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the General Elections of December 29, 2011, the Electoral Observation
Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) fielded 25
observers from 16 countries in all 8 of the country's administrative
regions. A total of 852 of the country's polling stations were visited
by the OAS team on Election Day. The following preliminary observations
are based on the direct observations of the OAS team, and on meetings
with electoral authorities, a cross-section of government, political
parties, media, and civil society organizations.
The new administration has decided that the head of Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), Coralie Adderley, will be fired from her post. Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez told The Nassau Guardian that new leadership is required at the hospital. Leader of the Opposition Dr. Hubert Minnis said the Progressive Liberal (PLP) is victimizing Adderley.
Dr. Minnis went further, claiming Adderley is being fired because Dr. Gomez has something personal against her.
"That's, I guess, rhetoric," Dr. Gomez said of the victimization claim in response to The Nassau Guardian. "There's nothing personal, it's all about leadership of the institution."
The minister argued PMH needs to move in a new direction.
"I think that the institution needs, if you ask me seriously, new leadership, not only in administration, but in physician management," Dr. Gomez said.
"The place is crying for new leadership and if we are going to make PMH what it ought to be, we have to try to get leadership of the institution straight in all aspects. There's nothing more, nothing less."
New political regimes and new leadership in business have the right to change leaders in their organizations. The new people in charge have to feel their executives will most effectively execute their policies and their will. However, it must also be remembered that when professionals are dismissed, the organization should grant the person what is legally due them via their contract or agreement.
While stressing that he did not wish to go into any specifics surrounding the decision to terminate the contract of Adderley, Managing Director of the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Herbert Brown has gone on record and said she will be compensated above what her contract calls for. If this occurs, the PHA would be more than fulfilling its obligation to Adderley.
There is a political side to this issue, though. The PLP had as its election theme that it believes in Bahamians and that it believes in The Bahamas. Adderley is a young Bahamian professional who has run the largest hospital in The Bahamas for several years. If the new government wants to change leadership at the hospital that is its right. But is it necessary to fire her? Could there not be another role in the overall hospital system for this young Bahamian?
Politically speaking, firing Adderley could seem harsh and cold to members of the electorate who do not know all the reasons behind the move by the new administration.
As the PLP reconfigures the various government agencies at the beginning of its term it must be careful that the perception does not set that it is a victimizing, uncaring party. This would go against the party's campaign theme in 2012.
Bahamians are not overwhelmingly in love with the governing or opposition party. Setting the wrong tone early in a mandate could set the party on a course to being our third consecutive one-term government.
Please publish this open letter to the Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell.
My Dear Minister,
On Thursday August 9, 2012, I was a guest on the Gems radio show "Building a Nation" hosted by Tennyson Wells, a former minister and attorney general in the Ingraham administration. I had the occasion to voice my opinion on your appointment as a junior minister in National Security. My opposition to your appointment is for the same reason I have against the appointment of Dr. Perry Gomez as minister of health.
As former members of your organizations it is fair to assume that you both, at some time during your tenure, had crossed swords with a number of your colleagues who are still serving in those organizations. Human nature being what it is and with the spirit of victimization and retaliation in both political parties, FNM and PLP, it stands to reason that the power of your office will be used to the fullest extent in attempting to settle old scores.
I also feel that with your unbridled ambition you can easily wander in to unfamiliar political zones that will prove embarrassing to your portfolio, leader and your party.
In less than 24 hours after voicing my concerns about your ability to properly function in that position, I was amazed to read in The Nassau Guardian of August 10 your criticisms of the former FNM administration's interference in the administration of the RBPF.
The majority of the senior ranks of the force from the inception of ministerial government in 1964 have given their allegiance to one or the other of the two major political parties.
Do you remember what happened to Marvin Dames, the best and most efficient officer to have headed CDU under the 2002/7 Christie administration? He was unceremoniously removed from CDU and transferred to the Airport Division to relieve an ASP. What humiliation and degradation for an Assistant Commissioner. Since his departure from that body it has never been the same. Did anyone hear a dissenting voice from you? No, but you were in a position to protest.
