The PNM continues to be Tobago's enemy

Since 1956 the PNM had set an agenda against Tobago. They labelled Tobago as the bastard child, the sister isle and many ungodly names.

The PNM starved Tobago of goods and services and brought Tobagonians into a position where people were treated as sub-human beings. There were statements like Tobagonians will eat grass, and Tobago can leave if they want. There were actions intended to frustrate the progress of the Ministry of Tobago Affairs, and insufficient money to carry out Tobago's development.

The PNM has frustrated constitutional reform since in the 1970's and has kept Tobago depressed and void of development. Tobago did not progress under the PNM then and has not progressed under the PNM presently. The PNM is now trying to frustrate constitutional reform again in Tobago by purporting a number of unworkable concepts. The PNM concepts will disfranchise a number of Tobagonians, deplete the level of autonomy that the TOP has fought for over the years and create chaos within the protection of Tobago waters. Therefore, constitutional reform must be meaningful and must serve the entire population of Tobago and by extension Trinidad and Tobago.

For constitutional reform to be meaningful there must be serious changes within the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago. For the THA to have greater autonomy, Section 75.1 of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago must be amended. The PNM is trying to superficially drift over the major issue, that the laws enshrined in the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago have to change to accommodate constitutional changes for Tobago. The PNM is giving the impression that the bills they laid in the "House" are a done deal. This cannot be so as the focus of the proposed THA amendments were the THA Act and not the Constitution. The PNM promised Tobagonians that they would have been given the opportunity to review their final document and make comments and there would have been further consultation on their final document. In true PNM style they reneged on their promise and moved right ahead and imposed on Tobago and Tobagonians a mediocre document that did not fully reflect the views of all Tobagonians. The PNM, in the rush to score political points, employed the wrong method to lay the Bills in the "House" and they are now trying to defend the indefensible.

The PNM is proposing that persons have to live in Tobago for four consecutive years before they are allowed to vote in Tobago House of assembly elections. This suggestion is contrary to the Representation of the People Act which only requires three months at a particular address in order to be eligible to be transferred from one electoral district to another. In developed countries like the United Kingdom and United States of America one just has to enter the country legally and within days your name is on the voters' registrar. Once your name appears on the voters' registrar you can vote immediately once there is an election in the country.

The PNM is further trying to hoodwink Tobagonians on the issue of Tobago's marine space. The TOP agrees that Tobago's marine space must be defined and that would be rightly done with this new constitution amendment. However, Tobago's marine space must be negotiated as it is important to note that the Tobago House of Assembly is not fully in charge of security. If the Central Government is in charge of marine security it is clear that the central government will have some level of control over the country's marine space.

There is no combined state in the world where a particular country, state, borough or county have full control over its entire marine space because of security issues. Could the THA control drug trafficking in Tobago without the assistance of the country's security forces? The TOP is proposing that full dialogue must take place before any action is taken in Tobago's marine space. The TOP is purporting a share of the marine space to ensure border protection and economical benefits for Tobago. Tobagonians are aware that marine space is shared and managed by both the country, or state and the central government even in federal arrangements. This is evident in the United Kingdom and United States where the marine space is shared by the country or state and its central government. The PNM is just naive and is trying to deceive Tobagonians to cloud their minds with half-truths. The issue that is at hand is the present PNM led THA has six nautical miles of Tobago waters to manage. However, everyday fisher folks are crying that their fish pots are been cut by Centrica Oil Company during the conduct of seismic surveys in Tobago waters. Many fisher folks cannot go fishing depriving them of their livelihood and monies promised to the fisher folks are not paid on a timely basis. If the PNM led THA cannot even manage six nautical miles, would Tobagonians trust the PNM with two hundred nautical miles?

The PNM has always found it difficult to support constitutional reform for Tobago. In 1977 when the Honourable ANR Robinson proposed constitutional reform for Tobago it was denied by the PNM. In 1996 when another attempt was made with the influence of Mr ANR Robinson the result was a grudgingly supported watered-down version of the original proposal. In 2005 Mr Hochoy Charles brought a motion to the House, seeking greater autonomy for Tobago. However, the PNM led THA dragged its feet on this request. In 2007 Mr. Ashworth Jack brought a similar motion and again the PNM led THA was not proactive. Even when the then Prime Minister Patrick Manning proposed sweeping changes to the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, there was deafening silence on the status of Tobago within the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

However, on May 24th 2010 the PP government renewed its campaign promise to ensure Tobago is given the type of constitutional reform it has been seeking over the years. There is now a well prepared Green Paper that is out for public comment where Tobagonians can make their comments so the necessary legislation to effect these changes can be carried to Parliament. The PNM continues to be an enemy of Tobago but the will of the people can no longer be stifled. Now that Tobago is on its way to constitutional reform which will guarantee full internal self-government and self-determination for Tobagonians the PNM is trying to baffle and muffle Tobagonians with their unconvincing arguments.

This column would like to find out which Tobagonian beside the Chief Secretary and his cohorts were able to comment on the PNM Bills. Tobagonians please take the opportunity to make your comments on the Green Paper so we can have it debated in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago and have it enacted into the country's laws.

