Nassau Guardian Stories

PM asked to apologize for referendum comment

January 22, 2014

Prime Minister Perry Christie should apologize to the Bahamian people who voted in last year's referendum over his recent "ill-conceived comments", said Bahamas Harvest Church Pastor Mario Moxey.
Moxey said Bahamians must feel insulted.
Christie admitted to The Nassau Guardian last week that he regrets holding the referendum and that he should have simply regulated the web shop industry upon coming to office.
In a statement, Moxey asked, "Is the prime minister suggesting that polling the nation and gaining widespread consultation [is] a waste of time since the results did not suit his political agenda?
"Bahamians everywhere must feel insulted, used and abused by the prime minister, who has apparently orchestrated an entire referendum under the false pretense of democracy in an attempt to regulate the numbers racket in The Bahamas.
"The fact that the prime minister showed a blatant disregard for the sacrifices that so many Bahamians made to exercise their democratic right to participate in the referendum, and the unknown government, private and church resources used to ensure that the democratic process was executed, is simply unconscionable.
"The prime minister's comments were insensitive to the men and women who demonstrated the courage to mark their 'x' in a referendum with far-reaching national implications."
Moxey was among a group of pastors who led a campaign against the gambling referendum.
Christie's comments have drawn sharp criticisms from various quarters.
On January 28, 2013, voters were asked whether they support the regularization and taxation of web shops, and whether they support the establishment of a national lottery.
The total number of votes cast against the web shop question was 51,146 or 62 percent of the votes cast versus 31,657 or 38 percent of the votes cast in favor of taxing web shops.
Less than 50 percent of registered voters voted.
According to the government, the referendum cost taxpayers $1.2 million.
Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday that Christie has a right to change his mind.
"Should not the people be given that right also?" he asked.
"They should be given the same right as he to change his mind.
"They too regretted voting for him and the PLP and therefore he should go back to the people with a new mandate so that they, like him, should be given the opportunity to change their mind."
Moxey said when church leaders met with Christie prior to the referendum, he promised them that he would abide by a 'no' vote as "the world is watching".
"By his recent comments it appears that the prime minister believes that the world has closed its eyes and expects Bahamians, in ignorance, to follow suit and do the same," he said.
"To the prime minister, we say the world is still watching and our eyes are wide open."

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Court upgrades to be completed in Feb.

January 22, 2014

The refurbishment of an additional five supreme courts will be completed before the end of next month, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works Colin Higgs said yesterday.
Three of the courts will be specifically for criminal matters and two will hear both criminal and civil matters, Higgs said.
The courts are in the building that previously housed a magistrate's court and the police prosecutions office on Bank Lane.
The courts will add to the six criminal courts that are currently in use.
Prime Minister Perry Christie said last month the Ministry of Works has been instructed to "work around the clock" to complete the refurbishment of additional criminal courts so that 10 facilities will be able to operate simultaneously.
Higgs said since then work has picked up and is nearing completion.
Top Builders International was awarded the contract to renovate the building.
Higgs said the contractor is now working on the layout of the courtrooms.
With additional courts operating, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson has said judges could try as many as 400 criminal matters in a year.
Last year, Minister of Legal Affairs Damian Gomez told the House of Assembly that only 89 criminal cases were tried within a 12-month period.
He said that figure was "simply unacceptable". When he made that statement last June there were five criminal courts.
Legal observers have said that unless efforts are made to increase the number of trials that are completed, the backlog would continue to increase.
Many people have also opined that the inefficient judicial system is tied to crime.
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade has bemoaned the fact that many people charged with serious crimes are often given bail because they are not tried within a reasonable period of time.

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Murder trial discontinued

January 22, 2014

The inability to locate witnesses led to the discontinuation of a murder trial.
Prosecutors yesterday entered a nolle prosequi in the case of Elandro Missick, who is accused of the September 17, 2011 murder of Damian Bowe at Kemp Road.
Justice Indra Charles impaneled the jury on Monday.
Missick, 22, remained on remand since his arrest in November 2011 in Inagua. He was arrested after police circulated his photo in the media.

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Immigration dep. swamped with document requests

January 22, 2014

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said yesterday the Department of Immigration has been "swamped with people" seeking documents.
"This past Monday morning the Department of Immigration was swamped with people; people just all over the steps, outside the doors, through the gates and so on and so forth," said Mitchell outside the Churchill Building.
Asked whether the rush has been prompted by the recent immigration exercises, Mitchell said, "I am sure that's what the reason is. It was just like a mad house. There were just so many people."
The department was placed in the spotlight last Tuesday after Executive Director of UBS (Bahamas) Limited Emmanuel Fiaux was temporarily detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
He reportedly failed to produce documentation on the spot to prove his ability to reside and work in The Bahamas.
At the time, motorists were stopped in Bain Town and Grants Town, Fort Fincastle and near Arawak Cay.
They were questioned about their identity and some were asked to produce evidence of their immigration status.
The incident involving Fiaux has been contentious.
In a statement on Monday, UBS said it was "perturbed by what transpired".
The company noted that while its employee did not have his original work permit on him, the employee provided within 20 minutes an electronic, certified and notarized copy of his work permit.
In response, Mitchell said yesterday no formal complaint has been filed.
He said immigration officers use their discretion about accepting electronic copies of identification during a roadblock.
"I am not an immigration officer. I deal with policy issues and that is for immigration officers to make a judgment about what they accept as evidence or not [sufficient] evidence," Mitchell said.
In the last week, round-up exercises have continued across New Providence in an effort to clamp down on un-documented migrants in The Bahamas.
Mitchell said the exercises will continue throughout the year.
"And that is the only point," he said.
"The people who are supposed to be in The Bahamas should be documented to be in The Bahamas and not undocumented.
"There is a way to get documents, and if you don't have the documents then that means you don't have the right to be here, and the law follows its course."
More than 40 non-Bahamians who were in the country illegally were detained in the exercise last week because they did not have their paperwork on them, according to immigration officials.

