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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.
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 Democratic National Alliance (DNA) announced its deputy leader on Wednesday night at the Wyndham Nassau Resort ballroom. Chris Mortimer won the post of deputy leader for the DNA, but in my view the real winner is the Bahamian people.
I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Mortimer on at least three occasions, and on each occasion, I became more and more impressed with his leadership style and his business acumen. He has no qualms about speaking on any issue and he has an 'arsenal' of plans to try to improve the Bahamian economy.
He is a man of purpose and this is evident by the way in which he runs Galleria Cinemas and his DNA campaign office, also known as The C.A. Mortimer Sr. Resource Center. Just before the boundaries commission, he was the candidate for the Sea Breeze constituency. He is now the DNA's candidate for Nassau Village.
When I visited his campaign headquarters, I was taken aback by the level of professionalism and organization being exuded by his staff members. They addressed everyone with respect and even though they were hosting a domino tournament, staff members maintained their professional poise. In my view, this was no accident.
His campaign headquarters has a modern kitchen, a waiting area, a full-size back yard, an entertainment room for children, offices and even a computer room where access is granted only to authorized persons. Persons who look for detail in business operations would be very impressed if they visited his campaign headquarters.
Mortimer and his team also use cutting edge technology in their campaign. I was very impressed with the Android devices that are used to track voters and keep a database record of their addresses, names and phone contacts. They can locate voter details at the touch of a button when campaigning on the road.
I asked him point blank several months ago about what type of contribution he plans to make to The Bahamas. He said that he is all about empowering Bahamians and that he will make no compromises with regards to the same.
I don't find Mortimer to be the most passionate public speaker, but my honest opinion of him is that he has the itch to serve. This is lacking in many of our candidates who just have the itch to get rich and talk foolishness.
If Mortimer's running of his campaign is any indication of what he intends to do if elected, then this can only serve as a blessing for The Bahamas. We need more men like him who will stay above the fray and bring focus and order to the many policies affecting our governance. Even if Mortimer is not elected, I think he has already built a model from which all other candidates can learn. I truly hope that he continues what he has started.
- Dehavilland Moss
"We need real campaign finance reform to loosen the grip of special interests on politics." - Tom Daschle
Every five years around election time, incessant lip service is paid to campaign financing. It can only be lip service because after the ballots have been cast, counted and catalogued, the notion of campaign finance reform retires to hibernation - that is, until the next general election. Therefore, this week, we would like to Consider This...what practical approaches can we realistically take regarding how we finance political campaigns in The Bahamas?
Unquestionably, politics has become an extremely expensive exercise. When one considers the cost of political rallies, paraphernalia, including T-shirts and other garments now available, flags, posters, signage, printing of flyers, advertisements, including newspaper, radio and television broadcasts and commercials, the cost is staggering. Let's not forget the direct cost of personnel employed by political parties; the cost of constituency offices, sometimes four or five, particularly in the Family Islands; the cost of electricity, water, and telephones; the cost of food and beverages; of political consultants; and the printing of party platforms. When these and other costs are considered, the real cost of staging a general election could very easily cost $250,000 per constituency or nearly $10 million per party. So how are political parties expected to finance such a mammoth undertaking?
Using the public purse
It has become commonplace for the government of the day to use the power of the public purse to significantly finance its party's political campaign. We observed this practice when the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was in power; we witnessed it in the by-election in Elizabeth two years ago; and we are seeing it again in the current general election. While this has been a common practice, the Free National Movement (FNM) government seems to have taken this phenomenon to new heights.
Shortly after announcing the general election of 2012, the government launched a record contract signing marathon. The $12 million contract for the construction of a new clinic in North Abaco and a multimillion-dollar contract for a new hospital in Exuma are a few examples of this.
Last weekend, amidst great public fanfare at police headquarters, the prime minister awarded $1 million to charitable organizations. Ironically, this is the same government that - only one year earlier - reduced the government's subvention to such organizations during the annual budget debate in the House of Assembly. This is the same government that discontinued the extremely effective YEAST program that provided a positive prototype for young Bahamian men at risk and the same government that canceled the effective and internationally celebrated urban renewal program established by the PLP.
No matter which party is in power, an intelligent and discerning public should look askance at the government of the day exploiting and abusing the public purse in order to win votes after elections have been called.
In The Bahamas, political campaigns are predominantly financed by contributions from persons, companies, and organizations that believe in the democratic process and want to ensure that the message of the political party that they support is widely and successfully disseminated.
