Blame Govt, not PNM, for disunity
Reference is made to the Express editorial of September 1 and its critique of the PNM's decision to host its own Independence celebrations.
The critique could very well find its own answer in the editorial writer's comment that: "We wish that the Government had seen the wisdom of putting the planning of the Jubilee into the hands of an independent national committee, reaching across social divides in ensuring broad participation in designing a truly national celebration. Instead, we have got yet another event managed by centralised government resulting, inevitably, in political one-upmanship."
The editorial omitted to point to the fact that the Government's announcement of plans to celebrate the country's 50th Independence anniversary came on July 19, 2012 at a post-Cabinet press briefing, a mere six weeks before the actual celebrations. Additionally, it ignored the fact that the PNM's public plea for an inclusive celebration began in the House of Representatives in March 2011, a full 17 months before the event.
At that time, PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley moved a motion calling on the Government to recognise the 100th birthday anniversary of the Dr Eric Williams, and his sterling contribution to the development of Trinidad and Tobago, as more than 100 conferences organised around the world were doing. Dr Rowley made the point that the Government did not have to treat Dr Williams as leader of the PNM, but rather as a national and iconic leader who steered T&T first to Independence and then Republican status.
The only respondent from the Government side at that time was Leader of Government Business Dr Roodal Moonilal. The sum of his contribution was that while the Government was not minded to officially celebrate Dr Williams' anniversary, the Government would ensure he is given his just due and recognition when the country's 50th anniversary celebrations were observed in 2012.
As the editorial indicated, the celebrations have come and gone – has anyone seen any attempt, however minuscule, to honour the memory of the country's first prime minister?
Any attempt therefore to either absolve Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie from taking a more principled and mature position with respect to these celebrations, or worse, cast a shadow of blame in the PNM's direction must, we submit, fall on its own sword. What is quite apparent to us and indeed, the national community, is that this Government had no intention of engaging in any celebration that, undoubtedly, would have showcased the country's development over the past 50 years, most of which were achieved under successive PNM governments.
What we have seen instead is a studious and not-so-subtle attempt to rewrite the country's history. What we have seen is a weak and, judging from the reports about the botched flag-raising, poor attempt at replicating in Woodford Square, a copy of a programme outlined by the PNM on several occasions at our political meetings in Five Rivers on May 2, and in San Juan on July 17, 2012.
The PNM took no pride in seeing our country divided by the petty politics of this Government, but must remind everyone that all our attempts to raise the bar for what ought properly to have been a non-partisan celebration, were met with stony silence and political immaturity by those currently charged with the onerous responsibility of charting our country's future for the next 33 months.
The PNM stands ready to celebrate the achievements of every single outstanding citizen of this great country of ours, irrespective of their political allegiance, race, ethnicity, religious belief or social standing. That is the bedrock on which the PNM stands, and we challenge this Government to prove that their Independence celebrations this year reflected a similar belief.
General Secretary, PNM