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Sunday, December 6, 2015


Holding week-long press conferences for pure political reasons is not only questionable political strategy, but to my mind it is tantamount to making a mockery and abuse of the process.

UWP held week-long press conferences last week but to what end? What were the groundbreaking newsworthy outcomes? What new and substantive issues/ideas emerged from them? I didn’t get any!

One question therefore is: Was it that the press could not elicit those issues or that the current “broken” version of the UWP had no organized position on the issues? Another question is: Was the historic proliferation of the political press conferences by the UWP without the emergence of clear policy position positions on the major issues symptomatic of the divisiveness plaguing them?

I was happy about the idea; but sad about its outcome. Perhaps, a week-long seminar or retreat to thrash out policy positions on the economy, education, health etc might have served them better.  

Or alternatively, a rebuttal of some of the policies and projects Kenny articulated on the Market Steps at SLPs last public meeting or even a projected “neutralization” of the potential gains anticipated from the SLPs 65th Anniversary and annual convention with the dynamic, hard-hitting and well-respected Owen Arthur as guest speaker.

Arguably, I don’t think the Press conference achieved any of those. Team Chastanet did not seem to have the firepower to break ground.

Let us juxtapose Kenny’s platform performance on the University of the market step to Ti Chasse's tragicomedy of so-called press conferences.

Kenny’s "platform" articulated policies on health care, education, housing, infrastructure, economic growth and development etc. Unfortunately, the seemingly “narrow-mindedness” and skewed focus of the press did not allow them to highlight some of those key pronouncements, but chose instead to focus on an “outlier” pronouncement by the Minister of Housing on the status of the Town & Village Councils Audit (TVCA) which had been referred to the DPP for action, which she (incidentally) confused with IMPACS.

Kenny on the SLP political platform was not all fire and brimstone. He outlined some key policy positions and located his projects in the context of those pronouncements. He outlined his specific policies on medical research and the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) and went on to rationalise the appointment of Dr Juffali and the construction of the Gros Islet to Dennery Highway within the context of the framework of those policies.

On the contrary, Chastanet’s policy on the economy was a “tabula rasa”.  At best, his policies on VAT and the CIP were nebulous suggesting that he may be in some sort of policy quagmire.

The focal question before us now is : Will a UWP government under Chastanet remove VAT and terminate the CIP? And how will it raise revenue to fund the huge public service wage bill of ½ billion dollars? What will the UWP wage policy be? How will a UWP government fund its capital programme which is one of the main drivers for economic development? What is UWP’s position on the four-lane highway from Gros Islet to Dennery to be funded by proceeds from the CIP? What will Mr Chastanet's alternative be? Will it a "ferry service" instead from Gros Islet to down the coast? And how will it be funded? We need hear from him!

How about health? What is UWP’s policy on medical research? Would it embrace a proposal from Juffali to undertake scientific research designed to make our health better? If not, what would be the alternative? What is the policy on UHC? Will it expand the current "pilot program" which provide free subsidized medication to diabetics and hypertensives and how would a new UWP government fund it? What about St. Jude's and the Owen King New National hospital? What are UWP plans and policies going forward them?

On Education, will a UWP government build and broaden Universal Secondary Education (USE) program and how will it change its scope?

What about employment and vulnerability-reduction? How will employment be created? What will be the fate of the social protection programmes like NICE, STEP and public assistance?

These are some of the critical issues confronting St. Lucia I was expecting the UWP to address at the policy level? Perhaps, they did; perhaps they didn't! It banked on the press to probably to do the rolling out; but did it fail itself or did the press fail it?

Apparently, the UWP week-long press conference didn’t seem to have a single sputnik moment.

The preponderance of press briefings by the UWP suggests their comfort level in bourgeois-oriented environment.

Firstly, the party, headed by a leader from a billionaire family, has marginalize major grassroots elements within its rank. It has assumed an apparently elitist character which has pushed its "grassroots centre" (like the “Spider”, Stephenson King, Dr Claudius Preville, Rufus Bousquet, Richard Frederick and Mary Polius) to the periphery and has replaced with Super J shareholders, Millionaire publishers, representatives of the Bush Stewart Kingdom and a host of wealthy families working in the background of the party.

Secondly, the leader apparently has the press in its back pocket; hence the team's pseudo-comfort level with press conferences.

Thirdly, after two attempts at mass crowd events, the party has not done well with grassroots mobilization. In fact, even after island-wide mass mobilization, the second mass crowd event they staged was estimated to be smaller than the first “Nigger Poster” debacle.

Meanwhile, the SLP seems to gathering massive momentum after two mass crowd events in South East Castries and the University of the Market Steps.  The 65th Anniversary and Delegates conference in VF should be another massive sellout.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


After David Blair’s “treatise” in the Daily Telegraph about Dr Juffali’s private matter with his wife, a UWP-leaning section of the St. Lucian Press picked up from where he left. Incidentally, Mr. Blair is a highly educated Malawian-born English Journalist who holds a First Class degree in PPE and an MPhil in International Relations. He was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1993.

