Keep race out THA election
By Newsday Staff Wednesday, January 9 2013
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Heading home: Five-year-old Jelani Scott holds his father James' hand as they cross Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. They were on their ...
ANGLICAN Bishop and Tobagonian Claude Berkeley yesterday called on political parties to focus on issues and not on race in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election campaign.
“This type of thing happens every election time,” he told Newsday. “But we have to live as one people even after the election. We are one people under God.”
He said instead of race-talk, the campaign should treat with issues which affect Tobagonians.
“I think we should spend time focusing on the issues of Tobago and candidates should show how they will improve Tobago and the quality of life of all,” he said.
He continued, “The essence of the matter is that there are perennial problems such as: transport; the cost of living; the tardy implementation of Government policy. Who is responsible you can never tell because there is a whole blame game. But how do we address the quality of life for all of the people?”
The Bishop expressed these views in the wake of a fallout over racial remarks regarding Indians made by PNM candidate Hilton Sandy during a political meeting in Tobago recently.
Sandy had said, “…There is a ship at Calcutta waiting to sail to Tobago; they are waiting to get the results of this election. If you bring the wrong results, Calcutta ship is coming down for you. You must stop that ship. We must not allow that ship to sail, and if you don’t want that ship to sail, what you have to do? Vote the PNM, vote the People’s National Movement.”
Sandy, the THA Deputy Chief Secretary/Secretary of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, is seeking reelection as the Assemblyman for Belle Garden East/Roxborough/Delaford in the January 21 THA Election.
THA Chief Secretary Orville London yesterday distanced himself from Sandy’s remarks saying they were not the “views or sentiments” of the PNM, the party’s national executive or the PNM Tobago Council.
London, who is also PNM deputy political leader with responsibility for Tobago Affairs, added that the incident was something from which “everyone had learnt a lesson”.
On Monday, Sandy emailed a press release apologising for his remarks which Opposition and PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley described as unfortunate and unnecessary.
“The PNM is not running a racial campaign. Mr Sandy was spoken to,” Rowley said on Monday.
London yesterday said he felt Sandy’s apology was “sincere”.
However, Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) political leader Ashworth Jack has hit out at the PNM leadership saying Rowley and London were present at the meeting where Sandy made the controversial remarks and did not stop him.
“Keith was there, Orville was there, the candidates who the PNM put up for election were there clapping in the background. So this is not a Sandy position it is a PNM position,” Jack said at a TOP meeting on Monday night.
Sandy, when contacted yesterday, said, “I have sent a press release to Newsday on the issue and I have no further comment to make.”