Dr. Fraser- Point of View
June 11, 2004

About Seasonal Love

It was just a couple days ago that I was able to get around to reading Otto Sam’s piece that appeared in the NEWS of May 28. It certainly makes for interesting reading. Indeed, I agree with his underlying call for love of nation, but his view that citizens have a right to ‘oppose any project or position of Government or private interest that they perceive will negatively affect them and the nation’ seems at odd with the very tone of the letter he has written. He further confuses the issue with his talk about consistency and ‘convenient, opportunistic and score settling love.” {{more}}
I would have thought that it would be obvious by now, in fact conveyed even by definition, that ‘Friends of the Tobago Cays’ was born out of a particular issue, the proposed management arrangement for the Tobago Cays. True enough, he does not ‘pretend to have any knowledge of the Tobago Cays, the environment or implications for the jewels and the nation if the Cays were managed by Robert Barrett or MEDO.’ Maybe if he were more knowledgeable about the issue he would have become a ‘Friend of the Tobago Cays.’ I am thus appealing to our dear friend to better inform himself on the matter and let’s see where it goes.
But Otto throws logic on its head by accusing members of not having been involved before on national issues. It allows him to jump therefore to certain conclusions about seasonal love and all the other grand things he has to say. But, is it that the condition for speaking critically on an issue was to have spoken out before on another issue? Really, it is like telling banana farmers that they should not be critical about any issue affecting bananas because they had not spoken out about Ottley Hall or ‘all the ugliness St.Vincent endured.’
I need to reemphasize the point that the issue that brought that group together was the Tobago Cays management proposal. Two other things need to be said. First, ‘Friends of the Tobago Cays’ started with a discussion by a few former members of the National Trust on that matter. These members were certainly not silent on issues affecting the environment, among these, projects at Union Island, like the extension of the airport that threatened to damage the reefs. It was their interest in environmental and heritage matters that stimulated them in the first place into joining the National Trust. The records are there for anyone to see.
The second point I wish to make has to do with the fact that many of the members of that grouping, that is, ‘Friends of the Tobago Cays’ were or are supporters of the Prime Minister. Were they also NDP tools or moles or are they the kinds of persons that were so brittle in soul, mind and body, that they were easily swayed by sinister figures like me and others whom he has accused of being engaged in seasonal love?
Otto might not believe it but before any public utterances were made by ‘Friends’, efforts had been made to meet with the Prime Minister. There is even a letter to that effect to which he can have access if he wants to know the truth.
‘Friends’ pledged to work with the Government in arriving at a suitable management arrangement, and there was unanimous agreement on this. It was the Prime Minister’s response to ‘Friends’ and his insistence that he was prepared to go ahead with the Barrett proposal that forced ‘Friends’ to make public statements on the Tobago Cays matter. And then, the rest is history.
I suspect that the whole thrust of Otto’s argument would lead one to conclude that even those public officers manning relevant public departments who wrote against the proposal in question might have been affected by an NDP virus. After all, as far as I know, they had not spoken out before about Ottley Hall or about the other issues mentioned. Their motives should therefore be seriously questioned.
I might be mistaken and so I stand to be corrected, but I cannot recall reading anything from Otto Sam about critical issues until recently, from about 1998, I believe. I have been obviously the worse off for it and certainly my education would have been seriously affected by this major omission. Or it might be that our friend had been so taken up with his ‘nearly thirty years of reading’ that he didn’t have time to write.
I want to suggest to Mr. Sam that before he pelts accusations left, right and center, he takes time to adequately inform himself accordingly. I can of course give him access to my articles and letters written over the past 17 years. Unfortunately I cannot boast of doing so for 20 years since I was out of the country until 1986, that is, from 1981- 1986.
It might surprise Mr. Sam to know that I was once described as leader of some anti-Mitchell club, whatever that might be. Then, of course, he had been reading for 30 years, so he would have known. That is however, another matter. As to my motives and the writings themselves, a good starting point would have been to state what he disagreed with. Simply to question my motives is too subjective to be taken seriously.
Otto has given me some research to do because I need to look again at any comments I might have made about Christmas road- work. Certainly I have a position on the Cross Country Road, one I would state regardless of who held power in this land. I am accused of opposing everything that Dr. Gonsalves and his Government have proposed. Funny enough, I was always of the view that I had been too silent about too many things. I have never been one to sound trumpets for the policies of any government, since governments have their machinery to do so. My focus has been on raising issues pertaining to national matters and I hope I have done so without malice or favour. I write based on my assessment of things. It is for this reason that I hesitate to write on matters about which I have little information. As for hiding behind ‘ a false show of nationalism and patriotism’ I leave this for others to decide.
Finally, it is good to know that there are persons like Otto who write because of their strong sense of nationalism and patriotism. I suspect that any analysis of his writings would clearly bring this out. It’s a pity that there are not many more persons with this pedigree. Keep on Otto, a man for all seasons is desperately needed in St.Vincent. Really, I am all for singling out and exposing the impostors and ‘patriotic impressionists’. We might even be surprised at what turns up.