Nassau Guardian Stories
October 27, 2014
Historically, clinicians have advised cancer patients to rest and avoid activity, but newer research has shown that exercise is not only safe and possible during cancer treatment, but can improve how a patient functions physically, as well as his or her quality of life.
"A lot of people think that they have cancer so they're tired and should go home and rest, but that's not what the current research is showing, says Dr. Felicia Adderley, a physiotherapist at Doctors Hospital Rehabilitation Centre. "Cancer survivors who took part in a high-intensity exercise program had better muscle strength, cardiopulmonary function, quality of life and less fatigue than those in the control group up to a year later," she said.
"Another study showed that individuals taking part in an 18-week high-intensity rehab program were able to return to work faster and at pre-diagnosis level of working hours as compared to the control group that received only standard medical care, without incorporating any cancer rehab or exercise into their regimen or treatment. Another study shows that physical training has significant, beneficial effects on fatigue, compared with no intervention at all. So exercise doesn't make you more tired; it gives you more energy," said the doctor who spoke at the recent Doctors Hospital Distinguished Lecture Series, at which the topic cancer rehabilitation and wellness was addressed.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that, to the extent they are able, cancer patients and survivors should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise weekly. It adds that clinicians should advise cancer survivors to avoid inactivity, even for patients with existing disease or who are undergoing difficult treatments. The exercise recommendations should be tailored to the individual cancer survivor to account for exercise tolerance and specific diagnosis.
"The ACSM says exercise results in better physical function, quality of life and less fatigue," said Dr. Adderley. "Even persons that are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation can still benefit from cancer rehabilitation."
According to the doctor, cancer rehab includes exercise prescription in the clinic and at home.
"We don't have people come in two to three times per week; we ask them to incorporate exercise on the days they don't come in to see us as well. What is recommended is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, and that can be broken up into 30 minutes per day, so that means exercising five days a week."
Cancer rehabilitation is a multidisciplinary care designed to treat physical impairments and improve function and quality of life for cancer survivors as well as cancer patients who are currently undergoing treatment.
Members of this multidisciplinary team can include radiologists, oncologists, physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists, plastic surgeon, podiatrist, exercise physiologist and, in some, cases speech therapists, if there is any kind of neck cancer.
And cancer rehab is important, because cancer treatment is necessary and has numerous negative effects, according to Dr. Adderley. She said cancer rehab can help to lessen the negative effects and improve the patient's quality of life.
"The people that benefit from cancer rehab include people with any type of cancer; people that are at any stage -- whether early stage or late stage -- can all benefit from cancer rehab. Also those people that are currently going through chemotherapy or radiation and those that have remaining deficits up to years after being in remission can benefit," she said.
The physiotherapist said cancer rehabilitation came about because of the increase in early detection and better screening. As a result, with many more cancer survivors than there used to be, there came a new population of people living with deficits who did not realize that they could do something about it. In the United States, there are approximately 12 million cancer survivors, according to Dr. Adderley.
Common issues that can occur due to cancer treatments include development of scar tissue, fascial cording (a band of tissue that can occur and decrease the range of motion at particular joints), fibrosis, decreased range of motion, lymphedema (an abnormal accumulation of protein-rich fluid), cancer-related fatigue, muscle weakness and imbalance, fracture secondary to bone metastasis.
"Some of the things we [physiotherapists] can do for them include mobilizing and massaging the scars, doing deep tissue work, myofascial release and manual stretching. For the lymphedema, there is decongestive therapy, which can include manual lymph drainage, compression bandages, skin care, exercise and use of compression garments. Also we can use walking programs, aerobic and strength training exercise to help decrease the likelihood of fracture, because doing the activities will help to build and strengthen the bone for weight-bearing."
Lymphedmea is an abnormal accumulation of protein-rich fluid due to mechanical insufficiency of the lymphatic system and it can develop overtime, and can occur many years after cancer treatment. According to the physiotherapist, lymphedema can occur as a result of surgery from the lymph nodes being removed. The lymph nodes help to filter out the fluid from the extremity. Dr. Adderley said that, over time, the remaining lymph nodes tend to burn out because they're overworked and unable to handle the load; the sufferer gets the swelling under the skin of the extremity.
Treatment for lymphedema can include medication, complete decongestive therapy and surgery; bandaging, fitting for compression garments, manual lymph drainage and kinesiotaping that are all offered at Doctors Hospital.
According to the physician, patient education is also very important so that persons can know what to expect from their cancer treatments, understand the precautions they should take with their treatments, learn how to monitor for signs of infection and lymphedema, and teach them ways to prevent themselves from getting lymphedema.
Benefits of cancer rehabilitation
"We would like to improve the quality of life for persons that are living with cancer, those that are undergoing treatment and those that are in remission," said the physiotherapist. "Persons will know that they will have increased endurance, increased strength, increased range of motion, prevention and control of lymphedema and, overall, what we would like to do is empower cancer patients and survivors to take control back of their lives and not just feel so helpless."
With respect to the social aspect to the disease, Dr. Adderley said it can help patients to hear stories from fellow individuals living with cancer and socialize with people who have gone through similar experiences.
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October 27, 2014
Bun in the Oven is passionate about helping mothers make the best decisions for themselves and their babies by offering a series of information and support services such as infant CPR, birth coaching and breastfeeding classes. Even more exciting is that now, through information that is available at Doctors Hospital, more women have access to our support services and product information than ever before.
This is a new way of thinking and promoting beneficial health services in the hopes of reaching as many women as possible. It is a common understanding that all women want the possibility of offering the best to their babies, which is why there was a need to make sure we made it possible for maternity patients to have access to our services.
Services like breastfeeding support is of the highest importance to our mothers and the health care system, given the unique benefits it offers not only to the babies, but also the tremendous benefits it offers the mothers.
Women who have a baby generally fall into two categories -- those that know about breastfeeding, who want to breastfeed but are unsure of a few things, and those that don't know anything about breastfeeding and have mostly made up their minds not to. What's interesting about both of these categories is that the end result could be successful breastfeeding. It is amazing what proper support and information can lead to. It's not about forcing a belief on breastfeeding, but rather providing the correct information to the mother to help them make the best decision for themselves and their babies. The rest is a choice and is completely up to the mother.
Here are a few truths that may be of interest:
o Breast milk is the best form of nutrition you can offer your baby.
o Breastfeeding can reduce the chance of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer in the mother.
o Breastfeeding can reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes for both the mother and the baby.
o Breast milk changes its composition every day, based on the baby's needs.
o There is more DHA in breast milk than formula. Some formula is adding DHA, breast milk is in the natural form.
o Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDs by 50 percent.
o Breastfeeding reduces the risk of childhood obesity by 22 percent and can also reduce adult obesity in breastfed children.
o You don't have to burp the baby if you breastfeed. You only have to burp the baby if you are giving a bottle to administer the milk.
o You will never give your baby gas though breastfeeding.
o No, your milk doesn't taste bad, and it's not too salty. Your breast milk smells like the amniotic fluid -- a safe, warm and comforting environment that your baby spent nine months in.
