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It will be some time before it reaches the stage to seek 'political' independence, but...

It will be some time before it reaches the stage to seek ‘political’ independence, but…

March 8, 2019

We should make it clear, we are not calling for independence of Britain, and all that goes with that, on the issues and controversies emanating from the seemingly asseverate position the UK wants to hold over the OTs, in particular those who do not wish to adhere to such especially positions concerning ‘same sex marriage’, and beneficial ownerships of companies, beneficial ownership of companies register, the right to vote for UK citizens resident in Bermuda, and legalisation of same-sex marriage.

We are suggesting that while it will be a decade perhaps or more before Montserrat can claim to just balance its own recurrent budget, much more claim economic independence, or being in a 1995 pre-volcanic crisis, we must be prepared for the hardship that comes with being free of enslavement to having to accept that which the people believe goes against their being.

We noted the other day about what seemed a new phrase, in the sense we had not heard it used often before, that of political independence as against ‘independence’, creating the reality that indeed very few nations in the world if any can claim economic independence. And we can keep this well within the region and narrow it down further to CARICOM and OECS nations. Then consider Montserrat’s place with its unique position and standing having since 1995 having to face a ‘virgin’ situation of building a new country.

We will never forget Minister of State “I mean, where else in the world would some face a disaster like that and still come out smiling and determined to get things going again. The admiration we have for that gives us that extra bit of drive.”

Promote the vision of the OTs as part of the British family, flourishing and vibrant, and less financially dependent.

Does the vision to do this require the soul of the people of Montserrat, and in extension that of all Overseas Territories?

Note Bermuda’s position on issues also coming out of that FAC Report, while the Premier asked London to dismiss a report that recommends British expatriates living in this British Overseas Territory get to vote.

He rejected calls for independence — a longstanding aim of the ruling Progressive Labour Party — but said the stance on cutting ties with Britain could change.

So we must join the thoughts and desires of the other OTs who deplore those ideas which go against the mandate that says: “…to protect our way of life. For democracy to work anywhere – the people’s voice must be heard – and must be respected!”

Specifically, we share the BVI’s new Premier who says: “We value our relations with the UK, and we do hope that Westminster, values and understand the special circumstances of small island territories as ours; that they are sensitive to our culture, customs and values which have been fashioned by history and geography, and our faith in God,”

And do you know our Constitution begins with that? See the Preamble:

“Acknowledging that their society is founded on… the rule of law and the supremacy of God;…”

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It is not just money, power and sex

