Pennelope Beckles-Robinson

Gail Alexander

The People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) Mayaro constituency is currently hustling to find new election nominees after its recommended nominee Antonio Ross – who’s overseas – didn’t present himself for screening on Tuesday.

This was confirmed to Guardian Media by senior party officials after Mayaro presented for screening on Tuesday.

Mayaro’s executive had nominees Ross and Mayaro businessman Bunny Mahabirsingh. Ross was recommended by the executive for candidacy.

However, it was confirmed that Ross is in Texas.

With T&T’s closed borders, he wasn’t able to return for screening.

It was expected Ross might have been screened via Zoom or similar technology. But Mayaro officials were told by the party that he hadn’t presented himself for screening and was out. Mahabirsingh wasn’t accepted either, it was confirmed. Mayaro was given a week to return with nominees.

Guardian Media confirmed that Ross had applied for an exemption (from border closure) to return home, but this wasn’t granted yet.

The other issue was that charter flights wanted to be paid before confirming a flight. Even if Ross returned by next week, it was noted that he’d have to self-quarantine at least for two weeks. As a result, sources questioned why he couldn’t have been screened via Zoom or similar technology. They said they noted reports that technology was used for some of the PNM’s first screenings.

While no names have so far arisen for Mayaro – and hope is still being held for Ross to be screened – some members have continued to eye top sportswoman Cleopatra Borrel, a name heard in recent months concerning that seat.

But officials said they’d also noted her name was heard concerning other areas.

PNM general secretary Foster Cummings was unavailable to comment on Ross’ situation. Another party official couldn’t say what might apply with nominees who are overseas.

Penny overseas too

The situation with Ross and his inability to present himself for screening has raised questions about the screening chances for Arima nominee, former area MP Pennelope Beckles-Robinson.

She is T&T’s permanent representative to the United Nations, based in New York.

Screening of Arima’s three nominees is next Monday.

PNM Arima officials couldn’t say what the development with the overseas Mayaro nominee could mean for her screening. They said the executive’s role goes only as far as receiving nominees’ presentations.

Arima’s nominees are incumbent Member of Parliament Anthony Garcia, Dr Hillary Bernard and Beckles-Robinson. Bernard is secretary of the executive. Garcia recently received majority executive backing for the candidacy. Bernard was next in line, and Beckles-Robinson, third.

Unit officials explained the executive had asked nominees for resumes and to do a two-minute video on themselves.

Resumes were received from all.

Beckles-Robinson’s video was sent to the Youth League also.

On the basis of information received, the unit made its recommendation. A letter on this was sent on Monday to PNM’s general secretary and leader.

They said it was up to candidates to present themselves for screening. There was no discussion with any nominee on how they would present themselves, whether in person or whether via Zoom/other technology. Officials said nominees had to contact the party on their presentation and the party had to agree on the presentation.

Beckles-Robinson didn’t reply to query yesterday on what arrangement was made for her screening – whether by technology- and if the party had agreed on this.

No Fuad screened


Following a claim carried by the Trinidad Express yesterday that Fuad Abu Abu Bakr, son of Jamaat al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, was being screened for PNM’s Port-of-Spain South seat, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley asked rhetorically at a news conference, whom Bakr was screened by and for which party he was contesting.

The PNM had also earlier issued a statement denying Bakr was nominated or being screened for Port-of-Spain South.

Rowley, who heads PNM’s screening team, said he had a list of all who were being screened yesterday and didn’t see Bakr’s name on it.

“The news in T&T is very exciting, you have to sieve it out,” Rowley remarked dryly.

Rowley said the PNM wasn’t a “pick-up side” but said it was rooted in a constitution.

“To be screened you have to be a member. Even if you are (a member), you have to submit consent (to be nominated) to the party by a particular date. When that deadline’s passed no one can come, unless if the screening team sends back for more nominees.”

He said if a consent letter wasn’t submitted, party groups wouldn’t be able to nominate a person and they wouldn’t be involved in the process.

“PNM has a process – you can’t just get a vaps to be screened by PNM.”