Amazing; to be struck with wonder has emerged an often abused word by those whose vocabulary seems limited to a doubtful depth of the language, and unfamiliarity with its usages. Still, one with a nimble familiar lexicon must be excused if amazing springs to mind in the St. Jude Hospital tragedy. As the debacle unfolds one is persuaded to return to the golden era of Saint Lucian politics with Sir John Compton at the helm and George Odlum at his faithful weekly Crusader. What would these two have to say about the apparent recklessness and excesses of St. Jude Hospital reconstruction? How they would marvel at the squandering of the scarce resources of the island. Would they refer to it as ‘squandermania’? Surely, the question would be asked, had greed and incompetence been allowed to rule unfettered in the St. Jude spending spree?
Alas, we can turn to neither Compton nor Odlum for answers. Those who were familiar with their different approaches to politics would agree that both displayed abhorrence for incompetence, recklessness and greed. Wherever these raised their callous heads in the governance of the country there was little difference in the way these two political icons would approach a resolution of the problem. Admittedly, both men were a little squeamish about sending public personalities to prison but they equally would do all in their power to expose the culprits to ridicule by an entire nation.
As someone who had a close familiarity with both political icons and who at one point had openly agreed and disagreed with them, I deem it expedient to comment on the St. Jude financial disaster/mismanagement and the growing smoke screen crafted to hide the truth from the public. I will do my best to avoid the word corruption as one feels certain that that will be pronounced by a far more competent law court – including the court of public opinion.
As with all politics, secrets and selfish motives abound in men’s hearts. It remains a truism that in politics the people must aim to hold their government to account. The people must insist on openly questioning the workings of their elected officials at regular intervals. It should be mandatory that every political leader, prime minister, minister of the government and other highly placed official be grilled by competent persons, including an independent and fearless media. The latter has unfortunately been lacking since new Labour was generously handed political office more than twenty years ago. It is critical that the public observe the determined silence and the avoidance of sharing critical information by the SLP, in and out of office. The matter of the Grynberg oil deal, in which a secret deal went sour and the poor taxpayers of Saint Lucia had to pay huge sums to lawyers defending the government, is clearly untenable. When will Saint Lucians learn the truth from the man at the centre of Grynberg? That’s another million dollar question that the media should aim to uncover.
The people of Saint Lucia learnt only after the fall of the SLP administration that the collective responsibility of the Cabinet had been usurped (temporarily abandoned?), allowing the former PM to act on his own competencies in certain matters. What were these matters? Could the Grynberg oil deal be one of them? Why did the Cabinet of Ministers abandon its collective responsibility and under what circumstances did it happen? Who proposed it and was there any objection?
More specifically, how often were reports made to Cabinet by the Minister of Finance and the persons in charge of St. Jude Hospital reconstruction? How often did the various government technical teams and ministers of government visit St. Jude Hospital during the early stages of reconstruction? Importantly, when will Prime Minister Allen Chastanet disclose the names of the lawyers and accountants his government has employed to prosecute the St. Jude Hospital matter in the courts?
Dear reader, you are aware that the money to fix and re-open St. Jude Hospital is an integral part of the national economy. You will therefore agree that the book be thrown at those who have used their offices to squander the scarce resources of the country.
Drastic measures are required by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet if he is to clean up the St. Jude Hospital mess and send a stern warning to those lurking at the margins of politics, waiting their turn to exploit the national treasury.
We recently witnessed a hastily arranged town hall meeting in the south by some persons in the St. Jude affair. We interpret this as yet another smoke screen. Invoking the name of poor Guy Joseph is yet another diversion. Prime Minister Chastanet must not be deterred. He must act now and let the chips fall wherever they may. He must lead the charge to clean up the country of its many ills.
In addition to decisive actions which Prime Minister Chastanet must take to complete and re-open St. Jude Hospital (and by extension the George Odlum Stadium), there is one more crucial matter he must supervise. He must re-energize the UWP to become a dominant force for good! The party needs to unleash at least five competent lions – those not holding political office – to lead its verbal attacks and fight back, whilst his government does the work for which it was elected.
The failed opportunists seem to think that the people are all fools. They think that they can abandon the principle of transparency and accountability and simply waltz unashamedly, embracing in public view those they previously accused of criminality. In former times, the Queek-Quack columns in Odlum’s Crusader would have dealt these SLP hypocrites and their new-found friends a severe lashing where it hurts most.
In ending, I return to the small matter of the SLP government spending thousands, if not millions, investigating Guy Joseph, and we demand to know what it has discovered. Who hired the lawyers and accountants that delved into all aspects of Guy Joseph’s life, and who is paying? When will the people who ordered the investigation into Guy Joseph hold a press conference to report to the nation? The answer, dear reader. may amaze you. Simply amazing, me thinks!