FAC raises controversial Constitutional Isssues

It is not just money, power and sex
March 1, 2019

In their February 21, 2019 report, the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) has called for legalising same-sex marriage in Montserrat and four other Caribbean Overseas Territories. It has also called for changing restrictions on voting and eligibility to run for a seat in our legislative assembly, creating “a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory.” Such changes would require amending the Montserrat 2010 Constitution Order, and would be controversial.
On the recent trend to put into law that men can marry other men and women other women, the FAC pointed to “a notable point of divergence and friction is same-sex marriage, which has been legalised in all but the five OTs in the Caribbean (Anguilla, BVI, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos), though this bar is currently being challenged in the courts in the Cayman Islands.”
It also noted that Premier Romeo’s reply to this question was “it was important for the UK to recognise that “as separate territories, with ethnic diversity from your territory and cultural differences, we ought to be allowed to make decisions on matters such as same-sex marriages.”
In the conclusion, the FAC states: “The Government should set a date by which it expects all OTs to have legalised same-sex marriage. If that deadline is not met, the Government should intervene through legislation or an Order in Council.”
For Montserrat, this would lead to a Constitutional issue. Our 2010 Constitution Order was negotiated with the FCO over an eight-year period, then was passed as a resolution by the Reuben T. Meade Administration.
It was then tabled in the UK Parliament and was finally issued as an Order in Council. In Section 2 it protects the basic rights “without distinction of any kind, such as sex, sexual orientation, race, colour” etc. In Section 10 it then states “Notwithstanding anything in section 16 [on discrimination], every man and woman of marriageable age (as determined by or under any law) has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex and to found a family.”
This provision reflects the immemorial, community consensus of Montserratians and many others across the Caribbean and beyond that while all people are to be respected and protected under law, the natural marital relationship between husband (male) and wife (female) is foundational to the sustainability of family and society and so must also be respected and protected under law.
At that time, such provisions were clearly acceptable to the UK Parliament and to the Privy Council. (NB: Premier Romeo’s reference to “ethnic diversity . . . and cultural differences” comes from Principles IV and V of the UN General Assembly Resolution 1541 of 1960, See: (UN: https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/1541(XV) which sets out specific frameworks for implementing the legally binding force of UN Charter, Article 73.)
The FAC report also states that:
“Belongership and its equivalents are wrong. While we recognise that the OTs are small communities with unique cultural identities, we do not accept that there is any justification to deny legally-resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office. This elevates one group of British people over another and risks undermining the ties that bind the UK and the OTs together in one global British family. The UK Government should initiate a consultation with the elected governments of the OTs and work with them to agree a plan to ensure that there is a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory. In its response to this report the FCO should lay out a timetable for this consultation process and set a deadline for phasing out discriminatory elements of belongership, or its territory-specific equivalents.”
This too, is a Constitutional issue for Montserrat. For, Section 51 restricts those qualified to be legislators, to persons “born of a father or mother who at the time of the birth was a Montserratian.”
Such Constitutional issues may well be particularly controversial in an election year, such as this.
There are those already concerned persons who are also calling on all to be prepared for the fight, inviting Monterratians to take note. The following comes from an annonymous writer as we have been unable to ascertain its origin.
“Montserratians the world over, take stock of the British Parliamentarians attitude to you as a people, strong representation is the key, I urge you to support those who are prepared to represent your interest and rebuke those who are prepared to spread propaganda in an attempt to hoodwink the electorate for power and personal gain.”

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It is not just money, power and sex

It is not just money, power and sex

February 22, 2019

When in our Editorials we continually noted that we needed to be careful to understand the notes regarding the FAC Inquiry, we saw that there would be for serious times ahead, other concerns notwithstanding.

There has always been talking about independence (for Montserrat), and it has always been the belief of this Editor that the reasons given, some we have mentioned before, were not credible enough, or not hitting the mark, missing out on the real matters that ought to be of concern to us as a people. Even if not back then, within the last 20 years at least the talk of ‘economic independence, should never be the concern.

The problem it was always about money – So to stretch it or go into depth now, “Power, Sex and Money”. These are the ailments of the world, whether you do, or especially if you believe in a creator.

Today St. Lucia celebrates, ‘Political’ Independence! So, go ask and try figure, why ‘political…’?

As we followed the Inquiry hearings, it turned out that the submissions, even that from Montserrat’s Premier did address some of the issues mostly being mentioned for, ”Resetting the relationship”, or brought up for review. But as we suspected, high on the UK agenda along with that which caused consternation for some OTs and got much attention from members of our own Legislative Assembly, the matter of ‘beneficial ownership’. But notice what has become prominent was this matter of ‘Same Sex Marriage’, with at least five of the OTs have a problem acceding to.

Listening to and watching, the likes of FAC Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat and member Chris Bryant, lead the questions and the discussions, speaking with a certain amount disdain to the desires and aspirations of those dissenting OTs with Andrew Rosindell batting for the OTs, talking mostly to fairness and level playing field, it is difficult to believe that these OTs should not immediately in considering the outcome of this recent Inquiry and the resulting report. It was not easy going either for Lord Ahmad who have been closer to the OTs position on some of the issues.

It is our view that same sex unions and marriages matters matter for a people of any country to decide whether they will accept, condone, practice, whether governed by another or protected by another, looked after by another. As put by some commenting on the report out of the BVI.
Simple arguments for Independence!

Relationship over completely! No more UK nations in the Caribbean. They feel we are too colored to have such beautiful wealthy nations… but I see a future that they will not believe. We are a God fearing nation. One nation under God! God’s got this one people! The devil will fall, and fall he must!!!
Gay rights, immigration laws changes, no prayer in schools, changing land ownership laws, land tax increases, land sold and overpriced, employment laws changes, crime rate increases, tourism industry falls and offshore banking relocate, massive UK population increase, systematic enslavery begins.

