Political activist Sehon Marshall, who Cabinet has approved for appointment as St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Deputy Consul General in New York, has apologised for disparaging remarks he made about the occupations and the economic circumstances of some Vincentians in the United States.
Speaking on Cross Country Radio in late August, Marshall said that before the Unity Labour Party (ULP) came to office (in March 2001), civil servants used to quit their jobs and migrate to the United States and become nannies and dog walkers.
Related: Controversy as gov’t considers Sehon for diplomat post
“I want you to tell me since the ULP has taken over in 2001, which teacher, which nurse, or which policeman has resigned his or her job and gone America to babysit people children or walk people dog?” said Marshall, who taught school from 1991 to 1999.
Some Vincentian at home and abroad say they were hurt by the comments, and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said persons have called him expressing these sentiments.
Gonsalves, at a press conference on Tuesday, apologised for Marshall’s comments, but suggested that his government is still considering appointing Marshall, an international affairs graduate, to the diplomatic post.
Related: PM ‘sorry’ potential diplomat-designate spoke insultingly about Vincentians in US
Marshall apologised on WE FM on Wednesday when he appeared for about 40 minutes on “Voices”, a two-hour programme hosted by Jomo Thomas, a journalist and lawyer who is also a senator and candidate for the ULP.
“When I was a little boy, I used to hear the saying, even from my mother, that the road to hell would be paved with good intentions and I never understood that until I became an adult,” Marshall said.
“I am saying that in the context of some comments that have been attributed to me over the past couple of weeks made on another programme — [on] the 29th of August [and] the 5th of September, I was on another programme, another radio station, and I was making some comments, I made some very specific comments, and, regardless of my intentions, the impact of those comments, they have created some unease, some discomfort, and some hurt,” he said.
“Let me say that in making those comments, my intentions were simply this: to indicate to the person that I was interacting with, the difference in opportunity that is present here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines — as compared maybe to what was available in the 1980s, or the 1990s — mainly in opportunities for professionals.
“At no time, Jomo, did I intend to hurt, shame, diminish people’s effort, ridicule people’s effort in my statement, but I think very often I get passionate, and in that particular instance, my passion went too far and I used some words that were unnecessary, were a bit strong, the language was a bit robust, and, regrettably, the conversation was truncated to demonise me in a particular way,” Marshall said.
Asked who truncated the conversation, Marshall said: “At this point in time, Jomo, I would rather not deal specifically with that, rather to take responsibility for the comments.”
Marshall said he was taking responsibility “for the fact that my comments were misunderstood …
“As well meaning as my intentions would have been, the tone of the statements I made, the words I used came over in a particular manner. And this has nothing to do with diplomacy or a diplomat or anything of that sort. This has to do with a person acknowledging that very often it is not what was intended, but the impact of what was done, and, in this case, my words, my statements, caused damage and caused hurt for good people, for honest people who are in the diaspora, who are engaged in honest work and contributing significantly to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, causing them to feel that I was belittling them, and, for that, I am deeply –” Marshall was saying when Thomas interjected, asking a question.
Marshall said that while no one has told him directly that they were hurt by his comments, he has been monitoring the situation and people have expressed on talk radio and social media “that they felt belittled, they felt insulted; and that was never my intention.
“And, for that, Jomo, I am profoundly apologising because regardless of what a person does, I always believe, and my mother trained me this way, that honest work in honest work, and regardless of what a person does, someone engaged in honest work ought to be applauded and not ridiculed,” Marshall said.
He, however, said that it was not his intention neither did he ridicule anyone engaged in honest work.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, told I-Witness News on Sept. 11, that Marshall was the government’s choice was the diplomatic post.
Marshall said on voices on Wednesday that he has not signed a contract with the government for the deputy consul general position.
I-Witness News has obtained a document that purports to show that Cabinet on Aug. 20, 2014 approved the appointment of Marshall as SVG’s Deputy Consul General in New York effective Sept. 1, 2014, and also approved remuneration and allowances totalling EC$125,335 annually.
However, the foreign secretary’s comments suggested that the appointment is not complete until a contract is signed.
Congrats brother I hope this reaches the people it needs to reach so that they can get a clearer picture of what really happened I’m sure that when its examined in a balanced way people will realize that it was nothing personal as there was no reason to be.
Sadly a lot of people opt for non engagement in certain situations and by doing so adversely affect themselves.
That culture must change for us globally as a people
Best of luck on your journey and continue to keep that courage
Agitate to liberate.
Well as far as I am concerned this is far from unequivocal apology. Its an excuse for why he said it, and that is very different from a straight apology.
This is somewhat a problem of having people ignorant to diplomatic behaviour chosen to take up diplomatic positions. Remember the un-diplomatic behaviour of Camillo and the NY policeman.
