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Hon Turnbull slams his Boss Dr Smith & tells him ‘We are not open for business’

Second District Representative Hon Melvin M. Turnbull has lashed out at his own National Democratic Party (NDP) Administration for not consulting him or his constituents about receiving cruise ships following hurricanes Irma and Maria. Photo: VINO/File
Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Promotion, Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8), left, has been spearheading a series of public meetings hosted by the National Democratic Party (NDP) backbenchers without the Ministers of Government. One such meeting was held in the Fifth District, which is represented by Hon Delores Christopher, right. Photo: VINO/File
Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Promotion, Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8), left, has been spearheading a series of public meetings hosted by the National Democratic Party (NDP) backbenchers without the Ministers of Government. One such meeting was held in the Fifth District, which is represented by Hon Delores Christopher, right. Photo: VINO/File
Both Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon Kedrick D. Pickering (R7), right, and Minister for Education and Culture Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL) have publicly disagreed with statements made by Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL). Photo: VINO/File
Both Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon Kedrick D. Pickering (R7), right, and Minister for Education and Culture Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL) have publicly disagreed with statements made by Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL). Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The civil war amongst the National Democratic Party (NDP) members continues. This includes backbenchers and frontbeach members publicly and privately chastising the leader Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL), publicly disagreeing with him on government policy and also taking opposite public position to him.

The latest came yesterday December 6, 2017 while Hon Melvin M. Turnbull aka ‘Mitch’ was speaking to a local reporter for ZBVI 780 AM radio station. It came at a time, in fact the same day, when his NDP Administration was welcoming the first cruise ship to the shores of Tortola, post hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The first term representative told the world that it was a mistake to invite tourist back to the territory now and made clear that despite his boss, the Premier and the Minister for Communications and Works Hon Mark H. Vanterpool's (R4) position, neither he nor his constituents in Cane Garden Bay “will be supporting the move.”

The young politician said his own government was “lowering the usually-high standard of the BVI tourist brand.”

Not ready as yet, slow down

A few months ago after Hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed the Virgin Islands, leaving death, destruction, and many people still homeless and jobless and with the infrastructure demolished and many businesses and households still without water or electricity, Premier Smith said, “we are back on our feet and open for business.”

This statement brought ridicule from civil society, the Opposition, the media and ordinary citizens since mothers and children are homeless, roads are still very bad and residents have to endure a curfew and price gouging.

Well, Hon Turnbull lambasted his Leader, Dr Smith, and publicly disagreed with him, telling radio station ZBVI’s Zan Lewis that “it must not be dumbed down that we have to say that we are open for business and we are ready to receive people when in fact that we are not,” Turnbull passionately stated.

The first term representative also came to the defence of his people in the Second District, especially those in the Cane Garden Bay area. He told ZBVI, “I will not allow for the businesses in Cane Garden Bay to set up tents to serve any of our tourists. We have a standard that we have to uphold in this territory of the Virgin Islands.”

For years, the cries of the critics of the NDP have been, they are not listening to the voices of the people and voters. Well it was confirmed, by one of their own Member, Hon Turnbull, who stated, “I am a bit disturbed, that government was making decisions without consulting residents.”

He also chastised the NDP and Dr Smith for ‘rushing’ to get visitors back, though his badly affected Cane Garden Bay constituency, a major tourist destination, is still in need of attention.

No Help from NDP Government

In lashing out against his administration, as others within the party has done, Hon Turnbull stated, “No one has come to Cane Garden Bay to help with clean-up from a governmental standpoint.”

However he noted, “If we have to do it ourselves, I am going to stick with my people… we get to a place where we are comfortable and helping businesses to get back to where they can serve our tourists, as well as those who live in this territory, in excellence. We will keep our standard,” said Hon Turnbull.

Yet again disagreeing publicly with Dr Smith and even the Minister for Communications and Works, who claimed that we are ready and open for business, Hon Turnbull said, “I don’t think we are ready, I don’t think the BVI was ready.… I will stand my ground and I will make my voice known for the people which I represent.”

History of embarrassing the leader

The infighting within the ruling NDP is nothing new. Between 2011 to 2015 the Premier was claiming that the economy was robust while many was hurting; however, Hon Deloris Christopher (R5) stated that people were hurting and the economy was not robust as Dr Smith is saying it was.

