Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Marlon Penn has expressed that this is not the time for members of the House of Assembly to be arbitrary in their discourse surrounding the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report.
Penn noted that in order to move the territory back on to the trajectory that its forefathers had fought for, there must first be an acceptance of the reality that the events of April 28th, and the incidents which had led up to that day did in fact occur.
Only with this in mind, he said, can members meet their obligations to address the contentious issues surrounding the COI recommendations.
“We were at the verge of having a democracy suspended, having the decisions for this country being made by one individual and a few other chosen individuals,” he said.
Referencing election figures from 2019, Penn said this would ultimately disregard the dreams, aspirations, and democratic rights of the 9720 citizens – roughly 64% of the eligible population – who came out to vote.
COI Report debate a milestone
Penn told the House of Assembly that this debate is a milestone at which they are required to fight for this country, as the forefathers fought for progress and greater self-determination in the BVI.
He said now is the time, after all the talk, for there to be a move forward.
Penn noted that there are areas of the COI that, because of how they are stated, can be misinterpreted or misunderstood by members of the public.
He added that this is why it is so important for proper discussion to be had surrounding these areas in the House of Assembly.
“We have an obligation… to ensure that we preserve their right to self-determination, to steer their own direction and to govern their own affairs”, he stressed.
Though he admitted that even at the level of Cabinet there are often strongly contrasting views on decisions to be made, Penn noted that this does not stop the ball from rolling.
He explained that this is because the cabinet members have a similar goal, stating, “we said we would set our differences aside and fight not against each other but fight for these virgin islands.”
Penn believes that the time for politics will come, but stressed that it is not now because “when brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their land.”
Deterring his fellow members from falling into a “blame game” surrounding the issues of the territory, he asked that they instead acknowledge and act upon the responsibilities they have been granted by the BVI people.