And while I am looking to get some answers, will you kindly tell us out here in John Q. Public why you, as a minister, must be armed. Why do you feel it is necessary for you to carry a firearm? What was the purpose of your taking two empty AK47 magazines to the Senate floor? What were you trying to prove?
And for your information, derelict buildings were being demolished for eons before you were a minister and will be long after you have departed the scene.
Tell us how to tackle the escalating crime situation and stop reminding us what the politicians are doing with the force. Stop telling us what Ingraham and his crew did and show us what you are all about.
-- Errington W. I. Watkins
Dear Editor, It is my humble submission that Urban Renewal 2.0, despite the occasional hiccup, is working and is succeeding within the inner city areas of New Providence. Some of the detractors and others who may subscribe to a politically different view than PLPs are quick to condemn and criticize the value and benefits of the same.
I presently reside on Grand Bahama and wherever you go, the questions you hear from everyone, across the political divide, rich, middle class or poor, young or old, are: Can there be a worse government? When will this era of bad governance end? When will we stop getting battered by skyrocketing prices and chronic unemployment?
I cannot rate this administration for the present period because it is only one third through its governance mandate. But if judged by its previous period in government and its present actions, I would have to say that this government will surpass the previous administration by leaps and bounds as the worst government on record.
I am one who prays that maybe, just maybe, we could get the best out of the PLP, FNM and DNA to merge and form a united political party with ideas. The name I recommend would be the United Bahamian Party (UBP). Based on historical records, the previous party by that name seems to be the only one that brought creative ideas for economic growth in this country - namely, tourism and banking. The other two have been riding on the gravy train of these two economic pillars for so long that neither seems to be able to come up with any new ideas. Too much time is spent looking in the rearview political mirror.
There is a constant prayer to the Supreme Being of this universe for this era of bad governance to end. What is needed is a new paradigm shift where leadership comes from the head and not the tail. Under the UBP government there was an economic boom in New Providence. The Family Islands were suffering, but with time I am sure that economic expansion would have reached there. There were more hotels, night clubs, etc., owned by Bahamians and patronized by Bahamians, and the black middle class grew. Both the businesses and middle class died with majority rule. The majority seemed hellbent on destroying the minority and did nothing more than destroy themselves.
Skyrocketing prices and chronic unemployment can easily be eradicated with a plan. Joining all the international organizations in the world will not help until Bahamians organize themselves and plan for their future. New industries need to be developed where Bahamians are owners and not just laborers. We are a country with less than 400,000 residents. There are cities around the world with more people. Maybe this administration, with its fondness for foreign, can recruit the mayors and city councilors from one of these cities to run the country for them. It would sure be better than them ruining it for Bahamians.
This is signed by a starving citizen living in the richest country in the Caribbean.
- Rabbi Common Zense
Every year at this time, I try to take a fresh look at the progress and setbacks of the Republic of Haiti. January 1 is a universal milestone for reflection and for pondering on the achievements and missteps of the year past. Haiti has the privilege of celebrating its birthday on January 1, a double occasion to look back to forge ahead better.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force has a responsibility to keep the peace and ensure that those who break the law are arrested and prosecuted. It should not apologize for satisfying its mandate.
On Thursday night police conducted operations in Nassau Village and Pinewood Gardens, arresting dozens of young men for questioning. The NB12 cameras were there as police made arrests. Some of the residents complained that police were being excessive. Officers were not.
The street gang culture in New Providence has led to much of the violence we have witnessed over the past few years. Murder records in The Bahamas have become common. Certain communities consider their gang bosses more their leaders than the prime minister of this country.
A leading objective of the government must be to retard the expansion of these gangs, which are evolving into organized crime operations. Police should never apologize for making arrests based on good intelligence or reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred.
