Mark Brantley’s Address to the Nation on The Anniversary of the Filing of Motion of No Confidence in St. Kitts & Nevis
My Fellow Citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis, good evening.
It is with a great sense of melancholy that I am compelled to address you tonight. I do so in my official capacity as Leader of Her Majesty`s Loyal Opposition but perhaps more importantly, I do so as a grief stricken Citizen of our once proud country that had long been held as a beacon for democracy in the Caribbean.
Alas, under the present Douglas Regime, we have become the poster child for dysfunctional democracy in the region. Our Nation appears now to be led by a rogue administration with wanton disregard for our treasured democratic traditions and the Rule of Law.
For one full year the Douglas regime has sought to frustrate the will of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. In so doing, the Speaker has willingly and enthusiastically aided and abetted the Douglas regime and has sadly elevated commitment to Party over commitment to our country. Our Parliament, our democracy and our young Nation have been the casualties of this approach.
The Motion of No confidence was filed on the basis that, under the present Douglas Regime, our country has been besieged by unsupportable National Debt, a corrupted electoral system, crumbling public infrastructure, increasingly burdensome taxes on the backs of the poor, crippling cost of living, an ever coarsening of our public and parliamentary debate, a trading away of our land, and an increasing sense of hopelessness and despair among our people.
The leadership of Dr. Denzil Douglas over the past 16 years has been marked by ever increasing hardship for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, and greater and greater disrespect by him for members of his own Cabinet, Members of the Opposition, and indeed, the citizens of this country. St. Kitts and Nevis is now more divided and divisive than ever with no effort being made by the Prime Minister to change his confrontational leadership style which has destroyed the socio-economic fabric of our once thriving Federation.
One year after the filing of the Motion of No Confidence, the reasons for its filing have not changed. Indeed, we may now have to file an amendment to that Motion, to include the recent Iranian Diplomatic Passport scandal, and how the Citizenship by Investment program is being mismanaged and abused at the expense of the people of this Federation. It cannot be lost on any of us that this latest international scandal caused by the greed and corruption of the Douglas regime poses a clear and present danger to our enviable status of visa free travel to so many nations worldwide.
It must be a point of shame for us as citizens that an Iranian national could have been so bold to have told Canadian authorities that he paid US$1 million for a diplomatic passport of our country and to have lied that he was entering Canada to meet with the Canadian Prime Minister, but yet continues to hold diplomatic status of our country to this day.
Fellow citizens, we must not disregard the creeping dictatorship of the Douglas regime and the clear, present and immediate threat it poses to our cherished Democracy. The blatant disregard for the dictates of the constitution in regard to the tabling and debating of the Motion of No Confidence is the clearest and most recent example of this push to dictatorship.
Since our filing of the Motion with the Speaker of the National Assembly on the 11th of December, in the year of our Lord 2012; there have been Motions of No Confidence filed, tabled, debated and voted on in Trinidad, in Barbados and even in countries such as the Ukraine, Thailand and Somalia. Now these last 3 countries are not known to be beacons of democracy; nor political or social stability for that matter. Yet they have had their Motions debated and voted on with alacrity.
What does it says of our country when these new and fragile democracies can adhere to the dictates of their constitutions, yet we are allowing our supreme Law to be trampled upon all because one man refuses to accept that his act on the political stage of St. Kitts and Nevis has ended? Are we now to accept that the warlords of Somalia have more respect for the Rule of Law than this Douglas regime?
Indeed, the Motion of No Confidence brought against the Prime Minister in Thailand failed; but responding to increasing public discontent and protests, the Prime Minister of Thailand on Monday dissolved Parliament and called for fresh elections, so that the people of the country can decide who they want to govern their affairs. Do we in St. Kitts and Nevis deserve any less?
The majority of the elected Members of Parliament do not support Prime Minister Douglas; and thousands of citizens have repeatedly taken to the streets in protest of his dysfunctional and ineffective Administration. It would seem that it is too much to ask that the Prime Minister adhere to the motto of our great State and put the good of the country above himself.
It would seem also that it is too much to ask that the Prime Minister considers, not just the interests of those personally connected to him or in his inner circle; but the ever increasing hardships of the majority of the people of St. Kitts/Nevis, contrary to their legitimate dreams and aspirations for themselves and for their families.
It would seem too much to ask of the Prime Minister that having duly recognized his continual failure of the country, that the elected Members of Parliament vote on the Motion of No Confidence; or call elections and let the people of our beloved land decide whom they wish to govern their affairs.
