Volume No. 2 Issue No. 68 - Wednesday, February 18, 2009|
Beware the beneficiaries of incompetent, corrupt governance
By Lennox Linton
I have read with interest a response from Tony Astaphan to Gabriel Christian’s article on the Dominican.Net entitled “Lest History Repeats Itself - We Need a Unity and Progress Government Now!”
For the record, Astaphan is representing the Skerrit government in the BVI lawsuit in question and has already picked up in fees (before June 30, 2008) 95 thousand dollars from the tax payers for this matter that involves the rectification of a share register for a company of five shareholders.
He is on record in 2007 saying that David Ambassador Hsiu (who is central to the legal action) should resign or be recalled... In 2008 he changed that position to indicate that while he felt Hsiu should resign this was not the right time because of the court matter. In other words it was quite OK in his book for the Prime Minister and the country's Ambassador to Beijing to be at war in a BVI court. It can only be inferred from this disgraceful brand of flip-flop that 95 thousand dollars buys a lot of supper singing capabilities.
A couple of observations:
1) Contrary to the statements of Astaphan, there is no public record information that Roosevelt Skerrit took the initiative to have government own 51% shares of the Shangri-La which controls whatever is left of the assets of the failed Layou River Hotel project.
The 51% was gifted to the government as part of the plot to wiggle out of the theft of Felix Chen's 20 million US dollars. As part of that plot as well, Hsiu moved to liquidate the company in the BVI court.
Skerrit said nothing and did nothing until Felix Chen (whose 20 million US dollars has still not been refunded by Hsiu contrary to a November 2006 directive from Skerrit) objected to the liquidation by filing a share register rectification lawsuit that named the Government of Dominica as a party.
In that regard, the conversations between Hsiu and Skerrit at the Dorchester in London in February 2008 and the documented evidence from Hsiu that Skerrit agreed government had no interest in the property, cannot be ignored for Tony's convenience.
2) According to sworn statements before the BVI court, the intended share transfer to government was cancelled on November 24, 2006. 20 days before, on November 04, 2006, Skerrit wrote to Hsiu accusing him of a range of improprieties and directing him to refund the 20 million US dollars paid by Felix Chen for a 40% share of the Shangri-La.
But almost one year later, in October 2007 when Felix Chen showed up in Dominica and confirmed in media interviews his agreement with the position taken by Skerrit that the money should be refunded, Skerrit hastily called the same David Hsiu (who had given the shares and taken them back) for them to strategize on a defense. What defense? What would Skerrit be defending with Hsiu at that time almost one year after he directed Hsiu to refund the man's money?
As we read in the court papers, Alick Lawrence was to be dispatched immediately to Hong Kong to agree on the defense strategy. Hsiu instead set up a meeting for Las Vegas on October 25, 2007. Consequently, Skerrit missed the opening of the stadium gifted by the Chinese for a meeting in which he chose to rely not on the advice and support of his attorney general, solicitor general or minister of legal affairs, but on his personal political advisor Hartley Henry.
The record of that meeting is in evidence in the BVI court matter. To date, neither Skerrit nor Astaphan has the courage to challenge any of the very disturbing statements made by Hsiu. We are simply supposed to ignore what Hsiu says about Skerrit (who addresses him as “brother and friend”) because Hsiu has been involved in this Layou River Scandal from Day one.
Of significant interest, Skerrit's affidavit was filed on June 02, 2008. Hsiu's affidavit was filed one week earlier on May 26, 2008. Skerrit has confirmed that his affidavit was in response to the submission from Hsiu which, incidentally, branded Skerrit as a liar.
In the public interest, it cannot now be simply a case of stone cold silence on the blatant refusal to refute the damaging statements by Hsiu against the government, especially the direct accusations of dishonesty against Skerrit.
The public is entitled to an explanation. So far, none has been forthcoming. Specifically, there is no contest, objection or denial in respect of the following:
• Hsiu's various direct statements indicating that Roosevelt Skerrit is dishonest and dishonourable;
• The compromising statements about the involvement of Cabinet, the Attorney General and the President in the Bellagio and Dorchester decisions by Skerrit that appear to have gone in favour of Hsiu;
• The willingness of Skerrit to comply with a Hsiu directive that he should relieve himself of US Secret Service protection for the Las Vegas meeting; and
• The invitation to the Chinese Government to interfere in the internal politics of Dominica.
These uncontested matters are now more than one year old. Would Astaphan now agree that they stand undenied as truth and fact?
The 20 million dollar question is: Why has Skerrit failed to defend himself in the face of such brutal attacks on his integrity by David Hsiu?
For the avoidance of doubt, Hsiu remains Skerrit's friend with the right to say whatever he wants and impugn the office that Skerrit holds.
To the great consternation of Astaphan and the Skerrit choir, it was Lennox Linton who, in his private media practice capacity (free of cost to the tax payers) honoured the public's right to know by committing over two hours of radio time on July 27, 2008 to the affidavit of Skerrit filed in the BVI court; and who committed a similar amount of time to the Hsiu affidavit on February 14, 2009. Yet he is the villain, not Hsiu.
Skerrit refers to Lennox Linton as a political “suicide bomber” and a “political assassin”. There are no such derogatory descriptions of Hsiu even though Skerrit has presented documented evidence to the BVI court that Hsiu has corruptly abused concessions granted to his companies in good faith for his private multi-million dollar gain.
The special edition of Between U and Me on Q95 on July 27, 2008, featured a detailed 2 hour interactive presentation on the salient points of Skerrit’s June 2008 affidavit and his unsigned November 4th, 2006 letter to Hsiu in support of the affidavit. The record exists in the archives of Q95. There is no need for Tony Astaphan and others to seek to entitle themselves to their own facts regarding bias in media disclosures on this matter.
In the course of the July 27, 2008 presentation, Lennox Linton categorically stated that Hsiu and Skerrit were at loggerheads in the BVI court. In the circumstances, he asked why then was Hsiu still our Ambassador to Beijing.
Additionally, he pointed out, for background and perspective, that this was not the Government's court action against Hsiu... the action was taken by Shangri-La shareholder Felix Chen who named government as a defendant and therefore gave Skerrit a chance to stake government's claim to the 51% of the Shangri-La shares.
So let’s get the facts straight and let’s stick to the truth as opposed lies and political spin.
Those who so desire are free to continue bashing Gabriel Christian, Lennox Linton and anyone else who has the backbone to stand and be counted for what is good and just and hope that the “mepuis” and “mauvais lange” engaged to destroy messengers will prevent the hijacking of Dominica's international image by a bunch of unconscionable self interest prostitutes.
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