Letters

Independent Speaker of the House of Assembly

April 29, 2017

Dear Editor,
Do you know what the Westminster system of government is? I'm sure that you do. It happens to be the system of government that we in The Bahamas have chosen to pattern our system after, as founded and followed by The United Kingdom. We, in The Bahamas, being a former colonial jurisdiction, have found it easier to just blindly follow what had been left in place for us by our colonial masters. My question to you, Editor, is this -- "Should it be that way?" I mean, just because we met this system in place does not mean that we must recklessly adhere to it, does it?
In our inherited system, during the upcoming May 10th general election next month, we will elect 39 members of Parliament (MP's). Subsequently, both the governing party and the official opposition party, and any independent MPs, will all vote for one of them to assume the illustrious position of Speaker of the House of Assembly. I happen to believe that the speaker is the single most disadvantaged member of Parliament in our system of governance. I mean, it is a paradox when you determine that the speaker is the only MP that is not allowed to speak on behalf of his constituents! Don't you find that to be a head-scratching conundrum, Editor? I mean, that is what he was sent to Parliament for -- to speak on behalf of the people who sent him there! Not just speak from the speaker's chair and act as referee between the governing party and the opposition party.
Don't misunderstand me, Editor, I am in total agreement that there should be a Speaker of the House of Assembly. I am just interjecting here that the speaker should be a non-MP. The governing MPs, the opposition MPs, and the independent MPs should consult with each other and offer a name for speaker from the wider Bahamian community for sanction by The Governor General of The Bahamas. And that person should not have any party affiliation or not seem to have any party affiliation within this country. It would be my suggestion that, that person could even be a foreigner. You see, Editor, you would want that person to be as independent as possible so that debates in the House would occur fairly and without favor. After all, isn't that the overriding objective of the speaker of the House?
It is my humble opinion that the newly elected government of The Bahamas should use any processes available to it, including reconvening the much touted Constitutional Commission, and any future Constitutional Commissions, to initiate machinations, the purpose of which would be to ensure that the necessary amendments in our constitution are morphed to reflect this proposed condition. It is necessary that it be done!
Thank you for your valuable time and space in your newspaper.

- Marvin G. Lightbourn

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Nomination Day: Time too short

April 28, 2017

Dear Editor,
Are you a busy person? I suspect that you are. What about your readers, Editor? Do you suspect that some of them might be busy people too? Yes? You, Editor, and they (your readers) no doubt have important things to do during the course of each day. And in the performance of your daily routine, Editor, do you find that sometimes (often enough) your day does not go as smoothly as you had planned? I am going to go out on a limb here and say, "Of course this has happened!" I too have planned my days (in the past and even now), and they have not always played out the way that I had projected.
Let's take for instance -- have you or any of your readers ever had a flat tire, or run out of gas, or had an accident, or some other type of vehicle malfunction at the most inconvenient time (on your way to work, to pick up someone, to catch an airplane flight, to retrieve your child from daycare, and on, and on, and on)? Have you or any of your readers experienced these courses of events, Editor? Again, I am going to say, "Of course you have!" Then can we agree, Editor, that it is true what The Bible says --"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19:21 (NIV). You may have planned out your day to be executed in a certain way, but some unfortunate happenstance occurs to throw things off kilter.
Tell me something, Editor, do you think that thwarted plans are a common occurrence in this unpredictable life? In my humble opinion, they are. And so, would it be altogether unreasonable of me to assume that this same unpredictability in this life can be experienced by the 175 persons who were presented as candidates on Nomination Day (April 20th, 2017) as a prelude to Election Day (May 10th , 2017) here in The Bahamas? It is quite serendipitous that all the nominations went forth without a hitch (as far as I know).
But, that was not always the case. Several years ago a high profile candidate for nomination took it upon himself to pay the required $400 (four hundred dollars) deposit for nomination in coin currency. I can't remember why he chose to do that. It must have been some form of symbolic protest act, but it obviously exasperated the returning officer at that particular nomination location. Do you know how long it took to count such an amount, Editor? I can't remember that either, but I am sure it was not brief. It even made the news. After that tomfoolery, regulations were formulated that deposits were only going to be accepted in exclusively paper Bahamian currency.
My point is, Editor, that if this particular nomination candidate had been turned away, he would only have had a short period to return in time to be properly nominated, as the window of time for nomination is only from 9:00am - 12:00pm on one designated nomination day. In my humble opinion, the allotted time frame is too short!
In another incident, several years ago, another high profile candidate for nomination presented his deposit in U.S. currency; and the law dictates that one must make payment in Bahamian currency only.
That particular candidate had to scramble around town to convert his US$400 to Bahamian currency and return to the nomination location in order to be nominated in time. That too made the news. This lack of understanding by this particular candidate could have ended in disaster if he did not return in time with his B-dollars to be nominated. Again, I say, in my humble opinion, the allotted time frame is too short!
As a matter of fact, Editor, anything could happen to any candidate on Nomination Day that could cause him/her to miss the small window -- flat tire, run out of gas, car accident, other vehicle malfunction, sickness, death in the family, out of the country, and on, and on, and on -- anything! Furthermore, his/her nomination papers might not be properly completed. Would he/she have enough time to fill them out correctly? In my humble opinion it is an egregious practice to have such a small window, and if you miss it, you would have to wait 5 long years to remedy the situation. In my humble opinion, this small window is not taking into account the realities of life that can befall any candidate. There is precious little room for error.
Editor, I say that it is high time that we, in The Bahamas, amend our laws to accommodate the truism that potentially anything could happen to a candidate who wishes to be nominated to contest a seat in an election in this country, and that instead of Nomination Day it should be extended to "Nomination Week" or "Nomination Month"; that way all candidates would have the opportunity to nominate at their leisure. Enough said.
Thank you for your valuable time and space in your newspaper.

