As a resident of the town of Marsh Harbour and cognizant of the fact that tourism is, and is likely to remain for the foreseeable future, the major source of income for Bahamians (approximately 70 cents out of every dollar), I direct the following questions and comments to the former (FNM) and present (PLP) governments:
1. Why is the busiest stretch of road which goes from the airport to and through the town of Marsh Harbour to the ferry docks also one of the worst roads on Abaco?
I believe it is correct to say that more than 50 percent of all of the tourists who visit Abaco have to travel on this unsightly and potholed stretch of road (mostly by taxi) in order to get to their destinations either in the town of Marsh Harbour or in the cays (Guana Cay, Man-O-War Cay, Scotland Cay and Elbow Cay).
Yet this stretch of road and, indeed, all of the roads in Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town and Murphy Town were last resurfaced (sand seal only) almost 20 years ago.
As a result of the heavy rainfall which Abaco experiences and the fact that during the last 20 years there have been three major hurricanes, it is not surprising that these roads are in such a deplorable condition.
2. Given the poor condition of the roads in Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town and Murphy Town, why did the former government spend thousands of dollars paving a stretch of road that goes from the Earnest Dean Highway (also now riddled with potholes) to the newly constructed control tower at the Marsh Harbour airport with expensive hot mix when it is unlikely that more than 10 vehicles per day will ever use this road (if and when the control tower becomes operational)?
3. Why did the former government deem it appropriate to have the roads in Cooper's Town surfaced with expensive hot mix but deem it unnecessary to even resurface the bad roads throughout Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town and Murphy Town with sand seal?
I am delighted that, in addition to the new roads, the former government also had proper sidewalks built in Cooper's Town, but question why the residents of Marsh Harbour had to pay for the construction of the sidewalks that now exist (used by Bahamians and tourists alike) by having to raise the money themselves.
4. Why did the former government contract to have a road constructed with expensive hot mix (recently completed) from the Marsh Harbour airport to the Sherlin Bootle Highway which bypasses the town of Marsh Harbour and is unlikely for the foreseeable future to have one tenth of the volume of traffic as the said road which goes from the airport through the town of Marsh Harbour to the ferry docks?
5. Why have there been virtually no infrastructural improvements in the town of Marsh Harbour for the past 10 years and, in particular, the five years during which the former government (which did enjoy the support of the majority of Bahamians in Marsh Harbour) was last in power, notwithstanding that Marsh Harbour is a major center of commerce and producer of revenue for the country?
6. Why is the present government allowing such a shoddy job to be done for the few small sections of the roads in Marsh Harbour (including the road that goes from the airport to the ferry dock) that are now being repaved? One section of the road in the town of Marsh Harbour was recently so poorly resurfaced that after the first heavy rainfall it had to be resurfaced again and now after further rainfall, it will have to be redone yet again.
7. When will the new airport terminal be opened by the present government?
- Fred Gottlieb
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Howard S. Cohen and Michael Feldberg put the life of a police officer this way: "Police work is especially interesting to the general public because it is a moral crucible in which the risk of the individual officer and the opportunities for moral action are magnified in relation to the more mundane lives of most people.
Despite its moments of routine and boredom, policing throws its practitioners on a regular basis into extremely difficult and often complicated situations in which the officer has enormous potential to do harm or good.
A police officer can turn a marital dispute into a family crisis, or the officer can help navigate the "beef" to the point where the feuding couple can reconcile. How does one deal with teenagers when we have children ourselves? Arresting a teenager for a petty crime might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the youth, or the beginning of an unspeakable nightmare.
These and countless other decisions police must make in the course of their work, which may have a great impact on those of us on the receiving end of police services, and they certainly affect the moral character of the officers themselves.
There is no side stepping the moral dimensions of the job. Officers have to respond when they are dispatched. They are expected to intervene where there is conflict, social disruption or violation of the law.
From the moral point of view, police officers are not generally better equipped than the rest of us to make difficult and complicated moral decisions.
Police are not recruited from the ranks of the saints, and they are not identified in youth and groomed in the moral virtues. Bahamian society does not channel people into future employment on the basis of temperament and moral character, and our society makes no effort to encourage any particular moral qualities in its policing though most of us would hope for honesty, courage and integrity.
This certainly makes police work interesting and instructive to us, and it helps us to see why it is useful to think of this job as a moral crucible.
My fellow colleagues in law enforcement and Bahamians alike, we must continue our efforts to rid our country of crime and the fear of it. We must continue to rise to the challenge despite the negative criticism from some members of the public, talk shows and print media.
Commissioner, fellow officers, we are in the time of the storm. Crime is like a hurricane, there are times we are not affected by it and times when we are.
Commissioner, fellow officers (law enforcement), let's encourage each other not to be distracted or attracted by the noise in the market.
