The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has accused the Allen Chastanet administration of appearing to pursue a policy of suppressing free speech, while demonstrating a lack of transparency.
SLP leader, Philip J. Pierre in making the accusation during a news conference Tuesday, recalled an incident involving HTS News Reporter Rehani Isodore last year when Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet ‘berated’ Isidore.
Pierre also made reference to Chastanet’s recent comments regarding University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer, Doctor Tennyson Joseph.
Joseph had spoken out against the rise of businessmen-politicians in the Caribbean, asserting that Chastanet and US President, Donald Trump, were examples of why businessmen as politicians were bad for society.
Pierre said Chastanet had openly called for the dismissal of the UWI lecturer.
The opposition leader went on to mention the ‘Miguel Fevrier situation’.
It was a reference to a testy news conference Monday during which Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Dominic Fedee, refused to be drawn into a response despite relentless questions from HTS News Reporter, Miguel Fevrier, regarding duty free vehicle concessions to Sandals Resorts.
At one point Fedee accused Fevrier of asking a ‘joke question’ and devaluing himself as a journalist, while the reporter responded that it was Fedee who was devaluing himself as a minister by refusing to answer a simple question.
“Miguel Fevrier is exercising his right to ask questions. The simple thing for the minister to say was that there is no truth,” Pierre declared.
He asserted that the situation highlighted a disposition of the current administration towards vindictiveness and suppression of free speech.
“This is very worrisome,” the SLP leader stated.
He said that he would not get involved in the merits or demerits of the claim in relation to Sandals, asserting that any investor has a right to ask the government for what they want to run their business.
“Investment is for profit,” Pierre, a former Tourism Minister, declared.
However the SLP leader said his concern is the seeming lack of transparency in the situation.
Pierre noted that Dominic Fedee was a Sandals employee and should have removed himself from any issue involving the resort because perception of bias would be clear.
He said the prime minister should have advised Fedee to not only recuse himself, but try as far as possible not to make statements that seem to favour Sandals.