June 2, 2006
PM, O’Neal leave for East Asian trip

The international Airport project will be “the centrepiece of the discussions” when Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves makes an official visits to Taiwan and Malaysia.

Dr. Gonsalves is scheduled to leave the state on Saturday, June 3, and is expected to commence the first leg of his two week trip to Taiwan on Monday June 5.{{more}}

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Chairman and CEO of the International Airport Development Company (IADC), Dr. Rudolph Matthias. Dr. Gonsalves’ wife Eloise and one of his daughters are also set to make the journey with him, along with Sergeant Christopher Benjamin. During his scheduled five-day stay in Taiwan, the Prime Minister is expected to hold discussions with that country’s Prime Minister, Premier, and the Foreign Affairs Minister among others.

Leader of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Green Party, Ivan O’Neal will join the Prime Minister’s entourage during the Malaysian leg of the trip. Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmed Badawi issued an invitation to the Green Party leader during his official four-day visit to this country from April 29 to May 2.

During his address to Parliament on Tuesday, May 2, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace mentioned that O’Neal had fought on Malaysian soil, defending that country against Indonesian invasion during the years 1963 and 1965. O’Neal, who was present at the special Parliamentary sitting, was introduced to the Malaysian leader after the session. Badawi then requested that O’Neal be part of the next official visit to his country being made by Dr. Gonsalves.

O’Neal is scheduled to leave the state on June 8 and should be in Malaysia one day before Dr. Gonsalves, due to arrive there on Friday, June 9. Dr. Gonsalves, speaking at a press conference held at Cabinet room, last Tuesday, May 30, said that special programs are being arranged for O’Neal. “I spoke to Mr. O’Neal about a week ago and informed him of all the arrangements.”

Meanwhile O’Neal will not be going to Malaysia empty-handed, “I have three business plans drawn up to present to them,” declared the Green Party leader. He told SEARCHLIGHT that he is not going on the trip for politics but rather to represent the country.

Although he insisted on keeping the third of his business plans under wraps, he revealed his plans for the establishment of an agro- processing plant for the production of teas from local bushes and also the birthing of a hemp industry.

“It will be an emotional trip, when I was there it was mostly jungle,” reflected O’Neal as he looks forward to visiting that country again. “I gave them a couple years of my life so I hope they are willing to give something back.”