Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 31st 2015 Contents Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, August 31, 2015
Dr. Eric Williams delivered the following speech to the
nation over the radio on August 31, 1962, the first day of
Trinidad and Tobago's independence from Great Britain.
It is a great honour to me to address this morning the
citizens of the Independent Nation of Trinidad and Tobago
as their first Prime Minister. Your National Flag has been
hoisted to the strains of your National Anthem, against the
background of your National Coat of Arms, and amidst the
beauty of your National Flower.
Your Parliament has been inaugurated by Her Royal
Highness the Princess Royal, the representative of Her
Majesty the Queen. You have your own Governor General
and your own Chief Justice, both appointed on the advice
of your own Prime Minister. You have your own National
Guard, however small.
You are now a member of the Commonwealth Family in
your own right, equal in status to any other of its mem-
bers. You hope soon to be a member of the World Family
of Nations, playing your part, however insignificant, in
world affairs. You are on your own in a big world, in which
you are one of many nations, some small, some medium
size, some large. You are nobody's boss and nobody is your
What use will you make of your independence? What
will you transmit to your children five years from today?
Other countries ceased to exist in that period. Some, in
much less time, have become totally disorganised, a prey
to anarchy and civil war.
The first responsibility that devolves upon you is the
protection and promotion of your democracy. Democracy
means more, much more, than the right to vote and one
vote for every man and every woman of the prescribed
age. Democracy means recognition of the rights of others.
Democracy means equality of opportunity for all in edu-
cation, in the public service, and in private employment--I
repeat, and in private employment. Democracy means the
protection of the weak against the strong. Democracy
means the obligation of the minority to recognise the right
of the majority. Democracy means responsibility of the
Government to its citizens, the protection of the citizens
from the exercise of arbitrary power and the violation of
human freedoms and individual rights. Democracy means
freedom of worship for all and the subordination of the
right of any race to the overriding right of the human race.
Democracy means freedom of expression and assemble of
All that is Democracy. All that is our Democracy, to
which I call upon all citizens to dedicate themselves on this
our Independence Day. This is what I meant when I gave
the Nation its slogan for all time: Discipline, Production,
Tolerance. Indiscipline, whether individual or sectional, is a
threat to democracy. Slacking on the job jeopardizes the
national income, inflates costs, and merely sets a bad ex-
ample. The medieval churchmen had a saying that to work
is to pray. It is also to strengthen our democracy by im-
proving our economic foundations.
That democracy is but a hollow mockery and a gigantic
fraud which is based on a ruling group's domination [of]
slaves or helots or fellaheen or second class citizens or
showing intolerance to others because of considerations of
race, colour, creed, national origin, previous conditions of
servitude or other irrationality.
Our National Flag belongs to all our citizens. Our Na-
tional Coat of Arms, with our National Birds inscribed
therein, is the sacred trust of our citizens. So it is today,
please, I urge you, let it always be so. Let us always be able
to say, with the Psalmist, behold, how good and how pleas-
ant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.
United at home in the common effort to build a demo-
cratic Nation and ostracize outmoded privileges, let us
present to the outside world the united front of a Nation
thinking for itself, knowing its own mind and speaking its
own point of view.
Let us take our stand in the international family on the
basic principles of international rectitude. When our time
comes to vote, let it always be a vote for freedom and
against slavery, for self-determination and against external
control, for integration and against division.
Democracy at home and abroad, the symbol of it is our
Parliament. Remember fellow citizens, we now have a Par-
liament, we no longer have the colonial assemblies which
did not have the full rights of a Parliament of a sovereign
country. The very name "Parliament" testifies to our new
Independent status. By the same token, however, we at
once become the object of comparison with other Parlia-
mentary countries, inside and outside the Commonwealth.
This is a consideration which involves not only the Mem-
bers of Parliament but also the individual citizen. The Mem-
bers of Parliament have the traditional Parliamentary
privileges guaranteed in the Constitution. The Speaker, the
symbol of the power of Parliament, has his status guaran-
teed in the Order of Precedence. We shall soon have a Privi-
leges Bill protecting and prescribing the powers of
Parliament itself. Measures are being taken to establish the
responsibility of Parliament in the field of external relations.
The Constitution recognises the position of the Leader
of the Opposition and the normal parliamentary conven-
tion of consultation between Government and Opposition
are being steadily developed and expanded. The Constitu-
tion itself, Independence itself, represent the agreement of
the two political parties on the fundamental question of
national unity. The ordinary citizen must recognise the role
of the Parliament in our democracy and must learn to dif-
ferentiate between a Member of Parliament, whom he
may like or dislike, and the respect that must be accorded
to that same Member of Parliament ex-officio.
I call on all citizens from now on to accord the highest re-
spect our Parliamentary system and institutions and to our
Democracy, finally, rests on a higher power than Parlia-
ment. It rests on an informed and cultivated and alert public
opinion. The Members of Parliament are only representa-
tives of the citizens. They cannot represent apathy and in-
difference. They can play the part allotted to them only if
they represent intelligence and public spiritness.
Nothing has so demonstrated in the past six years the
capacity of the People of Trinidad and Tobago than their
remarkable interest in the public affairs. The development
and expansion of that interest is the joint responsibility of
the Government, the Parliament, the political parties and
relevant civic organisations.
Those, fellow citizens, are the thoughts which, on my
first day as Prime Minister, I wish to express to you on In-
dependence Day. Your success in organising the Independ-
ence which you achieved will exercise a powerful influence
on your neighbours with all of whom we are likely to have
close associations in the next few years, the smallest and
nearest, as part of our Independent Unitary State, the
larger and more distant as part of the wider and integrated
Caribbean community. Problems of difficulties there will
be. These are always a challenge to a superior intelligence
and to strength of character.
Whatever the challenge that faces you, from whatever
quarter, place always first that national interest and the
national cause. The strength of the Nation depends on the
strength of its citizens. Our National Anthem invokes
God's blessings on our Nation, in response to those thou-
sands of citizens of all faiths who demanded God's protec-
tion in our Constitution. Let us then as a Nation so conduct
ourselves as to be able always to say in those noblest and
most inspiring words of St. Paul, "By the Grace of God we
as people are what we are, and His Grace in us hath not
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