In the absence of campaign finance laws, there are no restrictions on who can contribute to a political party and how much they can donate. Accordingly, anyone -- Bahamians and foreigners - can contribute any amount to anyone at any time without any accountability whatsoever. The real question that we must address for the future health of our democracy is whether this is a desirable practice?
It has become customary for political contributions to be made in private, sometimes on the condition of confidentiality and often in secrecy with only a select few members of the party knowledgeable regarding the source of the funds.
Campaign 2012 has seen a new development in political funding. During the last few mass rallies, the prime minister has publicly appealed from the podium for campaign contributions, describing it as a further deepening of our democracy by allowing the public to become investors in his party. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, it is unprecedented and uncharacteristic. We have never before seen this prime minister - or any other for that matter - beg for money from a public podium.
It therefore begs the question: why has he done so now, during what he says is his last campaign? He alluded to the answer to this question on Thursday past at a mass rally on R. M. Bailey Park when he said that he will not tolerate anyone in his Cabinet who has financially benefited from conflicts of interest.
We believe that he made this appeal for financial contributions because, while the FNM is still well-funded by those wealthy interest groups who support him in order to continue reaping his government's largess, some of his traditional sources of funding are less generous than they have been in the past. This is possibly because he has cut some of his more financially well-connected candidates for reasons already stated and reiterated again from that podium last Thursday in a purposefully vague but very revealing way.
Campaign finance reform
Clearly, as the prime minister is opening party funding up to the masses in ways never seen before, the time has come to enact campaign financing legislation. There are several things that can be done in order to impose strict controls for campaign fund-raising, primarily to level the playing field and to minimize disparate levels of funding campaigns by the various political parties. Campaign financing legislation should also establish disclosure requirements with respect to funding and spending in elections.
Such a law could introduce statutory limits on contributions by individuals, organizations and companies, which would remove the influence of big money from politics and should also prohibit foreign influences from invading the local political process.
There should also be limits on large potential donors to prevent them from gaining extraordinary political access or favorable legislation or other concessions in return for their contributions. Campaign finance laws should also provide for the capping of such funding and for the disclosure of sources of campaign contributions and expenditures. It should also limit or prohibit government contractors from making contributions with respect to such elections.
Campaign financing legislation could even provide for matching funds by the government for all the candidates in order to ensure that the playing field truly is level and to enhance clean elections.
Finally, in order to more vigilantly protect the public purse, the law should strictly prohibit a government from signing any new contracts after general or by-elections are called.
Campaigns will become more expensive as time progresses. As we mature politically, we should seek to ensure that political parties operate on a level playing field and remove the barriers to participation in the democratic process because of a lack of funding. If we want to encourage the best and the brightest citizens to enter into the elective political arena, we should seek to eliminate the observation of U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton that: "Elections are more often bought than won".
Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham will give a farewell address as leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) when the party meets in a special convention at the Holy Trinity Activities Centre in Stapledon Gardens on Saturday.
Ingraham will speak during an opening ceremony at 9 a.m., according to a statement released by the party yesterday.
The party will choose a leader, deputy leader and other officers at the convention.
Official Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis is expected to be elected unopposed, The Nassau Guardian understands.
Ingraham announced on the night of the May 7 general election that he will not serve as leader of the Official Opposition and intends to resign from frontline politics. His resignation from politics takes effect July 19, the anniversary of his first election in 1977.
The party suffered a crushing defeat at the polls.
Long Island MP-elect Loretta Butler-Turner, former Minister of Education Desmond Bannister and defeated FNM Bamboo Town candidate Cassius Stuart have announced that they will run for deputy leader.
Former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard has revealed that he will run for chairman.
The party said yesterday that after the opening ceremony, which is open to the public, the convention will resolve itself into closed sessions during which there will be nominations of candidates and voting.
The evening session of the convention will be open to the public and starts at 7 p.m.
The new leader, deputy leader and other elected party officers will be announced at that time. The closing address and charge will be delivered by the new leader.
The statement from the party said, "The Free National Movement is pleased with the vast array of exciting contenders for party offices, inclusive of seasoned political leaders and newcomers, who are stepping forward to vie for the offices of deputy leader, chairman, secretary general and a host of senior posts within the party.
"The convention promises to be both exciting and transformative as the Free National Movement shows that it has heard the voice of the Bahamian electorate, and is prepared to respond positively and proactively to meet the challenges of being the Official Opposition, while laying a firm and enduring foundation for an early return to government.
