100 Days of SLP - 50 Reasons to Smile

By The Comrade

1. A renewed thrust towards of our foreign policy
2. 2 Phases of the STEP initiative
3. Settlement of the Ausbert Regis matter
4. Extension of working hours for all government collection agencies
5. Creation of better quality statutory boards
6. Massive road repairs and maintenance
7. Country wide infrastructural improvement
8. A great thrust towards improving the Creative Industries
9. Settlement of Lenard ‘Spider’ Montoute’s 2 year old LUCELEC debt
10. A better governance structure
11. Immediate work on the black sigatoka crop disease
12. A Minister for Health who visits health facilities unannounced
13. Public-Private partnership initiatives (e.g Ease of Doing Business)
14. Sound management of government resources
15. NO victimization
16. A concerted effort to settle the WASCO debacle
17. Better communication through the Office of the Prime Minister
18. A still functioning SLP website
19. Better use of social media by all Ministers to disseminate information
20. A structured way for the disbursement of contracts
21. A Minister for Infrastructure who gives due credit to his engineers and other technocrats
22. A Minister for Social Transformation who has put a stop to all SSDF related corruption
23. Repairs to the Mindoo Phillip Park – left to decay for 5 years
24. Preparatory works for the construction of low income houses
25. A diplomatic approach to dealing with the country’s Ambassadors
26. Development of a sound sports programme by the Minister for Sports
27. A concerted effort to providing relief for the wards at the Boys Training Center
28. Plans to create a home for female juvenile delinquents
29. Plans to ensure Victoria Hospital is well stocked
30. Expeditious work to complete the St. Jude’s hospital
31. The proposed creation of constituency councils to manage their own affairs
32. A thrust by Minister for Public Service to revamp our current bureaucratic system
33. A thrust by the government and LUCELEC to seek alternative energy resources
34. Rehabilitation of feeder roads island wide
35. Greater inclusion of opposition Parliamentarians in government decisions
36. A great thrust towards developing the ICT sector
37. Proposed laptops for all form 4 students
38. Repairs to the Soufriere Hospital
39. Eradication of corruption at NDC – now Invest Saint Lucia
40. The selection of diversified and intelligent Senators
41. Eradiation of corruption at the Castries City Council
42. A thrust to resolving the flooding issues in Dennery
43. Brand new Entrepot Road
44. The relocation of residents of Conway to better housing facilities
45. A structured approach to establishing the hierarchy of the police force
46. A promise for timely payment of performance and prize money to musical artists
47. A thrust towards developing the tourism product that is Saint Lucia
48. Brand New Babonneau Road
49. A Prime Minister who has made himself available to the media

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Don’t Carnivalize Culture and Creative Industries!

‘I would hope that as the Government prepares for the presentation of its Culture and Creative Industries plans, all relevant stakeholders will be engaged and embraced. The cultural activists, the folk culture practitioners, dancers, actors, singers, artists, painters, historians, writers, publishers, poets, etc., must be seriously engaged in the pre-budget discussions. The essence of these discussions must be to develop a comprehensive and all-embracing strategy for the advancement of this new economic pillar. In this endeavor, Carnival must abandon its selfish and domineering role and become more co-operative, inclusive and responsible…’

By Maryanna Williams
(Exclusive Crusader Correspondent)

During the reign of the last UWP Government, we saw a naked and unbridled corruption of our culture, caused by the asinine decisions of Allen Chastanet and Stephenson King. First, the wild-spending Chastanet pumped a magical million dollars into Carnival and then tried to pull it back after three years. Then after Chastanet’s magical million fiasco had fueled an overcharging frenzy by service providers and performers, King stupidly sidelined the CDF and appointed his own Carnival Committee to justify giving another magical million.

In its Blueprint for Growth, the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) promised to invest in a brand new economic sector embracing Culture and the Creative Industries, and this pledge was eagerly embraced by many St. Lucians, particularly young people. The details of Labour’s Culture & Creative Industries programme are expected to be unveiled during the 2012/13 Budget presentation by Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, and so we eagerly anticipate the announcements that will be made in a few short weeks.

However, despite the excitement and heightened expectations of the Budget presentation, we must caution the Government to not repeat the mistakes of the past. Carnival is not the sum total of Culture and the Creative Industries, and therefore cannot continue to monopolize and bleed the limited budget allocation that will be made, given competing demands for the finite resources available. So, for starters, the rush for gold by Carnival stakeholders must be stemmed. Everyone must get a fair share of the pie and the extortion by some, which has led to inequality, as well as high debts for the organizers, cannot be allowed to continue.

The Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) -- or whatever new entity emerges to manage Culture and the Creative Industries -- must lay down the “law” as it relates to management of the Carnival allocation, negotiation with stakeholders and cutting out over-charging. We cannot continue to pay sound systems and bands whatever they ask for, while performers must accept whatever crumbs remain after the extortionists have extracted over 50% of the allocation. And on top of that, Carnival always damages the sporting facilities used, while failing to pay the charges for use of those facilities and any restoration costs that may be levied.

Because of Carnival’s history of selfishness and financial extravagance, it is not advisable to have a Carnival person in charge of Culture and the Creative Industries. Therefore, while I respect the legal knowledge of the new Chairman, I am not sure that I am entirely comfortable with the “Cosy Guzzler” as the new head of our CDF and possibly the head of our Creative Industries thrust. For his sake though, and that of the Government as well, I hope he gives good oversight to the CDF and the entire gamut of enterprises embraced by Culture and the Creative Industries.