-- Marvin G. Lightbourn

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Pack your bags, Jerome Fitzgerald

April 27, 2017

Dear Editor,
I say to the MP from Marathon, pack your bags, Jerome Fitzgerald. You are toast.
Shame on you for trying to seal what presumably would have been very lucrative contracts with the Baha Mar resort for brokerage, trucking and limo services through companies that are purported to be Fitzgerald family businesses. I also have to say kudos to Sarkis Izmirlian for sticking to his guns and awarding contracts based on merit -- "cost and ability"-- as is only proper.
When responding to an article in The Punch about Fitzgerald's possible abuse of power and conflict of interest regarding his family's dealings with Baha Mar, the minister's reply earlier this week was in direct contradiction to his emails that were leaked from the China Construction America (CCA) company's server. In Thursday's paper (20 April) The Tribune printed several of these emails, allegedly written by Fitzgerald, dating back to 2013 and 2014. In them, there is no question that he is seeking contracts for various jobs at Baha Mar for the family business, jobs that could be fulfilled through what are believed to be his family's businesses.
Yet when recently asked, Fitzgerald responded by saying, "I have no interest whatsoever in, no dealing with Baha Mar, none, zero." I'm sorry, Jerome Fitzgerald, but those correspondences say otherwise. In addition, according to Tribune Business, Bahamas Cargo and Logistics Ltd. was a creditor when Izmirlian tried to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015.
It is ironic that it is an email issue that has condemned Fitzgerald this time around (as opposed to an undisclosed Rubis fuel leak report, among other things). While Fitzgerald tried to demean and disgrace some of his political rivals in the House of Parliament (March, 2016) by reading their private emails into the public record, it is now his leaked emails from the CCA company's server that come back to haunt, demean and disgrace him. The courts ruled against Fitzgerald for infringing on the constitutional rights of his rivals and he was fined the sum of $150,000. You know what they say: "What goes around, comes around."
Mr. Fitzgerald, maybe you should just get in one of your fancy limos that "only cater to high end customers" and ride off into the sunset. Be sure to pass by the Marathon gas station in your constituency for fuel first, since there is, or was, never any reported fuel leakage into the community's water table there.

- BT

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The most high

April 27, 2017

Dear Editor,
Daniel 4:17 says, "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men." God did that in the time of King Saul and chose the young boy David as the new king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13). God did it again during the fall of Babylon and the rise of the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:25-30). And now God is about to do it again.
On June 7, 2016, the handwriting appeared on the wall for the PLP government and the verdict was given: "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting." Daniel 5:27. That verdict will be carried out on May 10, 2017.
For all of you who are on God's side, and may have some uncertainty, James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God." Jesus also said, "Ask and it shall be given you." Matthew 7:7.
So Bahamians, pray, pray, pray and allow God to direct you in selecting the new government of The Bahamas.
"God has spoken, let the church say, amen."

