Dr. Denzil Douglas Shares Two Lofty Ideals That His Incoming Government Stands For: The Rule Of Law And The Creation Of Wealth For The People
In the spirit of expanding partnership with those in the diaspora and sharing good governance responsibility, the Political Leader of the NextGen St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, Dr. Denzil Douglas (DD) outlined his leadership vision and governance strategy for the Federation.
Dr. Douglas sat down for an interview with award winning freelance journalist Beresford Mack (BM) and gave us these insights:
BM: Dr. Douglas, what are some of the things that you and your NextGen Labour team think are most important for an ordered society?
DD: My young and vibrant colleagues and I hold two goals and lofty ideas as sacred. First, the rule of law must be an essential ingredient in maintaining our democracy. When others have demonstrated a reckless disregard and disrespect for the dignity of the court, we respect the rule of law and the judiciary and take great pride in our long tradition of the fair administration of Justice.
Second, we believe that our in-coming government must create wealth through the enormous benefits we will be bringing to the good people of St. Kitts and Nevis on returning to government.
BM: What are some of the major projects that will create employment opportunities in construction and ignite sustained economic growth across all sectors of the economy starting in 2021?
DD: We are anxious to deliver a bridge between St. Kitts and Nevis, which will open big opportunities and create an economic zone at both ends of the island of St. Kitts. This project is designed to consolidate and expand our tourism industry especially with an emphasis in medical tourism.
We will also construct a highway from western Basseterre to the Whitegate Development area. This will bring us additional economic activity for the expansion of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College campus in Nevis and the western campus in St. Kitts, thus offering our young people a first-class education foundation nearer to their homes.
To further improve our infrastructure, we will build a brand-new airport terminal with several jet bridges to increase the number of new airlines that we will woo to our lovely Federation.
BM: What is NextGen Labour’s vision for sports development?
DD: The Next Gen SKN incoming government is also anxious to begin the construction of a National Sports Academy, through which our young, highly talented and skillful men and women will be prepared to compete professionally in basketball, soccer, tennis, netball, golf, volley ball, swimming, track and field and netball. They will also be prepared with the social graces, leadership skills, commitment to excellence and resilience, all important skills and attributes that they will need as productive citizens in their adult lives.
BM: How will local stakeholders benefit from this new economic development vision?
DD: Our building and construction policy is geared towards cooperation with local businesses and international investors so that we provide a fair and transparent framework of conditions which bring solid but sustainable benefits to everyone. Therefore, we envision resuscitating the La Vallee Development Project while at the same time complete the construction of three boutique hotels at Kittitian Hill and building a state of the art Technical Training Institute. I want our people to keep abreast of the latest knowledge and techniques in their fields to perform beyond expectations.
BM: What about healthcare?
DD: The Next Gen SKN incoming government is already engaged in dialogue with several players in the global healthcare industry to build a state of the art hospital, a medical complex, upgrade community clinics and integrate various medical and nursing programs to the deliver the best education and cutting edge health care services to our people. We must be better able to cope with and minimize the impact of global outbreaks on our citizens.
BM: I know that you are a staunch integrationist. What role do you see for St. Kitts and Nevis as a regional player?
DD: I want St. Kitts and Nevis to play a vital role in shaping regional politics and economics. I will promote the formation of a capital market as an important instrument to raise the finances to fund several of these major projects. My young, innovative and energetic team and I, envision our Federation working together with CARICOM and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to confront global challenges and share equal responsibility for adapting to new priorities and challenges as they arise.
Beresford Mack is a strategic communications consultant, award winning freelance journalist and social media marketing specialist. He has worked in the Caribbean, United Kingdom and the USA. He has won a Sony Radio award (which is described as the UK Radio Oscars) whilst working at London’s biggest Urban Radio Station Choice FM which has now been rebranded as Capital Xtra.
At a public meeting held on March 12, 2020, the political leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas referred to the Appeal Court’s ruling as a “Saul-like experience” when the Apostle was on the road to Damascus.
Following the 2015 general elections, the Timothy Harris administration, in what has been described as a naked act of political victimization, revoked Dr. Douglas’ diplomatic passport in spite of the fact that he is a distinguished statesman, having served the people of St. Kitts and Nevis as Prime Minister for twenty years and was now the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition of St. Kitts and Nevis. When the diplomatic passport was issued to him as a courtesy by the government of Dominica, the Harris administration used this as a pretext to initiate legal action under Section 28 of the Constitution of St. Christopher and Nevis.
The court of first instance ruled in favour of Dr. Douglas but was overturned by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal on March 12, 2020 and ordered, among other things, that Dr. Douglas vacate his seat in Parliament immediately.
