In October of 1980, I officially entered politics by mounting a platform in Couva for the Organization for National Reconstruction led by Karl Hudson Phillips. For the next year, I had one of the most rewarding experiences as I spoke in virtually all areas of Trinidad campaigning to win the elections and assume responsibility for the governance of Trinidad and Tobago. We did not win a seat but I was a happy person. I felt fulfilled because I had stood for something I believed in. I had campaigned on the theme, “Don’t Blame the Government, Fire Them.” I believed then, as I do now, that members of Parliament are employed by the people and as such are responsible and accountable to the people who have the right to fire them or re-hire them based on performance.
Throughout my political career of 32 years, which began in 1980, I have tried to behave as an employee of the people. I have served as Chairman of the St Patrick County Council (1983-1987), Mayor of the Borough of Chaguanas (2003-2009), a Senator on two occasions and a Minister in two governments. Following my return from Brazil where I served as Ambassador between 1987 and 1990, I served as a Senator for the NAR and then again in 2010 when I was appointed as Senate Minority Leader by the Honourable Kamla Persad Bissessar.
I won the elections for the Tabaquite Constituency in 2010 and was also sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs until July 2012 when I was appointed as Minister of Local Government. I also held the portfolio of Communications for one year.
When I campaigned in 2010, I made the commitment to the people of Tabaquite that I will be the best representative they have had ever. I also committed to fixing the infrastructure of the Constituency which was in a terrible state, roads not having been repaired in some areas for as long as fifty years. I made the commitment to reduce poverty levels and to improve the agricultural access roads for the farming community particularly in Tabaquite, Gran Couva, Lightbourne and Massy Lands.
I committed to improve the quality of life for children and youths in particular by attending to sporting facilities and improving the physical conditions at the schools in the Constituency. I promised to provide better health services and to hold medical camps throughout the constituency especially to deal with the proliferation of Non Communicable Diseases. I also promised to reduce unemployment in the Constituency.
I started my representation with one of the greatest challenges any MP can face. Within one month of coming into office there were severe floods and accompanying devastation. In July of 2010, 301 homes in my Constituency were affected by floods. It was described as the worst in fifty years. It followed the overflowing of the Marie Dolay river which winds its way through Gasparillo as well as the overflowing of other rivers and streams throughout the Constituency. At the end of the day, 301 persons benefitted from subsidies of $4500 each to replace furniture and appliances lost or damaged by the raging waters. Eight families had to be relocated to HDC houses and apartments, their homes washed away or destroyed beyond acceptable living accommodation.
Within the last year, several homes have fallen or have been damaged beyond repair due to land movements. In one area San Fabien Road, seventeen families had to be relocated. Other areas have experienced the same problems.
These have been some of the key challenges facing me as an MP. However, I have never considered them challenges. In reality they have always been for me an opportunity to serve the people who placed their trust in me. I accepted the victory and with it the responsibility to serve.
In fulfilling these responsibilities, I have been assisted and supported by five committed and dedicated Councillors of the Couva Tabaquite Talparo Regional Corporation. They are Feeraz Ali, Henry Awong, Gangaram Gopaul, Merle Mungroo and Suresh Pooran Maharaj. I have also been assisited by a wonderful group of persons who form the Staff of my Offices and sub-offices managed by Sharamatee Ramsawak. They have exhibited professionalism and have always been striving to please.
This publication represents some of the work we have been doing in Tabaquite for the last two and a half years. It provides an opportunity for my Constituents to review my performance and to pronounce in terms of their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. An MP in today’s political environment is faced with an enlightened constituent who does not want “no” for an answer nor wants a promise, but wants a resolution for his /problems. There is no doubt that constituents are fed up of promises and want a greater degree of responsiveness as well as speed in terms of delivery. The advent of Offices where they can come and meet with the MP facilitates a much greater degree of MP/Constituents interaction than perhaps existed before. As an MP, people expect you to solve all of their problems, though they know that this is an impossibility. This creates great stresses for the MP who has to depend on other Ministries and institutions to support delivery. The proposal to allow each MP to utilize $10 million annually for infrastructure and disaster response is a welcome addition to the resource pool available to MP’s and will empower them in a fashion that has not existed before.
As an MP and a Minister of government, one has to manage time very meticulously so as to ensure that both responsibilities do not suffer. It is a challenge to be both an MP and a Minister at the same time, when one also considers that the MP has to also attend parliament and debate bills etc. This requires preparation and therefore an MP works up to 12 and even 14 hours per day on the average.
I have been enjoying my role as an MP in the Constituency of Tabaquite., I am committed to ensuring that as a result of my representation that there are better quality services, better and safer communities and constituents who are inspired to be part of the participatory democracy which the people’s partnership and the UNC (of which I am Deputy Political Leader) are committed to building and sustaining.
Dr.Surujrattan Rambachan is a Trinidad and Tobago politician, academic and cultural activist who is the current Local Government Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and deputy political leader of the United National Congress Party (UNC) and member of parliament for Tabaquite. He previously as mayor served of Chaguanas, Senator and Minister in the Ministry of Industry and Tourism and Ambassador to Brazil. In 1980 he was a founding member of the Organisation for National Reconstruction and served as Deputy Political Leader of that party. He played a key role in the establishment of Indian Arrival Day as a national celebration in Trinidad and Tobago. He is now the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament for the constituency of Tabaquite.
Dr. Rambachan received his instrument of appointment from His Excellency George Maxwell Richards, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on Friday 28 May 2010 after taking the oath of office. Minister Rambachan is an experienced diplomat who served as Ambassador to Brazil during the period 1987 to 1990. He has had a long standing career in public life and became a founding member of the Organisation for National Reconstruction in 1980 where he served as Deputy Political Leader of the party. In April 1990 he was appointed as Senator and Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Enterprise and Tourism. He also held the position of Mayor of Chaguanas for six years during the period 2003 to 2009. Dr. Rambachan currently holds the position of Member of Parliament for Tabaquite. During his career, Minister Rambachan had the opportunity to serve in the field of education as a lecturer with the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus. Dr. Rambachan brings to the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs a wealth of experience in the areas of corporate planning, dispute resolution, international marketing, management and media relations.
POLITICAL TIMELINE SURUJRATTAN RAMBACHAN
1966 – Campaigned for my uncle Roopnarine Rambachan in Constituency of Siparia (DLP)
1969 – President Society for the Promotion of Indian Culture at University of the West Indies
1970 – Elected Member of Guild of Undergraduates at UWI
1980 – Appointed Deputy Political Leader of Organization for national Reconstruction
1981 – Contested Oropouche for ONR and lost
1983 – worked with ONR to create a local government Accommodation for local government elections
1983 – Appointed Chairman of St Patrick County Council
1987 – Appointed Ambassador to Brazil
1990 Appointed Senator for NAR
1991 – Contested Oropouche for NAR and lost
1996 – Appointed Chairman of TTT
2003 – appointed Mayor of Chaguanas
2010 –Contested and won position of Deputy Political Leader UNC under leadership of Kamla Persad Bissessar
2010 – Appointed Senate Minority Leader
2010 – Contested and won Constituency of Tabaquite UNC
2010- Appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs
2012 – Voted in as Chairman of Commonwealth Ministers Action Group (CMAG)
2012 Appointed Minister of Local Government
2012 Received Chile’s highest award to a non national
2013—Appointed Minister of Works and Infrastructure in addition to Minister of Local Government
2013 – Appointed Minister of Works and Infrastructure
2014 – Appointed Acting Prime Minister