Opposition Leader Marlon Penn has been lambasted for purportedly posing as a ‘defender of free speech’ while attacking others for expressing themselves.
In a statement to the House of Assembly (HOA) on Thursday, Penn accused some government members of heavily victimising persons in the BVI; especially residents who do not support them and openly criticise them.
Responding to those claims, Premier Andrew Fahie described Penn as disingenuous. He said the Opposition Leader purposefully drops buzz words and says sensational things to catch the ears of the public.
He suggested that Penn attempted to muzzle the Health Minister from making points in the House of Assembly (HOA), even as he (Penn) attempts to mould himself as the “self-appointed protector of free speech”.
“I hope that the Leader of the Opposition appreciates that I have an equal right – and each member of the government has an equal right – to agree or to disagree with his point of view. And he should not become enraged if I form the opinion, from time to time, that his contributions fall short of the mark of what it should be for someone who is as seasoned in ministerial and parliamentary affairs as he is, and for someone who has set his eyes on being the next Premier of the Virgin Islands,” Premier Fahie said.
Sidestepping major issues
According to Fahie, Penn was also guilty of sidestepping major issues and offering criticism of the government’s decisions while not taking a decisive stance whenever these issues arose.
The Premier said his government welcomes feedback, scrutiny, and criticism and listens to opposing views whenever they are made to better deliver services to the people of the BVI.
“Criticism is good, but it is hollow if it does not come from well-thought-out, workable solutions,” the Premier offered.
Deputy Premier also fires back
Deputy Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley also expressed disappointment in the approach taken by the Opposition Leader, suggesting that he could learn from more senior members in the parliamentary Opposition.
Dr Wheatley drew a contrast with Penn’s behaviour and said this was unlike the position taken by senior members of the Opposition who are not afraid to join in support of the government on controversial issues.
He said legislators should not have to wait to be in the HOA for 20 years before deciding to be statesmen and women.
“You can be a statesman right now, because what is required for us to push our territory forward. We need persons who will see service above self and put the country ahead of politics,” Dr Wheatley said.
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