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Panday remains in charge from prison
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Port of Spain Trinidad: The ruling PNM is setting the stage to declare a state of emergency, Opposition Chief Whip Ganga Singh says.

His comments came during a media conference at around 10.30 pm on Tuesday at the Rienzi Complex, Couva, after an emergency meeting of the party’s executive held to discuss strategies the party would implement while its leader Basdeo Panday remains in jail.

Singh said Panday would remain the party leader no matter how long he remained incarcerated.

Panday was jailed on Tuesday, after he refused bail on a charge of corruptly receiving a 25,000 (approximately $290,000) reward from Carlos John and Ishwar Galbaransingh in connection with the Piarco International Airport development project.

Singh said Panday’s arrest, while he was having a meeting with visiting Indian parliamentarians, was a vulgar display of the abuse of power taking place in T&T.

He accused the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau of bowing to the political directorate.

“They appear to be taking direction from the political arm rather than the commissioner of police,” said Singh, who claimed Supt Maurice Piggott called the media beforehand to announce Panday’s pending arrest.

“That is why you had members of the media camped outside the home of Mr Panday. And they appeared in full force at the office of the Leader of the Opposition.”

Singh said Panday’s arrest may be another smokescreen to cover up Government’s inability to deal with crime.

“Has the arrest of Mr Panday stopped the murders and the crimes of violence taking place in this country? The answer is ‘no.’”

He also said the PNM was covering up the Dansam Dhansook bribery allegation against former Works and Transport Minister Franklin Khan and Energy Minister Eric Williams.

He also referred to Williams’ ownership of Maranatha Geophysical Services Ltd—a company contracted by bpTT—and the Landate scandal involving Dr Keith Rowley.

“You have no police going to the home of Franklin Khan, Eric Williams, Keith Rowley or the other ministers who it is alleged are engaged in corruption,” Singh said.

Singh also said Panday’s refusal to accept bail was not political grandstanding.

He said the fact that Panday chose to remain in the poor conditions in jail was testimony the UNC leader is willing to fight.

“When Nelson Mandela was put in jail, when Mahatma Gandhi was put in jail, they weren’t grandstanding, they were making symbolic points...,” he said.

“If you see your country going down the slippery slope to anarchy and to the erosion of fundamental rights and freedom and to the erosion of democracy, then you must make a stand, and if going to jail makes that stand, Mr Panday has demonstrated that leadership quality.”

Singh said Panday’s wife, Oma, who had also been charged with bribery, and his daughters were traumatised.

Singh also revealed that Pointe-a-Pierre MP Gillian Lucky, who fell out with Panday, assisted in the processing of bail for Mrs Panday.

Speaking about Panday’s treatment while in jail, Singh said the Opposition leader needed medicine to treat a cardiac condition and diabetes.

He said Panday was allowed two visits a day while being held in the Maximum Security Prison at Golden Grove.

“We have put private medical care on standby, we hope that the membership would pray that Panday continues to rally strongly while he is a ward of the State, but the responsibility is that of the State to secure him and his health also.”

UNC starts political meetings

Starting last night in Gasparillo, the UNC has planned a series of political meetings, party chairman Wade Mark announced on Tuesday night.

Tonight, the UNC heads to Cacandee Road in Felicity, Chaguanas, and tomorrow to the Croisee in San Juan.

The youth arm will meet on Saturday at Panday’s Couva North office and on Sunday there will be a motorcade from Chaguanas to the Eco Park at St Helena

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