In times of indecision, doubt and inexperience to deal with any matter, it is expected that one would seek the advice of the tried and tested, professionals. Former Prime Minister, Sir JGM Compton once cautioned – in business and government, surround yourself with the best minds and professionals to advise on decision making.
Conversely, neither of these were observed in the recent utterances of Saint Lucia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism to explain the massive surge in coronavirus cases, termed the COVID-19 Storm.
However, what purports to be schematics of economic and political expediency to decision making was wittingly and/or unwittingly recited to describe what many observed as helta skelta COVID-19 policy.
Last week, during the HTS programme, ‘Out Goes In’, (and published in St Lucia Times), was reportedly attributed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism. If undisputed, and/or not clarified, can suffice as orients to the clarity of mind and nuance as a lightweight.
“I believe we tried to get the right balance. We allowed a certain amount of latitude for Christmas.”
“I think we were saying even before than there would be a spike in January no matter what protocols you had.”
“So you do an assessment of just how much you are going to allow. We could have decided that there would be no confinement, any amount of gatherings and actually for the New Year we kind of pulled back a bit because we saw what happened over Christmas. So then we stopped all mass crowd activities for Old Year’s night and New Year’s day. We only allowed family gatherings. Then again you have to ask yourself, should we deny families gathering for the start of the New Year? The protocols said there could only be up to 35 persons in households.”
He acknowledged that while some people welcomed it, others were against it and disclosed that as Minister responsible for the Creative Industries promotors who spent money in anticipation of the traditional Old and New Year’s activities bombarded him because they were upset over the measures.
“That’s how they make their money.”
“We told them they couldn’t do it, only family gatherings because we tried to strike the balance between denying Saint Lucians any opportunity to celebrate the start of the new year or to allow some space. The right balance was to allow families to gather to celebrate.”
The utterances attributed above do not reflect the stature of a Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism; and a number two in policy and decision making. The continuation of such is catastrophic. If not curbed, the entire house of cards collapses.
The alternative requires immediate clean-up. Perhaps media training and communication should be prescribed in a similar manner as was applied to personnel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On the other hand, the utterances to explain government policy decisions and thought processes suffice amazement to a carnival approach, to sounding all nonspecial at the level of national decision making. The result, an expression of thought that epitomises a duped manifestation, resulting in very poor judgement. The perhaps qualifier to a COVID-19 Storm.
George William Odlum who served as Foreign Minister, frequently said: “Listen to the voice of the people”.
A cursory review of comments by commentators on social media reads:
SLP to the Bone
“Where did that Ass of all Jacks get his PhD? This man sounds as uneducated and clueless as I’ve heard from anyone. I’m beginning to wonder whether he achieved these qualifications – at a fish market? The man is a disaster every time he opens his mouth and if prime minister Philip Pierre is not careful he will be the downfall of this administration in the short term. Right now, many who voted SLP are saying that they could do with another five years of Chas and this clown is responsible for their feelings.”
“And now the health system is paying for the incompetence … make your regulations and stick to it! Look at the high numbers of confirmed cases now. OKEU can only accept a certain amount of people who are sick from other ailments. Shame on the government ministers who only want to pander to / enable their base(s).”
“The only minister that I am disappointed in this far is Ernest Hilaire. Toxic, controversial and ‘potentially corrupt’.”
Prime Minister Philip Pierre is appropriately placed and knows what he has to do given the space and latitude to operate. But better support is essential, instead of the practice of political hegemony (a sign of weakness) by unhelpful wingmen.
This paranoia has political observers intensely probing internal manoeuvres; in addition to the existential social and economic threats faced by the new government of Saint Lucia.
There is the adage – If what you wish to say is not better than silence then remain silent. Or as I heard recently, quarantine your mouth!
This is good advice in the circumstance of the Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism Minister’s botch explanation and messaging.
However, as is it widely understood, I am not a Saint Lucian. So, I better take the advise and be quiet!
– With contributions from US and Canada.