It is with considerable attention we notice the admission at the beginning of the report. “Relations between the UK and the OTs have been under strain in recent years and steps should be taken to strengthen the bonds between them, say the Foreign Affairs Committee.

The OTs are accused of divergence and friction.

But then there is something we should seek clarity on from the chairman. “The UK and the OTs are family, but that relationship must be underpinned by shared duties to each other and values. Then immediately –That is why we call for the UK government to reconsider the relationship and are critical of Belongership and its equivalents. We also call on the OTs which have not yet done so to legalise same sex marriage.”

They found it difficult to understand why Bermuda would go to the lengths they have. What we find difficult is how they can have difficulty with anyone going to limits to stand for what they believe in the sight of their God.

It seems it is time they begin to think seriously of the overall future of life for the people in their respective territories and what the word ‘independence’ really means.

These OTs must be strong, but the arguments must be carefully presented with the backing it will have. The governments and certainly ours must put a committee together that understand what its people believe in, prepared for the tough times as they are not easy now anyway, to immediately get something that is worth the life that is fulfilling. It is not just money, power and sex.

“There is one, wise and truly awe-inspiring seated upon his throne.” But, “Be sincere of heart and steadfast, incline your ear and receive the word of understanding, undisturbed in time of adversity.”

It seems it is time the territories begin to think seriously of the overall future of life for the people in their respective territories and what the word ‘independence’ really means.

(See: http:// http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/foreign-affairs-committee/the-future-of-the-uk-overseas-territories/oral/94446.html


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We support and welcome contributions, questions, comments

We support and welcome contributions, questions, comments


February 15, 2019

The word Brexit (‘Britain’s exit’ from the European Union) has been like a buzz word around although there has been far too much idle and wasted chatter, mostly uninformed and too little worthwhile discussions.

One legislator, who now obviously has the time, as much as side-lining himself, and should be playing the part of sharing and informing, raised the question in a recent sitting of the Legislative Assembly chiding the Premier (or government) for lack of update on the Brexit matter.

It should first be understood, the reasons how they go there in the first place and whether they should be there.

One reader suggested we should do what we have always held as our responsibility, to inform and ‘educate’, and said, “You should include this if you are publishing soon”.  He said this because he agreed with Saga, “is currently speaking out about the GoM being silent on the issue, and I think he’s right.”

We will publish the article as we welcome all articles, discussions, questions, on any topic that do not put us in danger of being sued for defamatory and libellous. We promise there will be no discrimination whatsoever, especially that many will tend to be political. We believe that by now, contrary to what some may even perceive, while not directly accused, we do not support any political party or individuals, but we welcome any opinion that is critical of anything that goes against or support the progress of this little island and its people.

In that case we too will promote and encourage those individuals who show that their interest is not self but truly that of the progress and viability of Montserrat. And by the way, one more correction. There is no charge for any contribution which in our discretion does not seek to promote the subscriber politically or otherwise. Then we call that advertising, which of course is what enables and pays for the service we provide.

On the Brexit issue: here is the introduction by the subscriber on the matter.

In the unlikely event of a no deal, the Brexit deal UK will leave the EU Budget in March 2019. Without further action, this would mean governments and other organisations in our Overseas Territories could lose future funding for existing projects under EU programmes. However, the Chancellor has agreed that the UK government will guarantee funding for specific EU projects. This will provide certainty for British Overseas Territories governments and participating organisations over the course of our EU exit.

You should include this if you are publishing soon. It’s a statement from the FCO published last year about a no deal Brexit. Saga is currently speaking out about the GoM being silent on the issue, and I think he’s right.

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October 20,  2017

Looking for the best in the face of the worst

Christmas beyond the Christian preparation of Advent which is encouraged as a time for reflection and looking forward to making better and improving whatever comes out pf the reflection will surely leave many with differing feelings; hopefully with more joy than sadness.

