Lies are no match for verifiable truth!

For as long as I can recall, I have held that there is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid answers. But suddenly I have reason to believe otherwise, all because of a newspaper headline: “Do You Want to Live to a Hundred?” Well, duh! Doesn’t everyone? Sure, I too want to live to a hundred. Or thought I did—until I read the first sentence under the quoted headline: “Life isn’t about longevity but quality. You don’t know you want to live to a hundred until you’ve lived ninety-nine years!” In other words, be careful what you pray for, and keep in mind the words of Saint Theresa of Avila: “More tears are shed over answered prayers than over unanswered ones.”
Speculation can be equally dangerous, especially when its real purpose is to convince the untutored that one plus one adds up to three. Consider the convenient conclusion in some quarters that everything the prime minister has this far said about the latest Richard Frederick issue is fabrication calculated to cover wrongdoing. Are the prime minister’s holier-than-thou stone throwers in possession of contrary information? The King detractors have a programmed response: “If he lied to the nation when Sir John was dying at Tapion Hospital, why wouldn’t he be lying now to save himself and Frederick?”
By definition, a lie is not merely a false statement. Rather, it is a false statement deliberately presented as being true. To say someone else had enacted a law that you consider unconstitutional—and deserving of the strongest resistance, including civil disobedience, until it is repealed—when all the while you know full well you alone are responsible for the law’s existence on our statute books, well, that’s the perfect illustration of a false statement deliberately presented as being true.
What did King hope to gain from deliberately misleading a grieving nation, with most of us at the time, and for a variety of reasons, concerned about the true state of the revered prime minister’s health? Remember, King was at the time merely a stand-in for Sir John and, like many other Saint Lucians, had been led to believe the prime minister was not nearly as sick as some had suspected. With no hint of what lay around the corner, and unwittingly manipulated by calculating outside forces, King fully anticipated Sir John’s imminent return to business as usual.
As it later turned out, the then acting prime minister’s first big mistake was that he trusted and respected the opinions of certain people closely associated with Sir John, who had brought King into politics in the first place and who King hero-worshipped. Famously humble by nature, King had never once considered it his place, even in his elevated role, to insist on receiving direct from Sir John’s doctors in New York and at Tapion news of the hospitalized prime minister.
He settled for what was passed on to him secondhand by Lady Janice—already irrevocably angry with the government for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with King. (After visiting the terminally ill Sir John in New York, Lenard Montoute had expressed to local reporters his own suspicion that the octogenarian prime minister would never again be fit enough to resume duty. His suspicions proved right, of course, but Lady Janice never forgave him for blabbing to newsmen at a press conference when, for unclear reasons, she wanted Saint Lucians to believe the precise opposite of what Montoute had suspected. She not only barred further visits by his ministerial colleagues, but she also insisted on seeing all of Sir John’s health bulletins before they were released to the acting prime minister. Too often for his own good, what King passed on to Saint Lucians about Sir John clashed with up-to-the-minute reports leaked to inquisitive reporters by politically motivated hospital sources.)
Several times over the last three years King has tried to apologize for misleading the country about Sir John’s health, if only inadvertently. Still the party propagandists persist. Even when a vengeful Lady Janice falsely accused him and his government of corruption that also involved the Taiwanese ambassador, the prime minister resisted the natural urge to respond, doubtless out of deference to the memory of his hero. Which reminds me: Too many times in the last several months, I have heard dead-poets-society members from the opposition party referring to King and his Cabinet and speculating about what the suddenly highly respected Sir John, if he were alive today, might’ve done about the “criminals” in office.
Both Jeannine Compton and her take-no-prisoners mother have publicly accused King and his Cabinet of highjacking the United Workers Party. What a load of codswallop! It was a foxy Sir John himself who, when he could no longer attract flies to William Peter Boulevard, at any rate, none that were electable, chose to take aboard his conceivably sanitized wagon the Labour Party’s once-upon-a-time favorite bête noir and all-around slime ball Ausbert d’Auvergne, Marcus Nicholas, Rufus Bousquet, Keith Mondesir and the rest of the team that helped him unseat
Kenny Anthony. I easily recall Sir John’s solemn promise to himself and to me (he may have told others!) that he would “not repeat my past mistake of doling out ministries to people just because they had won parliamentary seats.”
He told me without elaboration that he did not “want Ausbert near any of the ministries.” He considered his former permanent secretary a master communicator, a great listener and a talented soft-spoken negotiator—characteristics that by Sir John’s measure rendered Ausbert the perfect ambassador for Saint Lucia.                 As I further recall, Sir John spoke of replacing Geneva-based diplomat Edwin Laurent with Ausbert d’Auvergne.
What a surprise when I learned from Sir John a couple mornings after the 2006 elections that not only had he handed portfolios to all the election winners, but he had also rewarded the losers with ministerial responsibilities.
Most shocking to me was that he had placed the most important portfolios in d’Auvergne’s hands. Does that validate the widespread belief that the old man had, even before the elections got underway, lost touch with reality? Only his wife and d’Auvergne know for certain. And his doctors. But let’s not hold our breath waiting for their confirmation at this particular time!
As for Rufus Bousquet, let’s not forget it was Sir John who had brought him back to political life, never mind that several years earlier he had fired Bousquet from his Cabinet over the so-called U.N. Scandal. Sir John, better than anyone else, knew the possible cost of returning Rufus to the UWP fold. As recounted in detail in my book Lapses & Infelicities, when Sir John first mentioned Rufus as his choice over another lesser-known candidate for Choiseul, I flashed him a questioning look. His reaction? He chuckled that characteristic Compton gurgle-chuckle, then he said, knowingly: “Rufus will always be Rufus. But he can win. Afterwards, we’ll just have to keep and eye on him.”
