The “New Frontier” is finally set to become ‘THE NEW SOUTH CHINA SEA 2.0 Frontier” - thanks to the sheer creativity and imagination of the master Malaysian-born architect/developer and his friend Jack Lam who have “invented” the most cost-effective, risk-free investment calculus to create a US$3 billion experimental development with minimal or no equity.
It is clear that the DSH guru is using his “architectural genius” along with the influence of Macau’s gambling tycoon, Jack Lam (who is reported to be wanted by the Philippines government for “bribery and economic sabotage”) to bamboozle and then seduce a helpless and tottering Administration into submission.
The stratagem employed is “architectural glitters” to dazzle - and only God knows the extent of other “behind-the-scenes” inducements which may have been dangled before the eyes of clueless “government negotiators” in pursuit of their own self-interest and agenda.
With time, we are becoming increasingly enlightened on why the DSH investment is shrouded is so much mystery and secrecy. There's a school effort that, at the end of it all, St. Lucia will be graced with a few more “beneficiary millionaires” who may waiting in the wings with baited breath to get a bite of the proverbial DSH cherry; but in the midst of all the backdoor “wheeling and dealing”, the sad story is our small island will be the victim, as I anticipate significant collateral damage to include de-risking and becoming a prime target for scrutiny as a potentially major money-laundering destination.
Those are some of the unfortunate outcomes of DSH seduction of the clueless Government who would grab at any straw for survival; but,it is not all that glitters that is gold; in addition, the issues facing DSH goes far beyond the glitter.
It’s about our environment and our patrimony. Development is not simply about “glitterous” conceptual architectural designs of high rise buildings. indeed, studies have shown while massive developments can have a transformative landscape impact, it is also true that they can lead to more vulnerabilities (homelessness, poverty, mendicancy, etc) especially if we don’t have the human resource base to cash in on the opportunities they are likely to present. It is in that context that EISA’s are so important. The CDB BNTF programme of which St. Lucia is a member is thoroughly grounded in those considerations.
Moreover, with the looming possibility of 40,000 potentially high-skilled but cheap Chinese workers landing on our shores as citizens, the vulnerability which has both environmental and social implications can magnify exponentially.
As I perused the new architectural designs for DSH phase 2, I see a totally “revolutionized settlement” with a causeway linking Maria Island to the mainland. Indeed, the aesthetics with all the glitter may look appealing at first sight; but neither the developer nor the government has, as a matter of courtesy, factored in contentious and critical social and environmental issues raised by the various stakeholders. By all accounts, DSH will be more like a “Trojan Horse” – as opposed to horse-racing track - project on our shores.
But does this matter to our gov't which seem to have been irreversibly seduced by glitter? I'm afraid for my country. I'm afraid because of the buyback clause which according to experts may mean the reimbursement of hundreds of millions of dollars at tax-payers’ expense to the developer if the project fails. However, if the project should succeed, only the master developer benefits. How can that be a good patriotic deal for country?
I'm also concerned about the general conditions under which the deal is made. If the market value of the land in the general area is about $20 per square foot, then what is logic for government to give away the land valued close to a billion dollars for less than $1000? Why are the proceeds of the sale of our passports which is projected to raise $3 billion US dollars and which would be the personal preserve of the developer lodged in an escrow account outside of St. Lucia? At the end of it all, the mathematics reveal that while the developer’s equity approaches zero, our equity tends to infinity – and that is Trojan horse trickery in the deal.
But on top of the mathematical trickery which circumscribe the DSH deal, what’s most worrying is not just the sale of our passports to questionable and shady characters (some of them who may well be fugitives and criminals); but,more importantly, the exponential threat to ecosystem. The treasured but endangered indigenous species which inhabit Maria Island might be facing extinction. Sir John Compton” cordonned off” the entire rain forest so that indigenous species (eg parrot, iguana and fer-de-lance) could survive for progeny. The parrot subsequently became our proud national bird! We are now learning of the scientific value of the fer-de-lance in manufacturing of anti-venom. Chastanet is insensitively decommissioning and destroying Maria Islet as a nature reserve! Would he advise the Martinique government to do the same with islets in the country of his birth?
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely but if the government will not listen, then we must use any means necessary to force it to listen. We may not be able to hit the ceiling but we cannot afford to lie down on the floor when our country is being turned into another South China Sea. The DSH project will be wholly funded by the proceeds of the sale of our passports. We own it! To allow any investor to take ownership of our property and patrimony in the way DSH wants to do makes a poor statement about us. It is tantamount to a dangerous form of neocolonialism!
We must stand against the biggest con-project in our history! The National Trust must stand! The National Conservation Authority must stand! The Vieux Fort Coalition for Change must stand! The politicians must stand! All St. Lucia must stand for St Lucia. . . Or we will all fall!
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