As the year winds down as far as the country is concerned in this issue the penultimate for the year, the wonder is if this will be that in every sense for this newspaper production by Montserrat Printing and Publishing Inc., and this Editor!

We read where one editor writes: “We know first-hand that journalism is in trouble not just ‘here’ but all around the world. Looks like things may get worse before they get better.”

We know and are humbled enough to believe that as bad as it is, there are others who have suffered and are suffering much worse.

But we may feel somewhat afraid because of the power that we encounter, then comforted because of the power which is mightier than that power that may cause us to be afraid.

It is because of that comfort and encouragement for which we are thankful already for those who support us, empower us and who will help to bring our battle for good to the victory that will propel this land and its people.

Christmas we know is a time of: Faith. Hope. Love. Even as we will say 2018 has been a time of: Anger. Fear. Hate.  

Love conquers Hate. While hate is easy to incite, you play to the worst of human nature. It’s a scorched-earth policy to use hate, and a path to hell for any leader. Sure, it seems easy to use hate to destroy, but you can never build with hate. So a government that uses the worst of our humanity will at some point find that turned against it.

Every religion we know shows us that, right? Jesus Christ, the Prophet Mohammed, Buddha …

Lest there are those who believe or who may appear not to be conscious of their hate, this is not directed necessarily to Montserrat, but especially where the job of journalists and newspapers experience this.

Love takes longer, but love always wins. Especially during a time that requires massive collaboration to deal with global problems. We need to work together – not against each other, and the leader that can unite will always beat the leader that pounds on the fracture lines of society to incite hate. (It is why we are willing to support the Dr. Lowell Lewis political dream for Montserrat and see that we work to make him to be the next Premier for Montserrat – do the analysis – right here)

 Hope conquers Fear. Fear brings out the worst in humanity. A paranoid, dog-eat-dog world plays to the worst of us and destroys the best in us. When you deal with your fear, the road is clear because only you can stop yourself from achieving your dreams.

Faith conquers Anger. It is important to control our anger. Getting angry doesn’t really accomplish anything except a self-indulgent release of frustration (and normally not even at the cause of the anger).

It seems we are getting comfortable, though time will tell, and with some effort to counter, an environment of evil, unleashed from those who think they alone have a voice – ill-natured, language, blasphemy – The lies that get tolerated and the shortcuts that are so easily justified, but also a society that profits from these acts.

We must be on the lookout for these and more in our midst and not perpetuate the pretense that will cost us our future, and that of our children’s.

We are feeling the faith comes from the advent of Christmas. We believe in it, we believe in goodness.

We are putting our faith in a crowdfunding effort, the request evident as will be seen at the end of every article we publish online including this. We thank you already as it is our hope to appeal to love, using our faith. Just towards the work of ending injustice in the land and the world we live, now.

For this Christmas season, this eve, we wish everyone clarity of thought to realise our contradictions, our duplicity, nay, our hypocrisy; the fortitude to rise above them; and the collective will to defeat the violence, the ignorance and indifference that threaten to suffocate us all.

May we all have a season for reflection, the kind that will remind us of our humanity, and our responsibility to demand it not only of ourselves but also of those who wield and have wielded earthly power and influence over us.



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The governor may be right on some things, but needs research

In our lead article today, we talked about a comment H E Governor Andrew Pearce made while addressing a CARICOM meeting here a few weeks ago. We likened his comments to some he had made back on September 26 to the media which we will include on line so that the folks whose comments we featured in the article may perhaps get a better or different understanding what he was saying.

On September 26 he was responding to the questions surrounding his comment that the public servants go or come to work with the intention to do good. We countered that this was not how the some in the general public sees it, that coming to work with the intention to do good and that good turns out to be bad, then there was never any good intention to begin with.

That position is something the public service may want to deal with. One recalls that former Governor Carrier had pointed heavily to what she termed as a problem of attitude which needed to be corrected as she and the Government set out once and for all to bring the public service to a place of excellence.

The Governor in September was then responding to DFID’s position for some years now that the public service was too big and needed to be downsized.

Back then he had also said, “…there are no easy answers, that’s for sure. If there were easy answers to these issues, we would have found them between us at some point within the last 20 years.

