Editorial

Please Clarify Mr. Prime Minister

WE welcome the focus of the new government, under the leadership of the Hon Philip J Pierre, in its attempt to arrest the rapid rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Saint Lucia.

We accept and fully endorse that swift action is needed if Saint Lucia has to make any headway with the virus, especially in the context of what we will mildly describe as our callously irresponsible behaviour last month, in the days leading up to election day. We all now must pay for the frolicking en masse, without due care of the virus, at the multiple motorcades of the two political parties – face masks and social distancing be damned.

With active COVID-19 cases increasing exponentially in Saint Lucia on a daily basis, (now it’s in the hundreds) and with health personnel lamenting the stupid unwillingness of too many Saint Lucians to heed the call to vaccinate, the country is staring down the barrel of a gun, from a health perspective.

It was, therefore, with much relief that we received the news that Prime Minister Pierre would on Wednesday address the nation, specifically on the issue of the spike in COVID-19 cases and measures to contain that spike.

It must be noted that even as we write, countries within our region are either in lockdown mode or have implemented some very strict measures, all in an attempt to restrict the increasing spread of coronavirus cases that they too have been experiencing. For instance, Dominica, this weekend is in lockdown, so too is Martinique.

While Prime Minister Pierre did not deliver at the time advertised, after all there are times when the best of plans do go awry, we expected him to come out fighting, throwing punches that would at best hurt the advance of COVID-19 as this would be in the best interest of all Saint Lucians, even those who consistently argue for relaxation of the protocols.

Alas, the Hon Prime Minister seemed more concerned with empathizing, sympathizing and persuading – which, after all, is his character and why he was elected with such a powerful mandate – than with grasping the nettle of governance. After the Prime Minister’s speech we were left in something of a tail spin, trying to grasp the full import of one particular announcement by him.

We refer to the Hon Prime Minister’s statement that COVID protocol breaches will be decriminalized, and that persons previously convicted of breaches will have their records expunged or if not yet tried will have the cases against them dropped. The first part of that sentence is clear: “COVID protocol breaches will be decriminalized.” What is, perhaps ambiguous, is whether the decriminalization applies only to past offences or whether it is to apply in the future.

We urge the Prime Minister to reconsider his stance, if it is his stance, on decriminalizing breaches of the protocol in the future. A law, and the protocols are laws, without sanction for its breach is no law at all. What are the police to do when they see a bar or restaurant plying its trade after the permitted 8.00pm or persons on the streets after 9.00 pm in clear defiance of the protocol. Hon Prime Minister, you were elected to govern. Not all of your actions will be generally popular but if they are seen as in the interest of the general good, you will be popular.

Whichever way, a simple clarification/explanation by the prime minister, if not by himself then via his office, would suffice in making crystal clear what exactly he meant by the words “COVID protocol breaches will be decriminalized.”

We are sure that this being Prime Minister Pierre’s first public policy statement on COVID-19, he would not want any ambiguity associated with it.

As the Prime Minister himself said on Wednesday night, “this virus is too serious a threat to our lives and livelihoods to be left to the whims and fancies of uninformed personal opinions.”

2 Comments

  1. Consider well the significance of criminalization of people in the throes of a pandemic such as rages today.
    It is by all measures, a slippery slope at whose base lies all forms of human social degradation.

    Who are the people most at risk becoming strangled in the twisted arms of the laws that spawn criminalization ?

    You may be certain it wii be underprivileged people who do not have the resources ( money, lawyers etc.) to defend them from from the surreptitious dealings of corrupt policemen and their henchmen.

    So, you begin to fill the courthouses and jails with potential sick people. Furthermore, you inadvertently increase the population of criminals; so that a man or woman’s potential to become a (socially and mentally) valuable citizen is stymied by a senseless criminal record.

    To make a man an offender fo a word is the modus apprendi of dictators, despots,tyrants and zealots too narrow minded to understand the significance of arbitrary criminalization on the advancement and stability of a nation.

    Go through the annals of history and tremble at the bloodbaths of the French Inquisition; the smoke of burning bodies belching from the criminalization camps of Hitler’s Third Reich.

    Have not the human and civil rights of St.Lucians been slapped, spat on and kicked enough by the gros bicha?

    In this so called civilized world of gros cai mason and belle motorcar have we forgotten how to pwa wagemant in matters that should not involve a life demeaning jail cell?

    Honorable J. Pierre understands the elements that foster anarchy, hatred and violence among people.; between the people and the government; especially the police.

    He understands the fine underpinnings of governing for the people and the skillful and judicious methods of accomplishing the task for the people of St.Lucia.

    Never-the-less, it is incumbent on the gate keepers of the people’s business to seek clarification of shortcomings they observe in the movements of the government.

  2. I read your editorial but I am a bit disappointed in your tone and rationale. The Prime Minister is taking a prudent approach by not criminalizing behaviours. This is the best approach in the current situation. There is evidence to suggest that ‘moral suasion’ may be the best tool available at this time. Also, it appears that the Prime Minister is trying to establish a relationship based on trust and respect and that is very encouraging. I believe the Voice should adopt a similar approach. Defeating the virus should our number priority.

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