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UNC chairman calls for Cuffie’s resignation

Tuesday, April 18 2017

UNITED National Congress chairman David Lee is calling for Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie to resign over Cuffie’s Easter message claiming that it was a mockery of the celebration and sought to mislead citizens that the treasury was empty.

Cuffie, in his message dated April 13, said the message of the resurrection is one of triumph over seemingly insurmountable hurdles, in this case, even death and that “The empty treasury, like the empty tomb must not be a source of panic and despair for us, but rather a challenge to our faith and hope in something much bigger than we are – the triumph of good over evil and death over life.” He said the country “continues to grapple with the effects of sluggish oil and gas prices, and its attendant ripple effects on the national economy” but added that this country’s citizens are resilient and “just as we believe that not even death could have detained the Christ, so too we must believe that everything is possible for us as a country.” He said there was a tendency by some adults” to ascribe blame for every imaginable ill being experienced onto someone else, rather than accept responsibility for their own actions. Cuffie also encouraged citizens to “look toward the promise that Easter represents, the promise of new life and rebirth, the promise of growth and recovery.” Lee in a release on Saturday called on Cuffie to submit his resignation or be removed by the prime minister immediately “or his disgraceful, distasteful and insulting statements which he sought to mask as an Easter message.” “It was clear that the minister who can be considered the official spokesperson for the Government based on the communication portfolio sought to make a mockery of the most significant celebration on the Christian calendar by seeking to defend the failures of his Government as well as mislead the population into believing the treasury is empty,” he said.

“Never in the history of our nation has any minister or public official sought to infuse politics into the significance and teachings of the various religions or even change the meaning of those beliefs within our nation as was seen by this attempt to insinuate that citizens were to be blamed for the state of national affairs within Trinidad and Tobago.”

Lee also referred to Cuffie’s statements that “those who once shouted Hosanna are now shouting crucify him” and questioned whether the minister was “Seeking to compare his administration to the trials faced by Jesus as well as make citizens feel guilty for speaking out for better Governance in the past.”

He said this was a clear breach of the boundary which exists between the state and religion “but even more so it is a clear use of state power to spread government propaganda by seeking to infiltrate the independent beliefs we hold sacred to us as a nation. As a society we must hold strong to the religious and cultural values as well as teachings which have forged as a united cosmopolitan society and never allow any entity to convolute these principles for Political or personal gain.”

He continued: “There is a time and place for everything and political propaganda has no place in religion similar to how an individual who breaches the integrity and decorum of public office as Minister Cuffie has no place in the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Cuffie in a telephone interview on Saturday said he stood by his statement. On Lee’s criticism of him saying that the treasury was empty, he said both the prime minister and finance minister “have been quite clear about our prevailing economic circumstances.” “The fact is when we got into office the country’s overdraft had reached its limit and we have had to make two draw downs from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund.

And I’m sure Dr Lee would be well aware of those developments.” On calls for his resignation Cuffie responded, “Dr Lee has his job to do and I have my job to do.”

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