By Kenrick Quashie
After the 1998 general elections, the argument posited by the leaders of the ULP against the NDP was that the NDP didn’t have the majority of the votes so it was, therefore, illegitimate. Fresh elections were demanded. This argument then evolved into what is now known as the “Greedy” Bill. The circumstances at the time triggered a massive protest.
The ULP blocked roads and even prevented the ambulance from taking emergency cases from Georgetown to the then Kingstown General Hospital. I still remember a maths teacher, despite the protesting and practical shut down of schools across the country, deciding that she wanted to make provisions for 5th form students at the North Union Secondary School in order to help them to prepare for the CXC exams. Upon her return from classes, the van she and other students were traveling in got into an accident on the Colonarie long stretch. The ambulance transporting her to the Kingstown General Hospital was blocked by ULP protestors.
It amazes me to see people condemning NDP supporters for blocking the road when vehicles were able to pass or could have been diverted — which is the norm when there are any big gatherings. I listened in awe as ULP supporters of long ago condemn today’s protestors as if their actions were treasonous. Hypocrites!
In 2000, CARICOM leaders were prohibited from traveling to their hotels by ULP protestors. As such, the fence across our lone E.T. Joshua airport had to be opened to facilitate their trips to and from their hotels.
Upon reflection, I wonder what were the orders given by the commissioner of police then. I do not recall incidents where officers kicked, slapped or shoved civilians or party leaders. Perhaps police officers were immediately transferred for doing right by the people they were commissioned to protect and serve as well.
Today, NDP’s argument is that it has the majority votes, much like the ULP did then. Unlike the “greedy” bill argument though, protests are now being organised by ordinary citizens because of the glaring injustice being meted out to Cornelius John — an injustice which has implications for the “ordinary Vincentian”.
This Cornelius John issue has far greater implications than the ULP dubbed “Greedy Bill”. However, according to the ULP, Vincentians should “shut up” and let injustice prevail over our land.
In 2000, the ULP promised to make SVG ungovernable. Today, the ULP hypocrites are calling on Dr. Friday to condemn protestors for blocking the PM’s vehicle and throwing “water bottles”, according to PM Gonsalves.
I have seen people calling the protests unchristian, ungodly and all sorts of names as if the act of protesting is contrary to Christian and other religious principles. Is that why so many Christian organisations such as the Christian Council, Association of Evangelical Churches, United Baptist Fellowship, Southern Baptist Churches and a whole list of independent churches remain silent? Is today’s injustice not cause to call out your members?
As a member of Harvest Bible Chapel, I remember my pastor encouraging members to march at the rally organised by the Christian Coalition. The theme then was: “A Call to Righteousness: Calling our Nation to God”. Where are the rallying cries now? Why not encourage our people to march today? Why not even address the members about what’s happening in our country? Are we not to be our brothers’ keepers? What will it take for these Christian organisations to issue at least a statement? Your actions are counter to the teachings of God as you sit back and let injustice prevail.
The last I checked, the Bible still says “righteous exalts a nation”. Be God’s instrument and speak out against the ULP’s perpetuated injustice against Cornelius John. Be bold and admit that the process is corrupted. That justice is not being done. Remind those responsible for discharging their duties without fear and favour that they must do so to uphold the rule of law and to maintain public confidence. If not, you too stand the chance of being called a hypocrite!
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