Former PNM Housing Minister, Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde, is threatening legal action against current Minister Camille Robinson-Regis for what she described as political slander.
She called on the PNM Government to reassess its priorities before attacking former leaders and office holders.
Dick-Forde posted comments on her Facebook page on Monday.
Responding to remarks made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Saturday, Dick-Forde denied she told then Prime Minister Patrick Manning of any missing money, and said the remarks were part of an ongoing political feud spanning more than a decade.
She added, “Leave me out of your drama and get cracking on the serious work of national governance and development! I shall consider if to respond to the trite and pitiful release by the Women’s League of the PNM also slandering my name, in due course. It may be a legal response.”
Referring to a copy of the Hansard from Parliament’s Budget Debate on September 2008, Dick-Forde said Rowley attacked Manning without cause and accused Rowley of attempting to re-ignite a feud with his predecessor.
The former Minister added, “The current prime minister attacked his leader in Parliament and after the Prime Minister responded in detail to all of the corruption allegations leveled at him, he hit the Diego Martin MP a hard lash that seems to still be smarting 10 years later. You attack the man in Parliament and you are upset that he clapped back!”
WHAT THE PNM WOMEN SAID
“The Women’s League of the People’s National Movement has taken note of the press release issued by Mrs Hazel Manning, former Cabinet Minister and wife of the late Prime Minister Patrick Manning.
Both Hazel and Mr. Manning remain dear to the heart of the Women’s League, having both contributed immensely to our growth and development over the years. We view as unfortunate therefore, the impression being propagated by some that the current Prime Minister’s comments with regards to the Vieux Fort Housing Development constituted an attack on his predecessor which necessitates a defence.
Facts, as Mrs. Manning states, are stubborn things which will not go away. The fact is that former Prime Minister Patrick Manning was never the Minister of Housing. During our tenure from 2007-2010, that responsibility fell to Dr. Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde, and therefore all the Prime Minister’s information with regard to matters pertaining to housing would have been supplied by that Minister.
The fact is for the five years that followed, 2010-2015, that portfolio was held by Dr. Roodal Moonilal. The fact is that it took 12 years for the Housing Ministry to deliver 44 out of 137 housing units in Vieux Fort and these two Ministers must be held accountable for that.
It was in that context, and that context only, that Dr. Rowley attributed the delay of the project to politics on both sides of the political divide, the first as a result of misinformation by a PNM Minister of Housing, and the second as a result of pure spite by a UNC Minister of Housing.
Clearly then, it was these two Minsters who were the focus of Dr. Rowley’s comments and not the Honourable Patrick Manning. The Women’s league continues to be fortified in its support of the Prime Minister’s candour, unafraid as he is to lay blame at the feet of whomsoever is responsible, even if it resides within his own Party.
Both former Housing Ministers, according to Dr. Rowley, have much to answer to the people of Trinidad and Tobago for their failure to either deliver completed housing units in the first instance, or complete projects already in the ground in the case of the second.
Dr. Rowley in fact singled out Dr. Moonilal’s decision to spend $120 million for private land at Eden Gardens in Couva, when that money could easily have been used to complete the Vieux Fort project. Such dereliction of duty on the part of Dr. Moonilal is inexcusable and warrants further scrutiny by the media and the relevant authorities.
It is no secret that Dr. Moonilal’s tenure as Housing Minister was dogged by many allegations of questionable behaviour and corrupt practices that resulted in the enrichment of a small clique of contractors. Today, those allegations are engaging the attention of the courts.
The salutary and indisputable fact is that the current Prime Minister Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley, has never denigrated either the name or the legacy of his predecessor. Indeed, it was only on Wednesday at the “Spotlight on Energy” conference that Dr. Rowley publicly heaped praises on his PNM predecessor, laying bare the admiration he held for the foresight and tenacity displayed by Mr. Manning during his tenure as Prime Minister.
The PNM Women’s League stands therefore in solidarity with the current Prime Minister, and simultaneously offers our gratitude to Mrs. Manning for the work she has done with us in the past, for her contribution to Trinidad and Tobago, and for the excellent work in which she is currently involved. We urge all to beware of those who would seek to drive a wedge in that relationship.”
Camille Robinson Regis
Lady Vice Chairman
People’s National Movement