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Rowley in tight knot
The PNM’s General Council has deferred decision on use of the balisier tie after heated discussions last Saturday when members disagreed with PNM leader Keith Rowley’s position on the issue. The tie issue has caused simmering debate in the Opposition since Rowley recently stopped using the neckwear in Parliament and his four male Senate appointees followed suit. As rebranding PNM, Rowley has proposed extending the tie’s use to a wider pool of members—but not using it in Parliament. But past and present MPs and other PNMites prefer retaining the tie. Before last Saturday’s council meeting, PNM chairman Franklin Khan said views would be aired and a decision would have been taken in council.
But yesterday, Khan confirmed the decision to defer, saying there were a “lot of involved discussions” at the council on the issue. “Many expressed views...We decided to suspend discussions until January’s council,” he said. “People will talk to their constituencies to gauge views so we’ll have a proper basis for a decision in January.” Khan didn’t deny that last Saturday’s lengthy council discussions on the tie were heated. Other PNM officials said during the meeting Rowley made it clear he wanted a decision on the matter and to have it settled that day.
However, they said, four constituency representatives raised the issue during their contributions, sanctioning the use of the tie. They included Joe Ross (San Juan/Barataria), Andrew Alves (Pointe-a-Pierre), Clifford Campbell (Mayaro) and PoS North. Officials said Hedwige Bereaux, Eric Esdelle, Anthony Garcia and others who also spoke, called for the issue to be deferred for consultation with constituencies before the decision. Elections officer Linus Rogers also moved a motion asking the PNM to discuss the issue before any decision. Officials said Rowley noted he’d said that he would lead on this issue and it was a political decision.
They added that Rowley said if people didn’t follow him, he would not “drag” them, and if the council didn’t agree with him, he’d have to consider his position. Rowley’s responses to some arguments, they said, included querying if the tie was above the flag, which national ties were patterned after, and denouncing moves for blind following on the tie. They said Rowley indicated he hadn’t instructed others to drop the tie and he also referred to instances in Parliament—after he was fired—when people wearing the tie had raised issues with him. Officials said PNM senator Faris Al Rawi explained senators had decided on their own to use the national tie. There were murmurs of disapproval when Al Rawi spoke, they added.
Council members said Khan’s move in deferring a decision saved the day since “it was heading to defeat” of Rowley’s position. Mayaro chairman Campbell said yesterday: “We want to keep our logo...One doesn’t devalue an emblem especially one which proclaims those who have attained political office. “In trying to attract ten members with a position, we must be careful not to lose 50, so we must engage constituencies,” he said. “Khan deferred the decision as things were getting hot on Saturday. “This will allow things to cool off to take a proper decision later.”
Point-a-Pierre’s Alves said: “Our constituency doesn’t believe it best to give up the tie without proper discussions.” Former youth officer Dane Wilson added: “I felt the leader was giving an ultimatum to the council, threatening members to agree. “I share his view about expanded use of the tie...however, how he’s gone about discussions leaves much to be desired,” Wilson said. Efforts to contact Rowley proved futile yesterday.
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