Allen’s Big Mis­take!

“Had Allen Chas­tanet con­ducted pri­vate ne­go­ti­a­tions with DSH in the usual way, be­hind closed doors; had he waited un­til he was ready to face par­lia­ment with a DSH-re­lated bill, would we be now at one an­other’s throats?"

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

Think! Think hard! Have you ever heard about Rochamel? Fren­well? Gryn­berg? Sure you have. But what do you re­ally know about th­ese is­sues? Per­mit me to an­swer for you. Very lit­tle, never mind the re­lated pub­lic­ity. Re­mark­ably, even the gov­er­nor gen­eral whom the Con­sti­tu­tion at Sec­tion 65 says is to be in­formed by the prime min­is­ter of the gen­eral con­duct of govern­ment, and who is en­ti­tled to an­swers to par­tic­u­lar ques­tions on the work­ings of govern­ment, has ac­knowl­edged in writ­ing her ig­no­rance on the dicey sub­ject of Gryn­berg.

Are you fa­mil­iar with the de­tails of the Rochamel con­tract? How about the con­tract by which Fren­well’s debts were paid by the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia with­out their knowl­edge, let alone con­sent? Have you read the de­tails of that agree­ment? You know you have not. Let’s not start me off on Gryn­berg. The re­lated agree­ment was se­cretly signed by prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony in 2000 and later ex­panded by the same PM— de­spite Jack Gryn­berg’s re­fusal to do a damn thing in ful­fill­ment of his con­tract un­til bor­der dis­putes, imag­ined or oth­er­wise, were set­tled by the Saint Lu­cia govern­ment; and de­spite that Gryn­berg was at the time in lit­i­ga­tion with a sis­ter is­land over bor­der dis­putes.

Be­fore DSH did you have the small­est idea what was a frame­work agree­ment? Again, more than likely the an­swer is no—un­less you are a lawyer or some­one who knows some­thing about law. As I write it seems ev­ery Tom, Dick and Kon­dom is an author­ity on con­tract law, to the ex­tent they sound like John­nie Cochrans come lately!

It oc­curred to me dur­ing my in­ter­view with the prime min­is­ter on Thurs­day evening that Allen Chas­tanet had brought upon him­self all the mind­less dis­trac­tions now keep­ing him from giv­ing full at­ten­tion to such vi­tal mat­ters as our co­matose econ­omy, our nonex­is­tent jus­tice sys­tem, and other is­sues vi­tal to Saint Lu­cia’s sur­vival. The DSH mat­ter that since the elec­tion of the Allen Chas­tanet govern­ment has dom­i­nated the air­waves and oc­cu­pied the at­ten­tion of Saint Lu­cians here and else­where had been around for two years or so be­fore June 6, 2016. You may then well ask: Why didn’t we hear about DSH un­til the peo­ple re­moved Kenny An­thony from the prime min­is­ter’s chair? Was there in An­thony’s time a frame­work agree­ment be­tween the govern­ment and DSH? Was a let­ter writ­ten to the com­pany’s CEO sim­i­lar to that writ­ten to Mr. Robert Ainsworth by the prime min­is­ter be­fore the last elec­tions? Why have Saint Lu­cians read noth­ing about the ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Kenny & Co and the DSH peo­ple? Why not word not a word not a word on Ainsworth from the for­mer prime min­is­ter, even now?

More to the point, why do we know—or think we know—so much to­day about DSH? The sim­ple an­swer is that the new prime min­is­ter chose pre­ma­turely to bring Saint Lu­cians into the picture be­fore ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween his govern­ment and the de­vel­op­ers had been con­cluded. En­ter the frame­work agree­ment, leaked to one TV show and pub­lished on the In­ter­net. Mean­while, the prime min­is­ter was do­ing his ut­most to be heard above the re­sult­ing din that seemed to take on new forms ev­ery other day: protests against dol­phi­nar­i­ums—never mind that in 2014 the day’s govern­ment had with­out ex­pressed pub­lic con­cern de­clared its sup­port for a dol­phin park at Anse Jam­bete; protests in the de­clared best in­ter­ests of rep­til­ian res­i­dents of Maria Is­land, and so on. What started out as apo­lit­i­cal ex­pres­sions soon took on col­ors nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with un­con­trol­lable lo­cal rad­i­cal­ism. New groups of con­cerned cit­i­zens sud­denly sprang up in Vieux Fort and else­where. Even sec­tions of the clergy joined their holy voices against the govern­ment’s pro­pos­als, how­ever off key— fur­ther di­vid­ing one of the most po­lar­ized coun­tries out­side the Mid­dle East. We need not men­tion the rebels with­out a cause. Nei­ther the com­ing to­gether of dis­parate groups, con­vinced what they smelled in the wa­ter was blood. Some have even talked of “new elec­tions” less than a year af­ter the coun­try ac­quired a new govern­ment.

So now, my fi­nal ques­tion: Had Allen Chas­tanet con­ducted pri­vate ne­go­ti­a­tions with DSH in the usual way, be­hind closed doors; had he waited un­til he was ready to face par­lia­ment with a DSH-re­lated bill, would we be now at one an­other’s throats? Had he done as was done with Gryn­berg and Fren­well—that is to say, had Allen Chas­tanet con­ducted and con­cluded his ne­go­ti­a­tions out­side of Saint Lu­cia, would we now be fight­ing one an­other— vic­tims for fork-tongued politi­cians? Was it naivete that led Allen Chas­tanet to hold that first press brief­ing that in­cluded the sign­ing of a so-called Frame­work Agree­ment? Was his big­gest mis­take to treat Saint Lu­cians with more re­spect than had any other prime min­is­ter be­fore him—to af­ford them trans­parency in govern­ment mat­ters such as never be­fore ex­pe­ri­enced in our sim­ply beau­ti­ful coun­try?

You tell me, dear pre­sumed rea­son­able reader!

Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet: Is he be­ing trans­par­ent at his own ex­pense?

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