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London on committee to examine self-govt bills: Credentials of two members suspect
Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary, Orville London, says he does not want to be so presumptuous as to tell the Prime Minister who to appoint to a committee examining different bills on internal self-government for Tobago put out by the THA and the Attorney General. He maintains, however, the credentials of two of the three-member committee, appointed by PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar, were suspect.
London spoke on the issue yesterday at a luncheon hosted by the Trinidad Union Club at Nicholas Towers, Port-of-Spain. He also spoke on the same matter at another luncheon, hosted by the Rotary Club, the day before. Asked by the T&T Guardian who he would like to see on the committee, he said: “At least give members of the public the confidence that the members are impartial. They are so obviously biased. I am not casting aspersions on their integrity.”
London, addressing members of the Union Club, said the THA and Tobagonians were taken by surprise when the members of the committee were announced. “We would have liked committee members whose reputations are above reproach,” he added. London repeated his grouse with attorney Christlyn Moore.
The problem was that she worked “very closely” with the Attorney General, he said. As for Martin George, the other member, also an attorney, London said he was well known for his “vicious attacks” on the THA. To prove his point, London quoted from newspaper columns written by George.
“How can you expect us to believe that individuals who made those statements can be trusted to be impartial?” he asked. His disapproval of the committee members is the latest dispute in what London described as “a kind of stand-off” between the PM and himself over internal self-government for Tobago. He spent most of his speaking time at the luncheon to repeat the history of the stand-off, starting by noting the THA and the central Government have different political cultures.
London said the existing tensions between the two institutions were no different now from the relationship the THA had with previous central governments. There had to be some consensus between the THA and the central government to achieve the goal of internal self-government for Tobago, he said.
Touching on the area of declining tourism, Tobago’s chief revenue-earner, for which the THA has been criticised, London blamed the economically-depressed global environment. Grenada, St Lucia, tourism destinations from Europe, were facing the same situation, he said. “Most of our tourists come from the UK and Germany and we have suffered as a result,” he added.
In an e-mail to the T&T Guardian yesterday, attorney Martin George, responding to London, said it was unfortunate there had been an attempt to try and turn the matter into a question of personalities on the committee and not on the issues.
He said: “Let us remain focussed on the issue of the greater good and what is important and necessary for Tobago.
He added: “Even though persons may have different perspectives and opinions, once we are all working for the ultimate good of Tobago, then let’s get on with the job and work together to achieve this objective.”
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