By Everson W. Hull,
Last week’s commentary page of the Democrat newspaper issued a scathing criticism of the President of Taiwan’s visit to St. Kitts and his apparent disregard for the People of Nevis. The article expressed the strong displeasure of many Nevisians regarding the disparate treatment of Nevis by the Taiwanese leader who is said to have slighted Nevisians by not including Nevis on his itinerary.
Over the years, Nevisians have come to expect this sort of callous disregard by an incumbent Labor Government of Basseterre. But, we certainly do not expect this sort of shabby treatment from the Leader of Taiwan, with whom we share a common bond in our struggle for full and complete political independence.
The People of Nevis share the same aspirations for fully governing ourselves, as do the freedom-loving People of Taiwan. The Taiwanese dedicate a sizeable chunk of their budget to fending off attempts at re-unification by a Communist-led government in Beijing. They seek to establish themselves as a fully independent state, and member of the Community of Nations, with all the rights and privileges attendant thereto.
Nevisians seek no less. We seek to dissolve a political union that is harmful to our interests, that grabs our resources for use in the development of St.Kitts; and imposes a heavy deadweight burden that prevents us from reaching our fullest potential.
Despite the nice diplomatic pleasantries that we see on the surface, the cold harsh reality is that international votes for various causes are bought with money. The range of products that Nevis brings to the marketplace is severely limited. We have neither crude oil nor natural gas.
What we do offer for sale that is highly valued in the global marketplace is financial privacy, clean air and the sandy beaches that are associated with this wonderful place that has come to be known as Paradise. As a twin-island Nation, we also bring to the marketplace our joint vote for various international causes, including Taiwan’s bid for UN membership.
When Taiwan plunks down $32.5 million for the development of the Warner Park Complex in preparation for World Cup cricket; it is not doing so merely out of the goodness of its heart, or because of concerns for our plight as a developing country. By contrast, it is offering a payment, or reward, for the unwavering joint support of St.Kitts and Nevis for its bid for UN membership and for its political independence from Mainland China.
To illustrate, here is what the Honorable Prime Minister had to say on receiving the Taiwanese check that was made payable to both St.Kitts and Nevis. He said,
“…This is important to us….. It is because of those strong ties of friendship,….. why we have consistently been able to support the interest of the people of Taiwan, especially at the United Nations in securing the fact that the 23 million people of Taiwan need to be properly represented in this international august body….”
It is as cold and as brazen as this. St.Kitts and Nevis, as joint members of the UN, commits to vote in the UN in support of Taiwan’s independence; while St.Kitts and St.Kitts alone pockets the check when it arrives in Basseterre. This can only be described as hypocritical, abusive, heartless and cruel by those in St.Kitts who plead for this union to be spared.
Had His Excellency Chen Shui bian visited Nevis, he would have sensed the displeasure of Nevisians that not one red cent of the $32.5 million of the free Taiwanese grant money that his government approved has actually gone to Nevis, even though Nevis has the highest number of test cricket players per capita in the world, while St.Kitts has no presence whatsoever on the international stage of cricket.
Had His Excellency visited Nevis, he would have heard about the terrible condition of the Main Road from Market Shop to Newcastle. He would have heard first hand about the Labor Government’s shunting the Nevis Main Road project to the back of the Kuwaiti Funding line, while Port Zante was leap-frogged to the front of the line.
Had the Taiwanese president visited Nevis he would have perhaps wondered about his current pledge of financial support for the $48 million expansion of the RLB Airport. He would have heard the cries for relief from Nevisians who cross a dangerous strait to catch a flight out of the RLB airport. He would also have heard of the enormous cost to Nevisians and our high-priced guests from ferry, taxi and porter services as well departure tax revenue leakages and time lost when using the RLB airport instead of our own VAIA airport.
This may have been sufficient motivation for him to channel those funds into providing expanded airport service in Nevis that would handle our anticipated intermediate–term demands for long haul non-stop flights from London, New York and Toronto.
Had the Taiwanese President visited Nevis he would have been shocked to learn that of the millions and millions of Taiwanese dollars that his government pours into Basseterre each and every year for health clinics, community centers and stadium complexes, that barely a pittance has been shared with Nevis whose people have stood with the Taiwanese as comrades in a shared struggle for securing full political independence.
Had the Taiwanese President visited Nevis, he would have learned first-hand from the NRP leadership of their firm resolve to retain the Section 113 clause that grants the NRP the right to move expeditiously to full political independence when they are returned to office. The President of Taiwan would have beamed with pride as he learned of the February 18th 2003 Joint CCM-NRP Communiqué crafted by our two fine political leaders, in a spirit of oneness and brotherly love, as they rose above Party politics, and peacefully:
“…….advised of their preference not to participate in future Federal Elections and to expeditiously seek full Autonomy for the People of Nevis……”
Had the Taiwanese President visited Nevis, he would also have been comforted by the firm commitment expressed in the same Joint CCM-NRP Communiqué which stated that:
“…..whatever process is used, the future relationship between the Peoples and Governments of both Islands should be secured and sustained in a special manner…….”
This would have given His Excellency the assurance of the oneness that we hold with the People of Taiwan as we jointly pursue our full political independence; while increasing the number of UN votes, by one, in support of Taiwan’s bid for independence.
This is the message that His Excellency Chen Shui-Bian did not hear from the People of Nevis with whom his people share a common bond. And, yes, these are also the messages of abuse and neglect of the People of Nevis at the hands of a ruthless central government in Basseterre that the Labor regime seeks to hide from His Excellency and the remainder of the world.
Taiwan must do better. Nevisians cling to the same preferences and ideals, as do the people of Taiwan. We share a common struggle for our liberty and political freedom. This is the time to cultivate friends. This is not the time for snubbing the People of Nevis and treating us with disdain.