‘TOO LATE FOR TALKS!’

Kenny’s Open War on DSH-Chas­tanet:

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE -

It is good to be on the plat­form again. It is truly good . . . I know that in the last few months you were mys­ti­fied; I have been silent. But you will know by now that si­lence is golden. And I had ev­ery rea­son to give the peo­ple of Saint Lucia the op­por­tu­nity to come face to face with the re­al­i­ties of their de­ci­sion. But now the time is here and I am at the ser­vice of my po­lit­i­cal leader and the St Lucia Labour Party.”

Dif­fer­ent words, maybe. But the mes­sage they con­veyed was sim­i­lar to the one he had de­liv­ered back in 2009, when the party he’d led since 1996 was in op­po­si­tion and he and the more reck­less of his plat­form or­a­tors were hell­bent on fir­ing-up dis­grun­tled CSA mem­bers to demon­strate their gen­er­ated anger at the re­ces­sion-rat­tled Stephen­son King gov­ern­ment. On the re­called oc­ca­sion, hav­ing de­serted his bat­tered troops when they most needed him—and not for the first time—Kenny seemed to lay the blame on God. He said he had spent the last sev­eral months in Pur­ga­tory, that fa­bled clear­ing house be­tween heaven and hell where souls not quite past sal­va­tion are purged of all that had ren­dered them wicked in this life. From the steps of the Cas­tries mar­ket he had as­sured the over-ex­cited hordes he was now a bet­ter hu­man by far than he had been dur­ing his two terms in office; that he was ready to lead the na­tion

one more time. The whoop­ing and yelling and jump­ing around like mon­ster crick­ets re­minded of Hol­ly­wood’s worst hor­ror movies.

Un­for­get­tably, the nor­mally level-headed Moses JnBap­tiste, in the so-called ver­nac­u­lar of the peo­ple, ful­mi­nated at full throt­tle: “The UWP hates work­ers . . . Give de peo­ple

dere mon­eee . . . Some will say what we are do­ing here tonight is just politics. Well, so be it.” He all but said it mat­tered not a damn that the gov­ern­ment was broke; that in con­se­quence the coun­try was down on its knees; that Stephen­son King (el­e­vated to prime min­is­ter at John Comp­ton’s pass­ing shortly af­ter win­ning the 2006 gen­eral elec­tions) had been plead­ing with the CSA for a lit­tle wrig­gle room, a lit­tle more time to de­liver fully on his un­der­duress prom­ise of a 14 per­cent pay rise; that days be­fore the mar­ket-steps meet­ing he had con­fessed to the na­tion that the gov­ern­ment kitty was empty!

At his party’s rally last Sun­day in Vieux Fort, this was how Kenny An­thony jus­ti­fied his MIA sta­tus that be­gan on the evening of the June 6 sur­prise: “I wanted to give the peo­ple of Saint Lucia the op­por­tu­nity to come face to face with the re­al­i­ties of their de­ci­sion.” Trans­la­tion: Af­ter all he had done for them—STEP, NICE, sev­eral other tax-funded in­sa­tiable sib­lings—Saint Lu­cians had dumped him in fa­vor of Allen Chas­tanet. In con­se­quence he had taken away from them the spe­cial priv­i­lege of see­ing him in the flesh. It seemed not to mat­ter that enough had stood by him to spare him per­sonal dis­grace; Peter would pay for Paul!

It cer­tainly was not lost on his home au­di­ence, nei­ther his Face­book fol­low­ers, that although it was held in his con­stituency Kenny An­thony was not present to wit­ness the launch of his come-back ve­hi­cle. Of course, noth­ing new. So it had been through­out his un­in­ter­rupted sev­eral years as party leader: he had al­ways ma­te­ri­al­ized on­stage af­ter the open­ing acts had pre­sented their largely bor­ing sev­er­al­times-re­fried beans. That the party was now un­der new man­age­ment was no rea­son to change the es­tab­lished rit­ual. The ever-faith­ful Philip J. Pierre had never been a rocker of boats. At the start of the rally, when it was time to rein­tro­duce such as the two-times elec­tion loser Stan­ley Felix, for­mer sports min­is­ter Shawn Ed­ward, the ever quotable “pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of La­borie” Alva Bap­tiste and bouncy-bouncy Alv­ina Reynolds, the noise from the au­di­ence at the front of the stage threat­ened the em­cee Moses JnBap­tiste’s am­pli­fied an­nounce­ments. Not even when he came to the new party leader did the in­ter­rup­tions sub­side:

Say Kenny nous vlay, they chanted. Ko Kenny? [It’s Kenny we want . . . where’s Kenny?] The Fake­book­ers, too, were ir­re­triev­ably hooked on Kenny, judg­ing by their wor­ship­ful one-lin­ers, all fol­lowed by wing­less fly­ing hearts of var­i­ous col­ors.