Noting that, “Montserrat feels a really nice place to live and work so I don’t think we should lose sight of that,’ he added: “I agree there is a view there’s a strong view and I had this in briefing that the public service as you said and  colleagues here in Montserrat here and people told me it’s a bit big, a bit bigger than it should be.

“So it’s not axiomatic in my view that the service is more than it should be. I don’t immediately see or buy that,” he said. “I think the issue is more about organic streamlining. I don’t personally believe that anyone in this day and age who has committed their life and invested their career to a job should be at risk of some sort of axe hanging over them at all. I don’t buy that I don’t think it’s the way to build good relationships and do things properly it needs to be managed if it is too big and the jury for me is out. if it is too big then let’s get it to a better place to the right size over time in a way which is treats people fairly.”

It appears both times, speaking about the structures and all the things that are required to make Montserrat function, is asking too much, he concluded. “I don’t feel we’ve got the structures right…I still feel that everything all combined here from the Constitution down, treat this territory more as a small middle sized country than as a village on a rock. That to me needs recalibrating .’

However, before all believe that the Governor was ‘hitting’ out at his bosses, when it came to the bureaucracy and the processes, the Governor is probably yet to be told, or observe that the consultancies upon consultancies piled up and nothing done about them, his bosses will guide him in their usual way, subtle or otherwise to the real reasons why the consultancies only gather dust in Montserrat. They will be able to put their hands up in the stop position and say, go do your research.

Take his example of the apparent delay and run around one gets for the approval of leave. He will soon get reports that tell him, it is not the processes; but if one considers how that process should work, someone should answer how that which was already in the planning since the beginning of the year, does not get beyond a particular point immediately.

And the consultancies, they were always there. Go backwards beginning 20 – 25 years or so. Some of those senior civil servants are still around.

The governor’s utterances fit well with what is likely to come out of the FAC enquiry. We can sympathise with the Montserrat circumstances. Even then, we have been hinting and questioning at the problems that are now being highlighted. But as we said in our previous editorial, there is this bad culture of knowing it all.

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Begin a ‘global Britain’ and mutual respect for the OTs

It was surprising when we discovered that there was more than the usual number of people who engaged in discussing and opining over matters relating to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry into the future of the UK Government relationship with the Overseas Territories (OTs).

We discovered that as we have been saying or as the saying goes, put in many ways, ‘you cannot live successfully today and plan your future, without knowing and understanding your past.” There were those who took the position that as Overseas Territories of Britain Montserrat (in particular) is in no position to do anything but accept whatever the UK Govt throws its way. The retort to that was, isn’t there an obligation to do ‘otherwise’ and doesn’t the OTs have the right to claim?

Immediately after that discourse, there was another view referring to the Donaldson Romeo Government position taken in his oral evidence to the FAC inquiry in the Committee hearing on Wednesday. (See Statement published in this issue –transcript of what the Premier said). The position taken there was agreement with the Premier, who said that his main concern was, “the way in which aid has been delivered to Montserrat over the past 23 years.”

Each of the witnesses (there were two sessions) with different groups, with our premier sharing seats with Falkland Islands, Anguilla and Turks and Caicos Islands in the first session on December 5, 2018.

Each witness had two minutes to present as Tom Tugendhat (Chair) had put it, “we are going to ask for two-minute statements from each of you to set out your position,” pointing out that their written evidence is already in hand, and,  “We will then get on to questions, so a lot of things may come out in questioning (and discussions) afterwards, which they did.

See front story for a summary of the evidence. It became obvious that the main thrust of the OT governments’ was, concern that there needs to be as Andrew Rosindell concludes: “How can it be effective for you as British citizens in British territories to be lumped into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when you are not foreign and you are also not members in your own right of the Commonwealth? You are appearing in front of a Foreign Affairs Select Committee in a Parliament in which you have no say and no influence on anything, where laws can be imposed upon you without any democratic accountability. Do you not agree with me that the time has come to modernise the relationship completely and treat all territories equally as British?

