Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told party supporters that he ditched wearing the Balisier tie, a symbol of the PNM, to national events to promote an attitude of inclusion.
He was speaking at the party’s 63rd-anniversary function, at NAPA, in Port-of-Spain on Sunday.
Rowley, who left for New York yesterday to meet with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to push for a diplomatic solution over the Venezuelan crisis, told supporters that the party was “modernising” itself and had to represent everyone, and as a national leader he had to accept all regardless of ethnicity, religion, cultural, political and socio-economic situation.
Scores of attendees were left disappointed after they were turned away by ushers as the 1,200 seats in the auditorium were already filled. Approximately 1,500 people were invited to the function, some coming from as far as Tabaquite and Pleasantville.
He said the PNM was a resilient party which had experienced its fair share of ups and downs but had always managed to emerge on top through sheer determination.
“To account for its stewardship, in the PNM….you don’t have to feel it, touch it and taste it, you just have to live it,” he said.
Rowley “extracted” many of the PNM’s accomplishments through the years as he said it would paint an accurate picture of exactly how much the party had transformed the national landscape.
He said change is necessary for the evolution of life and similarly in politics. Rowley said change was something that always brought conflict as not everyone would embrace and welcome change.
“We have to accept that we have to make changes and when those changes are being made, if you as the party members and party supporters remain silent…the uninformed voices of the malevolent and malcontent will run the show,” he said.
He said Cabinet took 18 months to make the difficult decision to close down Petrotrin.
“It wasn’t because we wanted to suffer anybody or hurt anybody, it was because we wanted to give all of us and our children a chance in T&T.”
Rowley said there were many sectors of the economy including education and health where changes were needed.
However, he said every time this was brought up—so too, the resistance would inevitably follow.
Sending a message to citizens that they were guilty of wasting time as a nation, Rowley went on, “There is nothing wrong with hankering after perfection. We must always strive for perfection.”
“But most races require a start, and if you don’t start, there is very little chance that you can run the race and stay the course. We need to make better use of time in this country, and we need to move from talking the problems, over-analysing the problems to making decisions and getting on with it,” he said.
Prompting a round of raucous laughter as he said, “We as a people need to be less cantankerous,” the prime minister turned his attention to the younger people who were clamouring for opportunities.
He said, “Many are prepared to go forward, and they do not want to hear excuses. They need to be able to grasp their future now and begin to contribute for the next generation.”
He stated, “This country needs you now more than ever. This country needs the PNM now more than ever because the issues are more detrimental to the next generation. Whereas in our time, we were patient, we were respectful; we were orderly. Young people nowadays are not patient, very few are respectful, and most are disorderly because they want to get their world going.”
- by Anna Lisa Paul