By Melanius Alphonse
In its simplest form, chaos is a state of utter confusion or disorder. Similarly, a mirror is undramatic, a reflection of self, a composite of the image presented. And on a linear structure, this interlaced with dreams and flashbacks, can also create a stream of sub-consciousness, abuse or negligence.
In addition, concealment is a negative act and the Allen Chastanet-led administration in particular, aimed to look somewhere else other than self for the dramatic socio-economic decline in Saint Lucia, hides the true picture.
Nevertheless, chaos and a mirror are seemingly the most-trusted source for a reliable reflection of the United Workers Party (UWP) and Chastanet administration’s horrifying farce to draw the public attention away from the core point of their deception, socio-economic misdirection and sneering at the public.
But, for all the impulse to control issues negatively in an intolerable and degrading manner, correctness, truth and facts matter.
The UWP press release responding to the announcement by opposition member of parliament and former prime minister, Dr Kenny Anthony, that his lawyers have filed a claim in the High Court against the government of Saint Lucia for entering into agreements with Desert Star Holdings Ltd, also known locally as “DSH”, for the construction of a new horse-racing facility and residential enclave to be financed by the country’s citizenship by investment programme, is that they are not surprised by the disdain of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) for the people of Saint Lucia, especially after they lost the June 6, 2016, general elections.
The UWP’s awkward rebuttal attempted erroneously to revisit history and the pre- and post-colonial rule of the 1979 era, attempting to re-purpose civil disobedience, social justice issues and the awareness of a Saint Lucian identity.
However, acting on behalf of the Allen Chastanet-led administration, the UWP press release said that the SLP has been known as “the enemies of progress,” claiming that “why else would its then leader make such irresponsible statements publicly in 2009 that he would write to potential investors to stay away from Saint Lucia?”
The statement went further: “Does he not care that when Saint Lucia is denied employment opportunities, all Saint Lucians suffer, regardless of party affiliations. Obviously not. Who knows how much investment our country lost as a result of that hostile action, and may still be losing?”
However, the UWP, failed to present a coherent argument against the claim that seeks declarations from the court that the agreements between the government of Saint Lucia and Desert Star Holdings Ltd are unconstitutional, null and void, and instead lists projects where the current administration is mired in legal and socio-economic jeopardy.
The UWP referenced “the Sab Wisha project in Choiseul” and “Range Developments” stating that, the SLP handling of this as “once a scorpion, always a scorpion.” Mirror, mirror on the wall!
Difficult as that may be, the public should not be asked to shoulder the burden of risk, and the opposition SLP has been calling on the prime minister to provide full public disclosure on the now abandoned Ritz Carlton and the financing agreement with Range Developments and the Sab Wisha project.
Further, the UWP seemingly “misspoke and miswrote”, having settled with Range Developments for untold millions, but failing to disclose the agreement, while still expecting a joint statement on the matter.
On DSH before the 2016 elections, the UWP said, “Their negotiations were kept behind closed doors, no documents leaked. But once the party was out of office, Kenny Anthony said Mr Teo was the most difficult individual he had ever encountered.”
Meanwhile, the Chastanet-led administration has apparently signed some form of an agreement with DSH. That agreement has not been brought to parliament. (Their current modus operand on most matters of state requiring parliamentary approval, albeit unlawful.)
On one occasion when a well circulated copy of the DSH agreement was referenced and an attempt was made by the opposition for it to be recorded in Hansard as a document of the House of Assembly, that opportunity was denied.
Meanwhile the DSH agreement remains a mystery, the people of Saint Lucia are displaced and patrimony gifted to a foreign entity. Also, taxpayers’ monies are expended for infrastructure costs associated with the DSH project and citizenship by investment program (CIP) monies from the sales of Saint Lucian passports are kept in foreign control, in a foreign bank account.
On Taiwanese aid, the UWP said, “Remember how Taiwanese aid was ‘dirty money’ and Mr Tom Chou persona non grata when the Enemies of Progress were in opposition?”
However, many query the operations of Town and Village Councils, presented by the government in parliament during the debate on the budget for 2013 /2014; the attorney general, who is the principal legal adviser to the government, is best able to provide the answer.
• How long will the administration continue to dodge Attorney General v Allen Chastanet?
• Why are legal challenges against the UWP government officials being suffocated and thereby allowed to die a natural death?
• Is the prime minister not confident of the government’s legal repertoire, bearing in mind the substantial cost to taxpayers, with little substantive achievement?
• How long will the Nyerah Court Building, the current home of the criminal division of the Saint Lucia High Court, remain closed [April 2018] and put on hold.
Meantime, while the government struggles with its finances, the judiciary remains in abeyance, and the administration of justice is delayed, continuing to damage the reputation of Saint Lucia.
On value added tax (VAT) the UWP argued, “Who will forget that in opposition the Labour Party described VAT as anti-poor, anti-worker and oppressive” and that “the SLP fully intended to raise the figure even higher, had it won the 2016 elections.”
Problematic as that may be, the reversal of VAT by 2.5 percent (EC$52 million) annually and other elite gifts of the proposed “five to stay alive – a crony flattery in anticipation of conquest” are consequential to the social and economic impediments facing Saint Lucia.
And contrasting “Christmas in March” promised by the administration that is yet to come, the prime minister’s excessive overseas travel and photo opportunities for raw political benefit, the UWP press release said that its policy “is to give everyone a chance to take care of himself or herself and their families, by affording them development and sustainable employment opportunities.”
In this case, ambiguity meets the test of credibility, expecting to give confidence to the broad public.
But how does this help, far from displacing doubts about the Chastanet administration’s inability to prioritize the social fabric, human rights issues, safety and security, curtail job loss, undertake climate change adaptation, renewable energy, and adopt plausible fiscal programs to financial stability?