"It’s Time." That's the word from former Oropouche-West MP Mickela Panday. With the general election due in 16 months, this is the message that T&T’s newest political party lead by Panday is sending out as it promises to revolutionise governance by putting youths at the forefront.
The Patriotic Front held its launch in Chaguanas today and was confident of forming the next government.
"It’s a long time in politics, one year and four months," Panday, daughter of former prime minister Basdeo Panday told reporters.
During a meeting of family and supporters on May 20, 2018, Panday was given the mandate to form a new party. She announced yesterday that it had been registered with the Elections and Boundaries Commission. The party has not yet decided on whether it will contest all constituencies. She said the next election should not be about PNM and UNC, but about putting the country first through unity.
Delivering her maiden speech as leader, Panday promised that young people would influence political decision-making in a Patriotic Front government. This was her call for young people to get involved with her party and to help build it from the ground up.
"We do not believe that our youths are the problem as some people advocate. In fact, the Patriotic Front believes our youths are the answer to the future development of our nation. For too long, we have alienated our youths by denying them a meaningful role in our decision-making process and our development. Instead of using our youths to stick up posters and engage in propaganda activities as some political parties do, we must engage our youths in meaningful participation in the political decision-making processes of the country," Panday said.
She said the lawlessness and negative behaviours that exist were inherited from colonialism. In many ways, she believes that the colonial mentality still existed as citizens still do not believe that T&T was their own and they had a responsibility to protect it. In seeking to neutralise this, she said the party, once elected, will embark on a massive re-education programme from the lowest to the highest levels. She said that State-owned media would be responsible for producing programmes to help achieve this objective.
"If we are to develop our most valuable resource, our human resource, we have to reform the education system. The Patriotic Front believes that our education system is still colonial in its nature and geared towards producing personnel and workers for the metropolitan countries. Our system should produce a core of highly skilled inventor and innovators with relevance to our needs as a nation. It is urgent, therefore, that we re-orient our education system and syllabuses in all our learning institutions to produce investors and innovators, and creative minds, instead of merely being copiers of others."
Coincidentally, the party was launched on her father's 86th birthday. He was also present at the launch. While Panday did not say whether her party will include popular political faces, her father said he would be assisting the party. The party’s logo was designed by the former UNC minister of housing and settlements John Humphrey. Panday said the party was open to anyone. While a coalition government was not discussed by the party, she said they are willing to speak to anyone. The senior Panday, who only returned to Trinidad on Thursday, after seeking medical treatment abroad, said that the party seeks to develop a nation and getting into office was only one step. He said that was going to be done by involving young people who want change.
- by Kevon Felmine. Photo by Rishi Ragoonath.