Political commentator, Ralph Maraj, believes that there should be something to commemorate the Red House’s invasion in 1990, now that it has been returned as the home of Parliament.
Mr Maraj is a former parliamentarian and government minister. He would have been in office in the late 1990s, when the Red House still functioned as Parliament’s home.
According to Mr Maraj, installing some sort of commemorative piece at the newly renovated Red House, would be a powerful symbol to the country, of the triumph of democracy over insurgency.
“I think it is tragic that we do not commemorate that 27 July 1990 event, that invasion of the Red House, which ended in the triumph of democracy over insurgency. We cannot forget that at all,” he argues. “That is important for us as a nation—for our evolution as a nation. For our self-respect and for our commitment to democracy. We need that in the present environment, in the renovated Red House.”
He adds: “They had a flame there once. Whether it is going to be an eternal flame or whatever it is, we need to commemorate 27 July 1990 because we triumphed over an insurgency and our democracy prevailed.”
Mr Maraj is concerned whether the renovated building itself would have room for expansion.
He says Parliament is an organic entity which continues to grow, and must be modernised and staffed with the necessary personnel, so it can serve the nation effectively.
The former parliamentarian says it is not too late to consider a new building to house the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago—when expansion becomes necessary—even as it is being returned to its symbolic or ancestral home.
“If we are to go forward, we have to modernise our Parliament and it would mean greater space, greater capacity—technological and personnel and so on,” he maintains. “I have serious doubts about the adequacy of the present premises for a modern Parliament, to which we must evolve eventually. We cannot escape it. The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago has to evolve.”
Ralph Maraj asserts the nation needs its symbols and markers of history to ground it.
He also argues that Trinidad and Tobago must find ways to modernise politically, in order to keep pace with the demands of the rapidly evolving modern world.
Story by JESSIE-MAY VENTOUR