Haunted by the Ghost of Tom Chou?

By our Correspondent in the Straits

Tom Chou (foreground) has long moved on to greener pastures. But can PM Kenny Anthony (far left) let him be if only in the name of a future One-China?

The Chinese, no matter which side of the Straights of Taiwan they live, have long memories—and “Face” is an important concept. Even in the most trying conditions, an opponent, even an enemy, will be offered an opportunity to “save face.”

Kenny Anthony, in his evident hatred of Tom Chou, seems emotionally and intellectually incapable of understanding this basic tenet of diplomacy. It seems not unlikely that he will go to his grave oozing bitterness towards Tom Chou, the man he could not defeat. Tom Chou served more than his allotted time in St Lucia, and obviously to the satisfaction of the government and people of Taiwan.

In the absence of an embassy in the USA, Ambassador Chou has been appointed Director General of the Coordination Council For North American Affairs, one of the most prestigious and well-remunerated posts in Taiwan’s Foreign Service. During his tenure in St Lucia, Taiwan contributed enormously to the wellbeing of thousands of ordinary St Lucians.

We may never know the extent to which the UWP used or misused Taiwan’s economic assistance but it seems close to ridiculous to blame the donor country and its representative in St Lucia for how such aid was disposed of. It is amazing that Kenny cannot see that Taiwan allegedly “favoring” the UWP, the party in power at the time, is no different from Mainland China—and there is only one party in China—“favoring” the SLP, the party in power here now. The reality is that nothing would please Taiwan more than to be perceived universally as a small but independent other China working together with its humongous sibling neighbor to the benefit of a third party.

Sadly, this is exactly what Mainland China would do everything to avoid in the interests of its one-China image. In his Tuesday address to the nation on national television, Kenny Anthony decided to spit venom, insults and invectives on Tom Chou and Taiwan. Whether or not advertently, the prime minister pilloried the greatest benefactor this nation ever had, bar none. He threatened Taiwan that he would not allow them any longer to break our laws—with no proof that Taiwan ever did in the first place.

He accused without evidence Taiwan’s representatives of bribery and corruption. He poured disdain and scorn on them—and then, finally and dramatically, he announced his long considered decision to stay in bed with Taiwan. It would not be difficult for a first-time visitor from Mars to see Kenny Anthony as an intellectual pauper—notwithstanding what Wikepedia says about him. If you are going to announce a decision to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and justify that decision, you do not spend your time listing all the bad things about Taiwan, all the reasons why you should not support Taiwan. You tell the nation of the benefits to St Lucia of continued relations with Taiwan. You talk of all the positive elements that have helped you reach your decision. You do not waste the nation’s time—and risk its anger and disgust—by delving into a cesspit of wrongs, real or imagined.

Can you imagine, dear reader, Tuesday evening’s Kenny announcing to the world via television that he had chosen a new bride? It might go like this: “My people, you will be pleased to know that I, your leader, the Great Helmsman, have finally made the decision to marry yet again. The whole nation has waited anxiously to hear which of the two maidens at my disposal would finally gain my favour.

The choice has not been an easy one. My counselors have debated this issue long and hard. One maiden comes from a rich and powerful dynasty. The other is an unfaithful tart, has little to offer, has a dowry of only $32 million, is as promiscuous as an alley cat, is desperate for a good relationship, has screwed around with most of the opposition, is unreliable, prevaricates, and wears yellow underwear. This is the one I have decided to marry in the cause of rapprochement and world peace. But however, my dear subjects, you will be pleased to hear, my trusting, loyal, adoring servants, that I, your beloved leader, the Great Helmsman, have sent my courtiers to the court of the rich and powerful one to ask her to be my “djabal”, and do for me what my future wife did for the UWP guys.”

I wrote before the election and I repeat it now: For me, Kenny Anthony is not the man to be prime minister. He is an embarrassment. Anyone who allows a personal vendetta to rule his judgment should not be in a position of power. St Lucia has waited almost 10 months for a decision on Taiwan, a decision, by the way, that could far less controversially and disuniting, have been made public through a simple press release or a statement in the House—St Lucia already had diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

All the prime minister had to do, and perhaps even that was unnecessary—was to announce, with all the official decorum of an Obama or a Blair, “No Change!” In the interim, projects in agriculture, education and health, not to mention grass-root projects that would benefit all communities, have been put on hold because Kenny Anthony could not permit himself to allow Taiwan to fund them. He wants the money in the Consolidated Fund, unmarked, unallocated, and invisible, for dispersal at his own personal whim and command. The available sum of EC$32,000,000 from Taiwan that Kenny views with such disdain is as untouched today as it was on January 1, 2012. Talk about cutting your nose to spite your face! Taiwan, through its ambassadors, always attempts to make sure the aid it gives is used for the purpose given. Their own laws leave them no other choice.

