THA Chief Secretary Orville London has made it clear that it was never the intention to have the two Bills on internal self government for Tobago to be a “THA Position”.
He said the Bills were based on the views of thousands of Tobagonians at 41 community meetings and of organisations and groups spread over Trinidad and Tobago over four years. He stressed that the Bills were approved by the THA and were forwarded to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for discussion by the Cabinet and released for public discussion before approval by the Parliament.
In a statement yesterday (Saturday 2nd June 2012) the Chief Secretary said it was disingenuous of Prime Minister to state that it was a “THA position”. He recalled that in correspondence to her he had stated that the Bills were drafted by Senior Counsel Russell Martineau and represented the views of the people of Tobago “In one of the letters I indicated to the Prime Minister that the THA was aware it can take no further part in the process and appealed to her to let the views of the people of Tobago as drafted in the two Bills be put into the public domain for discussion,” London said.
London said he noted the Prime Minister’s statements on the topic at the opening of the 200-bed Magdalena Grant Resort at Lowlands, Tobago on Thursday and stressed that the two Bills sent to her were the views of the people of Tobago that were provided to the THA working committee headed by Dr John Prince and approved at a sitting of the House of Assembly.
He said there was now a “People’s Motion” being circulated across Tobago reaffirming Tobagonians’ support for the two Bills approved by the THA and demanding that those Bills form the basis of a Green Paper to be published for urgent public consultation. A petition accompanying the motion was also being signed by thousands of Tobagonians.
At the ceremony the Prime Minister said while there might be a THA position on constitutional reform, the position cannot only be a THA position, but ultimately the position of Tobago. She said the government will take into consideration the views of Tobago but at the end of the day the decision was not the THA’s or the Cabinet but that of the Parliament.
London said he wished to reiterate that it was an insult to the people of Tobago that their views can be discarded in such a cavalier manner by the Attorney General and with the approval of Cabinet release the Bill which he commissioned to replace the views of the people of Tobago.
London said he was still appealing to the Prime Minister’s sense of fair play and her stated commitment to the welfare of the people of Tobago to consider releasing the THA Bills for public discussion.