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"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tomorrow, His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes will demit office as the ninth governor general of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, a position that he has held since April 14, 2010. By any measure, Bahamians from all walks of life and from both sides of the political divide will attest that he is unquestionably the very best son of the soil to hold the highest office in the land since the founding of our nation in 1973. Therefore this week, we would like to Consider This... What will be Sir Arthur's legacy?
The youthful years
Arthur Alexander Foulkes was born in Matthew Town, Inagua, May 11, 1928, son of the late Dr. William A. Foulkes and Julie Foulkes, nee Maisonneuve.
He was educated at public schools in Matthew Town and in Nassau and first worked at The Nassau Guardian as a linotype operator and proof-reader. He then joined The Tribune as a linotype operator in 1948 and took up journalism under the tutelage of editor and publisher Sir Etienne Dupuch, who made him a reporter and later appointed him news editor of The Tribune.
Sir Arthur was one of the founders of the National Committee for Positive Action, a think-tank and activist group within the PLP which supported the leadership of Sir Lynden Pindling and contributed significantly to the achievement of majority rule.
He drafted the PLP's petition to the United Nations Committee of 24 (on decolonization) and was a member of the Delegation of Eight that presented the petition in 1965. Sir Arthur wrote many political documents over the years, contributed to the manifestos of both major political parties and drafted the first platform of the Free National Movement in 1971.
Sir Arthur was founding editor of Bahamian Times, the official organ of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) from 1962 to 1967. He selected as its motto a quote from American emancipation crusader Frederick Douglass: "Without struggle there is no progress". That newspaper played a pivotal role in the campaign for majority rule which was achieved in the general elections of January 10, 1967.
Noted for his stirring oratory in the 60s, Sir Arthur was elected to Parliament in 1967 and served in various political offices over the years, including minister of communications and minister of tourism in the PLP government.
Under his leadership, the Ministry of Tourism recorded impressive gains in 1969. It was also on his ministerial watch in 1968 that a Bahamas-based airline, International Air Bahama, flew to Europe for the first time and he was instrumental in enabling black Bahamian stewardesses to work on international flights not only to America but to Europe as well. As minister of communications, he presided over the complete Bahamianization of the management of BaTelCo, the national public telephone corporation.
Sir Arthur was one of the Dissident Eight who rejected the leadership of Sir Lynden in 1970 and broke away from the PLP, forming the Free PLP. In 1971, he was a founder of the Free National Movement. He was appointed to the Senate in 1972 and 1977 and reelected to the House of Assembly in 1982.
During his public career, Sir Arthur attended many international conferences and, in 1972, was one of four opposition delegates to The Bahamas Independence Constitution Conference in London. He drafted the opposition memorandum for the conference and was primarily responsible for the drafting of the preamble to the Bahamian Constitution.
In the 1970s, when opposition forces in the country seemed hopelessly splintered, Sir Arthur, together with others, initiated arduous negotiations which finally resulted in a united opposition under the leadership of Sir Kendal Isaacs in time for the 1982 elections.
Later, he was a columnist for The Guardian and The Tribune and, from 2002 to 2007, resumed his popular column, "To The Point", in The Tribune.
Sir Arthur, the diplomat
In 1992 Sir Arthur entered the diplomatic service of The Bahamas as high commissioner to the United Kingdom and ambassador to France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the European Union (resident in London).
He represented The Bahamas to the African Caribbean Pacific Group in Brussels, was permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization and also Doyen of the Caribbean diplomatic corps in the United Kingdom. He also founded Friends of The Bahamas, a London-based association.
In 1999 he was appointed the first Bahamas ambassador to the People's Republic of China and ambassador to the Republic of Cuba, both nonresident posts.
In 2001 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) by Queen Elizabeth II and on April 14, 2010 he became the nation's ninth governor general.
