SOCIAL media has not let up on its comments about 78–year-old Neville Cenac ever since Prime Minister Allen Chastanet last week named him as Governor General-designate.
Even as he prepares to be sworn in on Friday, Cenac continues to be castigated by many — not for his political silence over the past decade or so, but for an act he did 30 years ago that many at the time compared him to Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Cenac had given reasons for his crossing over to the United Workers Party (UWP) immediately after the back-to-back general elections in 1987, which increased the UWP’s lead in the Lower House. However, the reasons seem not to have given him the forgiveness he perhaps had hoped for.
It would have been too optimistic on Cenac’s part to believe that his reasons for crossing the floor, though justified by him, would be acceptable to all those who voted him into the country’s parliament.
From what I have heard and read about the events leading up to the infamous floor-crossing by Cenac, I, too, would have been mad at him, if I had voted for him for joining a group (UWP) that is opposed to the ideology he sprouted that led me to vote for him.
Cenac would have been extremely foolish over the years to believe that those who voted for him on a Labour ticket, except his immediate family and very close buddies, would so easily forgive him and that time would have made him more acceptable to them, and healed the wounds he caused back then.
Crossing the floor under the circumstances Cenac did back in 1987 was considered the unpardonable sin. It still is today. Many will argue that Peter Josie crossed the floor by joining the UWP, Guy Joseph crossed the floor, Dr. Vaughn Lewis crossed the floor and is now a staunch Labourite etc. However, in my books, the circumstances of those floor-crossers were totally different to Cenac’s. Remember, Cenac changed sides soon after the elections. Did he seek approval from his constituents before crossing over?
There will be those who disagree with me but let me say this: How many of you will leave your 10-year-old daughter with a man who 30 years ago molested a 10–year–old girl? Yes, you may have pardoned the man, but you will still have misgivings about leaving your daughter in his care.
I know that my analogy will be criticized by many as it would be said that I am comparing chalk and cheese, but the principle of what am I trying to present, I hope, is not lost in the comparison.
Cenac also must have known that his 1987 move to the other side of the political bench immediately after the general elections would have been a mark not easily erased from the conscience of the nation. And that it would be a mark he would be identified with whenever floor-crossing is spoken of in St. Lucia as his is the most famous — or infamous — of them all.
So while Cenac prepares for his swearing-in as the Queen’s representative, let him not feel bitter that his floor-crossing of 1987 is being rehashed. He must understand that some people are more forgiving than others in a St. Lucia where they love their partisan politics.
Two questions come to mind: Could Cenac as Governor General redeem himself to the people he once let down? Was his approval for the post a move by Prime Minister Chastanet to put someone in the position who will be totally devoted to him that should parliamentarians on the government side decide to throw their support behind someone else for post of Prime Minister that Cenac will not sign the document? Just asking!
I said two questions came to mind, actually I meant three. Was Chastanet’s selection of Cenac as Governor General a move based on Cenac’s mental processes of abstract thinking and reason, a man with a highly-developed ability to think, reason and understand, especially in combination with wide knowledge, or was it a move by the Prime Minister to cover his back should it be in need of covering at that level? Again, just asking!