Thursday, 19 April 2012 02:31
By Colin Sampson
Antigua St John's - Member of Parliament for St Philips North Robin Yearwood has brushed aside suggestions that the “lone wolf” protestors picketing the Chinese Embassy are sanctioned in any way by the Antigua Labour Party (ALP).
Notwithstanding the presence of several known supporters of the ALP at each event, Yearwood denied that there is any affiliation between the protestors and the party, or any official ALP connection with or support for the protest action.
The Lone Wolf picketers, on Tuesday 17 March, incurred the displeasure of the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) by displaying flags of Taiwan and of Tibet during their protest.
This action caused the Chinese Embassy to issue a statement expressing unhappiness at what the Embassy sees as unwelcome interference in the internal affairs of the PRC.
The Embassy statement noted that in the opinion of the PRC, the issues of Taiwan and Tibet have nothing to do with matters concerning the Wadadli Power Plant.
The People's Republic of China sees Taiwan as a renegade province of China. The “One China” policy is the practical expression of that view.
Acceptance of that policy is a prerequisite for maintaining diplomatic relations with the PRC.
In 1949 the PRC, claiming historical links and a mission to liberate the Tibetan people, seized what was until that time the independent nation of Tibet. Since that time an international protest campaign has kept the annexation of Tibet in the public eye, much to the embarrassment and chagrin of the Peoples Republic.
MP Yearwood noted that it was the Antigua Labour Party, under then Prime Minister Lester Bird, that originally established diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China. The ALP, Yearwood said, remains committed to the “One China” policy.
The Member of Parliament observed, however, that Antigua & Barbuda is a country where freedom of expression is respected. He maintained that the ALP, while not in support of the protestors’ actions, recognized their right as citizens to express their own views on any matter.
Yearwood made the comments on Wednesday on the Colin Sampson Show. Readers are invited to visit the CARIBARENA.COM video archive
to hear highlights from the conversation.
Quizzed on the current debate inside and outside the ALP over the executive committee’s decision to use a “polling” process to resolve candidacy issues in certain constituencies, the veteran politician suggested that a compromise of sorts had been reached.
Yearwood suggested that questions surrounding the choice of candidate for 2014 had been amicably resolved in one constituency, which he however declined to name.
All persons vying to be chosen as candidates in other constituencies, said Yearwood, had agreed to go the route of polling. However, in the event that the results did not meet with general approval, the party would resort to the constitutionally mandated but more divisive primary system.
Conceding that preparations for either process still remain to be completed, Yearwood expected the polling or primaries to take place later this year, but certainly in advance of the upcoming party convention.
The longtime ALP representative expressed the view that the so-called “ALP leadership issue” has been, in his words, “teased up” or “manufactured” by persons interested in highlighting non-existent divisions within the party. He was therefore inclined to give the matter rather short shrift.
Turning to the struggle over approval of the Sandals Beaches project proposed for Long Bay, Yearwood made it clear that he and the ALP were in full support of any project at Long Bay that preserved access to the beach by the Antigua & Barbuda people, guests at neighboring hotels, and cruise ship visitors.
Finally, in reference to the Wadadli Power Plant project, the MP posited that by refusing to sanction an inquiry, the UPP government had left it up to the electorate of Antigua & Barbuda to be the judge of the rights or wrongs of the issue.
Charging that the Wadadli Power Plant was grossly overpriced, Yearwood promised to provide CARIBARENA.COM with documentary evidence that a brand new 36 megawatt MAN generating plant, with all auxiliary features, can be had for 29 million Euros. This figure converts to roughly US$38 M.