‘It is not the constitution’: What has collapsed are ‘institutions’

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John Peters

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – The article Enough is Enough by Dr Stephen King published June 10, 2020, has prominently captivated a response by John Peters on social media caption – ‘Dr Stephen King: It is not the constitution’.

Enough is Enough

John Peters proffered the follow:

‘’The committee that investigated the state of the island, following concerns about how it was being governed, concluded that the current governing situation was characterized by lawlessness and financial mismanagement, and there were also signs of discrimination, intimidation, threats and insults, and the pursuit of personal power at the expense of the inhabitants. Citizens experience legal inequality. No administration is in order and the island is neglected in a physical sense.

“Since other measures have not brought the island council to repentance, there is only one thing left to do; governing intervention. It is the harshest measure, but now that everything else has failed, it is the only possibility that remains. The people deserve better.”

The above were some of the words used by Raymond Knops – State secretary for home affairs and kingdom relations for the Kingdom of the Netherlands before leaving a couple years ago to visit St Eustatius, an 8.1 square-mile island in the northern Leeward Islands, with a population of 3,877.

“In the last 20 years, Britain has intervened in the affairs of the Turks and Caicos and Cayman. The Dutch have also gotten involved in St Maarteen. Whether independent or colony, the curse of poor governance has afflicted the people of the Caribbean, and this curse has to be broken. From Guyana in the south to The Bahamas in the north, no state has been spared the ravages of this lawlessness, fiscal mismanagement, and legal inequality. There is no repentance, but a shameless bold facedness to pursue an agenda of aggrandizement. The only legal instrument of ‘intervention’ is spaced in five year periods, that we call general elections,” Peters said.

These are not otioise ramblings, these are not wordy gyrations, but an expression of genuine concern as to where the Caribbean region is heading.

“I was recently speaking with a very experienced local physician, and he was comparing the various ministers of health over the last 30 years. He concluded that the best he had seen was Allan Bousquet. He said Allan Bousquet accepted his limitation on the knowledge of the health sector and would ask questions and shape policy by sound advice.”

However, in Saint Lucia, Peters explained: “We have seen a stunning metamorphosis in our political landscape. Experts are created at the swearing-in ceremonies, super-heroes are born, and the hulks rip their clothes and show their muscles.”

A modern-day illustration was revisited: “ The new leader of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman may have pointed the way to deal with corruption. He took control of the five star Ritz Carlton hotel and converted it into a prison, and placed all those in his family whom he believed raped the country in the past, inside of the hotel. In a short space of time, he collected USD $107 billion from the ‘guests’ in the hotel. There was no Commission of Inquiry, no civil lawsuits, no bacchanal. ‘Just give back we money’.

“The ‘Gaotel’ concept has a lot of merit and should be pursued within the Caribbean. We have many high-quality cruise ships that can be equivalent to the Ritz Carlton in Saudi Arabia. Just maybe the marriage of our tourism sector to our justice system may be the solution to some of our problems.

“Moody’s stated in a credit opinion on Barbados’s fiscal state some two years ago, that interest payments would surpass a quarter of government’s revenues in the current financial year. Moody’s went on to state that Barbados would then have “one of the highest interest burdens in our rated universe”. I think you should read that again – the highest interest burden in the rated universe. For almost 10 years, the government of Barbados lacked the “balls’’ to take the hard decisions in reducing government expenditure,” Peters said.

Good governance is not created by constitutions, they are created by strong institutions, and until we recognize that this is where our weakness lies then we are a bunch of dreamers.

I fully agree with Claudius Francis when he says “that there is nothing wrong with our constitution, what has collapsed are the institutions such as the Office of the Director of Audit; the Integrity Commission; the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF), the Judiciary; the Public Service. the Public Accounts Committee, which are the pillars upon which good governance sits. This is where our attention should be focused, not on new models of governance,” Peters concluded.

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Peters writings evoked a few notable comments on social media:

Robertson S. Henry, “Whether one may like it or not many of us have been saying the Westminster system handed down to Caribbean, African and Pacific countries are not, and will never be in the true developmental interests of those countries.”

Jerome Moise,“ The institutions have become political. All operating under the baton of the party with the majority. It’s time for independent leaders in those institutions and that [includes] the push for the coming election, even that of the attorney general.”

Darnell Bobb, “The problem is not the constitution or system. The main problem is the entrance of more and more dishonorable men and women into positions created for honorable men and women. We can change the system and constitution as much as we want once we keep electing, selecting, and appointing dishonorable men and women to these key positions, nothing will change for the better. The problem is compounded by people who defend these dishonorable men and women.”

The exchange of ideas, and solutions has perhaps arisen to the reality that, “We are currently seeing that progression towards totalitarianism in Saint Lucia,”Enough is Enough.

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