I believe that the current SLP Government is a good Government, and is far superior to the rogue Stephenson King regime, which reigned up to November 28, 2011. Given the caliber and quality of persons associated with the SLP Government, it will do far better than the previous regime. However, simply doing better cannot be considered good enough; the SLP must do much better, as envisaged in its Blueprint for Growth.

I would hope that as the Government prepares for the presentation of its Culture and Creative Industries plans, all relevant stakeholders will be engaged and embraced. The cultural activists, the folk culture practitioners, dancers, actors, singers, artists, painters, historians, writers, publishers, poets etc., must be seriously engaged in the pre-budget discussions. The essence of these discussions must be to develop a comprehensive and all-embracing strategy for the advancement of this new economic pillar. In this endeavor, Carnival must abandon its selfish and domineering role and become more co-operative, inclusive and responsible.

We need to see better standards in Carnival, particularly in the band dress, where we have to cut out the skimpiness and indecency, through reasonable rules, penalties and incentives. Crappy competitions like Power Soca -- with all their stoppages, extra-fast “music,” and destructive “mash-up“ culture -- need to be radically reformed or scrapped altogether. This must be about excellence, not mediocrity.

I have been using the word in this article, but there is also the matter of the understandable concern in the local cultural community that the word CULTURE has been removed or left out of the main descriptive tag line (the formal name) of the new Ministry that will be responsible for Culture. Has “Culture” been replaced by “Creative Industries”? What or where is the link and why the change? These are all issues that should be discussed early, so that everyone on the new CDF board that was just announced by the Minister will be in a position to know if there’s a difference and what it is.

I therefore urge the Prime Minister and his Culture and Creative Industries Minister to bring on board their cultural colleagues and associates to help shape the sector and create as much buy-in as possible. This is essentially a political process which must be undertaken internally so that the leadership and membership of the SLP can properly conceptualize and rationalize the Culture & Creative Industries portfolio. Activists of the party must be given the opportunity to contribute to this emerging economic enterprise, otherwise they will not be in a position to support or defend the government when it comes under attack for mistakes made by the Culture and Creative Industries Ministry.

If such consultation and inclusion can take place, then the SLP Government would be creating the platform for the Cultural and Creative Industries to take off. If not, then I am afraid that the seeds of confrontation and confusion would continue to loom largely and eerily over all our heads.

We have a duty to avoid this situation and to plan properly to give St. Lucia a vibrant and vital Creative Industries Programme.

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Happy International Women’s Day

The Saint Lucia Labour Party wishes to congratulate women, especially St. Lucians both here and abroad on the celebration of International Women’s Day 2012.

Women have historically been the pillars of families and societies; the primary socializing agents for many of our brilliant minds, both past and present as well as a refuge for love and comfort in times of despair. Over the last few decades they have broken the proverbial glass ceiling and have become the movers and shakers of modern day societies.

Considering this tremendous feet, we thank woman for their perseverance, hard work and resilience.

True strength resides in a woman!

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King is a waste, but who else does UWP have?

Yolanda O’Brien

Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish certain objectives. Leaders carry out this process by applying their leadership knowledge and skills.
Two important ingredients of an effective leader are: (1) They must be trustworthy; and (2) They must be able to communicate their vision.

In terms of a country, a leader is expected to lead and direct in a way that makes public policy more cohesive. Both political parties have in the past provided St Lucia with good leadership -- Dr. Kenny Anthony, Sir John Compton and Dr Vaughan Lewis all displayed exemplary leadership qualities. But now the UWP finds itself in quite a quagmire.
The challenge for the UWP now is finding a viable leader, a person who can rebuild that Party.

As someone who once held membership in the Party, the current offerings being sold as the saving grace for the Party bother me. The leadership issue of the UWP is one we should all pay attention to because an opposition is generally viewed as “a government in waiting.” So, today I’ll focus on two well-known individuals who have offered themselves up for leadership and have left legacies that can be assessed: Stephenson King and Sarah Flood.

(I can’t imagine any of these two serving capably as Prime Minister in St Lucia, but nevertheless let’s examine their track record.)

Let’s all face it, King’s ‘nice guy’ image is sullied because of his actions and inactions over the last few years. When he had the opportunities to assert his authority as Prime Minister, he failed miserably and allowed back-seat drivers to control his appointments. He served ten (10) years in previous UWP Cabinet (from 1987 to 1997), yet demonstrated gross incompetence during period 2006 to 2011. And when disenchantment with his laissez faire approach to governance became glaring, King failed to make the required adjustments. He erred badly in running away from issues and his lack of decisive action against dissidents further worsened public disappointment with him.

But King’s continued misbehavior since becoming Leader of the Opposition has made him even more unpopular. He rejected the new Prime Minister’s offer of an early “Olive Branch” after the last general elections, which most people saw as foolish, when he said Dr Anthony’s Olive Branch was a bundle of “thorns”. As Leader of the Opposition he has also (just recently) described as a “nuisance clause” a regulation in the UWP Constitution dealing with resignation of leader following an electoral defeat.

