Tuesday, 30 April 2013


If you were watching it on television, you were doing it wrong. You’re missing all the best parts.

If Parliament was about issues, substance and statistics, the world would already be a better place and there would be no need for Christianity. Parliament is about picong, the lively, funny, nasty, sometimes scary exchanges better the people who are called ‘Honorable’.

Because you missed it, here is a brief review of some of the best quotes and misquotes (well, they might be as the best lines are said when the mics are off) from the most unspectacular budget in the history of independent St Lucia. All quotes have been taken as completely out of context as humanly possible:

Wai! Wai! Wai! – the Waiwai Twins, as Pierre walked into the House with great swag.

This is our country. It doesn’t belong to Flambeau. It doesn’t belong to Labour. - RF
It belongs to me! - unidentified MP, mocking RF

We are going to do something new. We are going to follow the advice of scientists. – MJB

We are headed down a slippery cliff... – AJ

Chastanet’s expertise (is) as a spendthrift and a poor manager. – LT

I’m not one of those politicians who thrives on the failure (of the system) – RF

They gave up – MJB on Flambeau’s black sigatoka fight.

In the words of the great management theorist....- EE
Wai! Wai! Wai! – the Waiwai Twins

I have a new appreciation for hypocrisy (because of) the opposition leader – who is in a perpetual state of amnesia. – LT

We never had any intention to move a fiscal deficit budget. We always contemplated surpluses. – RF

When Flambeau talks about wastage, we should take their word for it. They’re experts. – LT

I want to move on to cemeteries. – AJ
Please do. – unidentified MP

It was Albert Einstein who observed...- EE
Wai! Wai! Wai! – the Waiwai Twins

Running an intentional deficit and having external difficulties get a hold of you are two different things. – RF

There’s a lot of overcrowding and congestion in cemeteries. –AJ

Did we honestly believe we would collect the entire VAT money ($98m)? We kyah collect $54 million from a handful of hoteliers, how can we collect $98 million from all these people? – RF

If something isn’t done, we’re going to have some problems with our dead. – AJ

Three million for refurbishing Vieux Fort Square? Three million, Mr Speaker? I suspect soon there will be a throne in that Square. The PM just wants to mimc my performance. Maybe he can rename his ‘Tranquilty Park.’ – RF

I know every single person in my constituency from the little child growing up. – AJ
Wai! Wai! Wai! – the Waiwai Twins

The touristic genius and majesty that is Allen Chastanet. – LT

I want to compliment the civil servants (on their zero per cent stance) – RF
Don’t be so naive. – RL
Let us be like them and lead by example, foregoing all MP salary increases... – RF
We did that already – HD
Let us stop the luxurious upgrading of offices...Mr Speaker, did I hear there is a Jacuzzi in the prime minister’s offices? – RF
Did you put one there? – PMKA

15 minutes, honourable member...I thought you were still introducing. Up to now I haven’t heard a debate on the estimates. – Speaker to RF

There are so many people in the St Lucian mission in Martinique that you can’t fit all of them in a coaster. – GR, on increases in the foreign ministry budget.

The increases in the budget of the foreign affairs department are less than Allen Chastanet’s phone bill as a minister. – LT

My slogan was ‘Este for All’ – EE
You mean, ‘Este for One’? – HD
Este fal? – PJP

He (Chastanet) paid $900,000 for a new branding that was plagiarized from Peru. – LT

I am a quiet man. Some might even say I’m bashful. – EE
Wai! Wai! Wai! – the Waiwai Twins

Nowadays, my PM is very happy. He used to be so sad in opposition. - EE

Monday, 29 April 2013


Wait until he opens his mouth....

Don't do it, Allen. For the sake of the country, don't say anything at all...ever again!


(Otherwise known as EVERYBODY vs ALLEN)


If Allen Chastanet cannot survive his current bid for the United Workers Party leadership, how will he endure in St Lucian government or politics?

Last Wednesday, the man who made his name as a public service professional announced to the media that he thought he was good leadership material for the United Workers Party. Chastanet’s name has been in leadership contention for several years now, even though he has never actually contested the leadership. With his reputation for being a lightning rod with a gun pointed at his foot – which often happens to be in his mouth – many within the party thought that Chastanet might be more focused on winning a seat in the Lower House that posing a premature leadership challenge.

In less than 24 hours after Chastanet spoke to reporters, Richard Frederick was firing back that, basically, Chastanet’s own father – one of the richest business people in St Lucia – won’t hire him. Frederick essentially pulled the trigger (of the gun pointed at Chastanet’s foot, which is in his mouth) on Chastanet’s leadership, accusing his former Cabinet colleague of being a wasteful mis-manager.
You can't trust them, dude. They'll stab you in the back. And they're not even voting yet.