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Fitzgerald defends decision on fingerprinting expats

January 22, 2014

Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald yesterday defended the policy of fingerprinting expatriate teachers and said the process is an attempt to minimize sexual exploitation of children in the public school system.
Fitzgerald said fingerprinting foreign teachers is the only way police can confirm their identities and see if they have a criminal past.
He said the ministry will not hire foreign teachers who do not submit to the background check requirements of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).
The Employment Act states that no employer can request a worker to provide fingerprints as a requirement for employment or continued employment.
The only exception to this provision includes employers who are licensed under the Lotteries and Gaming Act. The Employment Act also states that anyone who contravenes this provision is liable to a fine of $5,000. Attempts to reach Fitzgerald to comment on the clause in the law were unsuccessful yesterday.
However, he released a statement saying he will "not compromise when it comes to protecting our little darlings and making decisions which are in their best interest".
He added: "All persons who are responsible for our children on school campuses are required to be properly and rigorously vetted by the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Persons employed in public schools are included in a category which receives the most rigorous vetting in the public service for obvious reasons."
On Monday, the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) objected to the fingerprinting of foreign teachers.
The BUT said in a statement that several teachers from C. R. Walker high school were put on a bus and taken to the Central Detective Unit (CDU) to have fingerprints taken.
The union said this process cost $100 per teacher.
On Monday, Director of Education Lionel Sands said the union's concerns about the fingerprinting process violating the Employment Act should be taken up with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, not education officials.
Sands said the Ministry of Education instituted a strict vetting process in 2010 after several allegations of inappropriate behavior and student abuse by teachers surfaced.
Sands said all expatriate teachers whose contracts expire this summer, and who have never been investigated by the Ministry of Education must be vetted in order to be rehired.
He said fingerprinting is required for police background checks, not the Ministry of Education.
Sands said no teacher was forced to provide fingerprints to police.
He said he was told that teachers from C. R. Walker agreed last Friday to be fingerprinted on Monday at the same time to make the process easier.
Sands said the ministry has not coerced any teacher into giving their fingerprints to police, but added that the vetting process is "critical" for foreign teachers.

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More harm than good

January 22, 2014

A national ID card system will probably do more harm than good...

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Cabinet to decide on a National Identification Card for Bahamians

January 22, 2014

This puts us in such "illustrious" company as countries like Lebanon, Iran, Turkey, Botswana and of course North Korea...

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An offensive sign

January 22, 2014

I wish to congratulate the organizers of Marathon Bahamas for all the good work that they do and for a successful event last week...

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Matters of national security and immigration

January 22, 2014

Dear Editor,
I listened to a JCN talk show when I heard a well-known caller, Sparkey, comment on crime. One of the things he said was what I have been saying for years.
We don't make guns here so they were brought in by crooks. Sparkey told the host of one of his experiences. He said he left Coral Harbour and traveled to the U.S. on a yacht and returned on the same yacht to Coral Harbour. The yacht was not searched by any law enforcement agency, i.e., immigration, defense force or customs.
By this, Sparkey confirmed what I said previously, special interest people with a different hue are smuggling the guns and their children are not being gunned down.
Twenty years ago, Mina Outten held a one-day conclave at Workers House. As a presenter, I spoke about immigration reform, suggesting that everyone should have a national I.D. card, similar to the U.S. green card. Well, 20 years later we now start the process.
Minister of Immigration Fred Mitchell said it would not be mandatory for Bahamians, but foreigners and those with work permits would have to carry an I.D. card.
Immigration carried out a road block last week. A foreign executive of an offshore bank was stopped and detained because he was not carrying I.D. This created a great media uproar. What was most disturbing to me was that Cabinet ministers are not on the same page.
Minister Mitchell, who is responsible for immigration, was in total support of his officers. As a no-nonsense man you can take his word all the way to the bank and if he said his officers acted according to the laws of The Bahamas, I would take it to the bank.
The other minister, Ryan Pinder, needs to tell Minister Mitchell and the Bahamian people what he found out that Mr. Mitchell does not know.
Everyday black people, especially the ones from the Caribbean, are locked up and it is rarely reported in the local media. When Cubans are locked up it is all over the media. Why is that?
In 2009 I went to Atlanta on a business trip. I was stopped at least five times at check points. I did not have a problem with it because I was in their country and they were doing their job. If Minister Pinder is in an apologetic mood, then he should go to Atlanta and get them to apologize to me.
-- Audley D. Hanna Sr. JP.

