Why has PM de­cided Michael should pay for Allen?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

Toni Ni­cholas

Last Sun­day, the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party, with much fan­fare and daz­zling and “flash­ing mir­rors” - to quote one of its own - launched the SLP’s Den­nery South can­di­date for the next gen­eral elec­tions. The event was not al­to­gether hu­mour­less. There could not have been a straight face among the crowd as health min­is­ter Alv­ina Reynolds un­der­scored the new­comer’s phys­i­cal fit­ness seem­ingly obliv­i­ous to the girth of some in her Cab­i­net.

What was not so funny was the party leader and prime min­is­ter’s dec­la­ra­tion for at least the se­cond time that the up­com­ing elec­tions would be be­tween his party and Michael Chas­tanet and his son Allen, who also hap­pens to lead the op­po­si­tion United Work­ers Party. In­ter­est­ingly enough, Kenny An­thony had made his way fresh from Govern­ment House that day.

It may be worth men­tion­ing that a short time ear­lier last Sun­day Vaughan Lewis was knighted at Govern­ment House, in the pres­ence of the same prime min­is­ter, in whose book At the Rain­bow’s Edge Lewis was any­thing but wor­thy of ad­mi­ra­tion, let alone to be among the first cit­i­zens to be knighted on Saint Lu­cia soil. The prime min­is­ter had also suc­cess­fully sued Lewis in a li­bel court.

In an­other time too, the same prime min­is­ter had be­stowed on Michael Chas­tanet the ti­tle “Good­will Am­bas­sador” and handed him an OBE for his con­tri­bu­tions to Com­merce. But oh, how his view of the Chas­tanets - father and son - had changed. Now he had new friends, wor­thier by far of spe­cial awards: the Le­banese Gil­bert Chagoury, for one, who had re­ceived by the prime min­is­ter’s spe­cial com­mand, the high­est hon­our Saint Lu­cia can be­stow. Was Saint Michael less forth­com­ing with greas­ing the hands that feed, than the lat­est am­bas­sado­rial Saviours?

Sound­ing more than ever be­fore like a mob leader fir­ing up his troops, Kenny An­thony told Labour Party sup­port­ers on Sun­day: “I want you to give me the tools to fin­ish this job. This means that this coun­try must never ever be placed in the hands of Allen Chas­tanet and his father Michael Chas­tanet. That is our mis­sion.”

He went on: “I said to you be­fore that this is not a bat­tle be­tween the Labour Party and the United Work­ers Party. I will re­peat what I have said: this elec­tion is more than that. The peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia must never al­low their govern­ment to op­er­ate by re­mote con­trol in se­cret bed­rooms and back­rooms; that must never hap­pen.”

Back­rooms and bed­room deals?

In 2014, at his party’s 64th con­fer­ence of del­e­gates, the SLP leader had in­formed his au­di­ence that the SLP party came “from the strug­gles of our work­ers against colo­nial­ism and the plan­toc­racy” which brought to mind that Michael Chas­tanet had once laboured on a plan­ta­tion op­er­ated by the cur­rent prime min­is­ter’s father David Barnard.

Back in 2014 he had this warn­ing: “If Chas­tanet re­mains as leader un­til the next gen­eral elec­tions, then I can tell you one thing: this elec­tion will not be one be­tween sup­port­ers of the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party and the United Work­ers Party; it will be an elec­tion be­tween the Chas­tanets and the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party.”

On Sun­day he ex­plained what he meant by “one hun­dred per­cent Saint Lu­cian,” which has ev­i­dently re­placed the last elec­tion’s “en-rouge”.

“We are all au­then­tic Saint Lu­cians,” he said, “be­cause we come from the bo­som of our coun­try. That is why we can speak the lan­guage of com­pas­sion, be­cause we un­der­stand what it is for the poor peo­ple of this coun­try.” Of course that did not cover the sev­eral for­eign­ers, Arabs in par­tic­u­lar, whose na­tion­al­ity is listed in of­fi­cial doc­u­ments here as “Saint Lu­cian”.

On Wed­nes­day evening, dur­ing an episode of Hot But­ton Is­sue on Choice TV, Michael Chas­tanet put it to view­ers whether, by Dr. An­thony’s rea­son­ing, he and his son were more pow­er­ful and im­por­tant than the 30,000 or so vot­ers the UWP rep­re­sents. “To me, if it is not in­san­ity I don’t want to say what else it could be. But the fact that Dr. An­thony . . . can come out so bla­tantly and say those things is very wor­ri­some,” Michael Chas­tanet stated.

“As a busi­ness per­son in Saint Lu­cia, I think Dr. An­thony should recog­nise that it is busi­ness peo­ple who drive an econ­omy. I lis­ten to him and his party sup­port­ers talk­ing about how he de­liv­ered jobs. When Dr. An­thony gives a job, it is thanks to busi­ness peo­ple and their tax money. It is the suc­cess­ful busi­ness­men in this coun­try who re­ally pro­vide the funds for job cre­ation,” Chas­tanet added.

He went on to ex­plain that as a Saint Lu­cian he was wor­ried about the crip­pling ef­fects of Dr. An­thony’s poli­cies, es­pe­cially how he had im­ple­mented VAT. In the un­prej­u­diced eye, Michael Chas­tanet is a busi­ness­man; he talks like a busi­ness­man and not as a politi­cian. Should he then be made a tar­get for de­mo­li­tion, just be­cause his son has de­cided to chal­lenge the ad­min­is­tra­tion headed by his one-time friend and pro­moter Kenny An­thony?

So sad that Jerome Gideon’s at­tempt on Sun­day at push­ing a youth agenda and ad­dress­ing some of the is­sues was de­railed by Kenny An­thony’s Chas­tanet ob­ses­sion. Sad too that on Sun­day, in­stead of declar­ing a war on the Chas­tanets, the SLP leader had not de­clared a war on crime and law­less­ness, an im­proved jus­tice sys­tem, poverty, youth un­em­ploy­ment and grow­ing ap­a­thy among Saint Lu­cians.

Maybe it was a case of sim­ply duck­ing the is­sues!

Kenny An­thony and Michael Chas­tanet

dur­ing bet­ter days.

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