Attorney General Anand Ramlogan is “insensitive and out of place” to vilify the THA Chief Secretary Orville London for his repeated requests to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for a meeting to discuss the critical issue of self-government for Tobago.
A statement today (Tuesday 24th July 2012) from the Office of the Chief Secretary said the Attorney General should be informed that Clause 31 of the THA Act No 40 of 1996 states: “The Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary shall hold regular discussions with the view to formulating administrative and legislative mechanism for the promotion of harmony in the affairs of Trinidad and Tobago.”
The statement added: “There is no doubt that the present process for internal self-government is the most important ‘administrative and legislative’ issue facing the people of Tobago, in recent times.” It said: “The process also has significant potential for either the promotion of harmony or the creation of disharmony in the affairs of Trinidad and Tobago.
“In the circumstances the Chief Secretary does not only have the right but has the responsibility to seek a meeting, or many meetings with the Prime Minister so that the issue of internal self- government could be resolved in the interest of the people of Tobago and the rest of the country.
“The Chief Secretary wishes to reiterate that contrary to the statements of both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, he has never attempted to bully the Cabinet into accepting the Tobago generated Bills,” it said.
In fact, in correspondence to the Prime Minister dated 15th December 2011, the Chief Secretary said: “The Tobago House of Assembly does not have the authority to take the process any further. However, Tobagonians are aware of your Government’s stated commitment to the provision of internal self-government to Tobago; and they are confident that you will initiate and guide the necessary process for the achievement of self-government, consistent with the aspirations and recommendations of the people of Tobago.”
In another correspondence dated 12th March 2012, the Chief Secretary said: “Madam Prime Minister, the Government’s decision to ignore the Bills submitted on behalf of the people of Tobago is unjust and could prove to be counterproductive. I concede that the Cabinet does not have to agree with nor give support to the recommendations contained in the Bills. However, I am convinced that the views of the people of Tobago should be placed in the public domain for discussion, debate and final resolution. Any other option could only lead to unnecessary conflict and confusion, at a time when we have the opportunity to resolve this long standing issue.”
The statement added that the Chief Secretary and members of the Tobago House of Assembly were elected by the people of Tobago in a transparent and democratic process and their mandate was to do all that was necessary to develop the island and to improve the quality of life of its residents. “As Chief Secretary I will be betraying this mandate if I were to allow the Office of the Chief Secretary to be deterred from carrying out this responsibility,” the statement added.
Last week London forwarded copies of almost 6,000 signatures of Tobagonians to the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Law Reform Commission requesting that the Bills be put into the public domain for discussion.