A few years ago, Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL), the Minister for Education and Culture, claimed that his boss had given the public false information about the cost of a small wall around the Elmore Stoutt High School. However, the Premier stuck to his figures and it turned out those figures produced from the Ministry of Finance of $1.6 M, the cost of the wall, was correct.

In the 2015 snap election, one of the projects that the current Government ran on was the extension of the airport runway at the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport. However, in the House of Assembly (HoA) some four backbenchers publicly ridiculed Dr Smith and stated they cannot support the airport extension at this time, as the country cannot afford it. This was even after Dr Smith claimed that there was a lot of money in the Treasury.

Hon Smith, following Irma and Maria, said we were back on our feet; however, his Deputy Premier and Minister for National Resources and Labour Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) told the public, not so fast as there are “dark, dark, days ahead for the VI.”

The NDP caucus was debating post Hurricane Irma and Maria about laying off civil servants, even through Dr Smith said no decision has been made as yet. Even without a final decision, Hon Walwyn jumped ahead of Dr Smith saying he will not “support the laying off of civil servants.” However, Dr Smith had said at a previous press conference that no civil servants will be laid off, before he flipped flopped in the HoA, following a question from the Opposition Leader.

Recently, the backbenchers spearheaded by Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8), the Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Promotion, has led a group holding public meetings without the Ministers of Government. He said it is more of a listening tour, confirming that Dr Smith and his Ministers are not listening to the voice of the backbenchers or the people of the Territory.

Finally, Dr Smith survived a coup d’etat aimed at making him surrender the portfolio of Finance to Hon Ronnie W. Skelton (AL). The coup was reportedley supported in private by many of the rebel backbenchers. NDP Spokeswoman and cultural icon, former Legislator Eileene L. Parsons OBE, was the Leader.

The coup d’etat failed, and many believe Hon Smith has started to isolate Hon Skelton, his Minister for Health and Social Development. At one point, the caucus had to demand that the Premier take Mr Skelton- a former Finance Minister (2003-2007)- on a trip with him to meet with the International Monetarey Fund (IMF) and World Bank, according to Members who spoke to our newsroom last month.

