THE EDITOR: The ill-advised, overtly hurried and premature introduction, by the PNM, in Parliament of the two completely new bills on the long festering granting of autonomy/self-governance to Tobago without conducting the requisite interactive consultations with the Tobago constituency of principal stakeholders is a deliberate, deceptive, nefarious, dishonest and calculated politically conceptualised strategy.
It is premised on and driven by the expected and orchestrated failure of the bills to obtain the requisite three-quarters/two-thirds majority without the support of at least nine UNC MPs because of its 11th-hour submission and without consulting Tobago.
These are two new bills that depart fundamentally and radically from the 2018 draft referred to the JSC for two years. That is the view of the activists.
This deceptive political strategy will now facilitate the Rowley administration to achieve five political objectives, namely:
1. Blame the UNC for non-passage.
2. Defer and shelve the eagerly awaited Tobago autonomy question for some time, which has been PNM's policy position and zone of comfort.
3 Operationalise and proclaim the sidelined THA Amendment Act to break the PNM-PDP six-six deadlock by conducting a THA election.
4. Regain political control of the THA by winning the majority of the proposed 15-seat electorate by pouring money to buy over Tobagonians and benefitting from the proposed division and allocation of the 15 electoral districts.
5. Intensify the underlying negative/antagonistic image of the UNC held in Tobago by demonstrating a trumped up anti-Tobagonian policy, annihilate and/or marginalise the PDP electorally and call the shots in Scarborough from Whitehall.
The Government is making up the bills by vaps by introducing serious amendments that have not seen the light of day in Tobago. For example, it now proposes to extend TIG's administrative maritime responsibility to 11 miles but measured from the low watermark - not the archipelagic baselines that violates TT's archipelagic status.
This 11th-hour proposal to now recognise Tobago's entitlement to exercise some jurisdiction over its adjoining maritime areas serves as a cheap palliative designed to appease rising discontent in, inter alia, Parlatuvier and Charlotteville.
That alone will have consequential effects in the bills that cannot be passed without taking on board indispensable feedback from legitimate interests in Tobago.
These bills are new and constitute fundamental departures from the original 2018 draft passed by the THA. They invalidate all previously held consultations from 2011 in Tobago and Trinidad.
Self-governance must be economically self- sustaining and less dependent on the Treasury of Trinidad. Tobago has all the means to fuel and develop its proposed self-government model including the driving human capital, sun, sea - and sand - the fishing industry, oil/gas deposits, tourism and eco-tourism, agrarian and tertiary education potential, an articulate people with pride in themselves and em