Opinion

Economic empowerment - part 1

December 08, 2014

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."
- Edward M. Kennedy
One of the greatest challenges facing The Bahamas in the 21st century continues be the economic empowerment of our citizens. Therefore, this week, we would like to Consider This... has the time now come for us to take economic empowerment more seriously?
Believing in Bahamians
In the years ahead, we must demonstrate greater confidence in ourselves. For too long, we have developed a crisis of confidence in our own ability to address our national concerns.
Instead, we have demonstrated a passionate love affair for things foreign, often to the exclusion of an appreciation for Bahamian talent and expertise. This has been frequently demonstrated by politicians from all sides of the political divide, often resulting in the engagement of and priorities given to foreign consultants and investors where the same talent and intellectual acumen resides locally.
A classic example of this is the recent engagement of foreign consultants to advise the government on the cost of the national health insurance program when there are adequate and qualified local professionals who can accomplish the same task. Another example was recently observed in the public debate on value-added tax, where Bahamians proffered the same recommendations of the tax consultants from New Zealand and elsewhere.
It was only after those consultants presented their recommendations that the government finally accepted many of the same recommendations as those offered by Bahamians months earlier.
Hopefully, as we progress, the political directorate and the Bahamian public will more fully appreciate that there are qualified Bahamians who are in some instances better educated than the same foreigners who often provide their findings based on interviews that they conduct with Bahamian professionals.
From political to economic empowerment
Political empowerment is only one half of the equation for total participation by our citizens in the Bahamian economy. The other half of the equation is economic empowerment which has eluded too many for decades. While some persons have been able to create personal wealth for themselves, there are many factors that militate against promoting a cadre of entrepreneurs who would wish to realize their dreams of business ownership.
Our banking system and access to working capital, and political red tape and government bureaucracy have greatly contributed to the frustration experienced by many would-be entrepreneurs. A concerted assessment must be made regarding the barriers to entry for Bahamian entrepreneurs and methods should be found to remove those barriers.
Crown land
The government of the Bahamas has many tools in its arsenal with which to affect public policy and economic emancipation. One of the most powerful and significant, especially in this 21st century, is Crown Land. There are millions of acres of land owned by the Crown and the use and the role that Crown Land will undoubtedly play in the next and most definitive phase of economic empowerment of Bahamians will be pivotal to the long-term sustainability of The Bahamas for Bahamians.
Because the ownership of land is essential to the creation of wealth, we must enable Bahamians to make better use of commonage land or generation property, the title to which is often not adequately documented, as well as Crown Land to empower Bahamians to use these assets to raise capital in order to start businesses. Successive governments have "gifted" Crown Land to foreign investors.
We should be prepared to do the same for Bahamians who have viable business plans but lack the necessary capital to realize their dreams of business ownership, without which economic empowerment will remain a distant dream.
It would be a travesty for any Bahamian government to use Crown Land wantonly because it is one of our most vital natural resources, and must be so recognized and deployed in a manner that will benefit the greatest number of our citizens for the long-term.
Crown Land is a sacred trust that is held for future generations of Bahamians and its efficient and effective administration is elemental to economic empowerment for Bahamians yet unborn. Therefore, unless candidates or political parties seeking electoral support can clearly articulate, define and defend their plans for this national treasure, neither that individual nor his political party should obtain support at the polls. Legacy
Properly formulated and adeptly executed, Prime Minister Christie's legacy could entail an administration whose primary objective is one of Bahamian economic empowerment. It is now time for the establishment of an economic culture that is inclusive and beneficial to all who call The Bahamas home and who wish to build our nation for generations yet unborn.
Conclusion
The long march to Majority Rule in The Bahamas was a sustained struggle that started with Pompey and culminated with Pindling. In 1973, the Colony of the Bahama Islands joined the community of nations and became the independent Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
The sustained struggle that marked the way to a majority-ruled, independent nation still continues, as Bahamians now engage in a journey towards the economic empowerment and freedom that Pindling identified as the final struggle in the centuries-long voyage from enslavement to full freedom for generations to come.
As we seek to fulfill the final phase of emancipation and become economically empowered, realizing at long last the dreams of those enslaved ancestors to truly become free and independent men and women, responsible and accountable for our own destinies, and limited only by our own imagination, we must demand from those who desire to sit in seats of power, the freedom to develop new and previously uncharted areas of the economy.
We must look beyond the previous paradigms of expatriate "plantation plutocracy", eradicating the archaic models that have shackled us for too long, and become owners of those industries that will transport us to a more secure future.
And ultimately, we must look to the land, the very thing that drew those early settlers and our enslaved ancestors to these islands, and, just as they regarded it as their pathway to a stable life for their families, we must consider the use of our Crown Land as one of the foundations of the economically empowered and emancipated future it is now time for us to create.
Finally and fully, we must take possession of those elements that originally enslaved us and transform them into the instruments of our economic emancipation. This is the only way that we will ensure that, as the late Senator Kennedy suggested: "the dream shall never die."
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 pgalanis@gmail.com.

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Dinner in White in Haiti

December 06, 2014

Haiti is one of the least forums on earth I would expect an extravagant success of the Dinner in White phenomenon. With the majority of its population living in extreme poverty, I would imagine that this movement that spans across the globe would not find a home in Haiti. Yet the Haiti nation is filled with splendor mixed with squalor. The Dinner in White on Saturday, November 15, at Le Montcel near the bucolic village of Furcy was an event that any society page would love to stamp in their magazine.
I was invited by Wellcom, the public relations firm run by the three most hospitable ladies that I know -- Milena Sandler, Stephanie Armand, and Coralie Dehien. I arrived early at the departure point, the Karibe hotel in Petionville. The buzz was already in the air, gentlemen and genteel ladies in white attire were showing their wear and who could outdo the other in elegance and in chivalry.
The Diner en Blanc as it is called in French is the godchild of a French expatriate by the name of Francois Pasquier, who on his return to France found himself without friends. To reconnect with his old acquaintances, he organized a dinner and asked the few friends he could find to get together at a specific place, bringing their own plates and their own food and wearing white attire so he or she would be recognized by each other.
The next dinner was so successful that it boomeranged first to Canada and then to the rest of the world. It is a nonprofit event, with the mission to have a good time with friends and family in a setting that is enchanting and secret up to the last minute.
There were some 800 guests to the dinner in Haiti at its second edition, with some of the guests travelling from the United States, Canada and Martinique to attend to the party. It takes ingenuity, strategic planning and enthusiastic leadership to organize this gargantuan event, with some 38 buses trailing in a mountain setting, with no one aware of the exact place for the dinner.
Yet everything went up to perfection, the band, the men setting the table and the chairs, the women, having prepared the food, laying it on the table with the best dinner plates, glasses, and tableware they could fetch from home. It was like in a fairy story, with each table and each family trying to win the prize of the most decorative setting.
The ritual of the dinner includes sending off a white balloon into the air, fireworks and dancing, with the event ending around 10 pm trailing back to the city where life will once again resume its normal and ordinary course.
The Diner en Blanc concept could have taken a page from the recent book by Valentino Garavani: "At the Emperor's table", where Mr Garavani lamented in a recent article produced by the New York Times that: "Once upon a time it was usual to give beautiful dinners, in the 1980s, the 1990s, but now it is all seen as less important. It is unfortunate. A beautiful, interesting table is an expression of a joy and respect for your guests, or just yourself. Even when I eat alone, I always have the table set in an amusing way."
The Haiti Diner en Blanc is the brainchild of a Canadian-Haitian lady, Ingrid Enriquez Donissaint, who set foot in Haiti only three years ago for the first time. She connected with Johanne Buteau, whose husband runs some of the best hotels in the city, including Kinam I and Kinam II, as well as the magnificent and renovated Karibe. I have always expressed to Richard my admiration for his budding faith in Haiti as he re-invests every dime gained from his hospitality brand back into the island.
Yet, I left the party wanting. I wish the event was for a cause, such as bringing back courtesy, chivalry and protocol into Haiti. Since the advent of the democratic revolution in 1987, from the coming of the dictatorial regime in 1957, Haiti went down in terms of standard of elegance, noblesse oblige and plain politeness.
The gallant ladies who organize the event could and should create a mechanism to invest through seminars, contests and other ways to teach the good manners that were the fabric of Haiti old school.
The Diner en Blanc organization should organize a model program with seminars and domestic manners for the young ladies of say the Marie Jeanne Lyceum that provide such an excellent classical education for the young ladies from the working class.
Haiti, always in a pioneering spirit, could even serve as a model for the dozen worldly venues that entertain the Dinner en Blanc International. In a world where the rich as well as the poor are influenced by the long hand of the American television machine propagating the subculture of bad manners and inelegance. Dinner en Blanc is a school of thought that needs bold leadership to assert itself as a trend to emulate in rich as well as in poor countries as well as in rich as well as in poor homes.
The public relations firm that organizes the invitations for the press could also arrange for each media organization to seat and break bread with one of the family at the Diner en Blanc. As such, preparing a special dinner for the press would not be necessary. In addition, they would have more stories to ruminate from.
In the end a big hug for the organizers, having the party at Le Village exemplifies the slogan of the ranch which is Haiti of tomorrow. I have seen the Haiti of tomorrow. May it extend to the whole country! May it not be a fairy event for just one night! May food in quantity and good manners in profusion be the staple lifestyle of most in a country so rich and so beautiful, yet so sad and as poor as it is trying to find its rightful place in this world!

Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD is a syndicated columnist with Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at: jeanhcharles@aol.com and followed for past essays at Caribbeannewsnow/Haiti.

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The post of Commonwealth secretary general

December 05, 2014

During the week of November 23, articles by three columnists, David Jessop, Rickey Singh, and Kayode Soyinka have appeared in various sections of the Caribbean media on the subject of the region's bid to secure the post of Commonwealth secretary general when the matter is decided by CHOGM next year.
All three columnists have eschewed the fundamental principles of their high calling. For, rather than giving an objective analysis of the comparative merits of the three regional candidates vying for the honor to represent CARICOM against other potential competitors from the wider Commonwealth, they have chosen instead to launch simultaneous unwarranted attacks on one candidate alone, Patricia Scotland QC, a national of my country Dominica. And they have done so without any attempt to check the facts, or to seek comment from the nominating government or, I am assured, from the candidate herself.
As a Dominican national and a Caribbean citizen who has lived and worked throughout the region, I know that our leaders and our people have a strong sense of fair play. I am sure that they will be as appalled and disappointed as I am at these unfortunate attempts to sully the good name of one of Dominica's most distinguished daughters, and a formidable champion of Caribbean causes in the Diaspora.
In the circumstances I feel it my duty, as someone who has direct knowledge of Patricia Scotland's exemplary personal and professional attributes, her unquestionable integrity and her significant contribution to the Caribbean, to set the record straight.
The half-truths, bias and innuendo in the columns centre around three main themes: That Patricia Scotland is not really Dominican or Caribbean, but a British candidate being run by the Foreign Office by stealth, using Dominica as a willing proxy; that her public service in Britain ipso facto implies disloyalty to the Caribbean, and moreover that she has delivered nothing for our region.
Let me reply with fact:

Patricia Scotland is Dominica's nominee
Patricia Scotland is Dominican by birth, Antiguan by descent through her father and British by operation of the law. She holds citizenship only of those countries to which she is constitutionally entitled by birthright. Anyone who has met or worked with Patricia Scotland knows that she is passionately Caribbean by disposition and by commitment, and that she has been a constant presence in Dominica and the wider region for her entire professional life.
The speculation that Patricia Scotland is the nominee of Britain for the post is patently false. I speak from a position of knowledge when I say that it is Dominica, and Dominica alone that has put forward her candidature. As a member state of the Commonwealth my country has the sovereign right to nominate a Dominican national for the post of secretary general and I am immensely proud of the outstanding calibre and personal integrity of the nominee the government of Dominica has chosen.
Admittedly, another country was keen to nominate her also, but that country most certainly was not Britain, with whom the government of Dominica has had absolutely no discussions on the matter. Rather it was, ironically enough, Antigua and Barbuda, whose former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer fully embraced Patricia Scotland as a daughter of the soil, and committed his government's enthusiastic support.
Those are the facts. To state or even imply that Dominica is being manipulated or coerced by any third state is an affront to my government and by implication, to the entire region.

Public service in Britain: an asset, not a liability
It is true that Patricia Scotland emigrated to Britain with her parents at an early age, as have thousands of other Caribbean citizens. But it is also true that like other prominent members of the Caribbean Diaspora in the UK she has retained strong and active ties to our region and immense pride in her Caribbean heritage. She has given freely of her exceptional talent both to the region of her birth and to the society in which she grew up. There is tangible proof of this, if your columnist would take time to enquire.
In the Caribbean we celebrate the significant achievements of the members of our Diaspora; we do not tear them down. As a Dominican I am immensely proud, as all Caribbean patriots should be, that a young woman from the village of St Joseph, Dominica, made it to the top in a far-off land as the only black person and the only woman ever to hold the post of attorney general in the United Kingdom. Yes, she served in the Cabinet of a Labour administration, and yes she sits in the House of Lords. But what is relevant here is whether or not, having reached the inside of the British Establishment purely on the basis of her ability and expertise, she used her unique position to advocate for policies supportive of the region of her birth and her experience of both worlds to build bridges towards greater UK-Caribbean understanding.
We in the Caribbean know she has done and continues to do so in abundance. One of the three columnists, Mr. Jessop, also knows this from direct experience and from his numerous consultations with Patricia Scotland on Caribbean issues over the past three decades.
It is misleading in the extreme to imply that Patricia Scotland is regarded, by regional political and academic figures not identified, as "tainted" by her supposed Britishness and as forfeiting Caribbean trust in supporting Britain's decision to invade Iraq.
On the first point, I believe that we in the Caribbean have long cast off this jaundiced anti-colonial paranoia and has readily sought to tap the skills and expertise of our overseas nationals, in whatever capacity they are qualified to serve.
The second argument is desperately hollow. It is known full well that in 2003 Patricia Scotland was neither attorney general nor a member of the Cabinet that decided the matter of intervention in Iraq nor of the House of Commons, which voted on it. It is also known that the Caribbean itself was divided on the issue, and several CARICOM states declined to denounce the action.

Patricia Scotland's record in the Caribbean
It is clear that Soyinka has no direct knowledge of the candidate or her work in the Caribbean, and he can therefore be excused for jumping to the conclusion that she has served all her working life in Britain, and consequently has done nothing for the Caribbean. The same cannot however be said for Singh or Jessop who have covered the Caribbean extensively for decades.
In that capacity they should be aware, or could easily have discovered that in 1978 Patricia Scotland was called to the Bar in Antigua and Barbuda and in Dominica and enjoyed a 20-year career in private practice before entering the political arena in Britain. During that time she worked extensively with Caribbean governments advising on governance, constitutional and family law issues, and advocating on behalf of the disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society. Her work on behalf of the youth and in support of efforts to end domestic violence is well known.
It would be invidious of me to itemize her concrete contributions to individual countries in the region. They themselves are aware of the details. Suffice it for me to mention the model Family Court system that she designed for Trinidad and Tobago, which continues to be cited as an international best practice. Indeed it was in recognition of her stellar legal career and her extensive and longstanding contribution to the Caribbean that she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of the West Indies in 2008.
As regards her subsequent political career in Britain, it is most perplexing that Jessop failed to acknowledge Patricia Scotland's significant work as chairman of the Government's Advisory Group on the Caribbean, out of which was born a new strategic partnership to strengthen UK/Caribbean relations for mutual benefit. A central part of the enhanced dialogue was the UK-Caribbean Forum, initiated in 1998 on the basis of the Advisory Group's recommendation, which Patricia Scotland shaped and developed when she became Minister for the Caribbean in 1999. Jessop's Caribbean Council was given pride of place at the forum.
I have taken pains to set the record straight because I cannot stand idly by and allow the character and motivations of an exemplary Dominican to be so blatantly misrepresented.
The choice of the next Commonwealth secretary general at this critical juncture is a serious responsibility for all heads of government. If the Commonwealth's relevance is to be restored, Heads must identify and put in place a strong leader who possesses vision, integrity and innovation and a proven ability to implement transformational change. They must choose a person who is well-respected throughout the Commonwealth and who has extensive experience in the core areas of Commonwealth action. Above all they must choose a consensus builder in the creation of a shared vision for the Commonwealth's future. For my part, I believe that Patricia Scotland possesses all these attributes.
Caribbean heads will no doubt look carefully and objectively at the personal character, professional attributes and career record of the three regional candidates under their consideration, and on their suitability for the challenging task at hand. Journalists too should be encouraged to delve deep into the candidates' backgrounds, career trajectory and international reputation. Any assessments they publish on the candidates' relative merits and suitability should be based on sound research, not on speculative commentary or hearsay.

o Dr. Nicholas Liverpool served as president of the Commonwealth of Dominica from 2003 to 2012 and also as a judge on high courts and appeals courts in Antigua, Montserrat, Grenada, Belize and The Bahamas. This article is published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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Sir Milo's torch passed to Loretta

December 04, 2014

Victory and defeat are both replete with irony and paradox. Many a victory is the prelude to eventual defeat and many defeats contain mustard seeds which may be nourished to eventual victory.
Even in losing her bid to become leader of the FNM, Loretta Butler-Turner's stature has risen in the process. She remains one of the premier political leaders, even though she no longer holds any party post. Notably, though women constitute the largest share of the electorate, no women hold any of the major party posts in the PLP or FNM.
Yards away from the bust of her grandfather in Rawson Square and in the same House chamber where Sir Milo Butler championed the rights of the mass of Bahamians, Butler-Turner remains one of the more able and articulate members of Parliament.
She is the most effective voice of the FNM in the House of Assembly, and the most diligent defender of the party's record and champion of the party's ideals, including on matters of equality.
With her run for the leadership of the FNM Butler-Turner made history, becoming the first women to make such a run for a major party. What might Sir Milo think of this milestone, and that it is his granddaughter who is now his political heir? And that she continues his legacy as a member of the Free National Movement?
He likely would have seen in his granddaughter one of the characteristics which made him so beloved, though during much of the struggle for majority rule he was pilloried and personally attacked in the press and by those who opposed his vision of racial equality and social justice.

