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Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest yesterday launched the government's anti-drug strategy for 2012-2016.
The strategy's key elements include curbing the demand of narcotics, reducing supply and disrupting trafficking networks and strengthening the country's criminal justice system and bilateral regional and international cooperation.
The minister spoke yesterday to senior police and defence force officers at Royal Bahamas Police Force Headquarters.
According to Turnquest, the strategy's main goal is to mobilize the country as a whole for a comprehensive and effective national response to drug abuse and illicit trafficking.
"It therefore creates partnerships among government ministries and agencies and civil society, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector, the churches, the media, professional associations, the schools and tertiary institutions to counter the dangers that drugs present," he said.
Turnquest noted that the government would closely monitor the strategy so that it may be evaluated and adjusted over the five-year period.
"The first of these [strategies] is government leadership at the highest political level in an area that demands political consensus," he said.
"A ministerial committee comprising ministers with responsibilities on core areas in drug control will have oversight of the strategy."
The Ministry of National Security's National Anti-Drug Secretariat (NADS) has been given an important role to play in the implementation of the strategy as well, Turnquest said.
"NADS will be allocated the required resources to ensure that it can effectively carry out its responsibilities," he said.
According to the minister, the government intends to provide a regular and dependable source of grant funding and other support for NGOs and community organizations from the Confiscated Asset Fund (CAF).
He pointed out that the strategies require strong public support.
The words of our national anthem written by the late Timothy Gibson urge us as Bahamians to march together to a common loftier goal. The importance of a common purpose to nation building is further highlighted in the words of our national pledge which states, "I pledge my allegiance to the flag and to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas for which it stands one people united in love and service." However, taking a look at the current state of our polity and recent events that have occurred in our country, it leaves one to wonder whether the Bahamian people have a united front to serve our country toward a common loftier goal.
A lot has been said about the recent documentary entitled "Caribbean Crime Wave", produced by Australian reporter Mark Lazaredes, which seeks to highlight the crime problem that is spiralling out of control in The Bahamas. The aforesaid documentary seems to create the impression that we are a nation under siege. Many Bahamians who viewed the documentary were incensed that our beloved nation was portrayed and characterized in such a manner for the entire world to see. In a country that is heavily dependent upon the tourism and financial services industries, it is an understatement to say that the documentary represents unsolicited bad publicity for The Bahamas in the midst of an already challenging economy.
While it is undeniable that crime and the fear of crime have taken hold of our nation, it does not seem to justify the characterization of The Bahamas as a nation under siege. The everyday Bahamian citizen and residents as well as the millions of tourists who grace our shores annually are still able to enjoy to a great extent the freedom of movement and enjoyment in peace and harmony. Unfortunately, we are experiencing a record number of murders, break-ins, robberies and crimes against persons. It also seems fair to state that the government could address the issue of crime in a more significant manner and should have taken a more rigorous approach toward crime.
What are we doing to address the problem?
The Bahamas seems to have become a nation that has traded its moral and spiritual values for materialism, power, vanity and self-promotion. The reality is that sectors of our society and stakeholders such as parents, the church, the community, civic organizations and the government are failing us daily by not making a concerted effort to address our moral and social issues and find plausible solutions. More detrimental to the Bahamian society is the fact that our politics over the years has done very little to unite us as a people, but rather continues to encourage a "divide and rule" mentality among our people. It was reported that there have been attacks against supporters of both major political parties. However, it is noteworthy and encouraging to state that the leaders of the Free National Movement (FNM) and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have openly condemned this unruly behavior and urged their supporters to act in a civil manner.
How did we find ourselves at this point? We have always prided ourselves on being a nation that has a long history of stable democracy and civil governance. The recent behavior of our politicians leaves little to be desired by those of us who stand by on the sidelines and witness the continuous mudslinging and personal attacks to the gratification of political crowds who in many cases have been blinded beyond party lines. It must always be remembered that regardless of our political persuasion, ideology or affiliation, we are first and foremost Bahamians. The inability of our leaders to address issues that are plaguing our nation sets a poor example for the citizenry of our country. It presents the "don't do what I do, but do what I say" philosophy that so many parents raise their children by. How can a politician expect to be taken seriously as an advocate of conflict resolution when he/she is supposedly guilty of the same offense? The same question can be directed toward parents and leaders of the aforementioned sectors of society who seem in some cases to lead a double standard life. It must be emphasized that children and people in general follow the actions of those who preside over them rather than listen to their words or rhetoric. It is imperative that we set the right example for those that we lead.
