Hon. Fraser is New VIP Chairman
Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ralph O’Neal announced via a radio broadcast on ZBVI radio on 27 May that he will not be contesting the next general elections that is constitutionally due in November 2015. The elder statesman also announced that he is retiring from the post of Chairman of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) to allow the next leader of the Party to be able to prepare for the 2015 general elections. Mr. O’Neal also suggested the eventuality of a snap election. The veteran legislator did not endorse a successor to the VIP chairmanship, but he called for the Party to remain united and strong.
Internal elections of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) were held in Road Town on Wednesday evening, 28 May. The two top contenders for the position of VIP Chairman were Hon. Julian Fraser and Hon. Andrew A. Fahie. Fraser won comfortably with 44 votes (Fahie 30). The VIP elections produced the appointees for the positions of VIP Chairman, President, Vice President, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Public Relations Officer and Assistant Public Relations Officer. The results for the two top positions are: Hon. Julian Fraser is the new VIP Chairman; Carvin Malone Is New President.
Hon. O’Neal who celebrated his 80th birthday on 13 December 2013 has been a legislator for 39 years. The announcement of his retirement from politics was being made after a discussion with his constituents, and the Opposition Leader thanked the people of the Ninth District for re-electing him uninterruptedly since 1975.
In recapping his political journey, Hon. O’Neal said: “I started out as an independent, but men like H. L. Stoutt and Randolf Mose Malone recognized that here was someone who was willing to work for the good of the Territory and invited me to join the Virgin Islands Party, and after consulting with my people I joined. I have remained faithful and loyal to the Virgin Islands Party to this day, not merely looking to receive, but to give my very best to the Party and the country.”
Hon. O’Neal said that he is thankful that he was able to serve his Territory which he enjoyed and said he made many friends along the way. “I have made a few enemies too, but working together we have been able to make many changes for the better for our country and the people of the BVI. I have had trials, but I have been able to overcome by the goodness of almighty God and prayers of many.”
In passing the baton, Hon. O’Neal said that it is his desire to see the Virgin Islands Party continue form strength to strength and to be the Party for the people; the seasoned politician used that opportunity to issue an advice to the Party: “I will like to remind the party that while contemplating on the end of the present term there is a possibility of the honourable Premier calling a snap election hoping that the Party is not prepared and this is where the Party must show that it is strong and prepared for any battle. If you look back it will be seen that the Virgin Islands Party has done things for all the people and I see no reason why this cannot continue,” he said noting that it will take long to list all that the Party has accomplished.
“The Party has not been sleeping and kept the people in front of them at all time,” Hon. O’Neal declared as he thanked the public for their support while he was in office. “It has been a privilege to have been given the opportunity to serve,” he said as he thanked the public service for their cooperation and willingness at all times to ensure government was in a good position. He also thanked the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the churches, clubs, and media.
“To the Virgin Islands Party, thank you… I would like to salute Mr. Randolf Mose Malone and Mr Carvin Malone for the outstanding work they have done for the Virgin Islands Party and the community. I appreciate all you have done, and hope you will continue to support the Virgin Islands Party,” Hon. O’Neal continued. He issued a special thank you to his wife who worked very hard and has been there for him especially during his illness. Finally, Hon. O’Neal ended his broadcast saying: “Of all the land in the east and the west I love my native land the best and that country must always come before self”
Statement from Premier
In response to the announcement of Hon. O’Neal’s retirement, Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith issued a statement on behalf of the Government and people of the Territory thanking Hon. O’Neal for his service.
Hon. Smith said: “On behalf of the Government and people of the Virgin Islands I want to recognize the invaluable contributions Mr. O’Neal has made to the Development of our Territory. I have had the opportunity to work with him both as a Government Leader and Leader of the Opposition. We agreed, disagreed, dialogued and debated several issues with one common goal in mind — to ensure the advancement of these Virgin Islands and our people.”
The BVI Leader further stated: “As a son of the Virgin Gorda soil and Representative for the Ninth District, he was steadfastly committed to the development of the Virgin Gorda and Anegada communities, as well as the wider Virgin Islands. He has made contributions to these Islands on many levels including as an administrator, teacher, political leader, and in several other capacities.”
“The breadth of his institutional knowledge of the public service is remarkable. I have told Honourable O’Neal a few times before that I look forward to reading his memoir, chronicling his role in, and knowledge of the history and development of these Virgin Islands. On behalf of my Government and the people of these Virgin Islands, I express my gratitude for his commitment to these Virgin Islands. We thank Honourable O’Neal for his unwavering public service commitment and pray that God will continue to bless him during his retirement,” he added.
Following the announcement, residents called into the Speak Out BVI program that is hosted by Mr. Douglas Wheatley to say thank you to Hon. O’Neal and to wish him well in his retirement. The First caller said: “In all his doings, he did his best, because none of us are perfect, everyone of us make our mistakes and to me he has done well. I just want to wish him the best. Mr. O’Neal I am saying to you tonight God bless you and I am glad for the work you have done and I am sorry to see that you had to leave but a time comes when we all have to give up and I am glad that you didn’t give up”
Another caller said: “I have been here in these islands for 30 something years and I must say regardless of everyone has their faults, everyone makes mistakes, but he has done a great job for these islands; and many people won’t like to hear but it is true. I pray that the other person who would be sitting in his seat would be a great person too. I pray that the nation would put in the right person after him you know Lavity Stoutt was a great man and also Ralph O’Neal walked in his footsteps in doing many things and I pray that whoever is appointed will really carry on the legacy that has been left.”
The caller added: “I want to say to Hon. Ralph O’Neal and his wife may God bless you all, and I want to thank you all very much. He not only looking out for you because of politics but personal like a friend like someone who cares, someone who is there for you at your home that is a part of Ralph O’Neal. Even when he is not in politics he still would say something to you. One thing I like about him is that he comes to your home not to ask you to vote even if he wins, and he is on the seat he doesn’t wait until election comes to come by your home. No matter what condition he is in even if he feels sick he will still come and look for you and knock at your door and talk with you. I pray that any who come after him will not only come at your door when it’s elections time but will devote themselves for the people and that’s what the nation needs, someone who will devote themselves not just for politics. May god continue to strengthen you as you leave the space for someone and may God continue to bless the seat for the one coming.”