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OPENING STATEMENT BY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION HON PHILP J. PIERRE AT THE SAINT LUCIA LABOUR PARTY PRESS CONFERENCE JUNE 19TH, 2018
For How Much Longer are We Prepared to Suffer the Disrespect of the UWP Government?
Good day ladies and gentlemen of the media.
On the 6th of June 2016, Mr Allen Chastanet was given the privilege as Prime Minister to represent and protect the interest of all Saint Lucians, those who voted for the UWP, those who voted for the Saint Lucia Labour Party and those who did not vote.
The United Workers Party promised the electorate a new Saint Lucia. Today, the reality of this new Saint Lucia must be quite disturbing to many citizens of this country.
Over the last two years we have witnessed a UWP government that has become more famous for what they have failed to undertake than the few meagre achievements which they attempt with the greatest effort to magnify. We have lived through 24 months witnessing the arbitrary stoppage of projects in various parts of the island, the results of these decisions have been the loss of hundreds of job opportunities and of millions of dollars of capital investments.
Added to the stoppage of infrastructural projects we have seen the callous dismissal of over one thousand NICE workers – sent home with no concern about the plight of their children and other dependents. The justification provided is that 90% were Labour Party supporters, considered not deserving of employment under a UWP Administration. While those people were condemned to destitution, government has directed millions of dollars to support the start-up cost and salaries of a foreign entity by the name of OJO Labs. To date there has been no official accounting to the tax payers of Saint Lucia of how that money was disbursed.
On the second anniversary upon assuming office, when the customary gesture by the Prime Minister should be an expression of gratitude to the citizens of this country for having given him the highest honour and privilege he shamelessly used the opportunity to hurl insults at St Lucians by referring to them as jackasses.
We are not sure what exactly he meant given there are two definitions. Did he mean that Saint Lucians are idiots which would fit the definition of stupidity or that we are no more than animals- male donkeys, the second definition of the word jackass? Whichever he meant it is highly offensive and disrespectful for the Prime Minister to refer to the people of this country in this way.
Who are the jackasses that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet refers to? Could it be the doctors agitating for an equitable healthcare system and expressing concern about unwarranted deaths at the George Odlum Stadium? Could it be the unemployed youth in search of a job or entrepreneurial opportunity? Could it be the professionals insulted by the government’s illusion of economic growth and development? Or could it be the farmer afraid of his land being taken away to give to Teo Ah Khing for $1.00 per acre? Maybe the consumer who does not feel the benefit of the VAT reduction? Possibly the owners of businesses that have closed in the Rodney Bay area and elsewhere in the country despite constant repetition that tourist arrivals are at an all-time high? Could it be the vehicle owner who was promised a reduction in his gas bill but instead has to find an additional tax of $1.50 for every gallon of gas purchased? Could it be Bishnu Tulsie or the National Trust or Mark Hennecart or John Peters for providing their professional opinion and advice on the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction project?
The Prime Minister’s mind-set is clear. If you are not a confirmed supporter, an avowed flambeau, you have no right to criticize the government or hold it accountable.
Over the last two years we have seen how the Prime Minister and members of his government have treated everyone who has spoken or raised concern about the decisions and actions of this administration. Obviously, he doesn’t listen to those persons because to him we are all jackasses.
Where is the new Saint Lucia promised by the UWP? Is it a Saint Lucia where we are disrespected by our Prime Minister? A Saint Lucia where we are being made to believe in the words of the Prime Minister that “our patrimony is our credit rating”?
This behaviour is very unbecoming of a Prime Minister and demonstrates a lack of awareness of his responsibility to encourage tolerance and respect among citizens especially when there is disagreement.
If you don’t listen, then how do you know what people are saying – what are their views? He has now confirmed the reason why he is dismissive of advice and opposing views. Not listening is a frightening attitude for a Prime Minister to adopt. Worse yet, to feel brazen enough to state it publicly.
As a Party we caution that the signals coming from Prime Minister Allen Chastanet are dangerous and must be taken seriously.
In 1979, the late Clendon Mason, another UWP Member of Parliament, on a public platform in the Boulevard, demanded of a non-supportive crowd, and I quote: “shut up and listen to your masters”. If we do not demand respect from our Prime Minister now, it is only a matter of time before he develops the brazenness to issue a similar command to those who are already jackasses in his sight.
The Labour Party will join hands with every individual and group in this country willing to demand that we receive respect from Prime Minister Chastanet and members of his government.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party condemns the behaviour of the Prime Minister and calls on him to retract and apologize to Saint Lucians for calling them jackasses and to exercise the respect and maturity that is befitting of a responsible and caring leader.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party pledges that it will encourage a spirit of tolerance dialogue and respect among Saint Lucians. We hold firm to the belief that our country will only progress if there in consensus among all its citizens’ particularly in matters that relate to the development of our country.