This is one of the reasons why Kenny Anthony has refused to accept any of the much-needed $32 million that Taiwan set aside for St Lucia during 2012. Kenny does not want the Taiwanese to have any say in the manner their money is used; he wants to spend the money according to his own wishes, with no accountability to Taiwan or anyone else. But is that not exactly what he is so severely criticizing the UWP for? Oblivious to the needs of the people of St Lucia, blinded by his demonstrated dislike of Tom Chou, and besotted by his image of Mainland China, Kenny has refused to accept or apply for any of the $32 million dollars offered by Taiwan since January 2012. His behaviour has been anything but “prime ministerial.” Kenny bemoaned the fact that Taiwan was “only” offering $32 million (far more than anyone else, by the way), but even if they had been offering $320 million he would not have accepted it in his present mood. (Then again, they say money does certain things for the mare . . . so I could be wrong.) He accused Taiwan of paying much more to the UWP government, without any immediate proof. But so what? Taiwan is under no obligation to give anyone anything. Kenny should be overjoyed that Taiwan has been able to maintain the same degree of aid that they say they gave St Lucia last year.

Kenny behaves no better than the bedraggled boulevard beggar that shouts abuse after you if you’ve given him your hard-earned five dollars when what he wanted for the asking was fifteen! Dear Reader, Kenny has supposedly been considering the question of Taiwan or China ever since he returned to power. The first time Kenny played the jack-in-the-box of diplomatic relations was when he threw out Taiwan as soon as he came to power in the mid-nineties and invited Mainland China to come over with its hundreds of workers. But now, of course, he no longer wants to play jack-in-the-box; he has decided, for reasons not revealed—except for world peace, of course —to stay with Taiwan.

As for being a negotiator, his approach is risable and reveals his complete lack of experience in dealing with tough business decisions based on economic and social realities. In any situation you play your cards close to your chest; you keep your options open; you use your best cards when they are most effective. But not Kenny; he hasn’t a clue. I assumed, obviously wrongly, that Kenny, in the past few months, had approached Mainland China to find out whether or not they were willing to resume relations with St Lucia and what they were willing to offer in return for the privilege of St Lucian recognition and friendship.

Based on the willingness of China to return to St Lucia, and the size of their generosity, Kenny would then have decided to spurn the evil Taiwan and embraced his newly returned lover: the kiss and make up syndrome. Instead of finding out in advance what China would offer, depending on the way he wriggled, Kenny announced his rather unique way of negotiating with China; it goes like this: Dear China: We have decided that we will not have diplomatic relations with you. We have decided to stay with Taiwan. How much can you give us? Eternal. Fraternal greetings, Kenny c/o SLP, Consolidated Fund. Many dear readers will not be aware that four Chinese representatives still live and work in the house on Cap Estate that once was the Chinese Embassy.

You see, the Chinese never really left St Lucia, were never required to. But they refused to cooperate with St Lucia as long as the Taiwanese were also here . They changed personnel in 2009, I believe, and a couple of new couples moved in. They are still here. And they still maintain relations with “interested parties”. So why do we have to suffer the charade of a high-level delegation to China? Kenny is clearly in the face-saving mode. He could have placed a call to the Chinese representatives at Cap Estate, rented an unmarked transport, checked out the situation and months ago made a decision. Now, everything is possible in this old world of ours; it is possible that the Chinese have told Kenny something that they have not told their own caretakers on Cap Estate.

It is possible that the Chinese have decided to make the Taiwanese extremely happy by deciding to work side by side with them in a third country. It is possible that the Chinese will secretly fund the SLP—which many suspect they have been doing all along. It is even possible that the SLP will share whatever funds they receive from China with the rest of St Lucia—but don’t hold your breath. Unless the sharing, so to speak, is to take place, “whenever elections are constitutionally due,” as Timothy Poleon might say!

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