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was elected a year ago with the hope that it would work to reduce the crime rate. Discussing his government's efforts in this regard yesterday just before its one-year anniversary, Prime Minister Perry Christie said they are doing better on this issue and another vexing one, unemployment.
"With respect to firstly crime, unemployment, we are very aggressively addressing them and we have indicated we have seen improvements in both areas," he said.
"Statistics show improvements in both areas. We know there is still a lot to do, so we are doubling up our efforts with respect to both crime and unemployment."
Statistics released by Commissioner Ellison Greenslade last month show that crime decreased by 13 percent between January 1 and April 14, 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. There were 3,492 crimes reported during this period last year compared to 3,025 reported this year. The rate of unemployment nationally dropped from 14.7 percent to 14 percent, according to the latest labor force survey released by the Department of Statistics in February. However, there has been a wave of gang-related killings and shootings since the commissioner's release of those crime figures.
Political parties should not court organized crime groups during elections. Organized crime bosses should not be feared or revered by police or prosecutors. Their increased power in The Bahamas represents a threat to the peace. A pressing concern for this administration should be breaking these organizations. Doing so would reduce our crime rate. Doing so would bring more order to our communities.
These groups are no longer 'bad boys' doing minor crimes. These organizations now use murder and intimidation regularly to advance their business interests. The state still has enough power to break these groups if their presence is perceived as a priority threat. If we wait too long and allow them to become more powerful, our fate may be more like that of Jamaica, Columbia and Mexico.
Dear Editor,It is my sincere hope thatmost Bahamians, if not all,will enjoy the upcomingChristmas season and willfind time for recreation,prayerful sessions and qualitytime with family and friends.We have much to be thankfulfor despite the personal andcollective challenges.After the festivities are concludedand all of the hamsand turkeys eaten, the nationwill have to confront some seriousfinancial and fiscal issuesin January 2013. Playingpossum and seeking to buryone's head in the sand like thefabled Ostrich will not cut it.Successive governments,headed by prime ministerswho are lawyers by professionand who would have served asministers of finance, aidedand abetted by ministers ofstate for finance, who know orknew nothing about big business,have led us to our ownlooming fiscal cliff.Sir Lynden, God bless hissoul, was the most successful,visionary and pragmatic ministerof finance this countryhas seen to date. Say what youmay about Sir Lynden but healmost single-handedly createdall of our national organizationssuch as: the NationalInsurance Board; the Royal BahamasDefence Force, the firstgovernment subdivision, etc.At least if he spent the moneyone is able to actually seewhat he spent it on. Contrastthe other two prime ministers,also lawyers. Hubert Ingraham,a good Bahamian,may have meant well I amsure during his various termsin office. The question whichbegs an answer however is:Did we get value for the massiveamounts of money hewould have spent on our behalf?The purchase of the socalledBlake Road buildingwas a boondoggle and onewhich I submit was done as a"favor" for the boys. It shouldnever have been purchasedwith NIB funds, as it was nevera viable building. Millionshave been poured into thepurchase and never-endingrenovations to the extent, allegedly,in excess of $25 million.Successive governments"stopped, canceled and reawarded"the renovation contractsto their alleged politicalassociates and that buildingstill appears to be in its originalstate.Governmental operationsand ministries are housed inleased and rented propertiesat great expense, allegedly, tothe public purse. For instance,the Immigration Departmenthas been in rentedpremises at Hawkins Hill forgenerations.No one that I know of in thepublic domain knows exactlyhow much is being paid inrent and certainly not theterms and conditions or eventhe lifespan of the rental contract.The old City Meat MarketBuilding on Market Streetwas purchased to be used, allegedly,as the site for The RegistrarGeneral's Department.A renovation contract wasgranted and the building wasduly gutted. Nothing hasbeen done from then to nowand the forlorn building remainsa stark reminder of thewaste of public funds. Yet anothergovernment-ownedbuilding is located on John F.Kennedy Drive to the immediatewest of the Ministry ofWorks compound.Constructed to the tune oftens of millions of dollars andlit up to the highest everynight, it is under-occupiedand under-utilized. Yet, majorministries, inclusive of