Fri, Mar 31st 2017, 09:12 PM
Baha Mar President Graeme Davis yesterday put forth a case in front of the Gaming Board of the Bahamas and a room full of Bahamians, for his resort complex to receive New Providence's second casino license under the name Sky Warrior Limited. Baha Mar is set for a soft opening 20 days from today.
Following the requisite hearing, mandated by the Gaming Board, Davis said he felt good about the proceedings and was confident that the board would look favorably upon Baha Mar's application for New Providence's second licence. The hearing took place in a ballroom at the Hilton and overflowed with people.
"We've done a tremendous amount of work, we have hired a world class executive team, we have provided and will provide any documentation or any request to the Gaming Board to ensure that the Gaming Board is comfortable with us being the operator for Baha Mar Casino," said Davis.
"We're very confident that we've addressed any concerns and we're excited to get open in 21 days. We're very confident that we've provided everything that we can and were requested of."
Yesterday's hearing was just one of the final steps involved in the Gamin Board's process of vetting Sky Warrior, a subsidiary of Baha Mar's owner Chow Tai Fook Enterprises' (CTFE). The Board will now have to decide whether or not it will issue Baha Mar the casino license.
The Nassau Guardian asked Davis when Baha Mar might get its final documentation of approval for the casino. However, he said that would be a question for the Gaming Board.
But, while Baha Mar is awaiting its casino licence, it's casino floor, stocked with gaming tables and slot machines, is already ready to go.
When Secretary of the Gaming Board Vernon Scott, was asked by the press for an interview about yesterday's process and the next steps, he declined.
The public was given a chance to ask Davis questions after he outlined the details of the Baha Mar project and its expansion plans. Only two people made use of the opportunity.
One of the questions centered around Baha Mar owner's alleged link to organized crime in China. Though Davis sought to dispelled those allegations early in his presentation, he reiterated, saying: "Those accusations by anonymous people are baseless, unfounded, untrue.
"As I mentioned, we are a family organization that works with the highest integrity; those additional shareholders in SJM (Holdings) are certainly world respected investors.
"We have been through heavily regulated environments, we've been fully investigated, we've provided all and every document that's required by the Gaming Board; we've been investigated and received licences in Australia as an organization, and I can assure that every document that's been requested in this investigation has been given and been satisfied."
During his presentation, Davis described the ins and outs of the Baha Mar property, gave a riveting video teaser of Rosewood - the brand owned by CTFE - and explained who and what CTFE is.
Fri, Mar 31st 2017, 09:04 PM
The search for the next Caribbean superstar sets stage in The Bahamas, with the Icon of the Islands talent search and reality TV documentary series.
The journey will kick off today, with auditions at SuperClubs Breezes.
Founder and Executive Producer of Icon of the Islands Alvin Marks said The Bahamas will not only be hosting season two of the talent extravaganza, but it will be the iconic "Hollywood" for the project.
"If you're familiar with American Idol, they go from city to city, and they always use Hollywood for their final stop, so we're basically using a similar formula with The Bahamas being the final destination," he said.
"After we visit all these different islands, we bring The Bahamas in as the grand finale spot."
When asked the reason for The Bahamas being chosen as the backdrop for this iconic event, Marks said: "Basically, not only The Bahamas being one of the key tourism attractions in the Caribbean, but it's a lot of spotlight on The Bahamas.
"From all the amenities and all the different historical factors of The Bahamas, I think it's a great story line."
A short-listed group of contestants will advance one step closer to being the winner, and those selected few will also be the stars of the Icon of the Islands reality TV show.
One grand prize winner, Marks said, will receive a prize package inclusive of the Icon award, a record and development deal with a major label, $10,000, as well as an all-expense paid trip to New York City to record their projects.
Marks said the winner will also be the star of their own music video.
Fri, Mar 31st 2017, 08:54 PM
According to Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Justice Adrian Saunders, in a recent lecture in St. Kitts, a "colonial mindset" is to blame for the reluctance on the part of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments to embrace the court as the final court of appeal.