Unfortunately, Mr. Blair’s admirable qualifications did not prevent him from landing the Daily Telegraph into hot waters by way of being part of a libel suit which resulted in the award of damages of £150,000 plus additional legal costs of about £2 million to George Galloway, then a member of the British parliament.

Whether Mr Blair has moved on with the Juffali issue or not, it has generated a tidal wave of public opinion in the St. Lucia resulting in the reckless "implication" and demonization of the former St. Lucian UK High Commissioner by the UWP-leaning section of the St. Lucian press. The Leader of Opposition has also had his big bite of the cake by making reckless,m irresponsible and inflammable statements which insinuated potential kick back and corruption in the appointment of Mr Juffali. The whole saga is at a point where it's anybody's guess where the matter is headed. Like the George Galloway matter, will the ongoing controversy end up in a court of law with damages of the magnitude awarded to him also being awarded to the victims?

Permit me, amidst the crescendo of sheer noise surrounding St. Lucia’s “Citizenship by Investment Programme" (CIP), to offer an unrefined and rather disorganised perspective.

Firstly, I’m not surprised by the demonstration of "barbaric territoriality" which surrounds the issue. Dr Juffali’s proposal for the establishment a medical research industry in St. Lucia is perhaps a scientific blessing in disguise to this island which has been long overdue.  It promises to open up new vistas in science and technology in St. Lucia which has the potential to put us on the world map for scientific research into a highly problematic area for us; yet, we have unconscionably embarked on a dirty political campaign to demonise him by unfairly imputing all sorts of improper motives, ranging from women’s issues to race/ethnicity to terrorism, partly because he is an Arab representing St. Lucia as its ambassador to the International Maritime Organization.

In the Leader of Opposition's shortsightedness and impulsiveness, he may not have given sufficiently deep thought to the impact of Dr Juffali research project for St. Lucia. Apart from demonstrably not being an academic himself, Allen may be not surrounded with the requisite protective belt of quality academia to advise him on the relevance and significance of Dr Juffali project to St. Lucia and mankind generally. If that were the case, and if he were genuinely concerned about the country he wanted to PM, then he might have grabbed it with both eyes closed! Dr Gail Rigobert - perhaps the Lone Ranger in camp equipped to offer Allen qualitatively sound advice on matters related to scientific research - has not delivered. Dr Preville, another brilliant academic, has been neutralized and marginalized by Team Chastanet.

It is noteworthy that the attitude to Dr Juffali's Research project proposal has a striking parallelism to our attitude to the banana industry. Who knows  . . . that the latter might have collapsed partly because of a general lack of the proper scientific research that may have been necessary to pre-empt and control the infestation of the Black Sigatoga which has destroyed the mainstay of our economy St Lucia on the whole has found herself in a self-perpetuating "vicious circle of underdevelopment" partly because of the dearth of scientific research into the issues and problems that matter

At the risk of repetition, it may not be unfair to conclude that the lack of scientific research may have virtually killed our banana industry; and my fear is, if Dr Juffali project is sabotaged, then one hypothesis a similar result may follow for the thousands of St. Lucians who suffer from diabetes.

It is quite clear that, Dr Juffali is being blissfully being drawn into this largely manufactured pseudo-controversy because of politics. It is however noteworthy that the very Daily Telegraph who broke the unfortunate story about Dr Juffali also wrote about him and I quote:

"Mr Juffali, 60, is one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent businessmen and philanthropists. He possesses three knighthoods - one from the Vatican, where he is a member of the Papal Order of St Sylvester, another from Denmark and a third from Lebanon"

The opposition party has accused the government of failing to do due diligence on Dr Jaffuli. If this is the case, then the opposition may be even guiltier. They are so submerged in internal division and fragmentation that they may have lost their faculty for demarcation which renders them helpless in terms of their awareness of when/where to start or when/where to stop. The section of the Team Chastanet-leaning press seemed equally mixed-up. The end result: they both may have made a major “boo-boo” in their treatment of a prominent gentleman of international repute appointed to serve our interest.

If the school of thought that those actions are largely fueled by the UWP’s propensity for division and fragmentation, then why should any right-thinking press also jump on that bandwagon and contribute to the potentially untold collateral damage to our international image that may result? Why don’t that press instead help the party to regain its lost focus and equilibrium? Why should a talk-show host who plays excerpts of President Kennedy’s greatest speech at the beginning and end of his talk show, an then only to make a mockery of the great speech during the show by stooping to the lowest levels of journalistic practice? Equally, why should the publisher of the Star Newspaper who was also an editor for the famous Joe Weider Magazine and who himself has held on to the title of Mr World and Mr Universe be so childishly territorial even when his wife is of similar racial and ethnic extract?

Those are some of the puzzles in the paradigm that we need to solve.

