last 50 years was developed north of the Caroni River,” Maharaj charged.
He went on to list several examples among them the official Prime Minister’s residence, President House, Government Ministries, the airport and even the SDMS headquarters.
“Every time an effort is made to develop the rest of TT, there are hues and cries...South of the Caroni River is the oil wells that produce the wealth, the pitch lake. All the work from Central and South goes to develop the North,” he said.
He highlighted some of the works being done by Government adding that within a few years Debe, Penal and San Fernando would be one.