The TOP was not routed in Tobago because it is an uninspiring bunch steered by a leader, Ashworth Jack, of questionable integrity and chained to a People’s Partnership that it is dogged by corruption and which treats the electorate as mindless voting machines. Not even close.
Tobago voted against TOP because it is a racist island which was lured into its stance by a reprehensible comment from PNM candidate, Hilton Sandy, who warned that a Calcutta ship was ready to sail to the “Sister Isle” and set up for business.
At least that is the view Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr Indira Rampersad allegedly shared, according to the Trinidad Guardian, in a televised panel discussion.
Rampersad reportedly holds a Bachelor of Arts in Language in Literature, a diploma in International Relations, a Master of Philosophy in Latin American Literature, a Master of Philosophy in International Relations and a Ph.D in Political Science.
If accurate, that statement would suggest she came up short in Common Sense though. So allow me to offer a crash course.
Two years ago, Tobago voted TOP into power for the first time at the General Election despite knowing full well that the party was an affiliate of a UNC-led People’s Partnership coalition. So, ethnicity did not hamper Tobagonians then. And, presumably, they voted for progress.
Did they get it?
An examination of the People’s Partnership tenure since it was voted into power should have been the first place that Rampersad checked for signs of discontent.
There is a long list of concerns but here are the highlights: Section 34, the State of Emergency, the Galbaransingh/Ferguson extradition matter, the Reshmi Ramnarine appointment, the PURE audit, the Point Fortin Highway, the OPV vessels, the firing of Gibbs and Ewatski and the investigation into the conduct of National Security Minister Jack Warner.
Please raise your hand if any of those aforementioned issues might be deemed racist in nature.
Sandy’s statement was obviously deplorable as the PNM itself acknowledged, albeit belatedly.
It is worth noting that Sandy said it publicly once while he apologised for the statement numerous times. But the TOP replayed the controversial remark, ad nauseum, in political ads for the duration of the campaign.
So, if anyone was playing the race card during the THA elections, then who was it exactly?
Does the PP really believe, like Rampersad might, that one has to be a racist not to fall to his knees when dollar bills are thrust in his face? If so, then the central government has even bigger problems than is widely perceived.
Tobagonians, presumably, know a thing or two about well-to-do non-residents in expensive suits who ask for favours and promise the moon and stars in return. Rampersad allegedly suggested that they are racists; one thing we do know is that they are not prostitutes.
And now that Rampersad has apparently let us into her troubled mind, she ought to really prove her appreciation for the leadership skills of the TOP boss by following his direction and similarly considering her position on the Equal Opportunity Commission.
Where is Rampersad’s research to prove the Tobago, which voted in the TOP two years ago, has suddenly been transformed into a backward, racist little nook?
Who could trust a body that is meant to promote racial harmony when one of its commissioners recklessly seeks to attach the stigma of racism on an entire island?
Without credible evidence to support the claims attributed to her, Rampersad’s position on the Equal Opportunity Commission is as laughable as Herbert Volney returning to head the Ministry of Justice or as ridiculous as it should be to have Warner attempting to thwart crime.
Before President Maxwell Richards vacates his office, he should have a word with the talkative commissioner.
Jack should be off to grow more pumpkins and cucumbers soon. Richards should insist that Rampersad joins him.