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News Article

May 05, 2012
The poles melt, we drown

In 1982, the less than one-year-old Caribbean small island state, Antigua and Barbuda, raised the proposition at the United Nations that Antarctica should be regarded as a global common similar to the deep-sea bed and should be managed by the UN for the good of mankind.
Few could understand why a small island-state would want to raise a matter that seemed to be "big country politics". Today, as "polar ice caps melt and small islands drown", the reasons for Antigua and Barbuda's concern in 1982 have become very apparent.
In 1982, arrangements for the governance of Antarctica lay exclusively in the hands of the signatory states to the Antarctic Treaty System. It was an exclusive arrangement between 12 countries. Of the 12, seven -- Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom -- have territorial claims, sometimes overlapping (as in the case of Britain and Argentina in the region of the Falklands/Malvinas islands). The U.S. and Russia also maintain a "basis of claim".
As matters turned out, Antigua and Barbuda was too recent an independent nation and lacked the resources to continue to press the case for the UN declaring Antarctica "a global common" that should be managed by the UN for the good of all nations. It was left to Malaysia to take up the cudgels.
In 1983, Malaysia argued at the UN that Antarctica should be a global heritage similar to that of the high seas and any benefits derived from Antarctica should be shared by all and not only the exclusive right of certain vested countries and parties. Malaysia also argued that the pristine "Antarctic environment be protected and preserved".
The seven countries with claims to Antarctica were as unhappy with the Malaysia proposal, as they were with Antigua and Barbuda's aborted first raising of the issue. Nonetheless, Malaysia garnered sufficient support to ensure that until 1996, the question of Antarctica was discussed at the UN. But, in 2005 it dropped off the UN agenda.
There is clear evidence now that the worry about preserving the pristine condition of Antarctica was very valid when it was raised in the UN in 1982. Human activity in the area and climate change in Antarctica and in the Arctic are adversely affecting small island states and vulnerable coastal areas of larger countries.
This point was well made at a conference most people would say small island states in tropical climates had no business attending. The International Polar Year Conference 2012, under the theme, "From Knowledge to Action", was held in Montreal, Canada, from April 22-27. Organized by several partners, especially the World Meteorological Organization, Ronald Jean Jumeau, ambassador for climate change for the small island state of Seychelles, made a compelling argument for the continued active concern by small island states for what is happening in Antarctica.
His remarks at the Montreal Conference have particular relevance because small island states and developing countries with vulnerable coasts (such as Belize and Guyana) appear to have lost the toe-hold at the UN for discussing Antarctica and the effects on them of melting glaciers. In 2005, the UN agreed, in its First Committee, that Antarctica would not be placed on the agenda of the UN General Assembly. It hasn't been on the agenda since then. But, it should be.
Here are Jumeau's remarks on the effects of climate change in the two poles: "The worse the situation gets in the Arctic and the Antarctic, the more worried we islanders get. For the more your ice melts in the north and the south, and on the mountain tops and in the glaciers of the world, the more our world, in tiny Seychelles just four degrees south of the equator and in the rest of the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Caribbean as well, the more our world goes under. As the poles melt, we drown".
He pointed out: "The melting ice at the poles is not just contributing to sea level rise, it is affecting the oceans as drivers of the world's climate as well. The seas around our islands, some of which are the lowest land on earth, are rising, and coastal erosion is getting worse and worse to the extent that some islands may be swept away before the waves cover them and wipe them off the face of the earth".
The ambassador ended by saying: "The poles' global linkages make the Arctic and the Antarctic a common, a global, heritage of the whole community of man and womankind".
And, if it might be felt that the Seychelles ambassador's warnings are self-serving, this is what Ban-ki-Moon, the UN secretary-general, said about the situation in 2007: "Antarctica is on the verge of a catastrophe - for the world." He offered figures to support his claim: "glaciers on King George Island have shrunk by 10 percent, while some in Admiralty Bay have retreated by 25 kilometers; the 87-kilometer "Larsen B ice sheet" collapsed several years ago and disappeared within weeks; the entire Western Antarctic Ice Shelf is at risk - it is all floating ice, one fifth of the entire continent. If it broke up, sea levels could rise by six meters or 18 feet." Since then, matters have gotten worse.
Work is being done by small island states to raise attention to the growing threat to their existence, and to the dangers posed to their productive areas and human habitats - both food security and human dislocation are real issues.
This matter should be forcefully pressed at the forthcoming Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference in the interest of all small island states and vulnerable coastal areas. It should also vigorously be pushed back on to the UN agenda however resistant may be those countries that regard Antarctica as their exclusive preserve.

o Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on small states in the global community. Send responses to: www.sirronaldsanders.com.

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News Article

May 03, 2012
A call to national conscience

As we head to the polls in a historic election on May 7, 2012, the Bahamian electorate should consider and be guided by the following resounding words of wisdom: "Let your conscience be your guide".
There is no doubt that we are witnessing a general election that is historic not only because the register of voters consists of the highest number of voters (approximately 172,000 people) in the history of The Bahamas or because for the first time a so-called third party has produced a full slate of candidates, but also for the first time in Bahamian history we have witnessed absentee voting overseas and an expansion of individuals able to participate in an advanced poll.
Unfortunately, however, history will also record that some of our politicians refused to move away from the status quo and maintained their old bad habits with "politricks" and propaganda at the forefront.
This election season, the Bahamian electorate has overwhelmingly demanded that political candidates and parties present viable solutions to the myriad socio-economic problems confronting our nation. However, to say that old habits die hard is an understatement, as we have witnessed politicians resorting to unnecessary character attacks, misleading advertisements and finger-pointing. The most disgraceful and disturbing phenomenon to date has been the attempt to reduce our electoral process to a "personality contest" between the leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), Hubert A. Ingraham, and the leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), Perry G. Christie.
As we make our way to the polls next Monday, we must consider the facts and reject the propaganda and rhetoric that some of our political leaders subject us to. We must take an introspective look at ourselves and the current state of affairs within our Bahamaland. It is conceded that governments are not directly responsible for crimes committed against persons, employing all of their citizens or ensuring individual business ventures prosper. However, we can all agree that governments are in fact responsible for protecting their citizens (and residents) while executing sound and prudent economic, fiscal and monetary policies that create an environment for peace, safety and economic prosperity.
The Bahamian electorate sits in the chair of an employer getting ready to hire a prospect which he/she will be stuck with for the next five years. The only advantage we have as voters is that in addition to the resumes and references provided, we have past records and performance to assist us in making an informed decision. Accordingly, we must examine each political party's manifesto and/or governing document to ascertain which party has the better plan for a more prosperous Bahamas moving forward and the political will to execute. We must be attentive to today's promises in comparison to yesterday's promises to ascertain whether they will bring about the change we desire.
Regardless of the strategies employed by political parties during this election season, The Bahamas still practices the Westminster system in which we vote for candidates to provide good and effective representation for constituencies. We are not a republic and we do not conduct presidential elections; at least not at this time. With this in mind, Bahamians should vote for candidates of their choice they deem to be most qualified, rather than solely along party lines or who the leaders of the respective parties are.

