The Executive Council of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has appealed to Tobagonians to sign the petition attached to a People's Motion reaffirming their support for the bills approved by the House of Assembly to provide internal self-government to Tobago.
The motion is also demanding that the bills to amend the THA Act and the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago form the basis of a Green Paper to be published for urgent public consultation.
The Council has a package of all the information relating to the bills and the Green Paper which can be found on the website www.tha.gov.tt. Copies of the documents will also be made available to the public at select venues and in the media.
In addition, the Executive Council has appointed a four-member Commission headed by former THA Chief Administrator Allan Richards to "examine the proposed legislative offerings for conformity with the wishes of the people of Tobago". Other members of the commission are attorney Deborah Moore-Miggins, Senior Counsel Gilbert Peterson and physiotherapist Dr Verne Alleyne. The commission has up to May 31 2012 to complete its work, the THA said in a statement.
In disclosing these initiatives at last Wednesday's post Executive Council media briefing THA Chief Secretary Orville London said the Council tried to select people who Tobago knew and who did not have any affiliation to a political organisation, at least not the PNM so that "we can trust them to take an empirical view and make recommendations that would redound to the benefit of the people of Tobago".
London said the Central Government had disregarded the bills and was attempting to force Tobagonians to accept the Attorney General's bill which was now out for public comment.
"At this point in time Tobago and Tobagonians are under test. What transpires in Tobago in the next six months or so is joining to define Tobagonians and it is going to signal to the next generation of Tobagonians what metal this present generation have," London said.
He said Tobagonians had to send a signal loud and clear, and contrary to what Minority Leader Ashworth Jack and the Attorney General and his cohorts might think, the bills which were presented to the Prime Minister, to the Attorney General and to the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago were not PNM bills.
"They are the bills of the people of Tobago representing the views and recommendations of the people of Tobago. It is not the PNM versus the TOP, it is not the PNM versus the Attorney General, this is the Attorney General versus the 55,000 Tobagonians and I think the people of Tobago must understand that," he added.
London said that the stand taken by Jack and Ramlogan imputed improper motives on the part of the members of the John Prince Committee which held 41 meetings with the people of Tobago over four years to come up with the Bills. "What they are saying is that people of the caliber of Dr John Prince, former senator Dr Eastlyn McKenzie, Dr Rita Pemberton and Carlos Dillon would have allowed themselves to foist on the people of Tobago, a PNM document when for four years they went around Tobago getting the views of Tobagonians; that is ridiculous."