We will remain focused. This is our Bahamaland and we will protect it to the very core.
May God continue to bless our country.
- Dwight Smith
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I realize that most races have been held as slaves at one time or another and the practice continues today in some parts of the world. But one of the most dastardly parts of the Atlantic slave trade was how fellow human beings were treated as if they were less than men and women.
And it seems that many of us feel the same way about illegal Haitians here in The Bahamas.
We hear it in disparaging conversations about Haitians, and we see it in the way they are rounded up by the Immigration Department when they decide to do raids.
Yes, they are illegal and we must deal with that, but do we have to pretend these people are not human beings?
Watching a minister of immigration dressed in army fatigues during a pick-up or herding and storing these folks in a manner not becoming of ourselves is not worthy of a "Christian nation".
As noted some time ago, there has always been a love-hate relationship between Bahamians and Haitians. We love them when they do the physical labor we don't want to do, but hate them when they start to aspire to do more for themselves. And while we can't continue to have shanty towns and everything that goes with them, when was the last time we heard a constructive debate about it in Parliament, about dealing with these matters? Have we ever heard a constructive debate in Parliament about it? But I digress.
What's wrong with treating each other as if we are human? As the logo of the British & Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, designed by Josiah Wedgewood, asked, "Am I Not A Man And A Brother?"
This is a question we should be asking ourselves when we know in our hearts we treat Haitians like they are not human like us.
- Rick Lowe
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The recent pronouncements on a proposed approach to work permits, whether we agree with the proposal or not, has resulted in much chatter. Clearly, the current situation is not sustainable but the reality is that we need some foreign workers at every level.
What The Bahamas needs to seek to do is to encourage and facilitate those workers who bring skills and add value as opposed to being burdened with foreign workers who are not paying rent or purchasing homes, not paying for healthcare and education for themselves and their dependents but who are draining our limited resources.
The banking, tourism, insurance and other sectors, while having a significant number of expatriate workers, help to sustain the economic engine of the country. These persons make the maximum contribution to national insurance, they rent or purchase expensive homes and furnishings, they pay or cause to be paid very high school fees for the education of their children and in many cases they employ others such as housekeepers, gardeners, etc. Their activities directly cause the employment of many Bahamians - at every level.
With your indulgence, let me recommend that The Bahamas take the following approach in an effort to reduce the real strain on our limited resources:
o Any work permits granted should not be renewed for more than five consecutive years, save in the most exceptional cases. In the United States, it is six years.
o Any person on a work permit is required to pay for an annual school permit for their minor children. Children of work permit holders must not be a drain on the public education system. The employer must provide confirmation that such children are in the private school system and in possession of the requisite school permit from the Department of Immigration. Teachers with the Catholic Board of Education are required to this. Every work permit holder should be so required. If the children are subsequently placed in the public school system, the parent's permit is subject to revocation.
o All persons on a work permit should be mandated as a condition of their permit approval to have adequate private health insurance. Upon application for renewal, proof of insurance coverage for the prior year would be required. This would apply for any and all dependents as well and would prevent them being a drain on the public health system. This would also benefit the local insurance industry.
o Work permits should not be approved or renewed for persons illegally occupying government land. Should such information be provided, the permit should be immediately revoked and the person subject to deportation.
o The current bond signed with the Department of Immigration should be made a cash bond. Upon proof of the employee no longer being in the country, the bond would be returned to the employer.
Let's stop talking about the problem and let's get serious about fixing it. If we insist on expatriate lower skilled workers, it should be at a premium to the employer and not at the cost of the Bahamian taxpayer.
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While some say that drilling for oil in The Bahamas is an obvious choice and should be pursued posthaste, I believe that we should exercise a bit more caution before moving forward without question.
The combination of environmental risks and our government's inability to effectively regulate anything are a recipe for disaster. The risks are substantial and do not disappear simply because we do not plan to drill in deep water. Just because Cuba is taking similar risks nearby does not mean that we should exacerbate the problem by moving forward with the same level of recklessness.
Most proponents point to the success of Scandinavian countries and assume that we can easily replicate their regulatory environments. This is laughable given our recent experience with web shops, illegal fishing and dump fires. Perhaps we should try our hand at one of these much simpler issues, with which we have a lot more experience, rather than jumping into something new and risky.
I am not arguing that we should not pursue drilling in Bahamian waters. The monetary gains could be substantial and should not be ignored. I am just saying that it is dangerous not to consider the associated costs, and perhaps we should exercise a bit more humility in an area with which we have so little experience.
- Ryan Knowles
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Too many people seem to feel that it is all good in our nation. It is my considered opinion that all is not, in fact, well with our social fabric. Crime and the fear of crime are off the chart. Punishment, such as it is, for convicted and sentenced criminals is far too lenient, in my view.