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Executions will not improve conviction rate

January 22, 2014

The absurd escalation in murders over the holidays has left many calling for a return to carrying out the death penalty.
Capital punishment is an irreversible action. Do we entrust our legal system to such an extent that we are confident an innocent person will not be executed?
Not even six months ago, Bahamian police and defense force officers faced an ugly accusation of physical abuse on Cuban detainees. The incident drew international media attention, flared diplomatic tensions and heightened concerns of human rights advocates over prison and detention center conditions.
In February of 2013 over the course of a mere 24 hours two men died while in police custody. These are not isolated incidents.
The U.S. Department of State in its Bahamas 2012 Human Rights report notes the most serious human rights problems were complaints of abuse by police and a poorly functioning judicial system, amongst others. Moreover, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB ) notes an alarmingly low rate of conviction in the technical cooperation document for the Swift Justice pilot program.
The IDB document highlights a paltry 5.1 percent conviction rate for the period between 2005 and 2009 and reinforces public concern over the institutional capacity of the courts. The document notes, "This situation is contributing to the recent dramatic increase in incidents of violence and crime that remain unresolved amid an increasing judicial backlog and a diminishing number of convictions".
Recent statements by our prime minister and attorney general confirm public concern over the number of people on bail and slow pace of the court system.
Prime Minister Perry Christie recently revealed that 462 men are out on bail for serious crimes. He said, "We are not going to have these people who are charged with murder being put out on bail because of the failure of the state to try them in what the court says is a reasonable period of time."
But perhaps he should speak with Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, because a backlog of over 1,000 matters is clearly an impediment to conduct a trial in a "reasonable period of time".
Even Maynard-Gibson concedes that the court system is fundamentally broken. At the opening of the legal year, she said, "The backlog, including serious offenses committed last year, is over 1,000 matters. These statistics show that notwithstanding the efforts of various administrations over decades, the system is fundamentally broken. Bold steps must be taken to restore confidence in the system".
Criminals don't fear the death penalty because the conviction rate is too low and trials too slow. If The Bahamas can only muster a conviction rate of 5.1 percent, will the physical execution of a death row inmate alter the criminal mindset for murder? Not likely.
The attorney general has big plans for March, when 10 criminal courts will begin operation and a 10-point plan is to be implemented. It's a start, but many Bahamians already affected by crime will find little solace in more promises.
Bahamians need assurance that evidence is properly stored and recorded, witnesses protected, and jurors and judges are free from conflict of interest. Past allegations of police abuse and human rights infractions cloud confidence in our justice system. An execution will not curtail criminal intentions. An effective judicial system is a better place to start.

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A reset of the Quiet Revolution: Towards a new path

