Government cannot build this country's 50th independence celebrations around the figure of Dr Eric Williams, notwithstanding the fact that he was the founding father of the country.
So stated Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie as he responded to the criticism that Government, in its Jubilee celebrations, was making a determined effort to ignore the role of Williams, the country's first Prime Minister, in the creation of modern-day Trinidad and Tobago.
Speaking at yesterday's post-Cabinet news conference, Tewarie said the Opposition's charge that Government was trying to suppress the contribution of Eric Williams was not true at all.
He said when Government launched the independence celebration at Queen's Hall, it invited all Opposition MPs and not a single one of them attended the ceremony. "It is they who are seeking to be divisive.
Tewarie said on August 30, there would be a re-enactment at Woodford Square in front of the traditional Parliament building the ceremony of 1962. "And in that (production) the role of Eric Williams would be most prominent. But you cannot build an Independence Golden Anniversary celebration in 2012 around the figure of Eric Williams, notwithstanding the fact that he was the founding father of the country. He (Williams) has his place, he has his role. The honourable Prime Minister acknowledged him and others, fully in her statement at Queen's Hall (at the launch). And we would continue to work with others on events that have to do with the commemoration of the life and certain aspects of the life of Dr Eric Williams," he said.
Tewarie said Government had agreed that the old public library would be a dedicated place for the recognition of all of the leaders of Trinidad and Tobago, and to archive material in relation to these leaders. The PNM has been calling for the public library to be dedicated for the recognition of Williams and his works. But Tewarie said there is an Eric Williams collection at the UWI, St Augustine which is recognised as valuable by the United Nations. "And we would continue to do those things, but we cannot build our 50th anniversary celebrations on the basis of the past, nor can we build it on the basis of one individual. What we need to do is to bring our society together, bring our community together and focus on the future. And that is where we are heading," he said.
On the "Going for Gold" project, a music CD with ten songs produced by triple soca crown Machel Montano, Tewarie said all the songs would be written by locals. Who will sing? "We have given creative freedom to Machel to make the collaborations and we would facilitate the process. So it would be "Machel and others", Tewarie said.