The Gems Of Bilateralism

THE much-anticipated announcement as to who will take up the post as Saint Lucia’s Ambassador to Taiwan should come anytime now.

At least that’s according to a short article entitled “St. Lucia Ambassador expected to assume duties in Taiwan next month”, published in NATIONWIDE of, August 15.

In the article, Lino Cheng, Deputy Director-General of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, was quoted as saying earlier that week that the Saint Lucian ambassador had been chosen. Cheng indicated that the Saint Lucian government was scheduled to indicate formally to the Taiwanese embassy here about the new ambassador’s appointment.

Since the embassy was officially opened in Taiwan in early June this year, Minister for External Affairs, Alva Baptiste, has reiterated his ministry’s ongoing process in choosing and installing the new ambassador.

Apparently, the same questions being asked in Saint Lucia about the ambassador’s appointment date are those being asked in Taiwan, especially since Cheng’s comments on the matter came at a press briefing.

Thus far, the software and hardware mechanisms are in place at the embassy in Taiwan, Cheng said, declining to name the ambassador whom he hoped “will arrive in Taiwan to take up his post by the end of September”.

Based on Cheng’s timeline, it would seem that authorities here would have known who the new Saint Lucian Ambassador to Taiwan would be at least close to three weeks now. As to why no hint of that information can be communicated to Saint Lucians seems more of a mystery as Minister Baptiste said the process was not, when he spoke to local media on the matter in June.

Were it not for that August 15 article – and some prompting of the press – the mystery surrounding the appointment of an ambassador for Saint Lucia’s Taipei office might have just died if left to the local media’s futile attempts at getting answers.

In an era where transparency and accountability are often quoted like clichés, pertinent information seems so hard to come by. Notwithstanding that the Taiwanese government has generously agreed to foot the bill for running the Saint Lucia office in Taipei for the first year, should the information Cheng gave reporters not be afforded to the Saint Lucian media?

Coincidentally, the present debate on the report of the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) seems only appropriate in a climate when bureaucracy seems to always override real-time change. Despite the obvious excuses the Ministry of External Affairs might offer on the matter, it was nonetheless courteous of Cheng for at least letting us know that an ambassador has indeed been chosen and that his appointment should commence by next month-end.

Such are some of the wonderful gems of having bilateral relations with people who understand the need to keeping the masses informed.

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