What is happening in Turks and Caicos Islands with British Direct Rule?



PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — Shaun Malcolm, former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), and Oswald Skippings, former chief minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands and former deputy leader of the PDM, both strong advocates for the suspension of the constitution and the removal of the democratically elected Progressive National Party (PNP) government along with their own party’s parliamentary representatives, have now apparently reversed their positions. 

The pair has recently openly attacked the interim government, with Skippings publishing two controversial opinion pieces, where in one he gave a pass to now disgraced former PNP premier Michael Misick, claiming that Misick was not the master or the mind that masterminded the corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands. In the other commentary, Skippings protested that there seemed to be little benefit in removing a corrupt regime. 

Shaun Malcolm, on the other hand, has recently had several letters published in the TCI Journal weblog. These letters were apparently published with the intent of exposing the alleged corruption of the interim administration. 

Malcolm is believed to have been the only person that appeared on behalf of the TCI Journal at press conferences hosted by former Governor Gordon Wetherell. Local sources have reported that Malcolm and TCI Journal co-founder Gurcharan Singh are currently facing legal difficulties in the United States, UK and Canada. Singh is said to have fled the South Florida area to hide from creditors and civil law suits that allege serious financial wrongdoing. 

These former supporters of British direct rule seemed hopeful that their commercial activities would be supported by a British-led Government in the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

An aviation company formed by Malcolm and another PDM national governing council member who openly campaigned for Skippings to become leader at previous PDM conventions, was touted as having secured some 99 acres of very valuable land in the Providenciales International Airport on a long term lease. This transaction alone would have made them all instant multimillionaires. Land around the airport sells for $500,000 per acre. The transaction was supposedly backed by an expatriate developer of the exclusive Aman Resort in Providenciales, where the hotel villas rent for some $15,000 per week. 

Former premier Michael Misick had alleged that former Governor Gordon Wetherell was bestowed with lavish gifts from the resort in exchange for favourable immigration appeal decisions but this was denied by the former governor. 

However, sources within the interim government allege that the proposed airport transaction reeked of favouritism and special treatment and the interim government would not be in the business of making instant multimillionaires with Crown land as the main variable in the transaction. Malcolm’s local company apparently invested nothing in the transaction but was using local contacts and purported support of the British government as leverage. 

In any event, the airport deal has now apparently collapsed, with the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) entering into a commercial transaction with international ground handler ServiceAir. 

A complaint over the ground handling matter has been lodged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) by another local supporter of the suspension of parliament, Albray Butterfield Jnr, who owns TCA ground handling. He was also the choice to be deputy leader of the PNP but later had to resign after a majority of PNP national governing council members voted against the appointment. Butterfield has complained that the government should not be in the business of competing with local business. 

Now that the multimillion dollar deals have soured, these former politicians and strong supporters of the suspension of the constitution appear to have turned against the British government. 

Butterfield has now sent another open letter accusing the governor of various nefarious deeds.

published on 10th of March 2012 in Caribean News Now

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