The brutal retort from Frederick was not only a confirmation that Frederick remains King’s strongest supporter, but that Chastanet is not a smart enough politician to diffuse potential (and foreseeable) threats like Frederick, before mouthing off in the media.

Chastanet’s obvious ambitions have attracted some support from people who are frustrated with the current status quo in the United Workers Party. Some actually think that current leader Stephenson King may be amenable to a change of leadership if he can retain his dignity and perhaps the salary of the Leader of the Opposition. (The position of party leader does not pay a salary.)

However, a brief survey of Flambeau’s leadership shows that Chastanet has not successfully lobbied the more powerful members of the party and indicates that he has made no concerted attempt to win delegates over, in preparation for a leadership contest. Without a critical mass of support from both the leadership and the rank and file, Chastanet’s bid for leadership is either a joke or a mistake waiting to happen.

By Friday, Chastanet was getting caught in the crossfire of the budget debates with new tourism minister Lorne Theophilus calling him and his party colleagues sans haute for accusing the present government of wastefulness. Chastanet attracted Theophilus’ wrath by criticizing his performance as minister, calling Theophilus “confused.”


Richard Frederick giving Ti Chas the evil eye and Lorne Theophilus giving him The Smirk

Theophilus took aim at Chastanet by way of responding to Micoud South’s Gail Rigobert’s criticisms of Alva Baptiste’s foreign affairs ministry and their considerable increases in spending over the two years.

“The former tourism minister’s phone bills were higher than the budget increases at the foreign ministry,” Theophilus said with slight exaggeration, revealing monthly phone bills – at the public’s expense – from almost $42,000 to over $48,000.

Theophilus practically prosecuted “Chastanet’s expertise as a spendthrift and a poor manager,” adding that while St Lucia was “subjected to the touristic genius and majesty of Allan Chastanet,” spending and airlift increased while tourist arrivals and revenue decreased. He compared that with his short record of decreased arrivals and airlift, but increasing revenues.

Frederick was not present to enjoy continue the work of scuttling Chastanet’s political ambitions.

Theophilus’ also ridiculed Chastanet’s approval of the new St Lucian tourism brand “Live the Legend” which cost a reported $900,000 and looked very much like Peru’s tourism brand.

With members of both his own party and the current government criticizing, not just his ambitions, but his performance as a minister and a manager, how does Allan Chastanet intend to rise to the top in the United Workers Party? How does he even intend to survive as a candidate until the next election, if he continues to enrage people whose support or silence he will need to continue any kind of political career?

One key supporter during the last general election said, “Maybe he thinks if he wins the leadership, he can ensure he’s the candidate for Soufriere or wherever he wants to run. The problem is that there is no big set of people anywhere calling for Chastanet to run, and the way he is contesting this leadership, if he loses, he will not be the candidate for anything again – at least, not in Flambeau.”






It is the most unspectacular budget in the history of independent St Lucia.

Economic contraction, leads to cuts in spending, followed by revenue decline, leading, inexorably to more cuts. All the while, the opposition howls against wastage and clientel-ism . just he way it should be.

After at least six years of ‘knives out’ in Parliament, the picture of MPees actually debating line items in the budget was less rapturous that one might have hoped. Without brand name dramas like ‘Rochamel’ and ‘the Daher building dominating the discussion, it seemed like Parliament might actually start working on the course correction St Lucia has needed since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

Of course, there was the necessary amount of selective amnesia and hypocrisy from the opposition and equal amounts of self-congratulation from the government side. It’s only natural.

By Friday afternoon, it was clear that the sparks, friction and tensions that characterized the last six years in Parliament were noticeably absent. Even the media was reduced to reporting statistics.

The week started with a big blue polka dot hat, a declaration that St Lucia needs new vision and a new economic, if not agricultural revolution. (Food production revolution, anyone? Anyone?) The call for a new collective vision was not accompanied by an actual vision.

Climate change was hailed as the major new source of grant funding and capital project funding – very important to all proposal writers of the near future.

Then the prime minister took the podium on Thursday and if you blinked you missed it. A prime minister can take the whole first day of the budget outlining his vision. One of the strongest criticisms of the lean, mean new budget was that without the PM’s policy statement, the budget is just a bunch of numbers that are hard to interpret because no one knows the PM’s aims. And then, Richard Frederick goaded Kenny Anthony for the $2.9 million refurbishment of Vieux Fort Square, for the first time.

Arsene James wept over the debt and the black sigatoka crisis, job discrimination in Micoud South and the failure of at least three agro-processing plants to open. James also complained about congestion and overcrowding in cemeteries. Somehow, Frederick managed to interject a comment on the $2.9 million Vieux Fort Square into that.

