In a press briefing this afternoon (Aug. 22), Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Dominic Fedee, sought to provide clarity on the question concerning concessions to Sandals resorts, which led to a well-publicised verbal standoff between him and HTS reporter Miguel Fevrier during the pre-Cabinet press briefing yesterday.
Fedee not only answered the question he initially refused to answer yesterday, but defended his conduct during the press briefing.
He said: “The fact of the matter is that the government give concessions to Sandals for four vehicles. It is quite normal. In fact, I can share with you, various Cabinet conclusions that the previous administration would have given to developers that have never developed a single room in the country.
Fedee continued: “So the issue here I thought was very malicious. I didn’t add my voice to it. I dismissed it as pure proproganda and really pure political mischief, and I didn’t want to deal with it.”
The minister reiterated that he is not here to tell the press how to do its job, he will not add his voice to rumours.
“And I think that we have a responsibility to make sure that fair and balance and factual information goes to the people of St. Lucia,” he pointed out.
The minister said his issue with Fevrier yesterday was not a personal attack on anyone.
“I think it is a standard that we must uphold for our democracy…. I think that we need investigative jorunalism, and I think we need factual journalism, and I don’t think that it does any of us any good or make us more informed in the country when we resort on hearsay and on rumours. iI think it’s dangerous,” he added.
Fedee said he conducted himself “in a manner that is professional”.
“I think I have made myself accessible to all hotels and I have treated everyone fairly. In fact, I have done very little for Sandals since I come into this job.
“I think it is absolutely ridicoulus the political leader would know that it is quite normal, the legislation which empowers Cabinet to give the concessions were in fact enacted by the previous administration, the St. Lucia Labour Party, that’s a fact. But I think yesterday I wanted to make the point that Sandals had already denied the statement so why are you askng me.
“No one has gone to the source of the information. Where was that rumour first leaked? Shouldn’t the press go ask that individual to substantiate the claim? Why are you coming to me? You need to do your job. Go to Customs, ask the Customs officials, the relevant departments whether in fact it is true, ask the dealers. It is easily verifiable if the press really wants to know the truth. And this is the frustrating thing about the issue, in that – and you can call it an attack on the media if you wish – but I think these days we have to be careful with people.
“I think that the journalist knew fully well that it’s a lie, because here on one hand you hve the Cabinet conclusion which was leaked suggesting that it was four vehicles, but yet you are asking me whether there is any truth to the rumour that I give Sandals 97 vehicles. Now those two things are a contradiction, which one do you really believe in?
“Here is a leaked Cabinet document that says four vehicles and you are asking about 97 vehicles. Do make up your mind. And this is why I thought that the qestion was ridiculous.”