Last minute inducements
In the run-up to the general election, we must not be blind-sighted by the granting of last minute lucrative contracts, temporary and unsustainable jobs and overdue promotions, increments and benefits. Our politics must move beyond allowing ruling governments to manipulate our emotions for political gain just to retain power.
The governing term of five years provides political leaders with ample time to address numerous issues in a practical, logical and strategic manner without holding off distributing benefits as election ploys. Likewise, we must not be fooled by and/or encourage political leaders and/or candidates to buy our votes in exchange for jobs, payment of utility bills, school fees, mortgages, rent or the purchase of groceries, fridges, stoves, etc.
Voters should be mindful of the Bible story of Esau, who sold his birth-right for a morsel of bread. Esau stood to inherit his father's wealth but gave this right away in a moment of hunger. The same fate is bound to befall voters who do not appreciate the value of this land that God has given to us as our possession.
There is no doubt that times are tough and several voters are in economic hardship. However, our votes are all we have - our most valuable asset. We must not sell our votes, refrain from voting, accept or administer bribery, encourage ineligible voting or deception to give advantage to one political party over the other. The Bahamian electorate ought to be guided by the vision and plans proposed for the country and respective constituencies and select individuals who will help create an environment of economic and social independence and security to achieve individual dreams.
Political leaders and aspiring candidates on the other hand should be reminded that post this general election, the electorate will hold them accountable like never before in the history of The Bahamas. Suffice it to say that with a more educated and informed electorate, the era of empty promises and lies is behind us. There is a new generation of Bahamians who are advocating for a change in our politics and economics. Among other things, we are desirous of seeing our nation progress toward First World status and it cannot be achieved with business or politics as usual.

A call to national conscience
In the final analysis, level heads must prevail as we exercise our constitutional right to select our leaders. We must shun and condemn all forms of violence, impropriety and animosity in the national interest. Let us remember that the strength of our democracy and our stability as a nation has made us attractive to the international community, tourists and investors.
We as Bahamians must consider the entire picture as we head to the polls to cast our votes. We must consider each political candidate for what he/she represents and the plans he/she has put forth for his/her respective constituency. Consideration must also be given to the overall plan of the party that he/she represents to determine whether this will positively impact our beloved country and future generations of Bahamians.
The records of governance should be judged within the context of how much better or worse off we were or have been. On the macro level, Bahamians should consider the current social, economic and financial position of our nation and the prospects going forward. Voters should not "get swing" and should be mindful that they will have to face the consequences of their actions. This is a clarion call to national conscience.

o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments can be directed at commentary@komolafelaw.com.

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News Article

March 30, 2011
NDP, BDM members scheduled for Bran talks on third party

By PAUL G TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

pturnquest@tribunemedia.net

REPRESENTATIVES from the National Development Party and the Bahamas Democratic Movement were scheduled to meet again last night at the home of Independent MP Branville McCartney as plans for the formation of a third-party alliance continues to take root.

On Tuesday night, Mr McCartney held discussions with representatives of both third parties where more than 100 persons were said to have gathered to discuss a way forward for third-party politics.

At the meeting, NDP chairman Renward Wells said it did not appear as if the Bamboo Town MP was inclined to join their organisation. In fact Mr Wells said Mr McCartney appeared mor ...

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News Article

May 05, 2012
How political leaders should say goodbye

Nomination Day had its customary parades to the various nominating centers. Some were nominating for the first time; others for the final time.
One of those people nominating for the final time was the North Abaco incumbent. Hubert Ingraham said this is his last time running for office and he would never be able to fully repay the people of North Abaco.
"But I shall pay you by installments and I shall pay you for as long as I live," he said, on nominating as a candidate for the community for the eighth time.
Perry Christie, 68, also nominated for the eighth time as a candidate. He is running in the Centreville constituency. It is unclear if this is the final time Christie will run, though the result of the election may force his hand to a certain decision.
It is most likely that either the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) or the Free National Movement (FNM) will win the election. Consequently and realistically, one of the leaders of one of these parties will be facing the end.
When the end comes, you can go with dignity and grace or fight and fight to stay on, which usually causes enmity between leader and party.
On election night, if the leader of the PLP or FNM loses, there is nothing wrong with announcing that that is it. Say, "I'll be retiring and the party will have to schedule an election for a new leader."
What such an announcement would do is set the party in a determined direction (towards a leadership contest) and it would allow the veteran leader the time to take a "victory lap" in the run up to that leadership contest.
The reason we say "victory lap" is because Christie and Ingraham will both be winners regardless of the result of the election. Each has had a great political career and each has contributed much to national development. Each leader deserves to hear those thank-yous before departing to retired life.
Setting things in motion on election night has some other advantages for the losing party. Bahamians love politics. After a general election, there is no greater political theater in the Westminster system than a party leadership race. The losing party would dominate headlines and the country would follow its activities for months in the lead up to that leadership race. It would steal attention away from the new government.
Both Christie and Ingraham could stay on after a loss if they want. But we suspect that the wise leaders have no such desire. So, baring some strange dead heat, after this political season comes to an end we are almost certain to go into another. For political junkies, it will be fun.