We must at this critical juncture in the history of our Nation reflect on the country we are trying to build and what we would like to leave our children. We must be ever mindful of the examples we are giving them. Does it not make it more difficult for you and I instill in our children values such as honesty, integrity, and adherence to and respect for rules and laws, when the Prime Minister of our Federation displays callous disregard for the Supreme Law of the land on a daily and ongoing basis?
How can we instill in them duty for fellow man, and that with great power comes great responsibility, when the leadership of our Federation publicly displays and defends a reckless propensity of all of self and none of thee?
How can we keep our heads held high and proud citizens of St, Kitts and Nevis, when the Prime Minister continues to hang heavy chains of embarrassment around our necks? Are we the citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis to go about the Caribbean Community and the wider world mourning how our democracy has been destroyed from within?
We have proud traditions in St. Kitts and Nevis. Our National Anthem speaks to some of these traditions.
O Land of Beauty!
Our country where peace abounds,
Thy children stand free
On the strength of will and love.
With God in all our struggles,
Saint Kitts and Nevis be
A nation bound together,
With a common destiny.
As stalwarts we stand
For justice and liberty.
With wisdom and truth
We will serve and honour thee.
No sword nor spear can conquer
For God will sure defend.
His blessings shall forever
To posterity extend.
These words have always evoked a sense of pride in me, as I am sure they do in you. They speak of peace, the strength of will and love, standing for justice and liberty, wisdom and truth; they speak of service and honour.
But in the more recent of times, with the sounding or contemplating of these words a new emotion has also been arising with the customary pride … Nostalgia and longing.
Reminiscing of a time when we had leadership in our federal government that strove mightily towards these ideals for themselves and us all. Alas, this Douglas regime has abandoned all that we as a Nation cherish.
For as much as physical peace remains, how much at peace are the hearts and minds of the thousands of families struggling to make it from paycheck to paycheck, month to month, in keeping the electricity on and food on the table, in the face of the excesses and wastage of the Douglas regime?
Where is the justice in the facilitation of the corruption of the electoral process in his attempt to trample the liberty of Nevisians by trying, as he said, to “keep Nevis green“?
Where is the wisdom in placing the proceeds of the sale of our patrimony outside the control of the Government; and questionable appointments to diplomatic status?
Where is the truth to the many questions that we the people have as to how and why this regime is so badly mismanaging our affairs?
Our Nation now finds itself at a crossroads. Our people must now decide what our history will look like when it is written. What will historians say of us who lived in this perilous time? It is now the day and the hour for our people to demonstrate the strength of will and love for our Nation to stand for justice and the liberty for all. It is now the day and the hour where we must rise up and demand that this and any other government acts with honour and integrity. It is now the day and the hour where we must demand that those whom we elect to serve remain committed to our service, honouring the democratic traditions and ideals that make us a great Nation. It is now the day and the hour for each and every one of us to stand up for our democracy in St. Kitts and Nevis.
When the history of this period in our Nation is written, let it be said of us that when the enemies of our democracy threatened to overrun our defences, our people stood on the ramparts and defended that which our forefathers had struggled and died for.
I therefore call yet again on the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable Curtis Martin to table the Motion of No Confidence for debate without any further delay.
I call yet again on the Prime Minister that, if he is resigned to the reality that he cannot win against the Motion, and is equally resigned not to let the majority of the elected Members of Parliament decide on the leadership of the Government; to ask for the immediate dissolution of Parliament, set elections, and let the people of the country decide.
I also call on the Institutions and Members of civil society; the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Christian Council and the Evangelical Association, The Bar Association and all citizens and stakeholders in the stability and prosperity of St. Kitts and Nevis to equally, publicly and repeatedly, call on the Speaker and the Prime Minister for the tabling of the Motion.
It is time for us all to stand and be counted.
This Opposition has acted throughout this dark period of our history with utmost restraint and continues so to do even in the face of increasing signs of creeping dictatorship. I however today send clear warning to this minority Douglas regime that it would be dangerous error to mistake restraint for weakness.
It is my fervent hope even in the depths of my melancholy that good sense will prevail and that our Speaker and our Prime Minister remember our Nation’s motto and creed of “Country Above Self”. Only so, can we be assured that we will continue to be a country where peace abounds.
May God bless you; and may it be indeed that, with regard to our beloved country, His blessing shall forever, to posterity – extend.