I don't know any infant formula that can boast any of those benefits. Get the facts, learn about breastfeeding so that you can make a complete decision for you and your baby. We have touched on only a few truths about breastfeeding, there are so many more.
Doctors Hospital has always been innovative leaders in healthcare in our country, and Bun in the Oven is proud to be able to share important information with their patients. For more information, you can pick up a flyer at Doctors Hospital maternity ward and patient registration, or you can come in to see us in store.
Love and hugs!
o Bianca Carter is a certified lactation counselor (CLC), and founder of Bun in the Oven. For more information, give us a call at 601-6977 or visit us at the Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza, next to Starbucks. Follow us on facebook at babybunintheoven, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit us at www.babybunintheoven.com.
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October 27, 2014
I have facilitated seminars throughout the world for leading corporate entities for many years in North America, The Bahamas, the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific region. Now the material, ideas and concepts which I shared with my students over the years was designed to inspire and motivate people, and also to assist them in being more productive, and indeed professional at their job.
Now people often used to ask me the following question. Did you have to tailor your seminars in any way in order to fit in with the customs -- the culture of people in different parts of the world, and the simple answer to that often asked question is a definitive no. This really was one of the beautiful things that I discovered from my world travels and interactions with people from different cultures -- that basically we are all the same inside.
Oh sure there may be differences in appearances, in customs and in culture, however, once you get past the outer veneer, people are all the same on the inside. There is indeed I'm delighted to say, a universal connection between all the peoples of the world as basically people want the same things, like knowing and fully understanding who they are in reality, which is a child of God thus realizing that they are immensely talented, and can thus succeed if they consistently do the right things, follow the basic rules for successful living which apply across the board to everybody.
I've found, that at the very core of all people is a deep desire to love and be loved. So there is indeed a universal connection between all the peoples of planet earth, a oneness if you will. This is why I do tend to get very annoyed when I realize that politics, nationalism and religion are so often used to divide people into feuding, fighting factions around the globe.
Of course what really makes all the peoples of the earth one is the fact that in the end we are all children of the one God, therefore we're all in effect brothers and sisters in God's one universal family. So I do believe that in order for peace to be finally restored to planet earth, we all need to become aware of, and indeed respect the fact that there is indeed the universal connection which binds us all together. So, isn't it about time that we all started to focus much more on how alike we are in reality, and thus stop highlighting the differences so much? Yes it is!
o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.
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October 27, 2014
"God helps those who help themselves" is a popular motto that emphasizes the importance of initiative. With that in mind, the people of Cherokee Sound, Abaco, have taken it upon themselves to ensure that their community has a medical facility that they deem important, after not having a working clinic for more than three decades. For the past two years, they have been raising funds and working piecemeal to build a facility.
After three fundraisers, which raised $43,500 in total ($38,500 of which was raised at the most recent Cherokee Day) and a number of donations, the residents of Cherokee Sound were able to get their new facility that is being constructed on the same site as the former government clinic, up to belt course.
"This is something we are trying to do to make our lives better," said clinic building committee member, Lee Pinder. She said every member of the community should be working to make the clinic a reality because its existence could save their lives or the life of a family member.
Pinder said the building of the medical facility is important to her.
"I'm 77 and getting older every day and [I'm] going to be needing it myself, so I'm anxious to have it done and hoping it will be finished in a reasonable time so that I can take advantage of it," she said.
The former facility, built in the mid-1950s, included a waiting room, an examination room, bathroom facilities and a doctor's office in one half of the building. It also featured a fully furnished one-bedroom apartment for a visiting doctor in the other half. It was used for approximately 60 years before it was closed and sat in a state of disrepair. It was demolished in 2011.
"The government nurse started meeting patients in the old schoolhouse in 2004, where there is virtually no privacy for the patient since it is only a large open room and other patients are waiting nearby in the same room. Many patients said they would rather not see the nurse than be exposed to the intrusion of other would-be patients with their big ears," said Pinder. "It is definitely not a suitable venue for an intimate visit with the nurse or doctor."
She said the government doctor stopped visiting Cherokee Sound on a regular basis years ago, and that they were encouraged to drive to the Sandy Point clinic 60 miles away. With an aging population, and people without transportation, making the journey, she said, proved to be difficult for many Cherokee Sound residents. Pinder said the community decided to come together to help themselves.
The new building, when completed, is expected to house a waiting room, doctor's room, triage, ramp for an ambulance and a medicine room.
"It's a small facility with four or five rooms for patients and bathrooms. This is not a private clinic -- it is on government-owned land and is being built to house the visiting government nurse or doctor and for the convenience of patients situated in this area of Abaco," she said.
Pinder said the committee has no estimate as to how much the facility would cost in the final analysis. She said they had an idea and ran with it, and to date have gotten the facility up to belt course.
"We don't have a contractor, and are trying to do it piecemeal by ourselves. We have been paying for some of the labor for a licensed electrician and a licensed plumber... otherwise we've had local men do some of the work. When they poured the belt course the other day, 23 volunteers showed up from the community," she said.
With a population in the region of 160 to 180, Pinder said the people of Cherokee Sound are proving that they are up to the task of helping themselves and building the medical facility that will aid people in their surrounding communities. The Abaco Club at Winding Bay has also offered to assist them in the building of their new community clinic. Member of Parliament Edison Key also donated $35,000 from his constituency funds to the effort, according to Pinder. She said the committee has also received duty-free exemptions on their clinic building materials.
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October 27, 2014
Ingrown toenails are one of the most common and most painful nail complaints seen by the podiatrist. Ingrown nails are often a splinter or spike of nail digging into the soft tissue on the side of the nail, often leading to redness and swelling and can be extremely painful. In more severe cases, it can become infected, producing pus and bleeding. Usually, toenails grow straight out. Sometimes, however, one or both corners or sides of the nail curve and grow into the flesh. Any of the toenails can become ingrown, but the problem more often affects the big toe.
Cause of ingrown toenails
o The most common cause is improperly trimmed nails.
o Heredity -- The nail is too large for the toe and has curled edges.
o Repeated trauma to the feet from normal activities or from stubbing the toe or having the toe stepped on may also cause an ingrown nail.
o The most common cause is tight shoe wear causing pressure and crowding the toes.
o Footwear and socks can push your toe flesh onto the nail so that it pierces the skin and, if you sweat excessively, or don't rotate your footwear, this makes the skin moist and weak, and it can be pierced by the nail.
Who gets ingrown toenails
o Ingrown toenails are more common in teenagers especially those who are active in sports.
o People who pick their nails or cut them too low.
o People who wear socks or support hose that squeezes the toes or narrow mouth shoes with tight toe boxes
o Pregnant women or mothers who recently had their babies seem to be at a higher risk for ingrown toenails.
