Fix ‘brokenness’ of TT
By ANDRE BAGOO Friday, August 31 2012
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Trini girls: Dancers hold up a banner with the words "Together We Achieve", part of the national motto, "Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve", as ...
WE MUST FIX Trinidad and Tobago’s Constitution, President George Maxwell Richards urged in a message to the nation on the occasion of this country’s 50th anniversary of Independence.
In a speech which was due to be delivered last night at Woodford Square for the Government’s Independence celebrations, the President said there is need to reform the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago, saying it is “one of the major areas of brokenness.”
“This is one of the major areas of brokenness that we can fix and must fix, if we are to proceed with dignity and vigour, in unity, over the next fifty years,” the President said.
In an apparent allusion to Government’s commitment to Constitution reform, the President added, “Moreover, we must be committed to integrity, in every aspect, not least integrity of our word.
“We speak of constitutional reform, for example, but that is in stasis. In this context, Tobago, in 2012, should not have to ask, as Reggie Dumas, clearly speaking on behalf of a number of others, has done: ‘Constitutional development? Of Tobago? What constitutional development?’”
The President continued, “His scepticism resonates in the whole country. Let us remind ourselves that a nation divided cannot stand and, while water separates our two islands, broken promises should not. We made a promise to Tobago, a long time ago and, as Eric Williams said in Parliament with the joining of our two islands, administratively, one form of neglect was exchanged for another.
“Unity of purpose is critical. The togetherness that we see during our Carnival celebrations and at other times of national celebration, should not be ephemeral. It should be the seminal quality that defines our character as a people.”
The President urged the nation to take stock and, throughout his speech made allusions to the current crime situation which has affected the nation for almost a decade now.
“We need to ask ourselves whether we are living up to the expectations of our freedom fighters, who did battle, not with guns, but with intellectual prowess, artisan skills, artistic brilliance, sport and diplomatic savoir faire to secure our place among the family of independent nations,” the President said. “Our answers must bear the hallmark of honesty, as we take responsibility for who we have become.” At one point he added, “euphoria must not be allowed to cloud sober reflection, as reality will not go away.”
It was not all bad news, as the President noted the country’s achievements. But he warned that these achievements run the risk of being eroded by other forces.
“We have indeed done some things very well and we ought to congratulate ourselves, heartily, for that,” the President said. “Without going into details in the myriad areas of our accomplishments, I cite, as example, the fact that, post Independence and particularly in the 60’s and 70’s, our people were much sought after, in other countries. That could only have been so, because of the quality of persons that developed here, assisted by our education system and social environment.”
The President continued, “While we must not allow anyone to put us down, simply because we are a small country, we must not be overtaken by the false notion that we can be the best, without strong effort on our part. We are not a nation of sheep and we need, as individuals, to become more aware of the power of one, to effect change, where change is necessary.”
“We must savour this occasion, August 31st 2012, for years to come. I wish the national community a good future, with peace, wisdom and understanding at the heart of it. May God bless our nation.”