And then it was time to hear the man him­self. Al­ready he had been treated upon late ar­rival to the evening’s loud­est ova­tion and a car­ni­val-style jump-up that lasted sev­eral min­utes. Heaven only knows the thoughts that must’ve tra­versed the scarred cor­ri­dors of the mind of Philip Pierre, who could well be Saint Lucia’s next prime min­is­ter, give or take a dead body or two. Speak­ing of which: am I alone in my think­ing that Philip Pierre and the Pres­i­dent of the afore­men­tioned Repub­lic of La­borie are not nearly as naïve (stupid? . . . spine­less?) as they some­times ap­pear? When he thrice de­nied at a re­cent press meet­ing that the now in­fa­mous let­ter to one Robert Ainsworth, dated 9 Fe­bru­ary 2016 and signed by Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony, had any­thing to do with the gov­ern­ment of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, was he pre­var­i­cat­ing in pub­lic? Was he be­ing over-pro­tec­tive at his own ex­pense? Did he not know the con­tent of the cited let­ter, re­plete with gov­ern­ment pledges and os­ten­si­ble Cab­i­net de­ci­sions? Or was Pierre sim­ply lay­ing down crab traps?

Was he merely blow­ing in the wind when the man who in­vented “lu­bri­cants for diplo­matic in­ter­course”— re­fer­ring to Allen Chas­tanet’s

han­dling of the DSH pro­pos­als—de­clared at last Sun­day’s rally, to the beat of Ge­orge Od­lum’s Were You

There?, that the laws should be amended “so that no prime min­is­ter is al­lowed to sign a deal of such mag­ni­tude with­out first com­ing to par­lia­ment?” I mean, se­ri­ously?

Shift­ing uneasily on his metal perch but two feet from Alva Bap­tiste as he fired off his loaded blanks was the only in­di­vid­ual on­stage with all the se­crets of Gryn­berg, the clan­des­tine ap­point­ment of Walid Juf­fali as Saint Lucia’s diplo­matic rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the IMO, Fren­well and Chagoury’s Saint Lucia Cross. But he would not be ad­dress­ing such mat­ters. Not on this night; per­haps not ever—un­less or­dered to do so by the ap­pro­pri­ate tri­bunal. Af­ter the new party leader had been in­vited to ad­dress the crowd, in­deed, af­ter ev­ery­one else had said his and her piece and the off-stage im­pa­tience seemed pal­pa­ble, a beam­ing Moses JnBap­tise ap­proached the lectern, his de­meanor like Sally Fields re­ceiv­ing her Os­car for Places In the Heart. (“You like me, you re­ally like me!”) His in­tro­duc­tion of the man who needed no in­tro­duc­tion what­so­ever seemed to go on for­ever, even as Pierre con­tem­plated his shoe laces.

When at last the rav­ing au­di­ence had cli­maxed, the man who ev­i­dently was cre­ated al­ways to have the last SLP word re­gard­less, stretched out his arms in the fash­ion of Christ cru­ci­fied, re­turn­ing to mem­ory the time shortly be­fore the June 6 dis­as­ter, when he de­clared him­self “God’s blessed child” and im­mune to “Guy Joseph’s voodoo.”

“I want to share my thoughts on DSH,” he said on Sun­day. “I want to ex­plain to the peo­ple of Vieux Fort what it means to them, and I want to end my con­tri­bu­tion tonight by giv­ing them some prac­ti­cal ad­vice on what they need to do. The first thing I have to tell you is that the SLP has al­ways said in its man­i­festo over the years that one of its fun­da­men­tal com­mit­ments to the peo­ple of Vieux Fort is to es­tab­lish a horse rac­ing track. Those of you who are from Vieux Fort will re­mem­ber that ev­ery year, ex­cept for last year, Kenny An­thony was the one who held an an­nual horse rac­ing ac­tiv­ity in Vieux Fort for the last 19 years. Ev­ery year I have raised funds to fi­nance horse rac­ing in Vieux Fort. And I say this to the young men of Vieux Fort: there has never been any­one more com­mit­ted to horse rac­ing than Kenny An­thony and the SLP.”

