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THE GREAT DEBATE
At the time of writing, there is great anticipation for the debate involving the three leaders of the parties contesting the THA elections. Kudos must be given to the people responsible for implementing this initiative and those who have actively participated in the event.
Many were unsure whether the debate would occur because the organisation of such an event is no easy task. The good news is that the hurdles were overcome so that all citizens could benefit from listening to or viewing this historic event.
Our country is capable of achieving political maturity and this debate provides an opportunity for the electorate to assess contesting parties and candidates based on their ability to address the issues that are of national importance.
The fact that Tobago is leading the charge in this direction of positive political growth by providing a platform that will engage the attention of, not only the voters in Tobago, but the entire population of our Republic is of great significance because for too long the contribution of our sister isle has been taken for granted.
Whatever the outcome of the debate, a precedent has been set and it will be very difficult for parties in future elections, whether local or general, not to provide the citizenry with a similar type of debate involving the leaders of the respective political entities.
Winning the debate
This debate is a means to encourage leaders to focus on issues and not get carried away with political rhetoric and propaganda concocted solely for the purpose of wooing, by misleading, the electorate.
The discussion is in a controlled environment so that speakers cannot rely on being overcome by the moment as an excuse for any slips of the tongue or inappropriate remarks.
There has been sufficient time for preparation by the participants and all the speakers are veteran politicians who are very familiar with matters affecting Tobago. But even the best orators need support and advice, so it expected that they have received words of wisdom from their colleagues to win the debate.
Much is resting on the ability of the debaters to convince voters that the party they represent will genuinely look after the interests of Tobagonians and we have always been told that unlike Trinidadians, Tobagonians are not gullible people.
The interest generated by this debate will undoubtedly encourage other interest groups to follow suit and provide platforms for peoople to engage in meaningful discussion.
There are many important matters that must be placed in the public domain in order to canvass the views of those who are experts in the area and to record and address the concerns of citizens affected by matters of public importance.
Admittedly, there are many radio and television programmes that enable people to express their views about a variety of topics but, in some instances, depending on the subject, it is important to have a structured and comprehensive approach to address the particular matter.
The debate in Tobago should spark sufficient interest so that the question becomes: when is our next debate and what is the topic?
We are a country of talkers and it is time for us to convert the ole talk into meaningful debate so that people could form opinions based on platforms of knowledge.
We all have everything to gain and nothing to lose by insisting that those who want our votes must subject themselves to public assessment on neutral turf.
It is one thing to speak glibly on a political platform to thousands of party loyalists waving flags and banners in energised support but it is quite different when the atmosphere is sober and intense.
Debaters do not have the benefit of distraction or the ability to call for back-up when in verbal difficulty, so that the pressure is always on to perform at one’s best.
The debate is not only about the speaker, but the team he or she represents. In this case, failure by any debater to perform at a high level could be viewed as an indictment against the entire party he represents.
There is no room for error by any of the players and they all are aware of the high stakes. May the best man win.
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