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News Article

May 05, 2012
The art of politics

If artists and politicians had a relationship status on Facebook, it would certainly read as "It's Complicated".
Art in its many forms has undeniable power, able to bring groups of people across social strata and cultures and even social beliefs together in an instant - just think of the myriad of pop culture musical references and local performances used in our political rallies. Did people really think Tina Turner would appear at an FNM rally? Did it matter once the turnout stretched beyond the eye? And how many undercover PLPs, DNAs or undecided voters attended - or attentively kept an eye on their TV screens at home - waiting to catch a glimpse of the beloved internationally-acclaimed musician? That's some powerful art.
Yet local artists will openly admit feeling like the jilted sweetheart of their political paramours, finding a lack of funding for their endeavors and no certain systems for their craft that can only be put in place by politicians through law. The truth is being an artist in The Bahamas means paying 45 percent duty on your supplies, battling a one-dimensional view of Bahamian culture that is synonymous with Junkanoo, a lack of government-issued incentives to develop their craft (funding, scholarships, awards, residencies, gallery/performance spaces, public art initiatives) and the push for sun-sand-and-sea tourism over untapped cultural tourism.
On the other side, politicians balance the cries from the art community for such change with the ever-pervasive belief that art is a luxury. Such efforts often give only just enough to artists for boasting rights during election time, yet leave artists unsatisfied and often resentful. The unfortunate inability to commit wholly to the arts in all of its forms just continues to perpetuate the art-as-luxury idea instead of helping the public to realize the necessity of art to expand the definition of Bahamian/Caribbean culture and identity.
After all, here in The Bahamas, the major political parties are reduced to a single color to drive their campaigns - "Red Splash" and "Gold Rush". And if that's not art as the most basic, one-dimensional way to powerfully define Bahamian identity, then I don't know what is.
Yet the resistance too from the political side comes from a long history of spats between artists and politicians - after all, art, as said before, is powerful, and when not in favor of the status quo can be quite problematic for authority figures defining issues for society in black-and-white terms or altogether pulling the wool over the public's eyes. Through socially critical work, artists keep authority figures and societies honest, and complicate objective stances with subjective realities.
Take the work by artist Dionne Benjamin-Smith. In her earliest printmaking pieces, she explored the politics of the feminine in raw, honest linoleum-cuts that confronted viewers with its uncensored imagery and themes.
Now working in digital media and drawing more heavily from her graphic design background, she continues to make work that keeps authority on its toes. For that she's been called an artist that expresses social commentary or a political artist, and has garnered equal shares of criticism and praise for her fearlessness and ability to present troublesome political decisions or social trends in clever representations, such as the "Black Crab Pledge of Allegiance" and "Bishops Bishops Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink".
"What drives me is speaking the truth - showing the naked emperor - so people can make their own decisions on how they view a situation," said Benjamin-Smith. "I am constantly thinking about issues I see before me. I pray about them and I am often moved to express them in some way through the work. Hopefully, people will see the truth of a situation and that the authority figures will see that the people aren't stupid. Hopefully, it helps bring truth to a world that is very messed up."
Her latest collection of work, "Birthright for Sale" which was on display at Popopstudios Center for the Visual Arts during the Transforming Spaces 2011 tour, aimed to bring new perspective to recent political decisions regarding the sale of Bahamian land and Bahamian companies. Ripped-from-the-headlines issues such as the BTC sale to Cable & Wireless and the Mayaguana land sell-off are repackaged as everyday cheap Bahamian products like Mahatma Rice, Wesson Oil and Carnation Cream, shown as individual products then represented in ubiquitous food store ad placements, all shared on a loop of digital image slides to non-descript elevator music.
"All these huge swaths of land being given away for such little in return; it grieves me," said Benjamin-Smith. "I'm witnessing these things and I wondered how to express this indignation, how to show people what's being done because so many people don't see. How do I express that our land is being sold away from under our feet?"
