Mickela Panday launches Patriotic Front

"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.

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