January 22, 2014

We have just marked (and for some, celebrated) the first national Majority Rule Day. Due to the lackluster treatment of the holiday, the significance of the journey to 1967 and the bravery of the faces of the Quiet Revolution must be understood and shared so as to gain a national understanding of why we should pause and reflect on that path in our nation's struggle.
Much can be said about the successes and failures of our nation in the post-Majority Rule era. There is no denying that we have made tremendous progress. Since then, the majority has maintained control and has dominated the national political landscape.
This is a singular success of 1967. However, for many, 1967 was (correctly) more than just about the darts and arrows of party politics, or about Pindling for that matter. It marked the culmination of a revolution. Like most revolutions which generally focus on the overhaul of a system or the removal of dictatorial regimes or practices, the Quiet Revolution was grounded in a movement towards the upliftment of a people; of the institutionalization of equal rights and the charting of a national course for the collective advancement of a people, without boundaries, borders, fear or favor.
The truth too is that 1967 was not a struggle to attain black-power-like dominance. This may be startling in light of the fact that there was a prevalent culture of class and race inequality.
The Bay Street oligarchy -- the minority -- was the reservoir of both economic and political power. They "ran things" and in so doing they held the keys to the future of the majority. However, one glaring and compelling evidence of the cross-race movement that gripped the march to 1967 is the fact that the founders of the Progressive Liberal Party -- Henry Taylor, William Cartwright and Cyril Stevenson -- were not men of the negro race (arguably they were mulattoes). However, given the class-race culture in the islands at that time they would have enjoyed a pass to enter the socio-economic sub-middle-class.
Understanding 1967 and the magic of the revolution perhaps requires us to be in the bodies and minds of the Exumians and their heroic leader, Pompey. It is to be on the Burma Road revolt at the height of the fight for social justice. It is to join the marches with the suffragists. It is to stand with Clifford Darling and the taxi union in their push for fair standards and practices. It is to hear the voice of Milo Butler as he bellowed out the unfair and discriminatory treatment of working Bahamians. It perhaps is also to stand with Etienne Dupuch and Gerald Cash in their fight in the legislature for the passage of an anti-discrimination resolution. And it requires us to think of what led young minds like Lynden Pindling, Arthur Hanna, Orville Turnquest, Paul Adderley, Arthur Foulkes, Spurgeon Bethell, Oscar Johnson and Warren Levarity, and many others, to organize and join the "people's struggle" to take on a system that held political power for decades by standing as candidates in the 1962 general election.
The fight of the "majority" was not simply a mission for the further "emancipation" of the former slaves. It was a movement deeply embedded in the spirit of the uniqueness, talent, industriousness and sheer discipline of our history, culture and people. Its central focus was the "final" liberation of the Bahamian soul.
The truth therefore is that 1967 and the ushering in of the first black Bahamian government was a victory for the creation of a more fair and just society. The myth that must be dispelled is the simplistic notion that the revolution was for the majority, being limited to the blacks.
The revolution was larger than that. It did not have a singular or non-representational agenda or concentration. It was a fight to usher in a sacred sanctity for the natural evolution of the Bahamian spirit. Its embodiment of a communal vision was expressed in the early days of the Citizens Committee which recognized that those blessed to live on these shores were not ordinary but were destined to be a great people, no matter one's color, creed, religious and political persuasions, abilities and gender.
Simply put, it was a broad social "movement" that saw its constituents as all Bahamians, blacks and whites. It was not discriminatory (whether direct or reverse), but rather progressive and inclusive. It was not class or race conscious. It was liberal and forward thinking.
In today's analysis of the events that lead to 1967, we must broaden our appreciation for its purpose and value to the development of The Bahamas. It freed a once dormant spirit and it ushered in a push towards a new socio-economic platform that saw the advancement of many Bahamians of the post-1967 generation. It is therefore undeniable that it has its singularly success in the many thousands of faces of Bahamians who advanced far beyond the boundaries of poverty.
The revolution was also transformative, yet in some areas of national life, we have lost our way. We appear (now) to place less emphasis on ensuring the creation of a nation that trends towards common goals and aspirations. We sometimes give the "air" of being a people without direction and focus, and with little national priorities. In areas of our national lives mediocrity is the order of the day. We are devoid of the old values that cemented our "village". There is an absence of a "collective" national vision. The nation appears to be stagnant and there is a growing sense of hopelessness. Our national leadership seem to enjoy a deficiency of nationalism and we appear to be lost, lacking an agenda towards the further modernization of this nation state. We have lost our progressive edge.
We need to press the reset button to recreate that sense of national purpose, unity and singular call to arms. Our nation's detour of that purist path must cease and we must restore that once compelling national psyche housed within us.
We must also abandon that elitist attitude that we have achieved all that abounds. We must embrace a new political dispensation that restores us to the paths trod by the revolution. This begs for a recognition that the revolution's message is relevant and necessary in today's "modern" Bahamas.
It appeals for a national recommitment to the core and sacred principles of that glorious era so that the new and growing "minority" can be freed from the chains that enslave them. These are the "new" chains of institutionalized poverty, rampant social dislocation and disorder, a glass ceiling that deprives them of social promotion, a system that appears to be ignorant of their plight, struggles and way of life and a society which is shrinking in intellectualism and dynamism.
There is no denying the reality that the tenets of the 1967 revolution can find much space in the modern Bahamas. We have not outgrown her core principles. We should still cry out for bold and progressive leadership which is glued to the idealism of social justice, equality and economic liberation.
We must fill the vacuum for an agenda and plan that is holistic and nationalistic and that has at its core the creation of a society grounded on the foundational pillars of shared prosperity and community. That sense of community though is not restricted to an egotistical definition of national heritage and identity. It is an all-embracing journey that ties together the virtues of productivity, industry, integrity, knowledge, love and peace transcending a narrow interpretation of who is Bahamian.
The modern revolution must find root in the development of a cosmopolitan society that has no boundaries, no barricades, no social or economic discrimination or segregation, and no lofty height that could not be attained by the hard work, sustained commitment and discipline of the masses. It must be a pedestal for the souls of the liberators of the 1967 revolution.
Our work is not yet complete. We must find our voices and courage to stand firm to secure the dreams of the future generations of Bahamians. Our country must be restored to that nobler path of prosperity, peace and love.

o Raynard Rigby is an attorney-at-law and former chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party.

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Healthy feet

January 21, 2014

The human foot is a marvel of biomechanical engineering that most of us take for granted, until the system fails or breaks down, of course...

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Trans fats: A double cholesterol whammy

January 21, 2014

"The FDA label ruling and consumer awareness of the dangers of trans fats have led many food manufacturers to reformulate products to reduce or eliminate trans fats. Today you can buy cookies and soft-spread margarine with zero trans fats. But trans fats still exist in some products..."

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LPGA Classic gets underway with kids golfing clinics

