Sunday, December 17, 2017

London: Citizens must step up, protect democracy

...says THA leader in Independence Day message


call for self-government: Orville London

Mark Fraser


“The protection and promotion of our democracy and our dig­nity will depend on the positions we take and the resilience we display during this critical period in our nation’s history.”

These were the words of Toba­go House of Assembly (THA)Chief Secretary Orville London, in his Independence Day message yesterday.

“The present issues facing the island and the country are not just the concern and the respon­si­­bility of the politicians, the inte­rest groups and the more vocal members of the public.

“This is the time, in the midst of the crises that now beset our island and our country, for all of us to reflect on the words of the ‘Father of the Nation’ and to step up to the Independence plate.”

He said: “We, the politicians, are often prepared to ignore each other but we cannot afford to ignore the citizens, if they speak loudly enough and act decisively enough.

“The citizens of the country must therefore recognise that their resilience and fortitude are being tested at the national level, and the residents of Tobago must also accept that they need to respond appropriately, in the special Toba­go circumstances.”

London said: “I do not need to remind my fellow Tobagonians of the decades-old struggle for self-government, nor of the efforts, over the past six months, to unite the political par­ties

and the various sectors, communities and indi­viduals on the island, in making a persuasive and powerful case.

“The numerous meet­ings and consulta­tions over the years have con­firmed the consensus among Tobagonians that the ‘sovereign dem­ocratic state of Trinidad and Tobago must remain inviolate and united but that Tobago’s right to self-determination must be facilitated’.”

He said he was heart­ened by the respon­ses of the partici­pants at the con­sultations in Tobago and in Trinidad.

He said self-govern­ment for the island placed greater responsibility on the leaders and the resi­dents, and the prepara­tion process must contin­ue.

He added: “However, we must be reminded that independence and self-government are more about the mindset of the people than about the condition of the place.

“This administration has provided and will continue to provide ave­n­ues for the personal development of residents in varied spheres of en­deavour...but all Toba­go-

­nians must seize these opportunities and pre­pare themselves to contri­-

bute more to their own development and the de-

velopment of our island.”

He noted also discus­sions have been initi­ated with Caribbean Airlines, in a bid to alle­viate the “vexing prob­lems expe­rienced by passen­gers on the air bridge”.

“The frustrations of passengers on the sea bridge will also be addressed and

the assembly will continue to insist that it must be represented on the boards of the Port Authority and Caribbean Airlines,” London said.