New Year Address by Right Honourable Dr. Denzil L Douglas, Leader of the Opposition

The content originally appeared on: ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation

After the very challenging year that 2021 was, we are all happy, I am certain, to start a  brand-new year. However, considering the lives unexpectedly lost, the limitations with movement, job insecurity, and above all difficulty accessing needed goods due to shipping challenges, we are facing 2022 with some trepidation.

All these hardships of 2021 are directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a reality that we will most certainly face for 2022.  

The question then is ‘How do we face yet another year living with COVID-19?” The answer is simple…..TOGETHER.  

For all those listening to this message, be reminded and comforted, in one undeniable truth:  We Shall Survive 2022 together.  

It is in this light that I bring the Message of 2022 as the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal  Opposition aptly themed: “Seeing our way through 2022 purposefully, resiliently and  TOGETHER”.  

My people, here in the blessed Federation of St Kitts and Nevis and the diaspora: let us be purposeful in 2022.  

This New Year requires an entirely new approach to surviving and being resilient on two significant fronts: First, as a people, we must demand of those, charged with governance and making laws, to lead and serve with compassion; to bridge divisions, and to respond to the needs of ALL people. Second, as one nation, we must find the inner resolve to become revolutionary in our approach to survival. No longer should hand-outs buy our loyalty. We must embrace the industrial and entrepreneurial resolve to take care of ourselves, our families, and our neighbours without the ease of being bought. The upcoming year requires innovation, creativity, and a bravery and boldness capable of conquering every challenge that we are thrown.  

In doing these, we must not lose sight of the fact that we must all be brave and innovative  TOGETHER.  

Innovation and self-sufficiency for 2022:  

To survive, when shipments might be uncertain when access to favorite food items is challenging, it requires a more determined approach to food security and self-sufficiency. I  charge us to find creative ways to feed ourselves. Let us use the opportunity afforded by  COVID-19 to create community-based food supply strategies.  

I implore us to farm together, to determine how we will, as communities rotate crops to allow year-round supplies of our essential food items. We must plan together and work together so that all can eat healthily and sufficiently regardless of sex, class, or creed.  Failure to come together to be able to feed ourselves can lead to serious disruptions in our lives if ships with food supplies do not arrive on time.  

There can be no greater urgency than the need to ensure we carve out a way to feed ourselves sustainably, in the year of our Lord 2022. This task requires an attitude of nowness as much as it requires togetherness.  

End of passivity in 2022: Kittitians and Nevisians have never been passive people. We have been leaders not only in the transformation of our country but also in the progress of our region. Our nation has been the first to create waves of resistance movements across the region,  for the rights of working-class people.  

We must never allow ourselves to become passive. We must never allow ourselves as a  people to silently accept the wrongs meted out to anyone in our society. Always remember that any injustice faced in 2022 by one citizen will be an injustice against every citizen. We must coalesce around a common goal of surviving 2022 together.  

Togetherness above all requires that the silence of critical institutions such as the National  Church Organizations transform into loud voices which speak on behalf of good governance as they once did. Togetherness demands that other civic and non-government organizations such as the Bar Association, Unions, Cooperatives, and the like, join ordinary citizens in the fight to acquire and maintain the best standard of living for themselves and their families.  

We can only foster a nation where rights are protected when people are free to speak up and address TOGETHER, any person, any institution, any party, or any government which may be threatening our rights to survive as a people. Even in our very cultural calypso art form,  artistes must once again have the freedom to express and comment on every social injustice without fear. Let us do this together.  

My 32 Years of Stewardship of the SKNLP: 

I am proud, I am happy about the stewardship that I was able to provide the St. Kitts Nevis  Labour Party as its National Leader from 1989 to 2021.  

As a result of this stewardship, I was afforded the opportunity to serve this blessed and beautiful country of ours as its second Prime Minister for 20 years from 1995 to 2015. I am confident that the history books will record this period as our greatest leap forward. These experiences with Party and Country have been enriching, rewarding, and humbling, mainly because they have all been people-oriented.  

I am certain that the gains made by my government can continue to sustain us into and through 2022. I demand of this Government that it reinstitute the one-to-one laptop program; that it finds the ingenuity to provide more homes for our citizens; that it assists in financing and encourage more to study overseas physically and virtually; and makes provision for debt forgiveness for those who are saddled with student loans. These have been pillars of success for many and the reintroduction and introduction can serve us well in the New Year ahead.  

