Ar­ro­gance lost the 2016 Gen­eral Elections

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

As I lay over­dos­ing on the nu­mer­ous trib­utes paid the de­ceased Muham­mad Ali the week­end be­fore Saint Lucia's June 6 elections, one cen­tral thought kept rac­ing through my head. Truth be told, I had turned to the champ's tele­vised trib­utes as a di­ver­sion from lo­cal pol­i­tics. But as I lis­tened to the eu­lo­gists I couldn't help won­der­ing who among our politi­cians pos­sessed a mod­icum of the at­tributes for which the de­ceased cham­pion had been es­pe­cially fa­mous and revered. Almost ev­ery name that popped into my head was syn­ony­mous with self-cen­tred­ness, ar­ro­gance and brag­gado­cio With­out go­ing too much into Ali's story (you can Google it or buy a book), his most poignant and sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment to my mind had noth­ing to do with the sport of box­ing. Ali's great­est ac­com­plish­ment was his hav­ing sur­vived all that was thrown at him for dar­ing to crit­i­cize the Viet­nam war and re­fus­ing to be drafted into the US Army. He was even­tu­ally ar­rested, found guilty of draft eva­sion and stripped of his ti­tles. Not a very good time for “The Great­est” who had of­ten to de­pend on his friends in the Nation of Is­lam, headed by Mal­colm X.

Ali suc­cess­fully ap­pealed and his con­vic­tion was over­turned in 1971. How­ever, his ac­tions as a con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tor to the war at the time marked him as un­pa­tri­otic. As I say, read his most up­lift­ing life sto­ries for your­self. Suf­fice it to say, I could not think of a sin­gle re­cent elec­tion can­di­date who had stood up for any­thing worth­while . . . who had stood up for any­thing for that mat­ter.

With just a few days be­fore Saint Lu­cians went to the polls, how­ever, the politi­cians went into high gear in their ef­forts to ap­pear car­ing and hum­ble and con­cerned about the wel­fare of the peo­ple they had all but ig­nored for almost five years. Drains left unat­tended for years were sud­denly cleared; roads paved; new bridges opened. They posed for Self­ies with the el­derly, the youth and ghetto folks, you know - the ones of­ten ne­glected and for­got­ten among us. This sort of thing had worked be­fore and was ex­pected to con­tinue work­ing. But amidst the ca­coph­ony and chants of "Yo Pe’" and "Mwen Fache” the Dr An­thony-led ad­min­is­tra­tion re­mained im­pen­e­tra­ble to the re­al­i­ties by their own ar­ro­gance. And for this and nine other rea­sons I am about to out­line, they were made to pay the ul­ti­mate price on June 6. Count­ing down:

10. Value Added Tax. De­scribed by the prime min­is­ter as an 'op­pres­sive tax' when he was in op­po­si­tion, upon re-elec­tion in 2011 Dr. Kenny An­thony and his team wasted lit­tle time im­pos­ing VAT on cit­i­zens at 15%. In ad­di­tion, those of us who still had jobs, had to sub­mit to PAYE and NIC. The ef­fects on the busi­ness sec­tor were ev­ery­where to be seen: cut­backs, shut­downs and staff on ro­ta­tions.

9. At­tempts to muz­zle the free press. Noth­ing new here. Re­mem­ber Ar­ti­cle 361? Re­mem­ber the la­bel­ing of Ti­mothy Poleon and Guy El­lis as en­gag­ing in “me­dia ter­ror­ism”? In 2005, Dr. An­thony amended the Crim­i­nal Code to add Sec­tion 361, which made it an of­fense pun­ish­able by a 2-year prison term for any­one, in­clud­ing jour­nal­ists, to spread in­for­ma­tion "that he or she knows is false and causes or is likely to cause in­jury to a pub­lic in­ter­est." An­thony had ac­cused "certain per­sons in the me­dia" of en­gag­ing in a dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign de­signed to un­der­mine his rul­ing Labour Party. De­spite be­ing re­pealed in 2006 un­der in­tense crit­i­cism from jour­nal­ists and press free­dom ac­tivists, An­thony's gov­ern­ment had, in re­cent times, placed the me­dia in shack­les with con­stant threats by his clos­est apos­tles. Mean­while his gov­ern­ment sought to pass off shows hosted by Labour Party op­er­a­tives as "le­git­i­mate" me­dia.