Dr. Douglas elaborated his views on the ruling at the public meeting, stating, “I strongly disagree with the ruling, but I will respect and abide by the Court’s decision. This ruling has brought us closer to the election that Timothy Harris is mortally afraid to call whether it takes place through a by-election or a national general election.”
Douglas made it clear that he intends to compete in any election in Constituency Number Six (6). “The Court has baptized me anew with the power of the people. Before its ruling I was the Right Honorable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, the elected representative of Constituency Number Six and Opposition Leader of St. Kitts and Nevis. But now I am Dr. Denzil Douglas, the Political Leader of the NextGen SKN St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party and a proud and enthusiastic NextGen SKN candidate for Constituency Number Six,” he stated to the jubilant crowd.
Implicit in Douglas’ comments is the idea that “a bad wind never blows”, especially now that the national mood is in favor of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party returning to serve the interests of every citizen and resident in the Federation. Last night’s rally drew a record-breaking crowd for this stage of the political season, with hundreds gathered in the streets of Fig Tree on walls and roof tops. There was also widespread support on social media with over 1000 viewers watching the Labour Party’s live stream. Throughout the evening, scores of supporters and party faithfuls showered Dr. Douglas with expressions of love and affirmation. Several voters were heard saying: “Tell them to call the election now, now that the court ruled and everybody is back on board.”
Over the past weeks the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party has been involved in intense discussions with various potential investors to hit the ground rolling once elected; one such area is Sports.
The St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party acknowledges that Sports, Heritage and the Arts can release creative energies to foster self-esteem, community cohesion and economic activity. The youth of St. Kitts and Nevis possess tremendous talent in various sports disciplines. However, although the talent is obvious the support is dormant. Our athletes and creatives are desperately in need of more support, investment, professionalization and exposure and this academy will facilitate that.
In a press conference held on Thursday March 12, 2020, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas stated, “Our young people already have the talent; all they need is an opportunity. The NextGen SKN Labour Administration will lead and coordinate optimal society-wide investment in these valuable activities.”
Labour has in the past provided scholarship assistance to many, creating an avenue for our athletes to pursue their passion on a wider scale. Several of our athletes and sports professionals have been recruited by various sports organizations and universities, which proves that our athletes have the skills and potential to make it big and it is our role to accelerate that.
We have many more athletes like Atiba Harris, Sheno Berridge, Kim Collins, Keith “Kayamba” Gumbs, Jill Musgrave, and Tiandra Ponteen to name a few.
Labour has partnered with Dr. Bruce Lockerbie, the CEO of PAIDEA, an international sports consultant to assist with the establishment of a National Sports Academy here in St. Kitts & Nevis. PAIDEA has assisted in implementing major sports events regionally and internationally, including World Cup Football and World Cup Cricket.
At the press conference Dr. Lockerbie stated, “A sports academy can bring both the essentials of a strong rigorous learning environment and parallel that with the skills, discipline and encouragement an athlete receives.” He added, “We have constructed a similar establishment in St. Lucia in October 2017.”
This sports academy will be one that combines sports and education. It will be able to accommodate various sporting disciplines as well as provide training and courses to further develop the players physically, technically and mentally. It will open doors for our athletes to compete in the international arena ensuring that our athletes and sportsmen and women receive the necessary training and education to advance their skills in their desired area of interest, whether it be golf, swimming, netball, tennis, martial arts, basketball, football or cricket to name a few.
H. E. Kenneth “Kenny” Douglas is excited about this venture. He stated, “This is a perfect opportunity to harness the talents of our youths, while instilling moral and life enhancing values such as discipline, ethics, integrity, accountability and teamwork.”
The aim of the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party is to establish the Sports Academy and the National Academy for the Performing Arts as Centers of Excellence to enhance the skills of our creative and talented nationals, while opening our doors to students from the wider Caribbean Community to attend.
Dr. Denzil Douglas: “Tourism Minister Lindsay Grant is too Distracted to Prepare for the Impacts of the COVID-19 Crisis on the Tourism Industry
“While the threat of the Coronavirus COVID-19 looms large, this government is being distracted by so many problems and scandals I cannot be certain that their priorities are in the right place,” said the Leader of the Opposition of St. Kitts and Nevis during his Tuesday radio call-in programme, “Ask the Leader”.
NextGen Labour Administration will Assist Workers Displaced by Impending Closure of Api Harowe Servo St. Kitts Ltd. Production Lines
Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L Douglas said Tuesday that efforts will be made by the under his new administration when elected to reverse the closure of a production line at Api Harowe Servo St. Kitts Ltd. in Sandy Point and save the jobs of scores of workers. This would be treated as a matter of high priority.