Its even worse with Sehon because he has a history of boo boos.
Such behaviour can only be caused by the mans arrogance from his blighting from the leader of our government. Its a copy-cat behaviour but said at the wrong time in the wrong place. You can be sure he learnt what he said from someone else, because no one says anything in ULP terms unless they believe it will please the leader.
I don’t see the genuineness in this apology. He apologised just because he thought it was the best thing to do or he was told to do it. quote “but I think very often I get passionate” really? Where was the passion and passionate about what? Trying to put us down, but guess what? We are not going to let you do that, because we are proud, hardworking, ambitious Vincentians who might have started from the bottom now we are here, (borrowing Drake ‘s words) if you are really genuine you’ll not accept the appointment for the diplomatic post.
How the hell can you tell if the apology was geuuine. You are an forgiving person. He said he did not try to put down anyone. I am in the diaspora too. i do all kinds of work. I am a teacher by profession. I am not offended. Let’s forgive and move on. Remember the Lord’s prayer which ststes in part….”and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us. If you dont forgive Sehon, then God would not forgive you. You would be doomed for hell.
Please deal with your anger. Calm down.We all have the right to question whether the apology is sincere or not. I myself wondered if he would have apologized if he wasn’t expected to by the PM. I too am willing to forgive him and move on. By the way was he the only person being considered for this position?
God the Almighty, the ruler, the judge, the healer, is an all loving God. Who the hell are you Gersham Alexander to proclaim that “God would not forgive” you need to check your bible again……… Another example of authority gone wrong, hey before this moment I never heard of that fool,.. great p.r tool “if I stick my 3rd leg in my mouth and sit back I can watch the masses talk about me”
In my opinion, this is a non-apology. It seems that Sehon thinks he should not be issuing an apology. Before he makes his so called “apology,” he takes pain to point out that he does not think he said anything wrong, but rather is apologizing because of the uproar it caused.
Poor fella. He is showing how undiplomatic and unsuitable he is for the office of DCG.
I do not know this chap, neither am I aware of his credentials; however, the one thing I know about diplomacy is that the diplomat should never be the story.
It does not bode well that ones tenure should commence with controversy and an apology regardless of the cause.
The best diplomats are those whose presence is superfluous of the role insomuch as one is unaware of their existence.
This gentleman has the unfortunate distinction of getting in the way of his role due to comments (innocuous or not) that he may have made.
On that point along; Sehon old chap, I advise you to stay clear of this role for it shall prove to be a poisoned chalice.
There are other paths to a singular destination and this particular path appears to be beset with trolls and highwaymen.
Maybe I am a bit slow on the up take but at what exactly was he apolgysing for? I finally had an opportunity to listen to Mr. Marshall’s apology and was upset yet again. Here is a statement from his apology interview;
“At no time, Jomo, did I intend to hurt, shame, diminish peoples effort, ridicule peoples effort in my statement, but I think very often I get passionate, and in that particular instance, my passion went too far and I used some words that were unnecessary, were a bit strong, the language was a bit robust, and, regrettably, the conversation was truncated to demonise me in a particular way, Marshall said.”
This was a blame game session with ideas of his passion for Vincentian society in NY as we can all see in his words that he spoke and not truncated (all bull shit) , he used the words sorry and in error etc but felt the need to blame others for this issue and for his expression of certain terms. He claimed operatives were at work to bring him down all words that show up on the transcripts of his interview. Words that came out of his mouth and certainly were not coached to him during his live on air interviews. He didn’t apologize he just passed the buck to the boogie man of politics, yes he wanted all to know that this was a political attack.
But something else bothered me more than his non-apology and that was his official appointment to the post here in NY was approved by the government of SVG even as so many of us share our outraged over this incident and maybe his ineffectual leadership in this post.
While I might not live in SVG and frankly care less about the tone deaf political parties who fight dirty to gain power and keep it at any cost,
I am a Vincentian
I am a tax payer for my assets in SVG,
I bank in SVG and
I own shares in assets of my homeland.
Many of my fellow Vincentians send remittances to their love ones in SVG be it in the form of cash or goods which supports some aspects of the Vincentians economy (Sources: Development Prospects Group, World Bank; UNPD 2009.).
Our words and actions should stand for something and not brushed aside as inconsequential, after all when everything is said and done we are the ones who has to interact with this individual on a one on one basis something I would chose to avoid doing as he clearly does not have my best interest at heart.
I am angry, insulted and ashamed that my homeland choses to spit in the face of its citizens once more. Lucky for me my job requires my travel to Washington D.C. frequently where any paper work I need can be done since I will chose to not to use the NYC office until this individual who has not yet accepted his wrong doing in this incident but choses to blame others and politics for a check he wrote with his mouth that his ass can’t cash.
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