The bills on internal self-government for Tobago, says former THA chief secretary Hochoy Charles, leader of the One Tobago Voice party, would definitely deny Tobago the right to self-determination and the equality of status promised by Parliament in 1977, a promise repeated in 1996 and 2013 and again in these bills in 2021.
In a letter to the joint select committee on the bills, Charles said they do not recognise the right of the people of Tobago to “freely determine their political status and to pursue their economic social and cultural development.”
He recalled when TT sought its self-government from the United Kingdom, discussions were held in London in November 1959 and in Trinidad in June 1960 between the UK Government and the TT Government and Opposition.
“The report of those constitutional discussions contains basically the agreement of Trinidad – Government and Opposition on what Trinidad wanted to take responsibility for as internal self-government."
He said the UK Government made no changes, and also that it held no consultations with the people of TT.
“The British colonial powers did not treat Trinidad that way. They respected your judgment and your decision and provided the appropriate legislation. Why is Tobago treated so differently by Trinidad?”
He said on June 7, 1957 Dr Eric Williams had said Tobago had exchanged the neglect of UK imperialism for the neglect of Trinidad imperialism.
“Tobago is still paying that price and it is time to put this matter to rest.”
One Tobago Voice, he said, is confident that democratic self-government to Tobago can be arrived at satisfactorily and expeditiously.
“Tobago has clearly said what it wants as democratic self-government within the sovereign democratic state of TT, and since both parties in the Parliament are on record indicating that this is of critical importance for harmonious relationship between the islands of Tobago and Trinidad in the sovereign democratic state of TT...”
As a result, he said, appropriate legislation should now be drafted and discussed with Tobago. Assistance, he said could be sought if needed from the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the law schools of the Caribbean. One Tobago Voice is also, and has always been, available to assist, he said.