OF AIMU AND DR. RAJ

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

of Ku­mar and Paule. Th­ese and the other sim­i­lar equiv­o­ca­tions obliged one to lose all con­fi­dence in the tes­ti­mony of Dr. Raj.

A CNN clip pre­sented on the show minced no words in plac­ing Dr. Raj at the cen­ter of a scan­dal in­volv­ing the sti­fling of the aca­demic dreams of a young In­dian woman bent on med­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions, at the hands of AIMU. Dur­ing a brief stint in St. Lu­cia she be­came quickly dis­il­lu­sioned by how far the in­sti­tu­tion had fallen short of its on­line prom­ises. Back in In­dia, she com­plained to re­porters of the lack of ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties, stat­ing: “They told me they had lab­o­ra­to­ries and a li­brary. The li­brary did not have a sin­gle book and the labs were not work­ing.”

An in­ter­est­ing un­fold­ing in the in­ter­view was Raj’s cor­rob­o­ra­tion that an un­named man who came into St. Lu­cia as a de­pen­dent of a fe­male stu­dent of AIMU was one of the in­di­vid­u­als charged in the fraud­u­lence of the Lam­birds Academy. Ex­pect­edly, Dr. Raj de­nied any as­so­ci­a­tion with the stated in­di­vid­ual and blamed Ku­mar and Paule for that in­di­vid­ual’s as­so­ci­a­tion with AIMU.

An­other high­light of the show was the dis­clo­sure by Dr. Raj, upon ques­tion­ing, that our cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter Dr. Kenny An­thony was at one time in the em­ploy of AIMU (iron­i­cally as a lec­turer on “legal ethics”). This was later sup­ple­mented by the dis­play of a list­ing of the AIMU fac­ulty con­tain­ing the name of the Prime Min­is­ter (un­der the ti­tle of “Ex­tra­or­di­nary Pro­fes­sor”). The ques­tion which came to the fore in the mind of most view­ers was un­doubt­edly whether he was em­ployed in the stated ca­pac­ity while Leader of the Op­po­si­tion or as Prime Min­is­ter. But this would be be­side the point for, as Leader of the Op­po­si­tion or Prime Min­is­ter, I can­not help but muse upon why a fig­ure of Dr. An­thony’s in­tel­lect and po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence could have been per­suaded into such a shady sit­u­a­tion. It in­ti­mates of a cer­tain amount of neg­li­gence and pos­si­ble “will­ful blind­ness.” Doubt­less our prime min­is­ter will clear the fog of doubt and sus­pi­cion.

The an­nounce­ment by a caller that St. Lu­cian stu­dents had re­ceived gov­ern­ment schol­ar­ships to study at AIMU was an­other jaw-drop­ping mo­ment on the show. If this is in­deed true, it may be as good a place as any to start in­ves­ti­gat­ing the gov­ern­ment’s pos­si­ble in­volve­ment in or fa­cil­i­ta­tion of the AIMU scan­dal.

Yet an­other is­sue, which pro­duced more ques­tions than an­swers, was that of ac­cred­i­ta­tion which Dr. Raj, with the back­ing of Mr. Wayne, iden­ti­fied as an is­sue af­fect­ing med­i­cal schools across the Caribbean. How­ever, one did not leave the show with a clear un­der­stand­ing of the ac­cred­i­ta­tion sta­tus of AIMU, with Dr. Raj call­ing the ac­cred­i­ta­tion process com­pli­cated (and per­haps right­fully so). Be that as it may, the strange case of AIMU and Dr. Raj ap­pears to go way be­yond ac­cred­i­ta­tion and seems en­sconced in the zone of fraud­u­lence. With al­le­ga­tions of hu­man traf­fick­ing, money laun­der­ing, fraud, du­bi­ous ac­cred­i­ta­tion and whole­sale cor­rup­tion in the air, the value of the cer­tifi­cates con­ferred by AIMU is an un­nerv­ing is­sue in it­self. It is pro­foundly de­mor­al­iz­ing that one would in­vest five years of time and money in an ed­u­ca­tion to be gar­landed in the end by a doc­u­ment worth no more than the pa­per on which it is printed.

One caller in­voked the con­sti­tu­tional re­form as a way out of our predica­ment (of which the AIMU and Lam­birds scan­dals are but in­stan­ti­a­tions). Though the caller sounded re­fresh­ingly in­formed, it ap­pears to me that the term “con­sti­tu­tional re­form” has de­gen­er­ated into a quasi­in­tel­lec­tual catch­phrase and ap­par­ent panacea of our var­i­ous ail­ments.

Con­sti­tu­tional re­form means very lit­tle if St. Lu­cian cit­i­zens are not ready to chal­lenge con­spic­u­ous vi­o­la­tions of the ex­ist­ing con­sti­tu­tion. What is the Gryn­berg Af­fair but a fla­grant as­sault on the con­sti­tu­tion?— an event that the pop­u­la­tion seemed more de­voted to for­get than ad­dress. That such an event as the AIMU con­tro­versy could have been un­fold­ing for so long with­out as much as a squeak re­quired more than the short­com­ings of the con­sti­tu­tion or the prow­ess of the AIMU ad­min­is­tra­tion. It ne­ces­si­tated the tacit (and per­haps ex­plicit) en­dorse­ment of the en­tire gov­ern­men­tal ap­pa­ra­tus (fat­tened into com­pla­cency by decades of re­mark­able tol­er­ance on the part of the St. Lu­cian public).

Fur­ther­more, the fact that only two po­lice of­fi­cers were as­signed to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Lam­birds case raises the ques­tion of whether it is not a ploy on the part of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to stall the in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the scan­dal, with the ten­able con­se­quence that the stu­dent wit­nesses de­part and the Lam­birds af­fair join the mot­ley crew of vaguely re­mem­bered strange hap­pen­ings on the is­land of St. Lu­cia.

The reader need not be swayed to di­vine in the Lam­birds and AIMU scan­dals—far from iso­lated events—trade­mark symptoms of an ad­mix­ture of sys­temic in­com­pe­tence, neg­li­gence and cor­rup­tion. One caller asked per­haps the most con­se­quen­tial ques­tion of the night: what will be the fi­nale of the Lam­birds and AIMU scan­dals? Will it be the usual talk fol­lowed by am­ne­sia? Or will we give up the sheep­ish docil­ity and bound­less tol­er­ance for the clue­less­ness and un­scrupu­lous­ness which mas­quer­ades as gov­er­nance in this coun­try?

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