Interestingly, King is ONLY NOW saying that all taxpayers should be letting their voices be heard on the waste of taxpayers’ money with the Regis settlement. It never mattered when he was Finance Minister and held the strings of the national purse. It didn’t matter when people were calling for transparency and accountability in the handling of Taiwanese funds. But now that he is Leader of the Opposition and will soon be heading the Public Accounts Committee in parliament, he is all of a sudden concerned about wastage or handling of public funds. So, do you understand, St. Lucia, why I’ve long argued that this gentleman suffers from a particular type of dementia?

The maladministration of the Stephenson King government has cost taxpayers a payment of $100,000 to Reginald Armour the King Government’s attorney, $40,000 to Ausbert Regis and $80,000 to Regis’s attorney. So, in effect, $200,000 of the state’s resources will be used to cover Stephenson King’s ineptitude.

But then, that’s not all. There is also the case and cases of Martin Satney and the other public servants who had been dismissed unconstitutionally by Stephenson King’s government, and who now have to be paid by this Kenny Anthony administration. St. Lucians, how much more will King cost St Lucians? And we haven’t even gotten into the issues of maladministration associated with SSDF, City Council, Public Works, etc… How much more of our taxpayers money will King and his band of renegades cost this country when the final tally is made? Nobody dares chance an estimate, considering that each case so far covered is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While many familiar with Machiavelli’s Prince will not agree with his justified rule by force, he does offer some useful advice for Stephenson King on leadership “…a wise prince should establish himself on that which is his own control and not that of others….” Good advice, as it clearly distinguishes between who is a follower and who is a leader. But then, the choice made by Stephenson King while he was PM is as clear as water.

Now to that other infamous politician, Sarah Flood…. Mrs. Flood-Beaubrun will again this week be on a local talk show making a pitch for re-entry into elective politics…specifically for the Micoud seat….and she will continue to stretch her hand out for the UWP leadership as well. As I have argued before, Sarah Flood Beaubrun appears to be a true chameleon. From her short stints in ONE, UWP (and even a brief attempt at re-entry into Labour in 2011) and now back to the UWP, she seems to be spinning around and jumping from party to party like dog trying to bite its tail.

It is fair to assume that one’s politics can be linked to his/her ideology, core value system and principles. So, for a politician who claims to be so “principled” like Sarah Flood to have remained in the bosom of UWP (which over the last five years saw countless scandals, nepotism, corruption), without once every speaking out against it, is very telling indeed. Sarah’s actions -- especially since being dismissed from the former Labour Cabinet of Ministers -- has confirmed to me (and many others) that she was motivated more by political opportunism than by principles.

But, do you know, St. Lucia, what has always bothered me about Sarah’s “principles”? If Section 166 of the Criminal Code contradicted her fundamental values and core beliefs, why didn’t she resign her ministerial portfolio immediately, rather than wait to be fired from the former Labour government? At least, on a point of principle, I certainly would have left.
Was it because of the salary that Sarah chose to ignore her values and sit in Cabinet with the so-called “child killers and murderers” with whom she had such fundamental differences? And if the answer to that question is yes, then that reeks of self preservation and not adherence to core values and beliefs.

Money shouldn’t have prevented Mrs Beaubrun from doing what is right, but it seems like it did. And so like other notorious names in the list (including Peter Josie), Sarah Flood has found herself in the category of politicians who have lost their legitimacy and credibility in the St Lucian landscape.

And so, as the UWP prepares for its upcoming convention, due diligence and screening should be undertaken in moving forward. There are calls for replacing Stephenson King. I understand and quite agree that my former party needs a better leader than Stephenson King. But when I examine the horns of those offering themselves or being recommended, I’m very sorry to say, sadly, I don’t see anyone better.

Normally, I would have said that okay and I don’t care because I have left my old party. But I still have many friends there and the fact is that the party still represents many St. Lucians, so I cannot say I don’t care about other fellow Lucians. But I must say that if the UWP is ever to return to what it once was under Sir John, it will need someone else than Stephenson King, who can fill the two slots I mentioned at the beginning of this article: Trustworthiness and articulated vision.

Only if and when the UWP is able to summon such a leader will it come anywhere near to being able to offer any challenge to this new Kenny Administration. Until then, the UWP remains doomed in the darkness for not having one credible leader that can take it out of its mess, clean it up and get it ready to be ever considered an alternative government.

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What about the Choice of Consumers between Cheaper and More Expensive goods?

‘I think our local manufactures should spend more time trying to become competitive instead of wasting energy “crying wolf”. They simply cannot expect any government to decide to save them alone and ignore the plight of those who cannot afford. This is the age and world of competition in which we live and we cannot be championing a Free Enterprise and Free Market system and at the same time calling for restrictions on qualified business people, no matter where they come from. That’s simply wrong…’

By Yolanda O’Brien
I had no intention on speaking on the Taiwan/China/St Lucia relationship because of my known bias, as had been expressed over the last few years. It’s no secret to many that I’ve found the Taiwan St Lucia relations under the Stephenson King administration quite obscene. It’s no secret that I found Ambassador Tom Chou’s behavior utterly disrespectful to our sovereignty and it is most disturbing to me that to this date the level of Taiwanese dollars reaching the last administration remains unaccounted for. We still don’t know how many millions were disbursed by Taiwan and which UWP politicians collected from these millions. So, for me, the decision is clear: Tom Chou must go; and if Taiwan’s continued presence means subvention of the nation’s law or undermining our sovereignty, then they too, without hesitation, must also go.

