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IN A TIME OF CONVENIENCE
As we strive to become a nation of independent and fair-minded thinkers, it is imperative that we formulate principles and policies that are not merely created for political advantage or convenience.
When I was a member of parliament several years ago, I had a discussion with a veteran politician about an issue which I believed ought to be made part of national discussion, namely, the designation of a particular day, to be called Trinidad and Tobago Day (or any other more appropriate name) which would be celebrated each year.
The objective of having such a day was to promote national identity and unity and to remind all citizens that we are Trinbagonians first, and everything else after.
The concern raised by the senior politician was three-fold; first, what would be the political points, if any, to be gained by such a move; second, would there be any political fall-out; and third, there were already too many national holidays celebrated in our country.
I countered with there being no justifiable objection in principle to the celebration of such an all-encompassing day and further reminded him that although we recognise days for major religious observances, historic events and achievements, and the arrival day of one specific ethnic group, we are yet to acknowledge the arrival and contribution of many ethnic groups such as the Chinese, Syrian and Lebanese.
And further, the fact remains that we do not give sufficient regard, respect or recognition to the indigenous people of our country who were here long before we were colonised.
At that point, the discussion came to a rapid end when I was reminded that we ought not to spend time debating issues which would not be politically strategic.
I remain firm in the view, however, that there are matters worthy of national consultation and debate and that such issues should not be discarded simply because they are politically inconvenient.
Over in Tobago
Politics seems to drive the national agenda and so it comes as no surprise that with relative ease, issues which were previously given no particular significance are now occupying the centre stage.
Take, for example, the matters that have arisen as a result of the tight electoral fight for control of the THA.
With surprising hurry, the Constitution (Amendment) (Tobago) Bill 2013 was introduced in the Lower House last Monday and debate began at a special sitting, (meaning not the usual Friday) on Wednesday.
The fact that the election takes place next Monday would probably have made it inconvenient for a sitting today, which is understandable for both sides, but why the rush to start the debate knowing full well that little could be achieved in so short a time?
Perhaps the Government, which sets the legislative agenda for the Parliament, sought to gain political mileage by ensuring that the debate started with an opening by the Prime Minister specifically geared towards ramping up the falling points of her administration.
It also enabled the Prime Minister to play the trump of announcing an earlier meeting with respected Tobagonian Mr Arthur N R Robinson SC to whom she had presented a copy of the Bill laid in the House.
And to be fair, the timing allowed the Leader of the Opposition to publicly record his response.
Whoever emerges the winner on Monday, there is no denying that this regime has pulled all the stops and used all at its disposal to gain victory in Tobago.
And many would say-what’s wrong with that?
So it is really for Tobagonians to decide in whose hands they feel comfortable to rest their future.
It would be improper to speak to the merits of the several matters which are currently engaging the attention of attorneys and the courts surrounding allegations of impropriety on the part of holders of positions in the THA.
Once again, the timing of such actions is uncanny but one should not read anything more into it because seeking justice should not be a matter of convenience.
It is just unfortunate that there are individuals who rapidly run with the baton of justice when it suits them and are prepared to drop it when it is no longer politically expedient.
Think about all the promises made, by all the politicians on all sides of the fences, and determine whether their respective undertakings have been fulfilled independent of electoral timelines.
In the 2010 election campaign, this regime promised that in record time, if it was elected, there would be an amendment to the Constitution imposing a limited consecutive term for the person holding the office of Prime Minister and, more importantly, provisions for the recall of non-performing elected representatives.
Obviously, it is inconvenient for the Government to address such matters now, so that if current practice is to be followed, the Bill dealing with these proposals would be laid sometime in May 2015.
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