Unemployment is too high and there are too many loopholes which seem to allow miscreants to thumb their collective noses at the system while laughing at the same. Too many children are being born into so-called single-parent homes, and far too many of our young girls are being impregnated.
We also now see the emergence of a super upper and middle class while the majority of our people are consigned to eking out a miserable life at the bottom of the social and economic totem pole. Here in New Providence large numbers of the newly rich live large behind gated communities and out east or west while the bulk of the population live in hovels and in the traditional inner cities.
The politicians are not serious about bridging the ever-expanding gap between the haves and the have-nots. They appear to have absolutely no clue as to the societal disconnect and the potential of unrest amongst the people, especially those who live in New Providence. Many of them come into office with little or nothing but when they leave or are forced out, they are declared millionaires.
Our younger people see politics as a means of getting rich quick with little honest effort. Others see the pulpit, drug trade or numbers business as ways and means to lift oneself out of poverty and the vicious cycle of the treadmill of going nowhere. They work, they eat but are unable to take proper care of themselves and loved ones.
It is next to impossible for a resident of New Providence to ever own a piece of residential property, much less a home. Save for a relatively inexpensive Japanese motor vehicle, many who live in New Providence have to either walk, catch a ride or the jitney to get to their destination.
The nouveau riche, the politicians and professionals are chauffeured and pampered to the max. Individuals of those classes do not mix and mingle with the masses save during electoral campaigns or at weddings and funerals. The societal disconnect is bursting at the seams and sooner rather than later something will have to give.
I am not advocating and do not support violent social unrest, but as the knot gets tighter the average Bahamian will come to a point where enough is simply enough. What will be the consequences?
Already we see an increase in crime across the board. I could care less about what the commissioner of police is saying or has had to say about a purported decrease in crime. The clergy, collectively, is hiding behind the pulpit while lifting up, bogusly, 'holy' hands while the congregation shouts hallelujah.
With some 44 alleged homicides on record, the advent of societal disconnect and unrest is now being manifested. Divorces are being sought in unprecedented numbers. There have never been more school dropouts than now. Fewer persons are engaging in meaningful relationships. Church attendance, by all accounts, is down and the influence of the traditional church is, allegedly, not what it used to be in our daily lives.
All is not lost, however, in my view, despite the societal disconnect and the possibility of unrest within the population. If The Bahamas was a single land mass we would be in serious trouble. Precisely, however, because we have several hundred islands and cays the societal tension is able to be defused and spread out.
The current crop of politicians will soon fade out and be replaced by others who are better able to relate to ordinary Bahamians. The national economy is beginning to grow again and more potential jobs will come on stream. Religion will again come to play a pivotal part in our lives as we come to realize that flesh and blood will fail but the word of God will stand forever.
To God then, in all things, be the glory.
- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.
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Algernon Cargill has finally been fired as NIB director, after being suspended by the PLP government in late 2012.
Subsequent to Cargill's suspension has been a lengthy auditing exercise which was conducted by Grant Thornton Bahamas at a cost of a whopping $861,606.
The main bone of contention appears to be the $723,333 which eight NIB executives as well as one person on contract pocketed between January 2010 and May 2012. Cargill received $194,791.66 in bonus payments during that period.
The PLP considers the bonus payments to be outrageous. It must be borne in mind that the period of January 2010 through May 2012 coincided with one of the worst economic periods in the post-Great Depression era.
While thousands of Bahamian families have had to tighten their belts due to severe financial constraints brought on by the sagging economy, NIB executives pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses. This is the spin that has been put on the bonus pay outs by Cargill's detractors.
However, even Cargill's detractors would have to admit that he did a yeoman's job going after delinquent NIB contributors who are prominent business persons.
I believe he created many adversaries in the process. With Cargill at the helm, NIB was at its zenith. One could argue that he was the best director NIB ever had since its creation in the early 1970s.
Under Cargill's watchful eyes, NIB's financial assets grew exponentially. While not rendering a value judgment on the hefty bonuses, I would say that the NIB executives should have informed the former FNM national insurance minister of the bonus payments. In this regard, they exercised poor discretion. Moreover, had Hubert Ingraham known of the bonus payments, he would have brought them to a screeching halt.
I am not surprised that the PLP has gone after Cargill. What surprises me, though, is the news of Cargill's deep roots in the PLP. According to The Tribune, Cargill's late father was a stalwart councilor of the PLP. His oldest brother is currently a PLP stalwart councilor and his entire family that resides in Yamacraw are loyal supporters of PLP MP Melanie Griffin.
I find it curious that the only ones to come to Cargill's rescue are FNM supporters, particularly The Tribune and a popular Facebook group.
