The quality and level of public discourse taking place about issues of governance affecting citizens of the BVI have caused some amount of disquiet with Premier Andrew Fahie.
Reflecting during the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Let’s Talk radio programme last evening, May 25, Premier Fahie said although he has been in politics for more than 20 years, this is the worst level that he has seen public discourse.
“I must say that this is the first time that I have seen it reach to such a disrespectful level. I’ve never seen it reach to this level at all,” the Premier stated.
Fahie said, while he has no issues with persons who disagree with the government’s methodology, there must be some level of respect in the discourse.
“I am concerned about it not as an elected official – because you’re going to get criticised – but we could do so in a respectful manner,” he stated.
Disrespectful on live radio
In a thinly veiled reference to two very recent occurrences – first, a radio host’s hostile and disparaging remarks made to Health Minister Carvin Malone a few weeks ago; and second, a profanity-laced outburst made last week by a prominent talk show host, both on live radio – the Premier said this type of behaviour is not within the BVI’s DNA.
The radio host, Floyd ‘Heritage’ Burnett, at the time referred to Malone as the ‘Minister of Death’ and threatened to leave a “nasty message” in Malone’s inbox if he had not answered the call.
Once on the call, and despite being threatened and berated, Malone maintained his composure for nearly ten minutes; all the while imploring the host to say exactly what was the crux of his discourteous disapproval.
“You will never agree with everything with me as your Premier, as your District Representative, as a human being. But when we reach to the point that you are degrading persons through profanity on live air and degrading persons and also attacking them and misusing some of our social media to do it, that’s not the BVI that we know – that’s not in our BVI DNA,” Premier Fahie commented.
Meanwhile, the Premier urged his fellow ministers to continue to ‘keep their cool’, much like the Health Minister did when confronted on air a few weeks back.
“I want to say that as leaders – and you would know that we discussed this many times as a government – to keep your cool. Don’t lose your cool and don’t be disrespectful, even with some of the things that we are seeing.”
Bad examples for young people being set
According to the Premier, who is also the Tourism Minister, the current state of affairs is a bad example for the youth of the BVI and the territory as a whole.
“I’ve had persons who disagreed with the vaccine but we have sat and we have had good conversations and even went for lunch. But … we (as a society) [have] reached to the point now that we want to teach our young people that once it’s not going how you see it, or how you feel that you see it that you can go after persons – whether their family, their friends around them – and then turn it around with the reverse psychology to make it seem as if you are the one bullying them, when really and truly that it is the other way around.”
Foreshadowing what he felt might be a continuation of the current trend, Premier Fahie added: “I know some of them are going to have a field day tomorrow with this. But I have to say it because this is not how we want to train our young people. This is not what we want to see our BVI come to. Let us be able to disagree but do so in a respectable manner.”
Mischief being created
The Premier further cautioned that persons should be factual in their discussions and move away from “creating mischief”.
“If you have a solid point and you feel that your research shows you that, fine,” Premier Fahie said. “But also, I have a point of view, and that must be respected. And once we get back to the foundation of that in the BVI then we will continue to grow from strength.”
The Premier said even persons not in agreement with his government were concerned of the situation.
“Even those who don’t agree with us are telling us, ‘look, I think that this is getting out of hand and I think we have to make sure that it is addressed’ and I must state it as the Premier.”
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