Preventing ingrown toenails
Cut the nails straight across. Don't cut too low, no longer or shorter than the edge of the toe. The corner of the nail should be visible above the skin. It's better to cut the nails after a bath or shower when they are softer and easier to cut. Good hygiene can go a long way to preventing ingrown toenails. Avoid moist feet by rotating your footwear so they can dry out thoroughly. Choose cotton socks and leather shoes or other materials that are breathable and fit well. Protect the feet from trauma and wear shoes and socks with adequate room for the toes. Keep the feet clean and dry at all times.
Are ingrown toenails serious?
If ingrown toenails are left untreated and they become infected, the infection can spread to the rest of the toe and foot. The quicker you treat them, the less painful the toe and the treatment.
Treatment depends on the severity of the ingrown toenail. For the most basic ingrown toenail, the podiatrist will carefully remove the offending spike of nail causing the problem.
If the ingrown toenail progresses and becomes too painful to touch, the podiatrist may use a local anesthetic to numb the toe, before removing the offending portion of nail. The podiatrist will cut the ingrown portion of the nail and may prescribe a topical or oral medication to treat the infection. Very seldom are antibiotics needed to treat this condition as long as the ingrown portion of the nail is removed. If ingrown nails are a chronic problem, your podiatrist can perform a procedure to permanently prevent ingrown nails from coming back. The corner of the nail that grows in, along with the matrix or root of that piece of nail, is removed and a chemical, a laser, or other methods are used to prevent re-growth. This procedure was developed by podiatrists and is shown to be over 97 percent successful. After the procedure, the nail will be narrower but this often goes unnoticed. You will have to return to the clinic so the podiatrist can make sure the toe heals correctly.
If you have an ingrown toenail, you should see a podiatrist as soon as possible. While you are waiting to see the podiatrist, if you suspect an infection, or if the toe is painful or having a lot of drainage (pus, blood), soak the toe in cool water and vinegar or a basin of soapy water, then apply an antiseptic and a bandage to the area. Other do-it-yourself treatments, including any attempt to remove any part of an infected nail or the use of over-the-counter medications, should be avoided. Rest your foot as much as possible and wear shoes with plenty of room or open toes. People with diabetes and poor circulation should not try to treat the nail at home, but should see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
o For more information email us at email@example.com or visit www.apma.org. To see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996 or visit Bahamas Surgical Associates, Albury Lane, telephone 394-5820 for an appointment.
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October 27, 2014
While the Christie administration never revealed, as promised, the so-called "shocking details" of the controversial sale of 51 percent of the shares in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) in 2011, there is now evidence that some BTC executives were paid handsomely for their efforts in the transaction.
According to correspondence associated with the deal, $1.5 million in total was paid out to executives for their "efforts" in "successfully concluding the transaction".
The payments were made from the Public Treasury, according to documents obtained by The Nassau Guardian.
The payments ranged between $210,000 and $15,000.
The $1.5 million allocated for bonuses for the executives for their efforts was split among 15 executives.
One executive got $210,000; three executives received $150,000; six received $100,000; one got $75,000; three were given $50,000, and one received $15,000.
This is in addition to the salaries of the executives, who were paid an annual salary of at least $99,000.
Prime Minister Perry Christie previously referred to the privatization bonuses as "unconscionable and considerable squandering of the company's financial resources".
The bonuses were paid several days after the Ingraham administration signed the deal with CWC.
Privatization correspondence obtained by The Guardian have the payments under the title "BTC Executive Privatization Bonus".
Then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was advised by the BTC board on April 11, 2011 that "six months salary would be paid to all" except one executive who had recently joined the company.
Several executives were paid above the basic six months, according to the documents.
On April 14, 2011, the treasurer wrote the permanent secretary in the Office of The Prime Minister:
"I have been directed to submit check numbers [X] with respect to payment to BTC executives..."
Ingraham then personally wrote each executive on April 15, 2011 and thanked him or her for the "valuable role played by you and your colleague executives in the government's realization of the recent privatization of BTC".
He advised of attached checks "in recognition of your effort toward this important achievement".
The government's files on the BTC privatization include copies of the bonus checks that were issued to the BTC executives.
For a full reporting on the BTC bonuses, see today's National Review section.
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October 27, 2014
Two men were shot and killed in separate incidents on Saturday, police said.
The first murder happened around 10 a.m.
Police said a 37-year-old man was walking west on Abner Street, Fox Hill, when a burgundy car pulled up next to him.
Police said two men exited the car, one armed with an assault rife and the other with a handgun, and shot the man multiple times before fleeing.
He died at the scene.
A relative identified him as Darron Woodside Davis.
Gregory Davis, his father, said his son was on the way to a funeral.
"I don't know what to do," he said at the scene.
"They took my only life from me. That was my life."
In the latest incident, police said another 37-year-old man was shot near his home on Hospital Lane at 10:20 p.m.
That murder happened days after Eric Martin, 21, was shot dead on Hospital Lane.
Police said the victim was walking on Cambridge Lane when a man, armed with a handgun, approached him and shot him multiple times.
The man attempted to run toward Hospital Lane, but collapsed in the street, police said.
He was taken to hospital where he died.
His girlfriend, Shordell Hepburn, identified him as Kevin Fowler.
Hepburn said Fowler was on his way to a nearby convenience store when he was shot.
"I ran outside," she said outside their home yesterday.
"A couple of minutes after that I realized it was him. Instead of leaving him on the ground to die, I tried to get help.
"We got a ride and we carried him up to the hospital. We didn't know that he wasn't going to make it."
Fowler left behind a four-year-old son, Kevin "KJ" Fowler Jr.
Hepburn said the boy already realizes that his father will never be around.
"I've seen death," she said, with tears rolling down her face.
"I've seen it happen to people, but I never realized what people go through until now."
Hepburn said Fowler was trying to get a job to do better for his family.
"Everybody saw the violence and the background and history he had," she said.
"But instead of doing negative things he was trying to get his life back together and he just wanted to work. He wanted to do the right thing."
Khandi Gibson, president of the support group Families of All Murder Victims (FOAM), said she spoke to Fowler last week and was trying to get him a job.
Up to yesterday, police were still searching for the shooters in both incidents.
The murder count for 2014 stands at 96.
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October 27, 2014
Former Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour said yesterday he is considering running for chairman of the Free National Movement at the party's one-day convention next month.
Neymour, a former member of Parliament for South Beach, said he expects to make an announcement soon on his decision.
"In regards to putting together a political organization, putting together a campaign, I've had that experience," he said, adding that supporting the leadership will be critical.
Neymour said the perceived notion that a rift exists between FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner has hurt the party.
"They have to function together," he said. "I've been with them, both of them together, and they've functioned as leader and deputy leader.