One can argue that this is yet another episode of PLPs fighting amongst themselves. Considering what the PLP has put Cargill through since last year, if the PLP can do this to one of its own, what would it do to those on the other side of the political divide?
The very thought sends shivers down my spine.
To date, no high profile PLP has come out publicly in Cargill's support, even though he is 'one of their own'. It would now appear that the PLP has hung Cargill out to dry.
Assuming that he voted for Melanie Griffin in 2012, one can only wonder if the former NIB director now deeply regrets his decision.
Despite being a quintessential PLP, Ingraham hired him to head NIB because of his impeccable credentials as a successful white-collar professional.
The very party his family has thrown its collective weight behind since Pindling has now dragged him through the mud in the public domain.
Whatever is the final outcome of this saga, Cargill's life will never be the same. I wonder if he is still a PLP?
-- Kevin Evans
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Newspaper headlines and political critics have expressed alarm over the cost of the independent investigation into the allegations of financial abuse or impropriety by certain people at the National Insurance Board. Yet, none of these critics have acknowledged that this cost is the result of the debasement of the Office of the Auditor General of The Bahamas by successive administrations over the past 40 years.
The post of auditor general was established through the constitution, with independent power to examine the financial activity of every department and agency of the government, except itself.
The holder of this office is protected, by the constitution, from political interference precisely to ensure that he may carry out his functions without fear that his findings may result in adverse consequences to himself.
Clearly, to ensure that the auditor general is effective in the discharge of this very important function, it is imperative that the governor general appoint to this post a person of great personal integrity, technical expertise and courage to investigate any matter to its conclusion.
Had this been the case, the government would have had no need to engage outside auditors to carry out the examination at NIB. The fact that they did now demonstrates the cost of the neglect of this constitutionally imposed position.
The auditor general's post has been treated almost with contempt by all three prime ministers, and we are paying the price for this neglect.
Those who now complain ought to use their energy and influences to see that the auditor general's department is properly headed, staffed and funded, so that we will not have to repeat this chapter in future.
-- Shayne Davis
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Dr. Myles Munroe -- someone who I have a great deal of respect and admiration for -- is advocating for "Christianity" to be placed not only in the preamble of our constitution but enshrined deeply in the articles of our constitution.
I vehemently disagree with his position. I would like to see absolutely no trace of the word Christianity anywhere in or near our constitution.
What I would, however, like to see is the word(s) 'Christ-like' used as much as reasonably possible if this is the direction we choose to take with our constitution.
Christ-like leaves no doubt. It requires no scholarly interpretation. Nothing will be lost in translation. Our directives will be clear and easily measurable as a people.
The word "Christianity", with all of its interpretations, translations, versions, manipulations and journeys through the hands of many, has lost its meaning. It has become nothing more than a label of comfort.
This is why we are a nation of many churches and many murders. Many bibles and many corruptions. Many Christians and too much hate.
Christ-like is what we desperately need. Let's remove the window dressing of religion and get back to basics.
"Jesus didn't come to give us a religion, he came to give us a way of life." -- Joel Osteen
"You shall know them by their fruits". From our current fruits we are an angry, broken, lost people.
We don't need more Christians in this country we need more Christ-like Bahamians.
-- Farrell Goff
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Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts in your paper. I hope my ideas are able to make someone's life more fruitful and meaningful.
The attitude that the world, Bahamas or the government owes us a living was planted in the heads of the people back in the early 1950s. It was not true then and it's not true now. No one or no country owes us a living. To the contrary, we all owe everything to our country.
If each of us started today to do something positive for our country, no matter how small, we would have all the jobs we need with plenty left over for all the foreigners in our midst.
It hurts me when I hear our young people on the radio begging the government for help for everything imaginable when the government and the hard-working and hard-thinking people of this country have provided us all with so many gifts that we refuse to accept because someone told us that we should beg for it or sit on our butts and it would be given to us.
It doesn't work like that. Most of us are finding that out and that's why we are screaming and crying to the rocks in the mountain. We beg but the begging no longer works.
-- Bob Neville
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Please accept my sincere apologies for my error in judgement with the email I sent on May 16.
I now realize my actions were irresponsible and I take full responsibility.
I deeply regret any duress and/or frustration caused.
-- David Burrows
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I was shocked after reading senior journalist and the recently-appointed Bahamas press attache to Washington D.C. Oswald Brown's Facebook message to Andrew Burrows of the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas (BCB).
Burrows, who is the executive news director at ZNS, was admonished by Oswald Brown to fire FNM operatives at the state-owned corporation for allegedly undermining the Christie government.
I hope Burrows and BCB Chairman the Rev. Dr. William Thompson ignore Brown's heartless advice. Brown was suddenly retired from a major newspaper organization in early 2010 or thereabouts and blamed it on then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and former FNM Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing.