- Pastor Jeremiah Duncombe

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Gatekeepers and prayer warriors

April 26, 2017

Dear Editor,

"Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" - Proverbs 14:34
I have written two articles about the immoral, pagan, 2017 Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival. The appeal to better judgment has not prevailed, and the ill-fated carnival, now seems irrevocably confirmed for May 4-6. For Gatekeepers and prayer warriors, however, there is still one option remaining.
This divine option is prayer. I am hereby, calling on all those of you who with me share the conviction, that this un-Christian carnival is not good for our Bahamas, to join me, and hundreds of others in prayer, that God will intervene, and like in the days of Noah, cause rain to wash out the entire event, and like Pharaoh's chariots, were destroyed by God in the Red Sea, may God allow rain water to do it again.

- Pastor Jeremiah Duncombe

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The sleeping prime minister

April 25, 2017

Dear Editor,
Nomination Day was held on April 20. PM Perry Christie was nominated for the Centreville constituency for the ninth time. In a photo with the PM sitting at the nomination table that went viral on social media, he was seen with his head slumped forward. Christie appeared to have fallen asleep. This photo was similar to another one with the PM asleep onstage at an event in North Andros. The said event was the renaming of the Nicholls Town Primary School in honor of Androsian educator Clara E. Evans. Another Facebook photo of the PM sleeping onstage while either Fred Mitchell or Dr Michael Darville addressed the audience made the rounds on social media. There are about five other photos of the PM in slouch positions that have been posted on social media. At a recent rally on a Family Island an exhausted looking Christie was standing behind the podium as he was being introduced. His age was accentuated in that photo. At 73, the PM is old and tired. The Facebook photos of him asleep have become popular memes around the country. They remind me of Charles Perrault's Sleeping Beauty. While some have made light of Christie falling asleep incessantly at public events, the time has come for the hundreds of PLP stalwart councillors who are diehard Christie loyalists to face the reality that Christie may no longer be physically fit to lead their party or this country. He has nothing left to offer this country. I think it is time for Christie to hang up the gloves. The physical and mental grind of the rallies as well as the duties of the PM are taking an exacting toll on the 73 year old body of the PM. Father Time is finally catching up to a man many thought was immortal. To many young Bahamians, however, he has become the sleeping PM.

-- The Whistleblower

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General election 2017: voter sentiment

April 24, 2017

"Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender." - Keith Ellison
"Voting is the foundational act that breathes life into the principle of the consent of the governed." - DeForest Soaries

Last Thursday, April 20, was Nomination Day in The Bahamas, officially launching the general election campaign of 2017. The country observed more than 120 candidates from the three major political parties, splinter-parties and independents nominate to contest 39 seats which will comprise the next House of Assembly when it convenes on May 24.
A record number of 174,000 Bahamians have registered to vote on May 10, Election Day, surpassing the 172,000 that were eligible to participate in the last election exercise five years ago.
Therefore, this week we would like to Consider this... What is the sentiment of the electorate and their general attitude toward the impending plebiscite?

Early warning signals
Earlier this year, many were concerned about the snail's pace of voter registration, which prompted many politicians and pundits to ponder whether the pace at which people were registering was portentous for our political process and the potential product of the election.
Did the reluctance of our citizens to register really represent voter apathy and disappointment in and distance from the political process? Or was it a manifestation that Bahamians were genuinely confused and dissatisfied about who they should vote for, finding any of the alternatives neither attractive nor appealing?
Or was the late registration reflective of our cultural propensity to procrastinate, putting off things until we absolutely have to act?
These questions, and others, will assuredly be answered on Election Day. For the moment, however, there are several developments that will greatly impact this election campaign as never before.

Social media
How is social media affecting the tone and tenor of the election campaign? Even before the proverbial "bell was rung" announcing the dreaded judgment day for politicians, we were intrusively inundated with images on Facebook or WhatsApp about political personalities who were featured as the flavor of the day.
Most of the vignettes that were circulated on social media, either in the form of videos, recorded messages or cartoon caricatures, featured politicians and wannabe political aspirants, invariably casting them in a negative, albeit comical or satirical, light.
Many of us have received and have forwarded what at the time appeared to be hilariously episodic representations of those in public life, often the result of a mistake, misstep or faux pas by a politician. Bahamians are fond of berating such iconic personalities with humor and exaggerated levity.
We are probably not aware of the profoundly and powerfully effective role that social media is now playing in developing our perspectives about the persons who are featured in those vignettes and how it is shaping our attitudes toward them, more frequently than not, in a negative, disparaging or critical manner.
The danger with social media is its propensity for hyperbole and perpetuation of fake news, especially salacious stories, baseless accusations and unsubstantiated allegations that take on a life of their own, often without the benefit of being scrupulously scrutinized or fact-checked for accuracy.
In this context, the proliferation of social media has become a negative, and even injurious, influence in imparting accurate information to assist the voter in developing an informed conscience about whom he or she should support on Election Day.
The fact of the matter is that too often we tend to believe what is on social media and quickly accept what is published there without critically examining its veracity.

