January 21 provides yet another opportunity for Tobago to demonstrate to the world in general and Trinidad and Tobago in particular how democratic and intelligent Tobagonians can be.
As a forerunner to this very important day, yesterday was singled out by the Trinidad and Tobago Debates Commission to apply its mission statement—to strengthen the democratic process by staging debates on matters of national importance to assist the electorate in making informed political choices—to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections on January 21.
With these two red-letter days above in mind, I now write, hoping that platform speakers for the THA elections inform the electorate or their respective leaders how to respond to the following questions, which I see as critical to the leadership process in Tobago for the next four years and beyond.
1. Since the heyday of the legendary APT James, Tobago has consistently been troubled by party rivalry—rivalry that sometimes tends to tear the island apart with family member condemning family member because of party differences. As the leading political force in Tobago during the years 2013-2017, what peace, unity, prosperity and social cohesion can your party bring to politics in Tobago and, by extension, the labour force and strategic appointments so that the island can benefit from the talent and skills which cut across party lines?
2. Recent reports have suggested Tobago may soon find itself benefitting from an oil bonanza. The problem, however, is to what extent will this truly be of advantage to Tobago in the 21st century and beyond—especially since writers have been arguing the new civilisation which unfolds is moving deeper and deeper into knowledge economies and societies? How would your party influence the newly elected chief secretary to move the island ahead in such a scenario?
3. It is alleged that Tobago after the 1960s has found itself at the bottom of the educational ladder of Trinidad and Tobago. Many who left Tobago in the '60s and '70s found themselves successfully competing with the best in Trinidad. Given this situation, to what extent would a ruling Tobago party develop and implement a new education plan for Tobago which can help young Tobagonians respond to the political, economic, social, technological and spiritual challenges of the 21st century and beyond?
Sports and culture
4. What plans can your party develop and implement to have Tobagonians rise to compete and outclass athletes, culture proponents and entertainers in the world in general and the Caribbean in particular?
The relationship with Trinidad
5. What in the perspective of your party is wrong with the present constitutional relationship between Trinidad and Tobago? How would your party, on capturing the majority of seats in the assembly, improve this relationship? What model in particular would your party advocate for Tobago—self-government, a federal structure, or a structure particularly designed to reflect the culture, ethnic composition and historical background of Trinidad and Tobago?
Raymond S Hackett