Laing to this day denies that he had anything to do with Brown's dismissal. We must bear in mind that Brown is 71 years old. He was born in 1942. He used to support the PLP in the 1960s but left the party around the same time the Dissident Eight broke away from the PLP. For years he claimed to be FNM, but turned against the party after retiring from the said newspaper.
When he was retired in 2010 he was well past the retirement age. Despite him surpassing the Biblical allotted three scores and ten, and despite the sheer number of young, strapping PLP journalists out there who are more than qualified for the post Brown was given, and despite probably receiving a decent pension and retirement package, the Christie government still went ahead and hired him as press attache to Washington D.C.
Between 2010 and May 2012, Brown was relentless in his criticism against the FNM government for allegedly victimizing him. Now that the PLP is in power, Brown, out of sheer bitterness, is seeking to do the very thing he falsely accused Ingraham of doing to him.
He doesn't seem to care that the alleged FNM operative at ZNS might have young children to feed and mortgage payments to make. This is the same man who attends Mass regularly and considers himself to be a devout Christian. Yet, he's asking ZNS executives to take bread out of the mouths of Bahamians at a time when jobs are few and far between in this country.
Brown and others like him need to know that Perry Christie is prime minister of all Bahamians, not just PLPs. FNMs pay taxes also. I resent the fact that the tax dollars of FNMs are also being used to pay his hefty salary. Seeing that ZNS is subsidized by the Bahamian people, I am asking ZNS executives to ignore Brown's tit-for-tat request to harm FNM employees at the corporation.
FNMs have to eat too, not just PLPs like Oswald Brown.
-- Kevin Evans
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I know that it would be gracious to say nothing and not to agitate, but I do get tired of literary, intellectual and artistic achievements not being allowed to come to the Bahamian public's attention in the way that what is accomplished in athletics does.
People in sports though are like having brothers and sisters who go all out just as we do. Often we accomplish phenomenal things just as they do. I cannot help feeling like my or our literary, intellectual and artistic contributions are not appreciated in the same way or nearly as much as what our brothers and sisters in sports contribute.
I have been in the corner or in my room as it were, sulking, pouting about this for a long time. I am pouting now not just for myself but for what has grown to an entire group -- an entire team of writers as it were.
Is the public not going to be made aware of what a group of Bahamians achieve continually in Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing, published by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, Barbados? As many Bahamians as Barbadians succeeded in getting included in Poui XII. Now, in Poui XIII, recently released online, The Bahamas has more writers included than any other country. This is quite an accomplishment. This is really phenomenal. I am certainly surprised by it and indeed delighted: http://www.cavehill.uwi.edu/fhe/LLL/poui--journal-of-creative-writing/poui-xiii---edited-feb-14-2013.aspx.
The 10 Bahamians, including authors residing in The Bahamas are: D'Anthra Adderley, Philip Armbrister, Nicolette Bethel, Keisha Lynn Ellis, Francis Farmer, Emille Hunt, Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming, Eric Rose, Victoria Sarne and myself, Obediah Michael Smith.
What a bright light we seem to add to the wonderful literary light that Poui is in our region and in our world. I have managed to have been included in every single issue of Poui since its inception by the way, not boasting at all but added in humble appreciation of this acknowledgement of my own contribution to Caribbean literature and to the literature of the world.
I ache though for the Bahamian public not just to know these facts but to have available to them these works that we create to be edified, enlightened and inspired by them. Why are our own people not fed, not served what we create? I do not expect to be and do not appreciate being treated as if we are caviar and not to be served and consumed by Bahamians generally.
What we write is certainly not as sacred as the Body of Christ and that Bread and Wine is available to everyone who is confirmed. Let the people have their writers and their works, I say, somewhat in the spirit of Marie Antoinette who declared, "Let the people eat cake!"
Nothing must be too good for all Bahamians. Our people and our writers and artists suffer when we are kept obscure and when the Bahamian public is deprived of what our writers and artists produce. They deprived of knowing what we achieve.
-- Obediah Michael Smith
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On behalf of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, it is with tremendous joy and satisfaction that we highly commend the Government of The Bahamas for this bold and unprecedented action to restore electrical power to over seven thousand households in New Providence, by June 1.
This action initiated, obviously, by the two ministers responsible for BEC, Chairman Leslie Miller, and Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, and of course sanctioned by the prime minister, is an obvious demonstration of putting Bahamians and their well-being foremost.
While listening with great attention to Mr. Miller's presentation during the recent debate in the House of Assembly, I was personally awed by the passion and compassion in his remarks as he spoke about the plight of our people. If I did not know otherwise, I could have assumed that he was an opposition parliamentarian. That brave and fearless spirit of his is to be admired and emulated.
