Sunday, January 6, 2013

London wants debate on Tobago self government delayed; says it's too close to THA election

Five days before the Tobago House of Assembly election on January 21, 2013, the House of Representatives would begin debate on a bill to give self government to Tobago.
Orville London: "I still believe that we have an opportunity to rethink the process..."
The THA's chief secretary, Orville London, thinks that's a bad idea and has suggested that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar should rethink the decision to begin the debate on January 16.

London made the point at a media briefing saying that the atmosphere so close to the election would be "very volatile" and "very polarised'. He said that's not the environment in which a debate should be held.

He also claimed that the THA was not consulted in the process. "I find it particularly ironical; here, you have a situation where you are telling the public of Tobago, and Trinidad and Tobago, that you are so committed to enhancing the authority of this institution called the THA, and by the very process, you are undermining the institution," London declared.

London called the process a "sham", saying the people of Tobago were not involved in the consultation process.

"Less than 100 people would have been involved in the process in Tobago; nobody really took it seriously, and that is against 6,000-odd signatures that would have gone to the Prime Minister, indicating the wishes of the people of Tobago," he said.

London himself wrote to the three-member constitutional committee led by Dr Hamid Ghany on July 24, 2012 asking that the committee consider two THA bills on the matter.

London said then that he had submitted to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Chairman of the Law Reform Commission Samraj Harripaul and Dr Ghany, copies of the two Bills, a petition entitled "Tobago Voice Must be Heard – a People's Motion and copies of the almost 6,000 signatures of Tobagonians showing support for the petition. 

The Chief Secretary also provided the THA's position on the Green Paper published for public comment by the Office of the Attorney General.

Ghany replied to London and promised to include the bills for consideration. "My colleagues and I on the Committee for the Public Consultations on the Green Paper on Internal Self-Government for Tobago have noted your letter and its enclosures. 

"We shall consider your submission in relation to the Green Paper together with all the other submissions that we received. Thank you for your kind consideration and for engaging our process."

The two Bills entitled: "An Act to amend the Constitution to provide the entrenchment of certain provisions relating to the Tobago House of Assembly and related matters"; and "An Act to repeal and replace the Tobago House of Assembly Act Chapter 25:03, to provide for the re-establishment of the Tobago House of Assembly, to prescribe its powers and functions" were drafted by former Attorney General Russell Martineau SC after a THA Working Committee had met with Tobagonians in 41 communities across the island and three consultations hosted by Martineau.

London said, "I still believe that we have an opportunity to rethink the process, and I am calling on the Prime Minister...not take this bill to the Parliament at this time." 

He suggested the matter would become"a political football" and not get "the seriousness and dignity that it deserves".

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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