January 21, 2014

Nearly 100 young Bahamians took advantage of an opportunity to swing with the pros yesterday afternoon.
The Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic staged two junior golf clinics yesterday, where some of the professionals who are here for the four-day classic, got to share their knowledge of the game and their experiences on the tour. More than 50 young golfers took part in the early afternoon session at the Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island, and the remaining students benefitted from the late clinic.
Alejandra Llaneza, currently ranked at number 352 in the global Rolex Rankings, said that it is alway a joy interacting with children and sharing her experiences. The 25-year-old five-time Junior National Champion in her home country of Mexico said that the young golfers remind her of herself when she first got involved in the game at the tender age of six.
"It feels great to be here," she said. "When I was younger, it was always motivational to have the professionals come to my home city, so to be here I'm sure is great for them and it is great for us as well. I was very happy to share this experience with them. A lot of them have very good swings. You have to have passion for the game of golf, and you develop that game from a young age. The main thing is to stay motivated and have faith in yourself. It's very important to have that passion - that's the reason why I play. The game of golf teaches you so many things, from discipline to patience, and just having belief in yourself. It's a very likable game, and the young kids should keep going as long as they can."
Llaneza was in the main draw in last year's rain shortened tourney, but is one of the alternates this year.
The other female professional player at yesterday's late afternoon session was former top ranked amateur in the world Ashlan Ramsey. The American teenager failed to qualify for regular round play which gets underway on Thursday, but she said that she had a tremendous experience here in The Bahamas, particularly the time she shared with the junior golfers yesterday.
"I feel great to be a part of this event. Just to be here sharing my knowledge with some of the local kids is a great feeling," she said. "It's real important to give back. I take a lot of pride in being there for the younger kids because I was there at one point also. A big part of being a professional is to give back to the youth - trying to keep the kids active and interested in playing. It was a fun experience to be out here and see the course, and everything that The Bahamas has to offer. The course here is fantastic and everyone here is so hospitable."
This year, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in conjunction with Royal Fidelity, has come on board as one of the local sponsors of the second annual classic, with particular emphasis on the two junior golf clinics. RBC Public Relations Manager Jan Knowles said that the venture fits in with their global strategy of throwing their support behind the game of golf, and sports in general.
"RBC globally is big on golf," said Knowles. "We were pleased to help sponsor this event. These kids are The Bahamas' junior golfers and just for them to come here today and have a clinic with these professional ladies could do wonders for their careers. To be here is huge for these kids, and I am so glad that they were able to come. We're a sponsor of the overall tournament, and we wanted to make sure that there was a community element to our sponsorship, so the junior clinics were a part of the overall sponsorship. We might say it's only one or two sessions, but these kids can really get a lot out of these clinics. The junior golf program seems to be growing, and the older ones are doing pretty well."
The excitement among the junior golfers was evident as it showed on their faces and in the many questions they asked the two professional women golfers.
"It was good for them to come out and teach us how to get better in the game of golf. It was a lot of fun," said nine-year-old Jared Forbes, a student of Genesis Academy. His classmate Ethan Missick, who is coincidentally born on the same day, said that it was a great experience learning from the professionals.
"It was great because we got to take a break from our old golf field and come out here to get better," said Missick. "I think that the two ladies were great because they came all the way from their countries to teach us."
Dwaniqua Thurston, 10, also enjoyed the experience.
"It was a good experience. The ladies were very nice. I learned how to hit the ball straight and further," she said.
Yvonne, former Chairman of the Junior Division of the Bahamas Golf Federation (BGF), and current Chairman of the Ladies Division, said that the youngsters are always excited to be a part of the clinics.
"We did this last year, and they were excited then as well. We are so happy that the LPGA asked for us to come again," she said. "I'm sure it was a great experience for the kids again. They are always happy to come. It was difficult with the clinics being held on a school day this year, but there was still a good turnout."
Bahamian Georgette Rolle, Grad Assistant Coach at Texas Southern University, will once again play in the main draw which gets underway on Thursday and will run until Sunday. She accepted a sponsor exemption into the field of 108 players in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) season-opening event. Rolle along with Jennifer Song and Kris Tamulis served as instructors and answered questions from the young crowd during the early afternoon clinic, and Llaneza and Ramsey conducted the late clinic.
"It was a good feeling to introduce golf to so many young people," said Rolle, a two-time Bahamas National Amateur Champion. "I hope that they will grow to see how much fun and how rewarding golf can be."
One of those involved in the early afternoon clinic was nine-year-old Cameo Stuart Jr., who came prepared with his own clubs and golf glove. The third grader at the Meridian School was one of the few who had golf experience. He has been playing the game for three years.
The Golf Channel will showcase the classic, with 10 hours of live coverage from 11:30 -2:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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Suh, Kim earn final qualifying spots for Pure Silk Classic

January 21, 2014

Jenny Suh shot a 5-under-par 68 and Birdie Kim won a 3-for-1 playoff in a Monday qualifier at the Ocean Club Golf Course, to earn the final two spots in the 108-player field for the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic that runs Thursday to Sunday.
American Suh, the number 518 player in the world according to the Rolex Rankings, has one win on the LPGA Futures Tour, in 2009, while South Korean Kim, the number 769 player in the world according to the Rolex Rankings, won the 2005 U.S. Women's Open and appeared to be on her way to stardom before a car accident in 2009.
Suh was the low scorer among the 16 players in the qualifier, and Kim finished with a 3-under-par 70 and then made birdie on each of the two extra holes to earn the final spot in the field.
The Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic features a strong field that includes World Golf Hall-of-Fame members Juli Inkster and Se Ri Pak and five players ranked in the top 10 of the Rolex World Rankings.
The Golf Channel will showcase the classic, with 10 hours of live coverage from 11:30 -2:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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Sulaiman's death closes interesting boxing era

