Duke knocks Chief Sec: Democracy is about transparency

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Progressive Democratic Patriots political leader Watson Duke – Angelo Marcelle

The political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) and Assemblyman for Roxborough/ Argyle Watson Duke maintains that the constituents within his electoral district are deliberately being punished by the THA executive council.

During a plenary sitting last Thursday at the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough Duke called on the chief secretary to provide the list of jobs that are currently taking place within the district, the number of positions for each project, and the number of persons within the district that are working on those projects. Augustine only responded to one of the questions, adding that “unfortunately, that information is not yet forthcoming from those two contractors.” In seeking clarity on one of the projects, Duke was advised that he can get additional information on the project from his relative, who is the contractor.

Speaking with Newsday on Monday, Duke said diversions were designed in an effort not to answer the questions.

“The chief secretary skirt about the issue, hurled insults and created distractions, smoke and mirrors in an attempt not to answer the questions. Buying time, soaking up time and forcing the presiding officer to say time is up.

He added: “That happens against the background that hey I asked the presiding officer for time to ask my three questions and she said go ahead, she is going to allow me to and then I was placed last to answer the questions after the minority leader, followed by the minority councillor – I was placed last. Obviously, if there was not sufficient time, my questions should have remained for another time. It is what goes on in the House when serious questions are asked, people use distractions to create laughter and persons to look in the other direction.”

He said this is not what democracy should be about.

“Our democracy should be about providing transparency; it should be about providing information and allow for persons to make conscious decisions based on the available information. The chief secretary did not do that but created a rather mysterious laughable scene.”

While only the first question was tackled, the other two questions, he said were also pertinent.

“I would leave them for next four months. Every four months, the chief secretary has chief secretary questions but to me, it’s worrisome because a chief secretary question should be every day and yet the chief secretary came there unprepared saying he doesn’t have all the information. How could that be, he had a whole month to prepare and he’s coming to us and tell us based on the first question I asked, he didn’t have all the information, ask some relative.”

Tobago, he said has to pay careful attention to what is happening within the House among these “so-called independents.”

“They are not independents, we have to be careful that the majority of so-called independents do not wreak tyranny upon the people of Tobago – meaning disregard for their opinions, their feelings and our culture and way of life. They may want to impose upon us anything and they have already begun to do that incrementally.”

He added: “They are already placing upon themselves a type of power that doesn’t exist but certainly allows them to wreak mischief by hiring which contractor they want to hire, pay whatever they want pay, deny the payment of some but to do the things that Tobago wants the THA to do, given it would have the autonomy, they are not doing that. Things as ensuring the airfare for Tobagonians remain $300 – why … because Tobagonians are not empowered by a robust workforce as Trinidadians.”

He said at this time, the residents of Roxborough feel abandoned by the THA, hence his asking the questions.

“Nothing moves in Roxborough, definitely it’s an attack against the PDP directly because the PDP was born in Roxborough, and the main support is in Roxborough. So it’s an attack to weaken the PDP and kill them off.”

He added: “They’re actually a number of guys outside of the district that are working inside the district. I would say to you – the jobs that are being created in the district have gone to more persons outside of the district than inside the district. There are jobs taking place where little or nobody is working on it and they are calling big numbers because some of these persons may have just worked a day work and they’re saying that they’re working in the district. It’s all facetious, is all a façade, it’s a statement made to make them look good and to pacify the situation. In the eyes of Roxborough, they are angry, they are upset, they feel cheated, they feel robbed, and they are calling for fresh elections.”