Which pre­sum­ably was why “when we had the op­por­tu­nity to seek in­vest­ment to con­struct a horse rac­ing fa­cil­ity, we grabbed the op­por­tu­nity to do so.” Of course there had to be a back story: “The per­son who en­cour­aged this in­vest­ment in Saint Lucia was [Win­ston] Trim. All of you know Trim. He used to come to Vieux Fort, race his horses, then go back to Cas­tries.” He re­called Trim had called on him (the lawyer in his soul ne­glected for the umpteenth to say an ex­act date) “with a jockey from Eng­land and he said to me there was a group that wanted to es­tab­lish a fa­cil­ity. I had dis­cus­sions with Trim and he put me in touch with the de­vel­op­ers. They in­vited me to go to China; I de­clined. I said I’m not go­ing to China, you come to St Lucia. In time they came down to com­mence dis­cus­sions. Along the way Trim grad­u­ally faded and Trim him­self started to com­plain that although he was the man who brought them here they were now by­pass­ing him. I said: ‘Mr. Trim I’m not get­ting in­volved in your busi­ness with the Chi­nese. That is a mat­ter for the two of you.’ ”

By his rec­ol­lec­tion there were “many meet­ings with the de­vel­op­ers.” He trav­eled sev­eral times to the U.K. For what pur­poses? “Well,” he ex­plained, “when you are a coun­try’s prime min­is­ter you have to mea­sure the in­ter­est of the peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in in­vest­ing and de­vel­op­ing in your coun­try.” Ev­i­dently their mil­lions was no re­li­able mea­sure.

En­ter Ernest Hi­laire. An­thony re­vealed for the very first time the in­volve­ment of Saint Lucia’s high com­mis­sioner to the UK in the DSH saga. Lis­ten­ers were left to guess whether Hi­laire had al­ready re­signed his po­si­tion. An­thony re­called that with Hi­laire and sev­eral of­fi­cials he had at­tempted to ne­go­ti­ate with that de­vel­oper, who was “a clever man. Very clever.” Never had he met any­one “so un­com­pro­mis­ing.” He had to have his way or noth­ing. “When we tried to ex­plain to him that we were a small coun­try with many sen­si­tiv­i­ties, he would have none of it. It was his way or noth­ing.” Nev­er­the­less, for nearly two years ne­go­ti­a­tions with the clev­erer than clever un­com­pro­mis­ing bully con­tin­ued.

Sud­denly a segue. “There is some­thing you must learn about your Labour Party,” the for­mer prime min­is­ter prof­fered, “some­thing about the way it han­dles things. Why was Kenny An­thony so stupid? Why did he not call elec­tions and an­nounce the project? Why?”

Why in­deed? The an­swer

was sim­ple, said the ques­tioner. “I don’t be­lieve in bluff­ing peo­ple. I don’t be­lieve in mis­lead­ing peo­ple. I don’t be­lieve in get­ting your vote falsely. I pre­fer to do the right thing and lose the elec­tion than do the wrong thing and win an elec­tion. That is who I am—and that will not change. I will not de­stroy Vieux Fort for a few votes by do­ing what is wrong. No mat­ter what you say or think about me I have al­ways be­lieved in do­ing the right thing.”

The record con­tra­dicts the per­sonal as­sess­ment: there are the mat­ters of Rochamel and Fren­well, fea­tured in de­tail in the re­port of the Ram­sa­hoye En­quiry. There are the State De­part­ment ca­bles hacked by Wik­ileaks, wherein the U.S. Am­bas­sador Kramer re­calls with re­gret the times Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony had not been true to his word. We need not go back to the time he bul­lied a mal­leable House Speaker to force an apol­ogy from an op­po­si­tion MP he in­sisted had ma­li­ciously mis­quoted him beg­ging crim­i­nals in his con­stituency to “give the peo­ple a break for Christ­mas.” The video­taped proof truth sur­faced a short time later.

He had more ques­tions. Answers to which at least one man on his plat­form was last Sun­day in a po­si­tion to an­swer but did not. “How could I, who could not agree with the terms pre­sented to me when I was in office, turn around and sup­port an agree­ment Chas­tanet has signed when the agree­ment goes even fur­ther than what we had been dis­cussing with the de­vel­oper?

“How could I con­ceiv­ably sup­port such an agree­ment? When we dis­cussed DSH, there was no Sandy Beach in­volved, no dis­cus­sion over tak­ing the lands on which the sta­dium is con­structed. There was no dis­cus­sion on the lands be­low the Bac­cadere. None of those things were there. And today you do this and you ex­pect me and the Labour Party to sup­port such an agree­ment?”

Per­mit me an­other peek at the rear-view mir­ror. How could he be ex­pected to sup­port in op­po­si­tion that which he had not sup­ported while in office? For once a ques­tion can be ap­pro­pri­ately an­swered with an­other ques­tion: Who was “ve­he­mently against the Cit­i­zen­ship by In­vest­ment Pro­gram” in op­po­si­tion and then was its staunch­est ad­vo­cate upon his return to office? Who de­scribed the Value Added Tax as “anti-poor, anti-worker and op­pres­sive” when out of office, then upon re-elec­tion de­scribed the night­mare as “in­evitable,” a cure for all that was wrong with Saint Lucia?

