Dr Faith BYisrael: 'It was gut-wrenching' to leave PDP

TPP member Dr Faith BYisrael. FILE PHOTO -
TPP member Dr Faith BYisrael. FILE PHOTO -

TOBAGO People’s Party (TPP) member Dr Faith BYisrael says severing ties with the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) was a “gut-wrenching experience.”

Breaking her silence on the issue in an interview with Newsday on April 5, BYisrael reflected on the public feud between former PDP leader Watson Duke and Chief Secretary Farley Augustine in August 2022, which led to the resignations of the members of the PDP-led THA executive and the formation of the TPP.

The TPP was launched formally in Scarborough on August 13, 2023, with Augustine as its interim political leader. Its colour is blue and symbol is an anchor.

BYisrael, who is also the Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection, said at that time she was especially concerned about how the falling-out and their decision to leave the PDP would affect their supporters, who had given them an overwhelming 14-1 mandate in the December 2021 THA election.

“It was a huge concern. It was a gut-wrenching experience. I am actually still surprised, happy that we came out of it and we are now stronger because of it,” she said from her office at the division’s headquarters, Glen Road, Scarborough.

“The PDP was an organisation that we all built from the ground up to get to where we were and I actually told someone that it felt as though you were being kicked out of your family. It was a very difficult period.”

Saying she was deeply affected, BYisrael said she felt rejuvenated during the launch of the TPP.

“I think the very first time that I started feeling alive politically again was when we had the TPP launch, when I got there the day and I actually saw the stage and I saw the people in the blue. I actually felt, ‘Ok, I can do this again.'”

But she said the period between their departure from the PDP and the launch of the TPP was very distressing for many of the party’s supporters.

“There were rank-and-file people in the bank who started to cry because it was the first time that they had seen an option other than the PNM. It was the first time in a long time that there was this thing that they could have followed and to see that we have fought since 2017 to finally get here and now that we are here, this is what happened.”

BYisrael added, “It was strange to actually see big men and women meeting you and you could see the tears in their eyes. That we had to figure out how to contend with and how to be strong for them as well.”

The Belle Garden/Glamorgan assemblyman praised Augustine for his leadership during the harrowing ordeal.

“I have to give credit to the chief (Augustine) at that time because, in the middle of everything, he insisted that in the night when you go home, when you are by yourself, you could cry, break down, do what you have to do. But tomorrow morning, put on your clothes and go and do the people and them wuk and do what you have to do, because we have a health care system to manage, we have an educational system to manage and we cannot allow this madness of the politics to affect how we deliver to the people who got us to this point.”

Tobago People’s Party launch in Tobago. - Tobago People's Party Facebook

BYisael said Augustine “showed a level of leadership that I will forever respect him for at that time, to allow us to continue and to not just fall apart when it happened.”

She believes the TPP has “successfully transferred” its support from the PDP.

“From the very first meeting that we had in April 2023 at that room in Shaw Park…I mean, when we got there and we realised it was like standing room only, we were like, ‘Ok, this is good.’ Because we had picked one of the smaller rooms just to make sure.

“Even if it was ten people that showed up, we would have been happy with the ten. But then we realised there were busloads of people coming. So I think we have been able to transfer that support.”

BYisrael claimed “quite a number of upper-middle-class, professional people” have also praised them for cutting ties with the Duke-led PDP.

“So I think the base has now grown because of that as well. We are confident that we have not lost significantly because of that break and in the end, we may have come out better because of it.”

The TPP hosts its maiden internal elections on June 9.


"Dr Faith BYisrael: ‘It was gut-wrenching’ to leave PDP"

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