Persad-Bissessar made the charge to thousands of supporters at the partnership’s second anniversary rally and launch of the Tobago Organisation of the People’s THA election campaign 2013 at Market Square in Scarborough on Saturday night. Persad-Bissessar was again serenaded by calypsonian Sugar Aloes on stage, who sang Tarrus Riley’s She’s Royal.
Aloes, whose real name is Michael Osuna, said before his performance that the song was dedicated to all the beautiful women of the world. The calypsonian, who is a noted PNM supporter and UNC critic, made a shock appearance on the PP platform at their first celebrations on May 24 in Chaguanas.
Persad-Bissessar said London was behaving like “a cry-cry baby” in recent months. “Every day you open the newspaper, he is crying about something else,” she said. “He is crying about two papers (bills) he sent to me, he is crying (because) he wants to meet me.”
The PM then explained why she had to give the THA bills for the consideration and recommendation of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. She noted that Ramlogan was the legal adviser to the Government. “So I send the two bills to the Attorney General to consider and advise.”
Persad-Bissessar said the bills were passed in the assembly, which was unconstitutional. She said it only Parliament can change laws relating to the Constitution and not the THA. “So they are in breach of the THA Act, they’re in violation of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, and then want to bully the Prime Minister and bully the Cabinet to take it and pass it wholesale,” she added.
“I will not break the law of Trinidad and Tobago.” She said the AG had advised “that a new THA law cannot come before or at the same time as you are seeking to amend the Constitution. You have to amend the Constitution first and it is only when we change that then you could put in the other arrangements.”
She said the PNM was never interested in ensuring Tobagonians got internal self-government. She also noted that the THA bills, which were approved by the PNM-controlled assembly, did not even have the words “internal self-government” written in them. She said the THA bills were “inadequate and, in any event, it puts the horse before the cart…The THA bills must be influenced and informed by the Constitution reform and not the other way around.”
The PM said it was for that reason the PP Government put out a draft constitutional bill in its Green Paper to look at it. “Mr London has been trying to bully us, demanding that his two bills represent the will of the people of Tobago,” she said. “He says this is what Tobagonians want and the Government must just carry it to Parliament and pass it carte blanche. But his argument is totally false.”
She said she was advised that the people of Tobago “were never given an opportunity to examine, pronounce, comment or make recommendations on the two bills that I received from Mr London.” Persad-Bissessar said the reports from three separate teams, led by Tobagonians Reginald Dumas, John Prince and Christo Gift on the issue of constitutional reform “show clearly that the people of Tobago want internal self- government within the sovereign democratic Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.”
She said the PP Government is committed to ensuring Tobago gets internal self-government. She added that Tobago will get its fair share after there was constitutional reform in T&T.
The theme of Saturday’s rally was “Putting Tobago first.” She said Ramlogan wrote to London on two occasions last year seeking his collaboration on the matter but the THA chief declined. She said instead London publicly “demanded that the central government carry out his legislative agenda, taking the two bills unaltered and pass them carte blanche in the Parliament.”
Persad-Bissessar later said she wanted to assure London “that the work and contributions which came out of the process (constitutional reform) would receive the fullest and most detailed consideration of the Law Reform Commission as the process evolve from the Green Paper stage to the White Paper stage which then goes to make the law of the land.”
The PM said former prime minister Patrick Manning and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley never really wanted internal self-government for Tobago. She said the PP Government “will make sure that we do not prevent Tobago from getting internal self-government…we will not give up on this commitment to you.”