I scrutinized the photograph on the front page of The Voice of St. Lucia Newspaper of last Saturday, February 3, which featured a photograph of Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Teo Ah Khing, the Chinese investor, who promised to establish a horse-racing facility, as well as the economic transformation of the south of our island to the tune of US$2.6 billion.
There is an old adage which states: “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” This is the reality that has hit our Prime Minister which is reflected in his demeanour on the front page of The Voice Newspaper of last Saturday.
My careful examination of the expressions on the faces of the Chinese investor Teo Ah Khing, and the forlorn look on the face of our Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, indicated that our PM could not deliver to the people of St. Lucia the great expectations that he promised from this deal with Teo Ah Khing.
Teo Ah Khing’s face was inscrutable and dour, as is typical of the Chinese race, not revealing his emotions. Our Prime Minister‘s facial expression was gloomy, not what one expected from the leader of a country who had just signed a US$2.6 billion investment deal, unprecedented in the annals of our country’s history, surpassing the combined budgets and GDP of all the other OECS territories.
One expected that there should be a look of exhilaration on the face of our Prime Minister, which would position our country into a level of economic development and prosperity that would obliterate all the problems economic and social that affect a small country like ours. The problems of economic growth, high unemployment, the modernization of our country’s crumbling infrastructure and the ability of government to provide homes to its citizens, would all be eliminated.
The revelation of the details of the agreement made by our Prime Minister with investor Teo Ah Khing demonstrates dramatically that our Prime Minister does not have the requisite acumen and skills to negotiate with an experienced and cunning Chinese entrepreneur.
At the press conference with the media, the Prime Minister gave details of the agreement with the investor Teo Ah King. The Prime Minister made an astonishing statement to the press corps.
According to The Voice reporter: “Ah Khing cannot complain about the money he will spend on the facility as he is set to gain all of it back, according to Chastanet. The Prime Minister, when questioned by this reporter, said the money spent by DSH on the horse track, including the stables and other supporting facilities, will be reimbursed to DSH through the Citizen by Investment Programme (CIP).”
Following that paragraph by the reporter, the Prime Minister made the following statement: “Further, we will have a quantity surveyor to determine how much money is actually spent on the race track.”
What follows is even more astonishing. According to our Prime Minister: “Once the track is paid for, we will take back ownership of the land, and so no longer will there be a lease.”
I may not be a lawyer, but I can surmise that an international court will pronounce on this aberration and expectations of a naïve politician.
On this basis of our Prime Minister’s inane statements, which makes no rational sense, one must conclude that Teo Ah Khing’s planned investments are just an illusion.
The other dimension of international implications is Allen Chastanet’s involvement with Teo Ah Khing’s proposed investment in St. Lucia of the magnitude that is proposed. Teo Ah Khing is a citizen of China, an anti-democratic and totalitarian country.
The United States of America, the most powerful country on earth, militarily, economically, scientifically and technologically will not tolerate the encroachment of the Chinese in the Caribbean on its doorstep, in what is regarded as its “sphere of influence”.
The extraordinary might and power of the United States are clearly demonstrated in its defense of Taiwan, which is part of mainland China. Taiwan has been able to exist as an independent nation despite threats of invasion by China which is unable to act because of the might and power of the United States. Taiwan ranks as the 15th richest country in the world.
The wily Chinese Teo Ah Khing is a superior negotiator with his emotionless face, who has duped our inexperienced leader without the qualified technocrats in assistance.
St. Lucia does not have the attractions and excitements of these vibrant destinations which attract hordes of the filthy rich and international celebrities. The computer-generated images of the transformation of the sleepy town of Vieux Fort into a modern metropolis are just a chimera, which will never become a reality in St. Lucia under this administration.