PHYSICIAN DR TERRANCE MICHAEL DREW rode the popular political wave and ousted accountant Dr Timothy Harris as St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister in the August 5th polls this year.
There were high hopes following Drew’s win.
He drew the sentiments of Kittitians and Nevisians, wearied by the foibles of the seven-year Harris administration, towards his talented Labour government.
But inexplicably, PM Dr. Drew seems willing to squander the political capital secured by him and his team on August 5.
He raised eyebrows with the inclusion of Gurdip Bath, a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic citizen, as part of his official team at the just-concluded United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Mr. Bath was there in the capacity of PM Drew’s Advisor. The public didn’t see this coming.
There was never any public announcement by either PM Dr. Drew, or his Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Marcus Natta about Bath’s role in the new Labour government.
Bath was implicated in an alleged kidnapping ruse, raising numerous questionable concerns since he left India and took up residence in the Caribbean.
Kittitians and Nevisians and other senior regional figures have been blind-sided by the man’s surprising appointment.
Is the PM’s strange silence linked to the fact that the former Indian national had a similar role under the Dr Timothy Harris Team Unity administration?
Has the Drew government gagged itself because of mortal fears of an expected public backlash?
Bath, we recall, was Harris’ advisor at the time the then PM was ensnared in a litany of corruption allegations resulting in several of his ministers quitting the coalition in disgust triggering the precipitous collapse of his seven-year-old unity government.
Despite his reluctance, the former St Kitts and Nevis PM reluctantly called early polls and was runner-up to Drew.
Already there are rumbles in Basseterre that Bath, has craftily adopted chameleon characteristics and has hoodwinked the ‘rookie’ prime minister Dr Drew in his net.
Many fear the worst and begin predicting an impending disaster for the 39-year-old independent twin-island Federation and are also forecasting many troubles for PM politically, and personally.
Knowledgeable persons express anxieties that Bath is helping shape vital domestic and foreign policies for Basseterre and are frightened by the real prospects of looming political and economic catastrophe for the CARICOM state.
For many, Drew’s appointment of Bath defies logic.
“This is a questionable matter. The people of St Kitts and Nevis need to know the truth. No possible common sense can be made of this,” a citizen alarmed by the development, complained in a recent interview.
“It certainly has a number of negative ramifications for not only this young new government but the country as a whole,” the concerned resident noted.
What’s in it for Bath the holder of a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport?
What’s in it for Basseterre?
What calculations have Drew made causing him to settle firmly on this obvious risk?
Reliable sources confirmed that Bath is also integrally involved with the operations of the financially-sound Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme which helps rake invaluable resources to spur the country’s national development thrust.
Many fear too, that Bath’s presence will prove toxic for the CBI initiative and cast a pall of gloom over future beneficiaries since his name was called as a co-conspirator in one of the biggest kidnapping-related international schemes last year.
Mehul Choksi, a jeweler, alleged that he was kidnapped in Antigua and Barbuda where he has been living there since January 2018. He reportedly was kidnapped on May 23rd, 2021 when he showed up in Dominica battered and bruised.
The matter gained international notoriety as India wanted Choksi extradited.
His lawyer based in India, Vijay Aggarwal, has noted: “Truth always comes out in the end, no matter how hard anyone tries to stop it or hide it. Lies are just temporary delays to the inevitable. It was extremely insensitive for some people to call injuries on my client Mr. Mehul Choksi to be fake because of some legal strategy.”
In a statement published via www.indianexpress.com, a spokesperson for Choksi said, “Mr. Choksi is pleased that the Dominican Government has today dropped all charges against him for unlawful entry in May 2021. By doing so, they now recognize that there was never any case against him.”
“Mr. Choksi was forcibly removed from Antigua against his will by agents of the Indian State, viciously assaulted, and taken to Dominica by boat, where he was again unlawfully handed over to authorities for an offense he never committed,” the spokesperson said.
Choksi claimed he was abducted from Antigua and Barbuda, allegedly by Indian agents, and forcibly taken to Dominica in a yacht — Dominica is an island nation to the south of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean.
Bath was named as one of three conspirators. In a detailed report published via www.thetimesofindia.com, it noted that Bath was traveling on a Kittitian Diplomatic passport, checked in to Cocobay Hotel on May 19, 2021, and stayed in Room # 53
“When Mr. Bath checked into Cocobay he initially reported that he was alone. but the hotel staff reported subsequently seeing him in the company of a female, believed to be Barbara Jarabik. He checked out on the morning of 22/5/21 but later returned that said day and checked in (Room #29) for an additional day.
“On several occasions, while staying at the hotel he requested a taxi service (Tx 441) to go to Jolly Harbour. On the last occasion 23/5/21, a taxi (Tx 1390) took him to Epicurean Supermarket where he arrived at about 11:15 AM and was picked up by a tall, burly man of Indian descent in a white Hyundai Creta, R3539. The vehicle, which came from inside North Finger returned there with Mr. Bath. The vehicle never left again until 18:46 after Mr. Choksi would have been abducted.
The report noted further that “At 19:43 Mr. Bath, Barbara Jarabik, and Leslie Farrow-Guy left Antigua on an Executive Air charter flight (8P-EAL) and traveled to Dominica. They arrived at about 20:40 and the plane then continued with only its pilots to Barbados where it is based.
The said aircraft had arrived in Antigua on Saturday 22nd May 2021 carrying only its pilots and was scheduled to leave. on the 23rd May 2021 at 16:20 PM but never left until 7:20 PM,” the report said.
It said Bath entered Antigua a month earlier, ostensibly on a recce. “On 14th April 2021, Mr. Bath and Ms. Jarabik traveled together to Antigua from Dominica on a private charter flight (#N362MC) they checked into Blue Waters Hotel at 15:21 hours .and stayed together in Room 406. On 15th April 2021 at 17:13 they checked out from the said hotel then departed Antigua together.”
Given Bath’s high-profile appointment, one must ask: Who is helping PM Drew vet his appointees?
Although there is no information available as to whether Bath was charged and or convicted, the Drew government can ill-afford characters links with characters bearing such questionable histories. He can prove a lightning rod for the new labour administration.
Here are our initial queries for PM Drew.
1. What is Bath’s expertise and what specific areas does he provide advice for the relatively new PM?
2. Is it a five-year contract? When did it take effect?
3. Why has the PM kept the public in the dark about the ‘Bath advisor contract’?
4. Was the PM aware of the Bath’s history? Who is helping the PM scrutinize potential appointees? There are documented police reports to help with critically-needed information.
5. Since the UNGA meeting, what has the Cabinet Secretary still mum on Bath?
6. Is Bath luring PM Drew down the same ‘rabbit hole’ Dr. Harris wandered along like a lamb to the slaughter which eventually triggered the spectacular collapse of his administration a mere 2 years after his reelection? We, the people, want to know. But the “more I find out, the less I know” according to the popular Johnny Nash anthem.
PM Drew owes the people of the Federation an urgent explanation about Bath’s appointment and a justification for his administration’s silence on the matter so far.
Nothing else is acceptable.
Authors name withheld upon request.