BYisrael heartbroken by PDP rift, eyes new party

Newly elected THA Deputy Chief Secretary Dr Faith BYisrael, left, and her predecessor Watson Duke at a special sitting of the assembly, Shaw Park Cultural Complex, Monday. - David Reid
Newly elected THA Deputy Chief Secretary Dr Faith BYisrael, left, and her predecessor Watson Duke at a special sitting of the assembly, Shaw Park Cultural Complex, Monday. - David Reid

A new political party may be on the horizon in Tobago.

This comes following the dismissal of Farley Augustine, Faith BYisrael and Alicia Roberts-Patterson as deputy political leaders of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP).

Speaking on the Tobago Updates morning show on Wednesday, BYisrael said the options are being weighed.

“We in the Tobago House of Assembly, we now need to decide what we do politically next. Forming another political party is an option. We are exploring all options at this time. By all options – I mean all options.”

She said someone sent her a suggested name of a political party two days ago and it brought tears to her eyes.

“All I know is PDP – that is what I know. So it is hard to even start thinking now about forming another party and so forth but we recognise that this is where we are and like any other adult, you have to treat with the situation that is in front of you and if that is what we have to do, that is what we will do if necessary.”

On Monday, BYisrael, who holds the portfolio of Secretary for Health, Wellness and Social Protection, was sworn in as the new Deputy Chief Secretary at President’s House, St Ann’s, replacing Watson Duke, who resigned from the position.

Her election came after a public feud between Duke and Augustine over what the former claimed was the latter’s failure to respond adequately to the plight of members of the Roxborough Folk Performers who had gone to perform at several events in New York.

Duke claimed the assembly did not provide enough funding to the group to cover expenses other than airfare. As a result, he charged, the members were stranded, stressed and hungry.

Augustine denied the claims, saying the THA provided part-sponsorship for the group of $400,417.50 for airfare and other expenses.

The Chief Secretary later said he was reviewing Duke’s role as Deputy Chief Secretary, as he was not carrying out several of his responsibilities.

Thereafter, the chief secretary went silent. But BYisrael is of the view that his silence spoke of strength.

“It shows that we’re not willing to get into this public banter, because it should have never been a public banter. The chief secretary very clearly outlined the process that we use as the executive council to provide the support to the group that went to New York. The political leader/ former deputy chief secretary, he was very aware of what that process was and there was no reason for that to become a public thing.”

She said she was uncertain of the rationale behind Duke’s video as the situation was under control.

“The fact remains though that the executive council made several decisions to help the group, we had honoured those decisions. Even though the chief secretary had agreed on going a certain distance to help the group, hearing the plight the chief secretary and other members of the executive council had already started doing the additional work to get them the additional support.

"So by the time the video was actually released, a lot of this had already been resolved or was on its way to be resolved. So there was really no need to do this grandstanding because the resolution was already happening, some of it had already happened by that point”

She said the issue has left her distraught.

“I am heartbroken – I actually spent quite a lot of time building this organisation as a family to us. So to see the last two weeks play out has been absolutely heartbreaking. I went to bed every night to tears because this is your family that you know, that you built. This is our family that we built, and it is very difficult to see what may seem to be a rift.”

“Families having their thing and it's happening at home, it is one thing, but to see it plastered all over social media and the public space, that is very difficult.”


"BYisrael heartbroken by PDP rift, eyes new party"

More in this section