Friday, July 20, 2007 at 10:27 AM
Therefore, I wrote the following article hoping that it will shed more light than heat and lead to a constructive resolution of this national dispute. It is featured today in our national newspaper of record, The TCI Weekly, as well as on the most widely read online newspaper in the region, Caribbean Net News.]
For years I have lamented the fact that my compatriots in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) have been too busy tearing each other down (over petty political matters) to build up a sustainable economy and stand united in our petition for independence from Great Britain.
Indeed, it is a testament to the petty, quarrelsome and, ultimately, self-defeating nature of TCI politics that supporters of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM – opposition party), who presumed my blind allegiance to their party based on family ties, actually called me a traitor for publicly congratulating our Premier, the leader of the Progressive National Party (PNP – ruling party), Dr Michael Misick. And they did so simply because I congratulated him not only last year when he successfully concluded constitutional reforms (which, admittedly, were negotiated with the British almost entirely by PDM leaders), but also earlier this year when he won a landslide re-election victory.
Given this context therefore I was not at all surprised by the alleged fight that broke out between Premier Misick and PDM officials last week. But, true to form, the incident has only incited their respective supporters to wax indignant and hurl invectives at each other; even though only gossip informs their sound and fury.
Instead of taking sides, however, I implore my fellow TCIslanders to take a moment to reflect on a few simple questions that, no doubt, will put this embarrassing fracas into proper perspective and help illuminate the grave consequences it portends for our nation; namely:
Is it not commendable that the PDM convened a news conference last week Thursday to challenge the PNP’s education and economic policies – at which people questioned why our Premier seems to spend more time attending Hollywood events than attending to affairs of state?
After all, it is the duty of the PDM – as our “Loyal Opposition” – to not only guard against abuses of our democratic rights and freedoms by the ruling PNP, but also to “check and prod” to ensure that they manage our fiduciary affairs prudently. But frankly, there was such probable cause to suspect that Dr Misick might turn out to be an “absentee Premier” that even I challenged him over a year ago – in an article entitled Is all the talk about TCI independence just that: all talk – to lead in a way that assures all TCIslanders that he is not:
…more interested in posing as an independent leader than in assuming the duties and responsibilities of governing an independent nation.
What does it say about our Premier’s judgment if, as he asserts, he diverted his motorcade on the way from the airport to confront someone who he thought was pointing “a camera or a gun” at him?
After all, whatever delusions of invincibility our Premier may suffer, surely we want him to be guarded by men who have the common sense to divert him from, not towards, potential dangers. (Never mind that the Premier could have directed his driver to go to the police station right there on airport road and ordered the police to investigate what he allegedly feared was a “stalker” lying in wait to assassinate him….)
Since he soon discovered (to his relief or horror, alas, one cannot say) that it was just opposition MP Arthur Robinson holding a harmless camera, why did the Premier (with his armed bodyguard in tow) allow what should have been an understandably-cantankerous (political) encounter to escalate into such a physical brawl that he feared (and still fears) for his life – as reported by The Sun newspaper?
After all, it insults not only our intelligence, but his as well, for our Premier to allege that Mr Robinson greeted his polite enquiry by assaulting him. Moreover, it simply defies common sense that the Premier would even ask Robinson and PDM Chairman Shaun Malcolm “…why they were pointing objects at him” – after clearly seeing that the “suspicious object” was, in fact, a camera.
Does it not raise terminal doubts about our Premier’s credibility and character that – after this incident – he claimed that “The truth and fact of the matter is that I am deeply concerned about my safety. I am aware that members of the Opposition PDM are stalking me….”?
After all, if there were a kernel of truth to this claim, I have no doubt that our law enforcement authorities would have already arrested the suspect MPs, or assured the Premier that his fears were patently unfounded and irrational….
But really folks, when all is said and done – notwithstanding our Premier’s demonstrably-specious account of what happened – here are the most probative questions to reflect upon:
Is it not more likely that when the Premier saw Robinson and Malcolm he knew immediately what they were up to (which, of course, was documenting his attempt to slink back into the country to blunt criticism of him as an absentee Premier)?
