Former Education Minister, Franka Alexis-Bernadine has called for the resignation of Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen over sensitive and controversial statements made in connection with aid given by Mainland China to Grenada.
The Member of Parliament for St. Mark is under fire for rebuking Grenadians who raised concerns over the Chinese-looking Pagodas that were erected by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) at the popular Grand Etang tourist area.
In condemning locals who voiced strong opposition to the structure, Minister Modeste-Curwen chided them for showing ingratitude to Beijing.
”We must know who (is) feeding us too, and we must appreciate who is feeding us ….”, the St. Mark MP told parliamentarians as part of her contribution to the 2016 budget debate.
According to Alexis-Bernadine, the undiplomatic way in which the matter was handled by the senior government minister is rather unfortunate and not desired.
She said the NDC is extremely grateful for all that China is doing for Grenada, “but the need for Grenadians to comment freely and to indicate the appropriateness, the cultural appropriateness of what we see, that cannot be denied them at all.”
“In whatever angle we look at it, it’s time for Minister Curwen to hang up her shield, come outta the thing and let somebody who can handle it, handle it, from the other party,” she told reporters at a press conference.
“The nature of the issues, it is a sensitive issue, it is a gift being given and people are receiving a gift, one in itself requires careful handling so that neither the giver nor the receiver is offended”, she said.
The ex-Congress Minister blasted Modeste-Curwen for her comments and suggested that she step down from the post.
“…We hear some undiplomatic comments made by Grenada’s chief diplomat.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs is the Minister responsible for all diplomats, all the Grenadian diplomat and therefore must exhibit the highest level of diplomacy when dealing with sensitive issues. It is really regrettable that the comments that were made were in fact presented in the Parliament in the presence of everyone and for everyone to hear,” she said.
Alexis-Bernadine stated that the gazebos, do not represent the cultural heritage of Grenada and this is what is of concern to the people in criticizing the gift from China.
“In cultural heritage, people are defining who they are and that is the sensitivity about it and have this been handled differently, then both parties would have been able to understand clearly what was happening. It is an affront to the Grenadian people to turn around and say we must bear in mind who is feeding us”, she said.
“…We do not have to adopt another culture because donations or contributions or assistance or grants have been made to the country.
There is no need to lose your cultural identity…,” she added.
Alexis-Bernadine branded the unfortunate outburst from the female government minister as “an affront to those receiving the gifts to imply that somebody else is feeding you”.
“…The statement in itself is ludicrous. In that case, we must build American monuments here, we must bring in Indira Gandhi bus…these things are important but we are identifying here, this is a tourist site for Grenada in which we trying to convey who we are as a people, now if that most fundamental concept doesn’t hit you as Minister of Foreign Affairs, you need to think again,” she remarked.
The opposition Senator said in light of the diplomatic gaffes that were made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the last year, it is time for her to resign.
Modeste-Curwen replaced Nicholas Steele as Minister of Foreign Affairs after THE NEW TODAY newspaper had reported on a major diplomatic blunder he had made in relations between the two countries.
Steele had written to the authorities in Hong Kong asking them to give diplomatic status to four persons who were to be installed as agents on the China-ruled territory to sell passports as part of Grenada’s Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme.
Hong Kong informed Minister Steele that his letter was misdirected and that he should send it instead to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on the Mainland.