"The idea of them selling The Bahamas as a product came to me, selling these places that were and are special to me and is the birthright of me and my Bahamian brothers and sisters," she continued. "I included the details of the transactions on each product so people could see the truth of the matter - that their birthright was being sold like a product off the shelf - for a pittance."
Like in her earlier pieces, Benjamin-Smith brings the absurdities of reality to extremes in order to shake a response from her viewers. Indeed the pieces, critical of both politicians' decisions to sell off Bahamian land like a cheap product and of the public for not holding them accountable, are a case of "laughing so as not to cry" - the product design itself is enough to weigh on any viewer's conscience.
Indeed her work is a powerful voice in contemporary Bahamian art, being one of those artists who feel the responsibility to keep authority figures and their decisions in check for the greater good - and in a smart, respectful way, too. She even makes her pieces first and foremost for the people she's questioning, allowing society at large to bear witness to such confrontation and find their own voice in the crossfire.
"I'm respectful of the position of authority, and God says to be so, however when they're doing wrong or they're not honoring or doing the things they need to be doing, then they need to be shown," she said.
"I want them to see how their actions affect society. I'm always wanting the politicians to see - and to understand that they're not doing these things in darkness, they're not doing this without people seeing and knowing, and hopefully they will be convicted that some of their actions are hurtful and detrimental and affect people."
With work like that by Benjamin-Smith, the fear shared by many politicians is always that the art itself will not supplement them and their decisions but rather come to define them or usurp them and become the center of controversy - and a force for social or political change - themselves.
Indeed when it comes to politics, often a single image can define an entire political movement or change - from J. M. Flagg's 1917 Uncle Sam "I Want You" poster to Shepard Fairey's 2008 Obama "Hope" poster, artists have been taking their social and political beliefs to the public eye. But whether to slant public opinion or shed truth on a matter, such work has great power that stays in the public's consciousness throughout time - whether they consider such work fine art, tribute, or extreme propaganda.
Take a mural recently designed by Kishan Munroe, commissioned by the Democratic National Alliance candidate, Wayne Munroe. The impressive piece shows Wayne Munroe close to the front of a pack of people from a wide cross-section of Bahamian society walking in the glow of a lighthouse toward a better future, leaving catastrophe - in the symbol of a shipwreck and natural disasters - behind.
It's easy to label the work as a piece of political propaganda, yet Munroe insists it's an idea he's been manifesting for some time during his travels abroad. As quite the global political and social activist, Munroe has traveled worldwide to find the source of the human experience which he reflects in his artwork. He's attended protests for Occupy Wall Street and stood in solidarity with global groups calling for justice. Knowing this progressive background may be the difference between taking a cursory look at his mural and searching for the deeper meaning he always aims to incorporate into his work.
"The sketch wasn't specifically for them, it was an idea I've always had, a theme I've always wanted to work with," said Munroe. "Wayne Munroe has always supported my endeavors, and he wasn't trying to take advantage of me for political reasons."
"In the beginning he was only asking for something to beautify the place, and me being the artist that I am, I decided to take it to a totally different level, especially after my mural (on 'Da Balcony') burned down on Bay Street," he continued. "I felt compelled to make a statement, another national statement about contemporary issues we have, and something that is more uplifting, relevant, and doesn't sugar coat issues."
So is it propaganda? Then again, it depends whose interests are being served, and how damaging that is to the wider public. Many may find the road signs sharing "abstinence-only" tips or blatantly declaring "homosexuals aren't allowed into my kingdom" as problematic pieces of propaganda Bahamians see every day that perpetuate ignorance and hatred, however well-intentioned they may be by those who placed them in the public's eye.
From the artist's perspective, Munroe believes his piece doesn't exist to gain DNA votes from the public - it's a call to action to the Bahamian public in general, including politicians. After all, it's only DNA-centered because the party commissioned it - he insists he would have made a similar mural had the FNM or PLP approached him instead.
"The message would still be the same, it would have the same feeling. The piece isn't of Wayne Munroe; Wayne Munroe is of the piece," he said. "I don' feel it has that strong of a political implication because at the end of the day this is about the progression of a people to move forward."