There was the observation that the groupings were deliberate, and we agree, as the other session which included Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Island, all with different systems of government. But, the arguments and concerns were all similar, to include not a challenge like we’ve critical of the governors powers, but concerns about their selection and how they function.

Again Andrew Rosindell encouraged and supported the discussion, adding or rather highlighting that most territories have in some cases by referendum determined to remain in whatever status links them to Britain. That is stated here that way, in view of the following argument summarised again by Rosindell.

“All of you have, as expected, shown your absolute determination to be British, to stay British, and to be part of what we now call the British family, but there is no such thing, constitutionally, as the British family. Do you consider yourselves to be part of the United Kingdom?”

Generally, as it came out in the attitude of some of the members, it is agreed that the problem with the UK, that though called British citizens, OTs citizens are treated as strangers and foreigners. The time is here and the discussion must be focused and taken forward.

Many of the submissions have proposed ways how the relationship can be improved whether it be representation by the OTs in the UK Parliament being able to vote for parliamentarians, representatives in the UK, but as Anguilla Chief Minister Banks puts it: “We are not foreign;neither are we members of the Commonwealth, so we should have a different interface with the UK that is based on mutual respect.”

“Mutual respect,” is a phrase that resonated throughout all the submissions. Banks saw this coming through,“increased awareness among the UK public as a whole, possibly through education.” And, the UK to bindingly commit to the development of the British Overseas Territories to ensure equal life chances and standards of living for every British citizen residing in any British nation in accordance with ‘global Britain.’

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There is no such thing as “Governor’s powers”

November 23, 2018

In our last couple or more editorials we have commented or drawn attention to what we can expect to see or hear what have been submitted in response to the Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry as to “consider(ing) the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future.”

The FCO explained: “As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still work.”

The Inquiry invoked all kinds of responses, submitted in different ways in terms of the approach, many straying away from the considerations of the Inquiry.

Here, several discussion sessions were set up where the public was invited to participate to air their thoughts, there were radio programs included.

At least fifteen submissions were made from Montserrat, government, organisations, and individuals here and the diaspora.

We have been concerned about what the contents and the quality, as well as the relevance of the submissions. Not surprisingly, several dealt with the subject of what, as we’ve noted before refer erroneously to the “governor’s powers”.

Let us state right here that there is just too much ignorance surrounding he topic, if not merely misunderstanding, misinterpretation, but perhaps a sensible presentative discussion on the issue might suffice. There is not that much to take into consideration to clear the eyes at the front of the minds. The most powerful person in an OT is the Premier, Chief Minister, Chief Islander, whatever the title.

We note that Montserrat is among the latest to have agreed a Constitution nine years ago from the UK. It remains disputed by many as having been rushed and in some areas inappropriate for Montserrat. One of the areas that occupied the discussions up to the UK submitting the final document for acceptance, was the matter of what was termed “governor’s powers”.

We noted that since the passage of the Constitution 2010 we heard no comment ascribed directly to governor’s powers from the first premier, while several others official and otherwise continued to refer to it, as it formed part of many of the discussions on the Inquiry.

A look at most of the OTs’ Constitutional Orders from the UK reveal the matter appearing in varying text, but mostly one does not find the reference strong in terms of powers, rather often as ‘responsibilities’ in the Montserrat Constitution. It follows that their submissions, if at all, dealt with the matter almost just in passing, while calling for a different approach to the management of the topic.

One submission refraining from speaking to the matter directly, instead like most of the more informed submissions, referred to: “the ultimate power of the administrative authority, the British government, to impose legislation by imperial decree on the OTs.”

Sadly, we saw the office of the Legislative Assembly, referencing, “…the heavy-handed imposition of laws from Great Britain combined with the excessively wide range of powers enjoyed by Governors.” There were at least two others who made similar references in even more direct terms.

 

There was also with one really disappointing, maybe not surprising entry which was brief, but spoke exclusively to the topic. Yet another, again not surprising, but one we thought would know better, who was not as direct, but referred to the policy of recruiting governors from the FCO staff – and the arrangement for selecting Governors.

