Sometimes, when politicians achieve a certain level of comfort in their longevity in office, even the most level-headed of them tend to make what can only be described as flippant remarks on national issues which ought to be regarded with great seriousness.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has achieved a high level of respect, locally, regionally and internationally, and his conduct in steering our ship of state in international waters has won wide commendation.
In particular he is known for emphasising the importance of non-alignment in our foreign policy.
Thus, even though St Vincent and the Grenadines has unreservedly maintained its diplomatic and friendly relations with Taiwan, it has never adopted a position hostile to the neighbouring People’s Republic of China.
The issue of China /Taiwan relations has from time to time created difficulties for some of our neighbours who have switched allegiance. The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, by its unequivocal stance on Taiwan has so far avoided this, but recent statements by the Prime Minister himself, give cause for concern.
On the occasion of the signing of yet another loan agreement with Taiwan on April 5, skyrocketing indebtedness to that country to US $177 million over the last six months alone, Prime Minister Gonsalves is on record as saying that the terms of the loan agreement represent “a hook in the gill” of any future government wanting to shift allegiances.
Now while Taiwan has a right to be concerned about the continued security of its loan agreements, how could the leader of a country openly call such signed agreements as a “hook in the gill” of our sovereign nation?
Granted there was clear partisan reference here, given the commitment by the Opposition to shift allegiances to China were it to be elected to office, but does this justify the leader of a nation openly admitting what can only be termed as complicity in “hooking” the St Vincent and the Grenadines fish?
This is as shocking as it is surprising for a statesman known for level-headedness, and it is a most worrying development where our foreign policy in concerned.
The Prime Minister, in his own defence has said the hook is not in the gill of St Vincent and the Grenadines, but rather in the gill of the New Democratic Party. But a hook in the gill of an NDP government is a hook in the gill of SVG, no matter how it is spun.