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Monday, December 19, 2016


“If you think Allen was joking when pillars were put on the Sandals Beach or the lease of our Queen’s chain in Soufriere, then think again! As his power has “magnified”, so has his intentions been made clearer! Now he is giving away a massive 840 acres of our patrimony to a Chinese investor at a dollar an acre! Tell me . . . Should Allen continue as PM of this country for the 5 years, what will happen to St. Lucia?”

If you didn’t understand why the former government didn’t sign up the multi-billion DSH “Pearl of The Caribbean” project, then perhaps you should wait and listen to the Pre-Christmas House debate on Tuesday December 20 when we expect major hitherto unknown disclosures to be made by both sides of the House.

If all goes according to plan (and DSH is indeed on the order paper), then VF’s death certificate may well be officially “signed, sealed and delivered” in the parliament of St. Lucia 5 days before Xmas. The strange paradox of that potential outcome is: (should this happen) while we will usher in the birth of a new DSH “Christ child”, we will simultaneously be signing the official death certificate of the Southern town. This will perhaps make Christmas 2016 both the “happiest” and the “saddest” ever in the land depending on where you stand.

The good news is that the people of VF including the Catholic Church and some members of the business community are waking up to the reality of what many St. Lucians perceive to be an impending nightmare; but the fundamental question is: will that semblance of resistance be sufficient to change anything? The story may be told 5 days before Christmas 2016!

According the site/master plan and conceptual designs, it’s not just the immediate Beausejour precinct (measuring 400 acres) that is under threat; but the entire “land mass” measuring 840 acres from the foot of the Moule-a-Chique sweeping Sandy Beach, the Il Pirata area, some of the airport territory and extending way into the Eau Piquant and Pierrot Hills.  It will encompass the water table and the related ecosystem!

Whilst the perceptions of the economic implications are understandably “ambivalent”, the potential environmental impact is categorically frightening - and this is what alarms me! Consequently, I would expect the exercise of much transparency. Hence, I look forward to the tabling of both the economic analysis (EA) and the social and environmental impact assessments (EISA) in the House. I would also expect a long-term cost-benefit analysis to have been conducted based on the EA and ESIA - and to make a scientific decision about the project based on those.

If they have not done so, then I would advise government/parliament to “outsource” the above functions and responsibilities to an independent multi-disciplinary extra-parliamentary panel comprising scientists, environmentalists, engineers, economists, consultants, sociologists, investors, educators, NGOs, residents, beach users, the business community, SLASPA etc and all the stakeholder agencies. They would also among other things have the responsibility for putting together the terms of reference.

Parliament would determine the time frame for the completion of the exercise and when the report would be presented.

This thorough “technical approach” is necessary because of the complex nature of technical issues involved which include the sale of patrimony and the purported sale of thousands of passports to fund DSH; the potentially huge environmental and social impact, and generally, the far-reaching implications of project (like quashing the beach and small businesses), among other things.

If we are going to sign off on the DSH deal, then we must ensure that we dot all “Is“ and cross all the ”Ts”. We understand that when governments are desperate, they would grab at any vote-catching straw. Those of us who are old enough I’m sure will remember the promise of a refinery by Hess Oils but we only got an oil terminal; and although there's a some parallelism with the Hess Oil refinery, there is no comparison between the two projects.

In its current form, it is perceived that the DSH agreements (especially the supplemental version) threatens to kill VF; and if VF dies, then the entire south ranging from Soufriere to Dennery is likely to die with it.

Therefore, during the Tuesday sitting, I recommend that members of the House to display a sublime level of independent thinking, courage, “statesmanship” and “patriotism” when voting on the DSH bill. I would urge them to speak on the issue in their capacity as Members of the House – not as Members of Cabinet or Ministers! If our PM and his MIMOC have genuflected before the Chinese, then we don't expect the rest of the UWP parliamentarians to do the same.  The three strong UWP parliamentarians (Dr Rigobert, Mr King and Montoute) must recognize the immense collective power they can wield? They can tip the balance and cause Mr Chastanet to return to rationality without causing the government to self-destruct. I expect them to consider that option in the national interest.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Rick’s one-man “press conference” show with the PM last Thursday night has to be ranked as one of the outstanding tragicomedies in local journalism for the year 2016! It might have been better if the ever omniscient "Mr Universe" had allowed the PM's Senior Communication Officer (SCO) to do her job!  Earlier, the hurried substitution of Mc Hale for the PM as well as the reasons given by the SCO for the "non-event" was even more farcical.

