Letters & Opinion

IMPACS Report: Courage vs Cowardice

IT is not surprising that Prime Minister Anthony’s valiant efforts at bringing closure to what appears to be a planned liquidation of young criminals has caused unease amongst those who would have wished the matter away. Indeed, some have gone so far as to attempt to suggest the Prime Minister should have kept quiet.

Imagine that, a Prime Minister who inherited the tragedy from the last UWP administration is now being blamed for giving the people of our country no more than a minimal insight into events that led to the inquiry and the conclusions of the investigators. Whilst all right-thinking individuals, here and abroad, are praising the Prime Minister’s courage in having lived up to his oath of office, a small cadre of individuals seek to suggest otherwise. One week, the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Gail Rigobert, publicly denounces what she claimed to have been the Prime Minister’s procrastination in making the Report’s contents public. The following week after Prime Minister Anthony gives a sneak peek into the horrific findings, the same Leader of the Opposition cries foul, saying the Prime Minister should have said nothing. A better example of speaking from both sides of one’s mouth would be difficult to find. Little wonder she has been described as a “two-timer”.

Last Tuesday’s Voice editorial itself seemed to be chiding the Prime Minister for doing the right thing of putting the matter in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions, instead of silently handing the Report to her and saying nothing. In that editorial, the grave and damning charge of Pontius Pilate’s behaviour is launched against Prime Minister Anthony.

The inquiring media which likes to give its political insights to the public free of charge has, on this occasion, done nothing to enlighten the public on what has given rise to the present situation. They have chosen to remain silent even though they could well have enlightened without compromising any projected judicial proceedings.

The media seems instead intent on creating an impression that the Labour government – which was in opposition during the events under review – bears major responsibility for upsetting sections of the police force, when in fact, all that has been done is the presentation of a carefully crafted exposition by the Prime Minister, himself an experienced practitioner in the field of constitutional and administrative law.

Surprisingly – then again, perhaps not – there seems to have been little if any interest by that same media to seek answers from the leadership of the UWP Government during whose tenure the events under review occurred. So, though the current Leader of the Opposition, a highly paid consultant under the UWP regime, screams for the Report to be made public, not a single reporter bothered to enquire of her what were her views on what transpired during the years in which she was ensconced in government offices; or whether she had a concern, during her government’s tenure, that there were grounds for an investigation into the behaviour of the police. No one asked her why she chose to have kept silent on the matter.

Instead, the Leader of the Opposition and her colleagues preferred then and continue to prefer now, to let public anxiety run rife, instead of standing behind the Prime Minister’s courageous action, and assuring the public that not only was the right action taken , but in the circumstances the action taken was only permissible one.

Should the relevant UWP government actors of the time not be grilled by the press on their perceptions of what happened at the time? Should they not have been grilled on why they took no action in respect of persistent allegations of undesirable, perhaps unlawful, behaviour by the police? Should these former ministers not have been questioned on what their response was to the ever increasing United States pressure to investigate what had occurred? Shouldn’t Guy Mayers, the former Home Affairs Minister be asked whether he encouraged or supported the actions of the police officers who were involved? Did not former Minister, the ever-loquacious, Guy Joseph, not deserve some questions on the matter, beyond a mere reporting of his usual defensive rantings?

In addition, few commentators have taken the time, in the interest of public enlightenment, to investigate, and then indicate to the public, the course of external action which led to the investigation. Few commentators have sought to enlighten the public on the nature, and the reasons for, the obvious pressure to pursue action exerted by the government of the United States, under virtual threat of squeezing St Lucia like a lemon.

Should there not have been some discussion on the nature of that pressure, and what it has done to the reputation of St Lucia, a small country with barely enough resources to expend expensive enquiries?

Should our press and its ever ready penchant to criticize the present government, not have taken the time to make some enquiry from the United States as to what efforts they are willing to make to assist the government to come to terms with the results of the inquiry?

Should someone, in the press especially, not have publicly queried whether the threat of the United States to desist from assistance to St Lucia would be beneficial to our country in the long run? Should there not have been some concern expressed as to whether these kinds of pressures are appropriate between countries in this hemisphere basically on the side of the US in its various activities?

St. Lucia is a small country, incapable of resisting determined pressure from the United States, especially when the reason for the pressure has had nothing to do with the current government. A certain inherited separation of powers in practice inhibits Government from taking certain kinds of action in respect of the public service institutions without due cause and the Prime Minister expertly and on several instances made this clear in his national address.

The United States, in its desire, indeed anxiety, to ensure proper public behaviour on the part of governments within its sphere of influence, does not often take into account the backlash from the public that can come on the very governments that it seeks to assist, for what can appear to be subordination to more powerful forces.

Every sitting government in a small country such as ours accepts these situations as facts of life. So in that regard, Prime Minister Anthony and his government have been correctly circumspect in not indicating any unhappiness at pressures exerted against them, even when, as in the present case, they are taking action in respect of a matter that has not occurred under their watch.

It is to be hoped that when the time comes, all in government then or now in opposition, who have had responsibility for dealing with the matter will be grilled by the press with the same intensity as has been directed at Prime Minister Anthony. Certainly, it is not sufficient for the media to accept the few words of protest made by former Prime Minister King when the IMPACS Report was released.

The public must be made to see and hear from its media, both sides of the coin. And even less is it permissible for the media to leave, without proper investigation, the complaint of the Leader of the Opposition, under pressure, no doubt, from the unofficial, but real leader of the opposition, that they cannot get the Report. Not when the alleged events took place under her party’s watch as a government. In any event, who on earth can trust this opposition and bring them into their confidence?

By Stephen Lester Prescott


  1. Stephen Lester Prescott



  2. This article-although it’s author’s purpose is a defensive one- is among the most BALANCED pieces of OBJECTIVE politics themed writing I’ve read -anywhere.
    I like the way you juxtapose Don Quiote (Fair Helen) versus the pressures of Darth Vader’s “The EMPIRE Strikes Back”.
    You were generously civil with the labeling of the “forked”tongue of the notorious ambulance chaser.
    The political acumen of the modern masses are at superficial levels of understanding and engagement. Consequently, they remain vulnerable to wolves in sheep clothing or demons in their pulpits.
    With minor edits of the righteous jabs at the “empress” of the opposition, I recommend this piece as must read for students majoring in law, politics, sociology or economics at any global university.
    I also thank the Voice for having the Chutzpah to publish even though you leveled some criticism at them and for that matter all media outlets.

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