Premier Andrew Fahie has described as ‘concerning’ what he said was a display of childish behaviour by the members of the Opposition when they decided to boycott the final readings of the amendments made to Immigration and Passport on Monday.
In a media release on Tuesday, the Premier pointed to the overall lack of participation by the Opposition in the House of Assembly.
Only Sixth District Representative Alvera Maduro-Caines participated in the debate of the amendment.
Following the debate, when the House went private deliberations, all the members of the Opposition did not return to vote. The Bill passed after being backed by all eight members on the government side.
“For the Opposition to withhold making any meaningful contribution to the debate on the Bill, and for them to pack up and leave because the proceedings did not seem to be going in their favour, is puerile and an abdication of their responsibility to the Belongers who voted for them in the general elections, the entire electorate in their respective constituencies and to the national population,” Premier Fahie said.
He continued: “The business of the people is not for fair-weather politicians who attach no value to the role when things are not rosy in their favour.”
He further said that it was an ‘understatement’ that everyone, including the members of government, was interested in hearing the Opposition out.
“What is the population left to assume from their silence? In some circumstances, silence implies consent, and therefore since the proper place to lodge and resolve objections is in the House of Assembly, the public can only conclude that the Opposition has no criticisms and objections to the final form of the Act, as passed,” the Premier said.
He added: “Suffice it to say, members of Opposition have also abdicated the right and moral authority to criticize this Act and the fast-track policy at any later date, especially outside the House. This is because when presented the opportunity to do so, they sat silently and then scuttled away.”
The Premier said their behaviour demonstrates that they cannot be relied upon to perform their roles.
In the meantime, the Premier also took individual swings at some of the members of the Opposition beginning with Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull — the Representative for the Second Electoral District.
The Premier pointed out that a news media reported that Turnbull was “riling up citizens to protest outside the House of Assembly during the sitting. The member owes the public an explanation as to whether the concerns that roused his passion still linger on.”
He said it was also disappointing that as one of the longest-serving members, Turnbull “offered not an iota of wisdom to the discussion, and that the only words recorded from him in yesterday’s crucial debate were an interruption to say that he was hungry”.
He said that he also expected a more substantive contribution from Maduro-Caines.
“While the member insisted that she disagreed with the Bill, she offered no specific details as to what exactly were her concerns or how they could be remedied,” Fahie remarked.
As a result, the debate came to a premature end because of the lack of overall contributions.
“And it must be emphasized that nothing was done to impede any representative’s freedom to speak. In fact, a time limit on contributions was not enforced by the Speaker so that all issues could be ventilated by all members,” Fahie explained.
Win for locals
Meanwhile, the Premier said the passage of the amendments to the bill was a “win in the best interest of our territory since it removes a critical obstacle from the path to comprehensive immigration and labour reforms”.
“It is an even greater victory for the people of the BVI since these comprehensive reforms when developed and implemented, will protect the welfare and interests of British Virgin Islanders for generations to come,” he added.
He continued, “It gives hope of what this administration can achieve in one four-year term when one considers that a three-month-old government can grab the horns of one of the most controversial issues that politicians and legislators have cowered from for over three decades and bring it to a resolution.”
BVI News’ attempts to reach the Opposition Leader Marlon Penn for comment was not successful up to press time.
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