A private internal conversation between Government members was yesterday introduced into the motion of no confidence debate brought by the Opposition against Minister of National Security Stuart Young.
Opposition Member of Parliament for Oropouche East, Dr Roodal Moonilal read through a conversation between Young and People’s National Movement MP for La Horquetta/Talparo Foster Cummings in which he (Cummings) disagreed with the exemption process.
Moonilal couched the exchange by saying that Young thanked all his colleagues for their support, but it seemed not all of his colleagues were in support of his actions.
In the exchange dated January 19, Young said the exemption process requires a seven-day State quarantine and another seven days at-home quarantine.
Cummings replied that he did not share the view that citizens should be subjected to an exemption to return home and then left the chat.
Moonilal said he was not “elated” to condemn Young but felt it was necessary to raise the substantive issues regarding the exemption process.
“If we are not cautious, we can derail this debate as a debate on exemption and COVID. This is not a debate on exemption and COVID. This is a debate about the conduct of the Minister of National Security on the discharge of his functions,” Moonilal said.
“It involves every area in his department where we can argue that he has failed and failed miserably to even reach modest performance targets,” he said.
Moonilal questioned the Prime Minister’s contribution to the debate and asked whether as head of Cabinet he granted his own daughter the exemption to enter the country back in December.
Moonilal said that Young was the poster for “all-round failure”.
“There is a war in the Cabinet over the exemption policy,” Moonilal said.
Moonilal said that while showing a united front to the public, there was a lot of infighting within the party.
“That is the unity they talk about when the Prime Minister says ‘we make decisions’,” Moonilal said.
Cummings later responded on social media in a post that authenticated the exchange by saying that the exchange between MP’s was private and confidential.
“It is in this forum that the PNM concretizes its position on important matters, as a democratic organization that values the views of all members, particularly those who represent constituencies and advocate for their concerns,” Cummings said.
Cummings said that “when a policy position is arrived at, having distilled all those views, each Member of Parliament stands solidly behind the collective position”.
“It seems that this type of democracy is foreign to the operations of the UNC. This, however, is the PNM – and we have always held in highest regard the opinions of those who represent the people,” he said.
“As General Secretary of the PNM, and member of Parliament for La Horquetta/ Talparo, I firmly support the Prime Minister, the Minister of National Security, and the decisions taken to keep our population safe. I applaud our Government’s expert handling of a difficult and challenging COVID-19 situation, the result of expert leadership and teamwork, for which the PNM is well known,” Cummings said.