To comprehend the dynamics of the Team Chastanet empire (which has demonstrated a natural propensity for "division") may call for an understanding of differential and integral calculus. Under Chastanet’s leadership, the UWP in pursuit of political power has irreversibly degenerated into fragments; yet the empire behaves as if it were a united front

Perhaps, the MP for Soufriere puts it well when he said "The UWP is divided and they are divided as to whether they are divided". The Team Chastanet empire has been given three chances in as many years to prove itself; but with each passing year, the division and fragmentation of the UWP grows worse.

The foremost puzzle is: why an expatriate leader who was born in Martinique of an Irish mother and wishes to hold the top job in the land wouldn't reflect on his reckless pronouncements and seek to behave better. To compound the puzzle, he has a huge albatross of unresolved issues around his neck including questions about his integrity, his academic and professional credentials plus a civil suit for malfeasance.

The challenge is how does he move forward towards a rational reconciliation and ultimately satisfactory resolution of those complex issues without hurting himself further. It may require a measure of politically genetic re-engineering along political calculus.

What is the impact of the forgoing on the electorate and the general populace? If the division, fragmentation and degeneration persist, then the ripple effect is bound to spill from the UWP to the larger society and that can have catastrophic consequences in a country already facing high levels of vulnerability. We can only pray in anticipation of what is going to happen in the next few months as we roll into elections.

But I have confidence in St. Lucians. If we minus the politics from the St. Lucian person, he is quintessentially a good person. He is loving, hospitable etc.

Now, let us put the Juffali matter in context.

Both Mr Wayne and Mr Chastanet have excoriated Mr Juffali because he is a foreigner holding a diplomatic position. They both have gone to the point of subtly linking him to terrorism based on his race and ethnicity. But here’s the reality: Rick’s wife (like Dr Juffali) is of Arab extract. Does that make her a terrorist living in St. Lucia? Absolutely not! Mr Chastanet’s mother is from Ireland, the homeland of the IRA which is considered to be the motherland of terrorism, does this make him a terrorist? Absolutely No!

Hence, what is their point in pushing a terrorism agenda based the race and ethnicity of Mr Jaffuli? But because the agenda is a flip-flop with no substance, it is not self-sustaining and like the Lambird Scandal, it will die a natural death unless some form of litigation arises for defamation.

It troubles me when we claim that we live in a global village and yet we display those unparalleled levels of aggressive parochialism, especially of the magnitude directed at the CIP. If this is not a double standard, then what is it?

The argument that we are selling our sacrosanct passport is an absurdity that is untenable. Paradoxically, it is an argument put forward even by those who seemingly do not display any sense of love for country. But it is a convenient political argument on an island perceived by economically elite to be inhabited by mostly illiterate Kweyol-speaking natives.  It may be an argument adduced even by those living abroad and who may have even renounced their St. Lucian citizenship in exchange for a US, British/EU or Canadian passport. It may be even an argument adduced by fraudsters at large who may have benefited from acts of fraud against the public purse.

But here’s the reality: About a quarter of Singapore’s population are economic citizens and they are inextricably part of the islands unbelievable success story.

 Both USA and Canada are nations of immigrants which have used variants of citizenship by investment.  St. Lucians in the diaspora are indisputably major beneficiaries of CIP.

To the best of my knowledge, the CIP Bill was passed unanimously (or at least without objection from the opposition) in the lower house which included 6 opposition members. The question therefore is: why is the Party Leader (who incidentally is not a member of the Houses of Parliament) going contrary to a decision of the House of Assembly which the members of his party supported? Is this "split personality" plague the modus operandi of Team Chastanet?  

Further, why should the UWP (1) want to emulate the Singapore model, (2) why would Chastanet choose to speak pre-emptively on behalf of the US on sundry matters of national interest (including the appointment of Mr Juffali as IMO ambassador), (3) Why would he promise St. Lucians free entry into Canada . . . and yet condemn the implementation of the CIP in St. Lucia? Why should a "government-in-waiting" consider CIP good for all and sundry except the country it seeks to govern? If those indications represent the extent of a UWP government's commitment of territoriality, then is it ready to be trusted with the reigns of government? Even more importantly, why is its leader traveling the world so frequently? Why do they hold non-St. Lucian Passports? Why do they buy properties outside St. Lucia, in Canada, for example?

The politicians and a "triumvirate" of UWP-leaning journalists obviously believe they are geniuses and we are downright fools. In the circumstances, "Ambush in the Night" by Bob Marley is so instructive.

In closing, Chastanet - who was born in Martinique -  of an immigrant Irish mother - is undeniably an immigrant himself.  Yet he has become highly xenophobic, territorial and anti-foreigner. Rick's wife is an Arab, yet his rhetoric is so territorial that he like Chastanet exudes frightening xenophobia? With their continental exposure and resultant emulation, the question remains: are they just playing games with our little brains? Is the game hypocrisy? Do they just wish to use us as pawns in their planned ambush of Dr Juffali?

Let us hope in their quest to embarrass the government of St. Lucia using the planned ambush of ambassador Juffali, that they do not harbour any hidden "terrorist" motives designed to make the world perceive us as sympathetic to terrorists.