"This is especially so as it becomes more and more obvious to hurting and long-suffering Bahamians that the newly elected, conflict of interest laden PLP government gained their support by false promises of a quick fix to the vexing problems of a depressed global and national economy, the home mortgage crisis, as well as the increasingly high and unacceptable levels of violent crime and murders on our streets."
The statement said the convention's theme, "Ignite the Future", emphasizes the determination of every member, and the more than 65,000 supporters of the FNM, to do everything in their power to "hold the torch of freedom high, to light the way to a better future, and to thereby ignite in the hearts of Bahamians a re-commitment to good governance, accountability and integrity in every public office".
Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said yesterday he has intervened in a labor dispute at the Gaming Board and believes he has diffused the tension between Gaming Board Chairman Dr. Andre Rollins and Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President John Pinder.
Wilchcombe said he met with Pinder on Friday, a day after the union leader demanded that Prime Minister Perry Christie remove Rollins from his post.
Pinder claimed Rollins was micromanaging the board and wrongfully terminating staff.
"I think we're under control," said Wilchcombe, the minister responsible for gaming.
"I think we have a very sound relationship with the president of the union.
"And we have had opportunities to sit and talk about the situation that arose and I think that we have found an amicable way to deal with it and we will put it all to bed and move on."
When asked about the mounting tension between Pinder and Rollins, Wilchcombe said despite an apparent rift both men "are on the same page".
"We all want the best for our country," he said.
"We want Bahamians working. We want to have an advancing Gaming Board. I think we are all after the same things."
Last Thursday, Pinder threatened to campaign against the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) if the government does not remove Rollins, and other heads of government agencies who "are not labor friendly".
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," said Pinder 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."
Pinder was outraged because three Gaming Board employees were recently fired and another was suspended for 10 days without pay.
He claimed one of the 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 to return to work.
Gaming Board officials did not allow her to remain on the premises. Rollins said the board was not trying to disobey a court order but had to verify the document first.
The employee in question was allowed to return to work on Friday, Wilchcombe said.
Last week, Rollins said he is working in the best interests of the Gaming Board.
With a view to deepening mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation and achieving the common development of China and the Caribbean region, the government of the People's Republic of China and the government of Trinidad and Tobago will co-host the 3rd China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum (CCETCF) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from September 12 to 13, 2011. Vice Premier Wang Qishan of the State Council of China will participate in the forum on behalf of the Chinese government. I hereby wish the forum a great success with rich fruits.
The Bahamas is one of the member states of the forum. The Chinese government attaches great importance to developing practical cooperative relations with The Bahamas. In order to express the friendship of the Chinese government and people to the Bahamian government and people and to assist the Bahamian government in its rescue and reconstruction work in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Vice Premier Wang Qishan will bring a US$300,000 grant in cash on behalf of the Chinese government to the Bahamian government and will witness the signing of an economic and technical cooperation agreement between the two countries during his visit to The Bahamas prior to his travel to Trinidad and Tobago.
Review of Bahamas-China relationship
As Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas, I'd like to take the opportunity on the convening of the forum to review what we have done in China-Bahamas economic and trade cooperation in recent years, and look ahead to the prospects of future cooperation. By doing so, I wish to promote China-Bahamas economic and trade cooperation to a new high.
In accordance with the joint statement issued by the governments of China and The Bahamas and the Xianmen Declaration reached among enterprises from the two countries during the 2nd CCETCF in September 2007, both sides have put relevant measures into effect conscientiously, thus yielding positive results.
Firstly, the bilateral trade volume has been growing fast. According to the statistics of the Chinese General Administration of Customs, the bilateral trade volumes between China and The Bahamas in the four successive years of 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 were US$180 million, US$385 million, US$423 million and US$628 million respectively, up by 9.8 percent, 113 percent, 9.5 percent and 48.5 percent year-on-year. And, the 2010 figure was 3.47 times that in 2006.
Secondly, substantial progress has been made in investment. The Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, built on a Chinese grant, was handed over to the Bahamian government on June 22, 2011. The Chinese government also honored its commitment to providing a RMB 400 million (about US$58 million) concessional loan for the Nassau Airport Gateway Project. The construction of the gateway started in June 2011 and is expected to be completed in 2013. Moreover, the EximBank of China offered a commercial loan of US$2.45 billion to the Baha Mar project, a large-scale holiday resort; and the China State Construction Engineering Corporation also invested US$150 million in it. The project started on February 21, 2011 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014. The resort is expected to open for business in the first half of 2015.
