ST. KITTS FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER IS GUEST AT VIP
“Me nar interfere with a soul, but ah going talk me piece…and nobody must stop me!”
Words from St. Kitts Foreign Minister Dr. Timothy Harris that will go down in the history of politics in the BVI. He made the statement last Saturday night at the 2003 convention and manifesto launch of the ruling Virgin Islands Party held on
Dr. Harris braved the numerous criticisms and calls for him not to come to the BVI from some individuals here, including opposition politicians, who objected to him being the guest speaker at the VIP convention, citing political interference from an outsider.
In his welcome remarks, VIP Chairman and Chief Minister Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal pointed out that the BVI has opened its borders to people from several other Caribbean islands. “We all have the same history and therefore we dare not separate ourselves from them.”
He said he was proud that Dr. Harris accepted their invitation and he welcomed him as a member of the Caribbean Community of which the BVI is a part. “The St. Kitts government has been good to us, some of us went to their Grammar School when we didn’t have one and two have become Chief Ministers, so we owe them a debt of gratitude. So why make political hay out of one of them coming here?”
Minister Harris immediately launched into addressing the concerns about his appearance at the VIP convention. “Despite the noise, the anxiety, the headache and the trouble, I am here in the British Virgin Islands….I have come to be among friends and be the special guest of the BVI government.”
He said he is aware that the BVI is in the midst of elections and that in times like these the adrenaline flows high. But he said in these challenging times, the politics of opposition for opposition sake cannot work and the politics of incitement cannot work.
“What your Chief Minister said is right, there is more that unites us in the Caribbean than divides us and so when I come here, I feel a sense of belonging,” the St. Kitts Minister declared.
He referred to his own country of St. Kitts/Nevis, where less than two weeks ago the government had a party conference and invited the Bahamas Prime Minister to speak. He reported that other speakers included the Deputy Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Minister of Education from Dominica and a Senator from Antigua.
“That is how it is happening in the Caribbean, they came and they had their say…nobody protest,” Dr. Harris stated. “If government or opposition want to bring people, bring people…you can’t vex with government for bringing in people…We can’t be too small minded in the islands…where man go man must be allowed to walk and talk within the law…foolishness…you want to get engaged in serious issues about your development.”
Some of the issues he suggested should be up for discussion are the CARICOM single market, the territory’s constitutional relationship, the place of the immigrant population all over the Diaspora and the continued development of the region.
The St. Kitts government Minister said all the noise was not necessary and he commended the courage of Chief Minister O’Neal for his regionalism and democratic vision. He pointed out that many of his country folk live here and therefore he has more than just a passing interest in the
Looking at the broader picture, Dr. Harris referred to the BVI as gems waiting to be further developed. “You have good management in my view…and I want to speak the facts as I see them…who vex, vex, and me nar go call nobody name because nobody going sue me.”
He said compared with other countries who have problems balancing their budget, the BVI is doing good when it records a surplus. “When you look at BVI, I see a good example of prudent management under Chief Minister Ralph O’Neal.”
Dr. Harris was also impressed at the performance of the financial services sector, but pointed out that while the economy grows, one must not forget the social sector. “If a country is doing well, we want to see less poverty, good health care and the people better educated…and the BVI government, over the years, has reflected they understand this imperative.”
As also Education Minister for St. Kitts/Nevis, he congratulated the BVI government for efforts in the area of higher learning, but he called on parents to do more for their children, to combat the negative of violence and drug abuse.
Turning to politics, the St. Kitts politician said these are challenging times in the Caribbean. “We can’t take our good fortune for granted anywhere in the Caribbean…many will come, but they’ve never been tested… and can’t be relied upon….in these times, we need wisdom that goes with experience, leadership that is tested and tried…and we want a mix in the team, the energy, enthusiasm and competence of the young in our political parties in the Caribbean.”
Also addressing the VIP convention was Member of Legislative Assembly of Cayman Islands Arden McLean. He also brought greetings from his government and discounted criticisms of the VIP for inviting their regional counterparts to attend the convention.
“Our economic success is being threatened by global entities and we need men of character and substance to fight for the continued success of our people…I see that kind of character in the people of the VIP,” said the Cayman Islands Legislator.
He said he admires the success of the BVI, the majority of which was achieved over the last ten years. “That speaks volumes for this party’s leadership and innovative approaches…and we need leaders who will go out and embrace opportunities for the people.
2003 by SUN ENTERPRISES (B.V.I.) LTD.
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