Dr. Douglas was informed of the impending closure by some of the present employees who are worried about losing their jobs.
Dr. Douglas said that Api Harowe Servo has been playing a dominant role in the lives and welfare of hundreds of households in the capital and country-side of St. Kitts. At its establishment it employed 214 people.
“We are hoping that as a Labour government emerging from the (upcoming) general elections, that we would be able to hold high-level discussions with the owners and stop the closure or even if it happens to get busy immediately and hold discussions with other potential manufacturers who will be able at least to use the vacant factory shell and start up new operations for the benefit of our people,” said Dr. Douglas.
Barring any possible restrictions on travelling at the time with the coronavirus pandemic now spreading around the world, he will on his first visit out, if the elections are not yet called, “seek one of the many potential investors who he knows to do something positive in using the factory shell in Sandy Point.”
Dr. Douglas gave a commitment to the employees that the NextGen Labour Government will “try our very best to avert the closure or downsizing of the Api Harowe Servo manufacturing plant. If it has to happen as plans may be too advanced by the time the new Labour Government takes office, I give a commitment to all of these young ladies and men who work there that we will do our best to have them employed very quickly.”
It is with shock and dismay that I have observed in recent days the public threats against the life of Honourable Justice Eddy Ventose by certain individuals on social media. Over the last few days, even after appeals to cease such offensive and irresponsible behaviour by the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association, the life threats have continued and have become even more vulgar and explicit.
In my capacity as the Leader of the Opposition of St. Kitts and Nevis, I strongly condemn such bullying and disrespect of a distinguished member of our judiciary. It is indeed an act of pure cowardice when persons in our society hide behind pseudonyms and fake profiles to injure the reputation and make threats to the life and security of others. Such attacks should never be tolerated. They are further evidence of the new and unprecedented low to which the political discourse of our society has sunk. I have spoken out on numerous occasions in the past about the prevalence of cyberbullying that has been targeted against myself, the former Police Commissioner and many others who have spoken out fearlessly in defence of Democracy and the Rule of Law and who are considered offensive to the current Harris-led Administration.
I reiterate my call on the Attorney General and Minister of National of Security to denounce such acts and to investigate the identities behind these fake profiles as a matter of grave urgency.
The Parliamentary Opposition continues to be extremely concerned and alarmed by the legal developments involving Minister Lindsay Grant and Ambassador Jonel Powell in relation to the civil case that was brought against them. Justice Eddy J. Ventose, resident High Court Judge found them liable for misappropriation of over one million EC dollars in client’s funds.
In the latest of three rulings handed down in this instance by Justice Ventose on February 27, 2020, the High Court judge exercised his powers of referral and ordered Grant and Powell to appear before a Disciplinary Tribunal of two High Court judges. The objective is to determine whether they should be suspended for a specified period or be struck off the Court Roll of St. Christopher and Nevis.
This latest legal development represents a very damning indictment on the character of these two public servants. It speaks to the conviction of the High Court judge that Grant and Powell’s professional misconduct merits some form of disciplinary action. The ruling affirms what the Parliamentary Opposition and citizens of our Federation have been insisting for some time that Grant and Powell should be subjected to disciplinary action and called upon to resign as high ranking government officials.
Justice Ventose confirmed that “misappropriation of funds of an Attorney-at-Law of client funds is a serious matter”. He instructed the Registrar of the High Court to establish the Disciplinary Tribunal within sixty (60) days of his February 27, 2020 ruling, in consultation with the Judicial and Legal Services Commission. A hearing of the assessment of damages has also been set for May 19, 2020 at 1:00 pm.
The February 27, 2020 ruling therefore was a very serious and damning indictment on the character of Grant and Powel who will be either suspended or debarred for misappropriating a client’s funds. We in the Parliamentary Opposition again join our citizens in demanding that they resign immediately as a result of the High Court ruling, which has proven that they are unfit to hold public office.
The Parliamentary Opposition is very concerned that St. Kitts and Nevis was not named among Caribbean countries that have the capacity to detect, contain and manage cases of the coronavirus – COVID-19, were the virus to reach our shores. This unfortunate fact was confirmed Sunday during a press conference held after an emergency meeting between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government and Ministers of Health in Barbados to agree on a regional protocol establishing minimum standards for dealing with the COVID-19 virus.
For the last few weeks we in the Parliamentary Opposition have indicated our willingness to be part of national consultations on this issue and have appealed to the Timothy Harris administration to take a bi-partisan approach. We have also made the recommendation that the government of St. Kitts and Nevis seeks the assistance of Cuba as a source of medical specialists with expertise in acute respiratory diseases.