Courage
What made Sir Milo so beloved was his courage; his courage in fighting for social justice even before the formation of political parties; his courage in seeking employment for black tellers in commercial banks, and the courage he repeatedly displayed in the struggle for racial equality. Sir Milo often stood up to the leadership of the PLP, questioning the party's direction and questioning Sir Lynden's leadership.
When he threw the hourglass out of the window of the House it was an act resonant with extraordinary symbolism. The hourglass was used to time speakers in the chamber. Sir Milo was literally and figuratively upending time, capturing the public imagination and helping to dramatize the burning issue of the day.
Decades later his granddaughter has added more cracks to a glass ceiling that will at some point shatter. Like Sir Milo, Butler-Turner is a champion of equality. This, combined with her courage and other political and personal gifts has made her something of a political phenomenon in the country.
A part of this appeal is the number of PLPs who would vote for the FNM under her leadership, though not otherwise. This includes scores of women who have historically voted PLP as well as quite a number of grass roots voters. Such crossover appeal is often rare. Butler-Turner's appeal also includes the ability to attract DNA voters.
Her leadership bid received plaudits from across the political divide. Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin told The Tribune that "although Mrs. Butler Turner ultimately lost, her bid was enough to create an 'in-road' for other women in politics".
The MP for Yamacraw observed: "'I think as I indicated before the elections, I thought it was democracy at play,' she said. 'As a woman, we're all proud that she stepped forward and she offered herself. Unfortunately she didn't win, but it's still an in-road. Wherever we have women stepping forward for leadership positions we must support it.'"
Minister of State for Transport and Aviation Hope Strachan also spoke to The Tribune.

Character
"Mrs. Strachan said if one were to put Mrs. Butler-Turner's 'character and personality, her outspoken manner' into a man, the choice to elect her for leader would have been 'so much easier for people.'"
The Tribune also reported on the comments of one of Butler-Turner's parliamentary colleagues.
"FNM Senator Heather Hunt also said on Monday that she was proud of the Long Island MP for taking bold steps to close the gender gap in politics and carve out a path for future female politicians."
Hunt stated: "She has definitely beaten down the path, so that anyone who comes behind her or even if she tried again at a later date, she has made history..."
When a snap convention was called and against great odds she ran for the leadership of her party. Her campaign was well-run and upbeat. She articulated her vision for the FNM and the country.
It remains to be seen if various elements in the party are secure enough to listen to her advice or are so afraid of being overshadowed that they will seek to isolate and marginalize Butler-Turner.
Though she fell short, she has proven that she remains a force with which to be reckoned and that she is resilient, one of the most essential elements in life as in politics. Great leaders are tested by how they handle defeat as well as victory.
In party politics, the stronger leaders know how to rally and unify their parties, while the weaker and more insecure tend to become vindictive, seeking to purge opponents and deny nominations to some, creating even greater division.
While many see Butler-Turner as Sir Milo's granddaughter, most now see her in her own light, as someone with the courage of her convictions. Many hope that she may yet make even more history as she continues to work on behalf of her Long Island constituents as well as the thousands of Bahamians inspired by her tenacity and leadership.
In her concession statement Butler-Turner pledged: "The contest for the leadership is over, having demonstrated once again the solid democratic principles upon which our movement was founded and nurtured. Our shared task now is unity.
"As the official opposition the FNM has an essential constitutional role to play and a challenge to prepare for the responsibility of governing. I pledge my full support in these efforts in a spirit of unity and collegiality."
The FNM has in Butler-Turner one of the greater political talents in the country. A wise leadership would utilize her appeal and talents. The country and FNMs at large will judge just how well or otherwise her talents are utilized in the months ahead.

o frontporchguardian@gmail.com, www.bahamapundit.com.

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The wild world of consultancy

December 03, 2014

Ever worked for an organization where consultants walk in and out through a revolving door? As one of those persons that had the door greet me and hit me on the way out, I tend to smile at the nature of the work.
As a management consultant, I have been both whipping boy and savior to both the same and different organizations. But in all times I left a place better than how I met it, or at least I'd like to think so!
Bahamians tend to rag on "consultants", in particular Bahamian consultants that align themselves with political parties. Bahamians typically see them as cronies, hustlers, gravy train riders and just all out vermin. We often refer to them as the special group of "friends, family and lovers".
As someone on the hustle myself, you tend to take the ribs, jibes and abuse with a grain of salt. Not because I'm of the friend, family or lover persuasion. But because you have to take that burden into a game where it has been sullied and made mockery of by people with legitimate reasons to do so.
Plus, when you factor in how really insulting and derogatory that particular friend, family and lover statement is, particularly when you see the same old "consultants" awarded numerous government contracts, from any standpoint (because it does not take a Nobel Laureate to appreciate if something is useful, working or not), one really has to be relaxed and calm amidst the regular jostling for prominence in this very broad field of consultancy in The Bahamas.
But, it does raise a particular concern: What exactly does a consultant do? Better yet, what are consultants supposed to be doing?
In short, we can only do what you want us to do. We can't undo anything either, unless instructed to do so. And in your organization, we are only bound by the rules of engagement you set for us.
Especially with contractually obligated agreements, most consultants in the field for more than five years tend to appreciate sticking with the original agreement unless it is formally changed and understood by both parties. This stems the flow of corruption, theft, abuse, malfeasance, lowers the risk of failure and keeps both sides of the agreement satisfied.
Trust me when I say this: We don't want to lose your money if we can help it. Neither do we want a dissatisfied client spreading negativities about our brand if it can be avoided. Also, neither should you want to waste time dissatisfying a consultant that, even within a few short days, understands your business model, what you are doing, how you are doing it and even if they don't tell you, knows the acute and problematic details and intricacies of how even you yourself are bringing harm to your company.
Just a few short months back a colleague of mine sent an email to all of the Bahamas-based consultants that he knew, asking them to form a coalition of sorts. Which is a good first step because we don't have a recognizable body that represents our industry in The Bahamas.
I took the opportunity to research some of the names copied in the email and was quite surprised that many of them were under the age of 50, including myself. Their fields of expertise ranged from small business services, to information technology, to legal services and accountancy and international trade and market research. It was a very diverse group of individuals.
While noticing the range of their skills and areas of expertise, it led me to the first notion about the aura of a consultant: There is no one, short-cut consultant and cookie cutter style of doing things.
Some persons have this perception that a consultant is supposed to be all knowing and well versed in all sectors of the universe. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, consultants in very many respects know very little of the particular business model utilized by a government, civic organization or company. They may have sector specific expertise, but specific organizational knowledge cannot be ascertained until you actually engage a consultant.
So, disabuse yourself of this perilous notion that a consultant is supposed to solve all of your problems with a flick of a switch. It can't happen. It does not happen. It is not supposed to happen, and you would let yourself down at every turn when you hear of one, see one or watch one operate in your respective workplace.
A second most perilous notion, which almost seems paradoxical to the aforementioned, is that some folks confuse the scope of a consultant.
Sometimes, and this is not just from my experience but colleagues express the same thing to me, consultants have been hired to conduct work in areas not of their initial expertise. For example, a financial consultant with expertise in banking being brought in to help an NGO re-organize their books is quite different from a market research consultant being brought in to negotiate cross-border agreements with your supplier.
The unwritten rule of thumb is that you never tell a potential client no. You have to work with what the market gives you at times. But it can be dangerous as much as it is an enlightening experience to broaden your scope and learn more about what these folks are doing out here these days.
The burden in this case is equally placed on both parties to explain the parameters of what is expected for any particular project, initiative or engagement. But more so the consultant has to have the professional integrity to be up front and honest and say: 'Hey, I see that you need this done, but it really is not my area of expertise; may I refer you to someone else?'
The services sector is also changing rapidly, and some say for the worse when we factor in mass layoffs and low job creation.
The days of going into an office and speaking to your accountant or lawyer are long gone. If you don't catch him or her on the way out of a luncheon or seminar or at the airport, you probably would be wasting your time trying to set up a formal meeting at their offices. So, quite frankly, any and everyone with a college degree that has minimal work experience is a consultant or can be one because he has the time, hunger and reason to take on such a profile.
The same goes for consultants in management and technical fields, especially those that manage several different projects that deserve immediate attention in several different places.
In the case of Kemp Global and our associate sub-contractors, I encourage them to go out and meet the people at their place and at their time. I take my show on the road as well, because I have to and because it gives my firm a personal charm. I will come to you, at your time and your convenience.
It not only makes it easier for us in that we don't have to spend much on accommodations, hence we can save on utility fees, but it also is a chance to go out and see the problems our clients have, right there and right now, without second-hand information and without having x-ray vision through the telephone or getting the "feel" of a conversation with our client at our offices. This is important to us, because we really want to and need to see what it is you are doing.
Thirty or maybe even 20 years ago, one would also have to wait to see a service provider for setting up formal meetings. Nowadays, due to technology and a fast paced world where results oriented practices are the fashion, as opposed to the older days where establishment and name recognition really mattered, if you are not in place to deal with a problem as it arises, it is highly unlikely you will be kept on for any project. So, the more we are out there, the better.
In a nutshell, we have to be out there. Out there with a good name and a hard working spirit to boot. We prefer it that way too!

