Farley happy with President’s support for Tobago autonomy

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

President Christine Kangaloo signs the visitors’ book at the Tobago House of Assembly as presiding officer Abby Taylor looks on Wednesday. – Photo courtesy THA

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has commended President Christine Kangaloo for her support for Tobago’s internal self-government.

Augustine spoke with members of the media after a special session of the assembly on Wednesday.

“I was elated to hear her deposit such strong support for greater autonomy for Tobago. I was surprised at how much of her homework that she did.”Her being the highest office-holder on the land, in the country, being too so clearly articulate that TT needs to treat with this, I think is not just a good sign, but it is also indicative of the fact that many people who are not Tobagonians are coming around, appreciating what needs to be done.”

He said internal self-government for Tobago was not about putting Tobago against Trinidad, but rather about empowering Tobagonians to have command over their own space.

“I am just really happy that she did not just do her homework, but she was willing to publicly advocate on Tobago’s behalf.”

Hoping the issue would be put on the front burner, he said the challenge with the existing legislation was that there were some changes the people of Tobago would like to see.

“Once we can get what’s there amended, edited to the point where it reflects the wishes of the people of Tobago, certainly I think that as a THA, the responsible thing to do would be to move the advocacy from just the government or the majority side of the Parliament, but also to the minority side.”

“I’ve always argued that the matter with Tobago’s autonomy has been badly treated by both sides in the Parliament in Trinidad.”

Questioned about the support of the entire Parliament, he said: “I am willing to try – the island’s government is willing to try – to convince all 41 elected members and all members of the Senate, including the independent senators, that greater autonomy for Tobago is the way to go to perfect the relationship that is Trinidad and Tobago.”