Trinidad and Tobago’s Kamla Persad-Bissessar Shows Respect; Keith Rowley Bristles

Trinidad and Tobago opposition leader Dr. Keith Rowley was highly offended to hear that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had bowed to touch President Pratibha Patil’s foot during a State visit to India earlier this month. Although the Prime Minister was following tradition and showing her respect, Rowley called this act “the ultimate subservient of superiority and inferiority being demonstrated.” Various reports, including the article below, seem to be blurring the boundaries between “touching” someone’s foot with “kissing” it. In any case, I am sure that there are more important issues at which to take umbrage than touching a president’ foot. (I say, “Get over it.” And no, she was not in the cricket field or on the race track. Or perhaps, as a woman, she had no compulsion to “beat” anyone and would rather opt for diplomacy.) See excerpts  with a link to the full article below:

Rowley raised the issue which he described as “unacceptable” during a political meeting held by the People’s National Movement (PNM) at Febeau Open Bible Church Tuesday night. “I am a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago and I take umbrage at my Prime Minister going to anybody’s country and kissing any office holder’s foot,” Rowley said to loud applause. “I am not concerned about her religious persuasion in this country… We are very tolerant,” he said.

Rowley said Persad-Bissessar was representing the country and should not have bowed to touch Patil’s foot. “Nobody sent the Prime Minister abroad to represent her religion or her race. She went abroad to represent all the people of Trinidad and Tobago and, however, she feels when she stands in front of the head of government or the head of state she must stand there proud representing the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Rowley said.

“That is the ultimate subservient of superiority and inferiority being demonstrated. We past that stage since the world was told by Eric Williams (former prime minister) that we will not be doing that again and India was in the forefront of that,” he said. [. . .]

“So of course now we expect according to her logic if (US President Barack) Obama ever goes to Kenya he will bend down and kiss the foot of somebody in Kenya because his grandfather came from Kenya,” Rowley said. “That is unacceptable and we dismiss the excuse makers, we are a proud nation. When India votes at the United Nations if we vote differently we cancel out India’s vote, one billion people against one million people. We are equal in the eyes of the world. Size and power are no longer your station in this world,” he said.

Rowley said if Persad-Bissessar went in a private capacity he would not have raised the issue. “That is personal, that is private, if you go there on your private capacity you could do that. If you go there in your personal capacity you can do that…I will have no argument with it but when you represent all the people of Trinidad and Tobago, do not go and kiss anybody’s foot on my behalf. Do not do that,” he said.

“And when you wear Trinidad and Tobago red, white and black we do not defer or bow down to any nation in this world. We meet you on the cricket field we beat you, we meet you on the race track we beat you, we meet you in the university we beat you, that is Trinidad and Tobago. We are equal to all and inferior to none that is how we are building this nation,” Rowley said.

For original article, see

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