Trinidad and Tobago is observing its 43rd anniversary as a Republic with President Paula Mae Weekes urging citizens to renew their understanding of what it is to be a sovereign, independent nation under a Republican Constitution, and let its values be reflected in the conduct of their daily lives.
“Today, 43 years later, we take stock of our achievements, setbacks and identity in constant evolution. We have experienced the characteristic ebb and flow of a developing society and, although we recognise these growing pains, we also recognise that we have escaped much of the danger that affects other young nations in our region and around the world.
“In the midst of our circumstances, we can remain united by the Republican Constitution that establishes and guarantees our fundamental rights and freedoms,” Weekes said.
She said the republican status was the result of a “concerted effort by the engineers of our independence who firmly believed that we had the tenacity, the resolution and the means to carry out the complete administration of our affairs”.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley used the occasion to remind nationals that building a new society should not be left to politicians alone.
“Republican status has allowed this country to chart its own course, and to determine, through the checks and balances of independent institutions, how we should be governed, and how we are recognised by the international community, as a proud and truly independent-thinking people,” he said.
Rowley said that the foundation of this country and all that it stands for was laid out within the Constitution crafted by Trinidad and Tobago nationals, “who worked together to outline our basic principles and aspirations.
“Today, we can say that we have derived, in great measure, our togetherness from those values enshrined in our Constitution. We must always be prepared to defend this country from those who would diminish or dismiss us in the variety of ways that this may be presented. Loving and caring for Trinidad and Tobago is an assignment for each of us, one that we cannot pass on to others whether local or foreign.”.
Rowley acknowledged that Trinidad and Tobago continues to face “some economic challenges, such as falling energy prices, production and consequently revenues, which continue to threaten the quality of our lives.
“Another area of my concern, deserving of a national conversation, is that of our youth. There are reports which describe some youths as discontented, cynical, bored, violent, aimless and idle. Such a description fits the profile of the socially-disengaged youth which is a feature which is appearing, worldwide. In Trinidad and Tobago, our home, this land of rich history and much promise we still see many of our citizens in significant positions throughout the world.”
He said over the past four years, his administration has been putting things in place towards achieving this vision of a new society.
But he said the building of the new society is not a job for politicians alone.
“The new society is one in which every citizen of this country becomes involved in shaping his/her future in our nation: a place where every citizen will see his/her individual responsibility to keep our streets clean, our communities crime-free, our roadways safe and our children safe and free from abuse and neglect.
“A new society is a kinder society, in which we respect each other and ourselves,” Rowley added.