Monday, January 21, 2013

Commentary - A message for Tobago: choose hope and progress over fear

Today, Monday January 21, 2013 the people of Tobago have an opportunity to stand up for their island and the nation-state of Trinidad & Tobago.

They have an opportunity to say NO to racism. They have an opportunity to say no to maladministration, fiscal irresponsibility, neglect, patronage and bondage by a party that believes it owns Tobago and the people of the island.

Today, January 21, Tobagonians can free themselves and choose to move forward with a progressive party aligned to the central government or they can vote to remain anchored in the racist and parochial politics of the People’s National Movement (PNM).

How they mark their ballots today will determine whether there would be equality among citizens of the island, whether the people would be free from the fear of discrimination, whether the island’s economy would get a new lease on life and whether the people can have hope for themselves, for their families and for future generations.

The Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) led by Ashworth Jack along with his coalition partners in Port of Spain have promised a new Tobago – one where Tobago would stand side by side and share Trinidad’s resources equally through self government; one where each person would be free from fear of discrimination regardless of what party they support; one where Tobago would rise from its present economic comatose state and face the challenges of the 21 century.

The PNM has used every distraction to muffle this message. According to columnist Suzanne Mills, “For the first time, Tobagonians are being asked to think less about their heritage, their autonomy, their development and their political growth and are being encouraged to be xenophobic, as if Trinidad and the PP are the enemies and the aliens.” 

Tobago is not PNM country and every Tobagonian should challenge this PNM notion. Tobago belongs to all of us; no one party has a God given right to govern, especially if it governs in the interests of only those whom it counts among its membership and tribe. 

Some misguided individuals subscribe to that PNM view but the people of Tobago are not racists, even if their present leaders want to create that impression. The people need to stand up now and tell Orville London and the PNM they are citizens of a free and democratic start who put Tobago first.

The Central Government led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has offered Tobago a lifeline to pull it out of the economic and political quicksand in which it has been mired for the past dozen years under the PNM and the Orville London team.

Today I urge every Tobagonian who cares about the island and its future to take hold of that lifeline, discard the past and rise to realize your full potential.

After 12 years, the London THA has failed every sector except to create a bloated bureaucracy designed on the basis of patronage. There is little to show for expenditure of nearly $20 billion. Yet they want four more years to continue this abuse of Tobago and its people.

This election is too important. Today you the people of Tobago must make a bold statement that you are ready to join hands with Trinidad, to stand for equality and to live with hope rather than fear. You have to choose and choose wisely; no one can do it for you!

A new dawn is emerging. Tobago’s time has come … all that’s needed is for you the people to see the light and take comfort from the warmth it brings. Think of the words of the late Martin Luther King jr. before you mark that ballot: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Jai Parasram

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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