But I have uttermost confidence in the due diligence that will be followed by the Dr Kenny Anthony’s administration in settling these specific international relations matters. In fact, after listening to the process being undertaken by the steering committee led by Dr Vaughan Lewis, I’m certain that the decision made will be in the best interest of this country.
All of this being said however I was forced to write on this issue because of what I perceive to be the continued prostitution of the Tawan/China saga for personal aggrandizement. I’ve heard the arguments of Paula Caluderon, President of Manufacturer’s Association, which, quite honestly, seems a bit contradictory. But I’ll allow that she is getting some of the facts confused. Ms Calderon argues that the presence of Chinese business is a threat to local manufacturers and the Chinese, in effect, should not be allowed to set up shop. Yet, in the same breath, she seems to be asking government to allow the Chinese business people here, but to make sure they only operate in the manufacturing sector. My question is: Does she want them here or not?

But I also read Earl Bousquet’s piece which rightly argued that you can’t ignore China as a domineering world power and that as a small developing nation we should look to develop beneficial relations with both these countries. In fact, Mr. Bousquet is quite correct, in the new scheme of international relations China can’t afford to be ignored. As many of you may be aware even the mighty United States is now courting China, the Vice President of China recently visited President Obama. Do you know one of the reasons for this new smoothing of US relations readers? Because, surprisingly, China is now referred to as the new landlord of the United States. In fact, China is the largest holder of US debt, approximately 900 billion in US bonds to be exact. So, even the mighty United States has to treat China with kid gloves. This is our global reality, St Lucia, and we are just a spec on the international radar. So we need to be aware of global realities when we make these foreign policy decisions.

But, I’ll move away today from which country is best suited and try to deal with this issue from a consumer’s perspective. I want to take on particularly Ms Calderon’s and her manufacturers apparent discomfort with competition. In a global environment which has seen the erosion of preferentalism and the rise of global free trade, it seems counterproductive for manufactures to be asking for government protection now. Nevertheless, I digress. Recently, I undertook a small construction project and in procuring items locally and internationally I was totally astounded by the mark-ups of some our local manufacturers and retailers here. So, quite honestly, with my limited budget, it was a pleasure to have access to a Chinese business that was able to provide me with more competitive prices for some of the items I required. And, because I have confidence in the certification provided by the Bureau of Standards, I had no hesitation about making these purchases from that supplier because their prices were more competitive. And, like Ms Calderon who may be preoccupied only with her own bottom line, so too was I, readers, when I made these purchases.

Quite honestly, I think our local manufactures should spend more time trying to become competitive instead of wasting energy “crying wolf”. They simply cannot expect any government to decide to save them alone by allowing them to specialize in only the expensive goods and ignore the plight of those who cannot afford. This is the age and world of competition in which we live and we cannot be championing a Free Enterprise and a Free Market system and at the same time calling for restrictions on qualified business people, no matter where they come from. That’s simply wrong.

But at the end of it all, readers, I must admit that I take strong objection to anyone trying to use the “Big Stick” policy to facilitate our foreign policy agenda -- particularly, when these same foreign countries have adapted their own foreign policy to become more accommodating. But I also object when persons purport to be advocates of a national cause under the guise of self preservation.

And so I urge the Steering Committee led my Dr Lewis not to be swayed by the pressure groups but to continue to pursue their participatory approach in arriving at their recommendations. I do believe that St Lucia’s decision on this matter will resound to the best interest of St Lucia and its citizenry and that the manufacturers will come to realize that in a changing world they have to shape up and catch up with the changes instead of crying our against competition to deny consumers the chance, and the choice too, of being able to choose between better quality goods for more money and lesser quality goods for less money. At the end of the day, it is the democratic choice of the consumer that Ms Calderon and her people are asking the government to trample on, so where are we heading?

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By Maryanna Williams
(Exclusive Crusader Correspondent)

In the run-up to the last elections, some apologists for the rogue UWP Government, attempted to excuse their embarrassing tenure with the lame excuse that all politicians are the same. My colleague Yolanda and I obliterated this offensive argument with simple, real and down to earth comparisons of opposing candidates on the current political landscape. And like 7-up and Sprite, the choice was clear, the country voted for change and overwhelmingly rejected the rogue UWP Government.

With such a hard fought election where the differences were so clearly contrasted, expectations are high for a decisive break from the past. The people who fought to change the Government as well as those who were persuaded and convinced to support change, are anxious to see the new agenda addressed with what Martin Luther king Jr. called “the swift urgency of now.”

For these battle-scarred soldiers, now is the time to right the wrongs of the past and to give hope, opportunity bread, freedom and justice to those who were unjustly denied previously. Now is also the time for those who were tortured and disadvantaged by discrimination, to be freed from their pain and suffering. Now is the time for targeted attention to chronic inequality in the country and to give quick relief to the poor, vulnerable, dispossessed and disillusioned.

Now, cannot be about continuing the privileges of those whose prostituting loyalties lie only with themselves and whichever party is in power (PIP). These PIPees have positioned themselves very close to the government and are crowding out the cries for help from those genuinely in need. PIPees are actively lobbying for positions on Boards and getting them, while soldiers who slaved to support the Party’s cause, are being forgotten, overlooked and marginalized.

