(CUOPM) – The presence of former Minister of National Security, Mr. Dwyer Astaphan at a meeting with the Opposition and Guyanese residents in St. Kitts smacks of hypocrisy.
So says St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas in response to questions from callers who during the programme recalled that it was Mr. Astaphan, as Minister of National Security, who attempted to deport Guyanese-born General Manager of WINNFM, Mr. Clive Bacchus and his family in 2005.
“Is Dwyer Astaphan a hypocrite or not? And the answer obviously is yes, because for Dwyer Astaphan to be in a meeting in St. Peter’s asking people from Guyana not to support the Labour Party, but to support the Opposition of which he is now a part, because the Labour Party Government will in fact deport them after the elections,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
“Dwyer (Astaphan) should be the last person to speak about deporting foreigners. In fact, I have never said it publicly, but I say it now (that) one of the reasons for the fallout between Dwyer and myself was that he continued to deport Guyanese and I interpreted that to mean that he was doing it for his own personal reasons, especially after the Cabinet had warned him not to deport people from the Caribbean in particular, unless Cabinet was engaged in the activity,” Dr. Douglas disclosed.
The Prime Minister said that despite the Cabinet policy, several Guyanese nationals were deported.
“In fact one of the persons he wanted to deport was Clive Bacchus himself, who now is the Manager of WINNFM and I had to intervene because he refused to renew the work permit of Clive Bacchus and wanted to deport him and his entire family and I intervened,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
“So Dwyer Astaphan is truly a hypocrite and should be the last person to speak about the Labour Party Government deporting people if they were to vote for them. Because of what he was told he could not do and that’s why he is out of the Government today. So Dwyer Astaphan is a hypocrite yes is the answer to the question that been asked by that caller,” said Dr. Douglas.
The January 2005 incident made headlines in the Caribbean and beyond with one notable Caribbean journalist, Mr. Norman “Gus” Thomas, a Kittitian based in Antigua reporting as follows:
News reaching Caribbean Net News indicates that Guyana-born journalist Clive Bacchus, who has been serving as the General Manager of the privately owned and operated WINN FM Radio in St. Kitts, could be on the breadline come the end of January as a result of “stiffer” regulations regarding work permit requirements in the twin-island federation.
Bacchus told Caribbean Net News in an interview Tuesday that his application for the renewal of his work permit which he has had since 1998, was answered by a letter from the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of National Security, informing him that the position had to be advertised in order to ensure that there are no qualified nationals who are capable to apply for the job.
According to the letter, Bacchus has been given until the end of January to work in the country, should a qualified national apply for the job.
This latest decision has puzzled many, as such a position is normally taken with first-timers and not renewals.
Bacchus is of the view that he is being targeted because WINN FM is not pro-government and seeks to air both sides of the issues.
This development comes as a precursor to the implementation of “free movement” of several classes of skilled workers which includes media workers.
Last month, Minister with responsibility for National Security, G. A. Dwyer Astaphan, sent a stern warning to those who were reported to have non-nationals within their employ, advising them to first obtain a work permit as failing to comply will automatically result in firm legal action.
“Employers wishing to engage the services of non-citizens need to apply for work permits for those non-citizens. Work permits are granted on the premise that the jobs, for which the work permits are sought, are not jobs that locals are suitably qualified or otherwise available to perform.”
According to Astaphan, the work permit is specific to the employer, employee and job.
In other words, he said, “If foreigner A is given a work permit to be a technician for company B in St. Kitts and foreigner A falls out with company B, foreigner A cannot use that work permit to go and work for company C.”
The country’s security chief pointed out that the measures are being enforced to ensure that native-born Kittitians and Nevisians have a fair and equal opportunity to be employed in their land of birth.
Every effort will be made to ferret out all illegal immigrants working in the Federation in default of the relevant laws, he added.