I am in good health.
This was the assurance of the freshly re-appointed leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday.
Questions had swirled about the status of the Siparia MP after former United National Congress Member of Parliament Dr Tim Gopeesingh confirmed he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
But Persad-Bissessar addressed the speculation that grew after she had failed to make a public appearance following the August 10 General Election after receiving her instruments of appointment at President’s House, St Ann’s.
“Well, I’ve been where I should be, the health authorities advised us to stay put and that’s what I did,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“Last week I did a video-graphed messaging, which we sent out to all media houses so I was out in my office that day. But I’ve been basically at home, given the scare with COVID, I thank God that in good health, I have shown no symptoms whatsoever.”
She said a picture during the election campaign which depicted Gopeesingh alongside her had been taken long before he was confirmed as positive with the virus.
“I know people who’ve been asking about a photograph with myself and Dr Gopeesingh and that photograph was taken way down before, it was sometime in July, so it’s more than a month I would say that I was on the truck and he was nearby when we were campaigning,” she said.
“So to the best of my knowledge, I have no contact with anyone who has tested positive, to the best of my knowledge and I have not been named to the best of my knowledge as a contact of any person who has tested positive, so thank God I’m in good health.”
Persad-Bissessar said she had since contacted Gopeesingh, whom she said was in good spirits and was expected to be moved to a step-down facility soon.
The opposition leader also downplayed the calls made for her to step down, as she explained while there had been dissenting voices, there had also been support as well.
Grilled on calls for her to step down from inside and outside the party having lost consecutive general elections, Persad-Bissessar said, “I think my presence here and the acceptance of the instrument of appointment speaks to the contrary. In my words in the ceremony there, I indicated that I thought long and hard about it, and just as there are one or two who says I must go, there are others who are saying please stay, at this time you are needed, please stay. So I have looked at the pros and the cons and as I have said then, I repeat, my work is not yet complete, there are thousands who voted for the party I lead and I intend to stand on their shoulders and be their voices in the Parliament and outside of Parliament.”
She was particularly dismissive when asked about the criticism from two of her former cabinet ministers, Devant Maharaj and Dr Fuad Khan.
“Well, you would notice they both did not get back a seat,” she said.
The UNC leader also confirmed that internal elections for the party were due later this year but said she had not yet decided if she would be contesting the post.
She also announced that David Lee had been chosen to be the Opposition Chief Whip in Parliament, while the party would still be discussing the makeup of the Opposition bench in the Senate.