"That's why he's closer to the front - not right at the front - because he is of the people. But most of the dynamic figures are those before and behind him, because the composition overall comes from the motion of the people as one."
Indeed, by no means is the poster one-dimensional: from the "in-between" orange hue mixing red and yellow, to the figures - worker, educator, planner - who all have a role to play to salvage society, to Wayne Munroe's garb of half-lawyer, half-everyday man, the mural is an impressive call to arms to not only the public, but to politicians as well, to move through these turbulent times with a master plan to uplift the nation.
Indeed, to Munroe, everything we see and do is a political act whether we are consciously aware of it or not, and has consequences. For him, such work is a rarity in Bahamian culture, and he calls for artists to continue to make work that challenges its viewers with its social commentary.
"Any art is propaganda, because at the end of the day you're trying to get people to respond to your thoughts, to what you believe and what you want the piece to say," pointed out Munroe.
"It's important for me to be able to not only share my international experiences but also to actually use a visual language to create an alphabet for Bahamians to understand. This is a visual language of globally turbulent times but it's also a Bahamian dialect of a visual language they can understand."
In the end, who can say when art crosses into the sphere of propaganda? If an artist's work isn't openly critical and rather praises a politician or a movement, then many may say such a tribute - like Munroe's - is propaganda by nature. Is this fair? Must artists only be critical, or can they be in support of an idea without being blamed for selling themselves out?
A clever way to address political beliefs no matter what the alignment is through humor - and with the road to the 2012 election unfolding the way it has been with a exhausting amount of mudslinging and bipartisanship from three main political parties, there is no shortage of material for satire, as seen in the various comics or cartoons in the daily newspaper.
Especially in this digital age of social media where nothing escapes the public eye, the true ugliness of political races happen in real time - more so now than in any other time in history. For artist Damaso Gray, whose piece "The Amazing Spectacular Circus 2012" has been making the rounds this political season, the use of satire can keep things in perspective. In this outrageous piece, Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie battle it out on sea creatures while Branville McCartney observes from a distance, giving new meaning to "the silly season".
"I wanted to bring humor to the occasion to enlighten the people of the grandeur of events in Bahamian history," said Gray. "I feel that it was about time that we see politics from an unbiased and insightful point of view."
"I think that the audience should see it as just that amusement rather than take it so seriously. I would hope the public sees the election campaign as it really is: a spectacle to amuse and gain the interest of the people at any cost, using multiple props and comedic mudslinging."
Yet Gray also operates from a space of honoring history, recognizing his role as an artist often intersects with that of a historian, and makes his work accordingly. In the diptych, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide", two elderly figures sit in front of two political signs - one for the PLP and one for the FNM. Gray points out that he wanted to show that these people are very set in their ways, but that the younger generation could "capitalize on their mistakes" to move the country forward.
In the end, he insists it's important, once the viewer understand the humor in his work, to move past it and come to the realization that Bahamians have to be for Bahamians - not for a certain party.
"My work I would hope gives an unbiased report of the event and gains a humorous but rationale response where it is plausible to see the event retrospectively," he said. "I would hope the public would embrace and appreciate the art as it is one of the greatest political battles in Bahamian history."
"I would hope politicians value our opinions on the how we feel about the process. It is significant that they engage artist to document Bahamian history and I hope that they see it fit to create historical spaces for the arts."
Indeed, at the root of every politically- or socially-minded piece - despite criticism, despite support, despite humor - is that very hope to be taken seriously as a member of the voting public who wishes to see a better Bahamas - a member of the voting public who sees the potential in Bahamian society and culture as still tragically untapped by their political caretakers.
For the artist, politics continues to offer a torrid affair, a constant balancing act what is and what could be, that irresistible urge to ask "what if?" even when presented with hopelessness. And if their work can help even one other member of the voting public not to decide who to vote for but to think beyond red, yellow and green, then perhaps they too can demand politicians of any party build that bridge between reality and dream together.

