Say no to the no-vote lobby! (commentary)

Say no to the no-vote lobby! (commentary)
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Rohan “Roaks” St. Marthe

I am a Saint Lucian living in the United States who is constantly seeking information about my country’s growth. I remember growing up in Fond Le Grande, Central Castries, and as a little boy politics has always been something I enjoyed taking part in. When I was old enough to vote, the excitement I felt has to date been rivaled only by my wedding years later.

I mention this part of my past because as someone who always yearned for the day that I would be able to exercise my civic duty, I just do not understand how people are so reluctant or unmotivated to vote; to participate in government owned by the people.

In 2006 while my party, the SLP, was seeking another term in office, I found myself campaigning with a man I admire. Although I never mentioned it to him, I have always looked up to him as one of my mentors, Dr. Vaughn Lewis. Though we lost the election that year, I remained committed to the party of substance led by a man of high caliber and substance in the person of Dr. Kenny Anthony.

So I continued to be keenly interested in the policies of government. After the death of Sir John and the appointment of Stephenson King as Prime Minister, even though I didn’t support the UWP I liked King, because I believed that apart from a few on his team, more than 50-percent could not be trusted. But as anything else, I figured let me be the voice of the people to ensure participation in the affairs of the country under the then UWP administration led by Stephenson King.

As expected, it didn’t take long for the fracas to unleash, so I started a Facebook group called St. Lucia General Election 2011; not to foment division, but to hold the powers that be accountable for the pappyshow representation I witnessed back then. When my party, the SLP, was returned to office, it was like giving oxygen to a patient on the verge of suffocation. Thank God! At that point I was so happy that not only was a party of good governance back in office, but the horrifying embarrassment that St. Lucians home and overseas felt at what was happening in our country was finally over. We could finally exhale in relief from the seemingly endless scandals gripping the post-John Compton UWP. I feel vindicated and proud for celebrating the return of the SLP to office in 2011. It was truly an event and a process of deliverance from that UWP nightmare.

Over the last five years we have had a complete turnaround in the quality of national governance. We are once again developing socially and economically, and once again command international trust and respect. Even as we go into another election and it is seeking to regain power, the United Workers Party remains the same entity that so terribly shamed, neglected and depleted this country – a legacy it appears desperate to reinstate and continue.

But for all this, our elected representatives – all of them – should always be aware that how they are viewed is not limited to within Saint Lucia alone, but around the world. In 2011 I started a new Facebook group called Saint Lucians Aiming for Progress (SLAP), a name suggested by none other than Professor Rosemarie Belle Antoine, the wife of our current Prime Minister. SLAP’s membership brings together all persons regardless of political affiliation, an inclusiveness which has propelled it to become the number one Facebook group in the Caribbean, with over 15 thousand members.

Prime Minister Anthony performed exactly as pledged and expected when he returned our country to stability and growth since assuming office in 2011. Allow me to list a few serious issues he had to deal with upon returning to office:

1. The Daher Mall issue
2. The Black Bay and Canelles lands
3. US pressure on our police over extra-judicial killings
4. Embezzled Taiwanese funds
5. The forensic Lab
6. VAT
7. The construction/completion of our two major hospitals
8. The restoration of our roads, bridges and other public infrastructure

I can go on and on, but suffice to say the above and others not listed have cost us billions of dollars; either because of the UWP’s insistence on playing political football with the national interest, or their total disregard of laws such as those pertaining to public procurement and award of contracts, not to mention our Finance Administration Act.

Now I know some of you might ask what’s the point of revisiting these issues? The money they cost us or siphoned from our public coffers (think Daher Mall; Black Bay and Canelles lands; Taiwanese Funds) – wastage and graft that contributed to the tight fiscal situation which the Labour Party and Dr. Anthony inherited upon retaking office in late 2011. And remember all that fiscal irresponsibility, incompetence and malfeasance was on top of the unemployment which the UWP increased from 13 percent when they took over from Labour in December 2006 to 24 percent by the time they were booted out in November 2011 – an 11 percent increase in just five miserable years!

Dr. Anthony was upfront, forthright, straight up and candid when he told us how bad things were and the sacrifices that would have to be made in order to claw our way out of the pit into which the UWP had sunk us. Decisive implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) was one of the fiscal measures he had to take, in addition to containing the public sector wage bill and other recurrent expenditure which the UWP had allowed to spiral out of control.

