Letters & Opinion

Dictatorship has replaced Democracy in Saint Lucia!

By Stephen Lester Prescott

HAVE we in Saint Lucia exchanged our democracy for dictatorship since the general elections of June 2016?

‘Absolute Rule’, ‘Tyranny’, ‘Autocracy’, ‘Authoritarianism’ — these are the types of words parading my mind as I reflect on what is going on in my country today.

Silencing of all forms of views in the society opposed to or opposing the dictates of this UWP Government — and even legislating that silence when necessary, as is proposed by the new media legislation… Oh how sad that the champions against Section 361 back in the day have become paralysed with their own self-interest and greed and now forget to defend press freedom… But that’s for another show.

Today, I wish to spend some time on the sustained attack by this administration against any view which is contrary to theirs. Last year, it was the Vieux Fort Concerned Citizens Committee who found their way on the Hit List and were put under the firing squad of the PM and his Cabinet for speaking against DSH.

Later, the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) was also featured on the PM’s Hit List and subsequently lost its subvention for daring to speak out about the Dolphin Park at Pigeon Island.

Then a few months ago it was the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) turn to make the Hit List — for daring to raise any objections to increasing airport taxes. (I’m sure you didn’t know that the PM had put his former colleagues on his bad books for speaking out publicly…)

And now it’s the turn of the St Lucia Medical Dental Association — a body of professionals. (Please note I am not referencing the types of “professionals” with dubious certifications, but people who spent many years of their lives earning their qualifications) And as for the defenders of the UWP faith who will suggest that I am inciting violence by using warfare language like ‘hit list’, let them be reminded that it was this Prime Minister who only recently referenced all the ‘terrorists’ in our country.

But back to the point at hand…

The SLMDA, like the citizenry, are rightfully concerned about the crisis in our health care system and yes — make no mistake it is a crisis — health access and affordability are causes of serious concern, given the situation with SJH and OKEU.

The Association has been clamouring quietly for over a year for information and dialogue with the Government on plans for the health system. And just as the Government did with request for information from civil society on the DSH project, again the Government chooses instead to ignore and malign the characters of Saint Lucian professionals instead of sitting at the table with them.

The Prime Minister, as head of this administration, has led the charge by vilifying professionals like Mark Hennecart for offering a technical opinion and advice. And unlike FDL, Mark Hennecart, Dr. St Rose, Dr. Janice Stanley — even the former chair of Saint Jude Hospital Dr. Ulric Mondesir, have not received a million dollars to give their advice – instead, its’ been offered free for the national good. Why then, does the PM believe that he and his team are the only competent persons to speak on issues that will affect the entire nation, the PM was elected on the basis of addressing the SJH and OKEU situation, but the people of Saint Lucia have strong objections about what’s being bandied about as his ‘solutions’?

We don’t want the Saint Jude Hospital new facility to be handed to anyone for another use; and we are outraged at the announcement by the Prime Minister that it will be housed at the stadium for another two years. And further, the dismissive attitude of the PM to residents of the south and to his former Chairman of SJH is tantamount to treason in my estimation. Prime Minister we most certainly don’t want our health system to be given over on a golden platter to foreign national management when the expertise exist in our country.

It would be useful if the Prime Minister could tell us what in his mind is wrong with advocating for affordable health care for all?

Mary Issac and Guy Joseph — what is wrong with speaking against privatisation of our health services if that means health access, coverage and affordability to the citizenry is threatened? Mary Issac, Guy Jsoeph, AllenChastanent: According to Article 25 of UN Declaration remember it is a fundamental human right to have access to health.

I have long identified that Allen Chastanet is not a ‘pro-poor’, or ‘pro-local’ individual. However, notwithstanding his biases, he must as PM address the issues of coverage of health where people obtain health needs without undue financial burden as maybe under his plan for privatisation.

And for the intellectually challenged who continue to attack professionals on grounds of being political, if you read just a little more, you would recognise politics encompasses all facets of our lives.

Health care is a political issue, just as issues our patrimony, land ownership, beach access… but let us be clear these are not partisan issues, as their impact on us is not determined by which party we support. UWPees do not get more preferential health services in hospitals than SLPees, neither do any of the Pees have to show their party card before accessing our beaches.

So, these party hackers should just dispel with absurd falsity.

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