January 21, 2014

The passing of World Boxing Council (WBC) President Jose Sulaiman Chagnon brings to a close a very interesting and often controversial era in professional boxing. The Mexican-born boxing czar who died Thursday, January 16, developed into the most colorful boxing administrator in the history of the sport, and he was associated with highs and lows.
There was the relationship with promoter Don King that was considered by many as not a healthy connection. There was the large number of decisions made regarding rankings and statuses of boxers that seemed conflicting. One particular status adjustment led to a major suit against the WBC, causing the organization about $30 million.
Sulaiman was thought of mostly as an autocratic leader. His power appeared for most of his tenure, from 1975 to his death, to be absolute. I recall a WBC Congress I attended as the second vice president of the Caribbean Boxing Federation (CABOFE). Everything went according to the wishes of President Sulaiman. He was gracious. As the chairman, he allowed opposition to come from the floor, but it was more a case of him humoring those individuals. In the end, there would almost always be a motion that favored the position enunciated by Sulaiman.
Despite that side of the late WBC chief, I found him accommodating and kind. He recognized the need to embrace boxing organizations from around the world and their representatives were treated in kind. There was the part of Sulaiman also, that made him stand head and shoulders above his fellow international boxing leaders. He was innovative and the landmark decision he brought about in the WBC, for championship bouts to be reduced to 12 rounds from 15, will long be heralded as one of the great changes in the sport.
The WBC led the way in 1983 and the world followed. Sulaiman was concerned that 15 exhausting rounds with boxers pummeling each other, resulted in punishment that could be avoided. He concluded that three less rounds would prolong the careers of many champions and contenders.
Health-conscious sports personnel and medical doctors rallied around the new championship order. It was indeed a landmark ruling and no matter the aforementioned issues that threw him into a negative light, history will no doubt judge Sulaiman favorably because really, in my view, he had a kind heart.
In more recent times, he was passionate about the transformation of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA). The body that controls world amateur boxing has now crossed over officially into the professional territory. Sulaiman was bitterly against the expansion of AIBA and expressed his view openly.
He raised "Cain" with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its support and acceptance of the AIBA in the new role. It was a fight left unfinished. Sulaiman didn't get to go the distance this time. Now, someone else will have to carry on that battle. The boxing patriarch is gone.
May his soul forever rest in peace!

o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.

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Tourism plan to boost economic impact

January 21, 2014

With 65 percent of The Bahamas' total $500 million in room revenue being generated by just one hotel, the Ministry of Tourism has devised a plan to diversify the tourism sector through government intervention to increase connectivity for international passengers into and out of the Family Islands and the creation of a tourism master plan.
Director General of Tourism David Johnson, in an extensive interview with Guardian Business, said that after 50 years in tourism The Bahamas continues to be too focused on Nassau and Paradise Island, with the result that tourism is not supporting the economic and social development of the country to the degree that it could.
However, he said that the potential from diversification is massive and he explained a plan which he anticipates could begin to yield significant returns for the Family Islands by the fourth quarter of this year.
Charging that now is the time to "charter a new strategic direction" to enhance the contribution of tourism to the economy, Johnson said that two things must occur: The extension of convenient, visible and cost-effective airlift into the Family Islands, and the generation of a "master plan" that will see the touristic development of particular islands guiding which investment proposals are solicited or accepted, rather than proposals driving the development trajectory of particular islands.
"We should not be evaluating proposals in a vacuum. We should know what we want to happen in a particular island and seek out proposals that fit that," said Johnson.
With respect to expanding airlift into the Family Islands, Johnson said that the goal is to increase occupancy at Family Islands resorts from an average of 38 percent, by around 25 percent, to a position where they are operating in a sustainable way. He said that through partnerships between the government and private airlines, it is his belief that through various steps that will be taken this year, this can start to be achieved in 2015.
Airlift as 'infrastructure'
Johnson said that making a genuine change in the progress of economic development in The Bahamas will require "mandating" the provision of key infrastructure that serves the Family Islands - with airlift falling into this category.
"As much as we saw the need for roads in Nassau so people could get to school and to work, this is the same thing. Getting the air network to a competitive level is also going to cost a lot less.
"It revolves around rationalizing the role of Bahamasair as a service provider and the other licensed carriers providing that service.
"From a consumer perspective, if we can enable consumers in New York, London, Atlanta, China or Latin America to search and see these islands and see them in the same way that they can see and search Nassau and Grand Bahama - to find out how soon they can get there and what transport options are available; and book their passage and connect the same day at fares within the same range to come to Nassau and Grand Bahama, I think we will begin in a very, very, real way to diversify our tourism industry. Until then we will not - and 80 percent of our revenue will continue to go into one or two guys' pockets. And God forbid anything happens to them.
"So the government's role is to provide the climate and infrastructure for this to happen."
Johnson argued that emphasis has been placed on providing inter-island flights at times that are convenient for Bahamians, but these are not always convenient for tourists, and this - along with the inability to see domestic flights in international booking systems - has depressed Family Island stopover arrivals.
When visitors go from Nassau to the Family Islands, they more often than not cannot connect both in and out in without staying overnight in Nassau or waiting for extended periods of time at the Lynden Pindling International Airport.
"So you can go at 6.30 a.m. to Abaco, and then the flight in the evening is at best about 5 p.m. You can connect on the return but you might arrive at 7 a.m. in Nassau and not be able to leave until 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.
"We have to encourage growth in the amount of equipment (aircraft) and the ability to deliver more critical mass of services to the islands. We have to say in this first year we will grow tourism to Family Islands by 25 percent. We have to engage and invite those providers to roll the dice for us... they will put in the extra flights and by that I mean some that turn around sometime after 11 a.m. and before 2 p.m.
"We can make smart investment decisions and we will engage the operators on the basis of a proposal where there's an upside to them embracing what we are suggesting. There's a business risk to bring the comfort to a provider, sometimes it becomes the issue of a joint venture, so if we have to invest as an agency to make things happen then we will do that.
"If we have to make an investment I can't think of one where we would get better value for money. If we can start with six strategic Family Island gateways where you can connect the same day, it would make a huge difference.
Re-crafted Bahamasair
In conjunction with increasing the service provided by domestic private airlines, Bahamasair is expected to play a greater role in servicing international routes and driving down fares.
"As a country there's an understated role that Bahamasair as a national flag carrier can play in the economic development of the tourism and the country, and it has much more to do with how it should be able to perform as a low fare, high frill provider of jet service to our major markets.
"We have the ability to influence airfares that are representative of our proximity to the marketplace - today our airfares do not reflect our proximity. That is the role of our re-crafted Bahamasair, and in my view this can be done with less than the current level of subsidy."
Johnson said that Family Island resort partners the Ministry of Tourism has spoken to about the plan "without exception support it, and see the need for it".
"I am confident we will get this plan embraced, can execute it, and will see the benefit of it in the fourth quarter," he said.
Discussions with domestic airlines
With respect to the private domestic airlines that will play a pivotal role in the plan, Johnson said an initial approach was shared.
"We have had meetings on that. They have agreed on the platform (but) there are two paths to it: Path 'A' they were aware of and has complications that we've addressed; path 'B' is the revised approach, I haven't shared that with them, but I will in short order.
"It will require additional equipment and expansion by service providers, but with some philosophical change that must accompany the actions that will follow, which will enable this to happen very quickly.
"But we have to give responsible reasons for those providers to get into expansion mode. They've got to see where that makes business sense, we have to demonstrate that, and we can."
Johnson said The Bahamas' has "only just scratched the surface" of its potential in tourism.
"If we were all stock, The Bahamas' earning potental for investors or owners is so much greater because we've used less than five per cent of our capacity; some of our competitors have used more than 60 percent, so there's not much remaining life there.
"We have almost 200 hotels in The Bahamas, but our energy has been too heavily focused on the capital."

