Apparently, the failure to remember the positions taken while in opposition is becoming the new norm in Saint Lucian politics.
I have specifically decided to address the matter, not only to highlight the hypocrisy of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), but to also point to the destabilizing effects that gambling is having on the social fabric of the community.
Many will remember the first national discussion on the introduction of gambling during the late 1980’s and early 90’s. Many will remember too, how vehemently the SLP opposed the introduction of gambling back then, and in effect, casting itself as the party of “Moral Conscience”.
The hypocrisy and inconsistencies would surface once again in most recent years (2009-2011), just about the time when the United Workers Party (UWP) seems dead set on introducing casino gambling and slot machines to a number of pristine communities throughout the nation.
But as fate would have it, the gods who control the electoral process in Saint Lucia, would deal a deadly electoral blow to the UWP, thus allowing the SLP to once again prove its worth on the issue of gambling.
Of course, just as they did during their tenure in office from 1997-2006, and again in 2011 till present, the issue of gambling and its negative effects on the social fabric of the nation has once again been swept under the rug.
Today, all of the red chest beating and the clinch fist of resistance which once punctuated the Saint Lucian skies have all gone silent. The hypocrites, like their predecessors, seem to place greater value on the perceived revenues that gambling is generating, than on the social implications that it is presently having on the nation.
Now in office, and seating comfortable on a hefty monthly salary with perks too numerous to mention, it is no longer problematic for the SLP to view how gaming facilities and slot machines are spinning the lives of many throughout Saint Lucian communities, out of control.
Sadly, the poor have always been the ones to get trapped in the vice of gambling. The menial wages which they earn, and which no doubt is insufficient to support their families, have driven them to the slot machines in hopes of striking it rich under the supervision of the state.
So, why is it that these much talked about slot machines are still fully functional and accessible to the public under a St Lucia Labour government?
The LPM is in the minority for thinking that an unregulated gaming system in the country, has contributed to a breakdown in social order, and thereby pose a national predicament?
In fact, this vice of gambling is contributing to greater poverty and inequality. This addiction and its related social ills are a burden to the public and private system, and also, present a greater challenge to the law enforcement community. Is it worth it?
There seems to be a deafening silence in the hallway of this Khmer Rouge government. I am not referring to Cambodia, but to the imitation Khmer Rouge government of Saint Lucia, which seems to have all together dismantled and buried its “En Rouge” position on gambling.
Meanwhile, as the people continue to be gamed, the government has its game face on – collecting a rapid source of gambling revenue, quietly.
Where’s the outcry? It’s a shame!
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) www.lpmstlucia.com critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at [email protected]