I have no doubt now that he will set things in order at BEC, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of the tax-paying Bahamians, and pass the credit and light on to the less fortunate in our nation. This gesture then of re-electrifying our citizens will not be seen as just political expediency but a heart-felt and unconditional gesture to bring hope and wellbeing to many.
In the modern Bahamian society, electricity, like water, is a fundamental need and a national right to enjoy. It should not be predicated upon whether one can afford it, particularly when the economy is in the doldrums and certain individuals cannot find means to maintain this service.
Today, many homes are built upon the assumption that power would be generally available. This is even more so a necessity on the island of Grand Bahama, specifically Freeport, where gas stoves are the exception. When power is disconnected many, especially children and babies, are deprived of many essential needs and their quality of life is greatly diminished.
It is then, for these reasons, that we would appeal to our central government to impress upon the Grand Bahama Power Company to exercise a similar act of compassion and restore power to all who are without it on this island.
These are extremely difficult times for Grand Bahamians and this little act of love and genuine compassion would elevate the spirit of many who, day after day, do not know how they will manage. Even where one family member may still have a job, the power cost is too high to be enjoyed by that family.
We would at this time also make an appeal to our government to look earnestly upon the thousands of young people exiting the halls of high school and the College of The Bahamas this May and June, and creatively devise a plan for them to earn a relatively decent and honest living.
If this is not forthcoming we cannot blame them if they resort to devious ways to maintain a smidgen of self support. It is criminal for us to send them forth with nowhere to go and nothing to do, but to become pariahs on society. If they are not granted an opportunity to help build our society their recourse will very well be to tear it down.
From those hallowed halls of Parliament, flooded with brilliant minds, let us see come forth an action plan to bring joy, celebration and productivity to all our young citizens. Once again we congratulate the government for this very humane power gesture and we look forward to many more such actions to elevate the spirits of our people.
-- Joseph Darville
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In the Letters to the Editor column of the May 14, 2013 edition of The Nassau Guardian was a letter from Kevin Evans, who wanted to know how many Bahamians took notice of community activist Rodney Moncur's claims of receiving death threats and his house being intentionally set on fire.
Evans suggested that if Moncur's hunch was right, whoever was responsible was setting a very dangerous precedent in The Bahamas.
I would like to inform Mr. Evans that in The Bahamas death threats and threats of bodily harm have been around the political arena since the advent of party politics in this nation. In fact, it actually started when the masses in this country started a cry for equal rights.
In the early 1950s, when the masses were agitating for equal rights in this country, the late Sir Etienne Dupuch, owner and publisher of The Tribune, was a leader and crusader for that cause.
This was before the formation of any political party in this nation or the advent of Lynden Pindling and company into Bahamian politics.
The royal governor at this time was Sir Ritchie Sanford. He was a friend of Etienne Dupuch, and like Dupuch he was sympathetic to the plight of the masses. He is buried at St. Matthew's cemetery. Get busy and do some research. The year was 1951.
Sir Ritchie Sandford was replaced by Major General Sir Robert Neville (Royal Marines retired). Governor Neville was also friendly with Etienne Dupuch.
Not long after his arrival, the commissioner of police got information that death threats were being made against Etienne Dupuch for the support he was giving the masses via The Tribune.
During the general election campaign for the 1972 general election, the leader of the Free National Movement, the late Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield and a number of the 'Dissident 8', were beaten with chairs, pieces of wood and any missile that was at hand by political goons in Lewis Yard, Grand Bahama. A number of police officers under the command of a deputy superintendent of police stood like statues without moving a finger to stop the onslaught.
Sir Cecil very wisely ordered his men not to retaliate. That move probably saved a number of their lives and kept some of them out of prison.
In the Fresh Creek, Andros by-election of 1971, George Capron was beaten very badly by a political mob and I almost lost an eye after being struck in the face with a bottle of beer by a member of that same mob.
In 1972, after receiving a number of death threats, an attempt to carry out the threat failed only because the goon was ignorant of the capabilities of the weapon that he was using, and the bullet -- after piercing the window of my bedroom -- dropped in front of me. The range used was too long for the weapon.
Another vicious execution was carried out by political goons in 1972. Space does not allow for details; but you seem to be an intelligent young man Mr. Evans, do a little research please.
As Mr. Moncur's case is before the courts I will not comment on it or Mr. Moncur's woes, beyond saying that it appears he seems to have self-destructed. This happens often in the case of wanna-be leaders.
As a senior police officer in the mid-1960s, Acting Commissioner of Police the late George Lavell instructed me to carry out a search of the premier's (L.O. Pindling) residence on Soldier Road because of a reported bomb planted there.
I did not find a bomb or any evidence of one ever being there; but The Herald accused me of planting one there.