37 Responses to “Hon Turnbull slams his Boss Dr Smith & tells him ‘We are not open for business’”

  • .... (07/12/2017, 15:53) Like (18) Dislike (4) Reply
    Finally mitch grow some balls
  • See (07/12/2017, 16:16) Like (14) Dislike (2) Reply
    Totally agree with what Mitch is saying but he has also been totally invisible since the storms . Cane Garden bay has been forgotten ... only the local people are helping to clean and rebuild except for the ones on each side of the bay . That is a disgrace to be talked about another day ... but forget tourists for this year
  • that's the way (07/12/2017, 16:57) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
    I like a person that speak their mind and speak their conscience. Take courage.. He is representing his people, that's his Job. I think the Premier is right on this one. Seems like the tourist enjoy BI Beach.. Get Cane Garden Bay Ready for April Mitch..
  • Unhappy Camp. (07/12/2017, 17:17) Like (12) Dislike (12) Reply
    Too long we depend on CGBay. Time we long at another Area. Not Brandy wine Bay.. We cant wait for CGBay to be ready before ships can come..
    • Tats (08/12/2017, 06:02) Like (5) Dislike (12) Reply
      Totally agree. There are other beachesthst could be used with added portable facilities. Not because Cane Garden Bay is not ready means we shold close the territory down.
  • Mark (07/12/2017, 17:48) Like (10) Dislike (8) Reply
    My view is we can't just sit here and say we are not ready yet. Alot of ppl in this territory depends on these ships to directly inject some cash in the economy. I am now seing countries that don't have no more than a ship per week are now having one ship per day. We have to understand that every other country in the Caribbean is selling the same thing and the world is not gonna sit and wait for us to get ready. The Premier was not wrong for making that claim. St Martin got a direct hit and they we're up and running in days. Just my take.
    • Just a point (07/12/2017, 22:08) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
      St. Maarten had electricity in most areas a few weeks after Irma. Their infrastructure there is primarily underground and Phillipsburg is totally underground cabling with majority concrete buildings. Their cruise port and Front Street businesses we're ready to roll for the most part for cruise ships to return. If govt here smart they will take into account a plan that has thought for growth in infrastructure.
    • @Mark. I agreed (08/12/2017, 05:17) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Well Said..
    • Mark. Thankz (08/12/2017, 07:07) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      Nice foad from The HospitL to Crandals. Shows you are listen to the pelple. That Road was really bad. Thanks. U working.
  • Ohh (07/12/2017, 18:07) Like (31) Dislike (7) Reply
    Mitch you have good points but what have you done in 90 days since Irma. 90 days! Nothing has been done and it puts your leadership into question. Why did you wait for a cruise ship announcement to make your voixe heard? Cane garden bay is a total mess and again its your district what have you done? Luckily we the people of JVD made our own way and got help from outsiders.
  • Prayers for Mitch (07/12/2017, 18:46) Like (5) Dislike (4) Reply
    Mitch is right. Cane Garden Bay still got some way to go.
    I hope he can get all them old cars from down the bay removed because the police is silent on this. Look like a real ghetto driving through there.
    Mitch I hope they don't make you resign like they did your uncle.
    We will pray for you.
  • bay girl (07/12/2017, 19:06) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    I agree with the sentiments
  • Interested (07/12/2017, 19:11) Like (17) Dislike (13) Reply
    I am so very disappointed in Mitch,who I looked up to as a young promising,up and coming politician.A hope for the future.I realize that he has much to learn,but his behavior in this instance is very un becoming. It is not about him and Cane Garden Bay,we have to start someplace,letting people know that we are indeed open for business.We have a ways to go,but we have come a long way in our recovery.Let us move forward,Cane Garden Bay included Help yourself as the people in the East did.It takes all of us to bring the BVI back strong.
  • pat (07/12/2017, 19:11) Like (12) Dislike (2) Reply
    they can't touch Mitch or fire him like they did CSC and John Cline two from cane garden bay.

    On another note Mitch is correct but the NDP will not listen for they are accountable to no one other than themselves.
    • @pat (09/12/2017, 11:58) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      How could he be correct? Our country is cash strapped. We should sit with our hands in our lap until we csn print some money? Last I checked we don't print money. So whether we can ensure Mitch's constituents continue to make all our tourist dollars or not, open we must. We need the money to build back. He obviously don't have taxi drivers in his district. Evetyone has to eat. He better humble himself and pray and calm dow.n. i know his father taught him how to pray. You sounded awful on my radio first thing in the morning.
  • Serpico (07/12/2017, 19:18) Like (27) Dislike (10) Reply
    Mr. Turnbull is so full a caca jay. How come he did not second Hon Fahie's motion against his leader and strip him of Finance?
    • @Scopio. I disagree (08/12/2017, 05:39) Like (4) Dislike (15) Reply
      Andrew Motion was a show. Did Andrew reach out to the back benchers. Did he secure Frazer's vote before.? U must know you are going to have at lease a second before one bring such a motion..If he can't get one person out of 12 to second his motion.. That's not a good leader. Think.. Its a show. A good leader would secure at lease another vote as a credibility vote even though the motion will be defeated... Zero support is evidence of Bad Leadership.. I'm telling u all Frazer is the better man. The better leader.. This is not a popularity show. This need strong and coureageous leadership with no Strings attached to big business and Rich people..
  • the rock (07/12/2017, 19:18) Like (22) Dislike (2) Reply
    Hon. Turnbull, come on now, look how hon Fahie stepped up in the 1sr district, you could of done the same in cane garden bay, the bvi has to move on with or without you, hon premier u are doing the right thing, a lot of people is hurting, a dollar in these times goes a long long way!
  • wize up (07/12/2017, 20:16) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    Get up stand up for your rights
    • wet (10/12/2017, 12:37) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      When I read articles like this, I find myself focusing less on this government alone, and more on the concept of the dysfunctional family. Even though is may seem irrational for some of you to now be getting closer to the NDP, it makes sense if you think of this entire government as a dysfunctional family.
  • Windy (07/12/2017, 20:56) Like (25) Dislike (1) Reply
    Mitch should resign and join the opposition bottom line
    • wize up (10/12/2017, 08:45) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      @ windy: really now? After seeing what that same group did to fraser he would be an a&&
  • VG ANEGADA STRONG (07/12/2017, 21:10) Like (19) Dislike (0) Reply
    The BVI is NOT Tortola alone. Anegada is certainly ready for Tourism. Virgin Gorda for sail and culinary tourism with some vacation apartments and villas up and running. We cannot shut down the entire country because Cane Garden Bay and Tortola are not ready. Get off your behinds and do what the people of Virgin Gorda and Anegada are doing and help yourselves. The entire BVI got help from donors but money alone cannot fix things. Stop waiting on government and lets help ourselves. VG STRONG, ANEGADA STRONG
  • Appalled (07/12/2017, 22:02) Like (9) Dislike (14) Reply
    This is the first country I have seen members of a political party openly embarrassing and criticizing their leader and by extension the government of which that are a part. It is appalling.
    • @ appalled (08/12/2017, 08:54) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
      And is equally sad that the leader is so weak he cannot do anything

