Sunday, 01 April 2012 02:31
By Kwame Nkosi Romeo
Dr Raymond S Edwards' article, "Ugly Stroke Play by Sir Viv," on March 25 on Caribarena condemning Sir Viv Richards' statement concerning Antigua & Barbuda ownership of power generation is loaded with assumptive allegations of preposterous partisan doctrine.
He argues that Caribbean governments use national heroes' and heroines' capital to advance their partisan politics and declares, rightly, that this is bad for democracy.
But applying this analysis to Sir Viv's statement is contemptible outrage, likened unto putting a thoroughbred racehorse in a dog race. Shame on you Dr Edwards for using your assumption statement to undermine our living legend and national hero, Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards!
What's worse is that you do so under the banner of how hero worship could permit manipulative politics to go undetected, unless you know how to detect and prevent it. Some recommendations were made by you to that effect.
Sir Viv's comment on a politically charged issue is in no way an affirmation of any political party. In fact, it is an attempt to find authentic reasoning in the midst of partisan differences.
Dr Edwards is guilty of the belief that Sir Viv's statement favours one over the other. Sir Viv's statements focus less on the Antigua & Barbuda government trying to deflect charges of corruption; and the opposition vying for exposing alleged corrupt behaviour over the Republic of China [PRC]-funded Wadadli Power Plant, and more on the larger issue of unifying the nation around the importance of breaking the energy monopoly that had negative impacted our development aspirations.
For those of us with any informed history of the problem of monopoly in the energy sector, we would have heard and interpreted Sir Viv's call for the breaking of the Antigua Power Company [APC] near-monopoly in a very different manner.
Sir Viv's call for political unity and economic patriotism was supported by the majority, specifically regarding Antigua & Barbuda's power generation. Sir Viv's word should be valued rather than ignored; and with that, Antigua Labour Party [ALP] opposition leader Lester Bird agrees, there was common ground.
More than a decade earlier, under his leadership as prime minister, Lester Bird's interview with Shezhen Cable TV [SCTV] on Monday April 2, 2001 outlined ALP's future policy under the Antigua-China trade co-operation. This trade co-operation and business enterprise extends from light industries to constructing an Antigua Power Plant by COMPLANT, a construction company from the PRC.
This further infuriated Aziz Hadeed, since APC had applied for judicial review on June 7, 2000 against the decision taken by the Tenders Board "....in respect of the Chinese firm COMPLANT being awarded the contract to supply APUA with electricity".
Was this a critical giveaway by Lester Bird in 2000, to award the contract to COMPLANT "to supply APUA with electricity" and correct it in 2001? Only Lester Bird can truly say if he was really for Antigua & Barbuda owning its power generation. This the UPP assured!
Hadeed recognized the future of Antigua & Barbuda's power generation was slipping away from APC, so he severed ties with the ALP prior to the 2004 election and supported the UPP, only to return to the ALP prior to the 2009 election. UPP won! Neither the ALP/UPP government fulfilled APC's business development objective and determined effort to fully control Antigua & Barbuda's power generation.
Today, Aziz Hadeed remains a supporter of the ALP. Who wins?
A grave political misfortune for Antigua & Barbuda, the system is manipulated for political purpose and personal gain. Both political parties were used like "dutty" floorcloths, one against the other in the battle over power generation control by one family.
The origin of conflict between APC and the Antigua & Barbuda government statutory corporation - the Antigua Public Utilities Authority [APUA] - continues ad nauseum in a never-ending public relations campaign. Given this history, Sir Viv's comment were meant to engender a much larger discussion promoting unity and ownership.
Sir Viv views unity and ownership as inseparable, and not political conservation of an unjust social order, where the few get richer, and the majority are denied ownership of their resources. This is based on true facts and not false analysis.
Again, why should anyone seriously accept Dr Edwards' false analysis as being objective, devoid of narrow-minded partisan affiliation, when he is Dean Jonas' ALP PRO consultant. Dr Edwards, do not undermine Sir Viv's legacy for your business pledge.
