Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Louis Straker debates the Cybercrime Bill on Friday. (IWN photo)

While government legislators repeatedly accused their opposition counterparts of not having read the Cybercrime Bill passed in Parliament last week, it was Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Louis Straker who admitted that he was not prepared to debate the bill.

“I had really not planned to speak on the bill neither have I done the kind of research that I would have loved to do in order to speak at any length on this bill,” Straker told Parliament as he rose to debate the bill on Friday, some hours before it was passed into law.

He, however, said the bill speaks to the protection of the nation’s people “and to prevent certain nefarious, pernicious activities which may otherwise go unpunished”.

The 74-year-old lawmaker said he does not have “the skill of the new technology, but this I do know that we are in a different age, one probably that we have gone beyond … And we have seen technology explode before our very eyes.

“My fear is not from the bill but my fear is that if we don’t have the bill what is coming up on us,” he said.

Straker said he listened to the opposition, beginning with their leader, Arnhim Eustace, who referred to a fear that has descended on St. Vincent and the Grenadines because of victimisation.

“And it appears to him that victimisation is a new phenomenon that was created in 2001 when he said he sent 541 names to the Christian Council of people who were victimised and nothing was done about those persons and he had to go to Barbados to get his message out,” Straker said in his presentation which came one day after Eustace debated the bill.

Straker, however, said that the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) ought to know better than to advocate the idea of fear descending on SVG because of victimisation by his Unity Labour Party (ULP).

He said that Edgar Cruickshank — a former ULP activist who threw his support behind the NDP before he was killed in an accident at NDP rally in Clare Valley in 2014 — had given him a list of persons who he said were victimised during the time of the NDP, including Cruickshank himself.

Cruickshank worked at the Public Works Department from 1965 to 1983 when he was transferred to the Kingstown Town Board.

Straker said that Cruickshank’s dismissal was ordered one day after the NDP came to office in June 1984 and he was fired on July 31 that year because of political pressure.

Cruickshank never received his severance pay until 2002, after the ULP came to power in March 2001.

Straker also called in Parliament the names of several persons who he said were victimised politically by the NDP.

He told Parliament and media audiences that he supports the cybercrime legislation.

“This bill is required at this time, Mr. Speaker,” Straker said.

“I have never seen anything like this in my 74 years. We have a situation where my son who had not come down here to St. Vincent could go on the internet and could pick up the colour of my house, the style of my house, and everything right there at Ruthland Vale there in Layou, that sometimes I am afraid to come out of my shower naked,” he said to chuckles.

Straker said technology is such that it has become “intrusive and evasive and unless we are protected –. That is the fear I have. We need to be protected.”

He said the nation finds itself in a situation where “these forms of modern technology are descending on us and people can do all sorts of things and there are those who say, ‘Well, it is right and good because we must have our rights of expression.’”

He said no government has provided for citizens’ rights to express themselves as the ULP has done, noting that it was the ULP that began to broadcast Parliament live.

“This bill does not muzzle anyone but it must protect those of us who are fair game to others who seem to take licence and liberty against us,” Straker said.

He said that he left SVG sometime ago and when he got to New York someone called him expressing concern, saying that NICE Radio manager, Douglas Defreitas had said he (Straker) had to be carried out on an ambulance, had a stroke and was in intensive care in hospital.

“Must we allow this kind of nonsense to proceed without protecting people?”

The Deputy Prime Minister said the opposition is “genetically predisposed” to voting “no” on important legislation.

Straker said that one day he is going to be a private citizen again and has no fear of the bill because he will live, as he always has, within the boundaries of the law.

9 replies on “Deputy PM admits he was not prepared to debate Cybercrime Bill”

    1. Why are you so pre-occupied with Nanny Straker? Don’t you know that every human being on God’s earth has more than a few skeletons in his/her closet, including being related by descent to thieves, rapists, killers, Nazis, and slavemasters?

      Didn’t the Hon. Deborah Charles just confess in Parliament that she is a relative of Adolph Hitler?

      1. Yes David but these people are demanding reparations for slavery 300 years ago. But Nanny Straker a black lady kept slaves in Saint Vincent 200 years ago. So if we follow the road map that Straker and Gonsalves are planning for the Europeans surely we must apply that to them and their families. It must follow if they expect the British people to be responsible for their ancestors, then we must apply it to these Vincentians, they must be held responsible for their ancestors also.

        David I agree with you but its the hypocritical rhetoric that make me continue to talk about their ancestors.

  1. Isn’t this something: The deputy PM didn’t get an opportunity to study and research the bill, yet he voted yes.

    1. It tells you he will do anything he is told to do. The party and the power of the ruling family is more important than the people or the country.

  2. Brown Boy USA says:

    Straker, stop speaking out of your posterior! If you haven’t read the bill how do you know that it is good for the people of this country? Is it good for you as well or only the people? Because you seem not be a part of this country when you make such statement. What backward foolishness is that? It is like you giving us poisonous food to eat and telling us it good for consumption without you taking a bit, smelling it or haven’t even seen the food to tell if it’s good. On what basis do you determine that this bill is good then? Those sort of foolishness is what infuriates me about these fly-by-night so call representative of the people. Why don’t we just call y’all “politicians”, which in this case should imply: a person who is elected by the people to look out for his/her own interest, period! That’s a perfect example of who we have running our country, a bunch people who don’t really care but will agree with anything that is put in front of them by their party, whether it’s good or bad, and without looking at what they are presented with come and tell you that it’s good. Really Straker, come on. It would have been best that you say that you haven’t ready the bill but you voted for it because it’s coming from your party, then we should have some respect for that. At least you would have been honest!

  3. Sir Louis is quite right to comment about Mitchell-era victimization. He could also have referred to victimization during the Joshua and Cato regimes. Every party, all over the democratic world, replaces the people hired or appointed by the previous regime. The ousted party in political backwaters like our own wrongly calls this process “victimization” when it should actually be called cronyism.

    As for vote buying, it has been around in poor countries like our own since the beginning of party politics. In rich countries vote buying also takes place but not on an individual basis. Rather, it consists of making promises to certain categories of people (e.g., income splitting for married couples to reduce their taxes or free tuition for college students) or of earmarking government projects for particular comstituences, something that also occurs in countries like our own.

    None of these three phenomena — victimization, cronyism, and vote buying — will ever change as long as party politics prevails.

    As for vote rigging, let the courts decide!

  4. Ironically only Jomo is trying to walk a fine line when it comes to the cybercrime bill. As speaker he can do and say very little to enhance or remove sections of the bill. He knows somewhere down the road he is going to be confronted by the cybercrime bill and he will have to defend himself in court.
    I notice something new in SVG: police are becoming lawyers and lawyers are becoming police. I realize something was wrong when I attended Carl Glasgow funeral some years ago. I believe there were close to 200 layers at the funeral. I can’t imagine where and if all were employed. But I’ve also noticed that very few lawyers have voiced their opinion on the cybercrime bill issue. Only PR said something, but then again he’s of the same dictatorial background as Ralph, so no one expects him not to support such bill. My hat goes off to Anesia for her stand and feedback on various parts of this bogus bill.
    I hope to talk to her someday about what some lawyers are doing to the poor when it comes to processing a deed. People are losing half of their property to lawyers who use the estimated price of the estate to set their price. There should be a standard form that cost no more that $500 to fill out. There is no LEGAL AID in SVG, so the poor have no one to fight for them. Hence those over 200 lawyers are ripping-off poor people. Justice is SVG is for those who can afford it. It is cheaper for the poor to go to jail and leave the money to feed their kids. […]

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