Following what some have described as disparaging comments made by Foreign Affairs Minister Alva Baptiste on an SLP platform, the Media Association of Saint Lucia have finally reacted. The statements which were levelled at radio personalities Andre Paul and “Charlie” created a firestorm and have been a major talking point in the media here.
The matter has also become a political football with both parties the UWP and the SLP laying charges and counter claims about the tone and spirit of the remarks.
The said remarks by Baptiste followed his earlier pronouncement on a platform that it would be “over my dead body” that political leader of the UWP Allen Chastanet would become Prime Minister. Baptiste was sharply rebuked and criticized for his statement by the Star and Andre and Charlie as well as a number of journalists.
The following week, Baptiste was at it again calling Andre and Charlie’s radio program an outlet for gossip and claiming that Charlie was idle. He said he would not apologize for his earlier remarks. The minister then offered to employ the radio personality under the STEP program.
On Wednesday morning the Media Association of St. Lucia which has been silent on the matter, issued its first statement.
“The Media Association of St. Lucia (MASL) notes with dismay the recent comments of Minister of External Affairs and International Trade, Hon. Alva Baptiste directed at the hosts of Radio 100’s programme, “OUT GOES IN” Andre Paul and Clement “Charlie” Charles,” the statement read.
In went on: “the MASL regards the comments made at a public meeting as unfortunate, misguided and unprofessional by the Minister, especially as the comments were of a personal rather than a professional nature. It is indeed lamentable and unbecoming of a government minister, especially of the stature of Mr. Baptiste as the country’s representative of the interests of St. Lucians on an international scale to resort to name calling and derogatory statements of the two announcers. The minister in question should have exercised maturity and elevated himself to the high office which he holds.”
According to the MASL the minister’s comments can only be construed as anti-media and an attack on democracy and a danger to the livelihoods of media workers in general and the two media practitioners in question in particular.
The MASL requested that Hon. Alva Baptiste withdraws his unfortunate comments immediately, and further called on the leaders of both major political parties and other parties to enforce a code of conduct of their representatives to ensure such distasteful behaviour does not occur in the future.
“We also implore our members to be vigilant and report all attempts of intimidation and threats to media freedoms to the MASL,” the statement said.