The DHA on paper and in reality
By Rev. Dr. William W. Watty
A simple but vital perspective differentiates my Open Letter to the Parliamentary Opposition that was published in the SUN of October 31, from a response from Dr. Eisenhower Douglas, after more than six weeks, in the CHRONICLE of December 17. The difference is this. While for me, the taste of the pudding is always in a bite, for him the approval or disapproval of the palate seems to be in the recipe. Nowhere, in any of my contributions, or discussions in which I have shared, have I ever shown the least displeasure or dissatisfaction with the constitutional arrangements or the Standing Orders that were designed for the proper conduct of the business of the House of Assembly. Therefore, 95% of his response is irrelevant to the matters I raised in the article that he pretended to address, except, perhaps the one question it raises as to whether the framers of the Constitution or the drafters of the Standing Orders could have anticipated a Speaker like the present one, and considered a safeguard against such an appointment.
The remaining 5%, which appears to be pertinent, are two-fold. They are:
In discussing the Speaker's role, he used the analogy of the Umpire.
In his criticism of me he alleged that I am a supporter of the UWP.
Let me deal with the last one first, for he is not alone of that view. Invariably, it is a reaction I have now come to expect whenever I appear to be critical of the Leadership of the Ruling Party, to such an extent that it seems that, in the Commonwealth of Dominica, short of self-imposed silence, there can be no room for political neutrality. If one is not praising the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to the skies, to say nothing about making the most obvious, valid and necessary criticism of their performance or non-performance, the only conclusion that can be drawn is an alliance with or support of the Parliamentary Opposition. It has gone so far that I have had cause recently to decline the honor conferred upon me that I am Marigot, born and bred, and to declare resolutely my Portsmouth roots and upbringing. So here is Dr. Douglas deciding that I am a UWP supporter, even though the article to which he responds was in criticism of the hostile reaction of the Leader of the Opposition to the Speaker's provocation! How soon has Dr. Douglas forgotten who delivered the homily at the State Funeral of his brother, the late Honorable Roosevelt Douglas, Prime Minister? Who now recalls an article that appeared in the Press on the eve of the 2000 General Elections, in response to the attack of the then UWP administration on the same Prime Minister, Roosevelt Douglas, for receiving the Moonies, and which was used with great effect on the final hustings? Who remembers my public congratulation of the present Prime Minister, the Honorable Roosevelt Skerrit, upon his first victory in the General Elections of 2004? Tell me, then, what were the "sweet grapes" I expected from the Government but did not get and have therefore now turned "sour"? What personal benefits were promised me but were not delivered? If I now appear to be disenchanted and critical, is it not because I changed, or the leadership of the Labour Party, changed between 2004 and 2009? This change a little research can exactly locate and the reason easily discovered and, if necessary, just as easily defended. Furthermore, should the United Workers Party be successful in General Elections anytime soon, and pursue the same policies that presently guide the Ruling Party, I promise Dr. Douglas, and all other interested Dominicans, they will discover how UWP I am.
No, Dr. Douglas. The Dominican political culture is too unwell, at the present time, for me to become politically aligned, and if I appear to be so, don't blame me, diagnose the illness instead; for while I can live with that misperception coming from those who do not know better, I am bound to repudiate it when it comes from someone of your background, breeding and learning. For "Douglas", fortunately, is no strange name to me. Whenever, in times past, I passed through Portsmouth, however short the visit, I never failed to stop at the shop and have a conversation with your father. How I enjoyed those moments, his down-to-earth wisdom, his easy rapport, his uninhibited candor and his lively, impish sense of humor! And so, even across this vast and boundless distance, I think I can hear RBD's long-drawn-out stupes after having read that pathetic article of yours. Not only that but, as fate would have it, Rosie and I boarded at the same home in Pottersville when we were at the Grammar School and slept on the same bed and, from what I know of him, I believe he would have preferred that you kept that article for your eyes only, rather than expose it to the light of day.
As to the first observation, your cricket analogy is an apt one. However, if you had only asked, I could have suggested a better one, but "Umpiring" will do; for I am yet to see, or hear, of hear of, an Umpire in any cricket match, local, regional, international, Test or One Day, 20/20, or 50/50, male or female, adult or adolescent, middle-aged or senile who, after the bowler completed his/her delivery, shouted "Ow-za-a-a-at" with his or her own voice, and then raised his or her own fore-finger to send the bewildered victim packing to the great delight but greater consternation of the other eleven fielders. Need I say more? No, I better not.