A profound and perpetual legacy
Sir Arthur served as an exemplary head of state. He is first and foremost a nationalist, whose credentials as such were unquestionable and unassailable. He is one of those individuals who can unquestionably be described as one of the "fathers of the nation" or "heroes of the revolution". He is a nationally unifying force and his short tenure as governor general was devoid of any hint of the profound partisan divisions that are present in so many facets of Bahamian life.
Notwithstanding his reservations regarding the timing for independence for The Bahamas, he is without question a powerful proponent for national freedom and strong supporter of state sovereignty.
Sir Arthur is the kind of unique Bahamian who has managed to stay the course and rise above the fray, keeping his ideals and beliefs constant and unwavering in spite of the storms that sometimes seethed around him. In short, he has become an example of how an active and politically passionate person can also be a force for harmony and common sense across the great political divide.
There is no doubt that he will demit office far too soon, only four short years after assuming the highest position in the land. There is also no doubt that, unlike so many others in public life, he has chosen to depart on his terms and his timetable, at the pinnacle of his public profession.
Sir Arthur's humility, his deep love of and for The Bahamas and Bahamians, his enormous depth of knowledge about the land and people of his birth, his eloquent and elegant employment of the English language and his globally-informed world view are but a few of the elements that have crafted the person whom we have come to know as our ninth governor general.
As he travels through the gates of Government House and descends Mount Fitzwilliam on Tuesday, July 8 one last time as our governor general, and is driven through the streets of New Providence on his way to a place of placid retirement from active public life, the smile that will likely grace Sir Arthur's face will be one of contentment and great satisfaction.
He will be pleased that, as he demits office, his legacy is fully and eternally ensconced and embedded in the annals of Bahamian history - a legacy that symbolizes all that is good about The Bahamas: our courage in adversity, our capability to withstand and overcome hardship, our dignity in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges and our innate kindness and graciousness toward our fellow human beings, no matter their race, religion, economic status or political persuasion. History will recognize Sir Arthur Foulkes as a governor general for the ages.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After general elections in The Bahamas there is always a back and forth over the issue of victimization. Some who were employed by the old regime accuse the new administration of firing them just because they politically supported their former bosses.
In The Bahamas there is not a clear enough distinction between the political appointees of an administration versus those who are employed by state agencies to do bureaucratic work, or to consult, on behalf of the state.
Political appointees are people hired by politicians to work for the state, but their duty is primarily to advance the interests of the politician or party who hired them while that person or group is in public office.
For political appointees, when the people who hired you lose office you should do the honorable thing and resign unprovoked by the new administration.
Last week former Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman and candidate Johnley Ferguson complained about how he was treated by the new Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration. He was a consultant in the ministry now led by Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government Alfred Gray. The ministry terminated Ferguson after the PLP won the election.
"Johnley is opposed to this government and its policies, so obviously I didn't think he should be surprised," Gray said when asked about Ferguson's complaint.
As a frontline politician, Ferguson should not think he should continue on in the post under the PLP. Similarly, if Gray was a consultant and the FNM won the general election he should know that he should resign.
It is disingenuous for political appointees to cry foul when they are removed because they will not resign. It may be useful for there to be a formal acknowledgement of these political posts so there is no dispute as to what should be done when regimes change.
For permanent and pensionable public servants, the issue is quite different. Once these individuals do their jobs politicians should not molest them. However, the issue of victimization becomes complicated regarding public servants who politicize themselves. These people openly let it be known that they support a side and advocate for this side while on the job. When a new administration comes into office it will obviously be mistrustful of these individuals - especially if they hold sensitive offices.
Some of these partisan public officials are consequently transferred or they are stripped of their portfolios and left with nothing to do, as the new administration does not trust them.
This is the consequence of self-politicization. If the government acted to strip responsibility from a public servant or to demote a public servant because of presumed political affiliation that would be victimization.
The government is again preparing to relocate staff in the General Post Office building which will be closed today due to structural problems, Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin said yesterday.
Postal services will also been suspended today. It is unclear when those services will resume.
In a statement, Hanna-Martin said postal services are "subject to further notification".
However, counter services will be available at each sub-post office location, including Shirley Street, Elizabeth Estates, Cable Beach, South Beach, Fox Hill and Grants Town.
