Thursday, January 24, 2013

AG laments PNM focus on race in THA election

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan is concerned that the focus of the People's National Movement (PNM) Tobago election campaign was based on race with a man who made overt racist statements being elected and welcomed as part of the THA team.

Deputy Chief Secretary Hilton Sandy warned Tobagonians that if they didn't elect the PNM a "ship from Calcutta" would sail to the island. 

Sandy apologised for the statement but at the time he made it neither the leader of the PNM Tobago, Orville London, nor national PNM leader Keith Rowley, publicly chastised him.

In fact both men were present when Sandy made the offensive statement and Rowley went to on endorse Sandy as a role model for the island's youth. He condemned the comments days later but the PNM refused calls for Sandy to step down as a candidate.

"It is one that will remain a blot and a stain on a democratic and electoral process in Trinidad and Tobago that a candidate can make such an overtly open, racist statement and remain a candidate in the election without removal by the political party that they represent," Ramlogan told local media.

"It is my hope that we now move into the phase where we remind ourselves as a people what the words of our national anthem state and we will be our brother's keeper and respect each other," he added.

The AG also said he is concerned that there will be no opposition in the new THA. "One would need to obviously tread with some caution having regard to the fact that you will not have any opposition in the THA, unbridled power being given to the THA in the context of no opposition is something that one must obviously look at very carefully," he said.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had declared the election a referendum on self government. "On Monday when you go to vote, I ask you to make this a referendum of internal self-government. If you want internal self-government, then vote for the TOP," she said at a Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) rally on the Friday before the vote.

The PNM had stated both inside and outside of Parliament that it would not support the Constitutional Amendment Tobago Bill which is still on the floor of the House of Representatives and will go before a joint select committee when the debate is completed.

The bill requires opposition support to move forward. It is not clear whether the opposition will change its position now that the election is over.

Rmlogan suggested that any election in the midterm of a Government is amplified and "converted into a national referendum" on the performance of the present Government. In that context he said the THA election result is a wake up call.

"To put this in its proper political and social context, it really is the equivalent of a county council election when you look at the numbers. That does not mean it is not important and that the message that emerged from Tobago will not be listened to," said Ramlogan.

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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