(PRESS RELEASE) – Operation Rescue’s founder, Dwyer Astaphan, who helped fashioned the three-party PLP/CCM/PAM coalition government, has accused Prime Minister Dr the Hon. Timothy Harris of politicising the COVID-19 pandemic briefings and has labelled a total shutdown of the country on the upcoming Labour Day weekend (7 p.m. Friday, April 29 to 7 a.m. on Tuesday, May 5, 2020) an “act of excessive muscularity.”
“The speech he made at the COVID-19 Briefing last Friday was not a COVID-19 speech, it was a political speech.
Respectfully, out of place and unneccsaary, unstatesmanlike, not all prime ministerial – and sounded to me, Donald Trumpish. Unfortunately on that occassion and on more than one occassion, I have observed this prime minister, his willingness to criticise and even ridicule people who disagree with him, ” Astaphan said on his weekly talk show “The Operation Room” now aired on his FaceBook page Tuesday night.
Astaphan has accused prime minister Harris “of talking politics and attacking personalities and going back to 2009 and what the deficit was during COVID-19 briefings, thus insulting the peoples’ intelligence.”
“He must speak only on those (COVID-19 issues and when he is in parliament, he must be a statesman.and adapt to the situation that he is in. He is having increasing problems of avoiding being offensive,” said Astaphan.
He said prime minister Harris is not being helpful in getting businesses back on track and referred to Dr Harris’ 1:30 p.m, broadcast announcement last week Friday, April 24, that the nation would be on total lockdown from 7 p.m. Friday 24 April to 7 a.m on Monday April, 27.
Astaphan said businessmen have complained of the late notices of locking down which deprives them of making adequate arrangements for themselves and their employees, who also have to make their own arrangements.
“They say it is just clumsy, unprofessional and inconsiderate to the nation to be waiting to inform the country what was going to happen the next day and that such negligence on the part of the prime minister could not only upset the country’s economy, but also cause physcological damage to the people,” said Astaphan.
He labelled Dr Harris’ shutting down the country over the long Labour Day weekend (7 p.m. April 29 to 7 a,m. on May 5, 2020) “an act of excessive muscularity, an act of spite and an act of possible sadism – inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.”
“Some people when you put them in a position of power, they use that power to inflict pain on other people to validate themselves. ‘I have the power. I have the big stick in my hand and I will punish you, if, when and how I want and for how long’.”
The Labour Movement in St Kitts and Nevis would traditionally hold its annual Miss Labour Queen Pageant on the Saturday before staging the tradition Labour Day March on Labour Day which is celebrated on the first Monday in May.
“I am not saying that the Labour Movement must be fee to have their traditional queen show and march, no not at all (as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic), but are you sending us a mixed and confusing message, Mr Prime Minister, when you relax the restrictions, then for no reason you put the country on a long weekend total lockdown. That is confusing people. That is frustrating people,” said Astaphan, who concluded:
“If in coming to the conclusion to lockdown the country for the entire Labour Day weekend, then in my opinion, the idea of politics must have come into the consideration which would mean that the decision to lockdown, which should be based on a safe balance between public health and economics with a tilt in favour of public health, did indeed and wrongly so, factor in politics.”
Astaphan said it is not hard to see that prime minister Harris is playing politics with the pandemic when in the recent sitting of parliament, a government minister wore a mask in his party colour and candidates for the three-party coalition are observed distributing care packages on lockdown days while opposition candidates are confined to their homes like other citizens and residents in compliance with the state of emergency regulations.
The last general elections was held on February 16, 2015. Because the first sitting of the National Assembly was held on May 14, 2015, the Parliament automatically dissolves on May 14 2020, if not earlier and elections must be called within 90 days. It is the first time in the history of St Kitts and Nevis that first-term government has gone down to the wire.