The Honourable Dwyer Astaphan
Basseterre, Saint Kitts – Nevis
July 16, 2008 (CUOPM)
Chairman of the governing St. Kitts – Nevis Labour Party, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris has highlighted several achievements of outgoing Minister of National Security, Immigration and Labour, Hon. Dwyer Astaphan and has expressed confidence that he will remain firmly committed to the causes and programme of the Labour Movement in general, and to the members of his Constituency in particular.
“His service to both country and party is worthy of the highest commendation,” said Dr. Harris, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, industry and Consumer Affairs, in his statement issued on Tuesday.
Dr. Harris said that the challenge for Minister Astaphan to take on the task of contesting for election to parliament was one that was presented to him, not one that he had sought after, it was a matter which caused him deep soul searching and lengthy consideration.
“Persons who were involved recall the numerous meetings and lengthy discussions which took place before Mr. Astaphan eventually agreed to accept “˜the call.’ Once he had accepted the challenge it became clear to everyone that he gave it his all and he did so at considerable personal sacrifice. This included giving up his personal law practice and the level of remuneration which it provided. Even more importantly it meant putting his name and reputation on the line,” noted the Labour Party Chairman.
He added: “From the very outset opposition elements launched against him personal attacks that were as vicious as they were unrelenting. Through it all he has defended himself with honour and dignity. During his public life he has experienced personal tragedy which he has borne with grace and equanimity.”
The Labour Party Chairman further noted that Astaphan’s “service in Parliament has won him even greater admiration and respect from his constituents and persons of all strata and sections of the nation. His contributions to parliamentary and other public debates have always sought to maintain the highest levels of discussion and objectivity.”
“Even though Mr. Astaphan will no longer be serving in Cabinet no one should doubt, even for a brief moment that he remains deeply committed to the Labour Movement, its high ideals, and the purposes for which it came into existence. He has always seen the movement as a vehicle for empowering the common man and for the advancement of society, the nation and our culture. He brought to each of his assigned portfolios a commitment and dedication to service which has redounded to the benefit of the government, the people and the country,” said Harris.
According to Harris, Astaphan during his first term made enormous strides in tourism and brought about a most dramatic increase in the number of cruise ships calling at St. Kitts and Nevis and in the number of visitors received each year.
“His launching of the annual Music Festival has brought us international attention and respect, and has enabled our people to see and interact up-close with many of the world’s most outstanding artistes. His tenure as Minister responsible for Trade and Commerce saw very notable increases in the types and amounts of businesses carried on in our fair country. He spearheaded the establishment of the Tourism Authority, the expansion of business development at Port Zante and several attempts to provide street vendors with sustainable venues from which they might carry on their trade,” pointed out Harris.
The Labour Party Chairman also noted that Astaphan in his final term of Ministerial Office “was faced with the enormous and overwhelming task of dealing with the escalation of criminal activity, a scourge that seems to afflict almost every country in the region.”
“Despite its daunting projects he faced this challenge with the same courage and optimism that he exhibited in every other case. Most notable will always be the rigour and firmness with which he had the immigration laws enforced, while at the same time sought to bring new and innovative approaches to bear on other aspects of the problems,” said Dr. Harris.
“Our country is deeply indebted to Mr. G. A. Dwyer Astaphan for the service which he has given and for which he deserves to be highly commended, both from within and without. The Labour Party remains exceedingly happy to have him actively involved with the work of the Organisation. We shall continue to both welcome his support and to offer him ours as we move forward. The Party joins my family and I in wishing the Hon. Dwyer Astaphan our best wishes,” said Minister Harris in a statement on Tuesday.
Minister Astaphan announced last week that he intends to demit office as a Member of Cabinet in the government of St. Kitts and Nevis at the end of July 2008, but will continue to serve his constituents in Parliament as their elected representative for the Constituency of St. Christopher 2 (Central Basseterre) until the term of the current Parliament expires.