Hanna-Martin said employees found debris in one of the offices in the building on East Hill Street when they arrived at work yesterday morning.
"As a result of this latest incident the ministry has determined to immediately put in place interim measures for the relocation of postal staff and protocols for the collection and distribution of mails while arrangements for finalizing a permanent location is completed," read the statement.
"That process of relocation to permanent premises is in train and premises have been identified with the collaboration of the Ministry of Public Service, which has responsibility for accommodations.
"...The terms of the acquisition of the new location are now being settled."
Hanna-Martin added, "The ministry wishes to give assurance of its fullest concern for the safety of the staff at the post office."
The building has had several challenges over the years.
In August 2013, the government said it was preparing to relocate staff after air condition challenges led to severe flooding in the building.
In February of that year, post office employees claimed that a large concrete slab fell from the ceiling and nearly hit a worker.
At the time, Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) Secretary General S. J. Miller said the building posed "serious health and safety problems" for employees.
Hanna-Martin has acknowledged that the building has fallen into a state of disrepair over the years.
There have also been air conditioning issues at the Elizabeth Estates, South Beach and Grants Town post offices.
On a recent morning radio show on the new Guardian Radio station, a host chastised politicians for lacking the will to address various issues concerning young men. The fact that in that morning's Nassau Guardian was a story on the government giving $1 million in grants for urban outreach programs targeted mostly to young people, young men in particular, seems to have eluded the host.
Perhaps it was too much to ask that the host read even the newspaper owned by the company operating the station on which the host blabbered the vapid commentary.
Here again we were treated to a shop-worn cliché about politicians. It is one in a collection of clichés and lazy thinking. Others include, "the country (it could be any country) is going to hell", which has been a refrain since the Treaty of Westphalia codified the nation-state in 1648.
Alas, with notable exceptions, this is typical fare on talk radio where fact-checking has also become a dying art. This medium of mass communication is littered with channels of mass misinformation and downright disinformation by some.
More distressing is the uninformed commentary by those one assumes should know better. Recently, there was an unexpectedly disappointing letter to the editor on the state of political affairs in the country including the 2012 election cycle.
As society holds academics to a high standard of intellectual rigor, one expects more balanced and substantive analysis from someone in academia. One also expects analysis that is fact-driven and properly researched.
The letter was not a well-crafted intellectual argument. It was disingenuous. Not because the individual is ill-willed. Indeed, the writer appears well-meaning in terms of concern for the country. It was disingenuous because it indulged in a series of gross overstatements and cavalier disregard of readily available facts.
The letter was lacking in historical and global perspective, yet another example of navel-gazing with little contextualizing of domestic affairs within the broader scope of global current affairs.
The letter writer posited: "One could argue (and I certainly would) that for four of the past five years, there was no governance at all, but just more of this sparring in the House of Assembly, just more trading of insults back and forth across the floor, while the world got on with changing its foundations all around us and the ground on which our society and economy rest crumbles away."
Such commentary is neither convincing nor dispositive. Any casual observer of the fierce parliamentary debates in a host of parliamentary democracies including the UK would view our political back-and-forth as tame.
The often vituperative nature of Australian politics would make the heads of many Bahamians spin. This is not new for Australia. It has a history of rough-and-tumble politics. Yet, Australia is often viewed as one of the better run countries.
To provide as evidence for our supposed lack of governance, the fierce nature of political debate would mean that Great Britain has not been governed for centuries. In democracies like South Korea and Japan, parliamentary sessions have degenerated into fist-fights. Are these countries also without governance?
But the claim of "no governance" belies other realities. That not a single civil servant was laid off during the Great Recession was not an easy feat. If more academics and civil servants were laid off in The Bahamas over the past five years, as has been the case in other countries, perhaps more of them would have a deeper appreciation of how tough it was to hold the country together.
Not only were no civil servants laid off. There were also no cuts in salaries and benefits, and increments are on the horizon. It is shocking how cavalier is the analysis of some when they are not daily confronted with the enormous challenges of governing including prioritizing the apportionment of limited resources.