Paradigm shift needed
It is difficult for our nation to arrive at non-partisan solutions to the myriad of issues that plague our nation without a paradigm shift by our political leaders. The conception seems to be that crime starts and stops with murder, hence the cry for the death penalty each time one of our fellow citizens falls victim to murder. It appears that the documentary among other things focused upon the fact that The Bahamas because of its judicial ties to the United Kingdom has been prohibited from enforcing the death penalty. However, can it really be said that the death penalty will solve our problems? It appears that our problems are far greater than imposing the ultimate punishment for what is considered arguably the most unacceptable crime - that is, murder.
It must be emphasized that crime includes all forms of illegal activity. Therefore, if we take an introspective look at ourselves, we will find that the first step to addressing the criminal element in this country is to adjust ourselves accordingly. The saying that "we must become the change that we seek" is true now more than ever. We must refrain from nurturing a culture of lawlessness in our society that continues to erode the moral and spiritual fabric of our nation.
Political, civic, business and religious leaders must regain their focus and although not prohibited from following or supporting the political party of their choice, they must ensure that they demonstrate that their first allegiance is to our common loftier goal. The Bahamas must come first at all times and above all individual ambitions. This common loftier goal comes with the mentality of being our brothers' keepers and truly building our nation until the road we trod leads unto our God. It is only then will we be able to move foward, upward, onward, together and our Bahamaland can truly march on.
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments can be directed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The most important reason for the selection of a country as the host-venue for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is that it serves the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole.
If this reason were a consideration, President Mahinda Rajapaksa would already have withdrawn Sri Lanka from hosting the CHOGM in November. The president has not done so. Instead, he has insisted that the Commonwealth Summit must be held in Sri Lanka even as his government is mired in intense controversy over violations of human rights and disregard for the rule of law.
By this insistence, the Sri Lanka president demonstrates only an ambition to claim honor and respectability through hosting the meeting and representing the Commonwealth for the next two years as its chair. This self-serving position of the Sri Lanka government is injuring the Commonwealth.
Every member state of the Commonwealth - particularly its small and weak ones - needs the organization to be strong and credible. A discredited Commonwealth, that cannot stand-up for its own declared values, would have no moral authority or convincing status to advocate effectively for the welfare of its member countries in the international community.
Rajapaksa's dismissal of the country's chief justice, Shirani Bandaranayake, after an unfair impeachment process that was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, and the appointment of his former attorney-general to the post, is "serious" and it comes amid evidence of "persistent" human rights abuses of journalists, and other groups within Sri Lanka.
These developments follow the government's refusal to allow an independent inquiry, as requested by the United Nations, into the deaths of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians in 2009 towards the end of a conflict between government forces and the Tamil Tigers.
The unsuitability of Sri Lanka at this time to host the CHOGM is drawn into stark clarity by the Charter of the Commonwealth that was signed on March 11 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as head of the Commonwealth after the complete concurrence of 53 of the Commonwealth's 54 heads of government. The fifty-fourth member state, Fiji whose military government seized power in 2006, is currently suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth.
The charter was one of the important recommendations for reform of the Commonwealth made by an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of which I was privileged to be a member. The recommendation was accepted by all Commonwealth heads of government at their meeting in Australia in October 2011.
An important clause in the charter reads: "We are committed to equality and respect for the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights including the right to development, for all without discrimination on any grounds as the foundations of peaceful, just and stable societies." Unless the Sri Lanka government demonstrates that it upholds that commitment through actions that have been urged upon it by the UN, many Commonwealth governments, and a myriad number of international legal and judicial organizations, it is not qualified to host the CHOGM. Attendance by other heads of government would sully the Commonwealth by validating the Rajapaksa government.
This is not the first time that the Commonwealth has had to deal with violations of its values and principles by a member state. It did so in 1977 in relation to Idi Amin, whose brutal regime in Uganda engaged in massive violation of human rights and sustained disregard for the sanctity of life.
At that time, the Commonwealth secretary-general, Shridath Ramphal, said to Commonwealth leaders: "There has been in the Commonwealth, of course, as in the international community, a long and necessary tradition of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. No Commonwealth country (indeed, who anywhere in the world?) is above reproach in some respect or other. If these traditions were not to be respected there would be no end to recrimination and censoriousness. How to strike a balance of political judgement between the two extremes of declamation and silence is sometimes difficult - but it would be entirely illusory to believe that such a judgment could, or indeed should, be avoided altogether. There will be times in the affairs of the Commonwealth when one member's conduct will provoke the wrath of others beyond the limits of silence... although the line may be indefinable, all the world will know when it has been crossed."