o Youri Kemp is the president and CEO of Kemp Global, a management consultancy firm based in The Bahamas. This article was published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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Perry Christie: A generation of public service

December 02, 2014

The type of politics that we have practiced in The Bahamas over the years has served as a breeding ground for political tribalism which often clouds logic and discourages mutual respect in our country. Our politics has so divided us that some party supporters have developed a strong dislike for any politician outside of their establishment and will criticize any policy or initiative not promoted by their party. The politics of old as described above must change if The Bahamas is to be all that it can be in the years ahead.
Last week, the Prime Minister Perry Gladstone Christie celebrated 40 years in public service dating back to his appointment as a 31-year-old to the Senate of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in 1974. In the aftermath of the festivities and celebration that accompanied this milestone, the magnitude of this accomplishment and the implications for our nation must not be overlooked. This piece considers this and the road that lies ahead for individuals with the desire to serve our country.

The genesis of a political giant
Born in Nassau on August 21, 1943 to Gladstone L. Christie - a taxi driver and Naomi Christie - a nurse, Christie was raised in The Valley and attended The Government High School (GHS). A historian in his own right, the prime minister often tells the story of the assertion made that he was incapable of learning and his expulsion from GHS. Christie recalls from time to time how he studied under the tutelage of D.W. Davis and made a conscious commitment to do better academically. It seems fair to state that his story and philosophy on second chances cannot be disconnected from his history.
Christie pursued further studies in the United Kingdom where he studied law and subsequently qualified as an attorney. In reflecting on his many years in public service, the prime minister spoke about his desire along with others to come back to The Bahamas and contribute to building the nation. This desire is identical to that of Bahamians of this generation that yearn to play a significant role and propel our country to a new level of greatness.

An admirable political resume
At the time of his appointment to the Senate by the late Sir Lynden Pindling in 1974, Christie is believed to have been one of the youngest to serve in that role. He subsequently received the nomination of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) for the Centreville constituency in the 1977 general election and has been re-elected eight consecutive times including as an independent candidate in 1987 - a demonstration of his political strength. The resume of Christie shows that he has served as chairman of the Gaming Board, Minister of Health and National Insurance, Minister of Tourism, Minister of Agriculture, Trade and Industry and Minister of Finance. There is no doubt that his numerous ministerial portfolios over the years provided him with a level of exposure that very few (if any) can boast of in The Bahamas.
In his capacity as leader of the oldest political party in The Bahamas, Christie commands the respect and admiration of both his supporters and detractors having been elected as leader in 1997. Regardless of one's political persuasion and approval of or disagreement with his leadership style or methodologies, very few doubt his genuine love for The Bahamas and strong desire to better the lives of his compatriots. He possesses a unique gift of oration and the ability to inspire in the midst of challenges. As one commentator describes him, "in listening to him speak, he is capable of captivating his audience in such a way that his actual words matter less to them".

The trials and travails of the years
It takes unusual strength and fortitude to live under the microscope and scrutiny of public opinion for four decades. The challenge here is that while criticisms are sometimes valid and constructive, they are also in certain instances unfair, insensitive and harsh. This is especially true in a Bahamas in which the assassination of people's character is seen as fair play and acceptable. Indeed while many have quivered and fallen under the pressure that comes with living under such conditions, Christie has survived and thrived.
In his first term as prime minister, while presiding over a buoyant economy, Christie suffered a stroke and was unable to fulfill his duties for some time. However, he was able to fully recover and bounce back to lead his party into another general election in 2007 which the PLP lost. He shouldered the weight of defeat and accepted responsibility for his party's loss at the polls in a thriving economy. Having been prime minister, he endured five years in opposition while taking the criticisms that come with his new role as leader of the official opposition.

A proponent of history and culture
One of the prime minister's favorite African proverbs is, "Until lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter". He quotes this adage within the context of highlighting the importance of documenting and passing on our history from one generation to the next. This is connected to the preservation of our culture to which he has contributed over the years as a founding and participating member of the Valley Boys Junkanoo group. In his own right, he is not only a cultural icon but also a sportsman that represented The Bahamas in sport events.
Christie has a unique opportunity to help shape the narrative of the next chapter of The Bahamas' history and ensure that the next generation of Bahamians share the same passion for our priceless culture. The new chapter will be defined by a new generation, some of whom Christie has assembled around him over the last few years. He must make them believe that public service is indeed a privilege which is born out of personal choice and only individuals with deep-rooted beliefs grounded in strong convictions can survive the perilous journey that accompanies this endeavor.

Saluting a Bahamian
The nature of our humanity is one that makes us not only susceptible to mistakes but also guarantees our imperfection. Hence, it can be expected that as Bahamians that desire to see a better Bahamas, we will from time to time disagree and criticize the government's policies or initiatives. However, for one moment let us pause to salute Perry Gladstone Christie not as the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Minister of Finance, Member of Parliament, leader of the PLP or as an accomplished politician, but rather as a Bahamian that has served his country for 40 years.
Let us pay homage to a man that has sacrificed much in service to this country without the privilege to shield his family from the brutal nature and complexities of politics in The Bahamas; an ordinary man that has accomplished extraordinary things in our country. This is not an easy feat that should be taken lightly for as they say uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
Bridge to the future
The prime minister has described himself as a bridge to the future understanding that he is the last of his kind and era currently in Bahamian politics. The imminent transition can be likened to that embarked upon several years ago by the late Sir Lynden Pindling which produced two prime ministers in the persons of Christie and Hubert Alexander Ingraham. Christie's task is an important albeit not easy one as the country begins a new generation since political independence. This is particularly true as the essence of a bridge is to provide a link and a means of transportation from one point to the next; the destination here being the future of our commonwealth.
The legacy of Christie will be defined by a number of his accomplishments, policies, initiatives and decisions. It is worth noting that Christie has indicated that he is working on a succession plan. Nevertheless, when his work is put on the scales by future generations, they will consider whether he successfully groomed and produced a new generation of Bahamian leaders to continue the task of nation building. This writer shares the sentiments of Andrew Cuomo as expressed in the following quote: "I believe we need to attract a new generation of the best and brightest to public service and I believe that government can be a source of inspiration, not degradation". Congratulations to our prime minister!

o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments on this article can be directed to a.s.komolafe510@gmail.com.

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The torch is passed!