This supposed period of "no governance" achieved: $25 million more in scholarships for students attending The College of The Bahamas, the retraining of nearly 4,000 moderate income Bahamians, the introduction of a prescription drug benefit, the introduction of a landmark unemployment benefit, millions invested in new health facilities, new entrepreneurial programs for young people, and the most comprehensive upgrade of critical infrastructure in the nation's history inclusive of potable water and infrastructure urgently needed by Family Islanders.
None of these accomplishments magically appeared. They required leadership and governance. That the writer mentioned not one of these is more than being uninformed. Intellectual honesty requires an acknowledgment of facts.
The writer declared: "I have heard absolutely nothing from any party about what the future holds... The FNM has focussed very much on vague generalities like proven leadership and deliverance, and what has been done, largely in material, infrastructural terms, in the very recent past (one or two years at most)."
"Absolutely nothing"? This is intellectually disingenuous. Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's over two dozen rally addresses since the beginning of the year contain considerably more than the usual political boilerplate. They are dense with policy and programmatic proposals.
Of note is a discussion of his vision for The Bahamas including his party's philosophy of development and ideas for urban redevelopment. His remarks in North Eleuthera addressed the balancing of domestic and foreign direct investment.
Either the letter writer has not bothered to research these or is being purposely misleading. If one has a view of the prime minister's proposals that would be fair commentary. But to claim that his speeches are mostly about sloganeering and infrastructure is exceedingly unfair and disingenuous.
The prime minister has proposed the development of Jubilee Bahamas (a 10-year National Plan), the Public Arts Project, a Parks and Recreation Authority, the Summer Institute for Boys, the Youth Development Centre, a Heritage Tourism Initiative, a Native Food Market for Over-the-Hill, an Economic and Development Council of Bahamians Overseas, an expanded mission for BTVI, and a further upgrade of post offices to government service centers.
The FNM's manifesto details proposals ranging from increasing the minimum wage, introducing National Catastrophic Health Insurance, the promotion of aquaculture and mariculture, the development of head start programs to improve literacy, numeracy and fundamental computer skills for all children by age five, the provision of "a school place or a stipend of up to $1,500 for all five-year-olds in approved educational institutions", a large-scale program of return migration to the Family Islands, a Bahamas Youth Development Corps, and others.
Again, not a single one of these was mentioned by the letter writer. What conclusion might one reach about the utter and wholesale exclusion of these facts?
Leaving aside the letter writer, it seems the self-imposed burden of some of the supposed cognoscenti and literati in developing countries is to decry the backwardness of our governance.
There is the regular excoriation of our politicians, our political process, our elections and our governance. There is the "dismay" and "outrage" at the way opposing political partisans tear the other side down.
How different this must be from more civilized countries supposedly so much better governed than The Bahamas? Perhaps these countries include a hyper-partisan United States or European Community states in the midst of a dire economic and political crisis related to their supposedly superior governance even as they slash their budgets and look to the International Monetary Fund for help.
In the frenzy of the enlightened denunciation by some of our supposed backwardness, perhaps they can offer more credible and cost-accounted policy prescriptions. Some of them might even enter frontline politics and discover the demands of governance.
There should be an immersion program called "Prime Minister for a Day". One imagines that just a day in the prime minister's chair would give rise to more insightful and convincing commentary than we are daily treated to in various media.
Politicians deserve neither pity nor unfettered adulation. But neither should they take seriously the simplistic assaults on their service in office, and the lack of acknowledgement of their accomplishments by those who do not accord them such common courtesy and basic fairness.
It is an intellectual conceit and a conceit of ignorance to fail to acknowledge such contributions by those politicians who love The Bahamas no less than those who breezily opine on affairs of state in pursuit of a hypothesis unconcerned with facts.
The Chinese company contracted to build a domestic and international port facility in North Abaco broke ground in June, and is still awaiting government permits prior to the start of major operations, according to the top executive in charge of the project.
