Was Hon Lorne Theophilus (the Rep) during
his contribution to the recent debate on the Estimates of Expenditure 2013/14
“impressive” or was he “trying to impress” is a moot point. Was he, in the
pursuit of his political survival, trying to do both is also a moot point. Whatever the case may be,
I'm inclined to believe it is more a case of the latter than the former.
Click play to watch:
Rep - in his obvious attempt
to diffuse misconceptions about himself and his performance as the Minister for
Tourism - had to be impressive especially in the eyes of those who perceived him to
be a young, "uninitiated" minister trying to get his feet wet in his new position. And, at the same time, he might also have tried hard to impress his
constituents that he still has something left in his heart for them. But were
those enough to win the reprieve he purportedly sought? And can he muster an
adequate measure of “believability” to enable him to subsequently retrieve victory from the
eyes of the defeat staring at him?
the answer, we must concede that he scored some points during the Appropriations
Bill debate, especially when he gave an account of his stewardship of the
Ministry of Tourism. He seemed like a man in charge and on top of things!
this discussion, I will attempt to provide a snapshot dissection of the
Minister’s contribution to the debate on the Estimates of Expenditure and some
perspectives thereon. I will wind up by sharing some of my perceptions with
you. Please be guided that this article is hardly scientific and may entertain
some perspectives that are hardly objective.
Energy levels vs substance
is an apparent consensus that the Rep’s contribution was filled with energy,
aggression and histrionics (HEA) and because of those, he made small dents
(especially among the faithful) in his quest for damage control in
Choiseul/Saltibus; but I’m not sure that the HEA which characterized his
presentation was matched in equal degree by substance, depth and organization to earn the
appeal of the more sophisticated intellectual elite among us.
In the confessional box
|Statement made by Rep on Facebook last year |
Rep began his contribution to the debate in a virtual “confessional box” and in
a commendably sombre mood. Like the debate of 2012/13, he again opened his
"batting" with an apology, a confession to his constituents for his neglect
and “sacrifice” of a constituency seemingly under siege. He attributed the loss of his
mother (and I deeply empathise with him) and the performance of his broader ministerial
duties as contributing factors. It is noteworthy that he has claimed time and
time again to have been invariably, unavoidably and frequently displaced from
the state to pursue ministerial duties abroad - a rationalisation which he also
proffered during the previous Budget debate to justify his absenteeism from the
did he need to go that far? And more importantly was he “guilty” of misleading
himself when he confessed that in the pursuit of his ministerial mandate he was
sacrificing “his people” of the Choiseul/Saltibus constituency? Perhaps he was -
for the logic to me is quite simple: If you as a politician are guilty of neglecting
your constituency, then are you sacrificing yourself or your constituents? To
me, the argument of equating neglect
of your people with their sacrifice is
upside down and non sequitur,
especially in political circumstances!
Although constituents may be perceived
as “victims” of absentee representation, they will in the end be the winners. And
just as the logic is simple, so is the answer, to wit: In a democracy, the
people are the masters and their representatives are only their servants - and
it is the masters that can make servants sacrificial lambs and not the reverse.
Re-affirmation of commitment
the confession, the Rep with an apparent sense of compunction went on to re-affirm
his commitment to the constituency and pledged “to turn over a new leaf”. That
was a sublime and welcomed disclosure; but will the constituents take that
disclosure seriously and accept his promissory note, especially in the context
of a similar earlier pronouncements which he did not keep? Only time will tell!
Dynamites and bombs
sublime confession and offer of the olive branch were brief and didn't seem to
last the “suppliance of a minute”. The Rep had hardly got out the political
confessional box - and had hardly finished recited his act of contrition - when
plunged headlong into a wave of apparently pre-meditated political attacks directed
at the Leader of Opposition and former Tourism Minister. That sudden gestalt
switch from “melancholy” to “red” effervescent sanguinity was misplaced, and
evidently the lousy ‘transition management’ compromised the desired sombre
effect of his contrition.
I were to advise him, I would have told him that it was ill-advised to blast
King on issues of the “Olive Branches with thorns” and “SUV Fortunas” in the
House; and especially to do so in the context of the subject of hypocrisy! As
the old saying goes, "If you live in a glasshouse, don't throw
the Rep threw stones at King, then he must have thrown a neutron bomb at
Chastenet! The Tourism Minister blasted his predecessor for intellectual dishonesty
and management failures, claiming that despite Chastenet’s legacy of failures
to the industry, that he still had the audacity to dishonestly take ownership
of recent successes. Among other things, the Rep cited the $7.2-million
guarantee to AA which was not honoured as a major cost-prohibitive failure which
took a big bite from last year’s allocations.
Rep must be commended for his perspectives on the “Boxing in Paradise”
experiment. I agree with him that it could have been better reconfigured as
promo tool. There was apparently no known coherent, sustainable follow-up plan
to market St. Lucia in Latin America after the event.