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News Article

May 03, 2012
A call to national conscience

As we head to the polls in a historic election on May 7, 2012, the Bahamian electorate should consider and be guided by the following resounding words of wisdom: "Let your conscience be your guide".
There is no doubt that we are witnessing a general election that is historic not only because the register of voters consists of the highest number of voters (approximately 172,000 people) in the history of The Bahamas or because for the first time a so-called third party has produced a full slate of candidates, but also for the first time in Bahamian history we have witnessed absentee voting overseas and an expansion of individuals able to participate in an advanced poll.
Unfortunately, however, history will also record that some of our politicians refused to move away from the status quo and maintained their old bad habits with "politricks" and propaganda at the forefront.
This election season, the Bahamian electorate has overwhelmingly demanded that political candidates and parties present viable solutions to the myriad socio-economic problems confronting our nation. However, to say that old habits die hard is an understatement, as we have witnessed politicians resorting to unnecessary character attacks, misleading advertisements and finger-pointing. The most disgraceful and disturbing phenomenon to date has been the attempt to reduce our electoral process to a "personality contest" between the leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), Hubert A. Ingraham, and the leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), Perry G. Christie.
As we make our way to the polls next Monday, we must consider the facts and reject the propaganda and rhetoric that some of our political leaders subject us to. We must take an introspective look at ourselves and the current state of affairs within our Bahamaland. It is conceded that governments are not directly responsible for crimes committed against persons, employing all of their citizens or ensuring individual business ventures prosper. However, we can all agree that governments are in fact responsible for protecting their citizens (and residents) while executing sound and prudent economic, fiscal and monetary policies that create an environment for peace, safety and economic prosperity.
The Bahamian electorate sits in the chair of an employer getting ready to hire a prospect which he/she will be stuck with for the next five years. The only advantage we have as voters is that in addition to the resumes and references provided, we have past records and performance to assist us in making an informed decision. Accordingly, we must examine each political party's manifesto and/or governing document to ascertain which party has the better plan for a more prosperous Bahamas moving forward and the political will to execute. We must be attentive to today's promises in comparison to yesterday's promises to ascertain whether they will bring about the change we desire.
Regardless of the strategies employed by political parties during this election season, The Bahamas still practices the Westminster system in which we vote for candidates to provide good and effective representation for constituencies. We are not a republic and we do not conduct presidential elections; at least not at this time. With this in mind, Bahamians should vote for candidates of their choice they deem to be most qualified, rather than solely along party lines or who the leaders of the respective parties are.