Today the SLP under Kenny Anthony has reduced unemployment by four percent, and is on course to bring it down to single digits. I will not say much about VAT because it is evident that the former administration played political football with it. Even Sir John said that VAT would be coming, but his party still insists on blaming Dr. Anthony for what should have been implemented years ago according to their own timetable.

I listen to a noisy minority who revel in expressing hatred for Kenny Anthony via accommodating airwaves and publications. Questioned as to why they hate him so much, their response is usually a vague ‘he’s too arrogant’ – even while conceding that he is a good and effective prime minister who works and achieves for his people. Pressed a little more as what exactly they mean by ‘he is arrogant’, you discover they don’t even know what the word means, nor have they any reasonable concept of what it describes.

The Kenny Anthony that I know is a most kind and soft-hearted man; approachable and attentive; polite, courteous and humble. It is a view shared by tens and tens of thousands of people who cannot all be wrong. Many of those who were responsible for the scandals in the last UWP administration are still seeking (desperately) to regain office, and see Kenny Anthony as standing in their way. Smearing him with all kinds of false labels and accusations is their preferred method of attempting to turn voters’ minds against him and the party he leads. We cannot fall for their anti-Kenny Anthony propaganda, which is designed only to manipulate us into giving them another chance to plunder the Treasury for their own personal gain and that of close friends and relatives.

Do you really think the UWP will miraculously change if it gets reelected?

I am not into social media like before, but I still love politics, and even more so now having witnessed and tasted the splendid governance provided by the SLP. My support for Bread, Freedom and Justice is all about country, not party. This is why I want to encourage young people to please do not gamble with the future of our beautiful country. The opposition’s five-point plan makes no sense for generating growth and stands no chance of putting money in your pockets. If the opposition wants any opportunity to govern this country they must first get a group of men and women who truly love and care for the people instead of themselves and their close kin. I encourage you not to get into the name calling and ask you to please stop hating people! The Lord encourages us to love one another, even if we do not agree on a particular issue. There’s no need to hate anyone – period – politics or not!

Your vote is the biggest contribution you can make to a candidate or cause that you support. It is one of the biggest contributions you can make to your country as well. You ARE the government! Own it. They work for us, but we must communicate with them. Start today, because yesterday is gone and we can’t wait for tomorrow anymore. Ask questions. Listen to what is being said. Then go do you own research. Find out who is telling the truth and who is bluffing. The SLP is the best political party, but I still urge you to question the candidates so you can have a better understanding where to vote.

(23)(146)

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75 COMMENTS

  1. it amazes me that lucians have so much idle time to deend mere mortals who r not to be trusted. how we complain and cry out saying the country has no money flowing . yet mercury beach is always jampacked. carnival is always jampacked jazz is always jampacked. but when it comes to the point o purchasing school items we complain. Lucians need to get their priorities straight. if u feel u need to spend ur money. spend it but dont complain to ppl. Cut ur coat according to the cloth provided.

    (4)(0)

  2. Rohan Rohan Rohan, you clearly have no idea what you are speaking about. this government has not completed any of those eight things that you speak of. Daher Mall issue? Roads and BRIDGES?
    Correcting the issue regarding police support? Debt is at an all time high bro. The official unemployment figure is at 26% but the true unemployment figure as per more acceptable definitions is closer to 37%. It ain't easy down here homes. When yours stuff is sorted out and you are able to come see for your self, make sure you properly wash your face so your can clearly see what's really happening down here

    (11)(2)

  3. My brother if I have no faith in either party, disenchanted and totally have no confidence in either of the candidates then I choose to withhold my vote from this nonsense that passes for governance in this land.
    So do what u want for "your party" whether I benefits u or not. I'll do what I think is best and not engage in this process altogether.

    (8)(3)

  4. If there is one thing I absolutely have no tolerance for is individuals subjecting others to their interpretation of a true situation as opposed to facts and of course you have to be able to defend it without room for bias.

    The funny thing about freedom of expression is that whilst exercising that right we ought to be cognizant of the right to truth. In our quest to promote our political agenda let us not try to blindfold Saint Lucians with our tales of "best administration".

    Let us not do injustice to our people by playing on their intelligence. Let your information be valid, accurate and authentic. If you are not prepared to play your part in imparting knowledge and encouraging our people to research thoroughly to enlightened on matters of national interest; perhaps you should keep quiet

    (19)(2)

  5. If the government works for us the people, then we should decide how much money they make, or they should be paid according to performance. Enough with the noise on all side, action speaks loader than BS or words. Most voters are like pawns in the political game.