As someone who has litigated matters in several jurisdictions around the world, including the CCJ, I can safely say that nothing could be further from the truth.
The lack of confidence in the court by the Caribbean people is a direct result of the colonial mindset adopted and displayed by Justice Saunders himself and his colleagues at the CCJ.
Perhaps the most recent decision by the court provides the clearest example of this slave mentality to date.
The court ruled, in the much anticipated Tommy Lee Sparta matter, that the private entity, CARICOM national, part owner of a company registered specifically to conduct intra and extra CARICOM trade and signatory to a contract for service, was barred from accessing the CCJ in its original jurisdiction, in bringing an action against the government of Dominica.
This decision represents the single biggest step backward for economic integration in the Caribbean and the implementation of the CSME, which were top priorities at the recently concluded heads of government meeting in Guyana.
In simple terms it means that the CCJ will not rise above petty politics and protect investors against illegal violations of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC), perpetrated by governments against investors when it is not politically expedient to do so.
It is this slave mentality, demonstrated by Justice Saunders and his colleagues at the CCJ, that has clearly undermined the integrity of the court, to the detriment of the region achieving full independence.
There is no better example of regional integration than the cultural/entertainment industry, with artistes travelling freely to member states taking part in cultural events, music/cultural festivals, and music flowing freely from different member states being shared, be it reggae, soca, bouyon, dancehall and/or other art forms, which has helped define the Caribbean landscape and become an integral part of our collective tourism product.
In fact, this is why the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas makes provision for musicians to be able to travel freely throughout member states under Article 46 for this very purpose.
It was to this extent, as part of an annual event, in full reliance on the RTC, that the applicant had contracted with Jamaican firm Supreme Promotions to host a concert headlined by a Jamaican artist to mark the opening of carnival in Portsmouth, Dominica.
As such, in full reliance of the RTC, bookings were confirmed, fees paid, plane tickets bought, hotel accommodations paid, stage and lights installed, sponsors secured, advertisers paid, staff hired, bars stocked, food prepared, opening acts signed to performance contracts, and tickets sold to the public.
However, when the artists landed at Douglas/Charles airport in Dominica, the passengers were denied entry, arrested, denied due process, imprisoned under inhumane conditions, and deported the following day, causing the cancellation of the highly anticipated concert, and substantial damages to concert organizers, both pecuniary and non-pecuniary.
According to the government of Dominica during the CCJ hearing on December 12, 2016, their actions were based on national security concerns.
However, when asked by Justice Saunders' CCJ colleague Justice Wit to substantiate this claim, Dominican attorney general Levi Peter simply refused to answer the question, much to the amusement of the court, with Justice Wit himself breaking out in laughter regarding the most bizarre notion being put forward by Dominica that an artist with no criminal record, a valid CARICOM passport, a return ticket, a performance contract, and a hotel booking paid for by the applicant, could pose a security threat to nation state.
Justice Saunders and his CCJ colleagues, in a most bizarre effort to mask their unethical mixture of judicial decision-making and politics, came to the conclusion that the artist and his entourage had access to the court, the 2,500 patrons who are not privy to any contract for service could access the international court, opening the floodgates for litigation, which could not possibly be the intention of the Treaty, but the applicant, the one person who contracted to receive the service, the investor if you will, is barred from approaching the very same court!
It is to this extent that hollow political rhetoric by Justice Saunders becomes most illuminated.
According to Justice Saunders in his recent address in St Kitts, "We at the CCJ have not hesitated to take the measures we have considered appropriate whenever we were convinced that a Caribbean government was compromising the rule of law..."
This is laughable in light of this decision, and the refusal of the CCJ to hear the case, much less hold the government accountable for what is a clear compromise of the rule of law, played out on the international stage, widely covered by the regional press.
