PORT OF SPAIN –– Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has again called out Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on the crime crisis, querying this in view of the fact the situation “is now clearly out of the control of the government”.
“He [Rowley] must speak, he must act –– he must assure the nation that initiatives are being taken to bring this crisis to an end,” Persad-Bissessar insisted, noting Rowley headed Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Council.
It was the second time the opposition leader had queried Rowley’s silence on crime issues. The first was immediately after the launch of the parliamentary term last month when she said there was a “deafening silence” from his direction on the fact that the murder rate had begun to spiral once again, and September was termed the “bloodiest “ month of the year. There were 50 murders for the month of September.
Expressing sympathies to the mother and relatives of murdered Prisons Superintendent David Millette who was murdered outside his Morvant home yesterday, Persad-Bissessar stated: “With an emerging crime crisis and the brutal murder of Superintendent of Prisons Mr David Millette, why is Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley so silent on issues that are now clearly out of the control of the government?
“Dr Rowley has a direct duty and responsibility for issues of national security, as he is the chairman of the National Security Council. He has no choice on whether he speaks, or casually leaves crisis issues to the minister of national security.
“Even the murder of Superintendent of Prisons David Millette has not forced Dr Rowley into saying something to a population that is quickly retreating into a daily life of intense fear of crime.
“The prime minister must end this routine silence on critical issues of importance to citizens. He cannot pick and choose what he talks about; he is in charge and he must demonstrate that he knows what that means and that he is capable of taking charge of Trinidad and Tobago, especially when it comes to safety and security of citizens.
“It is not enough to leave statements on crime to the minister of national security, who also appears to be clueless, hapless and silent. When issues take on such desperate proportions on a national scale, the prime minister has a duty to not only respond, but also assure the population that there is an intention to act immediately to bring the criminal elements to heel.”
The opposition leader noted that “the number of murders escalated immediately after the PNM government took office, and now appears set to exceed last year’s murder rate, with the government appearing clueless to address this alarming trend”.
Persad-Bissessar said: “We now have the president of the Prisons Officers’ Association [POA], Mr Ceron Richards, expressing the belief that the murder of prisons officers will continue unless government steps in. He
also said that he has not yet seen any action by government that would suggest they are taking these threats to the lives of prisons officers, seriously. What these comments tell us most of all is that the government has taken no action on these issues.
“What is the prime minister and his government waiting for to take seriously the lives of men and women who dedicate their service every day to the safety of the people of our country? Every murder is intolerable and the government is acting as if it has no responsibility for the safety and security of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Persad-Bissessar expressed her deep condolences to Millette’s mother Phyllis and the members of his family.
“As a public servant described so affectionately by those who worked with him, what has happened is unacceptable and unforgivable and we send our prayers and support to you and your family.”