One cannot help but watch in awe and intrigue as the administration of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) appears to be falling head over heels into an intoxicating love affair with Taiwan. The way the SLP administration has been issuing sweet nothings in their flowing press releases lauding and applauding their nontraditional diplomatic ally of late leaves many with raised eyebrows and with lips parted in speechless shock. As it pertains to the imminent visit of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou, who is due to arrive on the island in the evening of Thursday, August 15, 2013, the government is sparing no effort putting their best foot forward in terms of doling out the pomp and ceremony befitting of the honour of an official visit of such magnitude. One should not be surprised if upon the arrival of the president and his contingent the SLP administration would begin cooing Rihanna’s hot number “Stay” or something akin to “I’m falling, I’m falling, I’m falling for you…” by Jamaican dub star Konshens.
Of course Taipei is more than deserving of the love of Saint Lucian people. All it takes is a bit of reflection on all the positively life-changing and meaningful projects the Taiwanese Government has done and continues to do in St Lucia , especially during the term of the former UWP Government, to understand why this should be so if we are a grateful people.
Sadly, many of these projects were disregarded as insignificant by the then opposition using their disparaging label of “Ti Canal” projects. The political diatribe led by the then opposition in 2010/11made Taiwan and its ambassador seem unwelcomed in St Lucia and painted an image of Taiwan in the mind of St Lucians as a country not worthwhile for St Lucia to have diplomatic relations with. Thankfully, all it took to counter this propaganda was to go on the Internet, and look at some Google images of a beautiful, well developed country and friendly, smiling Taiwanese faces.
The majority of Saint Lucians already know about the many community projects undertaken through the Taiwanese government and the former UWP administration, including footpaths, drainage works, and the construction of retaining walls. It is clear just how much these projects have benefited and enriched the lives of the people in many communities. It is also noteworthy that after Hurricane Tomas in October 2010, the Taiwanese government was the first to give aid to our devastated island.
St Lucian students have also benefited immensely from the In Time Project and computer lab equipment donated to schools across the island. Today, St Lucia has a National Tennis Center, which will encourage many youngsters to take up the sport, particularly as it was not always within their financial reach to do so in the past. It is an international tennis center with six courts and all the necessary amenities of a modern tennis facility, which now enables St Lucia to better host various international tennis competitions.
There is more to come, including the completion of so-called ‘Ti Canal’ projects including the St Jude Hospital reconstruction project and the meat-processing factory (Abattoir) in Vieux-For. The factory will be the first of its kind on the island.
Despite all of this, the St Lucia Labour party has spared no venom in denouncing and diminishing the significance of these projects to St Lucia simply because it all happened under the tenure of their political opponents. With nowhere to go it is but the same Kenny and his Knights of the Round Table who are now sucking up to the generosity and largess of the Taiwanese. I guess it is clear to them now that friends that put their scarce financial resources to assist other countries like St Lucia are hard to come by!
What a difference a few months can make. Who would expect the likes of Kenny, Harold, Musa and the rest of the Labour crew, in less than two years of their most vehement utterances against the alleged meddling in local politics of Taiwanese official Tom Chou, to one day assume their now demure, meek and mild mannerisms where Taiwan is concerned? Everyone seems to have hidden their fangs behind receptive, diplomatic smiles and withdrawn their claws in exchange for gentlemanly handshakes. Ah, the art of flip-flopping.
Conveniently, the excuse will be that it was not Taiwan that the party found issue with but former Ambassador Tom Chou who got involved in partisan politics and refused to create a special account under the aegis of the Accountant General as the current Prime Minister did for Taiwanese funds to be properly accounted for.
So what is it about the Taiwanese foreign policy that SLP has so vastly caused to be changed from Tom Chou’s era that they (SLP ) can take credit for and crow about? The change over of Ambassadors? Tom Chou completed his tenure and had an honourable departure from St Lucia.
The question in all of this is what has been the price paid by the citizens of St Lucia from all the damming statements made by the current administration when in opposition? It may well be that St Lucia is no longer maximizing the possible level of Taiwanese assistance as a result of these scathing attacks on the Taiwanese Government. It would not be surprising if the Taiwanese Embassy no longer feels comfortable in this environment as they were before therefore will not be as proactive lest it be said that they are “meddling” in our affairs!
Be that as it may, the current government is now content. They are having their way and their idea of how a diplomat should behave in order to qualify for the SLP administration’s ‘diplomatic courtesies’ and ‘protocols’ is being adhered to in full. At this salubrious juncture in their history with Taiwan they are now totally infatuated with Taiwan. The St Lucia government certainly sees Taiwan in a different light
right now. Or do they? They visited Taiwan very early on coming into office; it was a contingent headed by the now deputy prime minister and nothing substantial was reported back to the public about that visit. Were they embarrassed that their negative expectations were unfounded? Is the iceberg once wedged between the Saint Lucia Labour Party and Taiwan slowly melting due to the effects of ‘climate change?’ Perhaps sentiments might become embittered once again should President Ma come bearing red envelopes!
In the meantime St Lucia it would be interesting if we all reviewed an address to the nation on relations with China and Taiwan entitled ‘Pursuing the Best For Our People,’ delivered by St Lucia’s Prime Miniser and Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Social Security, Kenny Anthony on Tuesday, September 11, 2012. You may find it quite interesting especially in light of today’s utterances.