Perhaps, more importantly, the CCJ in its original jurisdiction is an international court, which means this appalling and politically motivated decision is not only binding on the applicant, but on all signatories to the RTC, which has disastrous implications for all investors in approved sectors, as agreed by heads of government.
It means that any government can sabotage the commercial interests of private sector investors operating in sectors approved by the heads of government, and the court, established specifically to resolve such disputes, has barred all investors under such service contracts from approaching the court as a matter of precedent established in this case.
If the judicial arm of CARICOM is not prepared to protect investors from government's blatant violations of the RTC, to the detriment of the private sector, then clearly the full implementation of the CSME becomes a farfetched impossibility.
I therefore agree with Justice Saunders when he says: "During the colonial experience the harshest forms of oppression were meted out by our immediate persons we interfaced with in our respective countries. Whether the guy who had the whip with the gang, or the slave master, or the local governor and, very often, in order to ameliorate that harshness, you had to petition England to get redress and, very often, you got redress because it didn't suit colonialism for those kinds of excesses to occur..."
According to the Caribbean jurist, that practice led to the region's people growing up with the notion that justice is something which is best obtained from overseas.
Indeed, until Justice Saunders and his colleagues at the CCJ can free themselves of the mental shackles of their colonial mindset, this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.
(Disclosure: Cabral Douglas is the applicant in the CCJ matter: Cabral Douglas v Dominica).
Cabral Douglas is an attorney at law and part owner of Dominica's oldest entertainment venue, the Arbeedee Cinema, which has been hosting events since 1973. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.
Fri, Mar 31st 2017, 08:37 PM
In an effort to unify the various sloop sailing associations around The Bahamas, several local sailors yesterday, in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, the Hon. V. Alfred Gray, proposed the idea of creating a sloop sailing federation, which would serve as the sports' local governing body.
The group, which is headed by senior sailor Dwayne Higgins, is also pushing for sailing to be considered as the national sport of The Bahamas.
The group that's lobbying to form the federation includes, Stanford Patterson, Dallas Knowles, Stephon Knowles and Higgins.
The group hopes to vote in an executive board at the National Family Island Regatta, set for April 25-29, in Elizabeth Harbour, George Town, The Exumas.
"This has been years in the making, and more closely connected to several months of hard work by persons who are very concerned about the direction that sailing is taking, or has taken," said Higgins. "We are so concerned about where we want to see the sport go, that we have started discussions, I think last May, and there were two thoughts that we want to put into place. The first is that we want to unify sailing throughout the country, and secondly, we want sailing to become the national sports of the country.
"We have been having meetings almost every month and have discussed quite a few things that we want to see implemented. We have a proposed constitution and we need a governing body that will cover every island where regattas take place. We have come to present what are findings have been, and we look to try and take sloop sailing to the next level. As long as all of us have been involved with sailing, we have not been as focused as I think we need to be with the sport and we need to formalize that."
Gray said that he hopes some common ground can be found among the sailors as they push to elevate the sport locally.
"I hope these rules can become the rules to govern sloop sailing in The Bahamas," he said. "It is for me also to mention that we have tried this a few years before. It did not work then, and the reasons for it not working is still unknown to me. All I know is that it did not work. Officers were elected, and months after the elections, the president reported to the minister that he could not go on. He said the officers elected at that time were not supporting him. It is important to keep trying and it's in that context that I congratulate you on the new groupings of leaders that feel you have it this time.
"I will be looking forward with tip toe anticipation to the National Family Island Regatta and the results of your meetings and elections, with the hopes that your expectations will turn out to be exactly what you would like it to be."
Next up on the regatta calender is the Defense Force Challenge Cup, which kicks off today at Montagu Bay.
The event is a C Class Regatta and expected to participate are the Aliv WG Thunderbird, San Sally, Sweet Island Gal, H20, King & Knights, Flash, Whisper, Irene Good Night, Revolution, Jacobs Ladder, It Ain't Right and Lady Eunice. There is also expected to be a surprise entry that organizers intend to reveal later.