COMMENTARY – Actually, it’s no surprise that three words: “steering”, “kleptocracy” and “ignorance” occupy my mind while monitoring political operatives maneuver in an attempt to neutralise political observers, critics, select media outlets, civil society’s democratic norms and international systems from reporting factual analysis of questionable individuals, associates and a cabinet of ill-defined intentions in Saint Lucia.
Through the technique of “steering”, proxies working for the prime minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet, are hard at it, trying to suppress, deflect and impede whistleblowers, informants, journalists and others deemed dangerous for exposing flawed policy, corrupt practices and political leaders’ embarrassing untruths.
According to the proponents of these indefensible assertions, they “cause damage to your country’s image”, “being an emotional writer can be and is dangerous”, they represent “personal mudslinging” and are “reckless and irresponsible”.
Of course, none of these objections and challenges was raised when my earlier commentaries pointed aggressively towards the prior administration.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it has been suggested that I am “dangerous” and even classified an “enemy” of Saint Lucia, never mind the tenets of fundamental press freedom and the charter of rights and freedoms — not a happy position to be in for a country that is already under a human rights abuse cloud.
The convenient level of amnesia is appalling, and certainly reinforces the axiom that one can only please some of the people some of the time.
Simply put, the whole idea of the enablers “steering” operation is to reshape the rules and make dissidents fall in line with an ill-defined objective.
The general view is to direct the judiciary, media, and other institutions to “influence decisions” and message “inspirational”, “motivational”, “socio-economic issues relevant to developing democracies”, and to push specific talking points to divert attention away from the deranged Chastanet administration via designated media to conceal inadequacies and make the cabinet of ill-defined intentions smell like a Victoria’s Secret fragrance.
This results in three deeply worrying scenarios:
- The enablers are undermining democracy, public confidence in the political system, government institutions and encouraging the scourge of corruption;
• The beneficiaries are the special interest groups and their ill-gotten gains;
• The losers are the pervasive problems of poor education and health care, crime, unsafe streets, shattered dreams and careers, mental and physical poverty and death, akin to Venezuela or Haiti.
“Kleptocracy” is a term applied to a “government by thieves” taking advantage of corruption to extend their personal wealth and political power, involving the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population. Sometimes, without even the pretence of honest service, these types of operations that raid state resources are conducted by top political elites with immunity and impunity.
Recently, Trinidad and Tobago’s attorney general Faris Al Rawi said their biggest problems are corruption and money laundering. So huge is the problems that the country’s national budget can be financed by money that leaks away through those illegal mechanisms.
This revelation is instructive for Saint Lucia to say the least, since kleptocrats tend to operate where the rule of law is broken and a sluggish justice system is pervasive.
At this point, the focus ought to be on ending the partnership of enablers steering towards corruption and eroding accepted norms, and instead advancing the cause of a sustainable democratic society.
However, realizing this requires the political leadership to think and say what is actually factual and true, and capable of providing real solutions that are both workable and constitutional for real change to take root – not the creation of a false picture of the truth – and the rampant spread of radical ignorance that is an obvious feature on both sides of the political spectrum.
Meanwhile, “ignorance” is the lack of knowledge or information — “not knowing” – and is a typical ploy used by enablers of the political special interests and agents to peddle the merchandise of “steering”, “kleptocracy” and/or to obfuscate the facts by deliberate propaganda.
The concept is to create confusion and cloud the issues using the technique of “steering” so that people do not understand the facts.
Worse yet, is the absence of substantial economic and foreign policy to attract investments. In order to generate development, a good regulatory environment is necessary to make progress in accordance to the needs of first and foremost Saint Lucia and Saint Lucians, and then that of the business community, travellers and others.
Not the self-inflicted turbulence that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet creates, reminiscent of Donald Trump that he alone can fix the United States of America.
“Actually, he has no clue, period.” ~ Vice-President Joe Biden
Most certainly, Saint Lucia has many great unutilised assets and special sectors that must be created to grow and become profitable very quickly in order to attract investments.
Thus, decision-making must be addressed to guarantee the safety of investments, and opportunities in the private sector to provide credible, transparent and legitimate job creation.
The significant challenge is to stop playing fast and loose with the facts and refocus on ethics and transparency in order to demonstrate relevance in the marketplace now, and for the future.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality. He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and NewsNow Global analysis. He can be reached at: [email protected]