Now, is also not the time for supporters to have grandiose and unrealistic expectations of unbridled nepotism, largesse and corruption. And now, cannot be the time for extravagance, extremism and financial adventurism a la Stephenson King, Tom Chou, Rufus Bousquet and the UWP. We voted for change, not exchange; and under no circumstances must our agenda be about doing the unethical and illegal things that the rogue UWP Government did.

So in the context of meaningful change, the Government must be commended for its quick implementation of the Short Term Employment Programme (STEP) in December 2011. However, some work is still required to fine tune the programme and ensure that it is better managed and more efficient and all-embracing for the society, especially young people. The Government must also be commended for the majority of its Senatorial and Board appointments so far. The caliber and quality of the appointees far exceeds what obtained under the rogue UWP Government; and certainly, St. Lucia’s regional and International reputation has been rescued from the battering it took under Stephenson king’s misrule.

Notwithstanding these positives, the people’s government must be made aware that the people are peeved at the apparent elevation to the highest echelons of our Government, of known anti-Labour elements and unknown or 29th November SLP supporters. Some may say there is nothing wrong with this, but as I argued last week, there can be no Government without the Party.

The Party is the foundation of the Government and it is already integrally involved in the Government through its leadership and candidates. The Party and its activists should not be begging to come in, but rather, the door should now be held open for them. In many instances though, that is not happening, why? Because known anti-Labour activists and political opportunists have inserted themselves in front of the Labour soldiers. And the Labour soldiers are justifiably aggrieved because their own Parliamentary Representatives have now relegated them to “backbenchers.”

The situation is serious and requires urgent review. Parliamentarians must with immediacy, step back from their Ministerial perches and put their political hats back on. They must call in their campaign teams and look again with the fresh eyes of Government at the needs of their constituencies. These must be the priorities which are pursued at the constituency level and even collectively at the national level; there must be the commitment and correct tone at the top, to fundamentally change the people’s circumstances.

We the people, did not elect anyone to be Minister of this or Minister of that. Without exception, we elected men and women to be our respective Parliamentary Representatives and even Kenny Anthony who we know would have to become the Prime Minister, we elected him first and foremost to serve the people of Vieux Fort South. So Parliamentary Representatives cannot be too busy as Ministers to check their soldiers on the ground.

The reality is that Parliamentarians who are Ministers have three full time jobs (District Representative, Law Maker and Minister). They are accountable to the people every five years for the first two jobs and they are accountable to the Prime Minister every day for the third. This does not mean however that they should give priority to their Ministries. Of Course Ministers must give policy direction to their Ministries, but they must not become so engrossed in the tedium of the Ministry that they regularly spend 12-15 hour days, as if they are regular employees constantly trying to meet deadlines.

If Ministers become consumed in the tedium of their Ministries, then ultimately they will end up failing both as Ministers and Parliamentary Representatives. It is therefore in their best interests to step back now, and to do so regularly to assess the big picture of the Blueprint for Growth, and the many little things that must be done among the people to achieve the blueprint.

It is a simple but necessary transition which must be made to maintain contact with the ground. Ministers who are Parliamentary Representatives must set aside the time to constantly ground with their constituents. They must also be able to bear the often loving pressure of the aggrieved, the greedy or the disgruntled. For it is only by taking the pressure of everyone that a District Rep can understand and appreciate the genuine vs rip-off cases that come before him or her.

The soldiers of the Party must also take on some serious responsibility as unflinching defenders of the faith. The current approach of taking “a back seat” or “low profile” because “the District Rep not calling me or returning my calls,” cannot be entertained. The people of Labour must realize that while they won the election on November 28, 2011 the struggle to control the Government still continues and it is against some very selfish, determined and manipulative opponents. So the soldiers now have a duty to call your District Reps and rescue them from the domination of the poisonous political elements. This is an ongoing battle which must be waged and with the commitment of all.

May God bless our country and its Parliamentarians and may our Soldiers and party supporters continue to call upon the government to account for its stewardship. No less is acceptable and no more time is available.

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Are we really One People and One Nation, where Anything is possible?

‘I’m not versed in matters of law, but there must be a provision for the termination of this renegade band. And if Governor General, who appoints on advice from the Prime Minister, can’t terminate on that same principle, then I would urge the government to take this matter to court. A band of self serving renegades can’t be allowed to hold this country to ransom in order to pursue their personal agendas… and make no mistake, this position by members of PSC is not about independence or national service…’
By Yolanda O’Brien

As St Lucia prepares for its 33 rd independence celebrations, I must admit that there is a quiet calm that has returned to my spirit. And it’s not just because I like Invader’s independence song or because I approve of the attempts to increase decentralization of independence events. For me, the tranquility has returned simply because I believe that this new government can restore this country to days of pride and excellence. After having broken the chains of bondage and achieving heights of laureate status, my heart broke that Fair Helen had plummeted to rolling in the mud during the last UWP tenure. But calm has returned again, while the journey to recovery will undoubtedly be long, I have confidence in the stewardship of Prime Minister Kenny D. Anthony.