Thirdly, the first step of agricultural cooperation has already been taken. An MOU on agricultural cooperation was signed by the two governments in February 2009. Experts, engineers and market researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences and some Chinese enterprises have paid an on-the-spot inspection in The Bahamas. Some enterprises expect to develop agriculture here. Some have even submitted investment cooperation plans to the Bahamian government.
Fourthly, human resources training programs were well received by the participants. From 2007 to 2010, 90 Bahamians including government officials, business managers and technical personnel were sponsored by the Chinese government to participate in 40 training courses and seminars of various kinds. From 2008 to 2011, 22 Bahamian young students were granted Chinese government full scholarship, majoring in a variety of specialities such as traditional medicine, international trade, telecommunications and computer technology. In 2011, the Chinese government provided another three Bahamian officers with a one-year postgraduate training opportunity in China.
Apart from the above, the Confucius Classroom was approved by the governments of China and The Bahamas to be established at the College of The Bahamas, and it was formally unveiled in November 2009. A teacher from China started to teach the Chinese language in the classroom in early 2011.
Fifthly, tourism cooperation has expanded gradually, with more and more Chinese tourists targeting The Bahamas. In December 2008 and March 2009, the Chinese Tourist Agencies Association twice organized operators of its member agencies on invitation to make an on-the-spot investigation of the Bahamian tourist market. The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation of The Bahamas and Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd. have established their offices respectively in China in an effort to develop new tourism products. During the Chinese New Year holidays in 2011, the first ever group of Chinese tourists choosing The Bahamas as their destination, made an eight-day tour in New Providence and some Family Islands.
Sixthly, personnel exchange has been expanding. Since 2007, the number of Bahamians visiting China has been on the rise steadily. More and more people from the Bahamian business circle participated in the Guangzhou (Canton) Trade Fair and other international investment and trade fairs held in China. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese visiting The Bahamas has also increased very quickly. There are two major reasons for that. The substantial progress of Chinese-invested projects in The Bahamas attracted more business visitors from China. The exchange of high-level visits between the two countries gave rise to deeper people-to-people understanding and more Chinese citizens visiting The Bahamas.
The road ahead
The economic and trade cooperation between our two countries foresees a bright future, featuring a high starting point, fast growth and great potential. Thus, there's more to be done. For a long period of time, from now on, the bilateral investment will focus on areas such as infrastructure, finance, tourism, renewable energy resources, agriculture and fisheries. And such cooperation will surely result in mutual-benefit and a win-win scenario.
In terms of infrastructure, The Bahamas has great demands for the construction of roads, airports, docks and small bridges while Chinese enterprises have the advantage in this field.
In terms of finance, The Bahamas is a major financial center in the Caribbean region. Over 270 international banks and financial institutions have registered and operated their businesses here. The Bahamian side wishes to see Chinese commercial banks set up branches in The Bahamas.
In the tourism sector, The Bahamas is one of the countries that got approved destination status for Chinese tourists. With the smooth construction and operation of the Baha Mar project, coupled with relevant facilitation measures in place from the Bahamian side, more and more Chinese tourists will target The Bahamas as their touring destination.
In the area of renewable energy, The Bahamas has promulgated some policies to boost the use of renewable energy resources. Its market demand for renewable energy is gradually growing. China takes the lead in utilizing solar and wind power in the world, and the Chinese skills in this area well suit the needs of The Bahamas.
As for agriculture and fisheries, The Bahamas is not yet able to realize self-sufficiency in grain currently. However, there's some quite good arable land lying idle on some of its islands. Chinese enterprises can come over to develop livestock and poultry as well as vegetable farms. They can also explore the possibility of developing aquatic products on these islands.
With regard to medical cooperation, China is famous for its traditional medicine, in particular its treatments by acupuncture and medicinal herbs. The traditional Chinese medicine is effective to many diseases, such as functional diseases, chronic diseases, mental diseases, gynecological diseases, initial recovery from serious illnesses, diseases with causes hard to diagnose and difficult and complicated diseases. There are many such diseases in The Bahamas and a variety of wild herbs here that can be used as medicine. Treatment with traditional Chinese medicine is less costly but very effective. So we are taking the initiative in setting up a traditional Chinese medicine research and treatment center in The Bahamas where doctors from both sides can work together to serve the Bahamian people in need of treatment.
In conclusion, China and The Bahamas have achieved great progress in bilateral economic and trade cooperation, and there's still more for us to do. Given that it is in line with the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples to strengthen our economic and trade cooperation, we will continue to make our efforts in this regard.
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
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...