RADHICA DE SILVA
A day after his quarantine ended, United National Congress candidate for Princes Town Barry Padarath returned to his constituency to campaign and revealed that the police had not yet contacted him about any ongoing investigation.
The T&T Police Service’s White Collar Crime Unit was expected to speak to Padarath concerning an investigation into a $3 million bank account when he returned from Miami. But speaking to reporters at the Princes Town Market on Sunday, Padarath again reiterated that the allegations were all part of a People’s National Movement (PNM) conspiracy meant to distract the UNC from victory.
“This is the silly season. It’s two weeks before the election and this is PNM machinations. They are fully aware they will lose and they will get more and more desperate. My hands are clean and I will stand as your candidate and I will battle each and every one of them anytime anywhere,” Padarath said.
Pressed on whether the police had interviewed him, Padarath said, “I have heard from no one and I will not be distracted from going forward. Those arrests are PNM machinations.”
He also slammed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for saying that the costs were too high to bring in Caricom observers.
“We have seen what is happening in Guyana and months later there are no resolutions. It is a slap in the face, a breakdown and erosion of democracy and total disregard by the Prime Minister and Government to use the excuse that we cannot afford to bring in election observers,” he said.
“This is the democratic process that will bring change. It has to be transparent. We cannot have the Chief Elections Officer having questions over her head as it relates to being a relative of a PNM government minister. You cannot have gerrymandering of constituency borders and not have election observers. If they have money for stadium and vanity projects as the PNM has engaged in, for the protection and preservation of democracy that is a small price to pay for our democracy.”
Padarath also defended UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s comments that the suffering of nationals locked out of T&T was similar to slavery and indentureship. He said many nationals stranded abroad by the COVID-19 border lockdown were suffering from mental anguish, noting that people as far as Qatar and near as Barbados had reached out to him for help.
“They didn’t have money to pay rent. They were in homeless shelters and could not provide food for themselves. Many are suffering and the struggle out there is real. The process should have been handled better and managed properly. Trinbagonians should have been given a window of opportunity for repatriation and that is what the Opposition has been clamouring for,” he said.
Asked about his experience in quarantine, Padarath said it was not a bad experience, as he had been given the opportunity to self-quarantine in a hotel for 14 days after being granted an exemption to return home.
“I have often described my experience as bittersweet. I have first-hand knowledge of what it is like to be outside the borders. While we respect the medical advice provided by the Government to nationals with respect to the closure of the borders, and while we agree that the borders should be closed at this time, we are mindful that there are thousands trapped who cannot come in. They cannot afford the basic amenities and they have become nationless,” Padarath added.