Dear Mr. Editor,
PERMIT me to respond to an article published in the issue of your January 27, 2018 newspaper captioned “Get Off Chastanet’s Back”, in which the author launched a scathing attack on Ms. Catherine Sealys of “Raise Your Voice” for appropriately responding to myopic comments made by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet regarding the future of second and third borns to teenage single mothers.
He further opined: “The Saint Lucia Labour Party introduced the culture of attacking the then Leader of the Opposition, Allen Chastanet, in public forums after assuming leadership of the United Workers Party.”
In responding to a question posed by talk show host Timothy Poleon, Prime Minister Chastanet said: “You have young girls having kids, first one, second one, third one. We watch them, we pass by their homes, we do nothing. I think Government should have an intervention programme. If, in fact, a young woman has a child, a first child, we need to sit down with their parents and everybody else, that that child has the capacity to be able to take care of the child. But how do you allow that same child, that same girl, now to have a second and third child? Couldn’t even take care of the first one! You pass, that’s your problem and your future. You see, I’m not done yet. The third one is jobs.”
Timothy Poleon interrupted and questioned: “Before you proceed to jobs, is that an issue you should legislate? Because human rights activists will tell you that’s a human rights issue.”
The Prime Minister continued: “Yes, you can legislate. If a woman has a child under the age of 18, not even an adult yet, and that person goes out and has their first child and you help them and help support that first child, and (she) goes out and have a second child, should that person be entitled to keep that second child?”
I felt it necessary to quote the Prime Minister verbatim so readers can understand the context in which his comments were made, thus necessitating a response from Ms. Sealys. By giving legitimacy to his convoluted logic, the author’s posture suggested the decision to reproduce or extend their family does not reside in the purview of financially-challenged single teenage mothers, but in a Prime Minister who has demonstrated his administration’s visionless incapacity to implement policy direction to protect the very vulnerable lives he seeks to destroy under the pretext of protection.
How can the author question repeat pregnancies by women deemed to be underage, knowing full well that procreation is not one-sided? What statistical department furnished him with the data he referenced?
“We have got to understand that the majority of these kids grow up to be a burden on the society. In most cases, they are abandoned by one or both parents from very early.”
This statement is categorically disingenuous, unsubstantiated or, perhaps, it may very well be his masculine impulse to prevaricate.
It is totally uncharacteristic and unacceptable for a Prime Minister to make such insane comments without challenge. I know of teenage single mothers who faced challenges maintaining their children. In most cases, they birthed between three and four before attaining the maturity age of twenty-one. Today, they are proud mothers to young professionals. Should their circumstances at that time necessitate the Prime Minister to deprive them of their second or third born and not experience a mother’s love?
Should the Prime Minister now determine the suitability of young women to become parents of more than one child? Should the Prime Minister decide their children are better off being raised by strangers when no agency is responsible for ensuring they get a monthly allowance or food stamps, thus causing a strain on their resources? Has Mr. Chastanet tabled in Parliament a law to stipulate Social Services pay a monthly allowance to teenage single mothers facing unfortunate circumstances?
As a first step, shouldn’t he focus on establishing safety nets to provide the enabling environment that will empower these young women, educate the delinquent fathers who renege on their responsibilities and also ensure avenues for employment can be accessed through social programmes? Is he suggesting that St. Lucia will ensure a woman remains a primigravida based on her domestic circumstances?
This Machiavellian intent to recklessly legislate the separation of children from their parents will only serve to propagate an erosion of values in the family structure and a breeding ground for sexual retaliation. The Prime Minister’s cacophony of baseless babble failed to find resonance with me and, by extension, many other citizens because, clearly, no explanation was given as to how and where the State would house the displaced children. Referencing the Singapore model in his ramblings demonstrates his lack of comprehension of fiscal prudence exercised by foreign governments to individually pursue a development agenda for the advancement of people and country.
It is this same fiscal prudence implemented by the SLP-led administration that caused St. Lucia to be on the path of growth, stability and development. It should be noted that the achievements of the Labour Party whilst in Government are visible throughout every constituency in St. Lucia. For one to even suggest that Dr. Anthony gave St. Lucians a six for a nine borders on extreme disconnect between that individual and the country. Moreover, it also serves to confirm the political dishonesty propagated and unleashed on a gullible electorate causing them to analyze things through jaundiced lenses.
It therefore came as no surprise when the leadership of the UWP was confirmed and the country was preparing for general elections that it was incumbent upon the St. Lucia Labour Party to warn the populace about the recklessness and destructive agenda of Allen Chastanet, which was well-documented.
For the elucidation of readers, I will highlight some of the substantiated, reckless expenditures by Allen Chastanet during his tenure as Saint Lucia’s Tourism Minister from 2006–2011, thereby refuting the cogency of the author’s arguments:
1. FCCA TENT (Future Brand) — $ 922,963.00
American Airlines — $4,115,850.00
British Airways — $5,325,336.00
Condor – $2,334,243.00
Excel Freedom Flight — $800,118.00
American Eagle —
Executive Airlines — $7,259,747.00
Jet Blue — $5,180,741.00
Sun Tours — $462,643.00
Virgin Holidays — $8,648,520.00
West Jet — $4,328,222.00
TOTAL — $38,455,420.00
3. 2009 Jazz Festival Costs
(a) Performance Fee — $679,255.00
(b) Accommodation — $21,191.82
(c) Group Air Fare — $35,319.70
(d) Amy & Security — $228,668.54
(Meals and Riders) – $7,020.00
(f) Lighting — $4,184.03
(g) Excess Baggage, etc. $2,106.00
TOTAL — $977,745.09
4. Boxing In Paradise
(a) Production Contract
For Showtime — $665,658.58
(b) Boxing Promoter– $815,070.00
TOTAL — $1,480,728.58
5. Chastanet Mobile Phone Expenditure
(a) Year 1 — $19,921.00
(b) Year 2 — $41,903.00
(c) Year 3 — $48,916.00
(d) Year 4 — $23,734.00
TOTAL — $134,474.74
6. Payments to Coco Palm Hotel — $78,472.91
7. Chastanet Travel Costs
(a) 2007 — $28,256.00
(b) 2008 — $233,624.00
(c) 2009 — $183,396.00
(d) 2010 — $236,586.00
(e) 2011 — $200,191.00
(f) 2011 (Apr-Dec) $98,737.00
TOTAL — $980,791.00
8. James Hepple Consultancy Payments
(a) 2008 — $85,675.00
(b) 2009 — $137,465.00
(c) 2010 — $51,098.00
The aggregate of the above excesses totals $43,304,833.32, a cost to taxpayers that could be utilized in education, health, agriculture or infrastructure, thus making more productive use of our taxpayers money. It is, therefore, inconceivable to assume that the St. Lucia Labour Party attacked Mr. Chastanet; rather, they took the responsible position of constantly informing and reminding the electorate that he was a prodigal spendthrift, totally incompetent and lacked the financial prudence to successfully lead the country.
Despite the numerous warnings, St. Lucians elected Allen Chastanet’s UWP into government and, as predicted, his previous habits have continued unabated to the detriment of our taxpayers and economy. Supporting a candidate or party is the prerogative of every eligible voter which is understandable and within one’s democratic rights. However, what is dangerous is unashamedly condoning the actions of that politician or party at the peril of the people and country for personal gain. History will judge us by the decisions we make!
Austina Fanus, SLP National Women’s Officer