Agriculture minister Moses JnBaptiste put the blame for the failure of the agro-plants to open on the previous Flambeau government, showing that even the government’s Taiwanese friends objected to the cost-cutting that Flambeau did to the original design, saying it made the buildings unsound. He also boasted his achievements as agriculture minister in clearing new ground for the next generation of modern farmers among other things.

Then Richard Frederick’s turn: He stood, fluffed his jacket, fixed his tie and did an incredibly moderate version of what he does best. (Maybe he was worn out from tearing former colleague Allen Chastanet to shreds in the media the night before.)

He complained about the lack of a policy statement preceding the budget. He complained that Labour has habitually and conscienciously ran budget deficits since 2001. Whether or not Flambeau ran actual budget deficits, he did not say, but added, “There’s a difference between proposing a budget deficit and running up a deficit due to unforeseen events like global recession. There was never any manifest intention on the part of our government to move a fiscal deficit budget.”

Flambeau, he insisted, always “contemplated surpluses,” although, “there may be circumstances where a shortfall in revenue inevitably occurs.”

The last budget deficit was $41 million and the coming deficit is estimated at $107 million.

In goading the prime minister again, Frederick mentioned him by name and was asked to refrain by the speaker.

“I apologize,” he replied. “I just wanted to elevate him beyond the status of prime minister as I suspect there will be a throne in Vieux Fort Square soon.”

He cited a $25 million increase in the public wage bill and the prime minister corrected him: “$33 million.”

He brought up the issue of numerous pricey consultants on government’s wage bill. Labour MPees groaned at the bold-faced hypocrisy, as they saw it. Frederick complimented civil servants for their heroic zero per cent stance.

“Don’t be naive,” Robert Lewis retorted.

“Let us forego any salary increases as MPees,” Frederick persisted.

“We did that already,” Harold Dalso replied.

“Let us stop the luxurious upgrading of offices,” Frederick went on, referring to a hypothetical Jacuzzi in prime ministerial offices.

“Did you put one there?” the prime minister inquired.

The speaker gave a 15 minute alert.

Frederick observed that he had not even gotten to his beloved constituency.

“I thought you were still introducing,” the speaker replied. “Up to now, I haven’t heard a debate on the estimates.”

Not from Frederick. But from everyone else – boring but well done. If only someone would give us a great climactic finish. Guess we have to wait for May 14th, when Parliament reconvenes.




For five years, he patiently suffered the slings, arrows and downright bombshells of the United Workers Party Government. He weathered the co-ordinated attacks of Richard Frederick and Guy Joseph, the articulate charisma of Rufus Bousquet and the clownish buffoonery of Marcus Nicholas without great theatrics.

Even when the government moved to pass a parliamentary motion to condemn him, he didn’t fight back, but rather helped them to correct the prodigious procedural errors they had made on their way to their goal.

Kenny Anthony is widely characterized as one of the most thin-skinned people ever to venture into politics – certainly the most thin-skinned ever to be Prime Minister of St Lucia. Where George Odlum and John Compton seemed to separate their political and personal selves, “everything for Kenny is personal. These things actually hurt him.”

At last year’s budget, five months after beating Flambeau out of office, Kenny Anthony went easy on the new opposition, seeming to signal a new era in St Lucia politics, after almost two decades of useless inquiries, investigations and other reprisals.

But revenge is a dish best served cold and this year’s budget will probably be a whole different story.

After a year of probing, stumbling upon, prodding, digging and exhuming the ghosts of all the Flambeau did from 2006-11, Kenny Anthony and the St Lucia Labour Party now seemed poised to report on the financial commess that they had long suspected (and accused) Flambeau of.

In the spotlight will be tens of millions of dollars (at least) in, not cost overruns, but disturbingly, if not deliberately, over-cost projects. A brief preview of the data shows that Flambeau spent more on small projects in 2010 than Labour spent on the entire capital works budget in 2011/12 – which is no easy feat, because Labour did $60 million in capital works that year, much of it to address overdue repairs to infrastructure left crumbling since Hurricane Thomas.

The role of the former Taiwanese Ambassador Tom Chou in helping fund much of these projects may also on the agenda.

How will Flambeau respond to these attacks? Are they prepared to take it like they gave it from 2006-11. Common sense would dictate that they try to paint their administration as one where there were more jobs, more projects and greater circulation of currency. However, their well-established patterns of political rhetoric will no doubt entice them to resuscitate old weapons like Rochamel, Grynberg, cost overruns and others which won them the 2006 election, but lost them the election of 2011.


She Who Shall Not Be Named
Once upon a time, there was a cop who got shot at Marchand.