In St. Kitts and Nevis we cannot wait until the virus reaches our shores to begin to take action. I urge the Government of our Federation to act urgently and pre-emptively to minimize the risk of the spread of the virus among our people and of the endangerment of our nationals and residents. Specifically, I urge the Government to move expeditiously to develop and publish a contingency plan, with provisions for the immediate establishment of quarantine facilities, arrangements for the speedy testing of suspected cases, the immediate commencement of a public information and education programme and all other activities deemed necessary to prevent or contain the spread of the virus in our Federation.
Recent media reports have confirmed that cases of COVID-19 coronavirus have been confirmed in the Latin American and Caribbean countries of the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Ecuador and St. Barth’s.
I beg that we do not treat this matter as a political issue. The risk to our nation is far too great to allow politics to undermine our efforts to contain the spread of the virus. As Leader of the Opposition of St. Kitts and Nevis and as a medical doctor I stand read to assist in any way possible and to make available to the Government the resources of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party if called upon to do so.
Drew Urges Government to Seek Help from Cuba to Send Specialist to Deal with Early Detection of the COVID-19 Coronavirus
Medical internist Dr. Terrance Drew has appealed to the Timothy Harris administration to immediately request help from the Government of Cuba to send a specialist to Basseterre in the event someone becomes infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Dr. Drew, the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) candidate for St Christopher 8, who also holds the health portfolio in the shadow cabinet, made the appeal during the monthly press conference of the SKNLP on Wednesday.
Pointing out that the twin-island federation lacks a specialist in infectious diseases, Dr. Drew as he did on Tuesday’s “Ask the Leader,” called on the Timothy Harris-led government “to reach out to Cuba and ask Cuba to send the necessary specialist in the case that we might be hit with someone with the coronavirus.”
“This is a very serious matter and I appeal to the Government. I am willing to speak to those who will listen at the leadership of the health sector that we need better preparation and to have the necessary specialists on the ground who would put in place the infrastructure to deal with any cases of the coronavirus.”
The pathogen has now invaded at least 50 nations, with California and Germany recording the first cases with no obvious source of transmission.
Sweden, Brazil and Russia have become the latest countries to record cases of the killer coronavirus that is rapidly sweeping the world.
Almost 10,000 people across the world have been infected, while the death toll outside China has risen to 213 as the crisis continues to escalate.
Corrupting the electoral machinery ahead of still to be announced general elections continues to be a major concern of the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP).
With five years past the general elections of February 16, 2015, the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) has expressed concern about continuing irregularities inside the Electoral Office.
“As more time passes the unpopular and unscrupulous Timothy Harris-led coalition government will devise ways and means to manipulate the electoral system to their political advantage,” said Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L Douglas, National Political Leader of the SKNLP.
A few months ago the SKNLP mounted a protest outside the Electoral Office in Basseterre against several irregularities. The Supervisor of Elections is Mr. Elvin Bailey, a cousin of the Hon. Vance Amory, Senior Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Security in the Timothy Harris coalition cabinet.
At Wednesday’s monthly press conference at the Labour Party’s Campaign Headquarters, Dr. Douglas noted the withdrawal by Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, of a proposed amendment to the National Assembly Elections Act in September 2019 which would have introduced a six-month residency requirement for persons to be eligible to be registered as a voter after widespread protest.
Dr. Douglas and several of the NextGen SKN candidates of the SKNLP mounted a spirited campaign against the proposed amendment holding meetings in London and Birmingham, England; New York and Florida in the United States; Toronto, Canada; the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and St Maarten, where hundreds of nationals reside.
On October 31, 2019, Mr. Denzil Crooke was appointed Chairman of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, just over three months before February 16, 2020, the fifth anniversary of the last general elections.
“Since a new Boundaries Commission was established, it was only in December of 2019 that they met for the first time. Since this time, the Boundaries Commission met four times trying to find a legal justification for further delaying the elections and for making void the revised boundaries of 2015,” said Dr. Douglas, who indicated that Prime Minister Harris was now focusing on the continued corruption in the Electoral Office, “over which he wields undue political influence, to carry out the same objective – to disenfranchise our overseas nationals.”
“Since the publication of the Register of Voters in January 2020, we have seen that hundreds of names of many of our nationals living overseas have been objected to from the Voters List across all constituencies,” said Dr. Douglas.
“This is spreading confusion and unrest among the electorate. People are very disturbed and outraged by these attempts to gerrymander the boundaries and the voter fraud taking place in the Electoral Office. We in the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party will not allow Prime Minister Harris to suppress the democratic will of the people,” he told reporters.