Leonard Shorey has an interesting piece in The Barbados Advocate today, wherein the dear doctor writes about the dangers to democracy when the opposition tries to muzzle its members and self-destructs at the same time.
(We need to remain) constantly alert to the risk of encroachment on our rights as citizens of Barbados.
We are often inclined to say, “It can’t happen here”, but we would do well to remember Mr. Burnham’s Guyana, where citizens increasingly tolerated such encroachments until, eventually, protest was made only at great personal risk. We must not let this happen here. We ought therefore to be very concerned about any action which would appear to place unjustifiable constraints on the speech and/or actions of citizens, Parliamentarians or not. Consequently, a party which would seek to do this to its own members must inevitably cause one to wonder what it might seek to do if elected to govern the country.
Moreover, the manner in which Mr. Clyde Mascoll was removed, indeed ousted, from office, will for a long time leave a bad taste in the mouths of Barbadians, including many who are not party members. Of even greater concern is the absence of a strong and well-functioning Opposition party; something that is absolutely essential to the proper maintenance of our democracy.
Full article here.
Missing from Doctor Shorey’s analysis is the fact that any instability in the political system of Barbados – even lack of effective opposition – causes concern to offshore investors.
Already there are some foreign governments and investors who are looking at Barbados a little more closely than is desireable (1). The perceived chaos in Bajan opposition politics is also being reported in the foreign media (2) and brings another element of negative attention to our country.
We can argue about politics, rights and societal issues in private all we want, but the minute we take our conflicts to a public stage, we must remember that the world watches us far more than is justified simply by the beauty of Barbados and its people. We do not have a self-sustaining economy without foreign investment, and stability is the life blood of foreign investment. All politicians and politicos would be wise to consider that before continuing the verbal slug-fest on public radio.
(1) Examples of Negative Foreign Attention Towards Barbados
Wall Street Journal Writer quotes “Gems of Barbados” sources…
“Imagine the Prime Minister appoints a board to run a private-company, Hotels & Resorts Limited; the board appoints his best friend to the post of CEO without his knowledge; he allows over $190 million to be spent on the project; and then proceeds to use taxpayers’ money to pay off the company’s debt.”
The Hollinger Scandal in the New York Times…
A unit of Hollinger International made bonus payments totaling $3 million in December 2000 to Conrad M. Black, Hollinger’s former chairman, and two of the company’s other top executives, wiring the money to the Barbados unit of a Canadian bank. The complex transaction, recorded in documents described by people…
Recent speech in Canadian Parliament…
As a result of the tax convention between Canada and Barbados, Barbados has become the third ranking destination, after the United States—understandably—and Great Britain, for direct Canadian investment. If I remember correctly, the amount going to Barbados is around $25 billion or $30 billion.
…Is that small island capable of supporting such large investments in terms of manufactured goods or services? Certainly not. We are not fools, and neither is the general public.
Full text here.
Barbados’ Credit Rating In Danger of Downgrade
Unless Barbados reduces both its pace of government spending and its pile of national debt, its high credit rating may be reduced in the next 12 months.
That negative forecast, warning if you will, for 2006 has come from Standard & Poor’s, the world’s leading sovereign credit rating firm on Wall Street.
Standard & Poor’s Article here.
(2) International Media Coverage – Mascoll Affair
Caribbean News: Former Barbados Opposition Leader Seems Set to Join Ruling BLP
Trinidad & Tobago Express: Bajan Opposition Leader Resigns, Joins Ruling BLP
Jamaican Observer: Ex-Bajan Opposition Leader Heading to Arthur’s Gov’t