A Renewed SKNLP for 2022: Our Party for two months was able to capture the attention and imagination of our Country and its citizens. It did so with the most open, transparent, and democratic process of political leadership elections in the history of our country. This exercise allowed for over 400 delegates to elect its new political leadership being ably led by Comrade Dr. Terrance Drew at the helm along with Comrades Hanley and Maynard as  Deputy Leaders.  

I am confident that our Party, truly together in 2022 will begin to write the next chapter of a  St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party Government. We can look forward to a Party revived, refreshed,  and strengthened in its 90th year of existence, ready to take on the mantle of leading our twin-island nation into its next ascent.  

I implore all our members of this Great and unique Political Movement, the SKNLP, that we can only do so together, each for the other so that we do not waste the political opportunities that await us in the upcoming year.  

Giving More to More of Our People for 2022 and beyond:  

The Labour Party has always lived by its motto of “for the good that we can do”. We have ensured that over the years our priority is to always take care of the most vulnerable in our society. At this point, those who are considered vulnerable have increased two-fold because of the pandemic. More and more of our people are struggling to make ends meet and are struggling to make one salary provide for extended families.  

Essentially this requires that we continue lending the hand of kindness that the Labour Party has always shown to the people of St Kitts and Nevis. We saw that in our darkest times in  2021 as we faced the pandemic, communities willingly rallied behind each other to ensure collective sustenance of lives and livelihoods.  

We saw individuals take up the mantle to provide food and support to those most in need, in particular, persons facing the most challenging experiences of COVID-19 quarantine. It is in this light that I urge you to remember to love your neighbours, look out for your community members, and always do the greatest good for the greatest number of people.  As much as we must ask all of us to search our deepest selves for the strength and fortitude required to face this new challenge of a new year, we must accept that only our government has the capacity to provide help in certain circumstances.  

If men and women can be compensated to keep the peace, if civil servants can be rewarded with a double salary, if unqualified citizens can harvest $500 monthly from the PAP then surely it can never be too late to give due assistance to men and women in the tourism industry who have suffered and continue to suffer. This Government must be urged to provide entertainers who continue to be overly exposed by the realities associated with  COVID-19 with back-dated assistance.  

After all, there exists a compelling claim to provide more to more citizens so that we can together enjoy the goodwill that the government has a duty and responsibility to provide to all its citizens.  

Surviving 2022 and beyond will demand that we find the inner resolve to look beyond immediate comforts and strive for more resilient lives and livelihoods in the future. I urge you to use the upcoming year as a period for self-assessment, introspection, evaluation of your goals and pathways to success. Ensure that plans are made as a family. Ensure that your new livelihood endeavours will see each person into a prosperous 2022 and beyond. The upcoming year may require greater sacrifice than ever.  

We are already facing the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic with the Omicron variant……it is already here and the number of persons infected is rapidly rising. For God’s sake and for our own sake I remind us that Survival requires Discipline to abide by safety protocols to ensure the protection of everyone; providing support to the front-line workers, finding ways to bridge the digital divide for our students; working on our self-sufficiency and importantly using as many options as possible available to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.  

I urge you to exercise your choice of the available vaccines and to boost your immune system where necessary and implement all other health and sanitary measures. Your health and our health as a nation are important.  

I leave you with a few tips for us to survive 2022 together:  

Love your brothers and sisters as God admonishes us to do.  
Do not assume things will go back to normal but prepare yourself to face the uncertainty  of the New Year  
Be creative, be innovative, and be bold with your ideas for business and entrepreneurial  activity  
Always hold those elected to serve accountable for their actions  
Remember that GOD will take care of his people; so, do not worry and become mentally  stressed excessively  
Eat healthily, exercise, and strive for your best life in 2022. 

My dear citizens and residents of St Kitts and Nevis, it warms my heart now to wish you HAPPY NEW YEAR AND A BLESSED 2022!! I am pleased to continue to lead Her Majesty’s Loyal  Opposition in our Federal Parliament.  

It is a duty I will continue to exercise with dedication as I continue to partner with  Honourable Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher #1,  East Basseterre, and our charming and capable Senator Dr. Joyelle Clarke. I promise you that we will never cease to promote the cause of ordinary men and women of this country as we do our part, together, to create a most resilient and prosperous St Kitts and Nevis.  

Happy New Year Again and God Bless St. Kitts and Nevis and all our Citizens and Residents.