By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, July 25, 2022 – A very dangerous culture of quietness grips the Turks and Caicos people and residents. This unnatural silence where people with opinions, concerns, suggestions or critiques are frozen by a fear of bringing their thoughts into open spaces is hampering the potential of the TCI by too often demoralizing and ostracizing the very thing the country needs most: PEOPLE, thoughtful people.
The “climate of fear” label of 2008 is still stuck to the back of the Turks and Caicos, make no mistake.
Only a few indulge in the freedom of expression, as far more people believe if they say what they feel or what they’ve experienced they will be washed away by a tsunami of victimization. Imagined or real, this is a prevailing view and it is a ‘kill shot’ to honest, earnest public engagement and national development.
A few weeks ago, Angela Williams of Ashley’s Learning Center – a special needs facility – decided to share her experience on a potential Ministry of Education partnership. The deal which to her once had hope, flopped when she was asked to do, what she says she could not. Williams believed the impasse developed out of some personal distaste for her by an unnamed ‘someone’ within the Ministry of Education.
A live streamed press conference from her school and media reports exposed the situation and thousands expressed outrage at the idea of the facility shutting its doors.
In uncharacteristic fashion, the Ministry of Education actually responded with notice of a press event. It was not what I expected of a seasoned Government office.
While it appeared the Ministry was innocently setting the record straight on the issue, the true mission emerged and it was nothing more than a strategic attempt, led by the highest ranking officials in the Ministry of Education to muddy the reputation of Angela Williams and her school.
The damage was done and the message was sent: when you mess with me, I will mess with you. Tit-for-tat; basically, child’s play.
A chance for enlightened leadership was missed; and partisan fans praised the Government’s response. It was not a praiseworthy moment.
Angela Williams should have been at that press conference with the Ministry of Education and the public, concerned about the welfare of dozens of special needs children, could have been given a ray of hope and a taste of something fresh from this newest PNP Administration.
The Ministry would have not only demonstrated in a tangible way its desire to see the school continue, but it would have redeemed itself without the need to utter one slight against Ashley’s Learning Center.
A focus on the partnership and using the platform to lay out the Ministry’s own plans and strides in Special Needs education would have raised the bar and demonstrated an empathy and wisdom of a government quick to care, not to cut down. I believe this approach would have even earned the Ministry a public apology and a hearty thank you from Ashley’s.
In the weeks since both press events were held, there has been silence except for word that Ashley’s Learning Center is planning to certainly close.
The Education trio – Rachel Taylor, the Minister; Wesley Clerveaux, the Permanent Secretary and Jas Walkin, Special Needs Officer – came out in a live stream and shared damaging information and then rode off into the sunset seemingly feeling victorious.
But there was no win here. It was a significant regression.
The Ministry of Education owed the public the explanation; there was no error in their swift response to the alarming claim by Mrs. Williams. But we got way more than we bargained for, way more than we needed.
In any leadership position, there are days when one is the hero and days when one is the villain. It is impossible to control how people feel, but leaders are compelled to make those individual, independent decisions as situations emerge which help to shape public sentiment – for the positive – about them and what they stand for.
The people whom leaders serve need to be confident that they can express themselves without fear of unfair retribution; Protected by the Constitution but better than that, heard at the heart of their matter by leaders who understand the dynamism of their roles.
In retrospect, once you extricate the negative vibes between Ashley’s Learning Center and the Ministry of Education, you hear of some of the most progressive plans for Special Needs Education and Support the Turks and Caicos has ever revealed.
It took Angela Williams speaking out about her plans and issues for the country to learn about the intentions of the Ministry of Education which includes the construction of a Special Needs Centre. That was a first.
Public expression has a place of importance in a country under development. It is essential to not only have but to hear the dissenting voices, to welcome other ideas, broader perspectives and constructive criticism.
In Turks and Caicos, these varied expressions become particularly vital when you consider that the Government of the day was selected to serve by only 3,500 of Turks and Caicos’ 45,000 population.