It had been crossed in Uganda and, at their meeting in 1977, Commonwealth leaders stated that it was their "overwhelming view" that the excesses of Amin's regime "were so gross as to warrant the world's concern and to evoke condemnation by heads of government in strong and unequivocal terms".
In those days, there was no Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) as there is now, tasked with dealing with states where the Commonwealth's declared values have been violated. Nonetheless, heads of government themselves made it clear that the excesses of Idi Amin were unacceptable, as they did later with the white minority government of Ian Smith in Southern Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe) and the apartheid regime in South Africa.
As CMAG has since suspended other member states - Fiji, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Pakistan - after addressing their violations of Commonwealth values, it should do so now with Sri Lanka, or the freshly minted Commonwealth Charter will simply become another set of words, not worth the paper on which they are inscribed in the name of the people of the Commonwealth.
There is also precedent for moving a Commonwealth meeting if the host government has breached Commonwealth agreed principles and values. In 1981, the New Zealand prime minister, Robert Muldoon, ignored the 1977 Gleneagles Agreement that banned sporting contact with apartheid South Africa. Muldoon strongly supported the South African Springbok rugby team's tour to New Zealand. Commonwealth governments, feeling that Muldoon had violated agreed Commonwealth principles and values, moved a finance ministers meeting from New Zealand to The Bahamas as a mark of their displeasure.
The Sri Lanka government should withdraw from hosting the CHOGM in November, or the other Commonwealth countries should withdraw themselves from attending. Either action would strengthen the Commonwealth and enhance its authority. But on no account should the CHOGM be held in Sri Lanka.
o Sir Ronald Sanders is a consultant and visiting fellow, London University. Send responses to: www.sirronaldsanders.com.
This article was first published on March 24, 2011
In this region there is a trend in politics that we in The Bahamas had better be careful not to follow. I'm talking about the marriage between politicians and violent criminals. It's a marriage that comes out of the shadows and reveals itself in the light of day at election time especially. I believe both major parties, despite the differences in how they are currently financed, are likely candidates for this and need to be watched carefully.
When some think of politics and thuggery in the Caribbean they might think of Papa Doc and his boogeymen, the tonton macoute. But we in the English speaking Caribbean have had our share of examples of the political elite reaching out to violent gangs for support, protection, and access to the urban poor. An example would be Prime Minister Eric Gairy in the 1970s and his Mongoose Gang in Grenada, described by Time Magazine as "a ferocious 30-man secret-police unit that he had recruited in the Grenadian underworld". But there are more recent examples.
In a 2009 report called "No Other Life: Gangs, Guns, and Governance in Trinidad and Tobago", made the following observations about the proliferation of violent crime in T&T.
"One rationale for this escalation of crime and murder is that few consequences accrue to those responsible. In most years, fewer than 20 percent of violent crimes are ever solved. Even when police and prosecutors mount a case, it generally takes several years before it is brought to trial. During the intervening period, ample opportunities exist to kill or intimidate witnesses."
"T&T's police-led efforts to curtail gun violence are mitigated by the government's direct financial support to urban gangs via public welfare programs. In exchange, come election days, these gangs have been frequently called upon to turn out loyal supporters and physically menace would-be opposition voters. These tactics are credited with helping the present regime cling to power in the context of an electorate narrowly divided by race."
A popular slogan of Patrick Manning's PNM in their 2007 campaign was "If You Ain't Red You Dead". An opposition candidate in a crime ridden urban PNM stronghold, almost did wind up dead.
The Trinidad Guardian reported that "David St Clair, Congress of the People (COP) Laventille West candidate, who was beaten by two men at his Pashley Street constituency office on Saturday, says he cannot remember a thing about the incident, and it's possible his brain is damaged. He also sustained a broken jaw and several bruises about his body. But St Clair said he was awaiting the results of a CAT scan to determine if he was suffering from any internal injuries. St Clair--who is single and will turn 42 on Friday--said he was told what happened to him. He believed the attack was politically-motivated."
"Yes, it was politically-motivated," he told the Guardian in an exclusive interview. "The response the COP was getting on the ground in Laventille was very good. Somebody felt threatened."
The situation in Jamaica is perhaps more familiar and more dire. Martin Henry, wrote a piece in The Jamaica Gleaner on July 13, 2008 entitled "Political Parties and Crime". This is what he had to say:
"Tens of thousands of Jamaicans have been shot, murdered, burnt out and chased out, directly or indirectly, over politics."
