Much muddy water has flowed under the bridge (you know the one!) since the Rock of Sages registered the miracle births of Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott. Which is not to suggest it is no longer capable of discombobulating deliveries. What other nation, great or small, can brag about a leader capable of simultaneously spewing drivel from both sides of his face, and from every other orifice north and south, whether or not constipated?
Alas these days only a few on this fast sinking lump of larva are generous enough to give our great leader fifteen minutes perchance something might plop out of him not altogether offensive to their sensibilities; especially at suppertime on a Sunday when the moon is full.
All of which is a crying shame. In better days most of the population trustingly had munched peanuts out of his hand, regardless of where it may have been minutes earlier. We could hardly wait to gobble up his job-en-sac promises of jobs-jobs-jobs, despite the rising unemployment figures of nations far better blessed than ours. We swallowed whole his multi-million-dollar pledges, all the while fully aware spiders resided at the national treasury.
Perhaps what finally did him in was the leader’s penchant for delivering the opposite of his promises. Bitter days had taught citizens on the Rock of Sages to run when he said they should sit, and vice versa—an attitude that may well have inspired NEMO’s Dawn French to move to higher ground.
Remember VAT? Sure, you do. How could you not? The leader had promised never to impose it on the broken backs of the Rock people. But that was when he was only the LOO; not lord of the flies. No sooner had he been released from purgatory than he did precisely what he had promised solemnly never to do: he imposed on the oppressed working poor the law he had earlier proclaimed “oppressive, anti-worker, anti-poor.”
The born-again VAT was now the panacea of panaceas that would overnight sweep away the consequences of years of official corruption; years of successive governments spending more than they took in; years of mindless borrowing, borrowing, borrowing without the smallest concern for pay-back time.
But while the major part of the population had given up on hearing something ameliorative from The Great Dispenser of promissory notes, duty demanded some of us stick around to record and report his words—especially such as related to life-and-death matters on the Rock of Sages: budget addresses by the prime minister; throne speeches by the prime minister; platform ho-hums by the prime minister; tales by the prime minister about bridges to nowhere.
Sunday’s sermon might’ve been better delivered some twelve months earlier (but then the Humpty Dumpty policies must at all cost be maintained). Why waste precious time contemplating the possible consequences of profligacy when you were only up to your neck in debt, and your mouth still free to talk of better days ahead? Remember Rochamel? The related House resolution, by which the prime minister sought to borrow multi-millions to meet “obligations to the hotel formerly known as Hyatt,” never reached parliamentarians until six months after the bankrupt hotel by its old name had been sold and renamed.
As it turned out, there never were “obligations”—but who would have known without a commission of inquiry that explained why the government was never required to meet any on behalf of Rochamel. By then, of course, the people had paid untold millions! And then there was the ID-card legislation that its inventor declared so egregious as to warrant civil disobedience and wall-to-wall disorder—despite that it was by then some six years old, and had served at least one general election without mishap. Now that the inventor was no longer PM, only the LOO, the law, too, had abruptly transmogrified into a horror creation proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain of the sitting minister Stephenson King; more appropriate for such zones as Afghanistan and Iran (destined soon to be known as one of our “non-traditional fiends,” erm, I mean, “friends”).
Yes, so it was no surprise our never-forward-ever backward leader waited until members of the Saint Lucia Fire Service had gone on strike over the government’s apparent reluctance to implement the recommendations of a December 2012 commission of inquiry. No surprise either that he had left it to his corn-rowed press secretary to play middleman where there should be no middlemen, neither in boxers nor in thongs. Despite that most of his address on Sunday dwelled on what already was common knowledge—e.g. the vital role of dedicated firemen—the prime minister chose yet again to prove “crisis is we business.”
And what exactly did he say on the occasion? Pointless revisiting what he acknowledged was “well known” but nevertheless comprised the larger part of his televised address: the duties of a fire officer; the essential service that is firefighting, and so on.
