THE Tobago House of Assembly stands threatened by the proposed constitutional changes laid in Parliament last Monday by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, THA Chief Secretary, Orville London said yesterday.
Debate began on the bill yesterday in the House of Representatives.
In a statement yesterday, London said while the Assembly is protected in the constitution and cannot be disbanded without a two-thirds majority, the clauses in the THA Act which give the THA “teeth and credibility” can be changed with a simple majority.
Persad-Bissessar is being criticised by a cross-section of political and civic voices over the proposed changes, which could make history in local politics by introducing the right of recall for MPs and more contentiously, a run-off system at elections that she said will ensure proportional representation.
The possibility of sweeping changes with a simple majority has troubled London, who said: “We in Tobago have got to ask ourselves what happens to us if this Government or any future Government just gets up one day and says this thing called the THA, we don’t think it should exist anymore, we don’t think it should exist in that state, let’s change it and that would be end of the THA as we know it.”
London said it is in this context that Tobagonians need to “think back” to a week before the January 2013 THA election, “when there was a big charade about a THA Act being carried before the Parliament”.
Now, almost two years after the election, there has not been a single a “single peep” from the Prime Minister, London said.
He claimed, however, that the authority of the THA is being systematically eroded by the Ministry of Tobago Development and other ministries in central government, mostly with the “collusion or the instruction of the Prime Minister”.
“Tobagonians have got to send the signal very loud and clear that they will not be prepared to accept a situation where the rights and even the gains of the past are eroded and that they are thwarted in their efforts to get what Tobago has deserved for so many decades,” London said.
On Wednesday 6th August, 2014, London told media at the weekly post Executive Council media briefing that the constitutional amendments proposed by Persad-Bissessar is a signal that she and her team are not averse to forcing their views down the throats of the people of Trinidad and Tobago it suits the People’s Partnership’s political purposes.
London said then he was concerned that what is being placed before the House for debate did not come from the people under circumstances where the whole issue was put before the population.
He said it is “obvious” the proposed changes were meant to further the interests of the Prime Minister and her team.
London is urging Tobagonians to understand the significance of the current review of the THA.