Former head of the Civil Service Association Dr. Rufus Ewing delivered what many people, who attended the Progressive National Party (PNP) rally last Friday, March 30, at the party headquarters on Airport Road in Providenciales, described as a speech that would be normally be delivered by someone who is a party leader.
Not only did Ewing blast the Interim Administration for what he insinuated was its ineptitude towards advancing the TCI, but unreeled a raft of plans that he said should return the Turks and Caicos Islands to prosperity and enhance the well-being for its people.
Ewing, who told The SUN last week that if and when current leader Clayton Greene stepped down he would join the leadership race, left no doubt in anybody’s mind at the meeting that he was campaigning for leadership of the party, and that total independence was his ultimate goal.
“I have 20/20 vision for an independent Turks and Caicos Islands. And we have achieved much in realizing this vision, but there is much left to be done to achieve our goals,” Ewing said, while warning that the road ahead would not be easy, but he was committed to preparing the people for the unforeseen challenges.
“I have a vision for our youth, who are well developed mentally, physically, spiritually and in good health, who have attained their true educational potential and are ready to accept the role of being model citizens of our country. I have a vision for a booming TCI economy that is environmentally friendly and sustainable with the majority, if not all Turks and Caicos Islanders employed and are holders of the majority of the top management and middle management jobs, and successful business owners in this country of ours,” Ewing asserted.
Ewing noted too, that under his watch, senior citizens would enjoy their twilight years in the comfort of their wealth and not under distress, saying also that his plan was to make the Turks and Caicos Islands a melting pot for the present nationalities, while preserving the culture.
“I have a vision for a nation that would be truly out of many one people, one in which our culture and heritage and national pride are magnified as we live in harmony and unity. I have a vision of a politically independent, prosperous and stable Turks and Caicos Islands, with democracy, justice, integrity and good governance are the order of the day,” Ewing affirmed.
Ewing warned however, that the road to independence would not be placed on the fast lane; since the people would have to be prepared for such milestone, stressing that education would be the forerunner.
“We need to expand on early childhood education; that is where it begins - from the cradle. We need to develop our programmes whereby we can have our preschools where children can be properly assessed, to achieve their true potential; where our kids would not be pushed aside and told that they are mentally retarded. We need to encourage them to achieve and attain their true potential. We would expand and continue to practice our ‘no child left behind’ policy, which honorable Lillian Boyce was famous for. We truly believe that every child that is a legal resident in this country should have access to an education because you never know what they are going to become,” Ewing said.
On the matter of crime, Ewing stressed that one way of minimizing such ill was to ensuring that as many Turks and Caicos Islanders as possible were equipped with a college education.
“One of the programmes that we have failed to implement in the past is our vocational training programme. Different people have different abilities. Different people have different interest, and we have to ensure that no one is lost along the way.
“We have to expand our programme so that we can take those students who have different interest in the practical areas that they can go straight from high school into college and get a degree in whatever field they want, be it carpentry, be it electronics, be it plumbing, they can get a degree in that field if they want to,” Ewing stressed.
Ewing also decried that the existing situation where it is said that a number of Turks and Caicos Islands were jobless while work permit holders were allowed to stay employed. He said that such a practice should be stopped.
Ewing also batted for the diversification of the economy, so as to create far more employment.
“This economy needs to be diversified. We need diversification in the tourism sector. We need to see health tourism, ecotourism, educational tourism, sports tourism and events tourism. It is not just well enough to see people come to this country, come off American Airlines, go to their hotels, sleep in their bed, eat at the hotel, do whatever activities the hotels do, and then back on the plane and away.
“We need to create services that bring the money from the hotel and bring out into the community, and put money in the pockets of Turks and Caicos Islanders, because full hotel doesn’t mean we are making any money,” Ewing stated.
At least one clergyman is calling for the return of former Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands Richard Tauwhare, to face questioning and possibly charges in the ongoing Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) corruption probe, since he was the chief overseer for government affairs during the Michael Misick administration.
Bishop Derek Browne, President for the Methodist Conference of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands and Pastor for the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Blue Hills, said that former governor Tauwhare was equally responsible for anything found to be untoward during the former Misick administration, and should be asked to answer to charges similar to those that his former cabinet colleagues were facing, which included corruption and money laundering.
“I have shared in the past, and I continue to share now that the situation that we are in now has not started with the British folk. For me, it started with the former administration, which included the Governor Richard Tauwhare. Richard Tauwhare needs to come back here or wherever to and answer in the same manner in which the local leaders are being called to respond to whatever charges.
“He should be here because much of what went on went on either with his approval, or if it was any matter of being set up, he set up for others to do the dirty work. But he was a part of what was going on, and we should not look at justice as being something which is one-sided. Whatever is good for the local leaders must also be good for the leaders of Britain who are part of the administration here,” Browne charged.
Unimpressed by the leadership of the Interim Administration, Bishop Browne said that the church could not sit idly by and watch injustices run amok. He also called on the current leadership to change its style of governance from an autocratic one to one of plurality, since the people have a part to play in deciding how they should be governed.
“The Church is the conscience of the society; the church has to speak out against the dictatorship, and that kind of style. The church has to also speak out against things that would happen that are not in-keeping with the law. It is the church’s responsibility to speak out against injustice. But for me, we do not speak on hearsay.
“I have said that the current administration which is led by the governor, in many instances, they do what they feel like doing. They don’t consult, and much of what is happening, as far as I am concerned, is not for the benefit and the betterment of the Turks and Caicos Islands. As far as I am concerned, when I looked at certain things being done, it seems to be done with the intention of sinking the Turks and Caicos Islands,” Browne argued.
Bishop Browne pointed out that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands would come away with a different point of view of the Interim Administration, if, when considering to implement certain measures, they would garner the input of the people, coupled with their ideas, to arrive at a bipartisan decision, instead of arbitrarily implementing their plans.
“What can give persons a different perspective is, if they would sit more frequently and discuss in an open way, and not come with preconceived ideas, because the Turks and Caicos Islands economy is not the economy of Britain, and you cannot run it in the same way.
“The whole matter of increasing taxes; you may have to increase taxes, but you must do it wisely and sensibly. And when you look at it, there has been an exodus outside of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and so, things have changed in many ways. Things are getting worst; persons are being laid off; and taxes are increasing in many instances. And so, where you would have had more people involved – for example, national health – now there is less. It was not sufficient when you had more people, what about now?” Browne asserted.
He added: The governor and his team, who seemed to have come having all the answers; I think they need to work with people; here their concerns and be objective. But they have come with a subjective view. They already know what they are going to do, and it is sad. They have issues (in the UK) the same as we have here; they can’t fix them, but somehow, they have this bright idea that they can fix the things in the Turks and Caicos.