ourcourts, remain in leased,cramped and totally inadequatequarters.The Ministry of Tourism ison George Street downtownwhere staffers are obliged towork in an outdated environment.Potential foreign andlocal investors who are desirousof meeting with theminister of tourism and hissenior officials would not beimpressed with the ambience.The ongoing roadwork herein New Providence is the singlelargest cause for the massivefiscal deficits we are saddledwith. That this work hadto be carried out cannot be deniedbut the cost overruns tothe tune of $100 million areunbelievable. In too manycases, remedial work will haveto be done costing tens of millionsof dollars in the near future.The civil service is top heavyand there are too many individualsdeployed in ministriesand departments doing absolutelynothing of value. Arationalization must be doneand done soon. It has been estimatedthat 50 percent of theannual national budget goesto salaries, pensions and gratuities.Another 40 percent isrequired to actually run thegovernment leaving less than20 percent for infrastructureand other much needed societaland cultural works.Yes, dear friends, countrymen/women and enemies weare between a rock and a veryhard place due to the fiscalmismanagement of all of ourgovernments to date. It is nouse now, of course, engagingin a blame game as the Androsianbuzzards have alreadycome home to roost. It iswhat it is.The gold rush administrationmust reach out to allstakeholders regardless of politicalpersuasion and certainly,regardless of age. Early inthe new year the prime ministerand his economic teamshould convene a secludedconclave with business professionals,accountants, lawyersand the media to hash out viablesolutions to our own fiscalcliff. There can be no otherway.Failure is not an option andwe are in this slow boat overthe cliff together. If it succeedsin averting this loomingdisaster, the gold rush administrationand Perry GladstoneChristie (PLP-Centreville)could go down in our historyas the government that madea difference. In conclusion,then, I wish all a Merry Christmasand a prosperous NewYear. Despite it all, I submitthat our best days are yetahead of us.To God also, in all things, bethe glory.- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.
Undeniably the most discussed and debated topic during the past months has been gambling. Unfortunately, it would seem to be polarizing the nation. Arguments have been made for and against the legalization of numbers houses and also a national lottery. As such I weigh in on the debate by sharing this article, calling all citizens and residents to consider alternatives. Therefore, it is hoped that this article will help to elevate the discussions beyond just the yes/no debate.
Adventists' view of gambling
The Seventh-day Adventist Church stands opposed to all forms of gambling, inclusive of raffles and lotteries to raise funds for charitable organizations. It views gambling as a paid game of chance - winning at the expense of others, not comporting or lining up with Christian values and principles. For example, consider the principle of love for neighbor. How can one who loves his brother feel good in winning knowing that it is at the expense of his brother? Additionally, stories of how addiction to gambling has negatively affected and continues to affect families and societies that exist all around; therefore we cannot turn a blind eye. Accordingly, the following questions are most appropriate: What is the alternative? What can one do to raise money in place of gambling?
Consider some alternatives
As The Bahamas marks its 40th year of independence, I am informed that nearly 40 years ago the late Carlton Francis appealed to his political colleagues to shun what I term the easy way out or short cuts in building a new independent nation. Said Carlton Francis, the then minister of development, "We are a small nation that can be easily permeated by any pernicious influence." He added, "I am saying that where we are aspiring to the disciplines of hard work and industry, we are not yet off the ground."
Also, I read with interest an interview with former Minister of Immigration Loftus Roker, as recorded in The Nassau Guardian, December 24, 2012. He recalled that when the PLP campaigned in '67, "it was against casino gambling". It was not until they won the government that some in the party felt that the closure of gambling casinos would have a negative effect on tourism; therefore casino gambling was allowed. Concluding from these and other records, it is clear that the subject of gambling in one form or another has been with us many years. Nevertheless, 40 to 45 years later where are we in discipline and industry as touted by Carlton Francis? In fact, Roker in his interview with The Guardian did not see the need for legalizing gambling some 44 years later. Therefore, whether the pending referendum on gambling receives a "no" or "yes" vote, the need for alternatives must not be ignored. Life continues and the nation needs to continue building.
