Monday, December 31, 2012

Top's battle cry: For Tobago to Grow, PNM must go!

A section of the large crowd at the TOP rally Sunday
There was all the hype of a national election Sunday in Scarborough as the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) gathered to present its 12 candidates for the January 21 Tobago House of Assembly elections.

There was music - including performances by Crazy and Sugar Aloes - and an atmosphere of a religious crusade as several speakers invoked God to deliver their message that it was time to end the reign of the People's National Movement (PNM) and Orville London and usher in a new era of positive development for the island under the leadership of Ashworth Jack.

The highlight of the evening was a feature address by the Prime Minister. Although Kamla Perasad-Bissessar was speaking in her political role as leader of the United National Congress (UNC) and head of the People's Partnership (PP) coalition, her message was focused on what her government has done for Tobago and what it intends to do to fulfill a pledge to treat Tobago with dignity and respect to ensure that its isolation ends and that every Tobagonian can stop feeling like second class citizens in their own island.

She announced sweeping reforms to come in a bill for self government, which will be laid in Parliament on January 7 and debated from January 16, 2013. 

Included in the bill will be more than double the financial budgetary allocation for the island to eight per cent of the national budget. The bill also gives the THA the authority to borrow up of the 25 per cent of the annual PSIP without approval of Parliament and to allow the THA to make its own laws. In addition it commits the government to consult with the THA before making policy decisions about Tobago.

Persad Bissessar also told Tobagonains they have nothing to fear from Trinidad, declaring that contrary to what the PNM is telling them, there will be no invasion of their island by supporters of the PP if the TOP wins the election. 

And she said it is a lie that the PP government has been disrespectful to Tobago, especially with the extend of development that has taken place since the PP came into office in May 2010.

In his address the TOP leader spoke of his reason for entering politics. Jack said his political career began several years ago with the desire for internal self-government for Tobago.

He accused chief secretary London of never standing up for Tobago in its bid to obtain internal self-government over the past several years. Jack said after 12 years of PNM control at the THA, Scarborough has become the shanty town of the Caribbean and charged that the PNM has “deliberately shut down the private sector in Tobago.”

Jack lamented the fact that hotels and guest houses in Tobago have been going out of business while the THA continued to neglect the tourism sector, which has fallen to a dangerous level.

He added that Scarborough is a "dying town" and promised that within the first five months of a TOP administration he would ensure that every outstanding construction project in Tobago would be completed. 

He also promised to boost employment for Tobagonains, including farmers who will produce food to feed both Tobago and Trinidad.

Other TOP speakers told the rally that in 2001 the people of the island made a fundamental mistake by electing the PNM to the THA and urged the people not to repeat that mistake on January 21. The message was a simple but important one: For Tobago to Grow, the PNM must go.

One speaker reminded the audience that it was Tobago's "most famous son", former President A.N.R. Robinson, who started the movement to self determination for Tobago, starting with the Democratic Action Congress (DAC), which first wrested power from the PNM in national elections in 1976.

The TOP painted the London THA 12-year reign as a bleak period for Tobago marked by fiscal indiscipline and financial mismanagement. The party called the PNM a "band of misfits" and pledged that "without a doubt, we go vote them out." TOP said this election presents an opportunity for the people of Tobago to achieve "constitutional emancipation".

TOP referred its supporters to the Bible and the Psalms for inspiration as it appealed to them to change the THA administration;

"Hear my cry, O God;

listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe."

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai