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GUEST COLUMN: Prime Minister’s decision

Frank da Silva

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The Honourable David Thompson made a wise decision in asking Dr Richard Ishmael, a senior medical specialist who has been his doctor for close to 20 years, to give a full report on the state of his health to the people of Barbados on September 16.
 Dr Ishmael’s report was exceptionally well delivered and ended speculation on the state of our Prime Minister’s health.
 Naturally, we deeply regret any level of serious illness that anyone has to suffer not only for their sake but for the sake of their family and friends.
 In the case of our Prime Minister, we must extend those feelings to our country Barbados and recognise the majority support for him which resulted in the general election victory on January 15, 2008.
 And, while the economic turbulence may have been visible to some before then, no one had any idea it would have unleashed what may be the equivalent of a Category 4 (economic) hurricane which we must deal with in order for this country to get back to the level it once was.
Dr Ishmael said in his report that in spite of the severe health challenges the Prime Minister faced, he wass well enough, if he so chose, to resume his office as Prime Minister.
 Our Prime Minister’s severe illness and the way he has handled it appear to have brought our country together, as I do not recall it has ever been and perhaps it sets the best wicket for our Team Barbados to work together and excel.
 One has to acknowledge the sincere wishes of people throughout the length and breadth of the country and I include those from our brothers and sisters who are members of other political parties.
 What of the future?
 Once before our Prime Minister was faced with a challenge, neither health nor political, and he made the right decision then when he gave up his role as the president of the Democratic Labour Party for a relatively short period.
 The Prime Minister in the present environment is recognised as someone who has earned the highest level of respect and affection and in many cases love.
 I wish to make it clear that it is the Prime Minister’s choice, in consultation with his family, his friends, Cabinet colleagues, and in the final analysis, God, to decide whether his best option is to take on the role of our Prime Minister at this time.
 The office of the Prime Minster, at the best of times, carries a high level of stress. In the current situation one must recognise that at all levels of our economy and country the environment presents escalating challenges – foreign currency, employment, social dislocation, and so on.
 It may be a wise choice, with total national support in particular from his Cabinet and other advisors whose loyalty and ability to work together as a team, for our Prime Minister to make a decision in Barbados’ and his family’s best interest.
 We must all give Mr Thompson the very best platform to make that decision. In particular, from the people of Barbados who must pledge the very best individual and concerted effort to help our country. 
 Of special importance is the Prime Minister’s team. If ever there was a need for Cabinet members to demonstrate their mirror image, their unity and loyalty, their commitment to put Barbados first, the time is now.
 I am confident that these individuals, our chief servants, will rise to the occasion and provide our Prime Minister with the best platform for the way forward.
 Let us continue to pray.
• Frank da Silva is a member of the Democratic Labour Party and a former high commissioner.