The TOP has kept its promise to bring the draft of the Green Paper to the people of Tobago. The TOP will be hosting three public consultations on the Green Paper in the next few weeks. The first consultation is carded for the Roxborough Composite School on Wednesday 21st March 2012 from 6.30 p.m. All civil minded Tobagonians are invited to put Tobago first and ensure that their views are registered.


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Anonymous said on Wednesday, Mar 28 at 12:35 PM

Quite frankly the Top sounds like fools after reading this article.We are not asking for self Goverment to follows the laws and regulations of other countries.-but because we are free and independent minds capable,willing and credible in making sound decisions beneficial to the countries and citizens welfare.It is only wise that you live 4yrs in a country before rights are given for voting.We are asking for self Goverment who cares about the peoples act rgulations,are they going to be running Tobagos affairs.Do we really wany to be an image of uk,usa.Get full charge security for Tobagomarine space,why should simple ,stupid matters prolong Governing our own country.Can Tha control drug-traffiking,"yes".You want autonomy ownership to runn Tobago,leave Trinidad behind.I am irritated and appaled at the level of understanding in which is beign displayed in the intelligence and sacrifice which is needed . to really run a country independently .

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Anonymous said on Thursday, Mar 22 at 5:48 PM

At the moment the only simple decision for Tobagonians is to let go of the pnm hypocrites. Time for new leadership,we have seen pnm best and its not good enough.

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CITYLIMER said on Wednesday, Mar 21 at 4:05 PM

Bloggers speaking of security in the maritime space - I have just shed some Tears to OUR OPV's in service with the Brazilian Navy all 3 purchased from BAE SYSTEMS. Go to website BRAZILIAN NAVY SIGNS CONTRACT WITH BAE SYSTEMS/NAVAL TODAY you will see the OPV's. Brazil bought straight off the shelf. No waiting as we did WHAT A SHAME SHAME. AND TOP talking about security of maritime borders. RUBBISH.

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citylimer said on Wednesday, Mar 21 at 3:43 PM

Bloggers please read my comprehensive response on another similar topic - Has Tobago's time finally come. Please read and you decide which proposal is better for Tobago. Forget the politics for a while and think cleary. Tobago is not the USA or the UK whose voter population is in the millions.millions many times over. PLEASE READ WITH AN OPEN MIND.

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Anonymous said on Wednesday, Mar 21 at 12:54 PM


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the virginian said on Monday, Mar 19 at 10:48 AM

Fed Up,there's a condition called 'reluctant reality' where none of the parties to a potential settlement of a dispute is going to be totally satisfied with the negotiation results because everyone wants to save face and hopefully end-up with a deliberate advantage.Not going to happen in the political arena of different ideologies and philosophies.So UNC,TOP and PNM should identify the elements of common agreement and try to split the differences on the sticking points and move one.Short of that,there's a propensity for gridlock and the party with the least chips usually suffers.Right now,that seems to be the PNM and by extension,Tobagonians.From my vantage point,Tobago is bargaining from a position of weakness but others might be of an antipodal view.Obviously,the dynamics could very well change in your next general elections.

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Fed up said on Sunday, Mar 18 at 4:18 PM

Back to the drawing board again..TOP? I refuse to listen to both TOP and PNM. None of these party leaders could wear the shoes of Robinson and Hochoy Charles. Thank God Vanus and Charles start back to educate people...cause either that we need or licks

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the virginian said on Friday, Mar 16 at 6:10 PM

Al,what you've indicated might be so for the general but in most states,including mine,address must be verified especially for state and local voting.Mind you,one's legal address can't be verified simply by the adddress provided for the receipt of mail.Further explanation of this and other registration matters and requirements get too esoteric for this forum. The major take away from both of us is that length of residency isn't a factor for voter eligibilty in the US.But as I've said before,for the Tobago experiment,residency is so critical that if overlooked or treated frivolously could have a deleterious effect on the outcome with gonians possibly left holding the shorter end of the stick.Not good.Not good at all.

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Al said on Friday, Mar 16 at 2:07 PM

I have been a citizen of the USA and the only documentation I have had to provide to vote is proof of citizenship. The voters registration card is mailed to you so that verifies your address. And a valid US passport is proof of citizenship unlike in T&T where your TT passport is not proof of citizenship.

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the virginian said on Friday, Mar 16 at 1:11 PM

In the above article,the following isn't quite true:"...In developed countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America one just has to enter the country legally and within days your name is on the voters' registrar." I entered the US legally mid 60's but wasn't a citizen then and obviously ineligible to vote until after gaining citizenship few yrs later.It is required for eligibilty to vote in general,state or local elections.Additionally,one must be able to confirm one's US address,usually with two forms of acceptable identification,to obtain one's voter registration card.As correctly alluded to in the TOP article,length of residency is immaterial and of no consequences.Case in point,I was registered to vote on the very day--literally about 45 minutes--after becoming a US citizen. Having said all of the above,I believe the Tobago situation is unique,nullfying the value of the Tobago/US residency requirements comparison.It's simply apples & oranges.

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RJ said on Friday, Mar 16 at 12:05 PM

LETS START THE BALL-ROLLING. GET AGRI IN PROGRESS, TOURISM. GIVE SCARBOROUGH A FACE-LIFT, GET HEALTH TOURISM ect.!!bring in new ideads and initiaties to get the economy going and sustainable.

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