He was never the most gentle person, but the shooting in Marchand was a turning point for him.

"He seemed to change after that," his baby mama told The Flogg. "Something in him just changed. He was more intense. He had rage and he would pass it on me."

It seemed that everytime his baby mama got the courage to try to leave him, the waj would take him. The Baby Mama, although she wanted to just escape and run away forever, was trapped and what trapped her was stronger than chains. She had a son with The Cop and she couldn't just leave her son behind.

But she also couldn't take him from his father. He was a cop, after all.

And so, in between episodes of hiding out with friends and running away to places he couldn't follow, she had to come back to take licks.

He would sometimes beat her with the gun-butt, but would often start the foreplay by putting the nozzle near her head as he held her down and threatened to kill her.

"He used to leave the house with the boy after we had a bad quarrel so that I couldn't try to escape with my son."

This went on for a few years, but because The Cop was mostly a weekend abuser, she would get a doctor to give her sick leave and stay out of sight until the worst bruises healed.

One day, when he was holding her down and threatening her with the gun, she struggled and it went off.
Studies show women get the worst sentences for violence against men and children, while often getting very light sentences for drugs and other crimes

"I wasn't trying to kill him," she told The Flogg, from her cell at Bordelais, where she is awaiting trial for homicide. "He was the one with the gun. It just went off. I panicked. I ran outside screaming and calling his name but he wasn't responding.

"People say he deserved it, but that's not the truth. The truth is that it was an accident."

So why is she in jail?

Why hasn't his family allowed her son to visit her in months?

Would he be in jail if the gun went off and she was killed instead?

For the Baby Mama, there is no happy ending to this story. There never will be. If she is freed, her baby daddy is dead and her son will be haunted by suggestions that his mom killed his dad. If she is convicted, her son will have lost both parents and the system would have sent one more signal to abused and oppressed women that when worse comes to worst, they are still alone in the world.


Guy Joseph - Smiling
Guy Joseph is natural born smiler.

He can smile through just about anything - accusations of misappropriation of hurricane relief supplies, allegations and implications of impropriety and hypocrisy (which is not to corruption and greed) and ridicule of his country boy accent.

This budget, Guy Joseph might have been blissfully ignorant of any plans to expose millions of dollars in irregularities that occured while he was communications and works minister. Then again, he might have been steeling himself for an onslaught by Prime Minister Kenny Anthony and inrastructure minister Philip J Pierre - both of whom might feel quite justified in wiping that smile off his face. After all, they spent years enduring his somewhat unfair accusations of mismanagement embedded in his premiere political platform piece, "Cost Overruns."

In a somewhat unexpected move, Labour opted to keep Guy Joseph smiling a while, by not blasting him with their discovery of what they consider "millions and millions in mismanagement."

Guy Joseph - Vexed

Infrastructure minister Pierre instead of returning fire for fire, decided to close the door on Joseph's favorite topic "Cost Overruns" - especially on the Soufriere-Vieux Fort Highway.

"The problem with that project was not the tendering or any kind of corruption," he told The Flogg. "The problem is variations on a contract to raise the price in excess of the miscellaneous clause of the contract. When that happens, the contractor and the engineer must raise the red flag. They didn't. My solution has been to make the tendering process clearer and unambiguous, to ensure costing is done right and to enforce stronger monitoring and evaluation."

It sounds like Pierre might just leave Guy Joseph's 'legacy' at his ministry alone.Guy Joseph - Nervous

But within the infrastructure ministry, The Flogg has confirmed that during Joseph's time as minister, huge amounts were spent on river desilting which was either not done or over-cost; a berm in Bexon which was well-paid for was so badly done it has already eroded; $600,000 was paid for a building in Soufriere in a deal that looks like it warrants investigation (or at least some more publicity)....the list goes on.

In addition, constituency development projects and town and village councils spent over $20 million each in 2010, an astounding figure, given the amount of work done and that Pierre's infrastructure minister spent only a little more than that on their entire capital budget while doing overdue repairs to roads and bridges damaged by Hurricane Tomas.

The rumblings within the infrastructure minister all amount to bad news for Guy Joseph, but the restraint of Labour in attacking him must be the worst torture of all.

The Seventh Day Adventist Joseph made his political name by touting financial accountability as his cornerstone and common sense and personal integrity as his calling cards. Come May 14th, when Parliament re-convenes for the Budget Address, Labour might be ready to turn the tables on Joseph and give him a taste of his own medicine.

Given the information they think they have in their possession, it won't be difficult to paint Joseph as the man with the most dangerous smile in politics.

Conversely, every day that they cannot paint him is such is one more day that they let him off the hook and let him prove that they were full of hot air all along.
Guy Joseph, waiting to exhale