The Opposition Leader, Hon. Edwin Astwood's Response To Throne Speech
The following is the the Opposition Leader, Hon. Edwin Astwood's reaction to the Throne Speech to mark the start of the Parliamentary Year:
Consequently, Mr. Speaker, we are at the 3rd day of October, and there are already, unconfirmed five shootings, with 3 being fatal.
I offer my most sincere condolences to the bereaved families at this time.
Two house meetings ago the Premier and Deputy Premier stated that the TCI is doing the best it ever had.
And contrary to this, I offered a different perspective- One where the country is doing good for a select few and leaving the majority of our people behind.
Leaving them behind to be buried in the high cost of living facing our country.
Leaving them behind to be drowned in inflation.
Leaving them behind to fend for themselves against a dangerous enemy, pick them off one by one.
Mr. Speaker, a PDM government, under my leadership, believes that we can get the entire family and all our people to the promised land intact, leaving no one behind.
Mr. Speaker, our people’s well-being is now under the greatest threat it has ever seen.
The safety of our citizens requires urgent attention. It requires urgent actions and transformative solutions to our security challenges.
The window of opportunity is almost close, which signals that we have to escalate our engagement, from firm consensus to decisive action.
Mr. Speaker, In many respects, this rise in crime stripped our people of many illusions ….and exposed many shortcomings, inabilities, and leadership deficiencies of this current PNP government, in the face of existential crises.
It brought into sharp focus, for all to see, including former leaders of the country, showing the Leadership of the current PNP government’s inability to perform the work that they constantly said that they came for.
Mr. Speaker, absent leadership in the fight against crime undermines prospects of collective action… and significantly impairs the resolve of the country… to guarantee the safety of all our residents.
Mr. Speaker, the latest shootings and loss of lives remind us that we cannot afford to waste another moment debating the merits of doing something vis-à-vis doing nothing.
Mr. Speaker, If we don’t act decisively now, It will soon be too late to reverse the course of events, and then even the best possible interventions will not survive, and our country would generate (sic) into a dystopic society.
Mr. Speaker, A dystopia is an imagined community or society that is dehumanizing and frightening, with failed political and social structures, with a youth subculture of extreme violence.
A dystopia is an antonym of a utopia, which is a perfect society.
Mr. Speaker, picture in your mind's eye a world where the police cannot protect you, and at the same time, you are not allowed to protect yourself. And the Leaders of society are far isolated from the people.
So, who does that leave in charge, Mr. Speaker? Who runs a country like that? Well, young men with guns. The local and international gangs.
They're in charge— the cruelest and most violent element of any society,
the people with the least to lose, the people with the shortest time horizons,
and the people with shallow reservoirs of impulse control.
People like that now have all the power. And we have to take that power back.
If the people have no power- that means that everything the people have belongs to the criminals, who can take it at will.
That's the end of society as we know it. It exists in pockets around the world, including Mogadishu, in Somalia, famously, but if you think it's confined to Mogadishu, think again.
It is now believed at least three organized armed gangs are operating with impunity around Providenciales, which means the bad guys are in charge now.
That's what the collapse of society looks like. But it's now normal in certain communities.
We have to stop this by any means necessary.
How many arrests of reported crimes were made, and how many went to jail? Too many factors are restricting our police officers and our criminal justice system from performing their duties to the best of their abilities.
That is what happens when our leaders and our elected government hand control of a community to criminals. "Here. you run it."
In certain communities in Providenciales right now, our people are more likely to be the victims of crime ….than criminals are to be punished for it.
So, the question is, why did the people elect this government to power with a 14 to 1 mandate? They expected them to lead and have control. “Whom much is given, much is expected” – Mr. Speaker.
So why is this continuing, Mr. Speaker? It's been going on for more than a year since the increase in violent crimes in 2021. Why has no one in Elected Leadership given the desired action to stop the escalation of crime?
Mr. Speaker, why did it take the Governor to come here today, to provide a proper update on the crime that is taking place?
Mr. Speaker, why wasn’t that information included in the Premier’s throne speech?
Who will step up and lead the elected Government on crime?rs is presenting this information? Who is Leading our country? Whom did the people elect 14-1, Mr. Speaker?
Who will step up and lead the elected Government on crime? Mr. Speaker is there no government member stepping up to lead the charge? Who amongst you will take the lead on this crime situation?
Mr. Speaker is there anyone in charge with a normal testosterone level who's willing to step up and just say No? "No, you're not allowed to do this. You just can't do that. That's against the law of the Turks & Caicos. This is a country of laws. Nothing personal, we don't care who you are, or where you are from.
That's not allowed in our country, and if you are committing crimes, we're going to punish you very hard - so you don't, or can’t, do it again." In other words, Mr. Speaker, if this government has shown up with clear and reasonable policies and plans, and enforced them consistently, and if they had taken the PDM’s earlier advice- the situation most likely would not have gotten this bad.
We are now at a place where the elected government is handing control of crime fighting to outsiders- whose help we now have to welcome, and we thank those who are coming.
However, Mr. Speaker, those coming do not answer to anyone in this country. What control does our elected government have in this?
Mr. Speaker, we must understand that when there is an action of immediate force and immediate interventions, everybody calms down. That's true in the family, and it's true in the nation. And if you don't have that immediate action, you have chaos.
As leaders of the country, every day is an opportunity to expedite our efforts to confront this crime crisis. We are losing time Mr. Speaker. We needed these actions outlined Yesterday.
It will be recalled, Mr. Speaker, that in my speech, during my response to the budget address-I cautioned about the impending crime wave -while outlining that our people were not living their best lives.
I also placed subsequent articles in the news about crime and the need to urgently address it.
My PDM party, our deputy Leader, Appointed Member, and National Chairman, along with myself, also did a press conference specifically to raise the alarm on violent crime and offered real immediate interventions, and real solutions that will assist.
However, Mr. Speaker, it is deeply concerning that little progress had been in respect to the needful actions, and the recommendations fell on the death (sic) ears of the elected government.
And now Mr. Speaker, we reach here today being reactive rather proactive.
Hence, Mr. Speaker, It is past time to collectively contemplate urgent matters …and to implement the immediate actions needed to contain the ongoing occurrences of crime, while we deliberate on long-term implementation approaches to be undertaken.
We need to mobilize with tremendous urgency, unity, and strength, and take action at once.
Mr. Speaker, we believe, as the PDM, that society as blessed as ours, and a country that is doing well ought to be able to help our vulnerable people in their struggles,...ought to be able to find work for all who can do it...ought to provide shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly, and hope for the destitute.
And we proclaim as loudly as we can the urgent need to serve and protect all our citizens.
Mr. Speaker, we in the PDM believe in firm, but fair law and order.
And we believe that at this critical moment in our country’s history, we must not only choose, but decisively act to protect All our people, our country, our visitors, and our livelihoods.
Let us do it- together, inclusively, proactively, and immediately.
I thank you.