Worthy of repetition, however, is that although he recognized, “given our near absolute dependence on tourism, the arrival and departure of our guests, and that any withdrawal of labor by the fire service personnel would do untold damage to our economy,” our prime minister preferred, until Sunday evening, to let Jadia JnPierre-Emmanuel speak for him on the vital issue while he sat in for Ernest Hilaire, the nation’s heavily accented voice in Lornedon. (Last week Hilaire hilariously sat in for the PM opposite Claudius Preville on Calabash TV, so it’s only fair the PM should be returning the favor. On Monday this week the Jade starred on the red-zoned—are we back to that again?—In Touch, with the hardly seductive Victor LaCorbiniere, the sight of whom, dyed clown’s coiffure and all, further reminds of a nation off its rocker.)
Of course Kenny Anthony would not be Kenny Anthony if he delivered a speech without reaching for the Kleenex, real or imaginary. With a cry in his voice he whimpered about “citizens who needed ambulance services and were left stranded as some fire officers refused to take or handle emergency calls.”
So callous was the sound of that previously unreported complaint that it should not have been made without hard evidence and a promise of retribution. Too bad the prime minister tossed out the shocking allegation without the smallest corroborative word, at a time when his credibility rating is lower than Vaughan ever “stooped.”
Besides, if for once all the prime minister said on Sunday is indeed true, still it does not absolve him of his responsibility for guaranteeing sick citizens get to the hospital, regardless of labor disputes. (Of course not encouraging labor quarrels in the first place would be a good place to start!) Strikes were never designed to assist productivity; certainly not public sector productivity. What would be the point of downing tools already permanently downed, if not to accentuate the negative ebb and flow? (Confused? Hey, fellow Rock of Sages resident, this is Alice in Wonderland Park. Remember?)
Said the prime minister with his tail showing: “We need to bring to an end the lawlessness that prevails in the fire service.” Which set this viewer wondering: Only in the fire service? Not in government? Not in the police force? Not all over Saint Lucia?
Another eye opener: “The management of the fire service, as well as the Fire Service Association, only seem to invoke or apply the prevailing laws and rules of the fire service when it appears to be convenient to do so.” You know, like everyone else on this Rock—including our lawmakers, judging by the countless infomercials placed by the government on the Internet!
“These things should not be happening in this day and age,” the prime minister said, as if he were woozy Rip Van Winkle confronted by our $80 million deficit. “It is clear that the report of the commission of inquiry did not address these issues, perhaps because they did not fall with sufficient clarity within the remit of the commission.” Classic Kenny Anthony, who obviously was as disconnected from the “remit of the commission” as he was from Grynberg’s license to explore our seabed!
“The truth is,” said our truth-loving prime minister as if addressing a kindergarten class, “the fire service, constructed prior to our Independence, badly needs to be healed and modernized.” (Quick, call in the Vision Commission!)
He said the British government had “in principle” agreed to a request from the government of Saint Lucia to provide a small team of experts which will work alongside a representative from a Caribbean fire service to conduct a review of the structure, operations, promotions policy and overall organization of the Saint Lucia Fire Service. We need independent external help because . . .” (Attaboy! No names, no dates, no time frame.)
In the meantime the chief fire officer has been seconded to SLASPA “to be its aircraft and fire-fighting advisor, in which role [previously nonexistent?] he will ensure all of the protocols attendant to an efficient fire service at the airports and seaports are applied at all times.” You know, as he had at that other place, with remarkable efficiency. Meanwhile, he is on vacation.
Are you thinking, as I am, dear reader, IMPACS! IMPACS! IMPACS!? A promised report by the squeaky-clean Jamaicans investigating our police force is nearly seven months overdue, a disturbing matter that has given our phlegmatic justice minister no cause for pause. Even the police have on record expressed their concern. Then again, this is the same unconcerned country that keeps its citizens locked up for over ten years without trial; the same don’t give a damn country with over 500 and rising unresolved deaths; the same accommodating country that permits demons to speak for it in parliament, at the U.N. and in places unknown.
Now, if only there were some kind of religious hexerei to stop “lesser evils” from becoming greater evils. Then again, for that we’d probably have to turn to one of our freshly-minted “non-traditional friends!”