For our editorial department, choosing the STAR Person of the Year, while always looked forward to, was never a stroll in the park. In the early years the difficulty we confronted lay not so much in separating the wheat from the trash as in determining the best of the crop from the abundance of quality wheat before us. Imagine having to choose from among such as Sir Vincent Floissac, Dr. Stephen King, prime ministers John Compton and Kenny Anthony, Justices Dennis Byron and Suzie d’Auvergne, Attorney General Lorraine Williams, a star athlete or two, national treasures such as Mary Francis and St. Joseph Convent’s Sister Claire, Derek Walcott and Dunstan St. Omer.
Some of our final choices shook the nation to its Christian core, many wondering had we lost our marbles. But then it had never been our policy to bestow our Person of the Year accolade only on, shall I say, individuals worthy of popular emulation. Like the editors of Time magazine that had (dis)honored on their covers such as Hitler—with a large bloody X over his face—a smiling Al Capone and the widely despised Ayatollah Khomeini, over the years we too had declared certain individuals Person of the Year based only on how much media attention they had attracted to themselves, as saints or sinners.
It is with regret I must acknowledge that in more recent times we’ve been challenged at POTY time largely by characters worthy only of Disappointment of the Year medals—many of them individuals from whom, for various reasons, much had been expected; major betrayers of the public trust; demons behind holier-than-thou masks; thieves in white suits shamelessly flaunting their cosmetic credentials in the highest offices of our land, forever covering up the evil that men do, never holding them accountable.
This time around our Person of the Year couldn’t be more deserving of the special distinction, beginning with his election as leader of a country that (to paraphrase a Time reference to 1984 America) is today less a story than an argument. And the argument centers on whether the old ways be retained regardless of their widely acknowledged killer consequences or new ideas be pursued never mind how risky in eyes that for years and years had beheld in silence the gradual destruction of all that was good in our nation by the very hands to which our future had been entrusted.
Our choice for 2017 Person of the Year is more likely to be accused, by friends and party colleagues alike, of often saying too much—often too soon. For instance, not until a particular public performance, in which he co-starred with the Malaysian entrepreneur Teo Ah King barely a month following the June 6, 2016 general elections, had the majority of Saint Lucians heard of Desert Star Holdings. It later emerged that the Kenny Anthony government and DSH had for two years been meeting behind out of the way closed doors in the UK, China and elsewhere.
Then again he had promised the electorate in 2016 that should the United Workers Party be elected to office under his leadership it would no longer be business as usual. Conceivably, he meant to say there would be no more under-the-table agreements; no secret overseas appointments; no more surreptitious selling or leasing of prime Saint Lucian property to foreigners of dubious repute; no more contractual arrangements that demanded not a word, not a word, not a word be shared with parliament or the governor general.
Repeatedly he had promised if elected to operate his government like a well-oiled business. Considering his war-mongering detractors had publicly declared their determination by whatever means to bury him with his ambitions, he might’ve saved himself a lot of trouble had he simply gone about operating his business-like government and let the results speak for him; left no room for the obtuse to broadcast his misconstrued or misunderstood intentions. Instead he had insisted on being open with both the people who elected him and others who continue to wish him dead. He seemed determined that for once we the people would
see transparency and accountability at work, regardless of possible embarrassment when things did not go quite according to expectations—as sometimes happens, not only in business but also in regular life.
Governing perennially poor Saint Lucia was never an easy game of dominoes; not in 1964 when grants and other forms of aid were readily available, and certainly not in Trump’s time. Making matters even more dire is that the nation remains shackled by archaic laws that keep in place the very minds that in the first place had created our most pressing problems. But our current man at the helm is determined to keep his promises to the electorate, regardless of personal risks.
Whether his efforts at delivering prove successful remains to be seen. More important is that he appears unafraid of going boldly where other Saint Lucian leaders before him feared to tread. And now we continue to reap the countless consequences of their cowardice, not to say selfishness!
In all events, our country did not arrive at its sorry state in two years. The people were being fooled by successive self-interested politicians, lied to, treated with palpable contempt, long before June 6, 2016—as correctly George Odlum had famously observed back in 1974. In all events, we’ll be there recording the good, the bad and the unconscionable for as long as the STAR continues to shine.
Finally, the main reason for enthusiastically declaring Allen Chastanet our 2017 Person of the Year: Grynberg! Forget the defenses of desperate opposition MPs and their mindless echoes, that the suspect surreptitious 2000 arrangement between the government of Saint Lucia and Jack Grynberg’s RSM Corporation had been “fully discussed in parliament.” That was just another contemptible attempt at misleading the House and the underestimated nation at large.
The indisputable truth is that Grynberg came before parliament for the first time on November 5, 2016. An altogether shocking—and embarrassing—statement on the matter was delivered by the prime minister himself, who is clearly hell-bent on keeping his promises to the electorate, one of them being Grynberg. The issue had earlier been carefully avoided by two previous administrations sans gwen—as the earlier recalled late George Odlum often referred to men without balls. At a Republican convention Arnold Schwarzenegger more recently referenced the political eunuchs as “Girlie men”—which demonstrably our 2017 Person of the Year is not!