T&T celebrates 36th year as a republic
Mon, September 24, 2012 - 1:07 PM
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Sept 24, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago is celebrating its 36th year as a republic on Monday with contrasting messages from the political directorate in the oil rich twin island republic.
Acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith has told the nation that the time has come to stop believing in fairy tales and do the work Trinidad and Tobago requires to become a better place to live.
"We must give up the notion that some fairy godmother is going to emerge to transform our land and fulfil our dreams. It is we the people, each of us individually and collectively working together, who will gain for us the prosperity which we desire," he said.
"It's time to take stock. At this juncture, we must ask ourselves where we are and what we have achieved after 50 years of Independence... there is no one coming to the rescue of Trinidad and Tobago. That is the job which we must do," he said.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar said “in this realm of positive reflection” citizens must also remember “we are a young nation state and there are still growing pains to be endured”.
She said her coalition People’s Partnership government , which came to office in 2010, “has been actively involved in developing our country on the basis of consensus and consultation.
“We are cognisant of the importance of engaging with all of the citizenry when making decisions that affect us; we are committed to letting the will of the people be the driving force of government.
“This assurance should give us all a measure of comfort, that our democracy is stable and strong; that right will always rise above wrong, that there is in place, a leadership that will hold justice, the constitution, and the law dear and sacred.”
But Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in his message said that the 36th anniversary of Republic Day, finds the country going through a "demoralising and testing period.
“To add to the imposition, our leaders, rather than humble themselves and magnanimously honour their sacred oath to promote and defend the public interest, hasten uncaringly to exercise the preference of championing the evils of misbehaviour in and out of public office to a degree which defies wisdom, decorum, decency and understanding," he said.
Rowley said it was incumbent upon citizens to take stock of the developments which were "engulfing and embattling us".
"As a matter of urgent priority, such soul-searching becomes imperative when those in whose care we put our trust and those of our children make light of celebrating and rewarding graft and corruption," he said, adding that the nation owes a deep debt of gratitude to those vigilant professionals who work in the mass media.
"These are the men and women who legitimise the doctrine that 'the price of freedom is eternal vigilance'. The role of the mass media in protecting us citizens from the excesses and indiscretions of unworthy leaders cannot be undervalued. In these contemporary times, the role and responsibility of the mass media must never be over emphasised.
"We express deep appreciation to our journalists for their stick-to-itiveness and dedication to duty," he said.
The political leader of the Congress of the People (COP), Prakash Ramadhar, said the time has come to revisit the country’s constitution so that future generations will be able to successfully confront the challenges ahead.
"As a growing democracy 36 years later, there is need to revisit the Constitution, with the expressed intent of deepening our democratic systems as we aim to move rapidly towards developed-nation governance," he said.
He said while this country has accomplished much in the 50 years of being an independent nation, there was still a lot more to be done and our constitution actually provides us with the ability to chart our own destiny.
"An immediate revision of our Constitution facilitating a higher level of participatory governance, among other objectives, is very timely. Government of the people, by the people, for the people must be practised at the widest possible level," he said.
"Our political leadership is well advised to move away from raw electoral politics in favour of a system of progressive democracy, where values such as trust, honesty, accountability, transparency, mutual respect honour, and dignity are the norms."
The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), which left the coalition government earlier this year, has also backed called for a review of the constitution, noting “indeed, what we have seen in the last two weeks is a level of disrespect to the people of this country that should never be allowed to be repeated.
“We refer to comments such as “time to move on”, “it’s a 10en day wonder” and “one hundred thousand people could march and that wouldn’t change our position” – all of which were made by sitting members of the Cabinet in response to the outcry over the infamous Section 34.
“Governments, elected by the people, need to remember that they are at all times accountable to the people. They are in positions of responsibility because citizens placed them there and therefore they are not governing in isolation, but are really trustees who manage the nation’s affairs for and on behalf of the citizenry.”
The MSJ said “the level of arrogance that we are witnessing today, is what, back in 2009, generated the push for The People's Democracy.
“We reiterate that now is the time for the people to call for more accountability from those in Government. For the MSJ, there is strong evidence that the crisis of governance and the level of injustice in the system are sending the country into a downward spiral of social disintegration. In this regard, our collective silence will have disastrous consequences for our Republic.”
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