VIEUX FORT South MP and former Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony, did not mince words when he made welcome remarks at the Saint Lucia Labour Party’s open session of its Conference of Delegates last Sunday afternoon.
The session — held at Beanefield Comprehensive Secondary School under the theme, “Mobilize! Organize! Consolidate!”– drew hundreds of delegates and SLP supporters out to discuss plans the SLP has as it seeks to regain the seat of governance.
According to Dr. Anthony, the constituency he has represented in Parliament for the past 20 years is now in the line of fire from the current administration which, he said, is doing everything in its power to teach him a lesson.
“This constituency (Vieux Fort South), by virtue of the fact that it is an opposition constituency and who its representative has been over the years, has attracted unprecedented attention from the United Workers Party,” Dr. Anthony said in his remarks. “But the (UWP) commits one fatal error: it confuses its attack on me personally with the needs, desires and wants of my constituents of Vieux Fort South.”
He added: “It has faced repeated assaults from the United Workers Party in the past 20 years. I don’t think that there’s any constituency that the United Workers Party has invested as heavily to remove a candidate as the constituency of Vieux Fort South. But despite it all, we in Vieux Fort South have stood firm, we have been unfazed, we have been bruised but we have never been battered.”
Dr. Anthony said plans for an administrative centre to serve people from the south that was earmarked for Vieux Fort by the previous SLP administration were “unceremoniously stopped after expenditure of some $15 million to $20 million”.
“The sole objective was to teach one man a lesson – Kenny Anthony,” he said.
He cited the reconstruction of St. Jude Hospital which has been “unceremoniously stopped and faces demolition after expenditure of some $80 million, again, to teach another lesson to Kenny Anthony.
“This government, the Chastanet government, has decided to strip Vieux Fortians of their patrimony by giving away 900 acres of land to Teo Ah Khing, a developer who probably never thought he would have found a Prime Minister so willing to sell his country on a platter,” the former Prime Minister said.
Since taking office in June last year, the Allen Chastanet-led administration has on many occasions defended its decision to give the green light to Desert Star Holdings Ltd.’s (DSH) US$2.6 billion international standard integrated development which includes a race track, resort and shopping mall complex, casino, free trade zone, extensive entertainment and leisure facilities and over 1500 architecturally-designed villas and apartments.
However, the SLP contends that the deal signed between the government and developer, Ah Khing, on July 30 last year can result in environmental, social and economic backlashes for the country. The government, however, argues that the country cannot afford to lose such a major investment, given Saint Lucia’s high unemployment rate and the yet-to-be-developed south.
On Sunday, though, Dr. Anthony sent a stern message to the government, urging it to take the hands-off approach to Vieux Fort South.
“Today, I say two things. As is usual with my pronouncements, they may choose to interpret it how they want. First: touch St. Jude, try to demolish St. Jude and you will feel the wrath of the people of Vieux Fort. Do not come,” he said.
He continued: “The second thing I want to say: give away our land and feel our collective anger. Understand that we’ll fight you. We will fight you in Parliament. We will fight you in the streets. We will fight you in the courts. We will fight you in our homes, in our communities and wherever we have access to media that is interested in truth and justice.”
In previous pronouncements, Dr. Anthony had indicated that the island’s south would not rest until DSH becomes a thing of the past. The SLP, which has held several press conferences on the matter and has voiced its concerns in Parliament, thinks the country cannot afford to sign on to any deal that leaves it at a disadvantage. The government disagrees, citing the opposition’s case as mere sour grapes. Whatever the case, Dr. Anthony renewed his warning last Sunday.
“I once warned that if you continue with DSH, there will be no peace. And so I repeat, there will be no peace in Vieux Fort South if there is any continuation with DSH,” he said.
According to Dr. Anthony, the current administration is not living up to its promise of keeping citizens’ best interest at heart. He described the current administration as “wicked”, “vindictive”, and “blatant in its abuse of our Constitution and the law which it authorizes”. The time for change, he said, has come.
“It is my view that the time has arrived,” Dr. Anthony said. “Sixteen months of honeymoon is enough. The time has come to draw the line with this government.”
Meanwhile, Senior Communications Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, Nicole Mc. Donald, in an interview with The VOICE yesterday, responded to Dr. Anthony’s pronouncements, describing them as “outrageous”.
“It is very sad that Dr. Kenny Anthony has become quite famous for his outrageous statements usually made when in opposition,” Mc. Donald said. “For instance, his promise, at the worst of times, that he would do his best to steer investors away from St Lucia. His statement about having seen with his own eyes a police death list and now he is threatening chaos and disorder on a matter with an entrepreneur still in negotiation.
“Dr. Anthony would serve the country he claims to love, the people of Vieux Fort, in particular, far better if he answered the outstanding questions about the construction of the hospital, which he controlled for five years.
“Similarly, Grynberg, which has cost the people of St. Lucia millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees and control of some 83 million acres of the St. Lucia seabed. It is regrettable that Dr. Anthony seems self-convinced that the best way to regain his political status is to set the peaceful citizens of St. Lucia one against the other.”
During his address on Sunday, SLP Political Leader, Philip J. Pierre, referenced both St. Jude Hospital and DSH.
“Let me make it abundantly clear – the St. Jude Hospital will not be demolished. That cannot happen, we will not allow it to happen,” Pierre told party supporters.
According to Pierre, St. Jude Hospital is now the responsibility of the current government and must be dealt with expeditiously. He also hinted at future protest action.
“Let me warn them that we are going to have protest rallies beginning near St. Jude to demand that they continue construction and eventually commission the hospital at the earliest,” he said.