But there are many other St Lucians who are dead set on upsetting my peace, and seem intent not too accept that UWP has lost the election and that we all need to work as one people, one nation to achieve limitless possibilities. Any person who loves this country would want to be part of the effort to rebuilding our country after the battering and abuse under the Stephenson King’s leadership; and would just as passionately want to ensure that some of the heinous acts/deeds of the past administration are not repeated.

And so readers, after having seen the article last week by my colleague Maryanna Williams I was more convinced about the need for audits in the departments/organizations managed by the former UWP administration. According to my colleague, the Public Service Commission was playing hard ball and refusing to demit their post. Now understandably when I read this my first question was: why would a PSC appointed on the advice of a former Prime Minister hold so tightly to power when precedence dictates its good taste to leave quietly? For me, it raises much speculation about what this PSC is possibly hiding and just as importantly the true motivations of members of the PSC. Are they driven merely by the money received for national service? Or are they pawns and this just a political ploy on behalf of the losing UWP to frustrate the new Labour administration?

I’m not versed in matters of law, but there must be a provision for the termination of this renegade band. And if Governor General, who appoints on advice from the Prime Minister, can’t terminate on that same principle then I would urge the government to take this matter to court. A band of self serving renegades can’t be allowed to hold this country to ransom in order to pursue their personal agendas. And make no mistake readers; this position by members of PSC is not about independence or national service but about their personal agendas. In fact one of the members of that same PSC made it public before elections that he would fight passionately any eviction if there was a government change. So said, so done. This same member coincidentally also serves on a Board under the portfolio of the Minister of Social Transformation and he has refused to submit his resignation there to date. And he has even convinced two of his other Board colleagues to do the same. Now, does that sound like someone who is driven by independence or national duty?

Can you believe the arrogance of some of these persons invited to serve? These same individuals were given the opportunity to serve after all Boards resigned upon the assumption of the leadership by Sir John Compton in 2006. When one is invited to serve nationally, it’s with the knowledge that this is not a birthright but that termination of service is a possibility especially with a change in government.

But this seems to be the phenomena associated with most UWP appointees, could it be the power associated with these positions or are they afraid of the secrets that may be revealed once they are gone? Such was the scenario allegedly I’ve been made to understand associated with the former City Council Board. Now, for them the resistance I can understand after hearing some of the tales in that Council.

I mean really, how can any Minister of Government elected by the people to protect the people’s interest knowingly oversee the exploitation of the people resources? For example, what would a local government authority be doing with eight bank accounts; yes you read correctly eight bank accounts that’s what known of. And why would a Board, management, permanent secretary and Minister or any local government authority knowingly allow persons over eighty years with all kinds of health issues to be receiving payments for “work done” when these persons are virtually invalid or bed ridden? Why would a Minister go outside of the remits of law and create a position which doesn’t exist within a local authority? Why would that same nonexistent “post” holder be able to claim a sizable gratuity on a five year contract post an election without any Board being in place? Who authorized that payment in the absence of a Board; it surely couldn’t have been the incoming Minister?

Sadly, when the US State Department Reports of 2009 and 2010 spoke of acts of corruption, these were not baseless arguments and it’s just a matter of time I believe before the perpetrators will be identified. And hence it’s not surprising why some of the persons may so passionately be resisting the changing of the guards because it would mean that some of these scandals would finally be exposed.

But I am assured that the new Labour government will deal with issues of corruption and nepotism when discovered. In fact, earlier this week Minister La Corbinere displayed that he is responsible, decisive and effective in dealing with matters related to his portfolio. A press release was issued in respect to the transfer of a senior police official because of the visa revocation matter. This visa revocation matter relating to a senior police officer as many recalled became public during the last election. That visa affair brought back to my memory the Richard Frederick ticket saga and the Smoky Joe release by a high ranking officer. In my mind, speculation was rife. Could those two incidents be related?

I guess we will have to wait for another Wikileaks Cable to find that answer to that one…

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OAS Calls For More Accountability of Campaign Financing

The Chief of the Organization of American States (OAS) Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) that accompanied the November 2011 general elections in Saint Lucia, Rosina Wiltshire, presented a report today before the Permanent Council that included recommendations to update the voters’ registry and improve transparency of campaign financing, among other things.

Speaking before the gathered representatives of the Organization’s Member States, Wiltshire said the general recommendations of the OAS Mission, from its arrival to the announcement of the results, and included logistical and legislative aspects among the general recommendations presented by the Mission. These recommendations were: the need for the government to undertake an update of the voters’ registry; establish immediately a commission on electoral boundaries to define, based on the April 2011 census results, a more equitable division of constituencies; and approve legislation on campaign financing, specifically rules to prohibit anonymous and foreign contributions.

“There needs to be established a mechanism or institution to control money coming in and out of campaigns, wider access to information for citizens on the use of funds, and requirements for political parties to disclose such information,” said the Chief of Mission, who also mentioned the need to “seriously discuss the issue of voter participation, given the rate of participation, which decreased from 2006”; invite voters to exercise their franchise; facilitate the voting process for handicapped voters with appropriate voting facilities; and promote “a serious discussion on the role of women in politics, specifically whether there is a need for a quota system to give incentives to female party activists,” among other things.

Finally, she congratulated the people of Saint Lucia for their participation and commended efforts “to maintain democracy in the country,”

The Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the OAS, Ambassador Michael Louis, gave special thanks to the Secretary General, the OAS General Secretariat and the Mission that followed the elections in his country for their work, adding that the report presented today “provides a constant reminder of the basic principles that cement relationships within this body, that of a system of government that transcends language barriers or economic or cultural differences among our Member States. I refer to democracy.”