Highs and lows
Rep also spoke about strengthening legislation to protect tourist from
harassment. That was indeed an excellent policy position!
needs to do some work with his "flow" and bring it up to speed with it's dynamism and
charisma. It looked like that he tended to lose "it" intermittently and
sometimes he was nakedly non sequitur; but
his fire made up for those incidental errors.
revealed that his ministry received an allocation of $45 million; and he
interpreted that allocation as a vote of confidence in his stewardship of the
ministry by the PM. He also reported growth in arrivals ranging from 6-13%.
Those figures are commendable, especially in the context of the prevailing
thing was clear throughout his contribution: despite his frontal aggression, he
seemed generally to be a happy man! He was probably happy because of his achievements as the Minister for Tourism and the attainment a level of comfort and
mastery of his various portfolios; I'm sure he would have been happier if he didn't have to apologise to his constituency for poor and/or absentee representation.
Throughout his "brilliant" discourse on Tourism, he made no mention of the
conceptualization of a single tourism experiment in his constituency. Like Ferdinand
Magellan, he proverbially went round the world and (region) and back but never seemed
to “set foot” in Choiseul Village during his presentation. So, we continue to remain
as far away as possible from the direct participation in tourism. There was no
specific mention of the local craft industry. No plan or programme for his
family in Cafeiere, or his hardcore support base in Mongouge, or even the fate
of the La Fargue Handicraft Centre which over the years have produced so many award-winning
creative artists like Irena Alphonse, Francis Josephat and George Gerald.
Neither did he make a singular reference to the young budding generation of
young artists and craftsmen from Morne Sion and all over Choiseul!
|CRAFT MAKER FROM MONGOUGE|
|FISHERMEN ON STRIKE FOR THE POND|
Rep was also silent on plans for the Choiseul Fisheries, PROUD in Park Estate and Piaye; and planned
interventions in poverty-stricken areas like Park Estate and Derriere Morne.
year, he promised the construction of a “band stand” at Sabwisha but this year
we heard nothing about it. We hope and pray this will not be the same barometer
for the measurement of the vague pronouncements on road rehabilitation projects
in Fiette, Balca and Park Estate. There are also a number of other outstanding
critical issues he did not mention like the mini-stadium at La Fargue, management
and accountability of monies due to the constituency etc.
|PORTION OF FIETTE ROAD|
short, we expected the Rep to put on the table at least one “brain-child”
constituency-specific programme or project that would potentially provide a bond
between him and Choiseul/Saltibus. The NICE, STEP, SMILES, YEP and other
SSDF/BNTF projects he took credit for are largely national programmes and doing
well without his hands-on intervention. He must give consideration to conceptualizing
his own legacy for Choiseul/Saltibus. I’m sure the constituency manifesto
blueprint can assist him in that regard.
|CREATIVE TALENTS ABOUND IN CHOISEUL|
Winding up: My perceptions
rep is confronted with a mountain of challenges at the constituency level and I’m
afraid that time may be running out for him. He's probably thinking that he has
lots of time left; in politics, the time left may be crucial and may or may not
make a difference; but the time elapsed is equally critical. If he devoted a
mere 5% of his time and used only 5% of the energy he demonstrated in the House
yesterday to represent his constituency, then I'm sure he would be in the
winners circle. Despite his claim of effective “ground organization”, many
constituents claim that he has been invisible since he won the elections on
November 2011. If this is the case, then it is a stunning indictment; and, in
that context, it may well be appropriate for Choiseulians to draw from the
American Revolution slogan that “Taxation without Representation is Tyranny”
and to stamp their own interpretations on it.
|THE VILLAGE CREW TOILING AWAY DURING THE CAMPAIGN|
doubt, the Rep’s contribution to the Debate has in my view had a qualitative
impact. But my concern is that impact will perhaps be as transient as his
commitment to his constituency.
the campaign, he made a ground-breaking promise that if he became half as much
as negligent as his predecessor, then after two years of service, he would
voluntarily demit office. Perhaps, it may be the right time to begin to weigh
himself against that promise.
importantly, it's time for him to get out of confessional box and to get down
to the business of the people of Choiseul/Saltibus. I’m sure he's not too young
to understand that representation by proxy does not work in this part of the
he conceives a trip overseas as an opportunity to serve his country, then how
does he reconcile that with the opportunity to serve his constituency? A good Rep should not only be concerned with the trappings of power; he should make
time to be with the people he serves.
Boss, a community specific project? In light of information from the 2013/14 budget, would you subscribe to community specific or a national effort towards adopting the best prescription to our fiscal ills? I'm not saying that community should be sidelined in its entirety but surely an educated approach would suggest a uniform and joint approach to tackling the deficit. In no way I'm i making an excuse for the rep's absence, but haven't we failed as a support structur to handle our affairs in a mature manner by identifying gaps in the community's development and making sound recommendations (which can be tracked) to the minister? Honestly the minister has recognized his shortcomings, have we - as influential leaders in the community identified ours?ReplyDelete
Well, anonymous! I agree that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts put together; but remember . . . it is the sum of parts that make up the whole; hence, the parts are critical to the whole. Agree? I believe your point lacks a logical foundation. We can have a debate anytime!ReplyDelete