The Democratic Ethic Stopped A Secret Sandals Deal

By Stephen Kangal
January 22, 2019

Stephen KangalThe Sandals debacle is a reflection of our growing maturity as a Nation propelled by a strong interactive Westminster democratic ideal and a Civic Society that is vigilant and untrusting. Poor Project Management Skills as well as a very incompetent and arrogant political leadership and unilateralism contributed to the mismanagement of the Project in getting a discerning public to buy into it.

That is the crux driving the abandonment of the Sandals Resort that was to be constructed in Buccoo on very fragile and pollution-sensitive wetlands.

A national mindset that scuttled the Rapid Rail, the Property Tax and the Alutrint Project was not prepared to trust the Government in handling the negotiations especially since a feasibility study was not done to substantiate the huge claims of a looming bonanza in the tourism industry.

The sudden withdrawal of the Sandals Group from any further involvement in the Tobago Sandals Resort on the basis of what it called negative publicity reflects a number of the following conclusions that can be inferred from this expected debacle:

  1. Sandals is too thin skinned and expected a docile, non-vigilant democracy and inactive civic society apparatus in T&T. This withdrawal confirms the nature and nurture of our participatory democracy that asks the right questions outside of Parliament and investigates things that confuse them. The withdrawal is a triumph for the vigilance of civic society that has produced the Dumas, Raymonds, Devant Maharajhs and other investigative journalists such as Mark Bassant and Camini Maharaj.
  2. The way that this project was conceptualized and reluctantly relayed and sold to the public under a large blanket of non-disclosures and mystery added speculative fuel to the fire that eventually conflagrated the tents used to hide and suffocate public interest. There was a dribble of information on a project that seemed to have had its birth when Rowley was Leader of the Opposition. That is its sad legacy of vaps.
  3. It was poorly handled, created doubts and suspicions as if there was more in the mortar than the pestle. Arrogance and no damn dog bark without any feasibility study being conducted were a prescription for the collapse of a project that kept changing its financing options. No real evaluation was done and it was unilaterally imposed on T&T by sheer arrogance and incompetence.
  4. Raymond had to go to Court to command the GORTT to release information that was vital to conduct an assessment of the Project in the interest of the people of T&T. Secrecy, non-transparency, lack of full disclosures and suspicions upped the tempo and the finals rites that were performed Tuesday on a project that was doomed to fail because of very poor political management and a desire to fool the public into submission.
  5. The statement made by Young and Restless about nay-sayers scuttling the project is pathetic and so of course that he must resign for being economical with the truth and his oath to defend the national interest. This Joker is wild and wassy warbling aimlessly. I am surprised that he did not describe the nay sayers as unpatriotic for speaking for the people’s interest. He admitted that only a few discredited it but strong enough to change the mind of Butch Stewart, the Sandals magnate. People’s power prevailed.
  6. Potential investors must take notice that there are no free rides in T&T and you must respect our right to know and to ask questions about secretive projects. T&T is no banana republic in which no damn dog bark any longer.
  7. Congratulations to all who called for disclosures and open governance and said good bye to sandals because we are a shoe and socks people some of the time and do not lay on the beaches sipping nutmeg liquers and insensitive to the dangers lurking against our national good.
  8. Vigilance is the price of democracy.

12 thoughts on “The Democratic Ethic Stopped A Secret Sandals Deal”

  1. Having visited the site of this planned project with a young Tobagonian tour guide, this withdrawal decision is God-sent.
    The tour guide was passionately opposed to this project as he explained the delicate and valuable environmental balance of nature in the area with which he was very familiar. The beauty of this pristine area is something to be cherished and enjoyed by all.Construction of a resort would have decimated the flora, fauna and traditional breeding grounds for a multitude of species, not to mention the solitude of a site which should remain undisturbed.
    In sharp contrast, there was a busload of noisy tourists on the beach enjoying the splendor and warm waters of the area, without being aware that that this as the site of a prospective, corralled exclusive resort which would exclude free access by the locals.Find another location.

  2. Apart from the destroying of lands more suitable for eco-tourism via the construction of the Sandals hotel, I agreed -if I remember correctly- with the opinion of Peter O’Connor querying what was to be done with the excess room-capacity of the other hotels, etc, in the rest of Tobago…in other words, if no tourists are coming into Tobago to occupy those empty rooms, why are you pushing for another hotel to be built? Was it just another conman scheme to put money into the coffers of the construction engineers and their associates to build another white elephant??


  3. They even colluded with Sandals to give a political reason for their withdrawal (negative feed-back) and over the funeral pyre of this project they were pathological liars to the people of T&T who refused to buy cat in bag.

