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When I heard about the planned protest slated for Friday March 11, I paid very little attention to it because, to my mind, it was yet another feeble attempt by some supporters of the opposition party to draw attention to themselves under the guise of a public protest.
Listed among the many reasons they were protesting were revenue measures implemented by the Prime Minister in his Budget.
While I wouldn’t elaborate on those revenue measures (as in my view, they have already gotten their fair share of public ventilation), I will hasten to say that I listened to the leader of the Opposition in his response to the Prime Minister’s Budget and, in my opinion, it was an exercise in futility. All I heard from the Leader of the Opposition was a critique of the Prime Minister’s Budget, and to say that I was extremely disappointed is a huge understatement. I sat there patiently waiting to hear the revenue measures which will be implemented by the Leader of the Opposition had the position between himself and the Prime Minister been reversed. Alas, I waited in vain.
For those of you who think that an opposition’s role is to oppose the government in everything it does, I say to you that an opposition not only opposes. It also proposes.
Therefore, in my opinion, it is not enough for Mr. Eustace to be critical of the Budget. He should also present a more viable alternative. After all, a Budget consists of two sides. There is the revenue side, which gives an outline of your revenue and a roadmap as to how that revenue will be attained and there is an expenditure side, which outlines how that revenue will be spent. Thus, if Mr. Eustace is aware of a more feasible option in which the country can achieve its target, why not present that option in the House of Parliament and let both sides debate the issue? Failure to do this will continue to leave me and other right-thinking Vincentians with the impression that he has nothing tangible to offer. No wonder his budget presentation was dubbed the “Poor People’s Budget” because in my opinion, what was presented by his members was truly lacking in substance. (Editor’s note: The presentation was actually dubbed “The People’s Budget”.)
I will now examine the issue of the public protest. Since the NDP was defeated at the polls just over three months ago, a number of its supporters has been issuing constant calls for public protest. However, these calls always fail to attract a significant number of persons. This failure to attract large crowds is also noticeable by the NDP activists. Therefore, what do they do? They encourage their protesters not to comply with the law; and when this happens and the police intervene, they use this as a strategy to incite other persons to join the protest. This has always been their modus operandi concerning protest and Friday March 11 was no different.
On that morning, Mr. Ivan O’Neal marched through the streets of Kingstown with about 20 troops behind him. I am sure Mr. O’Neal felt elated because during his entire political career, this is the largest number of followers he has ever had. Shortly after Mr. O’Neal enjoyed his moment of glory, it was announced that Colin Graham (a known activist for the NDP), was arrested. This arrest was used by other NDP activists to incite other persons to join the protest. Thus, a protest which was called against the “illegal government” because of all the injustices it had meted out to “poor people” quickly became a protest to “free Colin Graham.
I am willing to bet that at the completion of the court case concerning his arrest, history will proof that he was the instigator of his own arrest. In conclusion, let me state categorically that people who are oppressed, don’t need an incentive to protest.
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