Religious bodies support Tobago’s autonomy

Representatives of the faith-based community are in support of The Forum’s initiative to get full autonomy for the island in the shortest possible time.

The representatives participated in the eighth consultation hosted by The Forum on the topic at the Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities Lecture Room on Wednesday.

The Forum is made up of the political parties, the People’s National Movement (PNM), the Tobago Platform of Truth (TPT) and the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) that contested the January 2013 Assembly elections.

However, the TOP led by Ashworth Jack continues to be absent at the consultations although agreeing to the process at the first meeting in January. Chief Secretary Orville London and TPT leader Hochoy Charles have had to answer queries about Jack’s absence at the session.

London said Jack had not indicated that he and the TOP had abandoned the process and noted that the “door is still open” for their participation.

Pastor Glenroy Frank, Head of the People’s Pentecostal Church said political parties have been the culprits in determining self government for Tobago. “We must light a fire at the feet of these political leaders to do things,” he said.

He said it was politicians who had to take Tobago’s self-government issue to the parliament. He said self-government for Tobago was wrapped up in the resources under the sea around the island.

“If internal self-government is given to us without any trappings I think that we are intelligent enough, we are resourceful enough to take our way forward. I am saying that in whatever form or shape, it might not be perfect we (are) taking it and I am confident that if self-government is granted to Tobago I am sure we can make it.”

Pastor Corin Parris of the Faith Miracle Centre, Canaan said he was concerned about what kind of system is being put in place by the pioneers of this process to ensure a culture of good governance. “Now that we are coming out of the wilderness experience … some people are saying how we can survive but through the process of education you can filter out the old mindset and recognise that this is the day of the promise.”

Pastor Ryan Nelson of the Abundant Life Mission who lived in St Kitts/Nevis for ten years said the federal system of government there was a good model and can work for Tobago. He advised the forum to pursue the process to its end.

Kameel Ali of the Tobago Muslim Organisation said while he was in support of full autonomy for Tobago, The Forum should hold a referendum to determine whether residents were of like mind.

He said by their utterances many visitors from Trinidad knew little of what was happening in Tobago and urged the Assembly to advertise what it was doing to develop the island. He added that these visitors were surprised to see the advanced stage of the island’s development.

A similar consultation will be held for farmers, Fisherfolk and community based organisations at the Roxborough Secondary School on Tuesday (June 17) at 5 p.m. and for a similar grouping on Wednesday (June 18) at the DIPU Lecture Room also at 5 p.m.

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