December 01, 2014

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."
- Martin Luther King, Jr

At a time when the people of The Bahamas are desperately in need of dynamic, energetic leaders full of new ideas, promise and cutting edge vision, some were taken aback by the choices made by the FNM convention last week for their leadership team.
While we question neither their commitment nor dedication to the causes espoused by their party, Dr. Hubert Minnis' laid back style and self-acknowledged challenges with oral communication certainly would indicate the need for a deputy leader who possesses strengths in these areas and not one whose persona would characterize the new FNM leadership team as bland. Therefore this week, we would like to Consider This... what hope does this new leadership team have of impressing the electorate with their ability to provide the dynamic leadership that the country is crying out for?
The torch has been passed
Last week's FNM convention represented the first time that the position of FNM leader was hotly contested since Hubert Ingraham snatched his party's leadership from the jaws of the presumed victory of Tommy Turnquest or Dion Foulkes. The two contested that position shortly before the general elections of 2007, notwithstanding Ingraham's promise that he would not run for the top party post.
Following his elevation once again to party Leader, after quietly and almost invisibly biding his time in opposition from 2002 to 2007, Ingraham surprisingly wrenched victory from the PLP which had held the reins of government for its history-making single term in office.
Last week, the torch was passed to a new generation of FNM leaders who concretized their hopes of leading the FNM into the next general elections in 2017, or possibly earlier, and to ultimately preside over the affairs of state as prime minister and deputy prime minister.
During this leadership campaign, Minnis' ad featured him telling convention delegates and the country that, notwithstanding how badly he spoke, he is now ready to address challenges and to tackle the real problems of the country instead of just carping at the PLP.
If they are going to convince the electorate that they are ready to lead the country, Minnis and Turnquest must portray and clearly communicate progressive, inspiring leadership and present substantive, cutting edge ideas on how the country should be run, instead of just how it shouldn't be run - which includes whatever the PLP does or proposes.
Effective planning and purpose
The FNM leadership elections were cleverly choreographed by the party's old guard, who felt that they had to achieve three objectives.
First, they had to establish a level of stability and unity in the party's leadership, without the internecine internal bickering, at times vicious battles, that had infected that party's leadership for the past two and one-half years.
Secondly, they had to establish a leader from Grand Bahama in order to improve their chances of regaining more of the six seats on that island in the next election.
Third, they wanted to ensure that the party's leadership was comprised of parliamentarians in order to take advantage of the national platform that such a position affords. It appears that the strategic planners have successfully secured each of those objectives.
A probationary period
We believe that the same FNM old guard has telegraphed a crystal clear message that they will permit the new leadership to prove themselves in the months ahead - a proverbial probationary period -in which the new leaders can prove that they are worthy of the challenging tasks of leadership.
We also maintain that if the PLP continues to lose popular support and the new FNM leadership does not rise to the occasion, there will still be sufficient time for the FNM to shift gears, radically altering its leadership team and once again draft a "trusted, proven leader" who has definitively demonstrated the ability to win elections. That would pave the way for the return of the "Maximum Leader", notwithstanding his perennial protestations that he will not return - unless, of course, he is drafted by the unanimous acclamation of a party whose supporters are chomping at the bit to once again seize the reins of power.
The new chairman
Whatever one might say about the new FNM chairman, Michael Pintard, he cannot be referred to as bland. He is articulate, charismatic, and assertive.
Since his election, Pintard has been extremely vocal, almost daily refuting any criticisms and maintaining that it doesn't matter how bland the leader and deputy leader might appear to be. He has repeatedly reminded us that the new leaders may not be very inspiring, charismatic or flamboyant, and that the most important imperative of the new leaders is to be exceptionally productive and effective.
The chairman has proven that he is prepared to fight difficult political battles, having opposed Prime Minister Christie in an earlier election and Deputy Prime Minister Davis more recently in Rum Cay and San Salvador in 2012.
In the last general election, Ingraham dispatched him to displace Philip Brave Davis by any means necessary, a task that he nearly accomplished, losing by only 85 votes. There is no doubt that Pintard was hand-picked by Ingraham once again and the new FNM leader and deputy leader should never lose sight of this.
The Butler-Turner factor
Loretta Butler Turner mounted an impressive campaign last week, setting an historical record by being the first Bahamian woman to offer for the leadership of any political party. She will probably continue to be the most articulate, effective and forceful voice of the official opposition in Parliament. In the meantime, the FNM old guard has correctly calculated that it would be infinitely more difficult to replace a female leader before the next election if she had won last week's race, but came up short in possessing the pizzazz required to defeat the PLP in the next general elections. Accordingly, they decided to give Minnis a chance to reform and remake himself, also calculating that, if he does not, it would be politically more palatable to replace a male leader.
Conclusion
We sincerely wish the official opposition well, and hope that they will become a more effective, focused and forceful voice in Parliament, constantly challenging the government to account for its decisions, policies and actions. That is the only way to ensure good governance: supportive when the government acts in our best national interests and constructively critical when they do not. Christie has already astutely asserted that he cannot and will not underestimate the leader of the official opposition.
The enormous economic, political and social challenges that we face in the next 30 months will only be effectively embraced if the opposition is well-oiled, prepared, focused and committed to avoid flip-flopping on important national issues, avoid taking incongruous and untenable positions and proving that the leadership to whom the torch has been passed is ready to serve with distinction in the highest offices of the land.
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 pgalanis@gmail.com.

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'Focus, partner and achieve: An AIDS free generation'

November 28, 2014

On December 1, 2014, the global community will observe World AIDS Day. First observed in 1988, this day provides all of us with the opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV, to show our support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate the lives of those who have died from this terrible disease.
The statistics on HIV/AIDS are truly staggering. More than 35 million people - brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends - have died from HIV/AIDS since the virus was first discovered in 1981. Today, some 34 million people around the globe are living with HIV. There are over 8,000 people living with HIV in The Bahamas at an estimated three percent prevalence among the population. In fact, the Caribbean region trails behind only sub-Saharan Africa as the most HIV-affected region in the world.
The U.S. government's official theme for World Aids Day 2014 is "Focus, Partner, and Achieve: An AIDS Free Generation". We are proud of the partnership between the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the United States in fighting HIV/AIDS. Since 2010, the United States has provided approximately $10 million in funding under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), most of which has gone to help the Ministry of Health and The Bahamas National AIDS Program provide HIV/AIDS-related treatment, community outreach support staff, rapid HIV testing kits, and laboratory supplies. The U.S. Embassy's Small Grants Program also has provided about $130,000 in PEPFAR funding to local community partners, supporting 27 projects to ensure that target populations in The Bahamas have accurate information about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, how to get tested, and how to get treated, if necessary. All of these programs and activities move us closer to our joint commitment to eliminate new HIV transmissions and deaths from HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas, part of the "Getting to Zero" goals.
As we pause on December 1 to remember the millions of lives affected by HIV/AIDS, we should also remember to do our part to help eliminate discrimination against those affected by HIV/AIDS. In The Bahamas and elsewhere, tolerance is critical in providing access to care for those people at the highest risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV, including men and women trapped in the commercial sex industry, men who have sex with men, transgender persons, and those who engage in high risk behavior related to substance abuse issues. We all must recognize that eliminating stigma and discrimination is key to ensuring that people feel safe in accessing HIV/AIDS treatment and care services. Conversely, intolerance and treating people with a lack of dignity and respect can create insurmountable barriers for those who most need these essential services, and can lead to delayed diagnosis, delayed treatment, and death.
On World AIDS Day 2014, let us affirm that all persons - including commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender persons, the wider LGBT community, those with substance abuse issues, and members of any other group that suffers from the negative health effects of discrimination - are free to access and receive essential health services. We invite all those who share our goal of an AIDS-free generation to help make our hospitals and medical facilities, schools, churches, and communities places that reach out to those in need, and to ensure that every Bahamian can be confident in knowing that he or she will be treated with dignity and respect when seeking essential, lifesaving services.

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The next Commonwealth secretary general

November 28, 2014

In November 2015, the Commonwealth will have to choose a new secretary general. The position, once occupied by high-profile globally known figures, has in recent years lost much of its luster as the organization has become less central as its office holders have failed to rise to the vital international role the body could play.
It seems too that the organization has lost its moral compass, and as a consequence its importance, and with it, its relevance to many heads of government, as evidenced by their declining attendance at biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM).
In this context, for some, the Commonwealth reached a low point in 2013 when, despite widespread protests, the present secretary general decided to proceed with holding CHOGM in Sri Lanka despite extensive Commonwealth and international criticism of that country's human rights record against its minority Tamil population.
There is now the opportunity for the Commonwealth to change direction and for the Caribbean, if it is so minded, to play a central role in that process.
That is if the region is able to come together behind one well-qualified, strong and experienced candidate able to turn the organization around, they have the capacity to provide a new form of leadership, and it can inspire its staff whose low morale and drift needs addressing as a matter of urgency.
Although there appears to be no written rule by which any part of the Commonwealth is able to attain the most senior position in the institution, it has up to now been generally accepted that the post rotates between regions. This means that assuming the candidate proposed has the right qualities the next secretary general should come from the Commonwealth Caribbean.
The role, which was last held by the Caribbean up to 1990 by Sir Shridath Ramphal, requires the incumbent to protect the Commonwealth's values; to represent the Commonwealth publicly; and to manage the Commonwealth Secretariat. In reality, however, much depends on the manner in which this is interpreted, the candidate's vision, and their ability to achieve results through a mix of diplomacy and brokered consensus.
The name of the Caribbean's nominee for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General is expected to be decided on December 8 in Havana in the margins of the Cuba-CARICOM Summit. As a consequence, over the last months the region has been giving informal consideration to the Caribbean individual best able to undertake the role.

