Former Tobago House of Assembly (THA) chief secretary Hochoy Charles says while the country has lost one of its greatest sons, former president Arthur NR Robinson will not rest in peace until Tobago achieves internal self-government.
Speaking with reporters outside the Assembly Legislative Chamber after paying his last respects where Robinson’s body lay yesterday, he said Robinson fought for the justice for all mankind, and was an architect of Tobago’s self-determination and freedom.
Charles said the greatest tribute that could be paid, in light of Robinson’s death, is freedom for Tobagonians.
He said Robinson has died a sad man, and waded into the issue of the country’s uproar during the implementation of valued added tax, under Robinson’s tenure.
“I know Mr Robinson, he died a very sad man, because one of the greatest tributes that could be paid to him is justice and freedom to its native people of Tobago,” Charles said.
He recalled his many detractors during the implementation of VAT.
“What Mr Robinson did because of the pressures in the country and no money, he removed the system of purchase tax and replaced it with value added tax and reduced the lowest rate of purchase tax that we use to pay on all items by five per cent, and those basic food items that make up the poor man basket, zero rate them, no tax.”
Charles went on to explain the meaning of what Robinson’s famous words “Attack with full force’’ while being held hostage in Parliament during the 1990 attempted coup meant to him.
“I am prepared (to give) my life to save this country, so that we could be free. That’s what it meant. I’m prepared to die rather than hand over this country to bandits and crooks and robbers, that’s what he did. Mr Robinson falls between (Nelson) Mandela and Jesus Christ in my view,” he said.
Charles said the decision made by Robinson in 1995 to throw the NAR’s support behind the UNC in the midst of the 17/17 tie was made out of deep moral principle, a similar principle made during the 18/18 tie in 2001.
“Even if we had loved him, Manning, and wanted to put him in government and we use our two seats to help him to go in government. That would have been 17 and 2, 19. One less than he had when he said he could not run the country,” he said.