Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday says that appointing appropriate persons as diplomats could have avoided the embarrassment St. Vincent and the Grenadines suffered after one of his envoys reportedly punched his wife in the face in New York last Friday.
He further said that if a diplomat does well, the government gets the praise and must equally take responsibility for their bad behaviour.
“Well, the first thing, you can’t put square pegs in round holes,” Friday said Monday on Boom FM.
“Diplomatic positions abroad are very sensitive because persons who we select are representing all of us in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, not just one political party or another.
“You are not there to represent a party, you are there to represent the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So, naturally, you would want persons who are capable, who would represent the interest of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a positive way,” he said.
The Ralph Gonsalves government has recalled “for consultations” Sehon Marshall, a counsellor at the SVG Permanent Mission to the United Nations after he allegedly punched his wife, Xandra Marshall, deputy consul general at the SVG consulate in New York.
Friday said a diplomat is not selected based simply on academic record.
“You have to have experienced persons who have the full package. That is somebody who would represent St. Vincent and the Grenadines effectively. You can’t just have people who are engaging in activities that will cause others to look at us in a negative way. It is somebody who is out there representing us.”
Friday noted that Marshall is a university graduate, adding, “but these are not just the basics of all that is required to be a successful diplomat.”
He said the diplomat must be able to represent the country in a positive light.
“And the selection process must take into account the entire package of the person. It has to be that we have effective representation abroad. Not just somebody who we like or somebody who has been a spokesperson on behalf of a political party at home.”
Marshall holds a Master of Laws in climate change law and policy, a
Master of Arts in international relations and affairs and an Associate’s degree, in information technology, according to his profile on LinkedIn, a professional networking website.
Asked if he thinks that the government should be blamed for the development involving the Marshalls, Friday said, “The buck stops with the minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister”.
He said the appointment will draw attention because the person did not perform in a way that presents the nation in a positive light.
“You have to take responsibility for the entire package. If somebody you appoint does something spectacular you will take credit for it. If they did something spectacularly bad, you have to also recognise that you made an error in judgment.
“We, as political leaders, have become so reflexively defensive that we can’t see when mistakes are made and put measures in place to correct them,” Friday said.