It is that time of the year when we compile our list of winners and losers for 2020. Of course, we cannot possibly publish the list in one editorial, so we will be citing them in upcoming articles over the next few days.
A huge loser in this dreadful year was Mother Nature. She was desecrated and spat upon by selfish developers who seemed to care only about their little playgrounds. Mr Zhang Yida’s crocodile tears on national television did nothing to allay our conviction that there is much that is untoward in his silly, almost childlike, attempt to build a beach over a rocky shoreline. It is an exercise in futility, in our minds, and one that will result in the displacement of much sand. His removal of the mangroves is also a most-dastardly deed that will long live in infamy. By the way, we believe that this whole YIDA project is pie-in-the-sky nonsense that will yield very little benefit to Antiguans and Barbudans. There was nothing in Zhang’s appearance on national television last evening that impressed us and persuaded us that the ecological damage is worth the economic benefits. The buildings, those already completed, are all ugly concrete squares, and we cannot envisage the supposed five-star hotels being anything else but unsightly slabs. The supposed enclave for investors is also a dubious concept, as is the notion that wealthy investors will wish to take up residence right next to a steel factory. Good grief! Who conceived of this nonsense?
With feigned hurt, Mr Zhang protested that he was disappointed at the local resistance to his fanciful, hare-brained scheme, and he said that if Antiguans and Barbudans did not want him to proceed with the project that he would walk away from it. In the name of the North East Marine Management Area (NEMMA) and Mother Nature, sir, we implore you to. Why tarry? You have heard the concerned voices of the people.
Alas! You shared that you were actually planning to walk away from the environmentally unfriendly scheme in 2017, but our Prime Minister, to whom you gave a thumbs-up last evening, persuaded you not to. Sigh! Never mind that he has admitted that the promised $200M per year from you has not been forthcoming. We can only chalk up the PM’s entreaties to you to stay the unpopular course as desperation on his part. After all, on the investor front, precious little else is happening here in our fair State. And this was before Covid-19.
Sadly, Mother Nature also took a hit in Barbuda. Seemed, notwithstanding the outrage of the Barbuda people, and notwithstanding the cries of local and international environmentalists, the rich will have their precious little golf course, even if it means creating hazardous environmental conditions in the process. Again, our Prime Minister, with more than a hint of desperation in his voice, has said that he will not walk away from the Peace, Love and Happiness (PLH) project, because it is a most critical plank in his post-Covid economic recovery platform. Indeed, he has said that he will fight the Barbudans to the bitter end, and that he will send over the army if need be, and that he would rather resign, than yield an inch on PLH. We can hope, can’t we?
Another big loser this year was practically the entire Cabinet of this Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) administration. Almost all of them were missing from their constituencies (only showing up for the occasional funeral and photo-op), and the internal bickering and finger-pointing and accusations were quite painful and embarrassing to hear and watch. As are the legal entanglements, and the suspensions and reassignments of portfolios. Sigh! We even have the case of a minister being assigned to the vitally important portfolio of Education by default. We have come to a fine pass here in Antigua and Barbuda. Clearly, our school children are huge losers under this feckless administration. Mind you, with the eBooks fiasco, the internet connectivity woes, unfulfilled sweet-sounding lap-top promises and other education snafus, our children were already being short-changed. Oh for the days of outstanding Ministers of Education like former MP’s, Basil Peters, Christopher O’ Marde, Reuben Harris, Dr. Rodney Williams and Dr Jacqui Quinn.
Meanwhile, other big losers were the laid-off workers and the poor. Who would have believed that an administration, so prideful and vain-glorious, could not even give the suffering citizens of this country a little ‘sumn-sumn’ to tide them over during the enormous economic hardship of this pandemic. Huhn? Not a red cent was put away during times of plenty to cushion the Covid blow. Talk about mismanagement! The proverbial ‘crappo’ has been smoking our pipe of tranquility.
Of course, we ought not to forget another big loser. We’re talking about the virtue of dialogue. It was trampled underfoot by this administration. Pick any major development or issue in this blessed country and the people were hardly consulted. This administration did all the thinking for the people, then told them how barley was going to grow. Oh, whither the beautiful art of politicking – debate, discussion and horse-trading; the ancient Greek art involving a meeting of the minds, the cut and thrust, followed by a happy medium. It was anathema to this arrogant, know-it-all administration. Consultations with the people were an afterthought, and where the opposition and other groups were included, they were merely props for window-dressing sake.
To no one’s surprise, a big loser moment came just last week. That was when a number of the big-wigs in this administration adorned themselves in some of the most bizarre and hideous outfits even seen here in our fair State. It was a jaw-dropping moment when they cluelessly preened and pranced in their military-style, crimson-red clown suits. Everybody was embarrassed, not only here, but all over the Caribbean and the world. It was such a very tasteless and puerile moment that we will not even bother to dwell on it. We too shame! Even Little Red Riding Hood, a real winner, is scratching her head. Seems, we the people of Antigua and Barbuda lost again ‘big time’ when our representatives debased themselves in an encomium to Saddam Hussein. (To be continued)