Tourism minister clashes with HTS reporter at press briefing

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Tourism minister clashes with HTS reporter at press briefing
Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee (left) and Senior Communications Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, Nicole McDonald at the pre-Cabinet press briefing today, Monday, August 21.
Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee (left) and Senior Communications Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, Nicole McDonald at the pre-Cabinet press briefing today, Monday, August 21.

A heated exchange with a journalist ensued after a question was posed to Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee at the pre-Cabinet press briefing today, Monday, August 21.

HTS News4orce Reporter Miguel Fevrier sought clarity about a purported Cabinet conclusion granting significant concessions to Sandals, specifically the waiver of import duties on a large number of vehicles ostensibly for use by management.

Fevrier asked Minister Fedee whether the documents displayed last week on two controversial talk shows were real.

The minister responded by asking to see the documents under discussion, which Fevrier did not have in his possession at the time.

HTS reporter Miguel Fevrier

Fevrier then asked whether it was true that Fedee presented the case to Cabinet on behalf of Sandals, and whether Cabinet had indeed granted those concessions to the hotel chain.

“One of the things I will not do, is respond to rumours,” Fedee responded. “So if you have a document that is authenticated, or that you believe in your estimation is credible, then I will respond. But I will not waste my time responding to something you’ve heard on the streets.”

The exchange did not end there.

Fevrier pressed further and the minister steadfastly refused to answer the question – whether or not Cabinet had granted concessions or incentives to Sandals as had been reported.

Fedee continued, “…that can’t be a question, this is not a credible question. So what is the reference of your question? Do you just want to have me on record denying it?

The minister then launched into a rebuke of Fevrier, telling him “…it’s a joke question. It devalues who you are as a journalist,” to which the reporter responded, “No, I think your refusal to answer me devalues who you are as a minister, sir.”

Senior Communications Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, Nicole McDonald then tried to defuse the situation by calling on another reporter to ask a question. Seemingly undaunted, Minister Fedee continued addressing Fevrier.

“If you have something you can substantiate, Miguel, I will answer it. I am open, I am willing to answer any questions, but you can’t come and pick up some gossip you heard on the street…. You heard something by the market and you coming and ask me [sic]?”

Despite McDonald’s second attempt to move on to the next question, the Minister went on: “And the people of Saint Lucia are busy. If you are going to bring information to them into their living rooms, I think you need to do them proper justice.”

After an unrelated question was asked, veteran reporter Micah George tried to return to the original topic at hand.

Referring to Fevrier’s initial question, George queried whether it was not the responsibility of Minister Fedee to perhaps provide clarity and definitive answers if reports, allegations, or rumours are circulating about matters pertaining to his ministry.

“Do you think it is your responsibility to enlighten the people on whether or not things that have ben said in the public sphere are true?” George asked.

“It’s my responsibility to ensure that the right information is out there,” answered Fedee. “I think journalists are equally responsible for making sure that you verify the information before you go just asking a prime minister anything.”

In a final attempt to get some kind of confirmation or denial of the original question from Fedee, George pointed out that among everyone assembled in the room, the minister was best placed to verify the information, or refute it if it was false.

Referring to his hesitation in posing the question again, George indicated that he was discouraged by the “back and forth” that had taken place.

“No, there’s no back and forth,” Minister Fedee said, before once again refusing to confirm or deny whether the Cabinet of Ministers had granted Sandals Saint Lucia significant concessionary advantages with respect to the importation of vehicles.

(7)(14)

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61 COMMENTS

  1. Lucia pack must be real bas for Guyanese to jump all over it. Mwen se jean St. Lisi se la mwen sorti....It is there that I'm from......repeat that.. It shall NEVER resonate with you.

    (2)(1)

  2. I understand the point wen he minister did not want to go on hear say...but the part wen he said it devalues who you are as a journalist..I was shocked...how can a minister of government say such in an open press release? It is like a teacher telling a child you can't learn you are stupid....then as we know the student will obviously respond negatively...what did the Minister expect? Obviously Miguel answered within his own right..but then again I believe Miguel should have shown some document or at least make reference to his apparent findings....it is only fair to ask questions pertaining to the happenings in our island...I see nothing wrong with that...come on people....it seems that sandals promoting the island in watever way and employing people gives the the right to concessions? Really? But yet still deh hav ppl working like bouiks? Seriously? There are many people in this island who do the same for saint lucia but am pretty sure they don't receive concessions....I believe there is more to this story than we the people know....it is time that the government do wat they are employed to do and give accounts to the people...after all it's we the people who took tym out from work to make the vote....and it's shameful that people commenting here wants to put out Miguel personal business... seriously? The man is trying to have us get some insight on wats happening in the country with our government...that's why the poor here will always remain poor and we are being taken advantage of....wen w try n get access to healthcare or education is always some refusal...it's time these politicians know not to take saint lucians for a joke man....for reel

    (5)(4)

  3. Just a simple yes or no. The mere fact that Fedee went down that route indicates that there is some truth to this rumor.

    (12)(2)

  4. Mr. Fedee stands correct when he states "One of the things I will not do, is respond to rumours, So if you have a document that is authenticated, or that you believe in your estimation is credible, then I will respond. But I will not waste my time responding to something you’ve heard on the streets.”

    (3)(11)

  5. The Minister handled the matter wrong. He allowed himself to be drawn into a back and forth argument. Miguel should not have asked the question based on a document from "where ever" without having the actual document to backup his question.

    The Minister could not have answered YES or NO to the question. Saying YES would mean the government is providing concessions for 97 vehicles and that would be a lie.

    Saying no would mean that the government is not providing concessions for 4 commercial vehicles to carry goods (as per Nicole Mc Donald) and that would be a lie.