And, upon seeing them, it is not far more likely that he confronted them for the sole purpose of confiscating the incriminating evidence against him that he no doubt feared they had caught on videotape?
All of which begs the truly critical question:
Since the best evidence of who did (and said) what to whom was captured on that tape, and given the very troubling allegation that it was wiped clean before the Premier’s bodyguard handed it over to the police, all TCIslanders should be demanding to know: Did you erase the tape, Premier, did you erase the tape?
Of course, in this respect, it is instructive to know that Robinson and Malcolm allege that the Premier ordered his bodyguard to confiscate the tape as he belittled them with a profanity-laced tirade that would make even a gansta rapper blush. And, more to the point, that this verbal assault and the Premier physically attacking Robinson – without provocation – were all caught on that tape.
But even though many TCIslanders may want to dismiss this incident as just another manifestation of our Premier’s pugnacious temper, we cannot help but wonder what motivated him to react so violently. Indeed, some enquiring minds want to know if it was because he feared that he and his entourage were caught on tape entering the country without being cleared through immigration or customs; which, of course, would raise all kinds of sinister suspicions. Whereas, others want to know if it was because he did not want to be seen returning – not with his wife but with actor Duane Martin; which, of course, would raise all kinds of salacious suspicions.
Therefore, no one should be surprised if, as alleged, the tape has been wiped clean. But, if not prosecuted for conspiracy to obstruct justice, the Premier will surely be haunted by this question (Did you erase the tape, Premier, did you erase the tape?) until his dying day.
That said, those questions should suffice for now. But it behooves our Premier to address them without further delay or prevarication. Because, if he fails to do so, he risks being accused of being not only an absentee Premier, but also one who thinks himself above answering to the people he’s constitutionally mandated to serve.
(Indeed, it is worth noting that when the British take us for fools, we assume it is due to historical presumptions and congenital prejudice. But when our own Premier does the same, what assumptions are we to make of his behaviour…?)
Meanwhile, apropos constitutional mandates (and the British), it is also incumbent upon the TCI Governor, His Excellency Richard Tauwhare, to ensure that this matter is properly investigated. And this is especially so because there’s a growing sense amongst politically-astute TCIslanders that this Governor, like our Premier, is only interested in enjoying the ceremonial trappings and perks, as opposed to performing the duties and responsibilities, of his office.
And, lest anyone thinks that these concerns are unwarranted, recall that almost two years ago this Governor assured TCIslanders that there would be a thorough investigation into the apparent murder of our Premier’s own daughter, Melissa Creese. Yet to this day we have no idea whether anyone has even been questioned. (Never mind the more suspicious fact that our Premier has seemed more zealous about finding the person who murdered police officer Prince Smith than about capturing the bastard who murdered his daughter….)
Therefore, we can be forgiven our doubts after hearing His Excellency assure the nation last week that there will be a thorough investigation into this matter as well.
Finally, I feel obliged to admonish PDM supporters who have begun deriding our Premier as a “TCI Mugabe”. Because I know Mugabe; I’ve been studying and writing about his reign of terror (in Zimbabwe) for a long time. And, trust me my friends, Michael Misick is no Robert Mugabe.
After all, Mugabe has led his people so far down the primrose path to a living hell that it might take divine intervention to rescue them; whereas, Misick has only begun to lead us in that direction.
But this is precisely why we should be grateful that we have such a vigilant but loyal opposition. And it is why we must prevail upon this Governor to not only say, but also show that justice is being done – especially given the clouds of criminal suspicion and salutary neglect that are gathering over the office of our Premier.
In fact, failure to apprehend our Premier’s alleged abuses now, risks turning our beloved country into a gangsta’s paradise.
Congratulations to TCI’s first Premier, Michael Misick
PNP wins reelection by a landslide
Is all of the talk about TCI independence just that: all talk?
Another plea from Archbishop Ncube (and me) for Zimbabwe
UPDATE (31 August 2007): The TCI Attorney General issued a press release a few days ago – in which he proffered reasons why he deemed there was neither sufficient public interest nor legal merit in prosecuting the Premier on assault and theft charges.
But click here to read why I deemed his reasons utterly specious, which amounted to a gross dereliction of his duties.