(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — As congratulations and best wishes continued to pour in for the United States President-elect Joe Biden, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar found herself in hot water when a congratulatory message on her Facebook page posted around noon, reflected the exact wording of several tweets posted by a British diplomat.
Sir Keir Rodney Starmer, a British politician and former lawyer who has served as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, tweeted several hours before Persad-Bissessar posted on her public Facebook page, a message with the same wording, except for the last few lines.
This prompted former Minister of Food Production Devant Maharaj to post a photo of both messages with the question, “plagiarism?” PNM social media activists also questioned whether Persad-Bissessar had stolen Starmer’s comments.
The original post on her page was removed and a new message was posted last night. In it, Persad-Bissessar said, “On behalf of the United National Congress, I wish to extend congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden on becoming the 46th President of the United States. I wish to also extend a special congratulations to the new Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who is now the first woman and person of colour to hold this office.”
Kamla’s earlier post
Earlier that day, Persad-Bissessar had stated in the Facebook post, “Congratulations to Joe Biden on his election as President of the United States of America. He ran a campaign on decency, integrity, compassion and strength.
“I also want to congratulate Kamala Harris on being elected Vice-President, the first woman and person of colour to take that role. Their victory is one for hope and unity over dishonesty and division.
“Millions of Americans of all backgrounds and ages came together to vote for a better, more optimistic future.
“This is also an important moment for the world. It is a chance to reassert America’s place as a force for good on the world stage…”
Starmer’s original post read, “Congratulations to Joe Biden on his election as President of the United States of America.
“He ran a campaign on the values that we in the United Kingdom share—decency, integrity, compassion and strength.
“And I want to congratulate Kamala Harris on being elected Vice-President, the first woman of colour to take that role.
“Their victory is one for hope and unity over dishonesty and division.
“Millions of Americans of all background and ages have come together to vote for a better, more optimistic future. This is also an important moment for the world. It is a chance to reassert America’s place as a force for good on the world stage…”
UNC Public Relations Officer Anita Haynes, party chairman David Lee and members of Persad-Bissessar’s public relations team were not available for comment last night.
Apology to Starmer
Hours later, on Persad-Bissessar’s Facebook page, there was an apology to Starmer. “Today we experienced an administrative error. We apologise for this mistake and have since taken steps to ensure this does not reoccur. Apologies extended to Sir Keir Starmer (Administrator).”
St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen, responding to Guardian Media, stated: “The administrator of the page has apologised to the leader of the Opposition and to the original poster Sir Starmer.”