by Bennette Roach
On the afternoon May 30 the Hon. Premier Reuben Meade communicated by email to His Excellency Governor Adrian Davis, the Hon Ministers Charles Kirnon, J Easton Farrell Colin M Riley; and Opposition members Hon Donaldson Romeo, Dr. L Lewis and Victor James. The email addressed as follows: “Colleagues, This is the presentation I am giving this afternoon at the C24 decolonization meeting.”
This information resonated quickly throughout the island and of course, farther afield, by which time the speech would already have been delivered in Quito, Ecuador, where the Premier was having left Montserrat two weeks earlier to attend the Conference. We quickly learned that some of the legislators received the message with consternation and surprise as they confirmed that the decision expressed by the Premier in his speech had not been discussed with them.
Legislators reacted with quiet indignation promising to accost the Premier while Opposition Leader Don Romeo issued a statement.
The offending statement of the Premier’s speech: ”…It is therefore my recommendation that this UN Decolonisation Committee remove Montserrat from their list of non-self-governing countries within their Decolonisation discussions. I am also certain that the UK supports our stance.”
As Feedback and comments rolled in, suggestions came for a headline to read: “LIES, LIES and DAMN LIES by Premier of Montserrat”. The reaction was, “I find the conduct of the Premier is so disgusting that I feel there is need for a response that is ‘out of the box’,” he exclaimed.
What were the lies I enquired! “Everything he told the UN Committee,” he said. So, I asked for specifics, and I was directed to the following:
The Premier had said in his speech “The provision for separation from the UK no longer requires a fight, it is a simple matter of the electorate making that choice in a plebiscite. No local politician or political grouping/party, in recent times has been bold enough to place that request for independence to the electorate.
“We are fully internally self-governing, we pass our own laws, we make our
own decisions, we make our own monetary policies… Despite the fact that the Police and the Public Service are within the Governor’s remit, we pay their bills and as a consequence exercise a major voice in their management.
“All executive decisions are made by the local Cabinet of Ministers.”
“And,” he continued, “what were not lies, were contradictions, misrepresentations and deception.”
The Premier was long and spoke to the Committee about the new Constitution: “It is the first time in the entire process of governance in Montserrat that the people truly took part in the development of their constitution. It took nine years for us to reach this stage. It is not a perfect document but it is workable with provisions for future amendments. It is worthwhile to note, that in all of the constitutional discussions, there was no public interest whatsoever in separation from the UK,” his speech continued.
Leader of the Opposition Donaldson Romeo, was the first legislator to go public as he released a Statement in which he began by accusing Premier Meade for making too many decisions without ‘proper’ consultation.
He had just communicated with the Governor and the Premier on that issue, and believes that it was only because of this that the Premier sent the message about his speech. “Over the past few weeks, the Hon. Reuben T. Meade, the Premier of Montserrat, has made several controversial decisions and public statements,” his press release began.
“Of these,” he wrote, “the most far-reaching is his May 30th request to the UN Committee of 24 on Decolonisation,” referring to the recommendation above for removal of Montserrat from the decolonization list.
Romeo said, “the Premier’s surprise statement to the UN shocked Montserrat’s legislators and the general public.”
Romeo who believes in canvassing the public national issues, said: “It is widely considered to be an action made under pressure, and intended to appease the FCO in hope of receiving desperately needed aid in exchange.”
He said he intends to take up the matter in the Legislative Assembly, along with the increased import taxes and he what he terms as, “the Secret MOU”, recently signed with DFID.
Observers believe that the statement from Romeo might result in a “Vote of No Confidence” against the Premier, and that he should receive support from the governing side, except the status quo might prevail.
“There was absolutely no consultation with Montserrat’s Legislature never mind the people of Montserrat…the Premier could not have had the support of the people of Montserrat as he implied in his statement to the UN Decolonisation Committee,” the Opposition leader concluded as he declares: “I sincerely hope that the UN Decolonisation Committee does not act in accordance with our Premier’s misleading and inexcusable statement.”
He is also calling on all Montserratians and friends of Montserrat to make their views clear to the Meade administration.
The Hon. Dr. Lowel Lewis visited Montserrat and voiced his dissent to the Premier’s decision and made some warning sounds to Montserrat. He says there are numerous benefits for remaining on the decolonisation list for non-self-governing territories. “He told ZJB news, “…the loss of the additional resources and additional help additional and contacts that we can make to move our people forward and also the benefits of continuing to relate in a direct way with other people who are in our situation…”
He noted that it is because of the UN Conventions that force HMG to deliver aid to its territories. “There is an advantage of being associated with the United nations in the level of aids, and the commitments that has forced the British Government to come forth with a meaningful aid…because of its responsibility under the United Nations Conventions to its territories,” he concluded
Jeevan Robinson Editor of MNIAlive in the first commentary on the matter under caption “Premier Reuben T Meade: Selling Montserrat For 30 Pieces Of Silver”, wrote: “The Premier of Montserrat recently journeyed to attend the C24 Regional Pacific Seminar on Decolonization and decided to commit Montserrat’s future, without any consultation, to the pockets of British rule indefinitely. For how many pieces of silver did he receive, I wonder, for springing this policy statement on the people?”
Jeevan also questioned the lack of a required referendum and the Premier’s pronunciations on the Constitution. “He, nor his government held no such referendum with the people of Montserrat. The people of Montserrat have made no such choice. Is the Premier therefore referring to the revised constitution that he bulldozed into law last year?” he asked.
Some 55 comments were left on MNIAlive as Montserratians have been expressing their dire concerns on the issue. (visit: http://mnialive.com/lifestyle/island-talk/2525-premier-reuben-t-meade-selling-montserrat-for-30-pieces-of-silver.html).
Attached is a copy of the Premier’s speech.