Rowley, Indarsingh Apologise in Malaria Issue

Spread the love

Caption: Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh. Photo: T&T Parliament

By Sue-Ann Wayow

BOTH Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Member of Parliament for Couva South Rudranath Indarsingh had to apologise to Parliament on Friday for their behaviour. 

They were instructed to make the apologies by House Speaker Brigid Annisette-George. 

The war of words began early on in the parliamentary sitting in House of Representatives when Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh was answering a question asked by Indarsingh.

Indarsingh asked, “Given reports of a malaria outbreak, can the Minister inform the House what immediate measures are being taken to address the spread of this dangerous disease in the public interest?” 

In answering the question Deyalsingh said, “Madam speaker, the way this question is phrased speaks to a lack of understanding of what malaria is and it also speaks to be what continues as the unpatriotism of the UNC.”

He said Trinidad and Tobago has enjoyed a malaria free status determined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) since 1965. 

“To tell the international community that there is a malaria outbreak is nothing more than unpatriotism.” Deyalsingh said. 

While trying to continue his answer, he was interupted by the Opposition with Indarsingh’s voice being the loudest as he told Deyalsingh, he could not answer his question. 

The verbal fight continued from both sides of the House.

Thier microphones were soon after silenced by Annisette-George for a short moment after her “Order” command was not obeyed. 

When she put back on the microphones, while standing on her feet she said sternly, “I am going to ask both the Prime Minister and the Member for Couva South to stand up and apologise to this House.” 

Dr Rowley went first. He said, “I humbly apologise to you and my colleagues but enough is enough.” His statement was accompanied by loud desk thumping from the Government’s side. 

Dr Keith Rowley. Photo: T&T Parliament

Indarsingh went next. “Madam Speaker, I apologise but I will not be accused of lying in the public’s interest,” he said. 

Annisette-George then cautioned all parliamentarians reminding them about their use of language. 

She said, “I know that sometimes members get very passionate but let’s remember where we are. So I ask everybody to get their emotions under control and let’s go about this sitting in the manner we know, we should conduct ourselves.”

Deyalsingh continued his response: “An outbreak is classified as a significant deviation from a baseline or normal level of infections, 2021, nine cases, 2022 -14 cases, 2023 – 11 cases. That gives you an average of 11 cases per year. 2024 to date – three cases.” 

“How on earth can that be an outbreak?” he asked. 

More thunderous applause from the Government’s side and with that, Deyalsingh took his seat. 

Supplemental question came from Indarsingh who again was cautioned about any preambles. 

Indarsingh asked about the number of malaria cases and Deyalsingh repeated his earlier figures. 

Deyalsingh added, “Our malaria free status since 1965 is not to be trifled with by the UNC.” 

He said most malaria cases were imported and that was why Trinidad and Tobago was not classified as an endemic country for malaria by WHO.

The health minister firmly emphasised his previous statements. 

“As I am talking to the international community now, to put on the record by the UNC that we have an outbreak of malaria is untrue, diabolical and serves no useful purpose and lastly it is unpatriotic.” Deyalsingh declared. 

Indarsingh’s question in Parliament follows reports of a pregnant non-national woman contracting the disease and was warded in the Intensive Care Unit at the Port of Spain General Hospital. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *