PORT-OF-SPAIN: As Trinidad & Tobago celebrated its 52nd anniversary of independence from Britain on Sunday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar asked citizens to embrace change.
In her message to the nation, Persad-Bissessar said independence allows an opportunity to embrace change and pointed to the government’s recent proposals towards Constitutional reform.
“The passion, interest and dialogue elicited by my government’s proposals for Constitutional reform have been unprecedented, clearly negating the view that our citizens are lukewarm on matters of national governance,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said although there will always be dissenting voices on issues of political reform, economic thrust or social policy, democracy allows for “reasoned debate and a multiplicity of views.
“As citizens of an independent, democratic nation we have the responsibility to ensure that in the practice of our democracy, each and every citizen holds the right to determine how they are governed and by whom. We cannot allow fear and intimidation to impede the progress of our nation.
“In 2014, 52 years later, we have again displayed the confidence in ourselves and the temerity to forge a new political path. We now have greater power to choose the representatives best suited to serve and service the needs of community and country,” she said.
Persad-Bissesar said all sectors must play a role in the sustainable development of the country as citizens possess the “skills, intellect and talent to achieve every goal and task that we set ourselves”.
She emphasized that her government is committed to the people of Trinidad & Tobago.
“My government understands that expectations are high among our citizenry in all aspects of national life. Areas of health, personal and national security, governance, job and wealth creation all dominate the national psyche. I give you the assurance that in our policies, programs and projections, my government will continue to seek the best interests of all citizens of Trinidad & Tobago.
“Let us together make this 52nd Independence Anniversary a celebration which signalled the dawn of a new stewardship of our great nation.”
Meanwhile, opposition leader, Dr. Keith Rowley, urged the nation to reflect on the journey since Independence.
“As a young developing nation, Trinidad & Tobago has come a long way. We have experienced the proverbial highs and lows along the way. However, through it all, our people have demonstrated formidable will and strong resilience, with the ability to work together to overcome challenges.”
“Our dedication to our democratic rights and freedoms serves as the cornerstone upon which our nation is built. Trinidad & Tobago was, is and will always be forged from the love of liberty,” said Dr. Rowley.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered congratulations to residents of the twin-island republic.
“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Trinidad & Tobago as you celebrate the 52nd anniversary of your independence,” he said.
“Today our two nations co-operate not only on security issues, but also on clean energy, controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and exchanges in science and art. We are committed to strengthening the bonds of friendship as we celebrate our shared values of democracy and diversity.”