Greater focus on candidates
As a nation, have our expectations about what we want from a candidate changed? There was a time when the candidate mattered less than which party he represented. In bygone days, if you were a PLP or FNM, notwithstanding your candidate's shortcomings or competence, you stood by your man or woman because of party loyalty.
There are two things that are changing that reality. On the one hand, dyed-in-the-wool party supporters are rapidly diminishing, primarily due to death. On the other, the children of those die-hards are not adopting the same devoted and dedicated political perspective of their antecedents.
Accordingly, the voter today is more demanding and discerning, and less loyal to a particular party. Consequently, the role and focus of the candidate, not the party or even the party leader, is gaining primacy with the voter. The voter is now asking 'What are you going to do for the constituents that you want to represent? Why should I support you? What will you do for me, if elected? Which candidate has greater appeal and will likely do a better job for the country?'
Are we now voting more for the candidate instead of the leader? For example, although you might believe that the leader of that candidate's party is unimpressive and largely deficient, you might support the candidate because having your candidate's voice in the House is a more important reason to vote for that candidate. The focus is slowly but most assuredly shifting.

Take their money, but vote for me
One of the longest lasting legacies of the former United Bahamian Party (UBP) is its artful ability to purchase votes.
It is a practice that has persisted in our modern political reality, sometimes taken to new heights never before contemplated by the UBP. While no political party will ever confess to buying votes, it is an unspoken truth about our political culture. Today it does not only refer to handing out cash. The art has become far more subtle and subliminal.
If it were not so, why would some politicians, from both sides of the political divide, encourage their supporters to, if approached by the candidate's opponent or his opponent's agents, 'take their opponent's money, but vote for the candidate'?
In the past, many voters felt morally obliged to vote for the candidate who demonstrated his "appreciation" to his electors. Today, however, there is no such moral compass to guide the voter through turbulent and treacherous political waters.

The voter's voice
In the past 15 years, we have had three government changes. The FNM was the last party to have back-to-back wins in 1992 and again in 1997. Since that time, governments have been given single five-year terms before being booted out of office by the voter.
We must therefore ask ourselves: are we becoming a nation of people who will just vote against something without honestly evaluating the pros and cons of what we are voting for?
Bahamians love politics. In fact, given our recent history, the only thing that we seem to enjoy more than talking politics is exercising our right to remove governments from office.
The most important question in the upcoming election is whether Bahamians have arrived at that point of frustration with the present government where they will follow that Bahamian adage "if you don't listen, you will feel", believing that their only option is to remove this government at the next election. Only time will tell.

Conclusion
As we meander along the circuitous corridors of the campaign trail to "Judgment Day", this election campaign, albeit extremely short, will be full of shocking surprises, twists and turns.
Next week, we will review some of the candidates who are offering for election this time, along with some of the races to watch closely.
In the third and final installment of this election series, we will assess the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of the leaders of the three major parties who each propose that they have the best solutions to the problems that beset our society, as well as the smartest strategies for securing our future.

o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com.

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Jerome Fitzgerald and Perry Christie have no shame

April 24, 2017

Dear Editor,
There was a time in this country when the worst disgrace a man could bring on himself and his family was public shame.
Shame acted as a safeguard against bad behavior. "Don't shame me" mothers would warn young children as they ventured out in public. Others would chastise a person who had compromised their standards or sold their integrity as a "bring down" of the family name.
Political brazenness and lack of shame hit a new low recently when we found out that a man who ought to know better turned a blind eye to a clear case of conflict of interest. It was an attempted shakedown of a businessman whose considerable fortune depended upon the grace and favor of the government.
This perpetrator must go. He has failed at every test he has been given to show that he respects the conventions of our Westminster-based system of government. He has thrown the tenets of accountability, transparency and responsibility out of the window.
He set in motion the

