SPEAK­ING CAN­DIDLY

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Peter Josie

About six weeks ago I made a ten­ta­tive prom­ise to some­one that I would no longer men­tion the for­mer prime min­is­ter by name nor re­fer to him in my weekly opin­ion pieces, ex­cept in com­par­i­son with an­other PM. That friend be­lieves deeply that the elec­torate has turned a page to a new leader and only com­par­isons with the past can cast new light. But to make rea­son­able com­par­isons the in­cum­bent must be al­lowed the same time as given his pre­de­ces­sor to cre­ate jobs and turn the econ­omy around. Mean­time, the peo­ple of Vieux Fort will de­cide for them­selves their next po­lit­i­cal move.

Last week­end, a pic­ture on page 18 of the STAR con­vinced me that my friend is cor­rect. We ought com­pletely to dis­re­gard the for­mer prime min­is­ter, save to rec­om­mend that he get him­self pro­fes­sional help. That pic­ture said it all. Every­one ap­peared to be con­cen­trat­ing on what Prime Min­is­ter Chas­tanet was say­ing as he ad­dressed a small gath­er­ing at La Re­source—every­one ex­cept the Vieux Fort MP. He ap­peared an­gry, his gaze fixed on some­thing ab­so­lutely re­moved from what was hap­pen­ing a few feet from him.

The pic­ture re­turned me to an ear­lier time when the na­tion’s prime min­is­ter was Mr. Stephen­son King. At the few of­fi­cial ac­tiv­i­ties the then op­po­si­tion leader at­tended he re­fused to ac­knowl­edge the man who had re­placed him. He re­fused to eat with fel­low MPs in the mem­bers lounge when his party was in op­po­si­tion. Per­haps he re­sented his trans­fer from the peo­ple’s “great house” to “out house”. Yes, a weird no­tion—but who knows how some minds work? Es­pe­cially minds that may have suf­fered dam­age at an early age. Some peo­ple sim­ply can­not han­dle what they see as re­jec­tion!

From my per­spec­tive, the ear­lier men­tioned pic­ture pro­jected such ha­tred, such dis­dain and, yes, such hurt as could em­anate only from a very dark place. I would wa­ger it re­ally had lit­tle to do with Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet. There are to be sure some ig­no­ra­muses still left in the op­po­si­tion party who may think oth­er­wise. Their collective hate is lim­it­less. I go fur­ther and state that none, ex­cept those that also have been af­fected by the dark­ness ear­lier men­tioned, would be­have so to­ward a Prime Min­is­ter not of their own party. Allen Chas­tanet is the is­land’s sev­enth Prime Min­is­ter in thirty-seven years of In­de­pen­dence. (I would have said six and a half, but Mr. Michael Pil­grim may take of­fence!)

This is the right time for the na­tion to dis­cuss, (for pos­si­ble in­clu­sion in a re­vised Con­sti­tu­tion), a com­pul­sory psy­cho­log­i­cal test for all per­sons who wish to present them­selves as lead­ers of a po­lit­i­cal group. Hence­forth, no per­son should be al­lowed to con­test lo­cal gen­eral elec­tions, as po­lit­i­cal leader, un­til af­ter eigh­teen months or more of rig­or­ous ques­tion­ing by rec­og­nized psy­chi­a­trists, psy­chol­o­gists and the most ex­pe­ri­enced re­porters. Party hacks mas­querad­ing as jour­nal­ists need not ap­ply!

Real change of lead­er­ship should be­gin with a new model con­sti­tu­tion. The peo­ple have the power to in­clude such a test or some­thing re­sem­bling it for politi­cians who wish to lead the coun­try. Now is an op­por­tune mo­ment to im­port changes to the Con­sti­tu­tion. Such change ought to be­gin with the three or four agreed most im­por­tant clauses. Other amend­ments can wait, if the peo­ple so de­cide.

It’s not too much to ask for calm and peace­ful tran­si­tion of govern­ment as so many here have demon­strated. Poor losers should have no place in the is­land’s pol­i­tics. Th­ese un­happy in­di­vid­u­als went gaga­goo af­ter the vote in 2011. Why are they now so re­luc­tant to ac­cept the peo­ple’s choice at the June 6 bal­lot? Such party hacks are dan­ger­ous! The un­fet­tered out­rage of con­stant bick­er­ing, belly­ach­ing and back-bit­ing with such ma­li­cious in­tent must stop. This nar­row mind­set and par­ti­san trash talk­ing should be left in the dust of an elec­tion cam­paign. The UWP does it; why can’t the SLP? Those who make skin tone an is­sue in Caribbean pol­i­tics are not fit to gov­ern. Too bad that by our si­lence we have al­lowed such in­di­vid­u­als to get away with bla­tant mis­in­for­ma­tion about their stew­ard­ship, in the process poi­son­ing minds that might oth­er­wise have been most pro­duc­tive.

The author takes a shot at what the for­mer prime min­is­ter (ex­treme left) may have been think­ing while his suc­ces­sor de­liv­ered his ad­dress at a pub­lic event last week.

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