“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” sighs Juliet to Romeo, which is, of course, an oxymoron of contradictory elements of pain and pleasure. Juliet sees parting as sorrowful because she wishes to snare her lover in twisted “gyves” – read: chains or fetters – and parting is simultaneously pleasurable because doing anything with Romeo is “pleasurable”; they were, after all, in love. I suppose, don’t you agree, that that is how press secretaries feel about their bosses when breaking up time comes around.
Take Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, for example, who addressed rumours that had been circulating for some time that he and his Press Secretary, Mr Clecton Phillip, were going through a bad patch. Keeping a stiff upper lip, the PM explained in the blandest of bland terms that “Mr Clecton Phillip will leave the office of the Press Secretary by mutual agreement on completion of the agreed period of service. We will in time determine where best his services can be utilized. I wish Mr Phillip well as he finds other avenues to utilize his gifts and talents. I record my thanks to him for his contribution to the work of the Office of the Prime Minister and the country at large.” Ah, so sweet; even political divorces can end happily, he seemed to be implying, though he still clung on to the notion that he would be involved in determining “where best his services can be utilized”. Poor fool; he didn’t get it. When it’s over, it’s over.
Of course, the PM’s buddies all had to weigh in with words of consolation. Attorney-General the Hon. Vincent Byron Jr. said he was not aware that Phillip had tendered his resignation and attempted to spill oil on troubled waters. “I can’t speak to that, I am not aware of that … and as such I am not certain if that is so. But I expect that we would have to be considering one way or the other if that would have been reviewed or if he would have wanted to go back to his private practice.”
Phillip, a businessman, known as a social activist, was regularly heard on radio programmes in support of the party. He was also the General Secretary of the People’s Labour Party formed by Prime Minister Timothy Harris and former Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor. Following Team Unity’s success in the February 16, 2015 General Elections, Phillip was appointed Press Secretary to the Prime Minister but was almost invisible and only seen at the PM’s monthly press conferences. Opposition members, sensing unrest in paradise, indicated that Phillip and the Prime Minister “did not see eye-to-eye”.
It was noted by media practitioners that Phillip, unlike press secretaries closer to home, rarely sent out government press releases and, if so, most of them would have already been disseminated by the St. Kitts-Nevis Information Service. Media practitioners were also perplexed by the fact that the Director-General of SKNIS was the one who had accompanied the Prime Minister when he went abroad on government’s business and not the Press Secretary, again unlike press secretaries closer to home who seemed to be so attached to their Siamese twin boss that bathroom visits might have posed a problem.
Oh, by the way and quite irrelevantly, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia since 2012 and active member of the ruling SLP, Jadia Jn Pierre-Emmanuel, resigned with effect from January 31, 2016. Asked what led to her decision, the former Press Secretary had said: “I am not in a position to give any interviews now.” Ms. Jn Pierre-Emmanuel would not say then what her immediate plans were. Isn’t it a bit ridiculous that people either cannot, will not, or more sinisterly, are not allowed to motivate their own decisions to quit? Surely a PM’s grip on the private lives of his underlings and their families should not be so suffocating that those who wish to leave cannot clear the air to stop speculation, gossip and rumour about their constitutionally protected right to seek employment or advancement elsewhere. Of course, some bosses accept nothing less than 100% loyalty and obedience; anything else is betrayal.
Sadly we were told that the PM would make “an announcement” and any information regarding Jadia’s resignation would have to come from the Office of the Prime Minister. At long last, the woman who had an explanation for everything, who defended her boss like a tigress would defend her young, who could put a spin on every dubious, irrational twist and turn, every somersault her boss performed, had fallen silent. The woman who sat glued to the radio to ward off instantaneously every criticism of her boss will be sorely missed at RSL and RCI.
Finally, from a totally unrelated press release, I have learned that Jadia’s father, Francisco, will contest the Laborie seat on a United Workers Party (UWP) ticket, at the next elections. What jolly conversations he and his daughter must have enjoyed over the years. Wasn’t it the Francis family that went through a similar turmoil a couple of years ago? Well, diversity is the spice of life, they say!