In celebrating the 44th anniversary of becoming a Republic nation, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said his government has maintained what is seen as its accompanying values of integrity, morality, equality and the State, as a benevolent, “caring Mother”.
“When this country became a Republic in 1976 it was a proud, elevating moment in the lives of all citizens. The meeting of the first Parliament, under the new Republican constitution, meant for us that this country was de-linking much of its colonial past and establishing its sovereignty in the international community,” said Dr. Rowley.
He said to this day, the Constitution does not ring hollow as it demands that the government of Trinidad and Tobago conduct the affairs of state on the principles and the practice of Parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.
“In the international community, we have conducted ourselves, as a partner, respectful to all, inferior to none, holding firmly to the principles of the United Nations, including the non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. In the main, our citizens have all shown that they are particularly vigilant and duty-bound in protecting our democracy.”
He said as a society, we have shown that we recognise the values of both competition and cooperation.
“However, in recent times, there are increased outpourings of competition, with the obvious objectives of advancing individual and group interests, rather than promoting the national good.”
But, he said, it is proven historically that while such rivalry may advance sectional interests, ultimately, they may not serve the collective good.
He said this may be one indicator that our democracy is not in danger, but at this time Trinidad and Tobago is facing many challenges.
“At the start of this year, we faced another collapse in the international energy market. The Covid-19 pandemic later created a second shock. These dual shocks may cause our horizon to appear blurred, but not gloomy.”
He said in spite of the hype and the headlines given to economic “doomsters”, Trinidad and Tobago, one of the world’s oldest oil producers, continues to push its productive boundaries.
“In addition, we are taking note of the Road to Recovery Team’s recommendations on economic alternatives which we intend to pursue.”
The Government will continue to lead this charge presenting a robust legislative agenda to Parliament.
“The nation’s founding father, Dr Eric Williams once warned that indiscipline, whether individual or sectional, is a threat to democracy because it jeopardises the national income, inflates costs, and sets a poor example. We are a multi-racial people, brought here by European powers, who thought little of our humanity.”
He said our own, V.S. Naipaul also wrote about East Indians coming out of a culture of “defeat and stagnation”, “intellectual deficiencies” and an “archaic civilisation”.
“Today, all races, First Peoples, immigrants from China, Syria, Lebanon, and our sister islands have created, with all its imperfections, a great nation, which we all can call ours.”
Some citizens may hold feelings that the Republic is at a crossroad, but it has survived previous difficulties, he said.
“Let us all celebrate what we have borrowed, adapted and now share with each other — our dress, food, music, worship, our language, etc – and that unquestionably, unique personality we identify as Trini and Gonian. Patriotic and proud!”
“Great is our Republic, and may God continue to Bless this land and all who claim it as their inheritance and their home.”