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National Security Minister Stuart Young speaking at a press conference yesterday at the Ministry of National Security, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain office.

SHALIZA HASSANALI

After being branded a billionaire by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, National Security Minister Stuart Young has admitted had he remained in private practice as an attorney he would have been a lot richer today.

Having endured five years of political attacks from the Opposition, Young said when he offered to recontest the Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West seat for the ruling People’s National Movement in the August 10 general election, he did so without full family support.

Young was speaking yesterday at a press conference about his recusal from Cabinet meetings from 2016 to 2020 because of family ties and conflict of interest in the award of multi-million contracts and the procuring of loans, among other financial activities.

He said what was equally disturbing was the irresponsible behaviour of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar who branded him “a millionaire to billionaire PNM style,” in a statement on Friday.

“I wish I was a millionaire….giving up the last five years of my life in public service has not been easy because it would have been the prime of my practice as an attorney. But I did it for Trinidad and Tobago, believe it or not,” Young said.

As a founding member of Synergy TV and We Sport, Young said he has not received any dividends or a cent from them since he became a member of the People’s National Movement Government.

“I wish they would pay me a dividend.”

Young said he had a choice to make not too long ago “whether I would put myself back up for five years in this politics, having endured what I have done in the last five years. And the sole reason why I have done it, without full family support… because I felt the country needed good and decent people to continue to serve. And God forbid that the UNC were to get back into office.”

As he spoke, his voice quivered, breaking at times.

He said he would stand “strong and fight whatever sacrifice.”

In the last five years, Young said he became a political target by UNC members.

“I know why I am a political target….because I know there is no single person in the whole world could come forward and say they have compromised Stuart Young. There is no person here… anywhere could come and say Stuart Young gave a favour…Stuart Young bent the rules. That always makes you enemy number one.”

Asked if he had regrets of entering politics and if the PNM wins next Monday’s election it would be his last term in office, Young said when the Opposition first started attacking his younger brother Angus Young “I did have that fear.”

But his brother’s company stood by him because they knew there was no wrongdoing.

“I don’t have regrets. I have offered myself for service…I have offered myself for T&T and I will do the best I can.”

Young said during his tenure there were numerous calls for him to resign as minister.

He jokingly stated he even earned the title of “Minister of Everything.”

At varying times Young held down four portfolios—National Security, Communications Minister, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs.

Young said he does not intend to hold office for the rest of his life as others have to be given an opportunity to serve.

In 2014, Young became a temporary PNM Senator

A year later, he was elected MP for Port-of-Spain North St Ann’s West constituency.