Ambassador Louis recalled that throughout the period when Saint Lucia first obtained adult suffrage, its people “have always exercised the right to choose a government of their choice through elections that are peaceful free and fair.” He furthermore said he would “undertake to transmit this report to our national authorities, who I assure you will be looking into the recommendations of the report and see what appropriate steps can be taken.”

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Stephenson King’s PSC must resign forthwith!

‘It is clear for even the blind to see that the present PSC is a UWP creature and I challenge any of the members to prove that they are not UWP supporters, or that they are independent of political influence in any manner whatsoever… If Egbert Lionel and the rest of Stephenson King’s PSC will not come to their senses and resign, then they must get the message from the St. Lucian masses that their actions are undemocratic, unwelcome and totally unacceptable…’

This writer feels strongly that the PSC appointed by Stephenson king should have the decency to resign as requested.

By Maryanna Williams
(Exclusive Crusader Correspondent)

More than two months after the SLP and Dr. Kenny D. Anthony won a resounding victory at the polls over Stephenson King’s UWP, the Public Service Commission (PSC) appointed by Stephenson King is still refusing to resign as required Westminster Democracy convention. I am told that they are citing some illusionary independence and protection guaranteed under Section 85 of the St. Lucia Constitution.

This is indeed laughable although it is no joke. But I invite you, my readers, to judge for yourselves the independence of those claiming to be independent and immune from political direction. The members of the Stephenson King Public Service Commission which was appointed in 2010 are:

1. Egbert Lionel - Chairman
2. Cyrus Reynolds
3. Paula James
4. Karen Fontenelle
5. Cynthia Combie

For those who may not know, Egbert Lionel is Stephenson King’s former Permanent Secretary when King served as Minister for Community Development, Social Affairs, Youth and Sports between 1987 and 1992. Cyrus Reynolds is a former Deputy Permanent Secretary under a previous UWP administration which he almost dutifully defended, regardless of the criticism. Paula James is a constituent of Stephenson King who landed a job as National Volunteer Coordinator in the Prime Minister’s Office during King’s tenure, and who is still clinging to that position. Karen Fontenelle is a known supporter and former constituent of Stephenson King. And Cynthia Combie is a Lawyer who made no secret of her annoyance with the SLP after the 1997 general elections.

So it is clear for even the blind to see, that the present PSC is a UWP creature and I challenge any of the members to prove that they are not UWP supporters, or that they are independent of political influence in any manner whatsoever.

If these persons were truly independent, they would have grabbed the opportunity to resign offered by Prime Minister Kenny Anthony in December 2011, when he requested the resignations of all existing Boards.

Would Labour supporters refuse or resist a request from their Prime Minister to resign? Surely, if they were SLP, they would have immediately resigned as requested by their Prime Minister. Therefore, the members of the current PSC are clearly UWP, or anti-SLP -- and so they have no political legitimacy to continue serving under the Kenny Anthony administration. They cannot claim to be independent, as their record and current actions in selfish defiance of the democratic will of the St. Lucian people defeats such a fraudulent claim.

Constitutionally, the Minister or Prime Minister may not be able to force this intransigent Board to resign, but common decency, the will of the people and their own collective conscience must compel the current PSC Board to resign. It should be noted that every PSC since independence has resigned on a point of principle after every change of Government, except this one. This is the first PSC that has tried to overstay its welcome after General Elections and St. Lucia and St. Lucians must not tolerate this act of political adventurism.

We cannot allow five known UWP operatives unethically clinging to a sanctified position of public trust, to frustrate the will of the majority of St. Lucians, who voted the SLP into office on November 28, 2011. Already, we are told that the current Stephenson King appointed PSC has taken “some very bizarre decisions,” since the SLP came to office. With one voice therefore, St. Lucians must issue a loud and resounding call for the resignation of Egbert Lionel and the other members of the Stephenson King appointed PSC.

If they will not resign willingly, we must call the talk shows, call their work places, and call their homes to convince them to do the correct and decent thing and resign from the PSC.

For its part, the Government and the Ministry of the Public Service must refuse to refer any matters to the current Public Service Commission and must tell public service employees that their issues cannot be processed because the Stephenson King-appointed PSC refuses to resign to allow Prime Minister Kenny Anthony to appoint a new and more legitimate PSC.

For their rudeness and intransigence this Stephen King PSC needs to be put under the microscope and the Government or some aggrieved citizen should apply for judicial review of their position. In fact, some may wish to go even further and file a case to nullify the current PSC.

Section 85 of the Constitution clearly states that before making his recommendations to the Governor General for appointment of the PSC, “the Prime Minister shall consult the Leader of the Opposition.” Kenny Anthony, who was Leader of the Opposition at the time the current PSC was appointed, is on record as saying that Stephenson King never once consulted him on any matters. Therefore, if King did not consult Kenny as required by the St. Lucia Constitution, then the current PSC could easily be found to be improperly appointed and declared illegal by a judicial review.

