14 August, 2009

Sad day

Turks & Caicos Constitution Suspended. Shaun Malcolm said it eloquently this morning:

Not one person, not one person who contacted me or with whom I spoke, was sad because of the decision in London. The Country was in a state of Joy. The only additional sentiment they expressed was now an anxiousness to move forward as quickly as possible.

The Governor's statement was decisive.

With immediate effect, Ministerial government and the House of Assembly are suspended meaning that Cabinet will no longer exist and the House of Assembly is dissolved and Members’ seats are vacated. The constitutional right to trial by jury is also suspended with immediate effect. In accordance with the Order in Council, this will be for a period of two years, subject to extension or abbreviation as necessary.

All the perverse efforts of Galmo Williams and Michael Misick to agitate the Turks and Caicos people to rise up in street protests and confront the British and to stop the suspension of the Constitution have failed. Their day of reckoning is approaching.

Suspect West Indian leaders such as Ewart Brown of Bermuda have thrown their hands in support of Misick. It is brotherly of Brown to have found the time to show this solidarity. I would have thought he was too busy defending his own corruption accusations. In the event, he wasted his time.

The Jamaican media has been up to the same mischief. They have been siding with the interests of such prominent Jamaicans as Butch Stewart, Delroy Howell, and David Smith. These have been shown to be intimately involved with Misick in numerous private and suspect financial dealings.

The touting of the issue of colonialism across our region is an exercise in cynicism. It amounts to an abuse of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands one last time. The great majority of the Islanders have rejected the call to rise up. They realise that Williams and Misick’s sudden clamouring for independence is a desperate device to evade responsibility for what they have done.

The Constitution has been suspended, the House of Assembly dissolved, and Cabinet has been sent home. I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

It is a sad day for us in the West Indies when we look on and see the British Government suspending the Constitution of one of our fellow Overseas Territories. Are we the laughing stock of the rest of the world? Are they pointing their fingers at us and shaking their heads with dismay? Do they think that we are too immature and undisciplined to be able to govern ourselves? Well, they are wrong.

The people of the TCI have been severely let down. First, by their elected leaders, who used their high public office to line their own pockets. Second, by their local bureaucrats, who did nothing to reign in the wilder schemes of personal enrichment of their leaders. Third, by the opposition parliamentarians, who wished only that it could have been them feathering their own nests. Fourth, by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which ignored all the hints and pointers to the corruption that has been endemic in the TCI for decades. For the past 30 years we have all known that the TCI is the most corrupt of the British Overseas Territories. During all that time, the FCO denied that there was any sufficient evidence for it even to mount an investigation into official corruption.

The people of the TCI have been through this crisis before. The British suspended the government between 1984 and 1986 and sent the government home. Chief Minister Norman Saunders did not go home. He was in a gaol in Miami serving a sentence for attempting to smuggle a large package of cocaine through customs. The resulting rest period did not do the TC Islanders much good. Within ten years, they had once again elected a greedy bunch of politicians, including the now free Saunders, interested only in stuffing their mouths at the public trough.

The lesson is that merely suspending the local government and running the country directly from Westminster does not amount to reform. It is at most a step in the right direction. We learned that in 1984. What this suspension does is to provide the opportunity for the British to introduce the reforms that the local administration failed to put in place.

The present shut down of constitutional and democratic government, and the temporary imposition of higher supervision, will only have been worthwhile if the people of the TCI ensure it never happens again. We all know how that is to be done.

The question is, will the British help the TC Islanders to make it happen by putting the necessary safeguards into the law and the Constitution this time?

Or, will they be as thoughtless and as careless as they were the last time?

