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Thursday, November 24, 2016


I was taken aback by the “type of activities arranged by the government if St. Lucia designed to celebrate Prince Harry’s visit to St. Lucia. I’m curious about the chemistry and rationale which guided the thought processes of our government. Hence, I feel compelled to ask: Why is a representative of the monarchy who is officially our Head of State treated so shabbily and without any hint befitting the Office of Her/His Majesty? Not only are the optics bad; they are atrocious and do not genuinely reflect us!

The argument may be that we live in a post-colonial era and that we may wish to shake the shackles of colonialism; but that is missing the point by light years! It all boils down to good manners and respect which seem to have reached crisis proportions in our country and sadly officially celebrated by our government.

We need to treat the office of her/his majesty with respect irrespective of our conceptions and the circumstances. To me, this is the ABC of diplomacy which should have informed all processes and stages of Prince Harry’s visit.

I remember previous visits by Queen Elizabeth, HRH Prince Phillip and Prince Charles were immersed in the grandeur and respect like school rallies befitting royalty.

So, I’m asking: why the “downgrade” for Prince Harry? Whether the visit was official in nature or not is beside the point. Whether it was just a two-day courtesy visit en route to a bigger event or not does not subtract from his royalty!

Wouldn’t it have been more relevant to have the prince (who is himself a youth and a role model) interface with the youth of St. Lucia and deliver a message of hope and inspiration to them at a time they need that sort of critical interactive experience? Or wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to culminate that experience with an underarm cricket match with them?

I was equally appalled by the SLP’s statement that the young Prince Harry was being subject to manipulation by being drawn into St. Lucia’s 2.6-billion-dollar environmental controversy!

Essentially there are two angles to the controversy: one angle is the perception that a member of royalty was thoughtlessly relenting to the whims and fancies of an unconscientious and reckless PM without the necessary due diligence.  Secondly, there’s the suggestion that the government “took for granted”, violated and abused diplomatic protocol at the highest level – the level of royalty. The optics don’t look good!

The prince visit will make history for all the wrong reasons. It was immersed in controversy from the moment it was announced when a hotel advertised as being owned and managed by the PM issued a press release indicating that it would roll out the red carpet for him. The sequence of events which followed is now well documented in the public domain. It resulted in the public abuse of a young journalist and the threat of legal action against the Television network he represented. It is sad that the Prince visit is ending in even more controversy.

If the government of St. Lucia had any respect for the prince, then they certainly would not drag him down to the political ghetto. He deserves better.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


 . . . have we had a “change of government” or simply a “change in name” of government? If it is the former (i.e., a change of government), then what should change?”

“ . . . if they can manipulate the constitution to circumvent the appointment of a deputy speaker, then they can also manipulate the estimates of expenditure to accommodate their “5-to-Stay-Alive” without parliamentary approval”

As I drove through Canaries last evening and I saw evidence of the commencement of the construction of a new bridge, I became thoroughly disillusioned about the tricks that “government” plays on the people. I also wondered how many St. Lucians feel like me.

When I hear the “decree” to summarily stop ongoing works on all major projects WITHOUT A SUPPLEMENTARY BUDGET designed to recommission those works, I become even more disillusioned. I also wondered how many of you felt like me!

When I see the roads of Choiseul (and islandwide) being potholed, I asked which “government” caused that to happen? I wonder how many of you tried to figure that out!

When I “hear” government reducing VAT by 2.5% without simultaneously passing a supplementary budget to compensate for the shortfall in revenue, then I asked what the heck is happening? How do we explain what is happening in terms of “responsible and mature fiscal management” of this country? Hence, the question is: in the absence of a supplementary budget, how will government meet its fiscal targets?

Given all of the above, I therefore ask: have we had a “change of government” or simply a “change in name” of government? If it is the former (I.e., a change of government), then what should change?

If what defines a government are its projects, programmes and policies enshrined in a law referred to the “estimates of expenditure”, then which government is currently ruling this country?

That is the conundrum facing the country?

The conundrum becomes even more complicated with the implementation of the “5-to-Stay-Alive”: if government claims they have fully implemented it, then how is that reflected in the estimates of expenditure? The Minister if the Ministry of Finance (MIMOF) claimed government does not need a supplementary budget to implement changes in “anything”!

Let’s forget about the fact that MIMOF may be “parliamentary novice”! Let’s focus on the implications of his pronouncement! What does his pronouncement generally imply? Does it imply a “flexibility”, a “resilience or a “responsiveness” of the current estimates to seamlessly absorb even the “5-to-Stay-Alive”? Or is it “the creativity and imagination” of the current government on display where they are able to manipulate the “law” to fit their whims and fancies? Indeed, if they can manipulate the constitution to circumvent the appointment of a deputy speaker, then they can also manipulate the estimates of expenditure to accommodate their “5-to-Stay-Alive” without parliamentary approval.