There are three potential Caribbean candidates
Somewhat surprisingly, there is Baroness Patricia Scotland, whose name has been put forward by Dominica and is supported by Barbados and Belize; seemingly in the latter case on the basis of a trade-off in relation to another key international post. Although Dominica-born, her candidacy has taken many by surprise, as her career has been in London in the law and British politics, most recently being Britain's attorney general under its last Labour government. Although well liked as a person, her candidacy is described as "tainted" by a number or influential regional political and academic figures. This is because she is widely regarded as Britain's candidate for the role, and damagingly there is also the view that she forfeited Caribbean trust when she supported Britain's decision to invade Iraq and it is said, she did not do enough to support the region as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister.
The second candidate is the diplomat, consultant, academic and commentator, Sir Ronald Sanders, who is now believed to have the support of seven Caribbean nations. Nominated by Antigua's Prime Minister, Gaston Brown, he has by far and away the broadest Commonwealth experience and background, having played a key role in Commonwealth affairs over many years including in the Eminent Persons Group that reported in 2011 on the future direction and reform of the organization. Unusually, he is well known across the region because of the sometimes forthright views expressed in his syndicated column. He is also well regarded in both the "new" and the "old" Commonwealth and has published many papers on the organization's future.
The third Caribbean candidate is an academic and politician, Senator Bhoe Tewarie. As Trinidad's candidate and the republic's minister of planning and sustainable development, he appears to have only emerged as a result of some in the country wishing to deny the candidacy to a regionally and internationally respected senior politician. Senator Tewarie in comparison is little known in the Commonwealth and appears to have little relevant experience.
Whoever finally becomes Commonwealth secretary general in 2015 will be taking over at a moment when the global strategic order is changing, and there is a growing belief that with the right leadership and vision, the shared values that bind the Commonwealth will again become of global significance.
For this reason when the Caribbean comes to decide, it would do well to select a candidate who is in touch with regional sentiment, can engage with the detail, has a known world view, is able to relate to all of the nations of the Commonwealth large and small, and who is prepared to redefine its role as a stronger, more resilient and progressive organization.
It is already late in the day. Whoever is selected has very few months in which to campaign globally for the position.
Beyond the Caribbean there are Commonwealth views emerging that, if the region does not put up a credible candidate who can obtain the support of both the larger and smaller member nations, other less able candidates will emerge from Africa or elsewhere, and the Caribbean's opportunity to encourage and participate in the process of global change will be gone.
At issue is whether Caribbean heads of government have the courage to see that by proposing a candidate who has clear views, is experienced and is delivery and results oriented, it will be taking a step that would not only be popular on the street, but can propel the region, its values, and the need to recognize smallness and vulnerability, into a position of international prominence again.
For the Caribbean this is an opportunity to look ahead at a time of rapidly changing global geopolitics and relationships. It is a one off chance to offer as a candidate the best qualified individual to rebuild an organization whose time has come again.
o David Jessop is the director of the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at david.jessop@caribbean-council.org. This column is published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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The march of folly

November 27, 2014

Chief among the forces affecting political folly is lust for power, named by Tacitus as 'the most flagrant of all passions'.
- Barbara W. Tuchman, "The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam".

It is at once fascinating and disturbing to observe how the lust for power and other ambitions, so often lead to folly and failure. Politicians over millennia, though repeatedly warned of their delusions, have pursued courses of action leading to disaster and defeat.
Folly is often more our companion than wisdom. It is defined as "the lack of good sense or judgment"; "a foolish act or idea: foolish behavior" and "the lack of... normal prudence and foresight".
Folly is the grand subject of historian, author and journalist Barbara Tuchman in her sweeping book, "The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam" Born in 1912, Tuchman died in 1989 at age 77. She was a two-time Pulitzer Prize Winner for General Non-fiction and a university lecturer.
She frames the criteria: "To qualify as folly, the policy adopted must meet three criteria: it must have been perceived as counter-productive in its own time, not merely by hindsight... Secondly a feasible alternative cause of action must have been available."
She continues: "To remove the problem from personality, a third criterion must be that the policy in question should be that of a group, not an individual ruler, and should persist beyond any one political lifetime."
A review of her book at www.stoneschool.com/Reviews/MarchOfFolly.html casts the criteria as such: "... Acts have to be clearly contrary to the self-interest of the organization or group pursuing them; conducted over a period of time, not just in a single burst of irrational behavior; conducted by a number of individuals, not just one deranged maniac; and, importantly, there have to be people alive at the time who pointed out correctly why the act in question was folly (no 20/20 hindsight allowed)."

Examples
Tuchman recalls a variety of examples of historic folly: "Why, to begin at the beginning, did the Trojan rulers drag that suspicious-looking wooden horse inside their walls despite every reason to suspect a Greek trick? Why did successive ministries of George III insist on coercing rather than conciliating the American colonies though repeatedly advised by many counsellors that the harm done must be greater than any possible gain?"
Her master examples of folly include how the Renaissance popes provoked the Protestant Secessions, the British loss of its American colonies, the American debacle in Vietnam. Along the way she also provides lesser examples of folly.
Tuchman's criteria have been tweaked by others to address quite a number of contexts, some as epic as George W. Bush's Iraq War to other less grave follies in government and politics. Successive political parties and governments here at home have pursued folly, some more vigorously than others.
Often, temporary victories intoxicate, blinding a group to impending disaster and grave danger ahead. In the U.S., the Democratic Party kept nominating presidential candidates who were sure losers, until Bill Clinton recast and steered the party to victory.
Democrats were initially delighted with the nomination of Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis as the party's 1988 presidential nominee. They were fairly certain that they could defeat the Republican nominee George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan's successor.
Their groupthink and delusion proved politically fatal. Bush went on to run a more effective campaign and trounced Dukakis, who was not the strongest candidate for the Democrats. It was after the 1988 shellacking that the Democrats pulled their heads out of the sand and nominated a viable candidate.
Out of the self-interest of a few or because of purity tests, political parties often chose leaders who are unpopular or not well considered by the electorate, woefully lacking or incapable of winning, and who go on to drag their party down to defeat.

Setbacks
Folly should not be confused with failure to achieve various objectives, such as certain setbacks and defeats by those struggling for equality, including women and gays and lesbians, though some tactics in these struggles might prove folly.
For Tuchman, self-interest is defined as what is in the long-term best interest of an organization or group, not the narrow or benighted interests of a few who seek to use an organization or government to pursue their overweening ambitions or to exact revenge or banish past ghosts.
Tuchman describes the mindset of those prone to folly: "Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts."
The book review at www.stoneschool.com notes the role of those who warned of folly and the likely disaster on the horizon: "In the case of the Trojan Horse, the... role is played by Laocoon, a blind priest, who chastises Trojan leadership the moment the wooden equine is found. 'You can't bring that thing in here,' he says, 'it might be full of Greek soldiers!' Later, as it becomes evident the will to bring it in is strong, he suggests helpfully, 'Well, if you're going to bring it in, at least poke it with a spear and see if anybody yelps.'"
He was of course ignored. The resulting defeat of the Trojans could have been prevented. Those who divined that they knew better and who convinced themselves that they were more clever than others, could not countenance their fatal error, despite numerous warnings, and until it was too late.
The book review notes: "The third section of the book is entitled The British Loss of North America and treats the American Revolution from a rarely-seen perspective: that of an avoidable and silly loss of valuable colonies occurring primarily due to stiff British necks (upper lips being of no service).
"The extent to which the war was unpopular in Britain is covered, as well as the many Laocoons decrying the idiocy of antagonizing the colonists, including some viewed in the American version of events as villains."

Pyrrhic
One has to distinguish in history and life what is a real victory and what may be a Pyrrhic victory. This requires discernment and wisdom, which Tuchman defines in the spheres of politics and government as "the exercise of judgment acting on experience, common sense and available information."
Those who ignore common sense and readily available information in the public domain in the pursuit of overweening self-interest, often look back and wonder how they could have been so wrong, after convincing themselves of their own delusions.
Apocryphal or not, Marie Antoinette's instruction that the peasantry should eat cake, suggests the extent of delusion and absence from reality of some drunk and giddy with their own sense of power.
The author Willa Cather advises, "There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they have never happened before." One of these stories is hubris.
In the Western classics from Icarus to Oedipus, Antigone, Macbeth, King Lear, Cleopatra, and others, excessive pride or hubris, "a belief that [one] is somehow above the fates, or in control of destiny", typically leads to failure, as one is ensnared by one's own unbridled arrogance.
Throughout history there were political leaders, generals and their advisers convinced that they were marching to victory, but instead were about to march themselves and others over a cliff. Such is the march of folly.

o frontporchguardian@gmail.com, www.bahamapundit.com.