Related Posts:

28 December 2006: Corruption

9 August 2007: Public Accounts

9 February 2008: Self-government

24 May 2008: Open Mic

24 July 2008: Barbados

20 August 2008: Grenada


  1. I find your blog very interesting, and have followed it with interest for some time!

    I think, as a Welshman, that to be honest, the 'British' are the last people the TCIers should be calling in to help them. Britain itself is legendary for corruption, especially at a local level. The UK itself is riddled with problems, and let us not forget that the TCI is now essentially a dictatorship, run by an unelected civil servent who is not bound by the wishes of the local people. I suspect grave dissapointment awaits the people of the Turks and Caicos. Ironically, reading the news reports and commentary it seems they are more loyal to Britain than many British people themselves.

    It may also be a worry the ease with which the UK can remove local government, especially with the tax haven witch hunt going on. Food for thought?!

  2. Sad day, yes?

    But Don, the rest of the world doesn't care. Go on over to nytimes.com. The lead story is that "Consumer Prices Hold Steady" and there's a pic of Tiger hitting out of a sand trap.

    No one cares. So don't worry. To answer your question about whether the world is laughing at us, the answer is NO -- 99.999% will know more about who wins the golf tournament this coming Monday. And most of them will have forgotten even that momentous news in a month or two.

    So is this important? Of course. To us. But only to us.

    TCI needed a good cleaning. And it's nice to know that, should push come to shove, the U.K. would do the same for our little corner of paradise.

    And it's nice to know that the PEOPLE of the islands are smart enough to value rule of law more than phoney calls to independence.

    AND it WAS nice to see the U.K. tell OUR leaders that they can't have a $200 million line of credit to spend on bailing out the NBA and who knows what other absurd programs they had planned, $200 Million that any sane bond investor would know they'd never see returned without the backing of the U.K.

    My take on this is that it's nice to see the U.K. do what's necessary. It's reassuring. Britain itself may not be perfect, but they're a heck of a lot better than the next best option.

    Best regards,

  3. Oh please!

    The British sets up a stupid corrupt system of Government in the Islands which allows the ruling cartel to behave like a cartel. Dictatorship by Governor is not an option.

    That corrupt system of Governance is facilitated by the British hand-picking and appointing strange and weak people as Attorney General. Some AG’s have a conflict of interest and many do not identify with and have no care for what is in the best interest of the general populace.

    There is a better option. It is a democratic system of open governmet, with proper democratic checks and balances.

    In Anguilla, we can police our own government. It would be a lot easier if everything was not a secret between the Governor and the Executive Council!


    “Britain's shamed lawmakers rushed to spend public money on lavish second homes, swank hotel rooms, luxury meals, Plasma TV's and chandeliers at country estates. Now legislators snared in a deepening expenses scandal are in a race to hand it back. For almost a week, daily revelations about how lawmakers billed the taxpayer for everything from ice cubes to housekeepers whipped up a public storm that threatened to sweep through Britain's political ranks. Dozens of lawmakers have issued humbling apologies in a British political scandal like no other.

    'Hearing about how these politicians are claiming for cans of cat food and flowers for their mansions makes me sick', Randy Wallace, 41,an unemployed plumber said.”

    So how to make the British lawmakers look as if they are doing something about corruption? Invade and recolonise one of its own territories! That will show the world that Britain is serious about dealing with corruption! While the wrongdoers in Britian go without any punishment, the same British lawmakers have suspended the Constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands and imposed direct rule from Britain and an unconstitutional system of trial without jury.

    What next a hanging judge from Britain?

    The island's premier, Galmo Williams, said his country was "being invaded and re-colonised by the United Kingdom". He accused the Foreign Office of "dismantling a duly elected government and legislature and replacing it with a one-man dictatorship".

    The former premier Micheal Misick resigned over the scandals. His former wife LisaRaye McCoy-Misick has since testified to the inquiry investigating her husband's conduct that many of the accusations of corruption brought against him were essentially true.

    There have been suggestions that the islands, both a popular holiday destination and offshore financial center, are being subjected to a "modern-day colonialism". Furthermore a comparison is being drawn with the way that politicians in Britain itself were allowed to correct for themselves the "mistakes" they made and which were exposed during the recent expenses scandal.

