Dumas: Ashworth, the best debater
By Clint Chan Tack Saturday, January 12 2013
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TOP strutter: A TOP supporter put on his fancy suit to take part in a parade the party had through the streets of Scarborough, Tobago, yesterday....
FORMER Public Service Commission chairman Reginald Dumas yesterday said he believed that Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) political leader Ashworth Jack performed better than Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London and Platform for Truth leader Hochoy Charles in Thursday night’s debate at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort in Lowlands, Tobago.
However, Dumas said this does not necessarily mean that Jack will be the next THA Chief Secretary or that the TOP would win the THA election on January 21. Jack is the current THA Minority Leader.
Commenting on the performances of London, Jack and Charles in the debate, Dumas told Newsday he thought that Jack “performed best on the night.” He said while Jack was well known in Tobago, he would have been considered “an unknown quantity” with respect to this fora. “I think he (Jack) would have surprised a number of people,” Dumas stated.
He said Jack appeared to demonstrate an ability to think quickly on his feet and “to think down the road.” Noting that Jack highlighted the fact that he was not Chief Secretary for the last 16 years (unlike London and Charles), Dumas said that was not necessarily a reason Tobagonians should vote for Jack on January 21.
Turning to London, Dumas said there was no doubt that London is very articulate and “more suave than the other two (Jack and Charles).”
However Dumas felt London found himself in an “awkward position” as the incumbent and was on the defensive for much of the debate. He explained that London has a track record as Chief Secretary and would have had to rely in a major way on that to encourage Tobagonians to re-elect him to office.
Regarding Charles’ performance, Dumas said Charles spent too much time focusing on the past and not what he planned to do for the future should be elected as Chief Secretary. Kariwak Hotel CEO Allan Clovis said he thought Jack remained composed during the debate and “seemed prepared.”
Noting that Jack touched on issues such as alternative energy while London and Charles did not, Clovis said Jack appeared to demonstrate some “generational thinking.” He said while Jack may have strengthened his position with TOP supporters and may have convinced some undecided voters to vote TOP, he was not “a messiah” by any means. Clovis felt London appeared “very resigned” and did not appear comfortable in putting forward his views. He thought Charles only “caught himself at the end” and may have lost out on an opportunity to send a clear message to voters to support his party on January 21.
Dumas and Clovis both welcomed the principle behind the debate but felt there was room for improvement. Dumas felt that moderator Dr Ronald Ramkissoon cut off the debaters at times during the debate while they were in mid-response. He also believed that when a question was put to one debater and the other two were allowed to rebutt his statement, the first debater should have been given an opportunity to rebut the statements made by the other two debaters.
Clovis thought the questions posed were “very impersonal.” He said this did not reflect badly on the persons posing the question but rather on the structure of the debate. Clovis stated it might have been better to simply give some of the questions “on a piece of paper” to the debaters and allow them to respond rather than pose them the way they were.