‘Race at its worst’

PNM swept the election winning all 12 seats on Monday, with TOP, a member of the coalition Government, losing the four seats it previously held, including that of former Minority Leader Ashworth Jack.

Speaking to reporters following a free medical clinic at his Chaguanas West constituency office yesterday, Warner said the THA election results reflected “how palpable the emotion of fear among the African population” could be since there was “very little” to show from a party they had traditionally supported.

“All the PNM had to do was to resort to their tactics of instilling fear among the population that some group or some race will come to take over the little they had and the Tobagonians’ tribal instincts did the rest,” Warner said.

The PNM, he said, did not account to Tobago on how the money of the THA was spent or what was done for the island.

“What they had to do was to give them the impression that this ship from Calcutta was coming to take away what they had and that was all,” Warner said, referring to remarks made by PNM’s Hilton Sandy during the campaign trail. Sandy, who was reelected, apologised twice for his statement.

“The question you have to ask yourself, will Tobagonians be better off with the proven failure of the PNM? You have to ask yourself therefore if it is not the same reason why Laventille is where it is today.”

Asked if the People’s Partnership Administration would conduct a post mortem of the THA election to see what went wrong, Warner said, “the Partnership will do a post mortem I’m sure, but more importantly also the UNC will do a post mortem because the UNC has to do a post mortem in terms of how the UNC and its supporters are being viewed by certain sections of the society and that is the post mortem we have to do.”

Warner said Government and the majority party have to “work assiduously” to move forward and improve on how the party was viewed by the population.

He lamented that Tobago had succumbed to the PNM tactic of fear and race even as the United States inaugurated its first black president for a second term.

‘Who would have thought that the US today, ever in our lifetime, would have inaugurated for a second term a man by the name of Barack Hussain Obama, a black man and while that is happening in the US, we here, in Tobago particularly, are allowing ourselves to be engulfed in tribalism,” he said.

“It was rank and, of course, blatant tribalism. It was race at its worse,” Warner repeated, and once pointed out that, “no prime minister and no government has done more for the Tobago in two and a half years than this Government has done.”

However, he said there was no bitterness and acrimony on the Government’s part, only disappointment.

“I congratulate all those who won and I wish Trinidad and Tobago was better off at the end of the day for this victory, I do not believe it is,” he said.

Asked to comment on opinions that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar should not have taken an active role in the election, Warner responded, “She is the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, if Rowley can take an active role in Tobago why shouldn’t the Prime Minister take an active role?”

Asked whether the results could be an indictment of Government’s performance in Trinidad, he said that was “without merit”.

As for the future of the Constitution (Amendment) (Tobago) Bill, which Government tabled in Parliament, days before the THA election, Warner said, “The PNM has rejected it and by the vote that took place, they (Tobagonians) too have rejected it. What the steps would be, I’m not of course able to say because that is not my role.”


"‘Race at its worst’"

More in this section