Fazal Karim

The United National Congress (UNC) has named five more candidates selected to contest the 2020 general election.

In a release on Saturday, party officials confirmed the latest five included Opposition Senator Saddam Hosein for San Juan/Barataria; Dinesh Rambally for Chaguanas West; Flora Singh for Arima; Maurice Hoyte for D’Abadie/O’meara; and Nabila Greene for Toco/Sangre Grande.

The party’s Public Relations Officer Anita Haynes said the UNC had completed screening of all candidates and would announce the other names in the coming weeks.

Karim: I went into the screening hopeful

Meanwhile, Chaguanas East MP, Fazal Karim said last Wednesday’s screening exercise could not have gone better.

During an interview on Saturday, he said, “The discussions were quite positive and I remain confident in our party’s leadership to take us to victory in 2020.”

Karim, who is hoping to return for another term said, “I went into the exercise very hopeful and optimistic and I left in the same spirits, because of my long-standing history with the party and my track record of service and performance in various capacities over the years.

“I am a founding member of the party and have been working tirelessly on the ground since my late teenage years, even before its inception, from the days of the ULF, then Club 88, and now the UNC.”

Having served as the general secretary of the UNC from 2000, Karim has helped to build its foundation and framework because of his belief in the party, democracy and “his determination to serve the people of T&T in a meaningful way.”

The son of a father who worked his entire life in the sugar industry, Karim said, “With very little formal education, he worked his way up by learning new skills and trades along the way, which allowed him to put his children through school. From a young age, I have had such a deep understanding of the way education and training can transform lives and generations for that matter. I am a family man, and I like to be on the ground meeting people and hearing from them.”

Asked about his track record which would be evaluated and would form the basis of selection for another term, Karim said, “There is no question that I have dedicated my life to service and the development of our nation through education and skills training.” Karim served as minister of science, technology and Tertiary Education and then tertiary education and skills training.

“I was passionate about widening access to higher education for all of our citizens through the expansion of the GATE programme, and decentralised and specialised campuses at UTT and COSTAATT among many other initiatives”

He said one of the things he was most proud of is “elevating the status and recognition of vocational work through targeted initiatives to increase the quality and number of skills training programmes across the country.”

When he became an MP for the first time in Chaguanas East, Karim admitted the seat was won by a very narrow margin.

In the last five years, Karim said he has worked diligently to maintain contact with constituents through walkabouts and community projects.

In his initial days as MP, Karim developed a five-year strategy for building up the constituency in critical ways and “followed that to completion even with minimal resources.”

Karim commended the community-based organisations, religious bodies and other stakeholders in the constituency as he said, “Together we have rolled up our sleeves and delivered projects for dealing with crime, education, health and wellness, infrastructure, agriculture and of course to support constituents during periods of distress due to flooding, economic downturn and most recently, the fallout of COVID-19 and the lockdown period. In the process, I have created some extremely meaningful relationships with constituents and stakeholder groups that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”