My most recent publication “Essays on the Grenadian Civilisation” contains three essays, one of which is entitled, “Grenada, The Making of an Esau Nation”. The central argument therein is that we have spent the last forty years groping in the dark, chasing donkeys, living hand-to-mouth, eluding hope and not building a future for ourselves.
While I have been convinced of the validity of my analysis, I did not foresee hitting the jackpot in the House of Representatives; a place of high honour, dignity and law-making power! On November 30, 2015, I could hardly believe my ears! Speaking to all Grenadians was the MP for St. Mark and Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Clarice Modeste-Curwen.
The Office of Minister for Foreign Affairs in any country is virtually one in which the sovereignty of that country is vested in terms of relations with other countries. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is therefore the primary custodian of the interests, privileges, dignities, values and rights of the nation. Consequently, the discharge of the functions of that high and onerous Office must be beyond street-level confusion and recklessness.
Indeed, the language of DIPLOMACY, which has been described as “painfully polite”, ought to be practised consistently through the spoken word of the Minister for Foreign Affairs at all times and in all official and public places. The Parliament of Grenada is one such place.
In many jurisdictions, Prime Ministers exercise special care in selecting someone to hold the Office of Minister for Foreign Affairs in his Cabinet. Invariably, the Prime Minister is alert to the uniqueness of the portfolio and typically tries to satisfy himself as to the professional credentials, statesmanship, prudence and cultural refinement of the one whom he chooses for the role.
The appointment of the Honourable Clarice Modeste-Curwen as the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Grenada, may well have been justified up until she made certain statements in the House of Representatives on November 30, 2015, during debate on the 2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure. Those statements were as emphatic, heart-felt and
unapologetic as they were ill-advised, belittling and unacceptable coming from the holder of the portfolio of Foreign Affairs.
However, there is much deeper significance to the statement as a whole than the tone and mood of the words used. In fact, one doubts whether the views expressed are consistent with Grenada’s foreign policy.
On the evidence now in the Hansard and otherwise available in the public domain, it is clear that Grenada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs is prepared to subordinate, if not ‘sell’, her people and country to a particular donor country for a few gazebos/pagodas and houses of the latter’s design plus a few other “feeding us” things!
What is really going on here? The conduct complained of is contrary to the high expectations and responsibilities of a Minister for Foreign Affairs. The job of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the main, is to seek to obtain economic development resources and protect the sovereignty of his/her country through the conduct of principled bi-lateral and multi-lateral relations. It is certainly not that Minister’s job to explicitly or otherwise advocate the colonisation of his/her people and country.
Let us be very clear, when the Minister calls for the erection of more Chinese-designed, oriental structures on or throughout the Grenadian landscape; colourfully and graphically cautions that “we ‘cayn’ play mass and ‘fraid’ powder”; urges that Grenadian children should learn to speak the Chinese language (cultural penetration) and declares that Grenadians must know that it is the Chinese who are feeding them; taken together, she is consciously describing, promoting and declaring her desire for a de facto colonial relationship with the PRC.
Worse it appears for her, to realise that she may well have advanced those views without the approval of the Government in which she serves. If I am wrong on this point, let the distinguished Prime Minister say so!
A person does not have to be trained in International Relations and diplomacy to be a good and competent Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Where any such untrained person is assigned the portfolio of Foreign Affairs, the expectation is that the professional staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the system) would spend adequate time preparing the Minister for the role. Diplomatic language and practice do not run on the streets of St. George’s or Victoria, as a matter of course.
The statements uttered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs touching and concerning the bi-lateral relations between Grenada and the People’s Republic of China, demolish basic standards of diplomacy and good sense and therefore leave the Government and people of Grenada exposed and embarrassed, to put it mildly. In fact, the Prime Minister himself had previously told the public that adjustments to the gazebos would be made.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister had also sounded the horn on Grenada’s sovereignty a few months ago in the wake of Chinese reaction to a statement made by Senator Garraway. Was Minister Modeste-Curwen not aware of what the Prime Minister had said? Do we have a conflict of sorts here?
Simply put, we have a problem on our hands which can only be properly fixed by the exercise of the Constitutional authority of the Prime Minister regarding the appointment of Ministers to his Cabinet. Where Ministers personalise their portfolios, standards are guaranteed to be shredded in broad daylight for all to see! Ministers who ‘bung-away’ in that manner disqualify themselves to such an extent that they should have no difficulty or engage in any delay when required to call on the Governor-General’s Office for new instruments of appointment.