Wednesday 15th February, 2006

 

Ato wants to bridge age gap

 
 
 
 
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Newly-appointed UNC Senator Ato Boldon, centre, shares a word with his colleague, Sadiq Baksh, during yesterday’s sitting of the Senate. Photo: Karla Ramoo

By Gail Alexander

Immediately after his first Senate session yesterday, new UNC Senator Ato Boldon said he feels he can be a bridge between the young and old in T&T and between the UNC and PNM parties.

“The UNC isn’t my agenda,” Boldon told reporters.

“Neither is the PNM. The youth and sports in T&T are my commitments. My actions in time will show this.”

The four-time Olympic medallist was sworn in as an Opposition UNC Senator, replacing Roy Augustus, who resigned on Monday.

Also being sworn into the Senate was Dr Tim Gopeesingh, who replaced sacked UNC Senator Robin Montano.

Boldon, at his first press conference after yesterday’s Senate sitting, called on PNM Ministers Howard Chin Lee, Hazel Manning and Roger Boynes to work with him for T&T’s upliftment in the World Cup matches in June.

Boldon, 32, took the oath of office in Parliament in the presence of UNC Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday and deputy Jack Warner, who congratulated each other as Boldon took his Senate seat.

However, UNC political leader Winston Dookeran yesterday said Boldon was chosen without his knowledge.

Boldon’s predecessor, Augustus, resigned on Monday, saying he was “repulsed by the viciousness” from some UNC executive members in the last few days.

Montano was dismissed by Panday on Friday, for breaching an executive order against discussing internal party business in the media.

Montano’s replacement, Gopeesingh, received a seat next to Senate Leader Wade Mark, higher up than Montano had been.

Boldon was seated midway in the UNC bench, ahead of Senators Sadiq Baksh and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan.

Baksh and Bachan are now at the far end of the UNC bench. Both are tipped for removal soon, UNC sources said yesterday.

Panday yesterday dismissed concerns that Boldon—who travels between the US and T&T—did not qualify for the Senate.

“There was nothing to check, since Boldon is a citizen of T&T,” Panday said.

At yesterday’s press conference, Warner said Panday had asked him to contact Boldon to see if he would serve, since Boldon would be a good person to articulate the positions of young people in sport.

Although Boldon was due to leave T&T, Warner said he agreed to take up the appointment. He said the UNC decided to keep the development a secret as part of a “new discipline” in UNC.

Boldon said he had always hesitated to make “any inroads in this direction.” However, he said he realised that he had worked for people on both sides of the House.

“My agenda is singular. I’m not in this to be in the papers or for political gain. My agenda is to give back,” Boldon said, adding that youths feel as though T&T no longer cares about them.

“I don’t expect everyone to understand my decision now to have a cause for which I’m willing to commit. But from 1992 to now, I’ve always maintained that I don’t believe I have gotten my blessings simply to live in a house and look at a lot of medals.”

Boldon added: “I’ve been on the sidelines for quite some time. I was made an ambassador four years ago and promised with that would come some responsibility and some things to do.

“I’m retired now, I don’t have that much to do. I want something to do and what I see this opportunity as is a chance to do something.”

Boldon said he was not a UNC member though.

On current UNC tensions in the party, he said:“When many things crumble around me I tend to survive. My demise has been predicted for many years and I’m still here. Those who want to work with me I certainly will, and those who are opposed to what I see as beneficial, I’ll simply work to ask those who are willing to work with me.

“Do I expect it to be easy? Absolutely not. But I enjoy challenges. I’ll put 100 per cent of myself into this. This isn’t a part time-thing.”

Boldon, due to travel this week, may appear at Sunday’s UNC rally if he returns in time, Warner said.


Jack hits Roy

UNC deputy leader Jack Warner said yesterday he had not officially seen former Senator Roy Augustus’ resignation until 11 am yesterday, even though both work in the same building.

Warner said he was the one who had proposed Augustus to replace deceased Senator Arnim Smith in 2004.

He added that since that was so, he would have thought that common courtesy would have demanded that he be advised of Augustus’ resignation before hand.

“But I’m not angry,” Warner added.

“My grandmother told me when one doors closes, another opens.”

Asked if Augustus was still working for Warner, the latter said: “Up to now, yes.” Warner quipped that he may be in the Parliament building “at some point soon.” (GA)

 

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