Retired head of the public service Reginald Dumas says the institutions in TT are collapsing.
Speaking at a panel discussion on Wednesday, titled Resort Development in Tobago: Power, Politics, People, at the Tobago Hospitality & Tourism Institute Campus, Blenheim, Mt St George, Dumas declared: "The institutions in TT are collapsing. Whether you are talking about the Parliament, whether you are talking about the Judiciary, whether you are talking about the public service, whether you are talking about the Police Service, they are rapidly declining."
Dumas said citizens must be blamed for the situation.
"To that extent, that is our fault...We have allowed ourselves to be divided politically, given jobs in return for political support."
Reflecting on the word "power" in the title of the panel discussion, Dumas argued it may be very difficult to change the situation.
"If it is one thing that people love in this world, it is power. Notice, our people don't say they get into office. They say they get into power.
"And people who you know are perfectly nice people, once they are elected...They don't even have to be elected. They just have to get into government and they start to behave in the most extraordinary way."
Dumas said many of them start talking down to people.
"They start not answering their telephones. They change their telephone number. They even contradict one another in public."
Dumas raised the issue of the lack of independence of institutions against the backdrop of calls, during the forum, for all stakeholders to play a role in reviving Tobago's once-thriving tourist sector through one possible option – resort development.
He wondered if such an initiative could be pursued, given the political partisanship that exists in all sectors.
"So, the question is that, if the institutions are to be strengthened, and if it is the people of TT that are to strengthen these institutions, how is this to be done, in the face of the clear power that is exercised by certain people sitting in a Cabinet?"
He added: "I am not speaking of this particular government but all governments. How is this to be done? What are the suggestions?
"Because if the people are to organise and mobilise themselves in any way, bear in mind that the politicians are going to push back very hard, because they will see any difference (from) their views as an assault on their power, and they are not going to give up without a fight."