    The Turks and Caicos Islanders are divided over the issue and find themselves between a rock and a hard place. It is most unlikely that the British could pull off such a caper anywhere other than in the Turks and Caicos Islands without a couple British warships on the horizon!

  5. Yes, corruption is common at all levels of all governments, not only Britain but every where else. It has been well said that the main reasons why men enter public service are threefold:
    1) for the enjoyment of the power to give and to withhold, 2) for the plentiful opportunities for sex that are afforded on attaining a position of power; and 3) for the chance to make fast money by selling licences and permits and making exceptions. The loudly bruited promises of high public service and lofty patriotism are often mere shams and covers for one or more of those three more earthly motives.

    Accepting that to be so, the wonder is not that there is corruption everywhere. Rather, let us recognise that the example that we must strive to follow comes from those countries that pursue and punish corruption. In the matter of corruption, that is what distinguishes the US and the UK from forgiving, easygoing little places like Anguilla and the TCI. Corruption exists there, but, unlike in our territories, it is not winked at and condoned.

    Because of our diminutive size we lack a truly independent investigative press. One bastion of freedom gone.

    Our democracies are young and inexperienced in the concepts and precepts of good governance. A second bastion gone.

    Our Westminster systems of parliamentary government bequeathed to us by our colonial past are devoid of the modern checks and balances that hold UK and US governments to a large extent to the straight and narrow. A third gone.

    Our people know no better, and look on our representatives as sources of “donations” and “favours” that cost money. We pressure and encourage our own representatives to be corrupt. The whole castle collapses.

    Give me by preference the British or US-style corruption, with its accompanying genuinely-independent press that exposes venality whenever it is discovered, and its many laws and agencies that prosecute the corrupt politician, any day.



    The British government Friday suspended the constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) in a move that the outgoing head of government Galmo Williams referred to as a "coup" by London.

    Williams, who took over the government in March, said the action was tantamount to an invasion, and that London had denied earlier requests for a referendum to allow the population to decide on their future.

    "...Today our country is being invaded and re-colonised by the United Kingdom, dismantling a duly elected government and legislature and replacing it with a one man dictatorship, akin to that of the old Red China, all in the name of good governance," Williams said.

    "...As the grand children of slaves, left abandoned on these barren shores centuries ago, we, together with those who came later on, have turned these Islands into something that we can all be proud of, and indeed something that our once delinquent masters, have stated that they will do anything except a return to slavery to repossess," Williams stressed.

    :”…I am convinced that this coup d'├ętat committed against the legitimate government of our Turks and Caicos Islands by the United Kingdom puts them on the wrong side of history, for I can assure you that this action which they have taken against us was not done because it is the right thing to do nor because it is necessary, but rather it is being taken because they are able to do such things in a country of our size and status.’

    Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are also opposed to the move by London. At their summit in Guyana last month they declared that they "were deeply disturbed by the adverse findings of Turks and Caicos Commission of Inquiry into possible corruption or other dishonesty in relation to past and present elected members of the Legislature."

    "The Caribbean Community continues to hold fast to the view it expressed in its statement on the situation in the TCI on 24 Mar. 2009 that suspending the Constitution of TCI and its democratic institutions and resorting to direct rule by the colonial power are not the most effective tools to bolster good governance and effective administration in the territory," CARICOM stated.


    It is interesting that Kurt Defreitas who was Attorney General in Anguilla is still the Attorney General of the Turks and Caicos Islands and will be part of the Governor's management team!

    Just as interesting is the news that Mark Capes who was the Deputy Governor in Anguilla is going to Turks and Caicos Islands to be "Chief Executive".

    Mark Capes is at present the Deputy Governor in Bermuda, and the new Attorney General in Anguilla came from Bermuda where he was Solicitor General.

    What is up with this "Bermuda Triangle" of Attorneys General and Deputy Governors?