The $46 million port facility is expected to be completed by summer 2015, according to Felix Q. Chang, country manager at China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Ltd., who said the company has so far had a "positive experience" in The Bahamas.
"We are still reviewing all the drawings, but temporary site offices have already been done. We are waiting for the permits now," Chang said.
Appearing as a guest on "Bahamas at Sunrise", Chang gave a brief history of the project. He is one of a number of high-powered members of the business community who will speak at the Abaco Business Outlook in North Abaco next week. The conference is part of a series of business-focused gatherings organized by The Counsellors Ltd., beginning with the Bahamas Business Outlook and continuing throughout the year with conferences on an expanding number of Family Islands.
He said in 2011, The Bahamas government entered discussions with CHEC to construct a domestic and an international port facility in North Abaco. Funding was secured in 2012, with the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China and the government of The Bahamas jointly covering the majority of the cost.
Questioned about the potential environmental impacts of the project, Chang pointed out that CHEC has done a number of projects around the world, and the expertise gained through those projects would be brought into play here.
"We have done a series of studies and modelings, in terms of environmental protection," he said. "We are going to make sure that when we are doing the construction, we will follow all the laws and regulations in The Bahamas, and respect the local community for sure."
CHEC broke ground on the facility in June, and is expected to soon begin construction work on a Little Abaco bridge which will link North Abaco and Little Abaco.
The 45.4-acre, state-of-the-art port facility is expected to generate dozens of jobs during construction and create new business opportunities post construction in the North Abaco community.
Friday 26th October 2012 7:30 PM
Event has been Postponed due Hurricane sandy Nassau Music Society presents An Evening of Classical Guitar Friday, October 26th and Sunday, October 28th, 2012
Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President John Pinder yesterday demanded that Prime Minister Perry Christie remove Gaming Board Chairman Dr. Andre Rollins from his post, claiming that Rollins is micro-managing the board and wrongfully terminating staff.
Pinder said three employees were recently fired and another suspended for 10 days without pay.
However, Rollins shot back at Pinder's accusations and said he is working in the best interests of the Gaming Board.
The Fort Charlotte MP told The Nassau Guardian the recent firings were not personal attacks but based on "serious matters that warranted action".
"I think it would behoove John Pinder to do as much as he can to research the facts about each particular case before he seeks to spout off at the mouth creating unnecessary controversy," Rollins said.
He added: "Mr. Pinder is wrong to try and portray me as someone who has an agenda of hurting persons.
"I am offended if he is suggesting that we are in some way targeting individuals. We are not doing that. Would he wish for us to allow the place to run amuck so he can remain in his place as union leader?"
Rollins said Pinder has previously sought to "selfishly" protect the interests of union members.
"John Pinder has intervened directly in matters of dismissal with the Gaming Board in the past," Rollins said.
Pinder warned the government that if it does not remove Rollins, and other heads of government agencies that are not labor friendly, he may campaign against the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
He said the union would do whatever it can to change the management style of the Gaming Board.
"If we have to disrupt the casinos so that the government can understand we are not playing with them...then so be it," he said outside the Gaming Board's offices on Collins Avenue.
"We can't wait for election to get rid of him [Rollins]. We need him to be moved forthwith, now. If the government doesn't follow suit they will feel the pinch come next election."
He added: "The trade union movement, when we run up against governments who are not acting labor friendly and who [are] destroying the labor workforce in our country, we will do what we have to do to get them removed. We did it before and we will do it again."
When asked about this, Rollins questioned if Pinder was attacking him to drum up support for a potential political career.
Pinder also said he would immediately file a trade dispute on the grounds of wrongful dismissal for two employees of the Gaming Board.
Pinder said one was let go from the board and another was suspended for 10 days without pay. The union chief is also upset over the termination of two other Gaming Board employees who are not members of the BPSU.
Pinder said one of these employees, the Gaming Board's deputy secretary, was fired because she and another employee switched shifts.
The deputy secretary took court action on April 1 and was granted an order by Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder on Wednesday to return to work.