Washington MISICK challenged, and holds onto Leadership of the PNP
#TurksandCaicos, February 24, 2024 – Magnetic Media can report that WASHINGTON MISICK has emerged and remains LEADER of the governing Progressive National Party.The run for party leader was a risky maneuver by Saunders, son of former PNP Party leader and Chief Minister Norman Saunders. Delegates cast votes, giving E Jay Saunders 58 votes and Washington Misick 88. The elder statesman convincingly retaining delegates’ confidence. It is also reported that, based on the PNP Constitution, Saunders needed 70% support from delegates in a preliminary run off. He was unable to secure that much backing. A constitutional motion to change the selection process of the deputy leader to a delegate vote reportedly failed. It is therefore unclear what the immediate future, politically is for Saunders whose party and government roles are hinged on Washington Misick’s prerogative to have him or someone else in these posts. However Misick is already promoting a strict focus on uniting the party following the NGC meeting held at the Shore Club.It has been a contentious battle today at the PNPs National General Congress (NGC) for party leadership with interest coming from: Jas Walkin, the party’s 2021 campaign manager who this week publicly withdrew his bid; Dameko Dean, former Wheeland candidate who had published an article revealing his quest to lead the PNP and E Jay Saunders who today unsuccessfully challenged MISICK for the role. Saunders has tried for leader before and has served as the party’s deputy leader, at the pleasure and selection of Washington Misick since June 2019.
TCI Community College staff struck and robbed, another chased in car by attackers
#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – Attacks against several of its staff members last week have forced the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College to reassess its security.
“The college is robustly ending in immediate steps to review and reinforce our campus security protocols,” said a February 16 letter to staff seen by Magnetic Media.
The letter puts the date of the incidents as February 15th at one of its Providenciales campuses.
In the first, a male member of staff was attacked and his car stolen after he left a meeting. When Magnetic Media queried police about the event, they released additional details of the robbery.
We were told around 9:15 pm, Thursday February 15, a 39-year-old male and his colleagues were leaving the TCI Community College Campus, Princess Drive, Providenciales, when a group of men surrounded his vehicle.
The man, noticing that one of the men had stopped at the rear of the vehicle, approached him to investigate and was struck on the head. In the immediate aftermath, the assailants escaped in the victim’s car, leaving the TCICC staff member injured at the scene.
The victim was transported to the Cheshire Hall Medical Center by police officers, and up until news production time, the car had not yet been recovered.
Following this incident, the Community College also revealed that a car chase had taken place.
A female member of staff this time, was chased down by suspected criminals as she left the campus. The employee managed to outdrive the people pursuing her and arrive safely at her destination, but she was described as shaken.
Now both, police officers and campus administration are urging residents to remain vigilant, especially when heading into their cars at night.
Safety tips that can help residents avoid attack, robbery, injury, or worse include:
- Stay alert when heading to your vehicle; don’t be distracted by your phone; pay attention to your surroundings.
- if you see anything or anyone suspicious, do not investigate on your own; go back and get a security guard or similar personnel to assist.
- Have your keys ready in your hands before approaching your car, so you can enter the safety of your vehicle immediately.
The police have not yet arrested anyone for the robbery attack against the employee.
Royal TCI Police share CAREER DAY Highlights
#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – On Thursday, 8th February 2024, between 9 am – and 2 pm, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force attended a Career Day event at the Enid Capron Primary School, Five Cays, Providenciales.
Under the theme “Be aware, choose a career”, the RTCIPF showcased the many career options available in policing.
Members of the Community Policing Unit, Safeguarding and Public Protection, Anti-Gang and Drugs Unit, Marine Branch, Traffic Enforcement, Air Support Unit and Mechanical Department were present. Officers answered questions posed by the young, impressionable minds.
Insp Ensa Wilson lectured students on various topics, including: “Good Touch, Bad Touch”, alerting adults to inappropriate situations and the importance of calling 911.
Students were asked questions following the lecture and were given RTCIPF tokens.
Sgt. Kavin Mars, along with PC Fitzlewis McDonald and Kiyon Doughty of the Anti Gang and Drug Unit, freestyled “Don’t Huff, Don’t Puff, Don’t Do That Stuff” and warned students of the dangers –health and legal – of using drugs.
Superintendent (Community Policing and Divisions) Dwight Gardiner commended the school’s initiative and applauded the representation of officers present.
Supt. Gardiner said: “Career Days often highlight the importance of community policing and underscore law enforcement’s vital role in fostering trust, collaboration, and safety within neighbourhoods.
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