For the second time in as many weeks I find myself borrowing from Christopher Hitchens, on this occasion from his piece entitled The Wrong Questions, published in 1997 by the Washington Post: “Clogged language usually expresses confused thought.” The cited line came to mind as I viewed in slack-jawed wonderment a recording of an earlier televised pre-Christmas performance by a slapstick comedian turned TV political activist and his guest—the hand that once had generously fed him and, for all I know, still does.
It occurred to me that such theater as unfolded before my doubting eyes is usually staged with children in mind. Then again, who knew for certain the consequences of too much time spent on the hustings before audiences a tad too familiar with the spirits of Saint Lucia?
At one point the host presented with much fanfare a clip from a particular talk show that needs no introduction. Its central figure was addressing his favorite bête noir and the seemingly impenetrable cloud of secrecy surrounding it: Jack Grynberg’s relationship with the former prime minister Kenny Anthony. He underscored the fact that the deal, which ties up some 83 million acres of this island’s seabed, ought not to be classified information to which only Jack and Kenny were privy.
“Saint Lucia is nobody’s farm,” he said. “Saint Lucia is nobody’s plantation. You’d have to be delusional to believe otherwise.” He reminded his TV audience that although the Minerals (Vesting) Act authorized only the island’s governor general to issue exploration permits, someone else had in 2000 licensed Jack Grynberg to explore for oil here, without bothering to inform the governor general.
This is how that someone reacted on TV last week: “I must disappoint you, Chris. You’ve chosen the wrong clip . . . It has been my policy never to respond to any question from this particular journalist, this particular show host, this particular newspaper publisher. I will not do so now.” He proffered another excuse for his strange silence: the man in the clip had moved past being an investigative journalist into the realm of Kenny Anthony “persecutor.” Which is to say judge-jury-and executioner Kenny Anthony equates my questions to the government on matters of national interest targeted torture, torment and oppression—with Kenny Anthony as my target. Imagine the existence of the 2005 Richard Frederick if he too suffered from a persecution complex. Imagine being in the shoes of Guy Joseph— who from his earliest days in politics has been under non-stop attack by Kenny Anthony. Imagine yourself John Compton being hauled before a tribunal in 1998 for alleged corruption, on the orders of the newly elected prime minister. Imagine yourself in the boots of Michael and Allen Chastanet when the nation’s most powerful man by virtue of an outdated constitution publicly declared war on the father and the son!
He had also made a point never to comment on matters tied up in litigation, said Kenny Anthony, and by his measure the Grynberg matter was one example. In all events, he went on, the government of Saint Lucia had already won “three cases against Grynberg” and it was up to the Chastanet administration to decide what next to do.
Kenny Anthony spoke truth when he said he had in his own best interests made a point of not responding to my questions in the public interest. His rationale: “I will not answer because he would take pleasure in it.” Did he mean to suggest that whatever he might say on Grynberg would in his circumstances be risable; hysterically funny? Is that why he had also refused to answer Stephenson King when in a televised address to the nation the then prime minister pleaded for his assistance in formulating an informed response to Grynberg’s claims that his 10-year-old contract was still valid? That it had not expired as Kenny Anthony had claimed in his only related public statement? Did Anthony believe a response to King would afford the prime minister more pleasure than he deserved?
Is that why the current prime minister’s questions on November 5 have also gone unanswered? But then the record is clear when it comes to Kenny Anthony and questions about his time as prime minister. One of Sir Ramsahoye’s expressed regrets at the time of the Frenwell inquiry centered on Kenny Anthony’s deafening silence on key aspects of the investigation.
As for the government having won “three cases against Grynberg,” absolute fantasy. Grynberg’s ongoing fight with the ICSID centers on the tribunal’s insistence that the oil man—with his reputation for not paying court-ordered damages and fees—deposit a US$750,000 guarantee of penalties should his breach of contract lawsuit against the government of Saint Lucia prove unsuccessful. Grynberg has appealed the decision and is scheduled to be heard in mid-2018.
In all events Grynberg’s lawsuit is a relatively recent development. His relationship with Saint Lucia first came to light in 2009, when Richard Frederick challenged a clause in his contract during the year’s budget debate, in the presence of a mute Kenny Anthony. He did not respond until long afterward, at which time he threatened to sue Frederick for libel, as well as anyone else who dared to say what the Castries Central MP had posted over the windshield of his SUV.
As for saying his silence had something to do with a vow never to speak about matters likely to be litigated or in actual litigation, need I remind readers of the genesis of IMPACS and the then prime minister’s public readings of large sections of the report that had not yet been delivered to the Director of Public Prosecutions as required by law? Have we forgotten then prime minister Kenny Anthony’s public comments about those involved in the unforgettable attack on the Castries Cathedral? On the evidence, here was one lawyer who appeared not to give a damn about matters under judicial consideration. Or was it that he held himself above the law!
I need only add that on his most recent TV outing Grynberg and Earl Huntley’s partner in grime took no calls, not even from his predictable amen corner—doubtless another guarantee he would not be confronted, even unwittingly, by what Christopher Hitchens referred to as “the wrong questions!”