8. Walid Juf­fali. It was not until this name was brought to light by the Bri­tish press that Saint Lu­cians learned he was our diplo­matic rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion. And even though he never at­tended a sin­gle ses­sion of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, Kenny An­thony kept him around our necks like a gold chain with the prom­ise of a Di­a­betic Re­search Cen­tre that has not ma­te­ri­alised. 7. Soured For­eign Re­la­tions. Re­mem­ber when Dr. An­thony chose not to at­tend a Caribbean meet­ing with US Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den in favour of a get­to­gether with ALBA friends? From there our re­la­tion­ship with the US plunged down­hill. ALBA and Petro Caraibe have brought us noth­ing and the Amer­i­cans have ceased all as­sis­tance to our po­lice. 6. Bro­ken Jus­tice Sys­tem. The last ad­min­is­tra­tion found the sys­tem al­ready in a mess. But with at least three lawyers in the midst, in­clud­ing Dr. An­thony, they did lit­tle to ad­dress the acute problems in­clud­ing re­mand pris­on­ers, over­crowd­ing at Borde­lais and di­lap­i­dat­ing struc­tures where courts are held. The DPP's of­fice also re­mained largely un­staffed and the Foren­sic Lab, which may have helped to solve some of the nu­mer­ous rapes and mur­ders, re­mained closed.

5. Philip La Cor­binere. It is mind-bog­gling why the coun­try had to face the in­ep­ti­tude of La Cor­binere for almost five years. This min­is­ter of jus­tice and na­tional se­cu­rity will go down in his­tory as maybe one of the worst, hav­ing noth­ing to show for his ten­ure. His con­stant de­nials on is­sues like the Leahy Law and the Foren­sic Lab, only to backpedal later, were in­ex­cus­able. Still Dr. An­thony pun­ished us by keep­ing him on our backs.

4. IMPACS. Every­thing went wrong here, in­clud­ing the amend­ing of the law to ac­com­mo­date the Ja­maican in­ves­ti­ga­tors. The (former) prime min­is­ter changed the law, picked the in­ves­ti­ga­tors, was handed the re­port, made certain dis­clo­sures about the re­port, im­pli­cated the then com­mis­sioner and the po­lice in­volved in “Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence", all the while with­out pro­vid­ing the DPP with any sup­port­ing ev­i­dence to act. Now the IMPACS re­port is still on our backs.

3. Rapists in our midst. With­out giv­ing names Dr. An­thony told the nation that there were “one or two se­rial rapists in our midst". Still no de­ci­sive plan of ac­tion was taken to pro­tect our women and chil­dren and even our men who were also be­ing im­pacted by a re­cent scourge of rape.

2. Un­em­ploy­ment. The Saint Lucia Labour Party was voted into of­fice in 2009 on a prom­ise of jobs, jobs, jobs - and with un­em­ploy­ment at the time hov­er­ing around 20%. But by 2015 this had shot to almost 25%. In true fash­ion of con­tempt, a pack­age of lies and de­ceit was pre­sented to the pub­lic ear­lier this year claim­ing that in the last quar­ter of 2015 un­em­ploy­ment had dropped to just over 20%. How­ever, the bright red boys in the SLP would know that this is not how the over­all cal­cu­la­tion is done. And so half way into 2016 Saint Lucia is faced with an un­em­ploy­ment rate of about 24%.

1. Ar­ro­gance. The num­ber one rea­son, like I said ear­lier, why we are now faced with a new gov­ern­ment is be­cause the last one ruled with a stick of gross ar­ro­gance. Isn't it ar­ro­gance when you ne­glect your con­stituency for years with­out a shred of ev­i­dence of any progress there? Isn't it ar­ro­gance when you are un­able to open the St. Jude's hospi­tal and re­turn to sports­men the sta­dium yet EC$60 mil­lion of tax­pay­ers' money from NIC is dis­bursed to start an ad­min­is­tra­tive com­plex in Vieux Fort? If this is not ar­ro­gance then it has to be mad­ness. Wasn't it ar­ro­gance on the part of the gov­ern­ment to shelve the Suzie d'Au­vergne Con­sti­tu­tion Re­form re­port, be­cause it de­cided on its own that it was not the will of the peo­ple? And the list goes on and on!

On Sun­day June 5 I in­ter­rupted watch­ing the Muham­mad Ali trib­ute to lis­ten to the Prime Min­is­ter's fi­nal ad­dress that evening. I was hop­ing to hear a con­cil­ia­tory mes­sage. I was hop­ing to hear Saint Lu­cians be­ing urged to go out and vote peace­fully and, what­ever the out­come, that the rule of law and or­der must be obeyed, among other things. Sadly, I was once again dis­ap­pointed as, it would seem too, were the more than 45,000 Saint Lu­cians who voted against Dr. Kenny An­thony and the SLP on Mon­day June 6, 2016.

Ar­ro­gance and Pride came be­fore "The Great Fall".

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