Kamla: Not an alcoholic
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar says she can’t recall “deliberately lying to the public” and dismissed suggestions that she is also an alcoholic.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express newspaper, Persad Bissessar, who came to power at the head of a five-party coalition that also includes her United National Congress (UNC) also admitted that her government’s biggest mistake since it has been in office for the past 16 months, has been the brief controversial appointment of Reshmi Ramnarine as the director of the Strategic Services Agency (SSA).
Ramnarine resigned from the post amid widespread public condemnation of the government over the appointment of the junior staff worker to head the country’s chief intelligence agency.
“The greatest fallout was the appointment of the Reshmi Ramnarine,” she said, noting “there may have been others.
‘At the time it seemed like the best thing to do. I can’t go into all of those reasons at this point in time. I think it was a mistake but I will not make another one like that,” she told the newspaper.
But former junior national security minister Fitzgerald Hinds, speaking on local radio here, said that the Prime Minister still owes it to the country to explain “whose mistake” led to the appointment of the computer technician to head the spy agency.
“It is not enough to come back and say it is a mistake,” said Hinds, adding that Persad Bissessar as head of the National Security Council “needs to say whether she had any direct involvement in these things”.
In her newspaper interview, the Prime Minister dismissed suggestions that she is an alcoholic.
“It is not true. It is definitely not true. I could not work the work the hours and days and nights that I do should I have had such a problem,” she said, adding the allegations began during the internal elections of the UNC in 2010 referencing the insinuation by former UNC leader that she fell drunk on a statue of Gandhi in India.
“It is so totally false. I never visited the Gandhi statue. I don’t even know where it is,” she added.
Asked whether she has ever lied to the population, the Prime Minister replied “I have not lied to the people of Trinidad and Tobago but sometimes I do tell a white lie to my grandson.
“I cannot recall any such instance. I may have made a mistake at one time or another, but I do not recall deliberately lying to the public,” she added.
Durting the interview, the Prime Minister defended the decision to abolish corporal punishment, saying it was “not just a compassionate decision. It was a rational decision.
“It was predicated on empirical evidence which says that violence to children in schools just breeds more violence,” she said, adding that her government’s unsuccessful constitutional amendment to remove obstacles to capital punishment shouldn’t be regarded as the erosion of her commitment to non-violence.
“I always say the voice of the people is the voice of God. As a Prime Minister and an elected representative of people my job is not about me. My job is to know what the majority opinion is and to get that opinion out,” said the 60-year-old first woman head of government in this oil rich twin island republic.