DEAR MR. EDITOR
I watched the address of the Prime Minister to the National Trust on Facebook last Saturday and I have to express how impressed I was with not only his knowledge of the facts but the masterful way in which he told the background of his relationship with the Trust and, in the process, surgically exposed their hypocrisy and overt political agenda for almost an hour – all done without notes. In the crowd were the usual mostly foreign elitists more concerned with the threats hotel and resort developments pose to their precious views rather than how sustainable sources of employment and opportunity can be provided for our people. But most interestingly of all, there were also some fresh recruits and new saviours of St. Lucia – new self-appointed environmentalists, and I shall name those that I recognized on Camera – Calixte George Jr., Peter Foster, and the caped crusader himself Richard Frederick, overnight an ardent environmentalist. Is it just a strange coincidence that the new face of the Trust is littered with opponents of the Government? And is it not just as strange a coincidence that every project the Government undertakes is now detrimental to our heritage? Is it not time to wake up, people???
The PM skillfully questioned the sincerity of the members of the Trust when he queried why there was no concern voiced about dolphin parks when the SLP administration approved TWO without their knowledge or consent and yet when this Government asked for their opinion and a report PRIOR to the Government taking a decision, the Trust decided the best course of action was to spread untruths and to assassinate the character of the proposed investor online and in the minds of the public of St. Lucia. The question to be asked is how many of those people in attendance at that meeting have visited Sea World, The Miami Seaquarium or any other marine parks where animals are held in captivity and showcased to millions of visitors each year?
And whilst I have to admit I am no fan of seeing any animal in captivity, I have had the benefit of visiting such parks several times in my life in various parts of the world and I have the luxury of now determining that it is not an activity that I enjoy. However, what of the tens of thousands of St. Lucians for whom this could have been a learning opportunity, many of whom have never had the luxury of travelling abroad? Why should they be deprived of this experience? If Trust members don’t wish to visit the dolphin park, that is their prerogative.
The PM also inquired how an institution so rich in assets bestowed on it by the State, is incapable of operating at a profit? Why they would want to ask Government for Millions of dollars to build a conference facility on the same Pigeon Island they claim a dolphin facility would ruin? All over the world, parks like Pigeon Point are operated by park rangers for a fee, reading materials and memorabilia are available for purchase to sustain the facility. The PM inquired why is more not being done. Does anyone who visits Pigeon Point Island know the story of Admiral Rodney? Shame on the Trust for squandering this asset and this opportunity.
And for all the posturing and whining, it all came down to this – the systematic unmasking of a naked political agenda laid bare for all St. Lucians to see. An opposition party unable to generate any real traction and trying now to use any institution they can to pursue a failing agenda. Although the PM’s delivery was brilliant both in form and in substance, the real highlight for me was the latest legal challenge mounted by the Trust to try to prevent new headquarters being built on the site of the old derelict prison in Castries. The Trust’s argument basically hinged on the fact that the building, ignored for decades by society at large, and especially the Trust, is of historical significance (although not registered anywhere as such) and should not be demolished, and also that it houses a handful of dead salves. Now I can’t speak for the readers here, but surely the PM is correct in placing greater importance on taking care of the hundreds of living police officers desperate for a decent facility to work in rather than those who have gone before?
It is high time for the Trust to re-examine their mandate and start operating in a manner benefiting the majority of Saint Lucians and not just a few. Because the public wants what most Trust members already have- a bite of the cherry, an opportunity to make their way in the world, a real chance at prosperity. And after witnessing Saturday’s address, only Allen Chastanet is offering that. And if the Trust doesn’t realize that they are failing to win the hearts and minds of the people they are supposed to take care of, it is not only the subvention they will lose….it is the last bit of credibility they have left!!