    "In October, the chief executive position will be handed to Mark Capes, who is currently Deputy Governor of Bermuda.

    Mr Capes is also a former Deputy Governor of Anguilla where he was head of the public service and introduced a number of major reforms.

    In Britain, both sides - for and against the changes - have been having their say in the British press and on the various TCI newspaper websites.

    Galmo Williams' comments have been quoted widely in the British press which has highlighted the "bitter divisions" between islanders and politicians. "

    "Mr Capes is also a former Deputy Governor of Anguilla where he was head of the public service and introduced a number of major reforms".

    Is someone trying to fool the public in TCI and in Anguilla?

    The Commission (TCI) also discovered "serious deterioration - from an already low level - in the territory's systems of governance and public financial management and control".

    It said the contributing factors to this decline include "the potential and encouragement in the system of governance for abuse of public office, concealment of conflict [of] interest at all levels of public life".

    Another factor was the lack of effective constitutional checks and balances "to protect the public purse, the inefficient from scrutiny, the dishonest from discovery, and the vulnerable from abuse".

    Does that mean that the British do not intend for us (Anguilla) to put in effective checks and balances into our constitution to protect the public purse, to expose the inefficient to scrutiny, the dishonest to discovery and to protect the vulnerable from abuse?

    Why is there no integrity legislation in Anguilla?

  8. There is no effective integrity legislation because most Anguillians don't care, don't think it's important, or don't think it would change anything.

    Hubert and Eddie claim to care about this issue. But when they weren't in the opposition, when they controlled what legislation was enacted, how much did they really care about integrity?


    Anguillians are not responsible for umpteen pieces of questionable legislation which the British have passed through the office of Attorney General.

    Anguillians are in favour of minimum wage legislation. Where is it?

    Why don't we stop playing games?
    We have a BAD SYSTEM of governance because it allows the BRITISH to MANIPULATE everything and everyone!

    Nothing has really changed in almost 200 years. The relationship between Britain and the Colonies (except the Falklands i.e kith and kin) is based on whole lies, half truths and deception.

    The Bottler did or did not do it!!!!

    We want integrity legislation...
    We want integrity legislation...
    We want integrity legislation...

    Will the British recommend integrity legislation?

  10. Don, it took me a while to work out what that commenter had in mind.

    A butler was a male servant, commonly found in British stately homes a hundred years ago. These stately homes were sometimes the setting for detective and murder stories. In some of these stories it turned out that the butler had committed the crime. So, there developed the expression, “The butler did it!”

    A bottler on the other hand is someone who puts drinks into a bottle, usually in a factory setting. Never, ever, even once in the history of detective story writing, until now, has it been suggested that, “The bottler did it!”


    Perhaps you understand it better now?

    A "bottler" is a slang word for a weak indecisive person.

    To “bottle” something means to postpone it, slow down the process or stop it from happening altogether.

    When it comes to laws in Anguilla, the Attorney General is the “bottler”.

  12. Queen Elizabeth dismisses British Government, by Norman Girvan:



    In a new twist to this unfolding colonial drama, Britain has sent Garlic{k} to the Turks and Caicos Islands to flavour the witches’ brew boiling there.

    “Fair is foul, and foul is fair"....“For a charm of powerful trouble like a hell-broth boil and bubble." (From Macbeth).

    The former head of the abortive probe into suspected bribery linked to a BAE Systems arms deal with Saudi Arabia is to lead an anti-corruption team in the Caribbean tax haven that has been shocked by Britain’s imposition of direct rule.

    Helen Garlick has been appointed Special Prosecutor and begun work in the Turks and Caicos Islands this week as part of a British clampdown on “governance”.

    The appointment of Ms Garlick, whose independent investigation of BAE’s Saudi arms deals was derailed by what some saw as unreasonable political pressure, is an intriguing twist in a saga in which London is accused of applying higher standards of governance to the Turks and Caicos Islands than it does to itself.