Al­most with a tone of re­gret in his voice, Kenny An­thony told his au­di­ence last Sun­day that things might’ve been dif­fer­ent had Allen Chas­tanet been a tad hum­ble. “PMs are re­quired to ex­tend cour­tesy,” said An­thony, be­hind an un­read­able vis­age. “He could’ve called me. Or Ernest Hi­laire. He could have said: ‘I want to find out why you are not sup­port­ing this devel­op­ment.’ ” He of­fered ad­vice, per­chance Philip Pierre was lis­ten­ing. Or was it Hi­laire he had in mind? “PMs in office must es­tab­lish a re­la­tion­ship with the per­son who was there be­fore, in case they need some ad­vice.”

As if long-dis­tance read­ing one Cas­tries mind, Kenny An­thony said: “I will sur­prise you tonight. When I be­came PM in 1997, John Comp­ton came to see me. He asked to see me. We sat down and had a con­ver­sa­tion for two hours.” Mean­while I was think­ing: Was it not in 1997 that the new­ly­elected prime min­is­ter had writ­ten a throne speech to be read by the gov­er­nor gen­eral Ge­orge Mal­let? Ge­orge Mal­let who had been the Comp­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion’s deputy prime min­is­ter for more than 30 years? Had the new prime min­is­ter not re­quired the gov­er­nor gen­eral to an­nounce a com­mis­sion of in­quiry into al­leged acts of cor­rup­tion by mem­bers of John Comp­ton’s gov­ern­ment; into the way Comp­ton had con­ducted him­self in office? And when Com­mis­sioner Louis BlomCooper had fi­nally cleared Comp­ton of any wrong­do­ing, did the new prime min­is­ter apol­o­gize for un­nec­es­sar­ily drag­ging Comp­ton’s of­fi­cial rep­u­ta­tion through the com­mu­nity sewer—as rec­om­mended?

I con­sid­ered it highly un­likely that the 1997 John Comp­ton would have re­quested a meet­ing with the newly elected prime min­is­ter—for any rea­son. “To this date,” said Kenny An­thony last Sun­day, “I will never for­get that John Comp­ton said to me, ‘I wish you well with your pro­gram. I hope the civil ser­vants sup­port what you are try­ing to do for Saint Lucia.’ I never for­got him be­cause he turned out to be right.”

Turned out to be right? Right about what?

“If Chas­tanet had called and asked for a meet­ing about DSH,” said a Kenny I did not rec­og­nize, “I would have given him the cour­tesy of such a meet­ing.” The Toni mask did not for long stay in place. “But it’s too late now,” said the more fa­mil­iar Kenny. “There must be no talks, no talks, no talks. This is not how you gov­ern a coun­try. You re­spect your pre­de­ces­sor. Your pre­de­ces­sor hap­pens to be the par­lia­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the devel­op­ment tak­ing place. Not a sin­gle per­son has ever ap­proached me from the gov­ern­ment and said to me ‘You are par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tive, what are your views about what we are try­ing to do?’ It is too late now. I have no in­ter­est in any dis­cus­sion with Allen Chas­tanet. No talks!” For one, Vaughan Lewis was the 1997 prime min­is­ter’s pre­de­ces­sor. Not Comp­ton, who had stepped aside to ac­com­mo­date Lewis in 1995.

As for his “no talks” po­si­tion? Again, noth­ing new. When Stephen­son King was prime min­is­ter it was “no talks” when in an ad­dress to the na­tion he ap­pealed to op­po­si­tion leader Kenny An­thony for as­sis­tance in deal­ing with Jack Gryn­berg’s de­mands. It re­mains even today “no talks” on the mat­ter. It was also “no talks” when Sir Ram­so­hoye ap­pealed to Kenny An­thony via his lawyer for clar­i­fi­ca­tion of cer­tain un­clear mat­ters dur­ing the Fren­well in­quiry.

Tune in next is­sue for the untold story of the birth of the DSH con­tro­versy. It’ll shock and amaze you to dis­cover who sug­gested oth­er­wise when Win­ston Trim and two sets of de­vel­op­ers sought to con­struct race cour­ses and noth­ing else in Saint Lucia—and who made them the of­fer they could not refuse!

Don’t miss next Satur­day’s STAR.

The last time he went into hi­ber­na­tion fol­low­ing an elec­tion loss it turned out, by Kenny An­thony’s own ac­count, he had been bivouack­ing in pur­ga­tory. He had a dif­fer­ent rea­son on this oc­ca­sion!

The re­cently elected leader of the St. Lucia Labour Party, Philip J. Pierre, seems not yet ready to de­mand the perks of his new po­si­tion. Then again, the leader of the House op­po­si­tion has al­ways known when to play dead!

Did for­mer PM Kenny An­thony tell all he knew about the pro­posed Desert Star Hold­ings project when he ad­dressed a rally in his Vieux Fort South con­stituency last Sun­day?

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