AS the country commemorates the 52nd anniversary of independence today, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley says even as “we face what many see as interference with fundamental democratic principles I continue to have confidence in the people of our young nation”.
“I still hold out that the majority of us are right-thinking and are ready, willing and able to work steadfastly towards a better, brighter future,” he said in his Independence message yesterday.
He said it was imperative to reflect on our journey from August 31, 1962 when the national flag was first hoisted to the point at which citizens find themselves today.
“On that fateful day in 1962, the man who steered our nation to Independence, our first prime minister, Dr Eric Williams, addressed the people saying “The first responsibility that devolves upon you is the protection and promotion of your democracy. Democracy means more, much more, than the right to vote and one vote for every man and every woman of the prescribed age. Democracy means recognition of the rights of others.
“Democracy means equality of opportunity for all in education, in the public service, and in private employment—I repeat, and in private employment. Democracy means the protection of the weak against the strong. Democracy means the obligation of the minority to recognise the right of the majority,” Rowley said.
He noted: “Democracy means responsibility of the Government to its citizens, the protection of the citizens from the exercise of arbitrary power and the violation of human freedoms and individual rights. Democracy means freedom of worship for all and the subordination of the right of any race to the overriding right of the human race.”
As a young developing nation, Trinidad and Tobago has come a long way, Rowley said.
“We have experienced the proverbial highs and lows along the way. However, through it all, our people have demonstrated formidable will and strong resilience, with the ability to work together to overcome challenges. Our dedication to our democratic rights and freedoms serves as the cornerstone upon which our nation is built. Trinidad and Tobago was, is and will always be forged from the love of liberty.”