THERE are those who spend their professional life trying to distinguish truth from fact…and fiction. There seems little doubt that a person on a mini bus here knows instinctively when fiction and lies are offered up as truth and facts. He is also aware that truth can be spoken simply – and so can lies. The confusion arises when truth and lies flow from the same lips without pause or the least bit of hiccup or stutter and from those who one expects to be truthful.
It has come as relief to finally hear the Minister of Health speak the truth about the completion and official opening of the new EU financed hospital at Ciceron. It may be recalled that the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance had earlier said that that hospital would be opened at the end of 2014, along St. Jude Hospital at Vieux Fort. No apologies were offered by him or the Minister of Health when that proposed date passed uneventfully. There are persons who knew that it was not possible to open the hospital at the time given by the Prime Minister. The Minister of Health may also have known.
Here’s how I knew the new hospital would not have opened in 2014. I was a patient at Victoria hospital in early 2014 and in conversation with certain senior professionals there I learned that works that had to be carried out by the government of Saint Lucia, before the hospital could be ready for opening, had not started. These works were to have allowed the government of Saint Lucia to fulfil its obligations under the EU/SLU agreement, before the official opening. At that time not a stroke of work had started on the new dining room and cafeteria or laundry. Besides, even though the work had commenced in April 2014, it was unlikely to be finished by December 2014.
It is of interest to note that up to that time no one in government – and I do mean absolutely no one – had the courtesy to communicate with the general public that the projected opening of the new hospital would be postponed to the following year, 2015, or later. Of course reasons would have to be truthfully spelt out and facts given to explain the delay. If the truth was communicated to Joe Public it would have been clear that the government had no money. More than the question of money, it would also have been obvious that, the Ministry of Finance had other priorities for its dwindling funds.
Instead of completing the new hospital the Prime Minister had turned his attention towards the construction of a brand new office building at La Toc, to house the Prime Minister’s office. Obviously the man assumed he could pull a rabbit from a hat at the next elections (remember Babonneau and Gros Islet?) and that he would not have to traverse the unhappy masses of bitter days, to reach the Prime Minister’s office in Castries.
Interestingly, the EU has finally decided to break its silence on the foot-dragging of the government of Saint Lucia on the completion and opening of that new hospital. As part of its usual bluff, the government had decided a full two years prior to the proposed opening, to name the new hospital after one of the better known Saint Lucian surgeons who have served with distinction.
Only now are we hearing from the Minister of Health, that a kitchen, a dining area and other works that the government of Saint Lucia had undertaken have not been completed. Why only now, you may ask? The answer is simple. It appears that the EU has finally decided to set aside the niceties of political diplomacy and speak plainly to the persons in government and in the Ministries of Health and Finance. Could the Minister of Health have had problems in speaking truth to the people of Saint Lucia and could it be that her boss dictated what she should and should not say? Those who aspire to lead must first learn to speak truth in the face of falsehood.
That was not the only matter which had engaged the European Union which has been finally driven to express their abhorrence with the entire justice system on the island, specifically the lack of due process in the IMPACS affair. The EU (along with the Government of France), has promised to assist the opening of the new hospital with necessary training of Saint Lucia personnel. Hopefully, such training would put more pressure on the government of Saint Lucia to do it right in getting the new hospital opened this year, 2016. It’s time!
Inevitably one arrives at the question which must be put. By what measure of deductive reasoning will the people know when their government is speaking the truth or when they are lying through its teeth? How does the average citizen – the man riding on the mini bus – make sense of the mishmash of fabrication, disinformation and outright lies from the government? How can reasonable people deduce that the government of Saint Lucia acts with transparency, accountability and openness based on the evidence of past fifteen years?
It may be too late to persuade the government that it must speak and act with a pure heart and let the truth be known but it is not too late for the people to dump the government as their only hope for a better future. It’s nearly fifteen years since it assumed office in 1997? Let’s not fool ourselves; the truth is very difficult for some people – and for this St. Lucia Labour Party government.
By the way how many people are aware that the new hospital has some 120 beds whereas Victoria hospital which is being vacated has over 170 beds? How is it possible with a ‘full-to-capacity’ Victoria to be transferred to a 120 bed hospital? When will the truth ever be known? Over to you professional reporters and journalists…