"By the time Norman Manley retired in 1969 from having led the PNP for 30 years, armed gangsterism had already firmly fastened itself to the parties. When Bustamante finally retired in 1967, a doddering old man, gun violence had already infiltrated political competition. Neither leader, destined to be National Heroes, did very much to turn the rising tide of political violence."
"But political tribal violence is almost as old as the parties themselves. And it was organized as a matter of political strategy with the complicit knowledge and sometimes active participation of the most senior leadership of the parties."
Scholar Obika Gray paints a complex picture of the alliance between professional middle class politicians in Jamaica, and the urban poor gangsters they turn to for access to the nation's most disadvantaged citizens. In his article "Predation Politics and the Political Impasse in Jamaica", Obika Gray describes "garrison" politics thusly:
"The Jamaican state has pursued a variety of engagements marked by dissonant political forms and contradictory repertoires. Although the country has known nearly forty years of unbroken democratic constitutional rule since political independence in 1962, that power has also relied on contrary sociopolitical tendencies. On the one hand, constitutional rule has meant fairly open elections, regular rotation of office-holders, protection of a vigorous public opinion, and significant space for independent organizations. Moreover, the politically centrist black middle class has buttressed this regard for constitutionalism by forging a predictable alliance with democratically minded constituencies such as entrepreneurs, the professional middle class, unionized workers, and the small-holding peasantry."
"On the other hand, these same political rulers moved beyond constitutionalism and multi-class alliance to incorporate anomic groups and alienated subcultures in the urban ghettos. This was a remarkable initiative, for the new leaders did more than justify their legitimacy in terms of having secured the victory of political independence and the benefit of democracy for all Jamaicans. They also based a substantial part of their authority on affirming equal identity for the Afro-Jamaican majority and particularly for the urban poor, perhaps the most demeaned of all groups in the country. Within this variegated constituency, urban politicians sought out "respectable" law-abiding types. But in affirming their ubiquitous reach into all corners of the society, state agents also embraced the most alienated and rebellious contingents long inured to lawlessness, crime, and predation."
"Beginning in the early 1960s younger members of this group who had already found a vocation in criminal employment now gained limited forms of social power, as politicians recruited them as "notable" political enforcers and shared the state's largesse with them. Accustomed to urban gangster politics, seasoned in the parasitic and menacing ways of the criminal underworld, these worthies were key targets for politicians' solicitations. Thus, votes-seeking politicians - representatives of the constitutional state - found common cause with members of a criminal subculture. In evolving the state's parasitic identity, state agents had thus joined criminal gang power to constitutional democratic power."
We in The Bahamas had better take note. Based on the flare ups that took place in the 2007 election, based on the sibling rivalry that exists between the leaders of the yellow and the red, and based on the scarcity of resources that the nation faces, the fight for state power and the benefits that accrue to those who possess it may, unless we are vigilant, take us down a path from which we may never, ever escape. Once violence becomes a part of Bahamian politics, it will never ever cease to be a part of it.
You've heard the old expression, "Politics makes strange bedfellows". Voters, be vigilant. Scrutinize carefully the men who accompany these politicians to solicit your votes. Be sure that when they extend a hand to you, you search your soul and search them out. There may be more than dollars in those hands stretched out to you, there may be blood on those hands too.
IAN STRACHAN is Associate Professor of English at the College of The Bahamas. You can write him at email@example.com or visit www.ianstrachan.wordpress.com
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.
Non-communicable diseases (NCD) are an "epidemic" in The Bahamas that cause 60 percent of all deaths and afflict half of the people who are checked into local public hospitals, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said yesterday at the United Nations (UN) high-level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs.
Ingraham, speaking at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, also said NCD sufferers in The Bahamas typically require a convalescence period of seven days in hospital and they cause half the deaths of people 45 years and older.
He added that NCDs are putting an increased strain on the health care system of The Bahamas. "Health and related socio-economic costs associated are enormous," Ingraham said.
Of the drugs administered through the National Prescription Drug Plan (NPDP), which was implemented by the government last year, those that treat hypertension and diabetes represent 80 percent of the cost of the plan, according to the prime minister.
He told the room of high-level, global government officials that the NCD "epidemic" has forced his government to strengthen the health care system by integrating family medicine specialists at primary health care clinics, rolling out the NPDP, promoting healthy living, facilitating patient self-management programs, partnering with non-governmental organizations, developing national food and nutrition guidelines and policing and improving NCD services through the appointment of a stakeholder committee.
