The whole point about corruption in politics is that it can’t be done, or done properly, without bipartisan consensus.”
If time has taught me anything in the last quarter century, it is that on this Rock of Sages a writer’s credibility depends not so much on the facticity of his publications as on the color of his reader’s shirt. Here lies the explanation for why 20 years after the fact, and with the straightest of faces, some continue to say that when a certain married prime minister was exposed as a pedophile who used the trappings of his office to facilitate his trysts at home and abroad with a schoolgirl barely sixteen, “he at least took good care of her, gave her access to his credit cards, paid for her education overseas, even bought her a car.”
The dizzying sentiment was echoed by at least one man of the cloth. Indeed, the abruptly reticent then leader of the Christian Council, when asked to comment on the matter, famously pleaded for more time to consider the evidence before him. “If John the Baptist had been more careful,” he reasoned, “he might’ve saved his head.” Obviously, the particular agent of God had no intention of parting any time soon with his own blessed head!
When in another time another former prime minister was by a tribunal authorized by the governor general pronounced guilty of gross maladministration, based on undisputed evidence that some of his decisions had unnecessarily cost local taxpayers multi-millions of scarce dollars, his satellites echoed his hollow claim that he was exonerated—simply because the tribunal had uncovered no proof that he had personally profited from his strongly criticized secret bank transactions. The same gentleman is currently embroiled in another controversy that was hatched in secrecy ten years ago and only recently came to light. Although uncharacteristically he remains relatively reticent on the particular matter, his programmed defenders have sought time after time to redirect public attention. That I will not be distracted has predictably made me a prime target for those who had supported the egregiously self-serving Section 361 of the Revised Criminal Code, enacted in 2003 by the same prime minister with his overwhelming 14-3 House majority, then repealed on the basis of its unconstitutionality.
Reference to the revealing statute that bit the dust under sustained pressure by only this newspaper reminds me of the government’s determination to deny bail to a particular supporter of the United Workers Party after he was charged by the police with rape of a particularly horrific nature. Lucky for him and his retinue of supporting lawyers (surprisingly, the dozen or so legal peepeerits included at least three females), not only was the statute declared ultra vires the Saint Lucia constitution, the alleged rape victim decided—for undeclared reasons—not to proceed further in court.
In the meantime the prime minister and his attorney general spewed, from their political platforms, not only recorded statements supportive of their stubborn insistence that the offending statute was altogether constitutional, but that it was being misinterpreted by the untutored, and should properly be read “conjunctively”—whatever that meant. As for the accused, the message from the then government’s platform centered on his self-importance and his ostensible belief that his status set him above the law. Ah, but how things have changed. That same individual is now being presented on a polished brass platter to the electorate as the best thing since dasheen chaufay—by the same individuals who fought so hard to keep him safely locked away until the charges against him were one way or the other resolved. Never before had credibility been more affronted . . . but doubtless there’ll be more on that in due course!
Details of all of the above recalled matters of great public interest can be found in the pages of the STAR, and quite possibly nowhere else. Which explains why both sides of the House, whenever they need to castigate one another, have little choice but to rely on the paper’s archives to validate their respective assertions. At such times they are forced to admit, however tacitly and reluctantly, that the paper is an equal opportunity dispenser of admittedly quite often harsh criticism of bad governance!
Needless to say, the price for bringing the truth to light has always been great, regardless of venue. Especially on this Rock of Sages, criticism of governments is akin to blasphemy, if not
treason. And the presumed gods have some deadly weaponry in their arsenal. STAR operations have over the years been threatened by different administrations. Tax-funded government
work has been denied the company. On one unforgettable occasion a House meeting was convened for the sole purpose of shutting down the newspaper. Mirabile dictu, despite libel suits filed by pompous government ministers or their flak catchers, the STAR and its owners have survived, obviously.
Ironically, throughout the worst of times for the newspaper the opposition party profited. It was clear that the state-funded assaults on the STAR were in retaliation for what a prime minister publicly referred to as “the filth” the paper published as “the mouthpiece of the St. Lucia Labour Party.” Oh, but today,
almost the same words are being echoed by that party’s current leader, veiled threats and all, not to mention his recently-stated policy of denying the
paper’s reporters any opportunity to interview him and his party colleagues about matters of public interest—on the seemingly mindless and counter-productive premise that criticism of his actions evinced the STAR’s “hostility” toward the whole Labour Party!”
So yes, nothing new that some would without the slightest embarrassment question the paper’s credibility, although never with a direct challenge to what actually appears in its columns. Oh, no. The anonymous attacks predictably center on
matters unrelated to the veracity of what we write. For instance: “Rick doesn’t like Kenny because Kenny rightly fired him from the senate for not supporting Helenair.” Or: “Rick just refuses to forgive Kenny for Rochamel.” Indeed, it bordered on the especially farcical, a piece by a pseudonymous contributor that I read recently while in the U.S., thanks to a well-intentioned friend who thought it might provide a much-needed laugh.
My friend was right. I laughed especially hard as I read the contributor’s unabashed acknowledgement that “yes, Kenny is no
saint . . .” then from there he (she?) proceeded to list the former prime minister’s sins, all of them presumed deserving of forgiveness and a dip in the cleansing water under the bridge: “Rochamel happened but . . . Helenair happened but . . . NCA happened but . . . Frenwell happened but . . . Ramsahoye said so and so but . . .”
And then she (he?) arrived at Grynberg . . . but. By now I know you’ve got the point, dear reader, regardless of the current color of your shirt. Expect any day now to hear about the indispensible unique talents of Marcus Nicholas,
Jeannine Compton and yes, Ausbert d’Auvergne who, as each day passes, becomes more and more indiscernible from a certain party leader on whom a trusting Saint Lucian electorate once lavished more trust and love than fallible man is entitled to, all of it unearned and later spat upon. But then, already I’ve exhausted my allotted space; we’ll save the evidence for another show.