There is nothing new about death threats to politicians or other persons of standing in our communities in this country. The precedent was set by politicians long before you or Rodney Moncur ever arrived on the scene.
You should do some research on your topics before committing them to print. During the 1960s, a number of high profile officers, including yours truly, were receiving so many threats of death and serious bodily harm that we were issued firearms that we carried concealed 24/7 for our protection. The occasion never arose where any of us had to use them.
-- Errington W. I. Watkins
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I record my anguish watching calculated attacks against the pillars of our democracy being propagated by the government of our country.
Prime Minister Perry Christie, who claimed that a march on Parliament by admitted law breakers - the operators of illegal numbers gaming facilities around our country - was a wonderful expression of democracy, justified the actions of the police in barring COB students from entering the House of Assembly because of "security concerns"! Mr. Christie claimed that the police don't share security matters with him, a strange allegation since time immemorial the commissioner of police meets the prime minister of The Bahamas on a weekly basis to do exactly that, report on the state of crime and special security issues impacting the country.
The COB students were well dressed, several of them in suits with the young men wearing neckties; they were accompanied by a faculty advisor. How these young Bahamians created a security threat to the Houses of Parliament of The Bahamas is beyond me.
Former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alvin Smith, has commented that such police action could not take place without the agreement of the Speaker of the House of Assembly. Unfortunately, on too many occasions already during Speaker Major's short tenure in the post, we have seen him act contrary to the rules of democracy and in the narrow political interest of his political party. This was one more incident.
What happened in Rawson Square was orchestrated and planned by the governing PLP, directed by the prime minister and acquiesced to by a hapless Speaker of the House of Assembly.
I cry shame on the government and shame on the police for bending to the political will of an undemocratic minority government.
- Kirkland Turner
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During the last election, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis insisted that as a matter of truth that certain crime statistics should be posted on public billboards for the world to see.
Well, now as deputy prime minister, for the sake of truth and consistency, why doesn't he personally oversee, as minister of works, the erection of new billboards with the murder statistics, including now, the murder of a tourist this week?
Perhaps he can start at the roundabout at Saunders Beach, where he carried on with that foolishness last year. For the sake of efficiency maybe it can be an electronic board with the number of murders ticking up each week.
He had no problem with tourists and visitors seeing the numbers last year. Surely, a year later he should still have no problem putting up such billboards, maybe including some of the roundabouts near the Lynden Pindling International Airport.
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Bearing no arms, no guns, no pipe bombs, no hand grenades, no pressure cooker explosives, a group of our young, intelligent, wise, caring and concerned students of the College of The Bahamas, honorable citizens of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, were unceremoniously, almost forcefully, barred from entering their House of Assembly a few weeks ago.
Even though that incident grieved, pained and shocked many of our people, especially the young, I have hesitated this long to comment, hoping to hear some regret expressed in the honorable House of Assembly, by whomever, lamenting this dictatorial, despotic action perpetrated by someone, against young, gentle, wise, conscientious citizens of our so-called "free nation".
These young students are our future leaders who will one day sit in that same House and they will lament what had been meted out to them by their elders. Some of those same students would have voted in the last election and enabled some of those same members of Parliament, including the Honorable Speaker, to sit in the House to do the work of the people. The annals of history, therefore, will not look favorably upon such action against non-violent, genuinely concerned, young citizens.
I have contemplated all possibilities and scenarios as to what would have initiated such a dramatic, unwarranted and capricious move against young persons. For over 40 years as a teacher, guidance counselor and high school principal, I never once, in spite of having to deal with cantankerous, aggressive and even violent young students, thought about, much less armed myself, hid myself or called for the arm forces to handle any situation.
Armed only with unconditional love for them, I had nothing to fear. So now we have to have the armed forces shielding grown men and women from a handful of youthful gentle souls? In the name of the good Lord, what are we saying to the nation?
Fearless Sir Lynden Pindling would have walked up to that group and welcomed them with possible words: "My brothers, my sisters, my sons and daughters, please follow me into the sanctuary of this honorable House and I will hear your pleas."
Pray tell me what are our so-called leaders -- including the Prime Minister and the Honorable Speaker -- afraid of? Could it be fear and trepidation of the truth. Young persons came bearing a question and they only expected the truth to be told. So was the truth and nothing but the truth available in that honorable place?
If these elected men and women are genuinely doing the work of the people, what have they to fear? If they are not secretly divesting our future generation of their God-gifted heritage, for a pot of porridge, what are they paranoid about? If they are earnestly seeking ways for full employment of our thousands of young graduates this summer, and not wasting time debating the establishment of another holiday, when tens of thousands are now on necessary and permanent holiday, then why are they on edge?
