Rowley: PNM, a party for all

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley told par­ty sup­port­ers that he ditched wear­ing the Bal­isi­er tie, a sym­bol of the PNM, to na­tion­al events to pro­mote an at­ti­tude of in­clu­sion.

He was speak­ing at the par­ty’s 63rd-an­niver­sary func­tion, at NA­PA, in Port-of-Spain on Sun­day.

Row­ley, who left for New York yes­ter­day to meet with the UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al An­to­nio Guter­res to push for a diplo­mat­ic so­lu­tion over the Venezue­lan cri­sis, told sup­port­ers that the par­ty was “mod­ernising” it­self and had to rep­re­sent every­one, and as a na­tion­al leader he had to ac­cept all re­gard­less of eth­nic­i­ty, re­li­gion, cul­tur­al, po­lit­i­cal and so­cio-eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion.

Scores of at­ten­dees were left dis­ap­point­ed af­ter they were turned away by ush­ers as the 1,200 seats in the au­di­to­ri­um were al­ready filled. Ap­prox­i­mate­ly 1,500 peo­ple were in­vit­ed to the func­tion, some com­ing from as far as Tabaquite and Pleas­antville.

He said the PNM was a re­silient par­ty which had ex­pe­ri­enced its fair share of ups and downs but had al­ways man­aged to emerge on top through sheer de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“To ac­count for its stew­ard­ship, in the PNM….you don’t have to feel it, touch it and taste it, you just have to live it,” he said.

Row­ley “ex­tract­ed” many of the PNM’s ac­com­plish­ments through the years as he said it would paint an ac­cu­rate pic­ture of ex­act­ly how much the par­ty had trans­formed the na­tion­al land­scape.

He said change is nec­es­sary for the evo­lu­tion of life and sim­i­lar­ly in pol­i­tics. Row­ley said change was some­thing that al­ways brought con­flict as not every­one would em­brace and wel­come change.

“We have to ac­cept that we have to make changes and when those changes are be­ing made, if you as the par­ty mem­bers and par­ty sup­port­ers re­main silent…the un­in­formed voic­es of the malev­o­lent and mal­con­tent will run the show,” he said.

He said Cab­i­net took 18 months to make the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to close down Petrotrin.

“It wasn’t be­cause we want­ed to suf­fer any­body or hurt any­body, it was be­cause we want­ed to give all of us and our chil­dren a chance in T&T.”

Row­ley said there were many sec­tors of the econ­o­my in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion and health where changes were need­ed.

How­ev­er, he said every time this was brought up—so too, the re­sis­tance would in­evitably fol­low.

Send­ing a mes­sage to cit­i­zens that they were guilty of wast­ing time as a na­tion, Row­ley went on, “There is noth­ing wrong with han­ker­ing af­ter per­fec­tion. We must al­ways strive for per­fec­tion.”

“But most races re­quire a start, and if you don’t start, there is very lit­tle chance that you can run the race and stay the course. We need to make bet­ter use of time in this coun­try, and we need to move from talk­ing the prob­lems, over-analysing the prob­lems to mak­ing de­ci­sions and get­ting on with it,” he said.

Prompt­ing a round of rau­cous laugh­ter as he said, “We as a peo­ple need to be less can­tan­ker­ous,” the prime min­is­ter turned his at­ten­tion to the younger peo­ple who were clam­our­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties.

He said, “Many are pre­pared to go for­ward, and they do not want to hear ex­cus­es. They need to be able to grasp their fu­ture now and be­gin to con­tribute for the next gen­er­a­tion.”

He stat­ed, “This coun­try needs you now more than ever. This coun­try needs the PNM now more than ever be­cause the is­sues are more detri­men­tal to the next gen­er­a­tion. Where­as in our time, we were pa­tient, we were re­spect­ful; we were or­der­ly. Young peo­ple nowa­days are not pa­tient, very few are re­spect­ful, and most are dis­or­der­ly be­cause they want to get their world go­ing.”

- by Anna Lisa Paul