I read Jeff Fedee’s lengthy tirade in your paper last weekend with a mixture of amusement and regret. It was not long ago that we saw Mr. Fedee in articles in another paper, on a long-running campaign against the last government of the Labour Party and its leader Kenny Anthony. Now, within two years of the reign of the UWP government, he is on another campaign trying to discredit Allen Chastanet.
If one had to look for a motive for this about-face by Jeff Fedee one did not have to look further than the opening line in his article when he spoke of approaching his task with some trepidation. One may ask, why trepidation? After all, if you are a serious political commentator with a message for the masses, one expects that you will boldly come out and say what’s on your mind. Why should you experience trepidation, worrying what others might say?
The thing I found about Fedee’s article, however, was the puerile nature of his arguments, no substance, no facts and figures to support his claims, just a lengthy rant, repeating himself over and over and over. Like the claim that Stephenson King is the most competent speaker in the House of Assembly and the argument why he supported Chastanet over King. Who cares, Mr. Fedee? If you were an important political factor in the country, I would not mind, but your hooting for Chastanet, King or Anthony means precious nothing. You do not have that clout to be of such consequence.
Of what relevance is being a competent speaker? Wasn’t Anthony better than King? Look where he took the country. Either way, the fact is that Chastanet had to win three contests within his party to get where he is today. It is he who is the leader — not anyone else — so whether or not you supported him matters little. Childish stuff, really.
Then there is the claim that it was widely anticipated that Chastanet would have followed in the footsteps of Sir John. While I agree with the legacy attributed to Sir John, we cannot expect our leaders to follow in anyone’s footsteps. Our leaders must come into office with their own qualities, their own style, their own agenda. If there are reasons to continue what a predecessor did because it was of value, by all means do it, but you cannot expect people to copy others wholesale.
Fedee accuses Chastanet of encouraging six months of bacchanalia because of the summer festivals. Everyone knows that long before Chastanet came on the scene St. Lucia was engaged in a year-round fete culture that knows no end. This has been going on for decades, yet all of a sudden because of the summer festivals, Fedee sees them as “six months of wanton behaviour and expenditure”. Where are the figures, Mr. Fedee? Have these festivals really been on for six months? What a lie!
If Fedee was really concerned about the moral fabric of St. Lucia, why does he not rail against the Friday afternoon party on Jeremie Street that is now beginning to attract scores of young people? This has been going on for years. Is that Chastanet’s fault as well?
Another childish claim was that Chastanet had not given credit to the Labour Party for hotel projects like the Royalton. Give me a break, Sir. Has the Labour Party ever given the UWP credit for anything? Where have you been? In fact, I have distinctly heard Chastanet on more than one occasion give credit to the Labour Party, so what’s wrong if he did not do it on this occasion? Why should a Labour Party that is on Chastanet’s back every day of the week with one foolish claim after another expect to get credit from him when he gets none from them? In fact, Labour has attempted to destroy the man’s name, character and reputation, and have failed miserably.
Twice in his article Fedee makes the point that Chastanet has not offered “an enlightened path” to St. Lucia’s future development. There could be the argument that Chastanet has not articulated his position clearly but everyone knows where he is heading. For instance, I see a clear path to the development of the south, where I live, and I am looking forward to the fruits of that agenda with great expectation. The improvement in the banana industry, the ongoing developments in the tourism and industrial sectors constitute a continuation of the same tripod of agriculture, tourism and manufacturing that Sir John pursued and Fedee insinuated was not being pursued.
All this talk comparing St. Lucia with Singapore and Taiwan is foolhardy, chalk and cheese, really. The different cultures and work ethic, for one, mitigate against St. Lucia ever being able to become a Taiwan or Singapore, so stop spreading this foolishness. You spend your entire year partying and you want to be like Singapore? Get real, man. It is never going to happen and it is not Chastanet’s fault, either. He came and found that St. Lucian culture alive and kicking. But let him try to change it and you will see if he is not kicked out of office. People want their fete and will have it at all costs. These are the facts, Mr. Fedee, and if you don’t know it, you should not be writing articles in the press.
Then Fedee was all over the place talking about the OECS and WINBAN, not even realizing that WINBAN came long before the OECS. Even crime he lays at Chastanet’s feet with the 60 homicides. So in 20 months Chastanet should have created utopia, something the Labour Party could not do in 15 years. In fact, the SLP brought St. Lucia down to its knees with over-taxation, high debt and unemployment, increased poverty, inefficient social services and broken-down institutions like the courts, not to mention their bad administration, and refusal to inform the public. So much for Jeff Fedee’s trepidation.