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EVERYTHING BUT – Saith Freundel


Ridley Greene

EVERYTHING BUT – Saith Freundel

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The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. – Dante Alighieri, Italian poet and writer.
 
THERE?WILL?BE?NO?SUCH?PLACE awaiting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. His bearing and performance at the CARICOM?Heads of Government Summit in St Kitts were, to say the least, pleasantly surprising.
Indeed, when one gets past the state of amazement – to the moment of greater soberness – Mr Stuart’s presence at the regional talks was nothing short of impressive.
Not very long ago, Mr Stuart was held by many of us as being among the least prepossessing of our Prime Ministers: not charismatic, wearing too many dark clothes, a man of few words (or of none at all), not given to chatting or chit-chat, not being the walkabout type . . . .
Mr Stuart in no small measure contributed to some of the criticisms. He once declared in defence of his deafening silence when he first became Prime Minister that he was not given to grandiose utterances on vision and the like.
Then, he had his first media television interview with Rosemary Alleyne – sort of clandestinely – an idea not embraced by the traditional Press, and with good reason; but at least we had the new Prime Minister breaking his silence.
There was talk Mr Stuart was afraid to face the real media, a charge I had great difficulty in fathoming – not this titan speaker I had heard on the political platform on occasion.
Then came the traditional Press conference on his return from the People’s Republic of China. Without recall of the charge of Press fear on the one hand and the stubborn reluctance to take on the media on the other, questions were taken and answers given – by Mr Stuart.
Once more the Prime Minister would speak to the Press during his tour of the houses at Woodbourne in St Philip, and with as much facility as he would have with William Shakespeare if the latter could have been brought out of his eternal slumber.
Finally came the CARICOM summit. From it, in collaboration with the preceding examples, we may safely conclude that, after all, there is no great gap between the world of Prime Ministers before and that of Mr Stuart’s.
In an extraordinary volte-face, Mr Stuart has shown us he can take on the best of any – coolly and calmly,
and with resolve.
Noteworthy is the Prime Minister’s defence of the integrity of the nation he leads. We are not cocky, but we value or social systems highly and we believe we can be as professional as any people elsewhere in the civilized world.
We won’t have anybody second-guessing the credibility of our Civil Aviation officials – not under Tony Archer.
I am so pleased – and so must be Owen Arthur – that Prime Minister Stuart is willing to play the Kamla Persad-Bissessar game, if need be.
No respectable and proud Barbadian can be oblivious to the cavilling Kamla administration’s attempt at spinning the indefensible when it comes to the REDjet airline issue.
Hopefully, by the time CARICOM?Heads meet in a few weeks’ time in Barbados, Mrs Persad-Bissessar would have got over it, and be amenable to REDjet’s touchdown in Trinidad. 
By then she, as should Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica, should have been seized of the gravamen of Mr Stuart’s deep concern.
“I do not intend that Barbados should be in a position of any mortician fighting over a corpse called the regional integration movement. I know what happened to the West Indies Federation. I know who the morticians were.”
Stuart is not only an honourable man, he is a gallant one at that.
His recent demonstration brought back memories of Prime Ministers of the past making us proud with their utterances from the heart: solid words tempered by decency, quiet duty, responsibility and patriotism – the old guiding principles in political diplomacy.
Mr Stuart has decided he shall speak, and truth be told he could have picked no better time.
 

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