Last minute inducements
In the run-up to the general election, we must not be blind-sighted by the granting of last minute lucrative contracts, temporary and unsustainable jobs and overdue promotions, increments and benefits. Our politics must move beyond allowing ruling governments to manipulate our emotions for political gain just to retain power.
The governing term of five years provides political leaders with ample time to address numerous issues in a practical, logical and strategic manner without holding off distributing benefits as election ploys. Likewise, we must not be fooled by and/or encourage political leaders and/or candidates to buy our votes in exchange for jobs, payment of utility bills, school fees, mortgages, rent or the purchase of groceries, fridges, stoves, etc.
Voters should be mindful of the Bible story of Esau, who sold his birth-right for a morsel of bread. Esau stood to inherit his father's wealth but gave this right away in a moment of hunger. The same fate is bound to befall voters who do not appreciate the value of this land that God has given to us as our possession.
There is no doubt that times are tough and several voters are in economic hardship. However, our votes are all we have - our most valuable asset. We must not sell our votes, refrain from voting, accept or administer bribery, encourage ineligible voting or deception to give advantage to one political party over the other. The Bahamian electorate ought to be guided by the vision and plans proposed for the country and respective constituencies and select individuals who will help create an environment of economic and social independence and security to achieve individual dreams.
Political leaders and aspiring candidates on the other hand should be reminded that post this general election, the electorate will hold them accountable like never before in the history of The Bahamas. Suffice it to say that with a more educated and informed electorate, the era of empty promises and lies is behind us. There is a new generation of Bahamians who are advocating for a change in our politics and economics. Among other things, we are desirous of seeing our nation progress toward First World status and it cannot be achieved with business or politics as usual.

A call to national conscience
In the final analysis, level heads must prevail as we exercise our constitutional right to select our leaders. We must shun and condemn all forms of violence, impropriety and animosity in the national interest. Let us remember that the strength of our democracy and our stability as a nation has made us attractive to the international community, tourists and investors.
We as Bahamians must consider the entire picture as we head to the polls to cast our votes. We must consider each political candidate for what he/she represents and the plans he/she has put forth for his/her respective constituency. Consideration must also be given to the overall plan of the party that he/she represents to determine whether this will positively impact our beloved country and future generations of Bahamians.
The records of governance should be judged within the context of how much better or worse off we were or have been. On the macro level, Bahamians should consider the current social, economic and financial position of our nation and the prospects going forward. Voters should not "get swing" and should be mindful that they will have to face the consequences of their actions. This is a clarion call to national conscience.

o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments can be directed at commentary@komolafelaw.com.

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News Article

March 31, 2011
'Once and for all' bond resolution called for

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce's president yesterday urged all relevant parties to "work out finally once and for all" a long-term solution to Freeport's over-the-counter bonded goods regime, adding that Customs' demand for a National Insurance Board (NIB) letter had caused some retailers' sales to slump by 40 per cent during the first two months of 2011.

Speaking to Tribune Business from Minneapolis, on his way back from the Government/private sector trade and investment promotion tour to Canada, Mr Turnquest praised the Ingraham administration for acting in the interests of Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) licencees, ...

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News Article

May 07, 2012
On The Mis-education of the Bahamian citizen

Dear Editor,

One of the reasons I have been unmoved by any of the current political parties' manifestos, mandates or agendas, is that I have the pleasure of teaching new groups of young Bahamians every year.

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News Article

March 30, 2011
Tennyson Wells: my Bran verdict

By TANEKA THOMPSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

tthompson@tribunemedia.net

THERE is little chance that incumbent Bamboo Town MP Branville McCartney will win his seat in the next election in a face-off against the two major political parties, predicted former area representative Tennyson Wells.

In fact, Mr Wells expects a candidate from the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party to come out victorious in Bamboo Town based on perceived public disappointment with the governing Free National Movement.

"If he runs as an independent and the PLP run and the FNM run he will lose. If it's a three-way fight the PLP will win it," Mr Wells told The Tribune yesterday.

The former attorney general believ ...

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News Article

May 06, 2012
McCartney's Victory Rally for Change, May 5th Remarks

Good evening Bahamas. Welcome to Arawak Cay. I hope you enjoyed our Family Fun Day.

This is our last mass rally before we win the next general elections of the Bahamas.

Can
you feel it Bahamas? Can you see the DNA's being victorious on Monday
night? On May 7th, Bahamas, the DNA will make history again.

12
months ago, the political landscape in the Bahamas comprised of two
major political parties. Over 12 months ago, many Bahamians had no
interest in voting in the 2012 general elections because quite frankly,
they believed that the leaders...

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