Menissa’s characterization of Sir John as a toothless tiger was a great fit for the once powerful "Mr Universe" that night - as it has been for him for some time now! The show was a genuinely tragic act of "bastardisation" of journalism by someone who deems himself to be a world-class, Weider-inspired, renowned journalist.

Despite his “Americanization”, Rick did not do justice to the practice of American journalism where network anchors irrespective of their political orientation do not stoop so low to politicians in the hope of a "winning a favour". The great Mr Universe stooped to a "new low" on Thursday night which undermined the excellence of his Yankee diction in direct proportion to his betrayal of the "questioning techniques" of journalism. The toothless tiger apparently did not only lose his teeth and venom; but also, his tongue!

If the questioning technique by the Interviewer was without art, then the answers by the interviewee were woefully disappointing and short on substance! The PM obviously did not demonstrate that he had a command of the contents - far less the "nuances" and logic - of an agreement that he has committed his government and people of St. Lucia to, in the way that Dr Hilaire demonstrated! Despite the lollipop questions tossed up to him, he tended to pussyfoot when answering them rather than hitting them over the boundary, suggesting that he might not have grasp the full implications of the deal. None of the clauses in amended agreement was adequately addressed and if they were, then it was only in a highly nebulous fashion. 

If Rick sinned cardinally against journalism, then the PM did the same against logic, rationality, honesty and due diligence.

For example, in response to a question for clarity on the DSH race track, the PM responded that he did not want to mislead the country about DSH; clearly, that was a stark admission of “ignorance” and it might have been better if he had honestly confessed that he had not studied or understood the agreement in its fullness.

Let's juxtaposition the PM to Dr Hilaire on the matter of DSH. One could hardly find fault in the latter's presentation (which preceded the PMs contrived interview with Rick). Perhaps, it might have been more appropriate for Rick to have Dr Hilaire as the guest instead for obvious reasons. In the first place, he may be an authority on the CIP; secondly, he would have been very au courant with the nuances of the DSH agreement and hence give us a comprehensive and global perspective of the nature of the beast which threatens to devour the South. Thirdly, he would have genuinely enlightened the audience on the critical aspects of the deal.

Having said the above, I suspect that the interviewer was no better off; he seemed equally lost on the contents of the DSH agreement. 

In any case, let's give Jack his Jacket: he probably didn't have much of an interest in the ongoing DSH Debate because, among other things, it contained nothing to crucify his "nemesis"; but Grynberg did! Hence, a diversion was predictable and it happened.

Interestingly, it is noteworthy that Chastanet who is facing a major misfeasance case in the High Court against state was "exonerated" in Rick’s High Court of Justice; but Kenny who is untainted by corruption was being indicted for an “imaginary” Grynberg mirage. I don't wish to say much on this because I suspect that there may be a “legal surprise” coming from Kenny's attorneys anytime.

Suffice it to say that, PM Chastanet deserved some marks for scoring a "pyrrhic victory" of sorts over Rick when he demonstrated an inkling of prime-ministerial magnanimity and honesty on the Grynberg matter. He masterfully rebutted Rick’s attempt to nail Kenny when reported that he had contacted two legal experts and they both advised that the Grynberg matter was a dead end; given our knowledge of the provisions of the Interpretation Act, that was hardly any news for us. It was only Rick who could not get out of his fixation. Having said so, it was noteworthy that at the end of the interview that the PM thanked Rick for his work on Grynberg.

Chastanet smartly continued to sideline Rick’s Grynberg’s fixation when he said that the biggest indictment against Kenny was not Grynberg but his failure to do anything for the people of VF.

Rick's “press conference” with the PM was like a pro-wrestling match with much drama and contradiction. Rick foolishly justified Chastanet’s Black Bay deal by saying that the developer for Black Bay "cannot put the land on his back and carry it away"! But according to his Gospel, Grynberg can put the entire seabed on his back and carry it away. Let's see how Grynberg Part 3 unfolds.

Perhaps the highlight of the night was a caveat from a petulant caller warning Rick to put an end to the Grynberg diversion and focus on "bread and butter" and more relevant issues of the day like the bad roads etc. Another caller asked him to let the PM answer the questions. Those callers deflated him and seemed to have tooken away whatever little energy that was left in him.

Thereafter, the interview was on auto-pilot.

The PM gave his rationale for global trotting as climate change: to convince the world that we are not the cause of climate change.

All in all, the interview was disappointing and uninspiring. Both interviewer and interviewee were intellectually flat. It was a sorry night for journalism and politics; and Nicole probably regretted allowing Rick to do her job for her.