Dear Editor: What do Tobagonians want? How does PDP help? What does it mean for us Trinbagonians?

“[…] Tobagonians have indicated that they want a change in the Executive, hoping that will bring a change in their fortune. But they have failed to clearly define one item of governance that will bring this change.

“So only time will tell if we have made a step forward or in the right direction…”

The following Letter to the Editor, which adopts an unusual perspective on the recent Tobago House of Assembly Elections in which the Tobago-born PDP defeated the long-incumbent PNM 14-1, was submitted to Wired868 by Juliet Plaza, Trinidad-born but with deep Tobago roots:

Photo: Tobago Heritage Dance Performers strut their stuff at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet during the 2015 Legends Football tournament.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The results of the recent THA elections are quite interesting but not surprising for me. Tobagonians have indicated that they want a change in the Executive, hoping that will bring a change in their fortune. But they have failed to clearly define one item of governance that will bring this change.

So only time will tell if we have made a step forward or in the right direction!

Among our young people, indeed, among our people in general, there seems to be a general lack of concern for integrity in public life. It appears to me that they are neither looking at the wider picture of governance in a pandemic nor at the impact of world events on our economy.

Perhaps the PNM should have campaigned on the reality that is facing the world and not on empty promises about what might exist in Tobago tomorrow!

Most people seem not to be aware that, apart from oil and gas and the energy industry, our government relies on taxes to get revenue. So, as revenues shrink, there is inevitably less money to share around.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses allegations about his filings at the Integrity Commission at a media conference in Tobago on 3 December 2021.

I hold no brief for Dr Keith Rowley and his team but in my view they have done an excellent job in keeping this country afloat.

In the midst of a pandemic, it simply cannot be business as usual. You cannot just keep borrowing to please the masses. Everyone has to take responsibility for nation building, including the greedy businessmen and corrupt contractors who deliver consistently sub-standard work and the corrupt public officials who accommodate them and facilitate their shenanigans.

Frankly, I personally believe that Tobago is well serviced financially but they continue to ask for more. Basically, the THA receives guidance from the Ministry of Finance as to how they spend the funds they receive but Tobago has full autonomy as to how those funds are to be spent.

So one cannot really fathom what Tobago wants except that they want all the money they can get from the Central Government and do not want to be held accountable/answerable to any one in Trinidad.

I have visited Tobago recently and I was so impressed by the advances made in infrastructure and facilities; my general impression is that in that regard the island enjoys a far higher level that many if not most places in Trinidad.

Photo: PDP political leader Watson Duke (centre) poses with supporters in Tobago.
(via PDP)

Entrepreneurs lack no incentives or motivation to launch out in business. Unlike their Trinidad counterparts, their scholarship winners have access to additional grants to make them comfortable.

So, it begs the question, what do they really want?

But I hear myself thinking and I say that ‘they’ out loud and I immediately see the error of my ways. Who is ‘they’?

The people who live in Tobago? The people who were born in Tobago? The people in Tobago who voted? Does ‘they’ include the people who were born in Tobago but did not vote? Does it include the people who live in Tobago but could not vote?

Who really is ‘we’ and who is ‘they’? Do ‘we’ know how ‘they’ really feel about us? About each other?

We talk glibly about ‘sister isle’ and ‘twin-island republic’. But what might we Trinbagonians learn about ourselves if we ran a serious anonymous survey seeking to find out how Tobagonians feel about Trinidadians and vice-versa?

Photo: PDP deputy political leader and new THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine.
(via PDP)

The truth is that, both in Trinidad and in Tobago, we need to take off our blinkers and refrain from selfish, myopic behaviours. No amount of legislation, no amount of pepper spray or guns in citizens’ hands will change the evil in the midst of which our innocent babies are being nurtured. The high crime rates will never subside if we continue to breed criminals in our homes.

Wake up, my people! It is righteous living that exalts a nation, not plenty money or good government!

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One comment

  1. I read this letter thinking the author must have spoken to me. I know he speaks for me. What more they really want? Independence? That debate is,on the immediate horizon.

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