On his first episode for the year, TALK host Rick Wayne wasted no time getting to the issues of the day. At first the audience was not sure where the host was heading when he began to speak about rumours but it was then clear that he was tackling information that had been circling the country since Tuesday about a situation at a Cabinet meeting.
“I have been in my time here a major target of political smear campaigns from both parties. That is what they do when they cannot challenge what you have said or written. They move away from the song and concentrate instead on the singer!” said Wayne.
The host said he received calls from all over the world about St Lucia’s latest rumour which changed depending on who you heard it from but involved some kind of altercation between Prime Minister Stephenson King and a member of his Cabinet, Richard Frederick.
“It is a rumour that deserves to be put in its place if only because it is about public officials,” said Wayne.
Just as the host was about to go on a call came through to the show from Minister for Housing and Castries Central MP Richard Frederick. The minister said he could not ignore the rumour anymore and denied any incident had happened.
“This is spreading like wildfire,” said Frederick. “My loyalty lies with Stephenson King as the prime minister of this country;I respect the PM; there is no intention whatsoever to put shame in the eyes of my supporters.”
“You agree that with the speed rumours travel these days they can be very detrimental?” Wayne asked.
Frederick began his answer by referring to what he called another rumour about him which involved talk-show host Claudius Francis but Wayne would not be drawn in that direction.
“I don’t want to be accused of giving a platform for you to deal with this Claudius Francis matter because he is not sitting here to defend himself,” said the TALK host.
On his own radio show Friday morning Frederick returned to the issue of the latest rumour which had by then been all over BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook and other social mediums.
Said Frederick: “Such irresponsibility is widespread in relation to, not only our media houses, but our people. I say so because on Tuesday morning, various people from various media houses called me about a rumour. Personally I figured giving rumour mongers satisfaction is not my aim. In fact I felt I did not want to implicitly encourage their well concocted stories to hit the news so I was dismissive. I have always said you never attempt to chase every dog that barks.
“What’s the rumour? I have heard so many different things including that I slapped the Honourable Prime Minister. I gorjette the Honourable Prime Minister, meaning chucked him to the throat. I pulled a gun on the Honourable PM. I shot the PM. It was in Cabinet. It was at a meeting. I went to his house and low and behold this morning I am hearing he ended up at hospital with a swollen face. And the stories keep changing.”
Clearing the air, Frederick revealed he last saw the prime minister on Monday night. “We had a Cabinet meeting that Monday and the meeting went extremely well with
not even a semblance of disagreement between any members at all. But I must say to discuss and argue is a healthy for democracy. There wasn’t a semblance of disagreement from Cabinet. Most of us went with the party executive to Auberge Seraphine
for another meeting. That other meeting went very well and after that meeting I left. It finished late into the night. It was attended by no less than fifteen people. I went to my house and that was it. That was the last time I have seen the prime minister for the week.”
He gave the sequence of events under which he became aware of the extent of the allegations.
“I was driving down to work and I get a call from no other than the prime minister himself. You will not believe, I was first informed of the rumour by the prime minister himself. When he called me he said: “Richard, I have a joke to give you.” And I went on to tell him: “boss if you have a joke to give me this early morning then it must be a sweet joke.” Then I went around guessing what I thought the joke was about. He then told me something along the lines of we were fighting and handed the phone to his bodyguard. The bodyguard told me that he received a telephone call whereupon the caller was calling to confirm that they, the PM’s security, had reason to call extra back-up in the names of SSU to assist them because I had slapped the PM and I had him cornered.”
Frederick claimed: “I was so surprised that I became speechless. After I spoke to him, he handed the phone back to the prime minister who exclaimed “Richard can you believe this!” He went on to say, “Then again, it’s the season.” It reminded me of what Spider had said at our very successful rally on the Sunday—“in this silly season expect to hear anything.” I mean this sounded so ridiculous but I really and truly will not permit it to occupy the forefront of my mind. It dawned on me that it was spreading like wildfire because during that day on Thursday I got a call from a number of media houses.”
Commenting on news agencies and their public responsibility, the minister went on: “Many things are alleged and news in my view is supposed to be factual occurrences which can be verified. Since I am into this dirty and nasty arena called politics, attacks on me have been continuous. My reputation has been battered and my sweet St Lucia is being ravaged by the very ones who want to govern her. Because of the shagwey pour voir they would go to whatever end to achieve their desires.
“I must admit, life in a private capacity lends to better mental tranquility. You have a piece of mind. Politics, nasty, dirty, you never have a piece of mind.”
Prime Minister Stephenson King, who is currently off island, called into the radio show at this point and this is what he had to say: “Thanks Richard for the opportunity but as a Prime Minister I have a country to run and I will not reduce my status to engage in debate in what I consider senseless and untruthful rumours designed merely to confuse and instill fear in the minds of St Lucian people. Honestly, my time is always better spent in serving the people of St Lucia—that I will continue to do, rather than to engage in such rumours.”
“Do you see me as being a problem in Cabinet?” Frederick questioned.
The prime minister responded: “Richard, it is funny you asked this question because I have commented on the relationship, the harmony that exists within the Cabinet since we took office in 2006 and we went to 2007. I have seen that harmonious relationship grow, the relationship between myself and yourself. I must credit you for your conduct, the manner in which you have conducted yourself, your respect and the things by virtue of your office.”
Following more comments by Frederick the show moved on to dishing out legal advice.