To his credit we noted that the Premier’s submission excluded any such discussion, and so it is hoped that while we don’t claim to like the tone of it, that when he presents orally later, that he does not take on board any such discussion, but some of the submissive thoughts from some of the other responses, that address meaningfully the request from the FAC.

On another level, just like organisations such as FOTBOT (Friends of the British Overseas Territories), the OTs especially that there were many common responses should jointly make an exclusive submission as they have, and have had many established forums through which they can do this, knowing that some should and will enjoy special attention in the end.

That was always the case as it had been expressed time and time before. Ask Alan Duncan who is now very well associated with the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) from whence came the Inquiry.

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Disastrous Submissions to the FAC Inquiry

For the past 10 days Montserrat and Montserratians lit up when an older British Lady’s submission became the highlight of discussions following the publication of the submissions written in to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee who sought considerations on “the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future” with regards to The future of the UK Overseas Territories inquiry.

The Committee’s comment of their request came on the background’. “As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still works.”

We were concerned, listening to some of the discussions from the public consultations that there would be many extraneous matters returned to the Inquirers. It turned out that some 15 submissions were made from the Government, people from Montserrat, (Montserratians and organisations), lawyers also.

We were waiting to look at the submissions especially those from Montserrat and had no sooner downloaded a few, noting one from Shelley Harris, when there came a message of the first comment from very disgruntled Montserratians on the Harris submission. We have covered it fairly extensively in this issue as surprisingly, maybe not so much, at the reaction from some outspoken critics of the government and Montserrat generally.

As seen from the articles in this issue covering the Shelley matter, people were outraged at most of her 28-point submission, compounded by a submission from her husband who deceitfully tried to distance the airline company, if not himself from her submission; and then she submitted a further statement explaining her submission. That statement contrasted some of the things she said, but also denounced her comments because of the airline business operations and its darling treatment from the government.

She relegated and misrepresented The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) to a non-performing newspaper and ZJB Radio to being afraid to report the news, suggesting there is no free press, giving really, outrageous and disgusting comparisons to that state in Montserrat. How misinformed? We have two words for that beginning with the letter ‘d’!

We hope you file your Financials as required! We will check the truth that your tax write off in 2014 was close to $250,000.

What is the news that we do not cover? The efforts of the company you own/represent who uses every effort to stall the return of WINAIR to serve Montserrat? That FlyMontserrat which has invoked the ire of many travelers who complain time and again? That the boss seems to stop at nothing to keep the ferry service at bay from Montserrat and information that we receive that your major plan is to take over the access division and its services?

The discourse brought FlyMontserrat’s company and operations into sharp focus and although much has yet to be told of the benefits and the devious and damaging access activity in and out of our ports, coming from the Harris access to the powers that be, both here and in the UK and even in the industry on a whole for Montserrat.

That her unsubstantiated and even dishonest points were actually repeated as ‘evidence’ by Priti Patel displayed a kind of attitude that HMG (DFID and FCO) should be asked to clarify. We know that Shelley’s public pronouncements are not the first to have been submitted and that such have been considered and used against Montserrat in a manner we have been critical.

This behavioral attitude is something that should be in our response to FAC, explained in any oral evidence and set for discussion. Of course, live instances should be documented.

There must be documented evidence of how the Harris company has attempted, successfully at times to benefit as they have especially within the last nine years. The vein of the submission when looked at deeply will show the intent and the desire that drove her to be so open, although the suspicion is, she didn’t realise it would be in public domain.

As far as some of the other submissions, as suspected the question of the Constitution and the Governor’s ‘special’ responsibilities, still being referred to as powers, was the only topic surprisingly so, in at least one submission, but others. That matter is our opinion mute. We make the point that this may not be viewed as a general obsession, which was dealt with in the framing of the Constitution considering that the OTs relationship is such…

Of those we have looked at, admittedly not thoroughly yet, we will be highlighting those that suggested the whole concept that the OTs have been treated as ‘foreign’, the call for that to be immediately looked at and changes made, so that those other problems of the UK responsibilities will be more effectively carried out. And the question of the partnership be not generalised but set up uniquely as it should be in the case of Montserrat.