A judicial review could also find the current PSC to be erroneously and contemptuously holding on to a position which requires the blessings of the sitting Prime Minister. Section 85 of the St. Lucia Constitution says it is the Prime Minister which advises the Governor General to appoint the PSC and therefore a submission that a PSC cannot serve under a Prime Minister who didn’t appoint it, may well be accepted by the adjudicators of a judicial review.

The position taken by Egbert Lionel and the other members of the Stephenson King PSC has nothing to do with their independence or protecting the sanctity of the constitution. On the contrary, it has everything to do with their partisanship and they are simply mis-using the Constitution to protect themselves and the interests of the Opposition UWP. In effect, therefore, the PSC’s actions amount to a naked subversion of the Constitution, clothed in invisible fabric.

This is indeed a political stalemate revolving around a constitutional moot. From the appointment of the current Stephenson King PSC, the Constitutional intent of Section 85 has been contaminated. King appointed a PSC with a Chairman and members who would do his bidding and they obviously believe that they can continue do so, even though King is no longer Prime Minister and the UWP is in Opposition.

St. Lucians must rein-in these renegades and bring them back to reality. This democracy belongs to the people and its institutions are intended to serve all the people not the sectional interests of a selfish few.

If Egbert Lionel and the rest of Stephenson King’s PSC will not come to their senses and resign, then they must get the message from the St. Lucian masses that their actions are undemocratic, unwelcome and totally unacceptable.

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Labour’s newest appointee is a progressive move

‘One of the major concerns with implementation of economic union remains the free movement of people/nationals. While we continue to blame Customs officials at ports of entry for the hassles we have in travel, the real discussion of this process has not been undertaken with the citizenry, so all the players are not on the same page…’

By Yolanda O’Brien

It was refreshing to hear that the Labour government had this week appointed Dr Vaughan Lewis as Special Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Lewis, from his various stints at OECS, UWI and in politics, will undoubtedly bring a wealth of experience to that Ministry.

I’ve long admired Dr. Vaughan Lewis and I do believe that it is a bold, progressive move on the part of the Labour administration to allow him to guide us in the Caribbean OECS relations, CARICOM and European Economic Partnership Agreements.

That being said I do also realize that Dr. Lewis will indeed have his hands full with these tasks. Only recently, the OECS Authority was convened in St Lucia under the Chairmanship of Dr. Kenny D. Anthony. The Meeting focused mainly on matters relating to the operationalisation of the OECS Economic Union.

Now, this talk of deepening the integration process via Economic Union started (from my recollection) since 2000 and has been discussed ad nauseam. Yet in 2012, we’re still talking about how to “operationalise” this OECS Economic Union. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m an ardent proponent of deepening the region’s integration efforts and I believe that the OECS and its many tentacles in one we should all be proud of.
But, from my recollection again, the OECS Economic Union was “operationalized and agreed to” by members sometime in January 2011. One year later, however, there was virtually nothing to report at the regional meeting held in St Lucia last week. To date, how many of these OECS member-states have put the Revised Treaty of Basseterre into domestic law? I know for a fact that our former Prime Minister, Stephenson King, who was preoccupied with his own survival, made no legislative or other arrangements relating to implementation of the Revised Treaty.

Former, Prime Minister King didn’t even think much of the engagement process of the citizenry on this critical process, instead he and his OECS Ambassador spent the majority of their tenure trying to get St Lucians overseas to “home-come” for voting purposes and to sustain another term of the King’s reign. In fact, so non-committed was Stephenson King to the region that I recalled clearly a plenary session of the 47th OECS Meeting, which was hosted by St Lucia, but yet was not attended by one of our elected government parliamentarians.

One of the major concerns with implementation of economic union remains the free movement of people/nationals. While we continue to blame Customs officials at ports of entry for the hassles we have in travel, the real discussion of this process has not been undertaken with the citizenry, so all the players are not on the same page. And yes, I know some will remind me of the three or so meetings held by the OECS Ambassador at the Dereck Walcott square as public discussions. But, in my humble opinion, three or so meetings in the Square don’t constitute civic participation. And the absence of the citizens’ participation always brings operational challenges for the implementation of these regional initiatives.

The Revised Treaty of Basseterre proposes a new governance structure. Therein, I believe, exists the greatest challenge for local politicians. While not a political union, this Economic Union brings with it necessary supporting political structures. It is expected that national parliaments would cede a portion of their sovereignty to the OECS Authority. Parallel to this Authority would also be the establishment of an Economic Council and an Assembly of Parliamentarians.

It is perceived by many that this new structure would undermine political sovereignty in a few areas. But some may also argue that the precedence has already been set by the OECS through its Monetary Council and the Supreme Court and thus the Economic Union would be a mere extension of existing institutions and thus easier to achieve.

Based on historical precedence, however, and most recently with our former Prime Minister’s King behavior, I beg to interject that anything which requires a deepening of political integration will be met with resistance by some. Any structure which will require local constitutional changes will resemble a loss of autonomy to some, political sovereignty will be perceived to be threatened by some of our leaders.
Imagine former Prime Minister, Stephenson King now serving as Opposition Leader, may be a bigger stumbling block to this regional integration process. But, as an ardent proponent of the integration movement, I look forward to Dr. Kenny D. Anthony’s continued passion in moving this process forward in spite of the resistance that may come from King and his team.

And as with the appointment of Dr. Vaughan Lewis, I continue to believe, that the Labour government will give due diligence in the appointment of the next OECS Ambassador.

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