-Taiwan goes, China coming
THE return of Dr Kenny Anthony as Prime Minister of St. Lucia following Monday’s general election, has resulted in an amusing political chorus among the more exuberant supporters of his victorious Labour Party (SLP).
While awaiting the official results of Guyana’s presidential, parliamentary and regional elections that also took place on Monday, the refrain of the political chorus in St. Lucia goes something like this: “Kenny is back, Tom Chou gone”.
It underscores an inevitable diplomatic defeat for Taiwan, which had heavily bankrolled the losing incumbent United Workers Party (UWP) of Stephenson King and, simultaneously signal the coming triumphant return of the People’s Republic of China to re-establish an embassy in Castries.
Within months of the UWP’s defeat in December 2006 of Anthony’s then two-term SLP, King—as successor Prime Minister to the late founder-leader of the UWP, Sir John Compton—had moved to displace China by having a Taiwanese embassy instead in Castries.
It came as a very lucrative political gesture for the UWP—against the dying wish of Sir John, who became seriously ill shortly after his party had scored a decisive 11-6 parliamentary majority against Anthony’s then second-term SLP.
Circumventing established constitutional norms in accounting for funds privately allocated for claimed projects in the then 11 UWP constituencies, the Taiwanese government was to spend an estimated EC$1 (one) million as “gift” development funding in each of those constituencies—as was to be subsequently disclosed in the nation’s parliament by a then dissenting MP of the governing party.
This most extraordinary and unprecedented form of foreign funding in support of a government in the Caribbean region, was to prove a recurring political controversy over external interference in the domestic affairs of St. Lucia. It grew in intensity long before Monday’s general election with the Labour Party’s 10-7 majority victory in the 17-member House of Assembly.
For his part, Taiwan’s ambassador to St. Lucia, Tom Chou, had become so emboldened by the defence and praise he was receiving from Prime Minister King’s UWP administration, that he was arrogantly displaying his government’s financial backing by even making payments directly to contractors, personally or via his embassy, for specific projects.
Little wonder, therefore, for this year’s carnival in St. Lucia, Chou became the object of multi-facet satire from calypsonians, with some entertaining manifestations of “chewing” on ‘Chou”.
Now, as Anthony prepares to be sworn in today for the third time as Prime Minister, the Taiwanese envoy Chou would be readying himself to depart St. Lucia – if he has not already done so by the time you read this.
-Taiwan goes, China coming