The Great THA Pappy Show Debate!

Ashworth Cheat SheetThis morning at Macueripe a group of above middle-aged swimmers were discussing last night’s THA Debate and assessing the speakers. One man said he found Hochoy the best speaker, but overall the debate was boring and he switched to the cricket. His wife announced that she found Orville London…she couldn’t remember his name at first….spoke English so well. Because I was in mid-stroke and not close enough to organically enter the conversation I didn’t get the opportunity to ask the question, “Speak English so well as opposed to what language?”

This lady is an example of the general attitude Trinidadians have towards Tobagonians…condescending, arrogant, rude…as if Tobagonians are stupid, uncivilised barbaric people with little to no education or indeed common sense.

It is this condescension and arrogance and general rudeness to Tobagonians I see in the TOP/UNC Campaign. Indeed the entire UNC?TOP media campaign seems to be run for the benefit of Trinidadians and not Tobagonians.

Take a glance at their Facebook Page and realise that more Trinidadians than Tobagonians engage in the conversations.

Listen to their radio ads and realise that many of the ads are playing on Trinidad radio stations whose signal never reach Tobago. WACK radio? 93.1/93.5? WACK Radio is based in San Fernando. Hott 93′s audience listens to pop/rock, which is a decidedly Indo-dominant audience and listenership. The Calcutta Ship ads features the voice of Hansley Ajodha pretending to represent the interests of Tobagonians….and the list goes on.

But it was last night’s debate that struck as particularly insulting and dismissive of Tobagonians….and I really wondered what the people at the Chamber of Commerce and the UWI were thinking when they organised the debate and drafted the questions.

The Debate had a closed off and select audience. All Tobagonians couldnt attend. Remember this is THA elections…it affects Tobagonians more than it could ever affect Trinidadians. The moderator was a Trinidadian of Indian origin. The panellists presenting the questions both sounded distinctly Trinidadian. The venue was the government owned Magdalena Hotel. The production team was Lisa Wickham, a Trinidadian consultant. The research team that came up with the questions were all from the UWI campus and the names I saw listed featured mostly Trinidadian researchers from the University’s research sphere.

In short, everything about last night’s debate was geared towards a Trinidadian sensibility. But we respect Tobago and want them to have autonomy right? Kamla and TOP aint fooling me with that rhetoric.

The message sent was that this debate was a production by Trinidadian for Trinidadians about a Tobagonian issue. The only Tobagonians voices heard on set were that of the debaters. A very curious thing. The debate claimed to be about economic progress yet managed to bring up the topic of race…a decidedly Trini pre-occupation. But the debate steered clear of corruption, nepotism and cultural difference. The debate also steered clear of addressing issues that are specific and unique to Tobago because the person who researched the questions focused posing questions that are relevant to Trinidadians. As a quick example….there were questions about Transport between the two islands…..not a question was raised about transportation problems on the island. How many Trinis stay beyond Store Bay/Bon Accord/Canaan? Very few. So the concept of moving around Tobago via public transport escapes them. And let’s not discuss the issue of unemployment and the types of employment available. Ashworth Jack went on and on about Tourism and Agriculture because clearly the entire educated population of Tobago wants to become farmers, waiters and hotel managers. Not only are job opportunities limited, the industries are limited as well. Which means thousands of Tobagonians have to leave their homes to excel!

I sat through the debate waiting to see it change course and begin to address core issues and then it struck me. The Debates Commission didnt set up this debate for Tobagonians but for themselves. So now it can be said that we have held an election debate and everyone can pat themselves on the back for putting on a good show…but to me the Debate made no difference to the political landscape.

If you ask me who won last night’s pappyshow of a debate, I’d tell you the production team…..because them eating a big food and the issues remain untouched!

Vote With Sense….Don’t Vote Full Dotish!

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14 thoughts on “The Great THA Pappy Show Debate!

  1. DIdn’t see the debate… but I totally agree with you about Trinis condescension. On another note, race is an issue in Tobago though – as is the general under-education of the population and the lack of places for the well-educated to work and prosper. The brain drain must be phenomenal and maybe these two factors are where the Trini mentality about Tobagonians not being educate comes from – not excusing the latter, mind you. There is also a perception about accent… I find folks assume the same about South/Central people whose Indo-twang is very predominant.