      Now that is appalling too
    • Tim (09/12/2017, 12:59) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Appalled, you obviously don't know what you are saying.
  • Observer (07/12/2017, 22:12) Like (1) Dislike (18) Reply
    First and Second District are the two Tourism districts in the BVI Tortola..Hotels,guest,houses, Villas,Restaurants ETC..What are the District reps doing to assist the Owners of these establishments to be ready for the next Tourism season?What is the Minister of Tourism ,Chairman of Tourism ,Director of Tourism doing to help? The public have heard nothing about the private businesses in the Districts..All the public is seeing is Political Sharades with every Minister acting like Military men but doing nothing but trying to gain political points..My opinion we need New leadership all 13 must go they have enough money to live on..The Swamp needs pumping out its stink and Dutty..
  • BVI IS OPEN (07/12/2017, 22:46) Like (8) Dislike (8) Reply
    If members of a party whatever the party can't speak one voice get off. This is immaturity at its best, you just don't criticize you boss in public, because you didn't get your way. In fact doing so is a sure way to get overlooked and make your constituents suffer.
    This is a democratic society BUT that doesn't mean government needs to consult people for everything like Mitch said, that would be counterproductive and plain old silly of leaders who were put in to lead.
    Finally BVI IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS. like one blogger said BVI is not just one spot. If it were an oil spill in CGB would that mean that the entry ports shoud be shut to all tourismbusinesses? No! Does he even realize the 90% of his district constituents don't work directly in the district?
    The mentally displayed by Mitch of 'if I'm not getting you shouldn't get' is just why we can't forge ahead with the necessary speed and efficiency.
    • Better Day!!! (08/12/2017, 19:07) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
      Get with the time, these politician were elected to serve us and everyone has an opinion, why should he sit on the side and let government continue to make a mess. I'll agree CGB is not the only tourism spot on Tortola, but he's right if he's not getting the help he needs to make things better in his area. Speak up.
  • Street News.. (08/12/2017, 05:23) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply
    Cane Garden Bay Curse.. Too much hmmm going on over there its now like a little village in Haiti... It will be disaster after Disaster...Like one Blogger say Fix Up Trellis Bay as an option.
  • Person (08/12/2017, 11:41) Like (24) Dislike (2) Reply
    I personally dont like this dude ,,, but he seems wise .
  • out of the box (08/12/2017, 12:00) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    I want to shake your hand. This is not the normal move. Truth be told fearless warrior you have counted the cost of this statement. We are trying but long way to go. May God help us all time to speak truth Irma will never come here again.its ok to do the right speak truth.
  • The Biz (08/12/2017, 14:03) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    As long as people here keep picking each others' pocket, BVI is open for business. Business as usual.
  • farmer brown (10/12/2017, 12:30) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    This article truly depresses me. Yes, this piece clearly points out all of the ways that Dr Smith is unfit and unprepared for office, and really just an abomination compared to all his predecessors- RTO and Stoutt. But it also demonstrates that this type of governance is becoming normalized.

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