"But I think the perception is what has hurt us, and it will be resolved quickly. This is only natural after you've had a change in leadership, and I think coming out of this convention we are going to be a lot better."
FNM Chairman Darron Cash and FNM Deputy Chairman Dr. Duane Sands plan to run for the deputy leader position.
Former Senator Frederick McAlpine said he will run for deputy chairman.
McAlpine told The Guardian he wants to help strengthen the party.
FNM Deputy Chairman Brensil Rolle said he will determine what post he will run for soon.
FNM Senator Michael Pintard said he, too, is strongly considering running for deputy leader, but is also considering whether to offer himself for chairman.
The party will hold its convention on November 21.
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October 27, 2014
While no formal announcement has as yet been made, Prime Minister Perry Christie and China State Construction Engineering Company (CSCEC) Chairman Jun Yi have both given strong indications that much-rumored plans presented by the Chinese state-owned company for the redevelopment of Downtown Nassau have been accepted by the government, and that the purchase of the British Colonial Hilton hotel will anchor that redevelopment. Strengthening this probability is the indication by the prime minister that his administration is working "resolutely" to firm ties between China and The Bahamas.
China continues to increase its stake in The Bahamas, with its forays into the Bahamian tourism sector marking the most ambitious projects undertaken overseas by CSCEC, according to Chairman Yi. Through its subsidiary, China Construction America (CCA), the CSCEC is building the mega-resort Baha Mar. The company also has a $150 million stake in the project, and the resort development is being funded to the tune of more than $2.5 billion by the Chinese state-owned Export-Import (Exim) Bank. Add to this the purchase of the Hilton and the development of the six acres adjacent to the hotel - acquired as part of the deal, which will include another hotel downtown - along with the size and importance of the stake China holds in The Bahamas tourism product coming more clearly into focus. In fact, Yi said the purchase of the Hilton is the company's first acquisition of a hotel property in the Caribbean.
At a ceremony Friday evening marking the signing of the purchase agreement, Christie's remarks conveyed a very strong suggestion that CSCEC is to engage in revitalizing downtown.
"This ambitious project by [CSCEC] will become the anchor property in the west to jumpstart the downtown redevelopment," Christie said. "The developer has indicated its willingness to join in a public/private sector partnership with the government and other stakeholders along Bay Street to implement an overall plan for redevelopment extending from Arawak Cay in the west to Potter's Cay in the east."
Christie announced that designer Todd Hill and architect Michael Foster, who worked with the original EDAW City of Nassau Redevelopment Master Plan, had been "engaged to work with local professionals and a steering committee to establish guidelines and a framework for systematic implementation".
Christie noted that the purchase represents China's second major investment in Bahamian tourism, following the Baha Mar deal. He placed the purchase of the hotel, however, in the context of the overall redevelopment of downtown.
"I should mention that the Hilton and downtown redevelopment projects represent the second major investment of CSCEC in The Bahamas," Christie said. "[CSCEC] has put down substantial investment stakes in The Bahamas, while at the same time benefiting economically. We therefore look forward to this conglomerate becoming a leading corporate citizen with meaningful contributions to the local economy."
To date, no official announcement has been made about the selection of a company to oversee the Nassau downtown redevelopment project. It is a process surrounded by rumor and innuendo. Christie's statements on Friday are the closest thing yet to transparency in this process.
China and The Bahamas
Veering from his printed remarks, Christie made an observation; he said that when he was discussing China's investment in The Bahamas with the Chinese premier on a previous occasion, he had pressed for an agreement that, with investments such as the purchase of the Hilton by a Chinese state-owned company, employees would have their continuity from the previous owners. He said this was agreed to by the premier. The prime minister's remarks, which were added to the comments by CSCEC Chairman Yi and those by Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas Yuan Guisen, signify a deepening of ties between The Bahamas and China.
It was noted on a number of occasions on Friday night that the government had been instrumental in ensuring that China could purchase the Hilton, and that Chinese investment in the Bahamian economy can only be expected to grow.
It will be interesting to note whether Christie articulates an investment strategy for his administration centered on the Chinese.
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October 27, 2014
The body of an American man strapped to an aircraft seat washed ashore after his Cessna plane lost communication with air traffic control on Friday, police said.
According to police, the victim, a winter resident of Whykees Estates, Eleuthera, was attempting to land his Cessna 310 aircraft at 8:30 a.m. when he encountered bad weather and poor visibility.
Police said local air traffic controllers advised him to land at the North Eleuthera Airport before losing communication with the plane.
A resident of James Cistern, Eleuthera, found the body on the shoreline at 4:30 p.m., police said.
Emergency medical services personnel pronounced him dead. The body was flown to New Providence.
Police said the man's family is expected to travel to New Providence today to identify him.
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October 27, 2014
Dr. Myles and Ruth Munroe, while facilitating leadership training programs in the city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, met former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who was traveling from Mozambique, where he was a member of the observer team during the national elections held there last week.
Dr. Myles and Ruth Munroe and their delegation, headed by the director of the Myles Munroe International (MMI) South Africa office, Charlie Masala, arrived in Dar es Salaam this past week by private jet and were warmly welcomed to the commercial port city by officials consisting of diplomats, community leaders, pastors and civic administrators for a five-day tour billed as "The Myles Munroe Leadership Project".
Following an official reception at the presidential VIP airport lounge, the Munroes were met by the Tanzanian press for a lengthy interview regarding his first visit to the East African nation. The MMI delegation was then transported by police escort to the Dar es Salaam Kilimanjaro Hyatt Regency Hotel overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean.
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October 27, 2014
Police reported that three armed robberies and a shooting occurred over the weekend.
The first armed robbery happened on Friday at 8:20 p.m. on Old Trail Road.
Police said an 18-year-old man was walking on Hasselmere Road off Old Trail Road when a gunman approached him and demanded money. The victim was robbed of his money and cell phone.
In the second incident, which reportedly occurred at around 10 p.m. Friday, police said a 28-year-old man was sitting inside his 2003 Honda Accord in Sunshine Park when a gunman approached him, demanding he exit the car. The gunman then entered the car and drove off.
The third robbery took place at 3 a.m. on Saturday. Police said a 33-year-old man had arrived at his home on Haynes Road when a gunman accosted him, demanding money. The victim was robbed of his money and cell phone.
Police said the shooting incident happened on Saturday at 2:25 p.m. on Ross Corner. According to reports, the victim, a 24-year-old resident of Woods Alley, was walking on Ross Corner when a gunman approached and then shot him. The gunman fled the scene and the victim was transported to hospital where he was listed in critical condition at last report.
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October 27, 2014
"We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than only freedom can make security more secure."