  2. Reading this article cements my opinion that it is very hard to please trinidadians with a one track mind. The writer of this is definitely a supporter of Mr. London and the PNM (and thats your rights) BUT, your PNM undergarments are showing very heavily. While the majority of persons with a little intelligent are complimenting the organizers of this event you are finding faults. Even if all the suggestions you mentioned were implemented in this debate you would still find things to complain about. You all are very sickening. I am not a supporter of any of the leaders but i think this was a positive move by the organizers and i look forward to more debates in the future whether you like it or not.

    • Kenneth, go back and look at the debate and see which audience it was targetting. You are clearly Trinidadian. This piece does not critique the technical calibre of the programme but rather its relevance to Tobagonians. The THA Debate made no difference to the THA Elections…perhaps you should start attending or listening to the cottage meetings and hear what both parties are REALLY discussing when the cameras are off. Until you become really informed about what’s happening on the ground my pieces will continue to irk you because lights, cameras and slick questions don’t impress me.

  3. It is a shame that after Fifty Years of Independence in Trinidad and Tobago, the Sister Island of Tobago still lack some of the basic services needed to run the Island effectively i.e.The Hospital, it is true that they recently open the new hospital, though it took them many, many years to do such. My point is, it does not matter which government is in power the fact still remains that the people of the island of Tobago have always had their important issues push to the back burner and I feel that is time these politicians step up and actually fulfill their obligations to the voters so that both Island will benefit

  4. It is a shame that after Fifty Years of Independence in Trinidad and Tobago, the Sister Island of Tobago still lack some of the basic services needed to run the Island effectively i.e.The Hospital, it is true that they recently open the new hospital, though it took them many, many years to do such. My point is, it does not matter which government is in power the fact still remains that the people of the island of Tobago have always had their important issues push to the back burner and I feel that is time these politicians step up and actually fulfill their obligations to the voters so that both Island will benefit .

    • on point, Nikky! Tobago has always been a political football…pre and post independence. But I am heartened to see Tobagonians really asserting themselves this time around and seeking after their interests. Something tells me that they wont be taken for granted in the future.
      Hence my comments about not voting Full Dotish. Each voter has to think about what matters to them, what their priorities are and vote in that direction. Whether it is Hochoy, London or Jack vote for who you think will advance your cause.

  5. The debate was indeed a farce. The questions did not target the real needs of Tobagonians. I spent five years studying in South Trinidad, and I experienced both the kindness and the scorn of the east indian ethnicity, so I guess people are people wherever you go. But because I had to relocate my entire family to study, I almost remained there, hence brain drain. I dont think changing the Party at the helm is the answer, but chaning the Tobagonian mind-set. We need to demand more of the powers that be, whoever we choose .

  6. We really need to review our educational system ( i.e. the skill in reporting accurately). What proof do u have that this debate had no effect on the THA election? Was it by means of some analysis report, questionnaire,statistical evidence report? Really tell me??? Secondly whats the issue with the “cheat sheet “?
    (a) In case u didn’t listen to our nightly news on neither television nor the radio ( or even browsed a newspaper)there was no such thing in fact Mr Jack as a consequence had to put to put away the pad and pencil given to all of them by the committee in the room and continue the debate without any . It was only speculation by Mr Charles hence u heard nothing more about this issue from any of the political leaders after it was clarified.So again u need finalized evidence before to post information to the public.
    (b) What is the connection between your picture and the information you are portraying to the public? Clearly I can conclude that this article is not genuine. You are merely campaigning for whatever party you are from and using the article as a cover. This method of convincing citizens that the debate was a failure was indeed a total failure. I would agree, that i had hoped certain persons in this debate would of been of tobago origin but the issues of leaders not agreeing on the many persons chosen to moderate etc would have allowed it to come to what is was that night.
    You spoke about Transportation in tobago. Really ????? thats the big topic u propose??? plzzzz! . The questions where very good , but not excellent because some question were too broad of a topic to be answered in the time allotted. I can say much more because i always keep myself updated with whats happening with all parties. My advice to you is direct your bitterness elsewhere in more meaningful areas like crime and don”t allow politics to consume you to the point that you would take pleasure in false accusing your countrymen/ leaders/elders, see negativity in everything others do without one form of neither compliment nor solution and further misinforming persons looking to you for direction.
    BTW kill de race talk GOD BLESS

  7. First of all – Race and ethnic background MUST be removed from any debate/meetings – and every time any politician use race trying to score – he should be removed from office.

    Second, Tobago have a tiny small population, that does not produce or export anything of value, not even as a tourist destination. The Tourism industry now rely on government money more than from tourists. With 50.000 people – and no production – Tobago cannot stand on its own feet – Should not even have a THA… Instead – treated like a city with a mayor is all what is needed.

    Third, there are No question about the flaws in the sitting THA, the negligence, their inability to act, their inability to think forward to do what is best for Tobago and the people living here. Most politic parties have a past where they have been involved in some sort of scandals, and right now there are not many candidates to fill any positions.

    Fourth, education and brain power. The more educated people, which Tobago need in Tobago, are leaving the country behind on a regular basis. Even our own UWI tell their students to look abroad and not domestic. How many “real” companies exist in Tobago – requiring educated workers? not many. It is the private workforce that carry Tobago forward, but THA STEALS 80% of the workforce, and the private is suffering.

    Fifth, expenses and quality of life
    The distance between rich and poor are just increasing – and as a result the crime rate is not dropping, but rather increasing. Things needed to live a comfortable life are more expensive than ever, whilst salaries for the “common man” is low as always, and is far from enough to support a normal family, and therefore you see many on the edge of survival – instead of thriving happiness.

    Six, back to tourism
    Trinidad have 10 times the number of international “tourists” registered every year, compared to Tobago. These numbers has been practically unchanged the last 8 years.
    The amount of money spent on Tourism does not automatically guarantee a good outcome.
    Interviews with tourists clearly shows that the trends are shifting, and that it is not enough what is being done to make them feel welcome and happy in Tobago.
    NO – Tourists don’t come here because of Carnival or Heritage. 99% of Carnival “tourists” come to play mas in Trinidad – not Tobago. Heritage – most tourists don’t even know what it is..
    WHAT is the product we are selling to them in Tobago? WHAT is there to do?
    Most don’t even understand that most foreigners have more than two meals pr. day, and that a heavy lunch is not what they can take.
    Tourists are not stupid, so in days with general low money – they also have to shop for good places to go for their holidays, and in the state Tobago is, a very tired Island with rude and “i don’t care” people – they choose to go elsewhere – where they get more experience for their money.
    The tourists we get today – are NOT the same we had 10 years ago.
    90% of all tourist related expo’s and events – has always been in Trinidad.
    When Tourists come to Trinidad for a 1 or 2 week holiday, it is more or less impossible for them to get tickets for a daytrip to Tobago. Domestic tourists have similar struggles, and finding flights/boat avail – is the hardest part. Not everybody can plan 3 weeks ahead for a day or two get-away.
    The truth is – that right now – Tobago is NOT a good destination at the moment, is more dirty and filthy than has been in ten years, and it seems like many don’t understand the word “Service” at all.

    The list goes on and on and on – ….
    The sitting THA has NOT done their job – has NOT managed to carry Tobago forward, has NOT managed to perform as they should.

    and when someone cannot do the job they are hired to do – well – then they get fired – and so should the sitting THA.

    Perhaps time to hire someone from elsewhere to run this place – perhaps Tobagonians are NOT the best suited to run Tobago after all…

    THA – YOU work for US – the people of Tobago, not the other way around. With the high salaries and perks you get to do the job – you should bow and say “Thank You” every time you see me. MY taxes are part of your salary! Now – get back to work!

    • Human development in a nation needs Architects. some one designed one for Trinidad and the same plan has be drawn for Tobago and the rest of the Caribbean (how different are we from the Queen of England archipelago of common wealth island).
      someone came up with the idea to give scholarships for Tobagonians when it was so easy for some to get it from scoring well in SAT. so many tried at it. SAT was the buzz up to 1994-1996(?)Thus your brain drain. If that same someone started the first foundation for the same price of one scholarship per year, at the same time they started the scholarship program a 10.000 student university, do you think it would be finished by now? At least some of the students came back. What % I do not know.
      Back to the Architect. This architect knew of the resources in Tobago waters the same time they knew of it in Trinidad 1954 . Thus the first few offshore oil wells drilled in Trinidad could have been here as well. Where is Trinidad now from 1857 because of oil, is where Tobago will be. some increase and some stay the same.

      How much did you invest in slavery and the abolition of it. Know the Architect then you will know who are not.

      there is someone looking at the archipelago as one resource except us.

  8. Pingback: “Silly Season” with Tobago’s Elections · Global Voices

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