  4. In the next few weeks, there will be an abundance of articles in the UNC controlled media bashing Sandals and giving reasons why it was a good thing that Sandals was driven off from Tobago. There are two basic reasons why the UNC and the corporate media spread misinformation, lies and created such bad publicity about Sandals that it finally drove them away. One is political, the other economic. The political is easy to understand. The UNC strategy to regain political power and get their hands on the treasury is to sabotage in every way development by the PNM, create suffering in the country, particularly in PNM constituencies like Tobago, and blame the PNM for the suffering. It may be difficult to understand why UNC operatives will want to hurt and damage their own country, except if you understand that it’s all about getting their hands on the treasury. In the second case, one has to understand that there are UNC operatives who are involved in the Tobago hotel industry. Most don’t have the wherewithal that is necessary to carry the tourism industry in Tobago to a take off point. Sandal does. It has the capital, brand name, penetration in the tourism market and the experience to carry Tobago to that take off point. Having Sandals in Tobago would have brought in billions in foreign exchange. It could have made Tobago self-sufficient. There are many UNC operatives who invest in Tobago, build structures consisting of four walls, some windows and a roof and they can have a market for their aesthetically ugly constructions. Their position is to make money on their investment without really being concerned with the developmental aspect of tourism. They don’t mind uglyfying Tobago in pursuit of a profit but competition such as Sandals they feel in too much for them. Sandals has a tourism product that must satisfy the sophisticated taste of tourists who are really looking for that experience of tourism paradise, they are looking for beauty. Sandals has to create the beauty that they are looking for. So these UNC operatives see the vastly superior product of Sandals as something they cannot compete with. They don’t realize that the Sandals brand could have created a synergy for tourism in Tobago; it could have created a tourism tide that would have lifted all boats. They sacrificed the good of Tobago, the billions of revenue, the foreign exchange, just so that they could preserve their present competitive position, they didn’t realize that Sandals could have helped all tourism endeavors in Tobago. The problem for them is that you had to think of the aesthetics of tourism, UNC operatives wanted to just create four walls and a roof and expect tourism to thrive, to take off. They wanted to continue uglyfying Tobago and making profit out of it so they drove off Sandals. They took bread out of Tobagonian mouths, Tobagonians should never forget that.

    1. Birdie.. chill nah.. and keep it short.. who have time to read all that BS.. It’s over Brother.
      When will y’all wake up and realize that Dr Rowley cannot win ANY upcoming elections.. it will do allyuh better to dump Rowley while allyuh have time.

      Thanks again Mr Kangal..

      1. We ready bro, and we waiting patiently for allyuh. You want it short. Bring Kamla back, it will be long, and it wouldn’t be easy, it will be hard.

  5. Another Perspective.

    “The berating of the media, the Opposition and individual citizens by Dr Rowley is a clear manifestation of a failure of leadership since he does not recognise what should have been done. His statement that he should not have allowed ‘the cynics to control the airwaves’ demonstrates that he does not grasp what good leadership and proper governance are.”

    Abdulah said, while there is no doubt that Sandals has a strong international brand, there was no reason why the project had to be conceived in a similar scale and nature as other Sandals’ hotels in the Caribbean. “An MSJ government would have taken the policy position: we wish to preserve Tobago’s environment and its image as being ‘clean, green, safe and serene.’

    That is what truly makes Tobago beyond the ordinary. Therefore the type of hotels needed have a smaller footprint, marketed as eco-friendly yet having all the benefits of a luxury resort. The Rowley-government, however, like most governments before it, prefer to go with mega-projects costing many billions of dollars in spite of the many failures of such projects.”

    1. Yes because the response to this debacle transcended the various divides that bi-polarise T&T and contributed to its demise and its disappearance from the eco-sensitive Buccoo Estate wetlands. People power triumphed over unilateralism and creeping and arrogant dictatorship

  6. I concur with your reasoning Mr. Kangal as illustrated in those 8 bulleted points. The lengths, Afra Raymond had to go through to get some semblance of transparency in the Sandals negotiations was literally mind blowing. Touted in the past was the promotion of eco-tourism such as the Bucco Reef wetlands, how quickly that can change to ‘comfort’ tourism. Is fickle minds behind our policy formulation since the disappearance of our natural resources industries i.e., Caroni and Petrotrin?

  7. “Yes because the response to this debacle transcended the various divides that bi-polarise T&T and contributed to its demise and its disappearance from the eco-sensitive Buccoo Estate wetlands. People power triumphed over unilateralism and creeping and arrogant dictatorship”.Utter nonsense.

Comments are closed.