ST. LUCIA is a democratic country, and not a dictatorship ruled by an authoritarian leader or dictator. Therefore issues concerning the patrimony of our country and the livelihood of St. Lucians, for which the support of the people is vital, then government must inform the citizens of the country, the most fundamental contents of the document signed between the Prime Minister and the Chinese investor Teo Ah Khing.
It is one of life’s ironies that when public institutions or a government are exposed, and issues such as the DSH deal are shrouded in secrecy, citizens become suspicious and ascribe ulterior motives, then it is self-evident that the popularity of that government will decline.
For the entire month of February, the matter concerning the Desert Star Holdings (DSH) horse racing track issue, has dominated the news in the media and the attention of the people of St.Lucia. Yet while this matter was widely being discussed, the most basic contents of that document have been shrouded in secrecy.
Citizens of our country are unaware of the issues concerning the patrimony of our country as far as the DSH deal is concerned.
St. Lucia celebrated its 39th year of Independence on 22nd February, just about 10 days ago. As a tiny country of 238 Sq. mls., the issue of land is paramount to us as a people, and citizens of our country are rightly concerned and appalled that the leader of our country would lease this vital aspect of our patrimony, for a paltry $1.00 US per acre, for a large parcel of 700 acres of our state land for 99 years. Only a misguided politician would give away a critical and vital part of us as a people for a mere pittance. The analogy can be made of a time in history, when European conquerors would take valuable diamonds, gold and land etc. in exchange for worthless trinkets. In this modern era we cannot repeat the errors of the past, by giving away our valuable assets for a paltry sum.
It is only with our land that we can build and develop a solid foundation for the future of our country. Anyone familiar with the extent and expanse of land would know that 700 acres of land is a very vast area of land. As I have previously pointed out there are a variety of productive and more lucrative endeavours that can be pursued on the 700 acres of land.
This land can be used for a variety of agricultural products for local consumption and exportation, which would increase economic growth in St. Lucia.
If our country is to develop and advance as a healthy democracy and not an authoritarian dictatorship, then our country needs the courage and bravery of its citizens to speak out and express their opinions on government’s policies.
In the past weeks, the general population which was unmindful of this whole DSH issue, has suddenly awoken and become conscious of the rape of our land, and the subsequent ravaging of our economy, in which it is the people’s money that will repay all the money that Teo Ah Khing will claim that he has spent on this bogus deal with our Prime Minister.
Evidently, Allen Chastanet did not consult Civil Society Leaders such as the prominent Union Organizations, nor technocrats in the government, who would have guided the P.M. and given wise advice and counsel on the wide range of issues relevant to what is a complex and what has become a controversial issue.
The open forum held in Vieux Fort featuring a number of eminent professionals should be a wakeup call for the government, which has precipitated a greater interest within the general population and awoken the consciousness of the people.
Within four months the second year of this administration in office will have ended. The historical cycle for new governments under a democratic system, is that a new government has at most three years to establish its agenda, and display its tangible achievements.
According to reliable sources Teo Ah Khing has made several additional outrageous demands from our Prime Minister. The Vieux Fort abattoir, which cost $22 million as a gift from our generous benefactors, the Taiwanese government, will be relocated; there are also rumours that the Vieux Fort Olympic Stadium which now serves as a hospital, will have to be incorporated into Theo Ah Khing’s Race course, and will no longer provide health services primarily to the South of the island; it is also on the agenda that the St. Jude Hospital will be demolished, which slipped from the lips of the Minister of Health, Mary Issac.
There is an urgent need for the politicians in office to have consultation with the people of the country on matters of grave and urgent importance that are taking place in our country today. There seems to be an arrogance by the Prime Minister, who has adopted an authoritarian and dictatorial posture towards the governance of our country. When the people are ignored and their livelihood is denied, and their country’s patrimony is treated like some discarded worthless item, then citizens will adopt a hostile attitude towards this administration.
It will be seen that the Prime Minister is an enemy of the people, and the people will take ways to strike back. It is imperative therefore that the Prime Minster commits himself to fostering productive relationships with the people and their political representatives i.e. the Opposition in Parliament, to create harmony in the national interest.
St. Lucians must be reminded that St. Lucia’s largest and most benevolent investor, Leon Hess, demanded that Sir John take the agreement made with the government to be debated in Parliament. Sir John concurred, and it paved the way for better relations with Mr. Hess and the Opposition, when the agreement was passed in the house unanimously. This is a salutary lesson to Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.