Ingraham said to the group that more has to be done to stem the increase of NCDs.
He suggested that the UN increase international and regional budgetary allocations, increase access to training in policy formulation, change policies for inter-sectoral involvement in the NCD prevention initiative, and share best practices in trade and industry.
"My government welcomes this morning's adoption of the Political Declaration as a sound platform upon which to build," Ingraham said.
"Nevertheless, we note many of its shortfalls, particularly in the areas of concrete commitments towards scaling up of resources and actions at all levels and more importantly, the lack of agreement on establishment of an effective follow-up mechanism."
He also noted generally, that governments have to continue to promote healthy lifestyles and appropriate food choices for children.
"My government applauds some of the initiatives undertaken to curb the increasing rate of childhood obesity," he said. "We must continue to fight the global health challenges facing us. We owe it to future generations."
For over a year now, those of us of Cuban heritage and residing in the United States have been flooded with information about the relations, or lack thereof, between the countries and the many missed opportunities by the Obama administration to change Cuba policy, to match what Cuba is doing about its way of governing and its economy, boiling down to "what one country does and the other does or does not".
These are maximized by the expectation of many in the United States that the government should make further changes to its policies (the legitimacy and/or value of these policies are not going to be debated here) towards Cuba as a result of the changes that Cuba is in the process of putting into effect or has already done.
I, for one, do not agree that any changes need to be made as a direct result of the ongoing changes that the Cuban revolutionary government is making or proposing to make. I also do not agree with any of the sanctions now in place with regard to Cuba, nor do I subscribe to the theory that Cuba is "a terrorist nation" - the furthest thing from my belief. But I do not tie one country's internal changes to another's foreign policies.
What is happening in Cuba is the direct result of erroneous economic, and to a certain degree political, decisions in the past. Some of them were derived from the Cold War mentality, which still prevails in some circles of both governments. Others came about as a result of mismanagement and/or lack of managerial ability. But these are Cuban problems, these are Cuban decisions taken at this time, I trust, to correct the problems from the past mistakes that were made and make life better for its citizens.
Once again we continue to interfere in the internal affairs of Cuba, and we do it with other nations too. I noted with keen interest that Raul Castro (I believe it was him) said in days past that if an individual is caught in this country (i.e. United States), receiving money from Cuba, he/she is prosecuted under several of our laws, unless registered as a representative of a foreign country - which if done I would imagine that our government's radars would be on that individual or group 24/7/365! And yet the United State criticizes Cuba for the prosecution of those that are actively taking money, and orders, from the United States' government and dressing themselves as "periodistas", but without journalism degrees. This, at the very least is total hypocrisy.
The conclusion is simple. Whatever Cuba does internally is the problem of its government and its people, and nothing should be expected or demanded by them or others as payment for their changes. On the other side of the coin, the United States government needs to discontinue two things:
1) The flow of money - taxpayers' money - to individuals and organizations that "promote" democracy or regime change in Cuba. This is direct interference in the internal affairs of another country.
2) Disengage the "this-for-that" policies and realize that the embargo has been a failure, and an excuse, and that Americans should be able to travel to Cuba as they please.
- Jose A. Gonzalez
More than 20 new candidates have emerged on the political scene to contest seats in the next general election, with the formation of a new political organization.
The People's Deliverance Party (PDP) comes several weeks after the launch of the Democratic National Alliance, led by Bamboo Town MP Branville McCartney.
The PDP is headed by political aspirant and attorney Paul Moss, who made the announcement yesterday during a press conference held at his office at Dominion House.
"We are not here to make a political statement like the other political parties have done. We are here to help in the delivery of the Bahamian people from the malaise we find our country in, where unemployment is going on unabated. We are going to make the necessary changes and enforce the laws," Moss explained, stating that is the difference between his party and the other political organizations.
Moss said the party is committed to fighting for the rights of the persons who cannot fight for themselves. He has yet to reveal the names of the PDP candidates who will be seeking office, but he did reveal that the party plans to run a full slate of 41 candidates.
He charged that they are experienced individuals who have the interest of Bahamians in the forefront. He further charged that the organization is ready to govern the country.
Recently, the Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM), which was headed by Cassius Stuart, joined the Free National Movement (FNM), the current governing party.
Additionally, the Workers Party headed by Rodney Moncur joined the Democratic National Alliance, headed by McCartney, who resigned from the FNM in March.
The National Development Party has joined the Progressive Liberal Party.
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.
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