TAIPEI, Taiwan – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has defended his decision to bring a retired nurse to Taiwan, saying the cost would have been justified even if his government had to pay it for.
Gonsalves — who came to Taiwan to attend the second-term inauguration of President Ma Ying-jeou last Sunday — was treated for an abscess last month and doctors told him he should bring a nurse to Taiwan to dress the incision twice daily, he said.
He told Vincentians here on Saturday that his government did not pay for the airfare and accommodation for the six-member delegation, which includes Jacqueline Browne-King, a registered nurse for 33 years, who is the Eastern Caribbean Representative to the World Paediatric Project.
“I shouldn’t be put in a position where I have to state that because those who speak in this manner don’t look at any large picture and behave with a certain narrow-mindedness,” he said.
“It is not even self-interest, so it doesn’t reach the level of Demetrius in the book of Acts when he opposed Paul on his teaching,” he further stated.
Gonsalves said that even if his government were funding the entire trip “it is an expenditure, which, in my view, would have been justified given the importance of strengthening the relations between ourselves and Taipei.”
Kingstown and Taipei have almost 30 years of unbroken diplomatic ties.
Gonsalves noted that more than 30 Vincentians are studying in Taiwan and added, “I am not even going to talk about the US$30 million for the terminal building (at the Argyle International Airport); I am not going to talk about assistance given in all kinds of other areas.
“Persons who speak like that have no real appreciation of diplomacy and the truth of the matter is this. After all my years in the political vineyard, and the level of experience and maturity I have, these are the kinds of questions — which diminish not me but our civilisation,” he said.
The Vincentian delegation — which leaves Taiwan Wednesday morning — also includes Gonsalves’ wife, Eloise Gonsalves, Press Secretary Hans King, Lance Neverson of the Agency for Public Information and a member of the Prime Minister’s security detail.
“If I didn’t bring Eloise and Sister King is not retired and I had brought a night nurse — like Gregory Isaacs — that would have been a different issue altogether but let’s keep this thing within a proper compass,” he said light-heartedly to chuckles.
“As you will notice, my surgical procedure and my recuperation they have not dulled my sense of humour,” he further said.