By Denys Springer
I begin this article with a quote from the well-known, English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, who in his play Julius Caesar wrote, “for I have neither the wit nor words nor the worth, action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech to stir men’s blood. I only speak right on. Tell you that which you yourselves do know” – is an appropriate and emphatic introduction to the prime minister of Saint Lucia.
It is only those who live in cloud coo-coo land, and in consideration of the colonial empire would ever support a so-called prime minister of Saint Lucia, the laughing stock of the Caribbean and beyond.
I also concur with George Bernard Shaw, even though at some moment in time, I have had some reservation with what he pointed out when he wrote, “he knows nothing and he thinks he knows everything, that points clearly to a political career”. I believe he was referring in this instance to individuals like the present prime minister, but I hope not of all politicians.
I referenced these two quotes because I was taken aback when I heard the so-called prime minister on November 11, 2020, in the House of Assembly. I was left with the impression that the prime minister is not living in the real world of COVID-19.
He attempted to accuse the opposition of spreading rumours in connection to the front door entry of COVID-19. His blatant lies and dishonesty fail miserably. To add insult to injury COVID-19 cases are at 220 and rising.
I was further aghast when I heard him say that he did not see the merit of the tests that Barbados implemented, citing in part that Barbados is different to Saint Lucia in its hotel accommodation -mostly all-inclusive. On both accords, the prime minister is totally bonkers, while much of Saint Lucia’s hotels that are said to be open are ghost town’s, gaming the labour code and politicians alike.
Lord Shelbourne wrote, “the country will never be united and respected abroad till the reins of government are lodged with men who have some little pretentions to common sense and common honesty.” I concur, however, I want to add “women”.
December 2012, after my first Research Fellowship, a high-ranking friends in Taiwan made that suggestion to me that Saint Lucia could borrow from the Import/Export Bank. After references in some articles, the then government borrow $20 million for Saint Jude Hospital re-development. Before that, Saint Lucia had not seen any such borrowing from the Import/Export bank.
At the sitting of the House of Assembly on Tuesday, the government is expected to seek approval for USD$20 million. This is the same prime minister who was prepared to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan for China when he came into office in 2016.
I now put some questions to the prime minister:
- Is this loan designed to pay for the so-called wardens that are unnecessary, wasteful and unlawful giving them powers of arrest?
- Will the so-called wardens be termed essential-workers?
- Is this loan to pay public servants as the government is running out of money?
- Is this loan for COVID-19 election-projects and a financing bridge to a projected revenue shortfall in the fourth quarter, leading up to general elections?
- It is also true that the designated lorry load of waste from Vieux Fort to Deglos will cease because there is no money for that venture?
- Is this loan designed to repurpose the Vieux Fort landfilled?
I concluded some time ago that the so-called Chastanet-led government is lacking in honesty and transparency. I go on further to elucidate that there are incompetence and indifference of those in power who tend to govern without fear. They unapologetically prioritize serving themselves over the people they were elected to serve.
At present, we are observing in this country, Thomas Hobbes writings in the Leviathan where countries who have tyrants, in the end, life becomes – solitary, nasty, brutish and short. In effect, he pointed out that even the strong have to sleep with their one eyes open and with their boots on in case you have to flee when the weak coalesce and come for them. They have to flee in a hurry to save themselves.
There is also the enticing prospect of discovering wholly new phenomena as this prime minister just like Trump has degraded the role of leadership in a democracy. We must extract ourselves from this destructive cycle and do things differently. It is therefore important to restore order and dignity to the office.
Tony Benn was of the view that “good government depends at least as much on an impartial respect for the rights of all, as it does on energy in enforcing respect for the authority which protects these rights.”
In concluding, I am of the view that we all hate COVID-19, we don’t favour Trump and now Chastanet, because it has exposed their mismanagement of their respective country. Much of their shenanigans we would not have known because they would have attempted ways to cover-up.
Their blatant mismanagement exposed their lies and propaganda and their undying dislike for people not of their enclave. A mix and match approach that says no gathering for the ordinary Saint Lucian, yet, a 60th birthday party was celebrated during COVID-19, enhanced restrictions.
Leading by Trump’s example? Perhaps a super-spreader event? Hello, chief medical officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George; and minister for health and wellness, Mary Isaac.
What this government fails to understand is that truth is the glue that holds government and civilization together. Selective democracy, lies and deceit perish where “colonialism never had a conscience” but to segregate, plot and steal from mass labour and the poor.
The government of Saint Lucia appears a substitute for political and economic slavery – a Chastanet form of immoral democracy.