- Sir Karl Popper
Recently, Government House issued a document entitled "Procedures for members of the media", announcing that, effective immediately, "the governor general would not give interviews", and that "interviews with persons or groups making courtesy calls at Government House will not be permitted inside Government House or anywhere on the premises". This policy stands in stark contrast to the open access that the media enjoyed for decades at Government House.
Therefore this week, we would like to Consider This... Is this recent decision to muzzle the press at Mount Fitzwilliam a sign that there is a resurgence of elements who, in bygone years, were viewed as enemies of the open society?
A historical perspective
Government House is often referred to as "the People's House" - a term that characterized the openness that was encouraged by former governors general. There were many occasions where the press was welcomed to interview persons who attended national events such as the swearing in of Supreme Court justices, ministers, senators and persons paying courtesy calls on the governor general. Such occasions afforded the press an opportunity to interview persons who were willing to provide commentary on the event of the day or other important matters. It also provided the press an opportunity to speak with the governor general on matters of national importance.
The new policy
In addition to the already stated changes, the dictum from Government House also observed: "When state or other social functions are held at Government House, members of the media will not be permitted to conduct interviews with guests, or staff members. Photography may be allowed under the direction of the press liaison officer.
"During state events like the presentation of credentials by foreign diplomats, opportunities for photographs will be managed by a press liaison officer assigned to the media. Bahamas Information Services in consultation with the secretary to the governor general will inform the media beforehand of the liaison officer assigned so that their presence is facilitated."
Open versus closed societies
Throughout history, proponents of the open society have critically opposed such actions by the power elite. One such person was Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902 -1994), an Austrian and British professor at the London School of Economics, considered one of the most influential social and political philosophers of the 20th century. His seminal work on the topic was entitled "The Open Society and its Enemies".
Popper is best known for his critique of totalitarianism and his defense of freedom, individualism, democracy and an "open society" - a society in which the citizen is not only free but encouraged to constructively criticize the political directorate, oppose demagoguery and to embrace progressive, rational thought and public policy. Popper doggedly opposed totalitarianism, fascism, romanticism, collectivism, and other kinds of reactionary and irrational ideas.
Popper observed that authoritarian societies are hostile to any public criticism, which deprives the planners of needed feedback about the impact of their policies, which further undermines the effectiveness of utopian engineering. He wrote that "the open society is one in which men have learned to be to some extent critical of taboos and to base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence."
The implications of the new rules
The implications of the new "no interview" rules from Mount Fitzwilliam are enormously far-reaching because any attempt to muzzle the press in a democracy cannot contribute to an open society. Only the enemies of the open society would embrace and support such an ill-advised and ill-conceived policy. These rules are anathema to the Bahamian political culture of openness, access to and freedom of the press, as well as freedom of expression. What better place to dispense information on national issues of public policy in order to inform Bahamians than the People's House?
The "no interview" rules are insulting to the high office of governor general who is - and ought to be - free to make public comments on important national issues. At a time when we are inundated by the adversities in so many quarters of Bahamian life, is the public really well-served by a governor general who is muzzled from commenting on the wonderfully inspirational developments and personalities who positively impact our daily lives?
This policy offends most Bahamians. Should politicians, diplomats and citizens be prohibited from speaking to the press regarding activities that are held within the precincts of Government House?
A "no interview" policy is also offensive to a free press. It suggests that the press is incapable of professional discretion and propriety. If there are those newcomers in the press who perhaps are not familiar with the protocol of Government House, would it not be better to teach them about those rules instead of banning them altogether? Additionally, if it is inconvenient or inappropriate for the press to interview dignitaries in some areas of Government House during a function, certainly the People's House is big enough to provide a suitable space to conduct interviews.
Finally, it demonstrates an unwarranted degree of insecurity by those who crafted such an ill-advised and ill-conceived policy.
A throw-back to an earlier time
It can be convincingly argued that this "no interview" policy is a throw-back or return to an earlier time in our historical development when a degree of openness in public life was discouraged, when persons were not free to express themselves about matters that are important to our national development. This "no interview" rule is an unfortunate development in our political culture which should be reversed in the interest of fostering a more open society.
We should never forget the Hitlerian policies which inaugurated its authoritarian, Nazi regime by muzzling the press. We should never recoil from taking positive steps to enhance a free press in our fledgling democracy.
We should not remain silent about this retrogressive step, but, rather, we should remember the inscription at the foot of the Statue of Liberty which reminds us that, "We do not choose political freedom because it promises us this or that. We choose it because it makes possible the only dignified form of human coexistence, the only form in which we can be fully responsible for ourselves."
At all times, we must do everything within our power to build and maintain an open society and to unabashedly expose its enemies who would seek to curtail our freedoms and, once again, attempt to send us backward as we strive to move our nation to the future.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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October 27, 2014
Watching politics and how it operates is jokey. People see things as they want them to be rather than how they really are. I usually don't compare people, because everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some people know their strengths and others do not.
To be a politician you need to be able to get people's attention and then satisfy them with your ability, but most of all they have to "like you" to give you their vote.
Likability in politics is the most valued asset. That's why Perry Christie has lasted this long. He is well liked.
Which takes me to the point. Hubert Minnis may have won his seat in Killarney, which is a safe FNM seat, but that does not transcend into winning the general election. Is he well liked nationally? He does not attract people to him. He is not a warm personality.
The FNM would be wise to base their decisions on who can win the general election, not the party leadership, because mass popular appeal is the only asset that will get the FNM a victory.
Lord knows we need a stronger leader who is unafraid and who will not compromise by ignoring some of the blunders of the PLP.
We need a leader who can represent us well wherever they speak. We want to be proud of the leader, not hold our heads every time he speaks. FNM members are proud people, let's keep it that way.
- Strong FNM
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October 27, 2014
I saw a photograph on Facebook today that showed a happy group of Free National Movement supporters and officials, presumably at the recent council meeting where they firmed up plans for the upcoming convention set for late November. I was particularly pleased to see a smiling Frank Watson, who really looked well, and who obviously appeared happy with his successor in Killarney, Dr. Hubert Minnis.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and the word seems to be, as the pictures suggest, that veteran FNMs are in full support of Dr. Minnis as the leader of the party.
Two and a half years ago, the FNM suffered a devastating defeat at the polls and what was left of the party selected Minnis to lead the healing process, and by all accounts he and his minority members of the house have been doing a creditable job.
In the last two months, Minnis and his legislative team have turned up the heat, scoring point after point on Prime Minister Perry Christie's administration for its lack of integrity, its incompetence and simple ineptness. Christie came to power believing his bloated majority was an excuse to push anything down the throat of the Bahamian people, but Minnis said it's not going to happen.
The prime minister called for a referendum on gambling but Minnis stood with the religious leadership of this country and a majority of voters who said "no". Christie legalized the illegal web-shops and this country will pay a heavy price for that decision.
Minnis voted against passage of the current budget because of its concealed expenditures on salaries, perks and contracts for consultants, mostly friends and lovers.
