Meet Shawn Richards, Leader of the People’s Action Movement by Joel Liburd
C A V E A T
Opinions expressed in this article are solely at remit of the author, and in no way reflect nor endorsed by management nor staff of The Bajan Reporter
Shawn Richards squandered two opportunities, the first in 2015 and the second in 2020, to become prime minister of the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis. And on each occasion, he kowtowed to Timothy Harris. The latter aka the Rajapaksa of the Eastern Caribbean and leader of the Peoples Labour Party won one and two seats respectively in the 2015 and 2020 General Elections. Yet, he ascended to the highest political office in the Land. From a planetary perspective Harris has the unique distinction of being a prime minister twice with a minority of seats won in two General Elections. And it was all because of the complete lack of testicular fortitude shown by Shawn Richards. Now this blowhard of a political leader is running to become the next prime minister of the Federation. And he believes that his time is Now, and he is ready. Oh judgment, thou hast fled to brutish beasts and Shawn Richards has lost his mind and ability to reason.
A short background is in order. In 2015 three political parties in St. Kitts and Nevis joined forces and campaigned as Team Unity in the General Elections and formed the new government. The three Parties, the People’s Action Movement (PAM) led by Shawn Richards, the Peoples Labour Party (PLP) led by Timothy Harris, and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) led by Mark Brantley won a combined seven out of the total 11 Electoral Seats. But the victory reflected a highly skewed distribution of the seats won. PAM walked away with half (4) of the eight seats available in St. Kitts to the single seat won by PLP. Yet, Timothy Harris became Prime Minister given the complete abdication of leadership by Shawn Richards. And for seven years Shawn was the deputy prime minister in the two Harris administrations that he (Harris) completed dominated. Shawn was not playing second fiddle; he was completely subservient to the Rajapaksa with barely a peep or a mutter coming from him. And now this make-belief, serio-comic political leader wants to be the next prime minister. But “him nah ready yet.”
Shawn Richards held the office of deputy prime minister for seven years from 2015 to early 2022. And during this period, he has shown not even a scintilla of readiness for the job he is Now seeking in the upcoming General Elections scheduled to be held on Friday 5th August 2022. On his Campaign trail, he bellows his readiness to a crowd of less than 200 wherever and whenever he turns up. And his manner of speaking is fine-tuned and synced to a rhythmic gesticulation of his right hand moving up and down as if orchestrating and sending a message to the proposed builders of the Basseterre High School that he is ready to be a carpenter with a hammer in hand. But on a more serious note, Shawn is universally viewed by many in St. Kitts & Nevis as lazy and a lady’s man with a cavalier disposition.
Being a prime minister is serious business, one that requires a combination of both hard and soft skills. An accountant by training, Shawn is a bean counter and a “bottom” line guy. Accountants do not make effective leaders. And the best example we have of this is the accountant, Timothy Harris, who at best was a mediocre political leader and a narcissist. Moreover, and more importantly, they are not strategic thinkers. Strategic thinking requires the ability to not only think and plan for the long term but to thrive in the world of complexity of often conflicting data and be able to make meaningful linkages and ferret out implications and unexpected findings. The world of 2022 is complex and complicated. It requires a mind that is trained in the nuances of international politics, diplomacy and negotiation, geopolitics, international trade, and security. Strategic thinking also requires the ability to take risks and how to deal with and treat people. Sad to say, Shawn does not have this mindset or even the inclination to acquire knowledge in these areas.
Finally, a strategic leader must have a vision. He or she must be able to sell that vision and translate it into reality. This is not as easy as it sounds. The process requires a keen and sagacious intellect combined with a singleness of mind or determination to achieve worthwhile goals. For a political leader this vision translates into commitment, hard work, patience, impeccable integrity, and dedication to high and unselfish ideals. This brings us to Shawn and Timothy Harris. The latter is a spectacular model of corruption, nepotism, and selfishness, a man who has betrayed the peoples’ trust and desecrated the Office of Prime Minister. And then there is the mother of weaklings, Shawn Richards, campaigning to become prime minister. The very notion of having a vision is alien to Shawn. Accountants are not peoples of vision. And the voters of The Federation must stay clear of their empty promises and reject them at the polls on Election Day.
Shawn’s seven years in Office as a minister and deputy prime minister were characterized by empty promises and calculated neglect. Like his prime minister, Shawn also was involved in questionable projects and kickbacks. The well-drilling and road-paving and rehabilitation contracts come to mind. In the latter, he followed closely the modus operandi of his “boss” by engaging a cousin; a sure way to receive kickbacks.
Both he and his partner in crime, Timothy Harris, were bedfellows in high jacking the commanding heights of the economy and enriching themselves. Now they have become estranged bedfellows, hurling torrents of invectives at each other like market women. And both are desperate, agitated, and stressed as they read the handwriting on the wall. Doomsday awaits both when the people of The Federation resoundingly reject them on Election Day. Shawn may after all end up working as a carpenter, his dream job.
- Joel Liburd