The Opposition yesterday lost its bid to have National Security Minister Stuart Young brought before Parliament’s Privileges Committee regarding his recent remarks on the Damen vessel repairs.
House Speaker Bridgid Annisette- George dismissed Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein’s request to bring Young before the Privileges team.
This, after Young delivered a full explanation to Parliament yesterday. He clarified the remarks he made on the issue last Friday.
After Young spoke, Hosein had called for him to be brought before the Privileges team.
But Annisette- George said Young had explained his remarks and significantly, had taken the earliest opportunity to clarify the matter.
“This doesn’t constitute a prima facie case to be referred to the Privileges Committee” she added.
On November 27 Young said Damen officials – due to the COVID pandemic- hadn’t wanted to fly to this part of the world to do what was needed to be done on the vessel. He added he would be contacting the Netherlands Ambassador on it.
The Express newspaper subsequently published an article which said the Netherlands Embassy stated a Damen engineer arrived October 19 to perform maintenance works and was replaced by another Netherlands engineer on November 20.
This sparked Opposition moves against Young.
In yesterday’s explanation, Young maintained what he had said in the House previously is accurate.
“Unfortunately, there’s a deliberate attempt to ignore what I really said in order to weave and create a false, misleading narrative.”
He cited the newspaper article, a television talk show and the Opposition moves.
Young added, “It must always be appreciated that in dealing with national security, Government must always balance the amount of information it provides between protecting operational matters associated with national security and providing the public with accountability and transparency.”
He gave the facts:
-As part of the maintenance of the Damen vessels, Damen is required to have at least one engineer here, present here.
-Just prior to the closure of T&T’s borders in March, the Damen engineer stationed here, left due to personal and other concerns related to the global pandemic
– There was no Damen engineer in T&T from March to October. This is one of the reasons why said Damen engineers who were required to come to TT to maintain the vessels were delayed in arriving here due to the global pandemic. The engineers were not here from March to late October due to their concerns associated with COVID-19. These delays in their arrival have negatively affected the vessel’s serviceability.
-The arrival of one engineer in October who was replaced by another in November is not, and was not, sufficient to carry out the necessary maintenance and works to the vessels.
-Damen hasn’t shipped the parts for the vessels that are necessary for their repair and maintenance. This also negatively affected their serviceability.
-There are other engineers required to perform specific works on the vessels – but haven’t come to T&T because of COVID-19.
Young added, “Accordingly, I reject suggestions by the certain elements in the media and UNC opposition that I’ve misled the Parliament- that’s something I’d never intentionally do. These facts support what I said. I stand by what I say now and what I said previously.
“As National Security Minister, I’m conscious I’ll come under attack from many different quarters, including those who engage in criminality, corruption self-serving agendas. I assure the population I’ll continue carrying out my duties as I’ve been doing, without fear or favour, malice or ill-will.”