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Statoil quits BPC joint venture

January 21, 2014

Share prices dipped by around 3.5 percent for the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) as Norwegian oil giant Statoil decided it would end its development joint venture with the company that is looking for oil in Bahamian territory.
BPC CEO Simon Potter suggested that with the decision of Statoil to leave the partnership, it will create greater opportunities for the company to offer a greater slice of the pie to potential partners as it continues to search for companies to drill for the oil it believes to be under the ocean floor in the area covered by its existing five licenses.
However, some observers speculated that the withdrawal of the oil major, which joined with BPC prior to the completion of the most recent seismic scans, would be seen as reduced confidence in an oil find in The Bahamas, with the only major oil company to have expressed a concrete interest in Bahamian oil prospects to date via a partnership deal now having withdrawn from the process.
In a statement issued yesterday, Potter said that Statoil had indicated its "intention to discontinue the joint licence development agreement held with the company following significant exploration successes elsewhere and a subsequent review of its global portfolio".
"As a result of this decision, the three licence applications - Zapata, Falcones and Islamorada - will revert into the company's sole name," Potter said.
BPC currently holds five other licenses which were extended in 2013 until 2016. It is undertaking a farm-out process with respect to those licenses, through which it hopes to find a larger company which would finance the development of an oil well in return for a share of the returns should oil be discovered through the drilling process.
Potter said: "We are now in a position to take whole ownership of the secondary area licence application process and provide an attractive opportunity for potential new farm-in partners. The three licence applications lie adjacent to four of the company's fully permitted southern licences and present on-trend upsides to parties already engaged in farm-in discussions.
"We are excited about the level of interest in our data room, which today's announcement will further support. We have been encouraged by progressing farm-out discussions and a newly clarified government mandate to proceed with exploration drilling."
At the time of its signing in 2009, BPC's then Chief Executive Officer Paul Crevello, called the joint venture with Statoil the first "major Bahamian exploration project in 22 years".
On its part, Statoil said upon the signing of the agreement that limited historic seismic and satellite data indicated "the presence of several large structures in the licence areas" and added that further seismic scans could provide a clearer picture.
Under the agreement, Statoil was to become operator of three offshore exploration licences in the Cay Sal region in south-western Bahamas.
Industry sources close to BPC suggested that the decision by Statoil to pull out of the joint venture may have related to the extended period of time it had taken for the license applications to be approved by the government of The Bahamas.
"I think Statoil is used to seeing these types of things approved more quickly," said a source.
Like BPC, the source suggested that the amount of time elapsed had contributed to the fact that Statoil's global capital allocation had shifted away from this region.
Statoil's recent major exploration finds in Tanzania, and success in its U.S. shale portfolio, may have contributed to the shift in focus from The Bahamas.
BPC had fully-funded the license application process.
Potter said of the deal's termination: "This notification does not affect the status or activities within currently awarded exploration licences, which includes an obligation to commence an exploration well by April 2015. [BPC] expects to meet the obligation, subject to financing via a farm-out agreement, with an exploration well in the southern licences.
"Additional progress made in 2013 includes: any public consultation process on future oil development in country deferred until after commercial reserves have been established through successful exploration drilling; notification that the new term for the five licences held by the company would be for a further three years to 2016; southern licences boundary adjusted to conform to The Bahamas - Cuban maritime boundary, securing tenure over the full extent of the currently delineated structures post the 3D interpretation and mapping; and opening of the data room, leading to on-going farm-out discussions with interested parties."
"Coupled with a robust cash position, our positive outlook remains unchanged as we focus on preparations during the year for the first exploration well," added the executive.
Share prices fell to 4.15 pounds sterling yesterday upon the news.
Bahamas Statoil owns the South Riding Point storage and transshipment terminal.
Minister of the Environment Kenred Dorsett, with responsibility for the oil sector, did not return messages seeking comment up to press time.