For the good of this nation, and its international reputation as a democratic state, reparation is still possible and demanded for that reprehensible act of denial of their fundamental right. No apology should be sought or given; the damage has been done. What is needed then is for the Speaker to invite this group into the hallowed halls of Parliament, having first heard their concerns, and address them with the dignity they deserve. In speaking with a number of these young persons, this is what I am told: they simply are seeking a reasonably affordable tertiary education; they want to have a job available upon graduation; they want to be assured that they are not second class citizens in their own country; they wish to revel in the fact that they are the inheritors of a free nation with leaders who listen to and appreciate the wisdom invested in the young.
To paraphrase what we all know: the quality of a nation is predicated upon the way it treats its children. In this regard we can assess ourselves as disqualified. In the one place reputed to be the sanctuary of constitutional basic human rights, the House of Assembly, it is therein, distressingly, that their fundamental human rights were denied. At that moment, I could envision a good number of our forefathers almost arising from their graves wondering what had become of the country for which they braved all odds to elevate it to nationhood.
Forty years ago I was the proud and honored national parade coordinator for the multitude of school children, teachers and administrators, from the length and breadth of this nation on the eve of July 10, 1973, who assembled on Clifford Park to celebrate the raising of our Bahamian flag to usher in an independent nation. What joy, unity and genuine celebration! Today, however, sadly, many of our young see no reason to celebrate 40 years of independence, for they feel more enslaved now than ever in our history.
We and our Parliament have precious little time before July 10 to reverse this sentiment and send an unequivocal message of truth, caring and concern accompanied by a dramatic demonstration of concrete ways to bring a sense of hope back into the hearts and minds of our people, especially the young. If they exit the halls of secondary and tertiary education this summer with no means to support themselves and their families, we only set them up to fail, and many to resort to criminal activity. If we deny them this basic necessity we are morally to blame for their antisocial behavior.
We, as a nation, have a moral obligation to set them on a path, armed with certain tools and opportunities to earn an honest and honorable living. I would recommend that we postpone the grand celebration of this 40th anniversary of independence, defer it to the 50th and spend the allocated funds to establish gainful employment for our youth. What an opportune time to work on a 10-year national plan based upon the principle of establishing the best little democratic, free and independent country on earth, where all inalienable rights are guaranteed, honored and practiced. Then we will have much to celebrate!
Then on another note, if we wish to rename another holiday as Majority Rule Day, then rename Boxing Day, which is only the celebration of our slave days, when we ate the leftovers ("boxed crumbs") from the masters' tables on the day after Christmas, after our forefathers would have royally served their masters. That is one day about which we need not be reminded.
-- Joseph Darville
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Renowned talk show host and patriotic Bahamian Darold Miller organized an equality march on May 1, 2013. The march was in protest to the continuing discrimination that Bahamians face no matter which government is in power.
I was unable to attend the march but I was able to chime in on Guardian Radio 96.9FM. Despite the small turnout, I am of the view that this could be the beginning of a movement that will bring the government of The Bahamas to its senses.
Bahamians have been marginalized in The Bahamas even after majority rule. This has been well documented. Many Bahamians have had their investment plans pushed under the rug. They have not been given the same concessions as foreigners and few laws have been passed that benefit Bahamians in their own country.
Miller said that he would organize one last march at the end of this month. I think this might be a grave mistake. I hope Mr. Miller realizes that someone has to awaken the sleeping giant in this country. The masses are still very much mentally enslaved and they need a voice who will speak truth to them in a way that they can understand. Mr. Miller now has the attention of the people and he has the opportunity to make a contribution of epic proportions.
Many Bahamians are asleep and are so politically charged they forget that their first priority should be to country as opposed to party.
If the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) introduces a bill that discriminates against Bahamians, how could your first response be, 'well the Free National Movement (FNM) did the same thing?' We have freed ourselves of the ability to think freely and have contributed to our continued mental slavery.
Roxa Luxemborg once said, "Those who do not move do not notice their chains."
The march for equality in The Bahamas will not be won by having just one more march. Not even two marches will force the government's hand. As Bahamians we must realize by now that successive cabinets have championed the cause for foreigners as opposed to Bahamians.
Until thousands of Bahamians rise up and fight for what is theirs by birth, our cabinet today and in the future will just maintain the status quo. Special interest groups seem to have successive governments dumbfounded when it comes to the advancement of its own citizens.
The fight for ownership in the aragonite, salt, oil, tourism and banking industries will not be won if we the people leave it to our cabinet. We must even fight to maintain our level of employment because it seems like Bahamians are being fired at will. We must march, agitate and take back our patrimony. This is the only way we will receive our fair share of the elusive economic pie.
Branville McCartney always says, "The power of the people is always greater than the people in power".
Until we truly believe these words the march for equality will be lost.
-- Dehavilland Moss
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