Speaking on his weekly radio program, “Ask the Prime Minister”, hosted on Tuesday 22nd January, on the government-owned, ZIZ, Dr. Douglas indicated that since his colleagues, Dr. Timothy Harris and Mr. Sam condor, feel so strongly about the Bill to increase the number of senators in the National Assembly of St. Kitts & Nevis, “The decent thing to do, when you are pursuing this doctrine, is to resign.”
“The decent and the right thing for anyone to do is to resign from the government, resign from the cabinet and then pursue your own personal mandate. And if you don’t resign, you’re going to be ejected. You cannot have your cake and eat it. You cannot be part of a cabinet and frustrate the wishes of the majority of the cabinet members and you would want to pursue your own minority position for whatever reason.”
But the four-term Prime Minister and the longest serving Head of Government in the Western Hemisphere, also intimated that if they do not resign and perhaps if their objection to the Bill is translated into voting against the legislative measure next Tuesday, then they would be fired.
The Prime Minister has also shrugged off suggestions that he should withdraw the Bill given the problems and division it is creating in his administration.
“The Government has no intention of withdrawing The Senators (Increasing of Number), Bill, now being debated in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, stated an emphatic Prime Minister. He was at the time responding to a caller on his program.
“You are saying that the issue in Cabinet is receiving strong resistance. But tell me what is strong resistance is? You have a Cabinet of nine people, each highly educated, each able to stand on his own two feet, each having the respect for each other in a Cabinet, each adhering to basic doctrine of the collective responsibility of Cabinet members, each of them understands that a policy matter comes up; the majority of nine who are seven are saying, we need to get this done, the reasons are solid and sound.”
The Prime Minister did accept however that Harris and Condor have the right to object. “Nobody is saying that they don’t have the right to object; they have the right to object, but when we look at the reasons that are being given, and you continue to insist that this is my position and the Cabinet (which) is the majority are saying, ‘well this is… exactly we would want to have done’, then of course you must give way.”
When further challenged that perhaps the others are only supportive of the Bill because of weakness, Dr. Douglas was dismissive of the notion, “What weak and strong you are talking about? Where weak and strong come in? After all everybody is educated, every man has his own position, he understands it; but if you choose to go against the wishes and the fancy of your own colleagues, then of course what do you expect us to do? You can’t be wrong and strong; so therefore you have to go.”
He said that if persons in the Cabinet are not going to comply with what the majority of his own colleagues would wish to have, then they should do the decent thing. I don’t see the need for any arguments,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
“The caller is saying that we should withdraw it because the majority of population is not in support. What Nonsense is that? Who did the Poll? You think we are going to listen to people of Operation Rescue to run this Government for us?” asked Prime Minister Douglas.
“We have each been elected and nominated to run this Government on behalf of the people. As far as I know, no poll has been conducted and it is not the drama and theatrics that speaks to it,” said the Prime Minister, who reiterated that “it is a fundamental principle on which people elected us to serve in a government and so this nonsense about the majority of the people are not in favour of it. Why are the majority of the people not in favour of it? And who has tested? So caller you can’t impose your own will and fancy unto people’s own thinking in this regard.
“Will the Bill continue? The Bill must continue. The Bill is in the Parliament already,” said the Prime Minister.
“You want us to withdraw it (the Bill) and then next two weeks, next two months another Bill comes in the Parliament, to maybe reduce taxes or do something that they don’t like; another two (it doesn’t have to be these two) don’t like, next thing they say ‘well we don’t support it’ so you can’t go to Parliament with it because two months ago we had two members who didn’t support it. That is confusion. It doesn’t work like that. The decent thing to do, when you are pursuing this doctrine is to resign. Nobody is forcing you to resign. You do what is the decent thing to do and if you refuse to resign and you want to therefore prevent the Government from functioning, the Government must function, the Government has a mandate; so I really don’t understand why the caller is saying that the best thing to do is to withdraw it.”
“Why should we withdraw it? It is a fundamental principle in which every Government or cabinet system sits on, so why should we withdraw it? If it was something that of course you can simply say well let us find a way around it. But here is a situation where the reason that is being given is not the real reason and on the 29th in Parliament, I will tell the people what the real reason is. I will do exactly that. I will tell the people what the real reason is.”
“It has nothing to do with the increase of wage Bill in the Parliament. Nothing like that! We have overcome problems like that in the past. The same members were saying a year ago that this is what we should do, but because they believe that it is not the appropriate time to do certain things that is why it is being done. Nobody could fool us and nobody must fool the people of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Dr. Douglas reiterated.