Minnis has exposed the ill preparation for the implementation of a VAT system. This administration has yet to explain to the Bahamian people, how VAT will really work. Nearly every employer group and financial consultant now agrees with Minnis' observation - that VAT is going to be a nightmare for the Bahamian people, resulting in higher prices and the lowering of the living standard for working class Bahamians.
Minnis exposed the ongoing wastage at BAMSI in Andros, and again, Bahamians have yet to hear how a school for 50 students should cost $20 million or how it is going to change agriculture in this country.
Minnis totally frustrated the prime minister on the ill prepared and ill presented bill on the referendum, to the point that Bernard Nottage, minister for national security and leader of government business in the House, is now wandering the halls trying to blame anyone but the PLP for this bill which is going to die a slow death in committee.
Say what they will, Minnis is changing the face of politics in this country. In meeting with voters in Exuma, Cat Island and in Harbour Island last week, Minnis articulated a new political frame of reference for a changing Bahamas.
Agitators in and out of the FNM wanted a convention, they have one although the detractors now say it was a snap decision. Minnis has called for more openness in government and in the political party system, well we have a challenge to political leadership in the form of Loretta Butler-Turner.
This is the first time in Bahamian party politics that the leadership and officers of a political party will be elected in an open and honest fashion, that will feature officials campaigning, both to party members and to members of the public.
The PLP should try this - oh yes I forgot, they pushed their convention timetable down the road, "out or respect for the referendum process". Who are they trying to fool? We all know by now that there will be no referendum under this government.
Christie is running out of time and the bet is on whether he will last the full term. The Bahamian voters have had it with lofty rhetoric with little action.
They turned back on the swag of another FNM leader.
The new Bahamian electorate is showing daily that what they want is the measured, thoughtful, honest and considered leadership of a Dr. Minnis who brought himself up the hard way and who doesn't need to cut deals.
There is a popular song making the round called, "Doctor, the country is sick". How appropriate. I hope it gets a lot of play at Christie's unpopular and ill thought out carnival next year.
- M. Thompson
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October 27, 2014
Yet another prisoner has escaped police custody. Lance McDonald, 53, of Westmoreland, Jamaica, managed to make his way out of Carmichael Road Police Station after being arrested last week Thursday.
According to Superintendent Paul Rolle, as officers attempted to place McDonald in a cell he resisted and was able to get away after a short struggle. It is unclear how many officers attempted to restrain McDonald before he made off.
Rolle said: "We are investigating the circumstances of how he escaped. I am not certain as to all that happened or why it happened like that."
A Nassau Guardian reporter contacted the Carmichael Road Police Station, but was unable to speak with the officer in charge.
McDonald was the latest in a series of suspects to have escaped police custody this year.
In April, Tamicko Williams, 22, of Podoleo Street, escaped from the Grove Police Station. He had been arrested on suspicion of armed robbery and burglary.
Another escape in Exuma the same month ended up with the suspect being shot and killed. Wesley Pierre, 33, fought his way out of Georgetown Police Station after stabbing a corporal in the face with a pen, but was tracked down and fired upon after he allegedly attempted to disarm an officer.
Between 2008 and 2010 there were at least three escapes from Central Police Station on East Street.
In 2008, there was the high-profile escape of convicted drug trafficker and illegal firearm offender Melvin Maycock Sr. from Elizabeth Estates Police Station. A police officer was found guilty of having aided in the escape.
There have also been a number of escapes from police custody outside stations, including the disappearance of a 17-year-old murder suspect from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) while being guarded by two police officers. He was later captured.
In 2010, accused murderer Phillip McCartney was able to walk off the prison bus in Bank Lane and escape. He was also later taken into custody.
Policing is a tough job. On a constant basis, officers find themselves up against the most violent and uncontrollable individuals in this society. No matter how well-prepared police are, mistakes are bound to happen from time to time.
Still, the record of the last six years when it comes to suspects escaping from custody is not one the Royal Bahamas Police Force can be proud of.
At the end of the day, escaped prisoners are a danger to the citizens police officers swear to protect.
Commissioner Ellison Greenslade and his senior team should place more focus on this issue immediately, and seek to find new training methods or adopt international best practices in prisoner control to ensure that escapes become a rarity rather than a commonplace.
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October 26, 2014
The Annette's Sporting Lounge Hitmen are champions of the New Providence Softball Association (NPSA) once again.
Alcott Forbes delivered the game-winning home-run, a walk-off solo shot in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Hitmen the 5-4 win and complete a shocking four-game sweep of the pennant-winning Sting Truckers in the Carl "Bang Bang" Johnson NPSA Championship series last night at Bankers Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
The Hitmen will go on to represent New Providence in the Bahamas Softball Federation's (BSF) National Round Robin Championships, which begin on Thursday, October 30.
Angelo Dilette finished the game with two runs scored and one run batted in (RBI) for the Hitmen, while Rudy Fox chipped in with two hits.
Jamal Johnson and Ramon Storr finished the game with two hits and one run scored each for the Truckers.
The game went back and forth as neither team was able to gain full control. Both defenses fielded well throughout the contest.
The score was tied 4-4 going into the seventh inning. The Truckers were up to bat first, but failed to score a run, which left the door open for the Hitmen to win the game and clinch the series. With two outs and the game on the line, winning pitcher Alcott Forbes delivered a home-run on the first pitch he saw to seal the game and the championship for his team.
"Words can't express how I feel right now," said Forbes. "I came out here and I was overdue to give my team a hit. I was nursing an injury coming in but nothing can stop the heart of a lion."
Hitmen's team manager Curtis Stevens said that he dedicates the win to 'Bang Bang' Johnson, and is ready to lead his team to the round-robin tournament. Johnson, the late manager of the Electro Telecom Lady Hitters, passed away earlier this year.
"Like I told everyone this one is not for us," said Stevens. "Going into the round-robin, we just need to work on our defense a bit. Some things I saw I didn't like. We weren't as sharp as I wanted, but once we correct a few things we will be really hard to beat."
The Hitmen will play their first game of the round-robin tournament on the Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. against the defending national champions Creter's Bulldogs out of Abaco.
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October 26, 2014
The Spanish Wells Bulldogs senior boys and Queen's College Comets senior girls were crowned as champions of the 15th annual Austin "King Snake" Knowles National High School Softball Championships yesterday, finishing off their opponents at the Bankers Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. The Bulldogs defeated the Prince William Falcons, 4-3, and in the girls' championship, the Comets turned back the St. Anne's Blue Waves 7-3.
The win by the Bulldogs over the Falcons was the second for them over that team in the tournament. The first game came down to hits, as no team was able to score a run in the pitcher's duel. Kaiden Roberts pitched a no-hitter for the Bulldogs that propelled his team to victory, and also the top spot in the division headed into the playoffs.
