BYisrael sworn in as THA deputy chief secretary

New THA Deputy Chief Secretary Faith BYisrael, left, is sworn into the post by acting President Christine Kangaloo at a ceremony at President's House, St Ann's Port of  Spain, on Monday. - ROGER JACOB
New THA Deputy Chief Secretary Faith BYisrael, left, is sworn into the post by acting President Christine Kangaloo at a ceremony at President's House, St Ann's Port of Spain, on Monday. - ROGER JACOB


LESS than a week after assemblyman Watson Duke resigned as deputy chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, Dr Faith BYisrael was elected during a special sitting of the assembly in Tobago and then sworn in at the President’s House on Monday.

BYisrael took the oath of office before acting President Christine Kangaloo, as President Paula-Mae Weekes is in London to attend Queen Elizabeth II's funeral .

BYisrael, who is also in charge of the Division of Health, Wellness and Social Protection, told the media she is up for the task, but doesn’t expect the job to be an easy one.

“The division I lead is a really heavy division, but I think with the team we are building, we are going to ensure we provide the best governance to Tobago. It will be difficult; it would be hard work. By no means this is going to be easy.

"I think the Chief Secretary, in his wisdom, and the entire team, having elected me in the position, are technically aware of my capacity and my other capabilities. And therefore they have confidence that I would be able to fulfil all of the mandates, and I think I will.”

BYisrael said Tobago is on a path of major development the island has not experienced in years.

“I’m excited to be a part of this. It will not be Dr Faith doing it, it would be the entire team. Therefore I say it would be the entire island pulling together to get to where we need to get.”

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said BYisrael will be required to lead Tobago's autonomy journey, as the bill is on the schedule for this parliamentary session.

He added that talks are ongoing to set up a THA presence in Trinidad at 22-24 Pembroke Street, Port of Spain. This embassy-like THA office will fall under the office of the deputy chief secretary.

Plans to set up a “THA embassy” in Trinidad were first announced days before the THA December 6, 2021 elections by the political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots, Watson Duke, now the former deputy chief secretary.

Augustine said, “I would not use the term 'embassy,' but having a Tobago house in Port of Spain will serve several purposes. It will allow for Tobago's very large diaspora that lives in Trinidad to have access to their government. Secondly, the office will be responsible for marketing, courting investments, and also will assist with intergovernmental relations necessary. It will assist with the thrust (to) greater autonomy.”

Earlier Monday, in a THA sitting held at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex, the deputy chief secretary post was declared vacant by presiding officer Abby Taylor, who highlighted that Duke resigned on September 15 via an official letter to Chief Secretary Farley Augustine. The letter, she said was forwarded to her along with the President.

BYisrael was nominated by Augustine, which was seconded by the electoral representative for Mt St George/ Goodwood Megan Morrison. When the opportunity came for another nominee, Duke was nominated by Minirity Leader and electoral representative for Darrel Spring/Whim Kelvon Morris and seconded by Councillor Petal Daniel-Benoit. However, Augustine on a point of order rose, informing the House that only elected members could nominate or second nominations.

Prior to the election, Duke who entered the sitting with Morris was led to sit on the minority side, however he called on the protocol officer to intervene, who led him to his regular seating between Augustine and BYisrael. During the election process, Duke kept making comments.

Duke’s resignation came more than one week after he accused the Farley Augustine-led THA of turning its backs on some 27 members of the Roxborough Folk Performers who had gone to perform at several cultural events in Tobago, last month.

The PDP leader, in a video posted on his Facebook page, chastised the THA for not providing the group with funding, outside of airfare, to cover their additional expenses.

As a result, he claimed they were stranded, stressed and hungry.

In response, Augustine said, contrary to Duke’s claims, the THA provided part-sponsorship to the group to the tune of the $400,417.50. Saying the THA could not provide additional funding owing to its constraints. Augustine claimed Duke was aware of the situation.

Augustine subsequently said he was reviewing Duke’s performance as deputy chief secretary as he had not been fulfilling his responsibilities.

Duke responded by firing Augustine, BYisrael and Alicia Roberts-Patterson as deputy political leaders of the PDP

Augustine later dared Duke to bring a motion of no confidence against him in the THA. Duke, instead resigned from the THA's Executive Council.


"BYisrael sworn in as THA deputy chief secretary"

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