That takes me the relevance of the office of Director of Audit (DOA)! Have there been infractions? . . . and is the office of director of Audit equipped or suited to deal with potential infractions? And if the Office of the DOA is ill-equipped to deal with the fiscal infractions, then what other mechanisms do we have? Even more importantly, what constitutional mechanisms are at our disposal to deal with the potentially “constitutionally awkward” positions which are likely to confront us?

Government can only demonstrate they are serious not by only “doing things right” but “doing the right thing the right way”. In the case of the reduction and repeal of VAT, the right way is to craft a supplementary budget. The cat and mouse the MIMOF is playing does not augur well for governance. It is petty bluff.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


After I realised that the Lion Heart’s show last Thursday was a re-broadcast, I grudgingly tuned to DBS.

If ever I wanted proof that Mr. Universe was facing “faculty degeneration”, then “Talk” on Thursday night provided it irrefutably.

I tuned in to show at the point where the ex-bodybuilder was hammering away at Facebook, alleging that it was unsuitable for “any research”. I said “WOW” . . . What a stark contrast to what the BBC reported: that Mark Zuckerberg affirms 99% of FB content is authentic.  But being the “investigative journalist” that Rick is, I said he must have stumbled on something tectonic; so, I took a deep breath in anticipation of an impending earth-shattering falling meteor.

But there was no meteor! Not even a meteorite! Just a disappointing pebble thrown by (what my 7-year grandson would refer to as) a “Dinosaurus” which hardly caused a splash, or a ripple!

Neither did Tim’s prank (on Newspin on Monday), courting Hilary’s concession speech; but give Tim some kudos for his transparency and honesty. He conceded that his rationale for playing Hilary’s speech (as his HBI) was to draw the contrast between Kenny’s concession speech which he posted on FB and Hilary's phenomenal delivery on TV.

The bottom line here is both pressmen seem to have issues with FB, albeit from different angles. One pontificates that FB is not suitable for research; the other has a problem with the PMs “concession speech” being delivered via FB, despite the fact that quite of his RCI Midday news is apparently sourced from FB links!

In search of a glimpse into the possible rationale for the duo’s cynicism, I journeyed into their respective FB pages. I found pages for both individuals but none for their enterprises: none for Talk, The St. Lucia Star or Newspin! I wondered why!

Browsing their FB pages, I found none of them dared to publish any “constructive” or “controversial” critique, reflective of the “journalistic personalities” - something I attribute to their apparent cynicism, ranked hypocrisy and pure intellectual cowardice. It's is easy to pontificate from the “ivory towers” of talk shows where the hosts are “judge, jury and executioner” and “monarch of all they survey”; however, it's an entire different matter to face the music in the real world of FB where intellectual exchanges know no bounds.

Let’s be clear, the ex-Mr. Universe and his self-styled disciples (who conveniently play excerpts from President Kennedy’s arguably greatest speech extolling the value of controversy in journalism) are entitled to their views; but one would hardly expect such an irrational view from a world class publisher and his entourage of loyal supporters.

I’m not a blind follower of FB; but I applaud the platform it has given the world to share ideas, feelings, etc, rendering everyone equal in world of the social media; however, being equal does not translate to being identical. Hence, while everyone is equal on Facebook, no two subscribers are identical. Different individuals have different foci.  

I proved Mr. Universe’s dumbfounding assertion to be out of orbit with reality plus I believe there is truth to Mr Zuckerberg’s claim that FB is a credible and reliable platform!

Here are some examples!

I was able through FB to access the Director of Statistics for some statistical information which I required for a project.

Early this week, I had reason to interface with an academic colleague (Virus Clarke from Jamaica) and our professor (Kola Soyibo) thanks to FB.

I’m able through FB to maintain regular contact with my former students like Pro Gideon Simon, Dr Rand Jean who have made a name for themselves in academia.  In fact, it was as recently as three weeks ago we had an open and frank exchange on the latest developments on evolution and creation in the context of the theory of relativity.

Indeed, many of us on our FB pages, continue to share links, tag or expound on the latest developments on our fields of endeavour. In that regard, we have shared links to phenomena like the discovery of gravitational waves, climate change, statistical information and economic theory among other things!

Admittedly, not everyone has interest in those academic or professional issues. There’s also a preponderance of FB pages that provides loads and loads of news, views and information. There is also a proliferation of lighter stuff little or no substance.

 The Voice has its FB page. St. Lucia News Online always has breaking news on FB. HTS has a popular and useful FB page which we provide up-to-date news about St. Lucia. The US Embassy has a FB page which we use to research about developments from the States Department . . .

And there are hundreds of thousands of organisations that use FB to advertise their services.

So, what is Rick saying. I’m lost.