By Yohanseh Asukile Monday, January 7 2013
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First meeting: TPT political leader Hochoy Charles speaks at his party's first meeting at Mason Hall, Tobago, on Saturday night. ...
“This is not a Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election, this is pure madness,” Hochoy Charles, former THA chief secretary, hit out on Saturday night during a meeting of his political party, The Platform for Truth (TPT), at Mason Hall, Tobago.
Charles slammed the aggressive and expensive electioneering of the People’s National Movement (PNM), which has run the THA for 12 years, and the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), a member of the UNC-led People’s Partnership Government, in the run up to the THA election on January 21.
He even claimed the UNC/TOP had spent $50 million on the campaign.
“It is the first time in the history of the politics of Trinidad and Tobago that I have seen this madness. Both parties, the PNM and the UNC/TOP, have brought their madness from Trinidad into Tobago and the people of Tobago joined their madness,” said Charles.
He noted that every single infrastructure; buildings, poles, walls, peoples’ homes were “being defaced in this mad way”.
“School buildings, health offices and anything in the way of those two mad parties get defaced, after the election we have to clean up,” he said.
Charles and the TPT held their first meeting in Mason Hall since the announcement of the January 21 THA elections. Two other speakers appeared on the platform with him and each spoke briefly, Haynes Cowie-Clarke, the candidate for Bethel/Mt Irvine, and Ernest Belfon who was in his home village and in the constituency of Providence/Mason Hall/Moriah and is up against TOP leader Ashworth Jack and Sheldon Cunningham of the PNM.
With a reference to the colonial and historical past of Tobago where Tobago was fought for 33 times by the European powers of the Dutch, Spanish, British and the French, Charles said that the PNM and the UNC/TOP are now, “fighting for your votes so that they can be empowered to continue and extract Tobago’s oil and gas because it is here the money is coming from to run the Government in Trinidad and pay their bills.”
“It all shows that there has always been something very valuable about Tobago and Tobagonians must own its property and space,” he noted. Nothing had been discussed, according to him, from what he has heard from the PNM and the TOP platforms, that concerns what the election is really about.
“The election is about political parties from Trinidad fighting for control of Tobago which has nothing to do with the welfare of Tobagonians,” Charles stated.
“TOP is the bridge used by the UNC to come into Tobago to enslave us,” he said.
Referring to plans for oil and gas exploration in Tobago’s waters, Charles said if Tobagonians vote for TOP, the Prime Minister and her Government could just come to Tobago and “take it”. He said Government would still have to discuss with Tobago how the gas money will be shared.
Charles stated, “that is why you have the responsibility and duty not to vote for parties that are led or controlled or manipulated from out of Trinidad, but vote for your Tobago, vote for yourself in this election and take your power or your vote to liberate and empower you.”
Recalling that he warned Tobagonians during the first three months of 2012, that the fight for Tobago was so serious that the UNC will spend more money in the THA election whenever it was called than they would have spent during all of the last general election in Trinidad. Without providing the evidence, he claimed that from what he knows and what he has seen, $50 million has already been spent on the THA election by the UNC financing the TOP.
“They put photograph even for dog to pee on the pole, on the ground, everywhere, they have more flags in the election than there is space in Tobago to put them up, so you find 25 and 50 in one place,” he said.
“So many big trucks all over, you cannot hear yourself, they are disturbing the communities, disturbing the peace, disturbing people all over both the PNM and the TOP, and none of all of that is going to help you before or after the election,” he said.
There were many disenchanted voters in Tobago as evidenced by the voter turnout list of the last THA election, Charles said, which to him was not normal because people were energised and enthusiastic whenever there is a THA election.
Displaying a list from Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) that contained the number of voters in each of the 12 constituencies, he indicated that a third party could have easily won 11 of those 12 seats without taking away any votes from the TOP or PNM. The figures clearly show the level of dissatisfaction with those two parties, he said. Growing up, Charles noted that Tobagonians were never disrespectful to their seniors. After listening to a radio broadcast of a political meeting, Charles said he heard Tobago Development Minister Dr Delmon Baker referring to him as a “has been”.
Charles said the only thing he could say in response to Baker was, “God will bless him and I hope he likes the blessing that he gets.”
“I have never known that Tobagonians are so disrespectful and ungrateful, if I was not alive, Baker would not have been a doctor today.”
Charles said Baker had learned his disrespect from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, referring to how she criticised former President Arthur NR Robinson when he refused to appoint seven defeated candidates as senators during the Basdeo Panday-led UNC government after the 2000 general election.
“Ms Bissessar was one of the voices that ‘cursed’ President Robinson,” Charles recalled.
Charles said under a Tobago-controlled THA, which is only possible with his TPT, all CEPEP and URP workers will be paid no less than $110 per day on the first day of every month. All contractors and hardware dealers, including the truckers in Tobago will become millionaires within one year because of the work that has to be done, he said.
He urged Tobagonians not to vote for the PNM and even worse, the TOP. The People’s Partnership Government, he said, had promised that the bill for greater self-government for Tobago would have been the third piece of legislation they would have taken to Parliament since their election in 2010.
“With 30 months gone by, they are now attempting to bring it in the middle of the THA elections, something Mr (Patrick) Manning had tried as well, which is why they both have to be rejected by the voters,” he said.
“The UNC has bought so many things in Tobago, so many people, they buying people to go to meetings, they buying buses, let them buy everything else but they cannot buy your heart, your conscience and your vote,” he said. Referring to the TOP, Charles urged the small crowd to keep the furthest distance from the party with the most flags.