• 23 May, 2024

Pundit Donny Samlal speaks out on UNC hooliganism

Pundit Donny Samlal speaks out on UNC hooliganism


Sita Ram , Namaste.

Yesterday, I attended the UNC’s National Congress at the Couva Southall Facility to  present my motion calling for Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar to step down as Political Leader of the UNC.

Over the years I have admired the founding Political Leader Basdeo Panday and other party stalwarts, such as Kelvin Ramnath, John Humphrey , Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC and Trevor Sudama. These men led the struggle for social justice and equality .

In 2010 I was of the view that Mrs Bissessar was the right person to continue this struggle. Caroni Workers/ farmers suffered severe hardship  following the PNM regime’s announcement in 2002 /2003, that it was shutting down Caroni 1975 ltd. As an ex-Caroni worker, my family and I continue to  suffer from this brutal act.

Mrs Persad Bissessar promised that  should she become Prime Minister all farmers and ex-Caroni workers would receive their parcel of land and other entitlements due under a VSEP package. Under Mrs Persad-Bissesar only some leases were delivered to persons whereas thousands remained outstanding.

In my humble opinion Mrs Persad Bissessar betrayed the  thousands of ex-Caroni workers/farmers many of whom are members of the UNC. It was not made a priority of her administration. Mrs Persad Bissessar has since refused to meet with us or use her office to advance our cause.  It is against this backdrop that I sought to bring a motion of ‘no confidence’ before the UNC’s National Congress. This motion was part of an online petition and was also sent to the General Secretary of the UNC, Mr. Peter Khahai prior to the meeting. I did not receive an acknowledgement.

I therefore produced copies of my motion at the Congress on Sunday. Instead of party officials accepting copies of my motion , they verbally assaulted me and denied me my right to speak. I was then escorted out of the area by Party Organiser Ravi Ratiram. Members of the media asked me for an interview and as I proceeded to do so, I was assaulted by two men in full view of the media. At no time was I disrespectful to anyone at the Congress. I was always peaceful in my approach. In fact, when seated awaiting the start of the congress, I was warmly greeted with reverent clasped hands by the Honourable Senator Roberts and returned a similar blessing to him.

Never before in my long history of attending UNC meetings have I ever witnessed this level of open aggression and intimidation. The behaviour displayed by some party officials on Sunday shows that the old democratic principles and values of the UNC are under serious threat as free speech is being stifled with intimidation and force.

I remember being present in the UNC congress of 2009 where Mr. Abool Ali, in front of the then NATEX, moved a similar motion that the then duly elected leader Mr. Panday step down as leader and appoint Ms. Kamla Persad Bissessar as leader. This caused loud applause at that congress and started a cascade of events which led to Mr. Panday calling an early leadership election and Ms. Persad Bisessar becoming leader. To Mr. Panday’s credit, he did not prevent Mr. Ali from moving his motion. He understood that democracy is not only about elections, but about allowing freedom of speech which could be a catalyst for change. Those who criticise me now are unaware of our party’s history and do not understand democracy.

I will not allow threats of violence and intimidation to deter me  from pursuing my motion calling upon Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar to step down . I believe that it is  for the betterment of our country and party. It is my democratic right as a UNC supporter  to express this view. I will do so again at the next congress because it is needed at this time.

I wish to thank those who came to my assistance, especially Mr. Lalla, who I never met before, while I was being assaulted. I also wish to thank all those who called me to offer their words of comfort and support. I also wish to thank the many religious bodies and religious leaders who called to inquire about  my welfare.

Om Sarve Bhawantu Sukhinah; Sarve Santu Niraamayaah

Sarve Bhadraani Pashyantu; Maa Kaschid-dukha-Bhaag-Bhavet

Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih


Pundit Donny Samlal