DARK­NESS BE­FORE THE LIGHT

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

The at­tempt by SLP mem­bers and their friends to cast a dark cloud of op­po­si­tion on this is­land is not new. It has been tried be­fore with mar­ginal suc­cess. The truth is that such dark­ness has been per­ceived by the elec­torate as self­ish in de­sign and mo­ti­vated by greed and ig­no­rance. Thank­fully, that po­lit­i­cal dark­ness is not the per­ma­nent dark­ness of the tomb. It is more akin to the dark­ness of an early morn­ing, be­fore first light. The op­po­si­tion to the is­land’s lat­est in­vest­ment pro­pos­als is lit­tle more than an at­tempt to frus­trate the gov­ern­ment and to keep it off bal­ance. But the peo­ple are not de­ceived.

This tem­po­rary dark­ness is one of tran­si­tion – it is the pain of labour at the ar­rival of a new birth. It is there­fore a tran­si­tion from the womb to the mag­i­cal light of a new birth – a new par­a­digm. The op­po­si­tion fears the tran­si­tion. It sees it as procur­ing new jobs de­signed to al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing of dis­placed tem­po­rary gov­ern­ment work­ers by ar­rang­ing more se­cure, per­ma­nent jobs. The op­po­si­tion fears a bud­get by Allen Chas­tanet will ex­pose the weak­nesses of the past, which some politi­cians and their hacks want him to leave un­re­vealed.

The spirit of dark­ness which is per­pet­u­ated by a hand­ful of des­per­ate men hid­ing be­hind par­ti­san pol­i­tics can­not be al­lowed to stand. These shame­less im­posters left be­hind them an empty trea­sury and a moun­tain of debts with which the Chas­tanet gov­ern­ment is grap­pling. Some op­po­si­tion hacks go so far as to make it ap­pear that the fi­nan­cial cri­sis is of Chas­tanet’s cre­ation. They con­tinue to ha­rass the pub­lic and spread mis­chief, us­ing the na­tional trust and oth­ers as shield. But their anger is dated and their meth­ods are well known. They shall not pre­vail!

That anger be­gan ever since they squan­dered a 16: 1 man­date of 1997. Greed and self­ish­ness got in the way of per­for­mance and de­liv­ery. The harm was self-in­flicted! In a short four-year span (1997 to 2001), they all but buried the cru­cial ba­nana in­dus­try. They did not care that ba­nanas had brought much eco­nomic pros­per­ity and so­cial ad­vance­ment. Worst, they were am­biva­lent about tourism which they deemed white and sub­servient. They did not care to de­mean ho­tel work­ers, cru­cial peo­ple in tourism.

As re­place­ment for lost in­come they ruth­lessly taxed those who were gain­fully em­ployed. Then to ame­lio­rate the dire eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion which they cre­ated, they re­sorted to STEP and NICE and other acronyms de­signed as a joke and a di­ver­sion, all in one breath.

Since 2001 the blan­ket anger amongst the cit­i­zenry against new Labour, as Od­lum once called them, was never fully ven­ti­lated. The UWP op­po­si­tion watched and al­lowed the dis­en­chant­ment to grow un­til the peo­ple had had enough. State boards, town and vil­lage coun­cils, and even the pub­lic ser­vice had largely been trans­formed, to per­form as Labour party ma­chin­ery and mouth pieces. It was the is­land’s dark­est hour since adult suf­frage.

When the peo­ple could take no more, they re­turned to the man and the party that had led them to bet­ter days - Sir John Ge­orge Melville Comp­ton. The change was sadly short lived as the leader soon passed. The peo­ple were forced to re­turn to their abusers af­ter Comp­ton’s UWP care­tak­ers im­ploded. On its re­turn, the Labour gov­ern­ment ex­panded taxes and its tem­po­rary jobs pro­gramme. There were very lit­tle for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments. Jobs con­tin­ued to be lost and peo­ple be­gan to vote with their feet. Qual­i­fied young Saint Lu­cians were choos­ing to marry and re­main in their spouses’ coun­tries. Saint Lu­cia was bleed­ing talent while the ‘qual­i­fied’ ones who were ap­pointed and paid huge salaries by Labour had noth­ing to show for their huge in­comes.

In 2016 it was time to face the long dark­ness. The UWP was left no choice but to pre­pare it­self by elect­ing a new leader who of­fered hope to the elec­torate. In June 2016 that new leader emerged, re­ceiv­ing the largest man­date in the last four elec­tions. To his cha­grin the for­mer Labour gov­ern­ment left be­hind it mas­sive debts; both St. Jude hos­pi­tal at Vieux Fort and the Owen King hos­pi­tal in Cas­tries are still not com­pleted. It would re­quire a fur­ther $100,000,000 to com­plete St. Jude. The new Owen King hos­pi­tal is hardly bet­ter off.

The noisy crescendo and dark­ness from the op­po­si­tion is noth­ing more than a cry of fear. They fear the new light be­cause they op­er­ate best in dark­ness. The first ever bud­get soon to be pre­sented by Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet is de­signed to shine new light in that dark­ness. It will mark a turn­ing point and a re­birth of the Saint Lu­cia we love. The tem­po­rary dark­ness of the womb will give birth to a new peo­ple and set asun­der the dark­ness of the SLP tomb. That new light is meant to dis­pel the dark­ness of ig­no­rance in which cer­tain politi­cians thrive. Some see it as the light af­ter the dark­ness of fif­teen years of hard labour.

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