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Politician’s treatment of the tragedy trivialized the matter

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Tue, Jan 20, 2015

Editor: Please permit me a little space in your paper to share my observation and a burden of my heart.

I try not to be critical of our leaders, for I know what the role and function of a leader is. I am a frequent and consistent listener of several radio talk shows of St Vincent and the Grenadines. On Friday, January 16, 2015, I happened to listen to the last hour of the New Times talk show and I was taken aback by the critical and sarcastic comments of the various hosts with regard to the recent vehicular tragedy. If you listened to the last 30 minutes of the programme, you would understand my concern as a Vincentian.{{more}}

The proposed representative of the Opposition, who is slated, I am told, to contest their seat in the North Windward constituency, had some negative comments toward Hon Montgomery Daniel and our Prime Minister Hon Dr Ralph Gonsalves. One would have thought that he, Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste, coming from the bowels of the people of the North Windward constituency, having had the first opportunity to face the nation with his cohost, Nigel “Nature” Stevenson, on the New Times programme, after the disaster on January 12, 2015, would call the nation together and all those in the hearing of his voice to rally around the families and survivors, in prayer, visitation, encouragement, and giving support in all aspects.

Instead, the goodly gentlemen looked for every little flaw to critique the Hon Montgomery Daniel, the Prime Minister, and the Government at large, proposing what they should do and what they should be telling the nation. It was appalling, the arrogance, disrespect, and insensitivity displayed.

Instead of using the moment to comfort the distraught, he used it as a political platform to highlight where the Government had faltered. As I listened to the close of the programme, Mr Baptiste, never for one moment, not even in his closing remarks, did he remind the nation that two students are still missing, five are dead, seven had been discharged from the hospital, seven are still hospitalized, families are mourning and grieving, the nation is still in shock and sadness, the flag is being flown at half mast, the proposed funeral date – January 25.

Sharer Baptiste, what a shame. A true leader should be able to separate ego and thirst for power from real issues that affect people, especially in the context of this national disaster.

In my opinion, his treatment of the matter trivialized this national tragedy. I sat there and wondered how this young man, with such arrogance, disregard, and insensitivity was chosen to represent the people of the North Windward constituency on the national level.

The time has come for us as a people, as law-makers, to know when to shut up and when to speak up; to know when to rally around a cause, regardless of political affiliation.

The fearless divers, who risked their lives without thought to assist in rescue efforts for their fellow community members, your invaluable efforts did not go unnoticed. The commitment of the official rescue and medical personnel roused my Hairouna pride! Since Mr Baptiste did not say it, I will: Thank you!

I must commend our nationals for the tremendous outpouring of prayers and support not only in St Vincent and the Grenadines but, throughout the Caribbean and other parts of the world.

Our Government must be highly commended for their rapid response and tremendous support, not just short-term but long-term support in this matter. I speak from my heart; this is the first government I have seen, that in the context of the disaster has promised to give support even to those who survived, right on to university level; God bless our leaders of this kind. Hon Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and Hon Montgomery Daniel, keep up the good work; stand united in the spirit of Chatoyer for the people you are called to lead, not just in this crisis, but in the years to come.

Sharer, boy, I am disappointed in you, your disrespect and insensitivity. Always remember, sir, accidents and disasters do not announce their appearance. Although some necessities were lacking onsite, Rome was not built in one day.

My heart goes out to all the mothers, parents, siblings, extended family members, friends, teachers and students, the Government at large, our Ministers of Education and Health, our Parliamentary Representative of the North Windward constituency, the church congregations where the deceased were members, the clubs and sport groups, and the community members in general.

I remind all that weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning and in times like these do remember as you ride out your storm that the anchor holds. To the survivors — continue to find solace and strength in the arms of Jesus and to those who have gone to the great beyond, may their souls Rest in Peace.

Casper Williams

St Vincent/New York

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