With a stern warning, British Virgin Islands Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) has outright condemned attacks on new Virgin Islands Party member, Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines by Opposition Leader, Hon Marlon A. Penn.
“I wish to condemn without reservation, the attack levelled against the people’s party, the Virgin Islands Party-your eleven-month-old party-and the newest member of the Government Benches in the House of Assembly… by the interim Chairman of the National Democratic Party and Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Hon Marlon Penn,” Premier Fahie said in an audio statement on ZBVI 780 AM last evening, February 4, 2020.
Hon Penn singled out over alleged attacks
According to the Premier, these alleged attacks include the spread of vicious and character damaging rumours against the Member for the Sixth. This he called "disappointing".
On January 20, 2020, Hon Maduro-Caines at the Village Cay Hotel and Marina Conference Room, announced her bombshell resignation from the NDP and by extension from the Opposition via a press conference, alongside Premier Fahie.
Mrs Maduro-Caines, as part of her statements, said her decision to leave the NDP and the Opposition was one that came after prayers and not from any promises or offers made to her from the VIP Government.
The event was also aired live on ZBVI 780 AM and carried via the Premier's Special Projects Facebook page.
Hon Penn released a statement the following day that he only knew of the decision less than 30 minutes before the press conference via a WhatsApp Message from Hon Maduro-Caines.
We empathise with you – Premier Fahie
“While we in the VIP empathises with Hon Penn for the sadness that he is no doubt feeling at this time, we cannot allow certain inaccurate and unfounded statements by him to be slipped into the public record without them being properly addressed,” the Premier said.
While the Premier did not reference what specifically the Opposition Leader said, he noted that Hon Maduro-Caines was humble, soft-spoken and hardworking, hence why the people of the Sixth District love her.
“It is very disappointing that the Leader of the Opposition is now speaking negatively about Hon Maduro-Caines. This kind of behaviour from Hon Penn is unacceptable and typical of the abusive treatment that many women in our society face at the hands of persons who would rather they be kept in a submissive state,” he said.
Poor Leadership & diminishing numbers
Hon Penn came under more fire for what the Premier called poor leadership of the “diminishing” Opposition numbers, with Hon Fahie saying the decision by Hon Maduro-Caines to leave the NDP has ‘bruised the ego’ of the Opposition Leader, resulting in his actions.
Premier Fahie reiterated that the Representative for the Sixth District was not forced to join the VIP Government by anyone, nor were there any bartering arrangement, rather it was a personal decision taken by the HoA member for what is best for the people of the Territory and her district.
“It so happens that the VIP’s vision for the people is the right one, and we thank Hon Maduro-Caines for joining not just the VIP but the People’s vision for a BVI that belongs to us and must continue to belong to us for generations to come."
What triggered the Premier?
It still remains unclear what exact statement triggered the Premier to lash out at Hon Penn; however, the Premier’s statement comes as a surprise since Hon Penn at the Tuesday, January 21, 2020, Opposition press conference told the media that Opposition, including himself, had ‘moved on’ from Hon Maduro-Caines.
At the same Opposition press conference, while Hon Penn had shut down further questioning about the blow to the Opposition, other Members including Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) and Hon Melvin M. Turnbull (R2), shared a difference in opinion from their Leader.
They told the press that a conversation with Hon Maduro-Caines before her decision to cross the floor and leave the Opposition, would have been preferred on principle. "We were surprised because we weren't afforded the courtesy of a discussion before it happened, and I think that's the great unfortunate part about the whole thing," Hon Fraser said.
Cleaning up the mess
According to Premier Fahie, it was the former cabinet of the NDP who are responsible for the “mess” that the Territory was in, and hence, Hon Maduro-Caines’ decision to join the VIP and clean up the “mess” is one with great insight for the future.
"I know that Hon Maduro-Caines cares for children, having served as the head of the Prince and Princess Pageant Committee for years and she wants a bright and sound future for them. Hon Maduro-Caines has been clear that she recognises that the BVI is facing serious threats from external forces and that what the Territory needs most at this time, is for all citizens to unite behind a common vision and a workable plan with all hands on deck.”
The Premier said this strategy will combat outside threat and protect Virgin Islanders, rather than focusing on partisan politics, personal agendas and opposition just for opposition sake.
“Propping up a weak Opposition”
“She believes country must come fist and time is of the essence. Hon Maduro-Caines has been clear that she examined the work that has been done by your present government over the last eleven months,” Premier Fahie said.
The Leader of Government Business also noting that her decision to join the VIP was one that was sound and based on the vision set out in the 2020 Budget which, according to him, is in the best interest of the people.
“The bottom line is that Hon Maduro-Caines believes she can make a greater contribution to national development by working with a strong government and supporting a strong plan than through propping up a weak Opposition that has no leadership or direction,” Premier Fahie said.