I read with somewhat incredulous eyes the “refusal of the governor” to allow Royal Robinson, former minister of health who sponsored the healthcare legislation, to the National Insurance Board. The governor must know something we in the public do not know; otherwise it will be unprecedented in our constitutional system to allow the Governor to get this deep into ministerial business.
Royal Robinson, since leaving parliament, has finally found his voice to fight what he now perceives as “racist” but as Michael Jackson said, “Remember the time”. The PNP whilst in opposition took to the airwaves and, in the case of Royal Robinson, to attack every decision of the interim government as racist. I must concede that the interim government became an albatross and many of their decisions needed some kind of an “attack” from saner voices in the TCI.
The problem with these attacks on the perceived racism of the governor is that it is weak, shallow, unreal and remarks that Royal and his team did not really believe in. If they really believed in dealing with this issue they would have had a Dr Martin Luther King type moral resolve and would have called on all to stand against what they now perceive as racism in the TCI.
Reason being that if the PNP felt that real racism was being meted out in this country they would have asked the public, the opposition, the church, the expatriates, the whites, the blacks, the natives, the Americans, the Canadians, our Jamaican brothers, the Haitians, Dominicans and all persons to join them in this fight “against racism.” A fight and reality he only seemed to perceive on leaving office.
Because if what they perceive as racism in the TCI then no one who lives here should be allowed to remain silent while it persists. In fact, the rocks would have to cry out but they were in office there was no cry. But, Mr Editor, please allow me go “too far” and tell them to stop being 'damned' hypocrites here. Notwithstanding, I am sure they have seen real issues of this nature whilst in office but preferred to take the fifth and be silent.
Many of us do live in that world where we think that, after time, race relations will improve, that we build a colour blind society living out the true ideal of Dr Martin Luther King’s vision and the reality of Nelson Mandela’s presidency. The governor is not himself living up to the ideal that we should all strive towards improved race relations and is using his office as governor to force certain points home.
Yet again, why did the governor remain silent when Royal Robinson supposedly made these “racist remarks”? Is he playing the same games that we are accusing Royal of? This seems to be the case also. May I clarify I do insist that the Governor should not decide who sits on boards and I do not buy his excuse that Royal Robinson was being racist in his public remarks. That is not the problem, or the issue and, as such, besides the point of standing up for what’s right.
The problem and the issue for me is that Royal Robinson and the PNP have played into the governor’s hands by being silent in the TCI when real acts of racism were being perpetrated on people and while they were in government, they remained quiet and I may charge almost collusive. Let us be under no delusion that this Governor is here to improve anything. Yet on all issues that confront us let us be real.
Take the incident at the Providenciales International Airport in 2008, when the actress in the movie “Hairspray”, Nikki Blonksy attacked a young lady from the TCI, a model, allegedly called the native girl the “N” word while at the same time establishing that she (Blonksy) was a guest of the premier, Michael Misick. No one from the PNP spoke out. In fact there was no cry for unity from all races that lived here to take a stand against that incident because at the time no one wanted to hear about this issue. But if you leave a wound untreated it festers. It behooves those in public life to stand on principles.
Principles were in issue in 2003 when the governor decided without principle or legal basis to deny the request of Chief Minister Derek Taylor to call elections. This denial weakened of the office of the chief minister and set a bad precedent for today. In denying the request of the duly elected premier to appoint Royal Robinson to the board, the office of the premier is being undermined.
This parallels the denial in 2003 when then chief minister the Hon. Derek Taylor requested that Governor Poston call general elections after the Supreme Court decision in Five Cays and South Caicos North. The governor unduly denied this request and caused the country to go to by-elections. The result of this denial was an assault and attack on the office of the chief minister, the head of government, the authority of that office and, in sum, an assault on the respect and integrity of the people of the TCI. Years later the PNP ran this country in such a way that would further weaken respect for the TCI and a development which we all lament.
In the aftermath of that decision in 2003 by the governor, to deny the request of Chief Minister Taylor to call elections, the PDM government and party staged a demonstration at the Ball Park during the Queen’s Birthday parades. One would have expected that the PNP would have taken the moral stand to join with the PDM in defending the integrity of the office of the chief minister. But lo and behold, sitting with the governor was Mike Misick and the entire PNP team during this event and supported the governor, I would say in disrespecting a lawful request of the chief minister.
Now years later, they are all in office but, owing to their silence on many acts of racism against so many other races in the TCI, the dignity and integrity of the people of the TCI has been assaulted. Also owing to the decision of the PNP to support the governor in 2003 in disrespecting the office of the chief minister, the results are here to bite us and the office of premier, the head of government, is reduced in substance.
Again, I do not support the governor dipping in and trying to tell the ministers what to do. This, however, is the result of showing a lack of principle in the past and bad precedents have been set. Furthermore, based on bad government, the British in 2012 have given the TCI a constitution that would insult any self-respecting Caribbean leader in running his country.
In many ways, we who did not vote for Rufus Ewing should support his right to pick his boards, as this is a constitutional practice that has always been ministerial. The PDM, I am sure, will show the requisite solidarity on this issue. One may ask, given the Blonksy incident and the disrespect the governor showed the PDM in 2003 and the support of this disrespect by the PNP, whether they have not played into the governor’s hands by taking unprincipled positions and stances on these issues.
Royal Robinson’s so called racist remarks may be called free speech but racist remarks by anybody, per Dr Martin Luther King, should not be allowed against anybody. More so, we had the Blonsky incident while the PNP was in power and someone was called the “N” word and the PNP condoned it with their silence. Racial harmony and respect must work both and all ways.
On principle I must repeat ad nauseam that I cannot see any rule or role for the governor to take this position but in large measure and respect Royal Robinson and the PNP have played into their hands on this one. Yet all I can do in the strongest terms possible is to say that the governor ought to respect of the office of the premier despite the precedent set in 2003 when the PNP upheld and supported the then and late Governor Poston’s disrespect of the office of the chief minister in their quest simply to gain power.