Deliberate and intentional ways must be sought to further empower our people regardless of color, politics, gender or where they were born if the nation is to truly develop maturely. People need to be taught how to survive -- not to be dependent on government. It would seem to me that with the pooling of ideas through discussions and town meetings, and even the talk shows, ideas can be gotten that will serve to inspire and motivate our people as well as result in strategies that can impact the economy positively. Consider the example and by extension the principle of 2006 Nobel Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus. Muhammad pioneered what is referred to as microcredit. Using loans of tiny amounts, he sought to transform destitute women into entrepreneurs thus creating economic and social development from below.
It was the first time the committee for the Nobel Prize was awarded to a profit-making business. It was because "the selection seemed to embody two connected ideas that are gaining ground among development experts: That attacking poverty is essential to peace, and that private enterprise is essential to attacking poverty."
Dr. Yunus, founded the bank in his native Bangladesh to lend small amounts of cash -- often as little as $20 -- to local people, almost always women, who could use it to found or sustain a small business by, say, buying a cow to sell milk or a simple sewing machine to make clothing.
It was observed that the traditional banks considered such people too risky to lend to, and the amounts they needed too small to bother with. However, Dr. Yunus thought otherwise. He reasoned that, "the poor could be as creditworthy as the rich, if the rules of lending were tailored to their circumstances and were founded on principles of trust rather than financial capacity." Additionally, he found out that "they could achieve lasting improvements to their living standards with a little bit of capital." Isn't that amazing? Drawing on this principle, could we not take some examples from the Grameen Bank? Though Bangladesh may be different from The Bahamas in some ways, isn't there a definite need to continue the fight of the early fathers of this country in empowering people as opposed to making them dependent on others?
So, rather than setting up numbers houses in close proximity to each other, creating a sense of false hope and not lifting the values and morale of our people, let's seek ways to empower them. There must be local Muhammads existing throughout the country. Let's harness, process and implement some of the doable ideas resulting from our think tanks, radio talk shows and town meetings. Even the ideas of those Bahamians outside the country as well as the non-formally educated ones must not be ignored; for God does not discriminate in blessing people. To me, this is better than hoping for a certain number to fall, or hoping to win a lottery. Yes, some will win, but too many will lose. I must also mention the likely vices that could result from gambling, especially when one loses. Our people must be innovative and not just follow-along consumers.
The church is to play a role
While the church has received much criticism, it is to play its role. Using the Bible as its guide, it realizes that according to Genesis 1-2 man was made in the likeness of God and endowed with much potential and usefulness. Accordingly, the church seeks to get the message across to all mankind explaining that God has a purpose for one's life. He/she was designed for more than waiting and just hoping for something to happen. God wants all to recognize what He has already placed in man to help him realize his design for greatness.
At the same time, employing the example of God, the church recognizes that God gave man a choice; and as dangerous as that ability is, God empowered human beings with it. There was that risk that man would choose to go contrary, but God still gave the choice. However, the church observes that the gift of choice does not mean that the church shirks its responsibility of teaching and informing mankind of consequences of decision-making. In fact, it is more incumbent on the church to instruct and inform but never to force one against his will. Therefore the Seventh-day Adventist Church will not argue against one's right of choosing, but seek aggressively to inform and instruct in the ways of God. We have been doing this prior to the announcement of the referendum, and even after it, we will continue. However, as this article is about alternatives, I turn to a biblical example in summing up.