We have been questioning and saying this for over twenty years. Imagine, when DFID and FCO did not communicate, our sufferings, the setbacks in the efforts and pretense that existed in trying to rebuild Montserrat after Soufriere Hills showed its brilliance.

We believe that this is where any future relationship discussions should begin for people who are British citizens.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Editorial, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

Those looking to be masters of this country...

Those looking to be masters of this country…

need to be honest about serving

October 26, 2018

For some months we have been trying to get our leaders and people to understand the buy-in to what it really needs to take Montserrat forward, back to the place it once was and beyond; to the place where it was once able to balance its recurrent budget. What it needs to stop the UK DFID officials from simply being coy in their response to our sometimes-erroneous continuous demands.

Expected capital development and development generally had been planned –with a three-year development plan in place. There was a spanking new hospital, parliament building, port and more; additional school buildings, and very importantly an Indian donation of an agro-processing plant.

With all that and more in place at the beginning of 1995 there was already approval for the big upgrade to Blackburne airport, but the timing and the ignorance of the Wadge (volcanic) report of the 80s, the onset of volcanic activity brought pause and attention to nature. Montserrat now had to relook its understanding of what it would need to move into the next 300-400 years. Briefly that’s where Montserrat was, with a government that started out with a promising future in 1991, but with all the above was floundering into failure, brought to extinction in the 1996 elections and the UK’s promise to begin rebuilding Montserrat in the north.

Since then we have always said from here, since 1998, that unless the rebuild was as good and in fact better than anything that existed pre-1995, there was no seriousness in the effort, especially that all this was built on a plan called ‘Sustainable development”. We still believe that is a bad word phrase, yet we continue to hear it. So much so that when we hear the words today, we realise that the user should not be allowed anywhere near the leadership of planning for this island going forward.

Where is Montserrat since then? Listening to these people, and their behaviour for some time within the last two years at least, recent as last week, to the criticisms, utterances and performances of most, we maintain that if you can pick two from the lot and the names we hear ‘unofficially’ being published along with their pronouncements or lack thereof, there is much work to be desired and work to be done.

Well, our prayer is that people pay attention, spiritually and otherwise as there is much darkness around and there is really no light peeping through. If we look carefully, intelligently, we will see that the degrees, and more are not at all what it takes, but merely being sufficiently educated, which then is when intellect will show. Imagine we are well aware that these statements may stun some people thus exposing their ignorance and their lack of understanding and appreciation of the kind of leadership needed. Indeed, it is the kind so many call crazy, because these thoughts are usually out of reach of the ordinary, especially when corrupted with selfishness and greed.

We regret to note that the motion of no confidence and all relative to it has shown a kind of ignorance that are far not suited for this. Would these people after all of that week of time wasting when much work far more important business can be transacted, benefit from a few ‘educated’ if only critics, sit and break down the ignorance? The nothings that are being said, people posturising themselves with questions and statements that are damning only to themselves. There is sooo much to go around. Oh yes! There are problems, but they all hide in ignorance.

Since 2008 HMG (DFID) announced that they were ready or had begun to see Montserrat in a new light and that while mistakes had been made they admitted to the ‘one step forward and two backwards’ approach, the sustainable development farce, they were ready to tackle seriously Montserrat’s future development.

Dr. Lowell Lewis was chief minister in 2008 and to this day all he does is try to bring unity to a government that he believes and what others call for, some or most of them only within their closed quarters. The kind of unity the doctor speaks about, who himself only recently received a doctorate for his genius work in the medical field, getting mention for his political work, is one that bring the minds like his, to work for the beloved land and people of Montserrat. Bring to us testimonials against pomp, abuse, jealousy, selfishness and greed.

There are not many people here in Montserrat, who will understand the sad history of our politics, over let’s say the last 40 years. We cannot count those far away as the efforts so far to involve them have only been misguided if not misunderstood.

Then, there are those of course who we must just forego as not being fit anyway.

Maybe these few words might awake the sensibilities of our people to include all, about their ignorance, that an honest look at serving rather than being master will begin a move in the right direction as we begin to look towards a general election by the end of next year.

Posted in Editorial, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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