    Guess it was "bad on both sides"

    (5)(0)

    • I agree with the fault of Miguel for not having a copy of the document, as a journalist he should know how to handle politicians.

      However I do not see the dilemma in answering the question unless he has something to hide since Miguel specifically asked whether or not there was a cabinet conclusion for the waiver of import duties on a LARGE NUMBER of vehicles ostensibly for use by management based on a circulated document.

      Even if it's four or five vehicles the answer is still no and then you state the facts, if the document is false then its no. The dilemma only comes about if there is some incriminating truth to this allegation or that he denied other hotels from getting a waiver on their vehicles.

      (4)(1)

  6. Good evening. Has anybody, journalists especially sought to find out how much money SANDALS resorts have injected into the economies of the Countries on which they have invested hundreds of millions of Dollars? Despite being allegedly on the receiving end of several concessions? Has anybody checked to see the millions of dollars that SANDALS spends in advertising the entire revion every year?

    (2)(9)

  7. I would hate to quote Trump in saying that there was blame on both sides. However, I would agree that a Minister of government shares more responsibility in terms of a reaction and fall out from the whole situation.

    While I agree that there is nothing called "a stupid question" and the Minister had the option of responding, we could well agree the situation may have occurred because of perception. In recent times there has been an overt operation by the SLP to create the narratives. We have witnessed many alleged leaked documents, emails etc. purporting to be official documents posted. When a journalist refers to a document online some officials may become incensed. Just asking a plain and pointed question to the Minister, may be more productive. A Minister cannot speak to the veracity of a document existing on the internet even though it may be similar to an existing physical document because electronic documents can be modified.

    I spoke about perception, and another one is that is the reporter in question may be perceived to be sympathetic to the SLP. The Minister could have drawn the conclusion that here he was being asked by a opposition sympathizer a question about a fake document circulating on the internet. In his mind he may be asking was the opposition trying create a narrative forcing me to respond to something possibly created by them? However, he could have dismissed it immediately.

    What I found interesting however, was Philip Pierre who continues to baffle me with such responses. I mean any opposition leader could have capitalized on such a mistake by the Minister, but Pierre goes on a rant about disrespect for market vendors. Anybody who has done English language at school knows about metaphors, hyperbole etc. and the language used was never to speak to market vendors but the market environment. Saying that someone went on a fishing expedition does not mean that fishermen are people who are aimless.

    Last point, in saying that this government attempts to prevent free speech by referencing exchanges with journalists is just an added distraction and it prevents Pierre from being a more influential and effective opposition leader. Government chastising perceived opposition journalist is nothing new, do you remember the Timothy Poleon saga? He was also referred as a "media terrorist." Pierre should stick to pointing out pertinent issues rather than creating a "market" or "rum shop" atmosphere around his comments since the main point can be lost.

    (5)(6)

  8. This reporter and his hard core klan family are going all out to discredit Minister Fedee. I wish he had the guts to drop his pants and moon each and every one of them,and give them a major story to talk about. All you maniacs should enjoy a coffee break before you all get your freaking panties in a bunch. So please put down your pitch fork and take a hike.

    (5)(19)

  9. This reporter is always looking for an interview on hear say and because he hear it he assumes u have heard it too!

    (9)(10)

  10. Our level of curiosity on this subject matter has been upgraded one notch by the minister' s refusal to answer a yes or no question. Now we want to know what more is he hiding.

    (24)(3)

  11. Thus the reason I dislike politicians because every dishonest ,dis tastefully and criminal character is found in politicians .

    (9)(2)

  12. Fedee use to be a journalist.. Sorry I take that back. He was only reading news. Now that's the difference, been a real journalist and someone reading the news. So what we saying here a journalist coming to a press conference should has a set of question already vetoed by his editor and the by the minister before. Show of hands please, who has been dinning with the Prime Minister, check the top brass of the Media Association, who is newest editor on the block. so how can that person protect his flock from government ministers unslaught.

    (4)(3)

    • the last time I check, Miguel Fevrier (HTS) President, Stan Bishop ((The Voice) Vice President Media Association, so what you expect. Both of them are waste of time in that position, they ok otherwise, but not as leaders. media people need to put these guys out. The media workers need leaders than can stand up for them, will Bishop stand up for Miguel No. Will Bishop ask for a boycott of all government functions No and seek an aplogy from Fedee. No.

      (2)(3)

  13. We not ready yet. All journalist supposed to boycott all government functions. But no they rather go and dine with government officials Fedee has the the right now to refute, Stan Bishop, Miguel Fevriere they are the top brass of the Media Association. president and Vice President. two jokers. but Bishop is the worse of the lot only for himself. what action you believe they will take to counter attack Fedee behaviour. journalist must stop believing in text books. Be real, text books were publish to guide but at the same time the publisher need to make money to survive. Stop believing in text books. Be real, no question is nonsense. The minister was wrong in the manner he answered the question, Miguel and the rest should have walked out from the setting and leave Fedee and Mc Donald. In their web.cl

    (4)(3)

  14. So sad to see st.lucians support the minister not answering a simple question. Put your country before your party people.

    (10)(1)

  15. Fedee did himself an injustice by doing that crap. Most arrogant minister....Chas better start sourcing a next candidate

    (7)(1)

  16. Dominic, are you employed by Sandals or the Government of Saint Lucia. You cannot be employed by both. This is an early warning for your political career. Come next elections, The people will force you to respond.

    (7)(2)

  17. Fedee was right when he said “And the people of Saint Lucia are busy. If you are going to bring information to them into their living rooms, I think you need to do them proper justice.”

    But when the reporter tried to do just that, give the people of St Lucia correct information you refuse to answer are yes no question.

    Its amazing the filth he have in government.