    (5)(1)

  6. You all are either illiterate, like misery or have no sense of pride. I've always felt that a government is as good as it's opposition. For all you who feel that Labour made mistakes and I admit that they did, we (opposition) included allowed it but in the same breathe I don't believe and please not I said believe and not "think" that the bunch of comedians in the opposition are better equipped to take a country in the direction it was supposed to go.

    When one decides to vote for a candidate they should take track record and caliber into consideration. Sit back and watch the SLP camp and the UWP. Be realistic for once! Tell me! They had 5yrs to come of with men and women to "take back our country" and that is the best they could do. Prince Ambrose and Jimmy Henry? I mean come on. What will those two guys realistically bring to the table? Remember Marcus Nicolas? I rest my case.

    Rohan, you did well mate. Say no more, if those fools who commented understood anymore English than Prince and Jimmy they would not even be commenting. The nation needs to be educated so that they can make informed decisions and not put men and women in power who are illiterate and for those who are more literate who insults us to our faces and think we are too ignorant to understand.

    (3)(28)

    • My My My.

      Your last paragraph baffles me particularly.

      Not sure what age you are , but judging by your response particularly your last paragraph, it seems to point to an individual who is very young, (no disrespect to young people though). I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you can think critically.
      You are aware that SLP tries to discredit Chastanet because he can't seem to speak patois. All of a sudden speaking it is what it takes to be Lucian.
      Your last paragraph seem to cast illiterate persons as some sort of plague, a disease to be avoided at all cost.
      Growing up speaking patois was seen as a disgrace, do not be fooled by those trying to embraced patois as 'lang mama nou'. In many households children were not brought up to speak it. You would be regarded as low class, or illiterate.
      So conveniently now, it appears that one's St.Lucianess is determined by whether he can speak patois (again this was how it was assumed illiterates could only communicate).
      All of a sudden patois is now placed on a high pedestal during this election season, as if it is a measuring stick to determine one's St.Lucianess.

      So going back to your assertion that Jimmy and Prince are illiterate and based on what i have said above about persons' perception in the past, that majority of illiterates speak patois, and now patois apparently is the litmus test to determine how Lucian you are, don't you think it would do the people good to have individuals in the house who could speak patois, who are 100% Lucian, have a high degree of St.Lucianess? So assuming that Jimmy and Prince are illiterates then St.Lucians now will have people who can speak patois. yaayyyy!!!!!!!!!!

      Your last paragraph highlights how disrespectful you are to persons, who are academically challenged, whose parents were are not able to send them to school because of financial constraints . You have inadvertently indicated that only "educated, degreed, can write and speak English people" can govern or be leaders.
      You did not factor in the many disadvantaged persons who did not have the luxury of the good life , who are still able to make a meaningful contribution to society.
      You are foolish to believe that illiterate persons cannot make a meaningful contributions.

      Based on your comment and train of thought, I am perfectly sure that the illiterates you speak of are more educated, articulate, and can analyze better than you can.

      Now run along and read a book. Go along now.

      (25)(4)

    • Most billionaires did not finish college and in some cases high school. We all can't be doctors...This is the emphasis of the slp that "if you don't have a degree/masters you are uneducated" kda was instrumental in creating the "guild of graduates"

      (7)(1)

      • True! But has all this education been reflected in their term in office?? I think not! Smh.

        (0)(0)

  7. Seriously bro what a load of croak. You should stop standing on your head you seeing everything upside down. On top of that you have stuffed yourself with so many big macks your head has swollen and your little brain is now too small for your big head. Think properly and avoid using the backside of your brain.

    (16)(2)

  8. well well well....look what the cat dragged in! Rohan first and foremost, you have just compelled me NOT TO VOTE SLP!! Any party with some sense of integrity would disassociate themselves from the likes of Rohan and the fact that you feel so much a part of the inner circle that you can come here and push their agenda is a complete turn off. SLP is already reeling from the scandal that was Destructo and Juffali and to have one more con association is not doing them any favors at all. So I will take my vote and put it next to the FLAMBEAU. When was the last time you voted Rohan?

    (38)(2)

  9. The comment section is pure brilliance... I have not laughed this loud in a while. My Lucian peeps are the best.

    (47)(0)

  10. SLP should be ashamed to have its names associated with that con man... but then again they have Ernesto destructo... mem bette

    (34)(1)

  11. Poor jab for you Roaks ...... why can't you come home for the SLP oxygen? is it because you are stuck in a basement apt in Brooklyn?