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UBS 'perturbed' by detention of executive

January 21, 2014

UBS (Bahamas) has issued a public statement on the detention last week of its Executive Director Emmanuel Fiaux at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre exclusively to Guardian Business, which this newspaper has agreed to print in full.
The statement reads as follows: "UBS (Bahamas) Ltd. has had a presence in The Bahamas since being invited to come and do business in The Bahamas in the late 1960s.
"As part of the UBS AG group, the largest Swiss bank, headquartered in Switzerland, we have been and remain proud to be an important member of The Bahamas financial services industry.
"Last week, one of our employees was detained during a routine immigration check. While the employee did not have his original work permit on his person, the employee was provided within 20 minutes with an electronic, certified and notarized copy of his work permit, in accordance with the terms of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2003 (ECA), confirming his authorization to work in The Bahamas which was shown to the officer in charge.
"Although the ECA legally equates an electronic document in all material respects with a hard document, the electronic document produced by our employee was disregarded by the officer and our employee was taken to the detention center where, shortly thereafter, the hard copy of the previously electronically shown, certified, notarized copy of the work permit was provided and the employee was immediately released.
"UBS respects the laws of all of the 50 countries within which we are privileged to do business, and we take a very keen and protective interest in the well-being of all of our 70,000-plus employees worldwide, irrespective of their race or national origin.
"Accordingly, we were perturbed at what transpired last Tuesday, given all of the factual circumstances, and this was conveyed to the government. We are very grateful to The Bahamas' minister of financial services, who, being fully aware of the needs of the industry and also to the sensitive and highly competitive international financial dynamics, took the time to meet and convey a courteous apology.
"This listening ear, of which we apprised our head office which has been closely monitoring and assessing events, has gone a tremendous way in helping to put this 'one off' matter behind us. We have moved on from last week's events."

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February Point 'moving forward 100 percent'

January 21, 2014

GEORGETOWN, EXUMA- A partner in the proposed February Point development said the deal to purchase the property will be finalized in a matter of weeks and is moving forward "100 percent".
Burton Rodgers also refuted claims that John McGarvey is not the project's principal, stating that he has invested "way more" than has been reported.
He, along with other key stakeholders including investors and developers, attended the first meeting of the Exuma Advisory Council, hosted by the Exuma Chamber of Commerce at Grand Isle Resort & Spa yesterday to voice their concerns.
Rodgers pointed out that for the developers at February Point, apart from making money the main objective is for Exumians to benefit. It's a sentiment Rodgers noted that he shares with Prime Minister Perry Christie.
"It is a project that has the support of the government and the people of Exuma. The real and hard work will begin in the next couple of weeks, once that is signed off. But there is still a heads of agreement that is going to be negotiated with the government and they will oversee this process," he told Guardian Business.
"We're moving forward with the development 100 percent. Because of the complexity of the deal and it involving homeowners, we are just trying to work out those agreements with the personnel that are involved in the project.
"We should be finalizing the deal in a couple of weeks.
I don't know of any deal of this magnitude can happen within days, weeks or even a month. I have yet to let somebody find me one. Everybody that comes to The Bahamas to invest comes with the intent to make money. We definitely don't want to make the mistakes that other projects have."
Rodgers also confirmed that McGarvey has spent close to $400,000 in severance and payments to the National Insurance Board (NIB) to former employees of February Point.
"There have always been persons that have wanted to be a part of the project and we are definitely entertaining them. That's also a process that has to be approved by the government."
"Exuma, like any other place in The Bahamas, needs employment, which brings opportunities. If people are working, there are going to be things that are needed for that community. It's more than just employment, I think we have an opportunity to have a stake in the pie and the government is making sure of that," Rodgers added.
Guardian Business revealed on Monday that John McGarvey, cited by the government as the key player behind the bid to purchase and redevelop February Point, has been soliciting financing to purchase the property, which he intends to develop, from homeowners and others on the island.
An extension of the completion date for the purchase was recently sought in order to finalize a new agreement among business partners, Guardian Business understands.
Former Cabinet minister and Exuma MP, George Smith, has stated that he is disappointed the government has entertained McGarvey's proposals, suggesting that his solicitation of financing to purchase February Point could indicate a limited capacity to follow through on further development plans.

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