Sport and Community Development Minister Shamfa Cudjoe is accusing the media of “cherry-picking” statements she made on Wednesday to “create stories.”
Cudjoe came out swinging during the feature speech at the opening of the Maraval Community Centre yesterday. She took issue with a report in the Express, which quoted her as saying some citizens want something for nothing and need to sacrifice more.
Cudjoe said the Government would continue to make the necessary decisions and take the necessary action to ensure the nation’s children have access to those same benefits she had as a child in Tobago.
“So at the end of the day, some of the decisions we make, as I told the people of Tacarigua yesterday, are unpopular decisions and sometimes it does not contribute to our political stock or our political standing, but we continue to make that sacrifice because what we do is in the best interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Cudjoe said.
She said the population needs to remember the future generation needs these provisions and those come at a cost.
“There would always be the need for that and we make no apologies for that, we could spend all right now and have nothing for tomorrow. Yes, we can eat all the food right now and have nothing to give the children but how wise would that be?” she asked.
She criticised journalists who she said were “cherry-picking” her statements.
“So the media could pick out what they want out of the conversation and create all the stories they want. This is what I said yesterday and I am saying it to you again, we can’t just think about ourselves, we also have to think about these children and make that investment,” she said.
The Sport Minister said those future plans need to be sustainable as well.
Referring to a young girl who was greeting attendees, Cudjoe said, “She is top of my mind, she is top of this Government’s mind. Many of us have benefited from Trinidad and Tobago, the governments and administrations and all the programmes and projects over the years, Trinidad and Tobago has been good to us and it’s the same thing I said yesterday and I am saying it again, we have a duty to be good to these children who are coming up and to make that necessary investment in them.”
In a brief interview with Guardian Media as she leaving the event, Cudjoe again criticised journalists, saying her full speech from Wednesday was available for anyone who wanted to hear her true statements.
“What sense does it make interviewing me if the media is going to write and spread what they want anyway? So my advice to you, listen to what I said tonight and what I said last night and report what I said, rather than taking bits and pieces and making mayhem with it,” she said.
Earlier, she said the $15 million community centre in Maraval has a state-of-the-art ICT room, a training kitchen, a gym, a library and an auditorium that can hold up to 300 people.
Cudjoe said it was a far cry from the last community centre and she implored Maraval residents to take care of the facility and utilise it to its full potential.
Diego Martin North East MP and Finance Minister Colm Imbert also delivered remarks at the ceremony. He said the new facility was a fantastic improvement from the former community centre, which he said was little more than a shed when it was built in 1995.
“This centre I actually built, believe it or not Minister Cudjoe, when I was Minister of Works back in the 1991 to 1995 period, we built it using URP labour, that’s how it was before. It was a basic shed, four walls and a shed roof,” Imbert said.
He asked Cudjoe to reintroduce community programmes in community centres to educate residents.
“I am asking you Minister Cudjoe, we have to get back to these community programmes, craft, upholstery, cooking and all of the things I remember this community centre had in it years ago, we have to get back to that,” he said.
Cudjoe drew some laughter when she held up her hands, rubbing her fingers together to indicate money.
Imbert’s response drew loud cheers from the audience, as he said, “The money will come, ask and you shall receive.”
Acting Digital Transformation Minister Alyson West said the new facility was part of the Government’s drive to establish a network of ICT access centres across the country.
“Our intent is to establish around one hundred of these centres to provide communities with access to the internet, online training, and Government services,” West said.