Recall the Joseph principle
The world of Joseph, as recorded in Genesis 41, was headed for the worst recession to be brought on by a seven-year famine. Nevertheless, God in His own way chose to communicate in a dream, a plan to a heathen king -- one who did not worship Him. However, He would give the ability to interpret that dream to a young Hebrew prisoner in Egypt named Joseph. I noted that the plan He gave Pharaoh through Joseph was a simple but powerful life-saving one. It required planning and discipline. Pharaoh was encouraged to collect 20 percent of all the produce during the seven years of plenty in order to prepare for the seven years of famine. The rest of the story reveals that people from everywhere came to Egypt for sustenance during the lean years. Now think about how many would have died had God not provided the plan! Fast forward from then to our time. Is there no God? Doesn't the same God exist in The Bahamas today? I declare that He does. He wants His children to recognize that which He placed within each of us. Says the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." Were it not for this hope being revealed to me some 35 years ago, I would be hopeless and lacking in my interest and concern for others. There are alternatives; and they will be found when we seek God. Also, this example teaches us the value of saving for the lean years. The country during its prosperous years must learn to put aside for its not-so-prosperous ones. It is simple but calls for discipline!
This [past] week Bahamians witnessed what may well have been overt interference by the president of the Republic of Haiti, Michel Joseph Martelly, in the internal politics of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. It has been reported that the president 'encouraged' his country men/women to vote 'as a bloc' for the Bahamian political party that had their 'best interests' at heart.
The recent 'rush' to regularize and to grant citizenship to foreign-born residents of this country by the FNM administration and its retiring minister of immigration has caused grave concerns among many indigenous Bahamians. It is almost as if the prime minister and his colleagues could care less about the concerns of 'real' Bahamians over this bogus exercise.
Brent Symonette (FNM-St. Anne's) has an in-your-face attitude to many of the concerns of the unwashed masses. His smug persona has not served him well during his soon to be concluded, mercifully, foray in frontline politics.
Martelly's alleged remarks are tantamount to direct interference in our political process and are to be condemned. It is a disgrace, in my view, that the leader of the opposition would have actually met with the president just for a photo opportunity. If I were Perry Christie, I would have delegated Frederick Audley Mitchell (PLP-Fox Hill) to receive him.
Are you able to imagine what would have happened if a Bahamian prime minister had gone down to the Republic of Haiti and made such alleged remarks about how Bahamians in Haiti should vote and support a political party, keeping in mind that not a single Bahamian would have been granted Haitian citizenship must less would be eligible to vote in Haitian elections.
Martelly, obviously, came to this country late at night on a private jet to work the local Haitian community on behalf of a certain political party in the few short weeks before The Bahamas goes in to its general election. The recently 'pauperized' Bahamians have now received their marching orders.
While we need foreigners to assist us with nation building and in certain areas of our economic fabric, it is astounding to have witnessed the speed with which the FNM administration 'regularized' many of these people, mostly of Haitian descent, just before a general election is scheduled. Why now? This government has been in place for almost five years and did nothing, apart from a patently bogus exercise, years ago, to regularize them.
Indigenous Bahamians need to wake up and look around. Look around within our educational plant and you will see that over 65 percent of the students in our primary schools are of Haitian descent. Look around at our medical health institutions and you will see that more than 50 percent of the patients who visit these institutions are of Haitian background.
Go over to the clinic at Marsh Harbor, Abaco and you will see that 70 percent of live births are to mothers of a Haitian origin. Scattered throughout our militarized organizations are persons with Haitian surnames. Where will this madness end and who will have the political will to stop it?
I have absolutely nothing against legal migration and the front door entry of any nationalities, inclusive of Haitians. What I do have a serious problem with is the massive and seemingly unchecked migration of illegal nationalities with the complicity of Bahamians.
A few months ago, the leader of the opposition 'admitted' that it was not 'politically' expedient to appear to be targeting persons of Haitian descent, especially during electoral exercises. Christie is a friend, sometimes, but he could not have been serious.
It is of little surprise that Martelly could have entered our nation, in the dark hours, and talked his shaving cream. He may well be the president of the Republic of Haiti and the dependent territory of The Bahamas.
To God then, in all of these things, be the glory.
- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.