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Tribute to Warren J. Levarity

November 26, 2014

o The following is a tribute given by Sir Arthur Foulkes at the state funeral for Warren Levarity on November 20 at Christ Church Cathedral.
On behalf of my wife, Joan, and on behalf of all the Foulkes family, and for myself, I extend to Warren's wife, Vera, their children and all his other relatives my deepest sympathy on his passing. We share in your loss. I share in your loss.
My dear friends, it was a day or two after the 1962 general election in which the Progressive Liberal Party got more votes than the ruling United Bahamian Party but won far less seats. I was sitting at the head of the News Desk at The Tribune office on Shirley Street when Warren Levarity came up the stairs and entered the newsroom. I stood up to greet him.
There was no conversation. We embraced and said two words to each other: "My brother!" Then he turned, walked down the stairs and left the building. There were quizzical looks on the faces of those who witnessed this scene. Warren and I were both defeated candidates in that election, which many expected the PLP to win.
The significance of that brief encounter was that we were part of a group of men who knew the minds of each other. We understood what had happened and, more importantly, we knew what we had to do next.
It was an era of unrest, confrontation, and intense political activity in The Bahamas. Party politics had come to the colony; there was agitation for electoral reform; the trade unions were restive; Bahamian women were agitating for the vote; there was growing impatience with racism, and the ruling group was as intransigent as ever.
There were five bye-elections in 1960. Four in New Providence were mandated by British Secretary of State for the Colonies Alan Lennox-Boyd. He visited The Bahamas after the 1958 General Strike and ordered the creation of four new seats in New Providence as a concession to demands for electoral reform.
As expected, the PLP won all four of those seats. But the bye-election in Grand Bahama was another matter. It was the result of the elevation of the constituency's representative to the Legislative Council, and nobody expected the PLP to win in a Family Island stronghold of the ruling party against a candidate supported by them.
So the party's leaders gladly accepted the offer by Warren Levarity to show the colors in Grand Bahama. He was from a highly respected family having been born in West End. He had graduated from the Government High School and he had professional training abroad.
They also knew that he was a member of the National Committee for Positive Action, a radical group that was beginning to play an increasingly important role in the progressive movement. What few people knew was that this unassuming, soft-spoken gentleman was possessed of high intelligence, a keen analytical mind and an extraordinary aptitude for politics.
With only his limited personal resources and little or no help on the ground, Warren confronted the awesome election machinery of the oligarchy and campaigned across the length of the island. He won the bye-election, even though he had to petition the courts before he could take his seat as the representative for Grand Bahama.
Warren's surprising victory sent shock waves through the political camps on all sides and was a major turning point in the fortunes of the progressive movement. A number of educated and highly qualified Bahamians who had hitherto looked askance at the PLP, and had kept their distance, now realized that if the UBP could be defeated in Grand Bahama then perhaps they could be defeated in the country. They joined the party.
After the defeat in 1962 the NCPA decided that the party's image had to be burnished and its message more effectively tailored. It was time now for greater effort, and for personal sacrifice. Along with his colleagues, Warren did not believe in the kind of politics that was driven by the prevailing winds.
He shared an intense commitment to conviction politics, going against the prevailing winds if that was necessary. He shared the belief that leaders should work to change negative opinions, however popular, not pander to them.
He believed that leaders should communicate grand ideas and articulate noble aspirations, not mislead people with sound bites and empty slogans.
He also believed that leaders should be prepared to pay the price of their convictions, and not to seek the side on which the bread is buttered.
So in 1963, after months of garnering support, assembling resources and securing equipment, Bahamian Times started to publish from a little house on Wulff Road that had been converted into offices and a print shop. This effort was spearheaded by Loftus Roker, Jeffrey Thompson, Warren and others. Warren was manager and I was honored to be editor. This is what we knew we had to do.
There was little bread - and no butter at all - but the little house on Wulff Road became not just a newspaper office but a magnet for others who wanted to help, to talk about the challenges, to contribute ideas for the future, or just to share in the excitement.
One of those who came regularly to help in the day and stayed for many late nights of discourse was my good friend George Smith who became a successful candidate in 1968.
The response to Bahamian Times was quite astonishing. We could not print enough. People lined up outside the Wulff Road office to get copies as they came off the press. At long last, we were saying what they needed to hear, telling them what they deserved to know, and pointing in the direction they desired to go.
Calvin Neeley picked up newspaper boys Brendan and Dion in his taxi and took them as far as the airport to sell the paper. Each copy was handed from hand to hand and some were kept as mementos up to this day. But despite Warren's best efforts, only a few small business houses were willing to advertise in the paper and so our bread was in short supply and sans butter.
Bahamian Times contributed significantly to the historic victory in 1967. Warren was appointed minister of out island affairs and demonstrated that he was not only good at politics but was also an excellent administrator. The work he accomplished in one year, with the cooperation of his colleague Minister of Works Cecil Wallace Whitfield, contributed significantly to the PLP's overwhelming victory in the Out Islands in April of 1968.
Now it is difficult to find in history a good revolution that went entirely according to plan, one that fulfilled all of its noblest ideals, one that was not undermined by hubris, cupidity, egomania and other negative influences. The Quiet Revolution was not immune to some of these negative influences, and one of the early casualties of power was the collegiality that had made success possible in the first place.
The storm clouds gathered and, for Warren, euphoria quickly turned into disappointment. Once again his courage and willingness to sacrifice for what he believed were to be put to the test and once again he did not fail that test.
So on the floor of the House of Assembly one night in 1970, with an angry, hostile crowd outside, Warren, with seven others, voted the truth of his conscience, and precipitated a chain of events that was to result in the formation of a new political party, the Free National Movement.
It was effectively the end of his political career. He was never re-elected to the House again. But in later years he was secure in the knowledge that he had made yet another significant contribution to his country. He had helped to provide for the Bahamian people an effective check on the power of the day and a viable political alternative for the future.
If heroism is to be measured by service to noble ideals, by the performance of great deeds, by the exercise of extraordinary courage, and by the willingness to make great sacrifices, then Warren James Levarity fully qualified as a national hero of the first order.
Permit me to borrow from the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to say that the star of the unconquered will rose in Warren's breast, serene, and resolute, and still, and calm and self-possessed.
May his noble soul rest in peace.

o Sir Arthur Foulkes is a former member of Parliament, Cabinet minister and governor general.

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Responses to 'the art of war'