However, Pinder said when the employee, who has worked with the Gaming Board for eight years, showed up for work yesterday, she was told to leave the premises.
Pinder said the firings were not in accordance with the BPSU's industrial agreement.
Rollins admitted that the deputy secretary was not allowed to return to work yesterday.
However, he said the Gaming Board was not trying to subvert the court order but had a meeting with Prime Minister Perry Christie and Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe to verify the document.
Last June, Pinder called for Rollins' removal, alleging he used "union busting" tactics.
At the time, Pinder said the union received reports that Rollins told union executives and shop stewards to distance themselves from the bargaining unit.
In June, Rollins said the accusations were not true.
Downers Grove, Ill. - DeVry Inc. (NYSE:DV), a global provider of
educational services, today announced it has acquired the business
operations of privately held American University of the Caribbean (AUC).
AUC's medical school campus is located in St. Maarten, and its
administrative offices are located in Coral Gables, Fla.
I am quite
concerned about the direction in which the Free National Movement (FNM)
is headed. It appears that since Hubert Ingraham returned as leader of
the FNM in 2005 he has made it his mission to be the sole face of the
FNM. So much so, that some of the FNM's constituency offices barely
display the faces of the candidates, but are decorated with the image of
Ingraham. This continues a trend which was clearly evident during the
Elizabeth by-election. For the number of Hubert Ingraham's posters
nailed to trees and light poles, you hardly knew that Dr. Duane Sands
was the candidate in that by-election. No wonder he blew it after the
entire Cabinet invaded and occupied Elizabeth and brought with them the
full resources of the government...
I am quite concerned about the direction in which the Free National Movement (FNM) is headed. It appears that since Hubert Ingraham returned as leader of the FNM in 2005 he has made it his mission to be the sole face of the FNM. So much so, that some of the FNM's constituency offices barely display the faces of the candidates, but are decorated with the image of Ingraham. This continues a trend which was clearly evident during the Elizabeth by-election. For the number of Hubert Ingraham's posters nailed to trees and light poles, you hardly knew that Dr. Duane Sands was the candidate in that by-election. No wonder he blew it after the entire Cabinet invaded and occupied Elizabeth and brought with them the full resources of the government.
The FNM has seemingly placed all its hopes in Ingraham pulling off another win for the party. The party has unfortunately permitted the perception to pervade that Ingraham is the only one capable of winning a general election for the FNM. The party's debacle in the 2002 general election reinforced this perception. This does not bode well for the sustainability or future of the party. Ingraham's is the only image on the party's ads and the lone voice heard on commercials. All of the party's jingles and paraphernalia are centered around Papa. All of the current Parliamentarians go to great pains to ensure that they do not project their individuality too pretentiously. Even the new candidates have already been cowered into paying due homage to Papa and are very careful not to say anything that may annoy him.
The cult of ego that Ingraham has carefully cultivated over the years is now looming over the political landscape. He is hellbent on stringing out the dissolution of Parliament and in announcing the date of the election. The withholding of this information feeds some psychological need of his. The more he, the barefoot boy from Abaco, keeps an entire nation in electoral expectation the more it supplies this ego. Ingraham was calculating enough to move his deputy on the side at a time when it was too late to go to convention to elect a replacement. And the FNM, which questions nothing he does, will go into the general election without a deputy leader. How could a group of supposedly intelligent people accept this state of affairs?
This demagoguery culminated in the FNM's DJ changing the words of a popular gospel song to acclaim the majesty of Hubert Ingraham. The FNM's version of the song was: "There is nobody greater than Hubert". While the song was playing the entire sea of red swayed and exalted in the adoration of their god. Ingraham must have had prior knowledge of this song, as no one in that organization would dare play a song about him without his knowledge and approval. It was only after the frenzy and backlash that followed, which he did not anticipate, that Ingraham was humbled to apologize at the next rally.
In the first commandment, God admonishes us to have no other gods but me. The FNM would do well to heed this admonishment.
- Eric Gardner