Friday, September 24, 2010 at 5:43 AM
I pray that all of you will accept this letter in the spirit of brotherhood and patriotism that is intended.
With all due respect, I feel compelled to urge you to recalibrate your reaction to the announcement on Monday by Henry Bellingham MP, the UK Minister for the Overseas Territories, that elections scheduled for July 2011 will have to be postponed. Not least because your reaction has already given sanction to the untenable spectacle of TCIslanders bum rushing Governor Wetherell at the airport the day after this announcement.
It’s bad enough that none of you have bothered to condemn this assault. But that some of you actually participated – I am constrained to point out – is itself an indication of why this postponement is necessary.
One of the most searing indictments Sir Robin Auld made in the Commission of Inquiry report that led to the suspension of local rule is that the ministers in our ruling Progressive National Party (PNP) were exhibiting “clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and general administrative incompetence.” Alas, these untenable signs remain very much on display today, and in bipartisan form.
No doubt many people inferred from Sir Robin’s report that only PNP leaders were unfit to lead. Therefore, Mr. Clayton Green should be commended for wresting leadership of this party away from those who were directly implicated.
The pity, though, is that confidence even in his leadership has been undermined by the most respected members of his party publicly indicting him as being cut essentially from the same disgraced, discarded and disillusioned cloth. This renders his political future null and void.
That being the case, I shall spare him any further mention and direct the rest of this letter to Mr. Doug Parnell and his PDM shadow government.
These leaders are probably motivated more by concerns about losing their jobs and political influence than by any concern about protecting our presumed birthright. After all, amongst those of us who pleaded for the British to intervene were PDM leaders who reportedly fantasized about being automatically installed in power.
(Putting concerns about British Intervention into Perspective, Caribbean Net News, March 20, 2009)
Regrettably, Mr. Parnell, I can think of no other explanation for the antic disposition you’ve displayed towards our interim government than this observation I made over 18 months ago. For your behavior in this context has been rather like that of a man who calls the firemen to stop his house from burning down, but then assaults them as soon as they arrive.
I suspect the vast majority of TCIslanders hoped that you and the PDM would ultimately redeem our political culture. But we assumed that you would begin (and prove your worthiness to lead) by working with Governor Wetherell’s interim administration to clean up the mess the PNP left behind.
Instead, you have seized upon every opportunity to foil this administration’s authority and effectiveness. Not to mention the ungrateful, impudent and patently false accusations about neo-colonialism that you’ve been hurling at the UK government throughout this period.
I lamented in the commentary referenced above that you seem to be exhibiting many of the leadership traits that led to former Premier Misick’s demise.
What else explains your decision to lead a protest march to agitate for the only right you seem to care about; i.e., the right to hold elections that might make you the next premier of the TCI?
What else explains your decision to willfully reject Chairman Lillian Misick’s invitation to participate in a Consultative Forum symposium on constitutional and electoral reform and, specifically, to engage Kate Sullivan, the UK-appointed expert retained to draft recommendations which will give TCIslanders, the UK government and the international community greater confidence that our leaders will adhere to the principles of good governance?
(Never mind that the most revered members of both political parties, namely, for the PNP, former chief ministers Washington Misick and Norman Saunders, and for the PDM, former chief ministers Derek Taylor and Oswald Skippings, all duly accepted and properly participated in discussions on such contentious issues as enlarging the franchise and conducting trials by judge without jury. This is why forming your own “All-Party Commission on the Constitution and Electoral Reform” in this context smacked of little more than puerile spite.)
At long last, Sir, what else explains your reported plan to make a nuisance of yourself and further embarrass our country by running off to CARICOM and the UN to complain about the British doing not just what has to be done, but what we (and you) pleaded with them to do?
Hell, in this latter respect, one would’ve thought that you would’ve learned from the open and notorious humiliation former Premier Misick suffered by running off to plead his equally baseless and self-interested case to these same organizations. Enough said?
Mind you, this is not to say that all has been honky-dory with this interim administration. In fact, while you were organizing your first “unity march [to] take our country back”, some of us were prevailing upon the duly appointed (all-Belonger) members of the Consultative Forum, as well as the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) in London, to address all of this administration’s shortcomings.
These shortcomings include the dithering over plainly necessary changes in the management of our National Health Insurance Plan; an all too apprehensive approach to a variety of law and order issues; the glacial pace of progress by the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team; and presenting a systemic dimwittedness when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of our people – just to name a few.
Nevertheless, some of us are mindful that Governor Wetherell can no sooner clean up the mess former Premier Misick left behind than President Barack Obama can clean up the mess former President George W. Bush left behind. So instead of pestering the Governor’s bosses with haughty and unreasonable demands as you have, we entreated them with our concerns.