    It is an open secret that the British government shut down her corruption investigation because it was getting too close to powerful UK politicians and government officials, and investigating corruption involving senior UK officials and politicians was “not in the UK's interest”.

    Some commentators have branded Britain hypocritical for launching a purge on government corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal in London.

    Martin Stanley – formerly chief executive of the Competition Commission, the UK anti-monopoly watchdog – has already been appointed head of the Turks’ civil service.

    The British intervention is also proving something of a bonanza for London’s legal sector, with potential witnesses and suspects in the corruption cases already hiring top criminal defence firms.

    Overseeing this drama is a British flamboyant homosexual MP and former Church of England clergyman who solicited sex through a gay web site and has been dubbed “Captain Underpants”.

    The comedies and tragedies of Shakespeare pales in the glare of this unfolding drama of double standards, which is being watched by an enthralled world audience.

    It is therefore fitting for the Turks and Caicos Islanders to be warned "..from that spring whence comfort seem'd to come, discomfort swells" and " oftentimes, to win us to our harm the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles , to betray us in deepest consequence."


  14. Today is February 28th 2010 and The Anguillian reveals that the Governor has just announced “the suspension of the Anguilla Constitution and the dissolution of the House of Assembly declaring the mismanagement of treasury assets, and internal corruption... with elections in sight the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is predicting a period of political instability." As history repeats itself, we now share the same fate as our sister Turks and Caicos. Is Anguilla next on the list? Are the FCO and the Government of Anguilla on the same page? What about this “partnership for progress…”?

    In March 1999, the FCO produced their comprehensive review of the relationship between Britain and its overseas territories, known as the white paper "partnership for progress and prosperity". They laid out an assessment of the current relationship and made recommendations (along the lines of finance, human rights, economic and social development, etc). The FCO secretary of state Robin Cook at the time affirmed that

    "Our partnership must be founded on self-determination…we are proud that our Overseas Territories are beacons of democracy. We applaud their achievements, and want them to have the autonomy they need to continue to flourish."

    10 years later, the headline reads “British Overseas Territory: Turks and Caicos Constitution Suspended.” So over a period of ten years, all the lofty ideals of this new partnership have been denied by a perpetuation of the status quo; where the possibility of good governance remains an exercise in futility than an actual legal priority. It would appear in accordance with the white paper for either the Governor or Attorney General to recommend those legal mechanisms e.g. Public Accounts Committee, or other audit and accountability procedures to ensure good governance, in so doing making their job a lot easier. On the other hand, we have no red flag system in place to prevent corruption and mismanagement. I wonder why? Who benefits?

    All is not in The Valley; perhaps that is the case in many capitals. And perhaps we are not as bad off as the Turks. After all, Anguillians are happy. We eat well, we drink well and we sleep well. No one knows and truly cares about the underhandedness of our politicians. Well at least no one is willing to force the government to justify its actions in a series of fiascos. I think the chain of command is so fragmented within the Government of Anguilla that there is no single individual to blame for the misdeals.

    It seems as if everyone is a yes man or woman, no one stands up and says “I think that’s a bad idea”. This is in large part responsible for the breakdown of the link between the FCO and its overseas territories. Instead of having an advisory relationship we have a political adhocracy where special advisors and project managers make decisions on behalf of the people, far removed from the scrutiny of the democratic process. In the white paper Robin cook also asserted that

    "We have appointed a Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who has specific responsibility for looking after Overseas Territories’ issues, and we will be setting up a Consultative Council with the territories. We have set out the ways in which the Overseas Territories can ensure good government, a flourishing environment and a growing economy.

    Ten years later, the partnership has failed in an effort to modernize the internal operations of overseas territories’ governments; to ensure sound and effective executive and legislative decisions making. Ten years later, Public Account Committees are not mandatory. Ten years later the people of Anguilla have no avenue to demand accountability from their elected representatives. Ten years later the white paper is exactly that empty paper. What we got was homosexual legislation and a Visa.


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