Trinidad and Tobago celebrates 37th anniversary of being a republic
Trinidad and Tobago is observing the 37th anniversary of being a republic on Tuesday with political leaders saying the head of state saying the mistakes over the past three decades were part of the process of maturity.
“Even a fleeting comparison of our nation with other nations that have histories as short as ours, ought to serve as an encouraging reminder to us of how relatively well we have done as a nation, holding our own, creating and maintaining a vibrant and peaceful democracy where many larger and older nations have failed to so do,” President Anthony Carmona said in a radio and television broadcast to mark the occasion, a national holiday here.
But Carmona, who was elected to office in March this year, said there was also a need for rededication in many areas.
“We need to rededicate ourselves to striving for excellence in self-governance. It is imperative that we also rededicate ourselves to our national watchwords of ‘Discipline, Production and Tolerance’, given to us over half a century ago,” he said.
He said by infusing new life into these watchwords, Trinidad and Tobago can regain its sense of humanity.
“A return to tolerance will make us a more understanding people. A return to discipline will help us to appreciate the need to engage standards. A return to production will result in a greater sense of fulfilment of the dreams and aspirations of all members of our society. Indeed, these are the keys to our upliftment as a nation,” Carmona said.
In her message Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar said Trinidad and Tobago must accept that 37 years after it became a republic, the world has changed significantly and “it cannot be business as usual”.
She said when her coalition People’s Partnership government came to power in May 2010, it promised constitutional reform as part of the seven pillars of development.
“… we have started that change process, acknowledging that meaningful change comes only when we are prepared to dispense with old memories and some past traditions and embrace the present.
“We have ventured in radical change in our constitutional arrangements by passing legislation to elect Aldermen to regional corporations through a system of proportional representation that is accepted globally as a fairer and more democratic system in which every vote counts.”
She promised that in the “coming months we will unveil more changes, keeping our pledge for term limits for prime ministers and recall of members of your legislature.
“You would also have an opportunity to peruse a new draft constitution and engage in a national conversation on whether it is right for us.”
Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in his message said that even as the country approaches another “election season” it was important for the population to remember that “supreme powers rest in the electorate (and), those who you elect to represent you are ultimately responsible to you.