"This was probably the toughest game that we played so far, and will probably be the toughest one we will play," said Roberts after that game. "It's a good feeling being the top seed headed into the playoffs, and getting there on a no-hitter makes me feel awesome."
In the second game, the Falcons showed a lot more fight, and were in control for most of the game. They took a 3-0 lead into the third inning, but a late four-run surge in the bottom of the third inning allowed the Bulldogs to escape with the narrow victory and the championship.
"This was an amazing game for us," said Bulldogs' Head Coach Tony Symonette. "It's so sweet. We were down three runs and some of the guys looked like they wanted to give up, but I told them to cheer up and if you're going to look like this you might as well give up and go home. I told them that it's always sweeter when you come from behind and win it and that's what happened. It was an amazing game."
In the girls division, the Comets took down the Blue Waves 7-3.
Dawanya Pratt, who was the tournament's Most Valuable Player (MVP), finished the game with two runs scored. Charisma Taylor and India Sweeting added a run each for the Comets.
Brittney Rahming, Kristia Collie and Breanna Carey scored the runs for the Blue Waves.
Over the past few years the 'King Snake' tournament has seen a decline in the number of teams participating in the event, especially teams from New Providence. Although they chose to come down this year, Symonette said that it was a little discouraging, seeing that so many teams were absent.
"We have been coming down here for the past few years," he said. "It's usually an awesome tournament, but it's disappointing that so many team cancelled out, especially Nassau teams cause they're already home. It cost us thousands of dollars to get down here, and it's difficult when you only have a few teams to play. This used to be a tournament we looked forward to, so as far as next year is concerned, we'll just have to see how it goes."
Just five teams in each gender competed in this year's Austin 'King Snake' Knowles high school nationals.
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October 26, 2014
The revelation that 15 executives of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) were paid $1.5 million in bonuses for their "efforts in successfully concluding" the sale of 51 percent of BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) has shed new light on the behind-the-scenes activities of the controversial deal.
While much has been intimated by officials of the Christie administration and those involved in the BTC take-back talks, this is the first hard evidence of those bonuses to emerge since the sale in 2011.
It is unknown why the current government did not table the information in Parliament, but chose instead to talk about it in vague terms.
The payouts, approved by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham at the time, came from the Public Treasury.
Ingraham, who had been under fire over the sale, personally wrote the executives to thank them for the "valuable role" they played in "the government's realization of the recent privatization of BTC".
The payments were made several days after the deal with CWC was closed.
The payments ranged from between $210,000 and $15,000.
President of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union Bernard Evans told National Review that some BTC executives privately told union officials prior to the sale that they thought it was a bad deal.
"Some of them under the dark of night told us that they supported our fight, our cause, but they were in a very precarious position. They could not come out publicly against it," Evans said.
"All of them were not pleased with the deal."
Regarding the bonuses, Evans said, "I didn't know until after the sale was done that they were going to be rewarded."
Evans said the union felt that its fight against the deal could have been stronger if any of the executives had come out publicly against it.
"All of us built BTC from the ground, from the CEO down, all of us," he added. " And we all knew we were a beacon in the Caribbean."
Pointing to the bonuses, Evans said, "That had nothing to do with their separation packages when they left."
Several BTC executives left since the 2011 sale. Acting President and CEO Kirk Griffin departed not long after privatization.
The union president also claimed that there were members of the governing party (FNM) who privately told union executives they were against the deal, but they could not come out publicly against it.
In a previous interview with The Nassau Guardian, Franklyn Wilson, who chaired the Christie administration's committee to get back two percent of the BTC shares, claimed the payouts were made under "questionable circumstances".
"One of the points we are making to the prime minister is it is increasingly in the public's interest that the government move sooner rather than later to cause a parliamentary committee to be appointed to firstly learn what happened in the BTC transaction, and secondly to evaluate it. That's our view," Wilson said.
"The prime minister has said that we said that to him and it's for the government to decide whether he accepts the advice."
Wilson said former policymakers should be called to explain the seven-figure payouts.
He has called the BTC deal "horrendously bad".
But while the Christie administration has promised a probe into the BTC deal, it has not delivered on the probe.
Christie and CWC CEO Phil Bentley appeared before the cameras twice this year to announce the government had successfully negotiated a two percent take back of the shares bought by CWC in 2011.
But two months after the government and CWC announced that, that particular deal was finalized, the Christie administration has still not yet made the agreement public.
When Christie announced the closure of the two percent take back deal on August 29, 2014, he pointed to the BTC privatization bonuses as being excessive.
"Without casting aspersions, I think that most rational thinking persons would reach the conclusion that the 2011 transaction arguably netted the former administration very little money for a number of reasons," the prime minister said.
"First of all, the consideration paid by CWC for the 51 percent stake was reduced by some $7 million.
"Further, significant sums to the tune of several million dollars were spent on a myriad of consultants and advisors, in addition to legal costs to Bluewater, and overly generous bonuses to members of BTC executive management.
"...This could be considered as an unconscionable and considerable squandering of the company's financial resources.
"Added to this, the former government committed to meeting the financial burdens associated with underwriting the costs of the legacy defined benefits pension plan for BTC employees.
"They agreed to endow a trust with $39 million to meet any deficit in the employee pension fund shortly after privatization, but never did. The current deficit of the BTC pension plan is almost twice that amount."
Christie also said that notwithstanding prevailing sentiments for accelerating competition in the communications sector, the former government agreed for astronomical penalties to be paid by the government in the event of any violation of the exclusivity periods agreed with BTC; and legislated the prohibition that the government could not even commence the process for liberalization before the exclusivity period had expired.
"These actions have had an appreciable impact on the country's development. I contend that a process which had the interests of the Bahamian people as its primary motivation would have yielded a more favorable outcome for our country."
Speaking of that 2011 deal, Wilson told The Nassau Guardian many months ago, "We believe the public has a right to know certain things that we now know and we believe the public ought to find it out in a transparent and proper manner."
He noted at the time that a parliamentary committee with powers to send for persons and papers "is a very, very significant instrument".
"Powers to send for persons and papers open up a tremendous route by which to gather information, and that is significant," Wilson said.
He also said at that time that such a committee might help policymakers avoid repeating certain actions that are not in the national interest.
The BTC deal was approved in Parliament by FNM members. The PLP voted against it.
One former FNM member who was high on the deal was Phenton Neymour, who was minister of state for the environment.
Speaking to National Review recently, Neymour said he had no regrets about supporting the deal.
"I don't think it was the best deal, but I believe it was the best option that we had at that time," Neymour said.
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October 26, 2014
China's stake in the Bahamian economy is growing, and it is indeed something to watch.
On Friday, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) signed a contract to purchase the British Colonial Hilton and the vacant property to its west.
As a part of the sale agreement, CSCEC will develop the vacant property to create a luxury hotel and condominium, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced.