November 24, 2014

"The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected."
- Sun Tzu
Earlier this month, we wrote two articles about the extent to which China has invested in The Bahamas and questioned whether those investments are in our best long-term interests. We received numerous responses from our readers regarding those articles, most of which were supportive of our viewpoint and a few that were not.
Therefore this week we would like to consider this... is it time for us to engage in a wider, more comprehensive public dialogue about the extent of China's investment in our economy? We will use some of the comments that were raised about our two previous articles as a backdrop of our discussion for this week's installment.
The Chinese investment portfolio in The Bahamas
Let's begin by reviewing the Chinese investments here. The first significant Chinese investment in The Bahamas was made in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Through the private sector, Hong Kong-based company Hutchison Whampoa acquired one-half interest of the Grand Bahama Port Authority Limited, Freeport's largest and most substantial private company, which some would characterize as a supra- and quasi-governmental enterprise. Established in the 1950s by an act of Parliament, the Grand Bahama Port Authority is still, by far, the largest landowner in Freeport.
Hutchison Whampoa also purchased the Freeport International Airport, the gateway to Grand Bahama and the rest of The Bahamas, second only to the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) situated in the capital city of Nassau. Hutchison, which also owns the Panama Canal and other strategic container ports around the world, owns the Freeport Container Port Terminal, one of the largest such container terminals in this hemisphere.
The third substantial investment that the Chinese made was by way of a $30 million gift of a national stadium, for which we are very grateful and which, since its completion, has been underutilized.
The Chinese government, through several prominent state-owned enterprises, has become the banker to the world. For example, the Export-Import Bank of China has lent Nassau-based Baha Mar more than $2 billion to construct "the Caribbean Riviera", the largest single private sector resort ever undertaken in the Caribbean. It should also be noted that China State Construction Engineering Corporation, another state-owned company, is constructing Baha Mar with thousands of Chinese laborers, along with Bahamian construction workers and companies.
One of the responses to the articles on this subject is that we should appreciate that "the Chinese are the bankers to the world, so what is the problem with them lending money to the private sector for such a project as Baha Mar?"
A valid question indeed and the correct answer is "absolutely nothing" - if the Export-Import Bank of China was a private sector company. However, the Export-Import Bank of China is a Chinese government, state-owned bank and as such the loan to Baha Mar was effectively granted by the government of China. So what is the concern?
The concern is that Baha Mar's land and the hotels erected on it, albeit not directly owned by the Chinese, serve as the security for the $2 billion loan and, in the event of foreclosure, the Chinese could end up owning the premier tourism property in The Bahamas. This would constitute a breach of the policy adopted by the Bahamas government, led by Sir Lynden Pindling, that foreign governments should not own land here except for embassies and residences.
Another significant "investment" by the Chinese is a loan that was granted to the Bahamas government to construct the impressive four-lane highway from LPIA to the national stadium. A condition of the loan, like that to Baha Mar, was that both projects would have an inordinately high Chinese worker component.
A similar arrangement was made regarding the construction of the port in North Abaco.
Recently, the Bahamas government, with great fanfare, announced that the Chinese government has purchased the British Colonial Hilton hotel, which will arguably constitute the third-largest tourism resort in New Providence.
Finally, the government also announced that the Chinese will play an integral role in developing our city center in Nassau.
Response to the articles
A respondent to our columns on this subject noted that the Chinese have invested in other world capitals, including London, New York and elsewhere, and that: "some of the biggest developers in America go there for financing". That respondent observed: "How would America complain about the Chinese buying the Hilton after they have purchased the Waldorf Astoria in New York, where incidentally the U.S. president has an apartment?"
The fact is that we don't know if the Americans would complain about the Chinese ownership of the Waldorf Astoria. However, we submit that the Chinese investment in the Waldorf and other world capitals is not analogous to their investments in the key sectors of our economy.
We maintain that, by comparison to those economies, the Chinese investments in those major capitals represent an infinitesimally smaller percentage of the sectors in which those investments were made, either on a per capita or a percentage of GDP basis.
The same respondent asked: "under our analysis, would it matter if the American investor goes to China to raise funding to invest here?" We believe that it would indeed matter, if the Bahamas government is asked to approve an investment by that American if the underlying security for that investment is Bahamian land.
It would be superlatively more egregious if the land used for that investment is Crown land. It is therefore incumbent on the Bahamas government to ensure that this is not case when evaluating foreign investors, American or otherwise. This is consistent with our underlying premise that we have to know the extent to which Bahamian land is being encumbered by any foreign government because the principle obtains for any foreign government, Chinese or otherwise.
The same respondent asked: "How would we support the idea that the CEO of China State Construction Engineering Corporation cannot be talked to by our government relative to its investment in the British Colonial Hilton?"
We never said that the CEO of China State Construction Engineering Corporation cannot be talked to by our government. We specifically stated that "The managing director of the Chinese company that purchased the British Colonial Hilton is not the ultimate, beneficial owner, but an agent of the Chinese government, without any real authority to speak for that government. He must take his instructions from his superiors in China, thousands of miles and 12 time zones away."
The CEO of China State Construction Engineering Corporation can be spoken to, but, for such a substantial investment, this is a departure from the government's usual ability to speak directly to the beneficial owner of British Colonial Hilton, as has been our custom and the established convention with respect to other foreign investors in hotels, resorts and major investments in The Bahamas.
Conclusion
We want to make it abundantly clear that we harbor no ill-will, xenophobic prejudices or myopic perceptions against the Chinese. We would have similar concerns about substantial direct investments by any foreign government in our country.
It is noteworthy that most of the persons who responded to our articles captured the essence of the articles by observing that we should have a more accurate and informed understanding of the government's policy regarding the extent of the foreign governments' investments in our economy.
We need to fully understand this before we turn around and find that not only is our land owned by foreigners, but that sovereign foreign governments possess and make decisions regarding our precious land as well as some of our more significant, outstanding and iconic businesses. We must fully appreciate this before key economic enterprises and ultimately our future is literally vested and controlled by foreign governments.
We completely agree with Sun Tzu that this is "of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected."

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 pgalanis@gmail.com.

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Religious Tourism-Grand Bahama

November 18, 2014

The Ministry of Tourism has extended their support to the Freeport Seventh Day Adventist Church in holding their 2014 Strong Faith Leadership Conference, November 21st 23rd at the Grand Lucayan Resort...

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It Only Takes One Person to Make a Difference, Darville says

November 18, 2014

Bahamians were reminded Sunday that it only takes one person to make a difference and that each of us should desire to be that person...

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New Bahamian plantations

November 17, 2014

We intended to use this space this week to review some of the comments that we received from our readers about the last two weeks' installments relative to the investment by the Chinese in The Bahamas. However, out of a sense of moral indignation that gnaws at the very fabric of our humanity, we have interrupted our plans to discuss a more urgent matter that we felt should immediately be brought to our readers' attention.
A new phenomenon has recently surfaced in The Bahamas which is extremely offensive and utterly despicable. Two prominent business houses have adopted the practice of "using" their employees as "human billboards" to proclaim the owners' objections to policies that have been established by the government.
Employees of New Oriental Laundry & Cleaners and Super Value Food Stores are required to wear T-shirts on their jobs that bear messages in opposition to the introduction of the impending value-added tax (VAT). Other shirts depict the message of getting and knowing the facts about VAT. Still, other T-shirts call on the government to be fiscally responsible in its management of public finances. We are reliably informed that the T-shirts are distributed by the companies and employees of those establishments are compelled to wear the T-shirts by their employers.
Therefore this week, we would like to Consider This... Are we witnessing the resurgence of new plantations in The Bahamas, and does this represent a retrograde and recalcitrant recurrence of highly improper business practices that were prevalent prior to majority rule in 1967?

Human billboards
Anyone who recently visited Super Value or New Oriental would have observed employees of those business houses wearing T-shirts that oppose the imminent introduction of VAT in January 2015.
We are reliably informed that New Oriental only requires their employees at the counter to wear their T-shirts. Employees working in the back office, out of sight of the public and who have no contact with customers, are not required to do so as are those who daily interface with their customers.
As of November 1, New Oriental also implemented a policy of requiring its patrons to pay in full for laundry services that are yet to be rendered. Not a partial payment or deposit, but payment in full. It has suggested that this is being done, in part, in anticipation of VAT.
Additionally, the owners of both establishments have astutely conveyed the subliminal message that the government should be blamed for introducing VAT and hence public ire should be directed against the government for doing so.
We are not for a minute suggesting that the owners of any business in The Bahamas do not have a fundamental right to oppose any government policy. That is a right of citizenship - individual, corporate or otherwise. Undoubtedly these two business houses have adequate financial resources to do so and can do so in an acceptably appropriate manner. But it cannot be right for those businesses to pressure their employees to "lobby" the public or to be compelled to put their employers' case to the Bahamian people.

Plantation mentality
We believe that this practice smacks of a new plantation mentality by those business houses, practices that represent a throwback to a pre-1967 majority rule era. The plantation mentality is characterized by a consciousness on the part of those business houses that results in intimidating their employees into wearing the owners' T-shirts. The employees are not allowed to express freedom of choice, particularly those who do not wish to be associated with the owners' campaign against the government.
There was a time in this country when members of the white oligarchy threatened the jobs of their employees if they either did not vote for them or did not conform to their business practices. In each case, those threats smacked of racism because they were directed predominantly at their black employees.

Consumer options
In the case of New Oriental, the public has the option of boycotting that establishment, but such action could have the unintended consequence of damaging the employment prospect of persons, again predominantly black Bahamians, who work there.
In the case of Super Value, however, since the owners of that establishment have a virtual monopoly on the distribution of food in The Bahamas, our choices are extremely limited.

Greed and avarice
Both business houses have demonstrated an unacceptable degree of greed and avarice in dealing with the public. The owners of Super Value have, on several occasions, caustically criticized the government for the latter's plan to introduce VAT. And that is certainly their right. But, given their immense wealth, and given their full understanding - probably more than most Bahamians - of the urgent need to enhance government revenue, the owners should understand the need for the increase in such revenue and should be educating their employees on the necessity for such increases.
Equally, the owners of New Oriental have also demonstrated a degree of avarice by compelling their dedicated patrons to prepay for laundry services.
Where does the DNA stand on this issue?
The principal owner of Super Value has publically announced his support for the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), which is certainly his right to do. However, the aforementioned business practices of the Super Value owner have placed the DNA in an unquestionably untenable position.
Does the DNA support the actions taken by Super Value? If it does, it should boldly profess its support. That way, we can all understand where that party's loyalties lie relative to the financial support it will likely receive from the owner of that mega-food store chain. If the DNA does not support Super Value's position, it should likewise vehemently condemn this practice in the interest of the public which it seeks to represent in government. This is a defining moment for the DNA.

Government action
urgently needed
We call on the government, and specifically the minister of labor, to insist that these business houses cease and desist from such offensive and despicable business practices. More importantly, we submit that there is an urgent need for legislation to be enacted to criminalize such business practices.

Conclusion
In the future, we will demonstrate how some of the Canadian banks in The Bahamas are also contributing to the resurgence of Bahamian plantations. In the meantime, Bahamians should repudiate the offensive and despicable practices of all businesses that seem eager to return us to a time that represented some of the most reprehensible realities of our repugnant past.
We should always be mindful that majority rule ushered in not only a change in government but it also marked the true start of individual freedom from the plantation mentality, a freedom that needs to be zealously guarded lest it slip away and return us to those bad old days.

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 pgalanis@gmail.com.

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