    Go write a piece about not voting for trump or clinton and you will see how fast you will be enjoying the bitter dayz that have been inflicted on us for the past 4 years.

    KEEP YOUR EFFING CRAP to yourself and don't subject us to the torture of having to read it!

    (34)(1)

  12. Rohan,

    This is the biggest load of crock I've read in a long time: not the least because it was so badly written. People like you sit in your enclaves hundreds of miles away and determine that the government we have is the best thing ever. If this administration is so great, why don't you return to enjoy the wonderful fruits of Labour? What makes you believe that you can stay wherever you are and endeavour to lecture the hardworking men and women of this country on which is a good government and which is not? You're out of your depth and out of place!

    Let's look at a few of the issues and questionable governance decisions taken by your wonderful Labour Administration in the last four and a half years:
    1 The Bonterre Bridge - first time ever in the history of construction a project went on for twice as long as anticipated and incurred not one cent in cost overruns. If that doesn't scream inflated pricing to you, I don't know what does. And, by the way, it was a direct award.
    2 The Bois D'Orange Bridge. $11m dollars for a project that, according to all other experts and the original bid, should have cost $5m.
    3 The Juffali Affair - No need to expound.
    4 The Lambirds Affair and the government's and Commerce Minister's alleged obstruction of justice
    5 The appointment of 9 new Permanent Secretaries (many from outside the service at rates way higher than the Public Service salary scale) within the first three years in office at the same time trying to force a 5% paycut on public servants
    6 The SLP'S involvement in the IMPACS Investigation and the withdrawal of US assistance from the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force
    7 The Grynberg matter and the millions Saint Lucia continues to pay in legal fees, because the PM ascribed powers to himself that our laws don't
    8 The transfer of the PS in the Ministry of Commerce for advising the Minister about her alleged missteps in the Lambirds Affair
    9 Dr. Anthony's alleged involvement in the AIMU matter
    10 The appointment of Claudius Francis as President of the Senate and Peter Foster as Speaker of the House of Assembly
    11 The award of 200 million dollars in contracts to Reneau Gajadhar
    12 The 15-point pledge offered by the SLP most of which is exactly the same as the promises made in the SLP's 2011 Manifesto "Blueprint for Growth" and yet to be fulfilled. Take a look at it!
    13 And why hasn't the government been able to prosecute those involved in the "widespread corruption" under the United Workers Party when it has all the resources and agencies of government under it's command? Is it incompetence or is it a lack of will to do the right thing? Either case represents a huge failure of this present government which makes it undeserving of remaining in office. And I can go on and on.....

    So, Roaks, take your buggy and caravan of lies somewhere else because we ain't buying.

    (59)(3)

    • Please add:
      The crime lab remains closed
      CCTV cameras not working for years
      Collection of $346m annually from VAT yet we cannot complete St. Jude or open O.King hospital
      The difference on the price of fuel that kept vanishing (roughly $12m monthly) no explanation yet
      Cubans caught with St. Lucian visas on the high seas
      Sped up justice for the french national while Lucians languish at borderlais
      Transfer of BTC director to Borderlais (he can't control teens far less hardcore criminals)

      (32)(1)

  13. My dear friend Ronan roles if you are camping against the no vote camping and you are encouraging us to go out and vote fine!!!!
    But please don't tell us where and why we should vote SLP and may I also say that your statement on the unemployment is wrong.

    (26)(4)

  14. Roaks, Roaks, Roaks, !!!!!!!!!!!! this is just too funny. Now I don't push any party agenda, but my brother if you want to convince people to vote please be OBJECTIVE....... that's key.

    1. We all know you re a lil political tool who is waiting for your day of glory in SLP. Don't be stupid will never happen.

    2. You RUN to the US , for more than one reasons which we should not go into now.
    3. How could you compare your wedding day to the day you first voted....... then again they were BOTH a means to an end.
    4. Your speech is littered with phrases that you and I both know you have no understanding of. Apply facts on both sides. Look at the economy carefully and then make your conclusion. One sided views are not valued in the REAL world.

    At this point I do not wish to over emphasize the sentiments of previous commentaries, but ROHAN, until you have suffered through a situation, you are in not position to make any judgement.

    Allow people to make their own choice based on their individual situation. NO one govt can save a country.