The Chinese have also agreed to join in partnership with the government and other stakeholders along Bay Street to implement a plan for its redevelopment, extending from Arawak Cay to Potter's Cay.
On the face of it, it is wonderful news that the long-awaited and desperately needed face lift for Downtown Nassau appears near.
The new luxury hotel to be built by the Chinese will create 250 construction jobs, 500 permanent jobs for Bahamians and an additional 500 jobs in the amenities and commercial components, according to Christie.
On the face of it, this is also good news for an economy still feeling the residual effects of the 2008 global financial meltdown.
But some Bahamians, understandably so, are nervous about the Chinese spreading their influence deeper into the Bahamian economy.
However, Professor Gilbert Morris, who monitors economic developments locally and on the world stage, observed to National Review that the issue is not that the Chinese are getting too big; rather it is that we think too small.
"The Chinese, in my view, are pursuing their strategy and understand the value of our country better than we do," Morris said.
"The Hilton is an excellent property, with wonderful staff. For minimal investment, one can diversify that property and create an upper medium-tier luxury facility with a value of over $320 million.
"And so whilst I thought $70 million or thereabout was too expensive - based on the hotel's financial performance, in my view, in terms of its history, which ties the Eastern Seaboard to Nassau and captures the interwar period together with Prince Edward's abdication of the throne of England - it was the best investment available in Nassau, which I, myself attempted to acquire."
Morris added, "The Chinese are doing nothing wrong or anathema to opportunity for Bahamians. The difficulty for Bahamians is not being able to access capital under terms that are commercially viable. When I first spoke to principals of the pension fund that was the foreign owners eight years ago, I had obtained financing, but only with the most onerous terms and it was then that I discovered how unfriendly a business environment existed in our country.
"It was then that I found how incestuous it was to deal with government agencies and how local capital was both shortsighted and risk averse."
We suspect that our friends at the United States Embassy, which coincidentally is located across the street from the Hilton, are also watching these latest developments with much interest.
Back in 2011, we reported that the United States had serious concerns about the growing influence of China on The Bahamas, and had questioned if the Chinese engagement with the country is part of a wider strategy to control the Caribbean.
This thinking was revealed in confidential U.S. Department of State cables, which The Nassau Guardian reported on exclusively at the time.
"The Chinese appear committed to establishing a firm financial hold on projects, such as the Baha Mar [project], that will have a major impact on the Bahamian economy and leave the government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas indebted to Chinese interests for years to come," said the cable.
The September 2009 cable was titled, "Chinese Offer Golden Opportunities to The Bahamas". The cable focused on the $2.5 billion Baha Mar project.
Chinese influence in The Bahamas has grown in recent years.
As a part of the Baha Mar deal, the Export-Import Bank (EximBank) of China lent Baha Mar $2.45 billion, the largest loan for a single resort development in Bahamian history.
China State Construction Engineering Corporation is an equity partner with Baha Mar and it is also the lead contractor for the resort.
The China EximBank also lent the government nearly $58 million to finance a new highway from Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) to Thompson Boulevard; the Hong Kong-based firm Hutchison Whampoa is an owner of the Freeport Container Port, and China built a $30 million stadium for The Bahamas as a gift.
American concerns with the Chinese presence in The Bahamas predates Baha Mar, however.
"For their part, the Chinese in The Bahamas may be a strategic move preparing for a post-Castro Caribbean," said a 2003 cable titled, "Prime Minister Christie's China Trip, the Latest in a String of Visits". The cable was classified by then Charge d'Affaires Robert Witajewski.
The United States also has a keen interest in the work of Bahamian diplomats regarding China.
The Americans' monitoring of China's involvement in The Bahamas and the Caribbean will no doubt continue. This in light of the fact that America is itself indebted to the Chinese to the tune of over US$1 trillion.
In an April 7, 2012 article, The New York Times noted that China's economic might had rolled up to America's doorstep in the Caribbean with a flurry of loans from state banks, investments by companies and outright gifts from the Chinese government in the form of new stadiums, roads, official buildings, ports and resorts where the United States has long been a prime benefactor.
That same article noted that the Chinese have flexed their economic prowess in nearly every corner of the world, but planting a flag so close to the United States has generated intense vetting -- and some raised eyebrows -- among diplomats, economists and investors.
At the contract signing ceremony for the Airport Gateway Project, then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham noted that the People's Republic of China had offered to assist The Bahamas in its modernization and the government accepted.
So did other countries in the region.
In Dominica, China also financed a national stadium and a road project.
St. Lucia has benefited from a national stadium and a psychiatric hospital.
And other countries in the region have also benefited from their relationship with China.
A few years ago, China agreed to make available US$1 billion for various loans to Caribbean countries.
Of this sum, $150 million was allocated for The Bahamas.
What does China want?
For many observers, there are lingering questions about what China wants.
We are reminded of a 2010 lecture in Beijing, where university Professor Zhu Liqun insisted that on the world stage, China's policy is to keep a low profile and it is not seeking to become 'leader of the world'.
As we listened in, we were not convinced of this. Neither were other Caribbean journalists who attended that lecture.
Zhu, assistant president at China Foreign Affairs University, was giving a lecture on China's foreign policy.
She admitted that, like many other countries, China is concerned about its image internationally, and is seeking a win-win situation with all other countries.
Zhu said China has been pushed hard to be the center of the international arena, but she said at the time it was not ready.
"As appreciative as we are, my firm belief is that there is an agenda," stated one journalist as the discussion got heated.
Another asked, "If you don't want to be the world leader, then what do you want?"
Zhu admitted that the Caribbean has benefited from the historic struggles between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan.
A key element of China's foreign policy is to create a favorable environment for its further development, she noted.
She explained that on the global stage, growing demands were being placed on China to do more and China has a responsibility.
In The Bahamas, the growing presence of the Chinese is hard to miss, particularly as Baha Mar nears completion.
China also has a new, state-of-the-art embassy here.
Last year, The Bahamas and China signed a mutual visa exemption agreement, which officials said represented a "milestone" in the diplomatic relations between the nations.
We need to expand Bahamian wealth
As China expands its footprint on the Bahamian economy, with a growing strategic position in our country's number one industry, we expect more raised eyebrows.
Perhaps it will be many years off before we truly understand and appreciate China's end game.
But Morris cautions, Bahamians ought not to demonize the Chinese or suggest a "take-over".
"We have locked ourselves in a political system that is not aimed at facilitating, advancing or sustaining Bahamian wealth, except for a narrow group," he said.
"The Hilton was owned by foreigners and now it's again owned by foreigners. If there is a tragedy it is that we lost an opportunity to take a great institution to draw out its history to make that history part of its attraction and essential to its business model.
"A right-thinking Bahamian owner would have valued that, and perhaps ensured the equity participation of staff as a new business model.
"The answer is not hostility toward foreign investors, but rather to ask questions about the mechanisms available to Bahamians for wealth creation."
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