Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, her UNC colleagues and her TOP minions continue to plot their strategy to take over Tobago on the premise that Tobagonians can be easily bought and that Tobagonians are not overly bright.
In the week prior to Christmas, the People’s Partnership leader, quite predictably, arranged to hold a Cabinet meeting in Tobago and then proceeded to reveal a package of promises which she felt would serve to revive the flagging fortunes of beleaguered TOP leader Ashworth Jack and his team. The Tobago Council would like to advise Madam Bissessar that Tobagonians are not impressed. We are not impressed by her cynical announcement that “I HAVE GIVEN INSTRUCTIONS TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE BILL LAID EARLY IN JANUARY.” We have not forgotten that it is this same Attorney General who discarded the Tobago Bills which represented over three years of consultation involving thousands of Tobagonians, and is now attempting to “RAM DOWN” our throats, his Green Paper which is geared to confirm the recolonization of Tobago.
Tobagonians are aware that the Bill which the Attorney General is expected to lay in Parliament would confine Tobago to a 10 mile maritime boundary, instead of the 200 mile maximum which we are demanding. The 10 mile boundary advocated by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and supported by the Tobago Organization of the People, will distance Tobago from any claim on the vast energy resources now being exploited on the North-East coast of the island. This would destroy the bargaining power which the Assembly should have in its relationship with the Central Government and consign the island to mendicant status, in perpetuity.
The Attorney General’s Bill is not expected to address the issues of the qualification to vote in a Tobago House of Assembly election; the Assembly’s right to borrow and most importantly, the Tobago House of Assembly’s control over all the areas related to the governance of Tobago.
But the most insulting aspect of the Prime Minister’s statement is that she is insisting that the Bill be laid in the House before the Tobago House of Assembly elections, obviously with the expectation that her PP government and her TOP cronies would derive significant political benefits from the strategy. It is obvious that the Prime Minister, possibly based on the advice of TOP leader Ashworth Jack, believes that Tobagonians are naïve and gullible, even foolish. It is only a naïve and gullible electorate that would respond positively to a Government which, after 30 months in office is prepared to “HUSTLE” the THA Bill through Parliament, less than two weeks before an election. It is only a naïve and gullible electorate that would support a political party that agrees with the contents of a Green Paper and a Bill which would rob generations of Tobagonians of their patrimony and their heritage. Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her TOP minions will soon realize that the Tobago electorate is neither naïve, nor gullible, nor foolish.
The Prime Minister also made heavy weather of the announcement that her Government would construct a new correctional facility at Hope. She omitted to mention, however, that the construction of that facility has been on the drawing board for many years and, even at this time, some of the preliminary aspects of the process are incomplete. It is, however, quite revealing that the Prime Minister was silent on the construction of the police stations at Roxborough and Old Grange; construction which her Government has delayed for more than two years. The Prime Minister did not tell Tobagonians that when her Government took control in May 2012, contracts had already been awarded for those police stations. It was the PP Government which rescinded the contracts and while new contracts have been awarded for the construction of eight police stations in Trinidad, the Tobago process continues to languish.
The Prime Minister and her TOP colleagues were also quite disingenuous in their treatment of the issues surrounding the grant of assistance to Secondary School Status to the Harmon School of Seventh Day Adventists. The impression is being given that the process was initiated by and involved only the Central Government. The Prime Minister and Minister of Tobago Development Dr. Delmon Baker, did not reveal that the decision to grant the assisted status was reached after extensive discussions between school officials and the Tobago House of Assembly. After those discussions, a Note was prepared by the Assembly and sent to the Minister of Tobago Development for transmission to Cabinet which has to grant final approval. That Note remained with the Ministry for more than two years before the relevant Minister thought it appropriate to take it to Parliament and then, of course, to take all the credit. In the meantime, the Assembly has invested millions of dollars in supporting the Seventh Day Adventists in their longstanding and laudable contribution to the development of the island’s young people.
It is less than one month to the election, and the electorate can expect more promises, more hampers, more food cards, more blandishments and more bribes. It is fortunate that the vast majority of Tobagonians recognize that the issues in this election are too critical and far-reaching for them to be influenced or sidetracked by empty promises and blatant bribery.
TOP leader Ashworth Jack might have signaled to the UNC-led coalition that Tobago is for sale but genuine Tobagonians are standing firm “IN DEFENCE OF TOBAGO.” They are the people who are “PUTTING TOBAGO FIRST” and therefore, we can be confident that, after January 21, 2012, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Ashworth Jack and the other members of that MOTLEY CREW would finally be convinced that TOBAGONIANS CANNOT BE BOUGHT, BULLIED OR BRIBED.