More to the point, I can say without fear of contradiction that it was our entreaties to Sir Robin and his subsequent letter to the FAC that moved this authoritative committee to issue a pivotal report in March (2010) on the speed and effectiveness of the Governor’s initiatives. Most notably, the FAC acknowledged not only the merit of our concerns, but also the responsibility of the UK government to fund this interim administration’s efforts to restore good governance and fiscal soundness to our beleaguered country. All indications are that the UK government is now acting pursuant to that report, and with all deliberate speed.
This brings me to your arguably defamatory allegation about Minister Bellingham deliberately misleading you about the date of local elections, which you seem to regard as the panacea for all of our ills. (The fact, of course, is that the superficial tribalism two-party elections have fostered has been the bane of our existence.)
During your press conference on Wednesday, you led our people to believe that you were so betrayed by Bellingham, the Governor and other British officials that you were provoked into putting the UK government on notice as follows:
There’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. There’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. This is a matter for the people and we are going to ask our people to come together in such a way that is ten times greater than what you saw on unity day…
We want our country back and we want our country back now! We will not engage in a process that does not provide authority to the people of the TCI…
The deep danger that this issue raises is that it opens up a lot of old wounds… And there are a lot of old wounds in the TCI between the British government and the people of this country. And it would be better if we have again here and now full democracy. We demand it, we make no excuses for its demand.
(Courtesy PTV 8, September 22, 2010)
But there’s so much that is ill-advised and, frankly, troubling about this diatribe that I hardly know where to begin. For starters, though, the lack of temperament and sound judgment you displayed in delivering it are enough to disqualify you from even leading your party, let alone our country. Even worse, you premised your not-so-subtle threat of inciting unrest on an allegation that has no basis in fact.
After all, any reasonable person who read the FAC report referenced above, could not have failed to grasp the committee’s informed conclusion that:
There are solid reasons for regarding the Governor’s preferred July 2011 date for the end of direct rule as unrealistic.
Add to this the public statements of no less a person than UK Foreign Minister William Hague echoing this FAC conclusion, and only a self-deluding, power-hungry dullard could claim to have been misled in this respect.
Not to mention, at the risk of beating a dead horse, that some of us spent months explaining to fellow TCIslanders (via The TCI Journal and Caribbean Net News) why conditions on the ground make this date “impracticable”. Yet you claim to have been misled….
I feel obliged at this point to make one more observation and one final admonition:
The observation is that our politically correct designation as an “Overseas Territory” seems to have also misled you into thinking that we are no longer a dependent territory. Never mind that having to call on the British to put an end to the epidemic of alleged corruption being perpetrated by former Premier Misick and his PNP ministers should have disabused anyone of this thinking.
In a similar vein, you seem to mistake the polite sufferance of British officials for enlightened deference. But only a problem child would think that he could brazenly challenge his parent’s authority on the one hand, while making insolent demands of that parent on the other. And woe betide the parent who lets him get away with it.
The admonition stems from a similar one I offered to Michael Misick in 2006 when he made history by becoming the first premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Specifically, it behooves you to conduct yourself and the affairs of your party in such a way that nobody can claim that you are more interested in being a party leader than in assuming the duties and responsibilities of building a party that is capable of governing our country.
It’s not too late, Mr Parnell, for you to prove yourself worthy. And I urge you to begin by canceling your plan to hold another “unity day”, which surely you must know will be anything but. Besides, you’d be hard-pressed to tell those you’re calling on to march again exactly what the last unity day of protest accomplished.
Beyond this, I beg you to help us prevail upon the British to spare our people any more false hope by setting another election date. Let us urge them instead to follow Bellingham’s suggestion of setting out conditions that we and they must meet before elections are held. Not only will this temper the ambitions of all local politicians, it will also incentivize the truly committed ones to work with our interim administration to meet those conditions as soon as possible.
More importantly, though, I beg you to help our people understand the importance of participating respectfully and constructively in the (UK-sanctioned) constitutional and electoral reform process. For you cannot be proud of the fact that convening your separate “all-party” commission has encouraged a very vocal minority to not just shun but even disrupt town hall meetings led by members of the Consultative Forum – complete on one shocking and appalling occasion with the ceremonial burning of Ms. Sullivan’s draft recommendations. Isn’t this the kind of foolish pride you used to accuse former Premier Misick of stoking?
At any rate, instead of facilitating their restiveness with the British, you would serve our country far better by encouraging our people to remain patient … and calm. It took the PNP seven years to get us into this mess, this interim administration should be given at least half that time to get us out.
Finally, it can’t hurt for you to help our people understand that being forced to intervene as they have must be as frustrating for the British as it is humiliating for us.