Left to Janice Compton, she would have liked it a whole lot better had her husband proved more considerate and spared her baby blues the horror of beholding Rufus dead or alive!
But already I have digressed a long way. Let us now return to the matter of speculations and the inherent dangers. If King’s word cannot be trusted, since whatever credibility he may once have possessed was lost during the period of Sir John’s final illness, then shall we also measure other prevaricating leaders by the same once-a-liar-always-a-liar rule? And if we can only speculate negatively when we judge liars, should we be speculating positively when the subject under examination is Kenny Anthony? For sure, we’ll venture there at a future date. The verifiable truth is that King never set out to deceive when he issued those misleading health bulletins about Sir John. Now let us examine the facts concerning Richard Frederick’s visa revocations.
In his first related public statement on Monday, 19 September 2011, this is what King said: “It has been brought to my attention that the US Embassy in Barbados recently revoked the diplomatic and resident visas of Housing Minister Richard Frederick. I have received no details or explanation as to the reasons for the decision. I have instructed our diplomatic representatives in Washington to investigate this highly sensitive and urgent matter and report back to me at the soonest . . .”
The prime minister’s statement had followed Jeannine Compton’s televised announcement on Friday, 16 September 2011 and the U.S. Embassy’s confirming to HTS on the same day that Frederick’s visa’s had been revoked. Frederick’s immediate reaction was to declare it passing strange that Ms Compton knew of his visa revocation before he did. To the best of my knowledge he never questioned the facticity of her revelation. Neither did he reveal the date he first learned his visas had been revoked, or the identity of his informer.
Only Jeannine and her advisors know whether what Frederick had said during his regular Friday morning show about a conspiracy to “discredit and block his rise to political power” moved her to spill her guts to HTS.
On Monday, September 26, the prime minister delivered what may well be the shortest Address to the Nation on record. He revisited the start of the visa issue and revealed that he had received a response from the U.S. Embassy to his letter requesting clarification. The embassy’s letter was hand delivered to him personally, the prime minister said, by an embassy official. He went on: “The letter failed to give any details of the circumstances which led to the embassy’s decision. What is certain . . . is that the minister’s visas have been revoked by the U.S. authorities.”
That evening, Choice television gave Saint Lucians an opportunity to address the prime minister’s statement. Some commented both on its length and depth. Others expressed the hope that down the road the embassy might choose to reveal what the nation wants to hear. And there were those who “refuse to believe a minister’s visas would be revoked without the minister or the prime minister being told why.” Therefore, King was “covering up.” King was “lying.”
And two plus two makes twenty-two!
In a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, dated 22 September 2011, charge d’affaires Christopher Sandrolini carefully reminds the prime minister that when he visited Saint Lucia on September 20 they had discussed Sandrolini’s phone call of August 5, 2011.
“In that phone call,” recalled the charges d’affaires, “I informed you of the decision of the U.S. Government to revoke the U.S. visas of Mr. Richard Frederick, presently the Minister of Housing in Saint Lucia, and the fact that Mr. Frederick had been informed of this action that same day. I am not at liberty to provide further details on that decision.” (Italics mine)
Sandrolini suggested other sources that might be more forthcoming and I understand the prime minister may be pursuing them.
So, when the prime minister said in his most recent statement that the 22 September 2011 letter from the U.S. Embassy “failed to give any details of the circumstances which led to the embassy’s decision,” was he deliberately making a false statement meant to deceive? Does Sandrolin’s letter not confirm the prime minister and Frederick’s earlier statements that they had received no invitation to dialogue in advance of the revocations?
The charge d’affaire’s letter of September 22 seems to confirm that they first learned the visas had been revoked during a phone call from the embassy on August 5. There is nothing in the carefully worded letter that suggests an earlier embassy invitation “to dialogue” in advance of the actual revocation.
So again I ask: Is someone lying? About what? Oh, I almost forgot. A suitably surprised Frederick had suggested to HTS that Jeannine Compton appeared to have known about the revocation before he did. But did Frederick lie about the revocation itself? Did he lie about that never-received invitation to dialogue? And if out of intense embarrassment he bent the truth to take a mindless shot at an opponent bent on discrediting him for political purpose, does that count as a lie deserving of being kicked out of the Cabinet? Do we know any other former Cabinet head whose lies, put alongside what Frederick said with regard to Jeannine, are like the Himalayas compared to the Choc hill?
Ah, let’s not forget the allegedly prevaricating prime minister. Did he lie when he first spoke publicly about the revocation? I might remind you, dear reader, that this is how he broke the news to Saint Lucians: “It has
been brought to my attention that the US Embassy . . . recently revoked the diplomatic and resident visas of . . . I have instructed our diplomatic representatives in Washington to investigate this highly sensitive and urgent matter . . . “
Having received word on 5 August 2011 that the revocation was a done thing—with no clarifying details—was it so wrong that the prime minister, instead of taking to the airwaves or immediately informing his Cabinet, decided instead to seek additional information via the diplomatic route? Do we know any other government leader who for over ten years calculatedly held from his Cabinet and parliament the secret that he had leased the nation’s seabed to a foreign entrepreneur? And if we do, do we also consider him a liar deserving of banishment from local politics?
As for the MP turned whistle blower, do her motives not matter at all? Might they be more self-serving than in the national interest?
Rest assured, all in good time we will come to that. After all, there is that little item about what really happened after the prime minister dispatched his most trusted MP at the time on a secret mission to Barbados on May 21, 2008—all of it now Wikileaked!

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