Everyone knows the legacy of selflessness and grounded integrity that Sir Viv represents. Sir Viv is independent-minded, and has always sacrificed personal interest for Caribbean pride and empowerment of the masses. This statement is based on evidence and facts.
So what would corrupt anyone to assume that Sir Viv would ever sacrifice national interest for partisan politics? Sir Viv always chose to make sure the masses won, not the influential few. Teamwork was the key to his sportsmanship legacy, not breaking cricket-making history records. Unity and ownership were always the dominant features that informed Sir Viv's ideology. This philosophy has animated everything Sir Viv has done. And this is validation of Sir Viv's legacy and tradition of integrity.
I can only guess that Dr Edwards is clouded by his own myopic selfishness, in conjunction with the political implication of his baseless narrative, and equally guilty of academic worship linked to unapologetic political propaganda. Dr Edwards' observations are much more politically charged than meets the eyes.
Dr Edwards, I know Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, from Vivi to "De Bull'' "Master Blaster" "Smokey" "Smoking Joe" "King Viv" to Sir Viv, from childhood up until now. I have visited his home, we have communicated on all aspects of culture. I have also communicated with his parents, Mrs Grathel Richards, loving but stern mother, a great cook, and the late Malcolm "Don Amiche" Richards, powerfully strong, disciplinarian, and proud father. Both are equally brave, insightful, inspiring, and trusting of Sir Viv's character.
Sir Viv's fearlessness embodies the strength and characteristics of his parents, so I can speak personally of his character: a legacy of broad-shoulder integrity, love of country, integration of a united Caribbean, fulfillment of our people's aspiration in this era of globalisation, and strong advocate for political unity and cultural pride.
I have seen Sir Viv uphold homegrown values, inspiring others to control the commanding heights of our economy, empowering local ownership and control through unity and self-reliance.
Shame on you Dr Edwards! Your analysis requires uproar and outrage for pretending to be objective while working for political interest. Could it be, who pays the piper, calls the tune?
I challenge you to show, in fact, objective reasoning, and fair-minded commentary without pandering to Dean Jonas' pocket, that Sir Viv's statement caused more political division; that he was used to promote partisan politics, and that he in fact played an ugly stroke against the best practices of democracy, before you are brutally dispatched to the Cooks Dump!
Even after his retirement, your political googa-lies aren't beguiling enough to catch Sir Viv's integrity off-guard.
But the UPP appeared to be caught off-guard when peppered with questions concerning Antigua & Barbuda-owned power plant. Possibly, the Antigua & Barbuda government's non-compliance with rules on public procurement may have created a level of distrust, since the UPP failed to follow Don Mitchell's report from APUA funding to all aspect of transparency.
According to the Don Mitchell's APUA report
on December 14, 2005, citing the Vortex [Canada] contract as an example, the report forewarned of public procurement policies and practices gone wrong, and reiterate that this greatly diminishes government's transparency.
In an effort to assure transparency and accountability, the report recommends: "... any other contract to purchase generators be prepared by senior counsel retained by APUA in Canada, or the country of sourcing to protect APUA's interest and vetted by senior counsel either locally or in the region well experienced in public utility generator contracts before Cabinet considers the question of guaranteeing any resulting loan. This principle applies to any other contract involving any major capital equipment purchase."
At best, Dr Edwards' commentary represents good theory but bad application, and when dangerously misapplied only mystifies and confuses. Rather than galvanize constructive change, Dr Edwards' political partisan analysis reinforced the very political culture that it attempted to expose, an opposite extreme.
Dr Edwards' article is an exercise in powerful propaganda. While rallying against the forbidden fruit of dysfunctional democracy, the author seems to be eating that juicy apple of partisan politics.
Sir Viv, I know you will not stop exercising your GOD-given right to talk. Keep it up, Jah bless.