THE Government was yesterday heavily criticised by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley for failing to pay homage to this country's first prime minister, the late Dr Eric Williams.
Addressing attendees at the official launch of the Dr Eric Williams Institute of Political Education at Queen's Royal College, Port of Spain, he said: "I gave them long notice," but the Government failed to respond.
"Last year March, I drew to the attention of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago that the Williams centenary was coming up in September 2011 (and they never replied). And it's another stain on this country that the people of Trinidad and Tobago, as a nation, never properly observed the centenary," he said.
In fact, last January, Rowley called on Government to appropriately recognise the contribution of Trinidad and Tobago's first PM as the party he founded, the People's National Movement (PNM), commemorated his 100th birth anniversary.
At that time, he said: "I have moved a motion in the Parliament asking the Government to motivate and join with us, in the national community, in appropriately recognising the Williams' centenary, because if anything we the people of Trinidad and Tobago, all of us, of whatever station, race, creed or class, we owe a debt of gratitude to Dr Eric Eustace Williams."
Rowley said it was a source of great disappointment that they never accepted the offer as "it could have been one of those occasions in the history of the country where we could have risen to the occasion and be better than we are...unfortunately those in office who see only about themselves".
He added, however, that "so vulgar are they in the context of this history that they will like to rewrite it".
"Today our children in Trinidad and Tobago have books given to them by the Government with a record of the history of Trinidad and Tobago that has no mention of the attainment of Independence in 1962, no mention of Dr Williams being the first prime minster...but there is the mention of something called a Partnership."
"That is what our children are being taught," he said.
As for the Institute, Rowley said it should not be considered a "PNM thing", although it would be housed at the PNM's headquarters.
"It is going to find its own home eventually but for now it's going to be at Baliser House or some other place and that is to be determined by the organisers. We are just giving birth to it...It's not going to be a PNM Baliser House thing,"
"Clearly it's going to be a national institute," he said.