train wreck that we are now witnessing. He corrupted,

either by errors or omissions, the very essence of our political system. For that he must go.
We should not care what fate befalls the hapless Jerome Fitzgerald, a man who is no longer entitled to even the virtue of pity. He is beneath contempt and the voters of Marathon should remove this stain from the body politic.
Our disdain should fall on the man who gave us this shameless beggar, who stooped so low as to use the ailments of his own father as leverage to gain an advantage over other businesses that didn't have the trappings of Cabinet office to gain access to the original developer of the Baha Mar resort.
Fitzgerald is the creation of Perry Christie. Fitzgerald tainted the entire Cabinet and the whole PLP, but it is Christie who must go. Our system sets out four steps that Christie should have demanded of Fitzgerald in the wake of the "beggargate" scandal.
He should have forced Fitzgerald to take responsibility and explain the dubious emails to the public. Having explained his personal failing, Christie should have then demanded that Fitzgerald apologize for betraying the public trust. He then should have resigned or been fired.
Christie had an obligation to ensure that Fitzgerald's nomination to run in Marathon was rescinded, leaving him free to run his family's business instead of lobbying for it from a comfortable seat in government.
Christie is so lacking in fortitude that it is futile for us to expect any other course of action from him. He is the proverbial three monkeys morphed into one tired body. Mizaru covered his eyes so he could see no evil, Kikazaru covered his ears to hear no evil, and Iwazaru covered his mouth so he could speak no evil.
Except that Christie saw all the wealth that some of his Cabinet ministers were accumulating on their official salaries. He heard all of the sip-sip about shady deals and back scratching.
He didn't act when Alfred Gray thumbed his nose at the legal system. He looked the other way on BAMSI. He couldn't speak to the allegations involving his attorney general and her family's purported ties to Baha Mar.
The PLP's dirty linen stinks to high heaven, but nothing on that list is more egregious and lethal than the Rubis debacle that starred none other than Christie's prized pit bull, Fitzgerald. An environmental disaster slowly unfolded in his constituency that affected the health, and possibly the mortality, of his constituents, yet Fitzgerald and Christie looked the other way.
This was only the most serious count in the many charges against Fitzgerald. The man has no shame. He ignored the separation of powers between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.
Reeking in contempt for convention, this alley cat politician went trawling in a private dumpster and unearthed emails that he found politically damaging to the opposition. Still, oozing the stench of the gutter, he clothed himself in parliamentary privilege and tabled those emails in the people's House.
Not a peep was heard from Christie as the legislature and the courts almost came to blows in what would have been a constitutional clash for the ages. Christie did nothing.
And it's not because Fitzgerald was an exemplar at the Ministry of Education. Under his watch, the national average in mathematics went to E and the average for English was D+.
He will try to steal credit for the University of The Bahamas, but that process was set in motion back in the days when he was still in high school.
Perhaps the greatest source of power that a prime minister wields is his ability to hire, fire, promote or demote ministers. Based on the evidence of the last five years alone, Christie is our most impotent prime minister ever.
Luckily for us, there is a force more powerful than the Office of the Prime Minister. It is the people. The electorate is still the ultimate check on power.
The minnow from Marathon swimming around at the Ministry of Education is bad enough, but the real problem is that somnolent old turbot from Centreville lollygagging at the OPM.

- The Graduate

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The Bahamian people have tolerated too much

April 24, 2017

Dear Editor,
Every five years political parties do two things: embrace new faces to create the illusion that they are fresh, dynamic and relevant, and publish a manifesto. In the first instance, the heart and mind of the organization do not change; new political aspirants are simply an accessory worn by the old guard, political novices waiting to be corrupted by the political system and its processes. It is the equivalent of expecting to be healthy after having kidney, liver and lung transplants in a body riddled with cancer. It is a sad state of affairs indeed.
Political party manifestos usually serve as the vision the organization has for the country. Personally, I do not put too much stock in manifestos. Far more important to me is the character of the leaders of the organizations who publish such propaganda.
Political parties, to a large extent, are self-serving idea factories, so it should not be a surprise that all of the parties will have ideas that are palatable for public consumption.
The problem is never the with the idea -- I have heard many good ones over the years -- but the willingness of government to properly implement and follow through in a cost effective way is a separate matter. We need leaders who are principled men. When a man is guided by principles, and not political expediency or greed, one can have a greater level of confidence in what they say they will do.
There are many reasons why Perry Christie should have honorably demitted office. Two failed referenda attest to that. But his desire to stay in power suggests that he is not a principled or honorable man.
Neither is Hubert Minnis. The lack of confidence the majority of FNM MPs showed against him in the House of Assembly should have prompted his resignation as well, but he is still captain of the ship. Branville McCartney should have stayed with FNM after being scolded by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, but he chose to leave and start his own party. By doing so he forfeited the lessons necessary to shape the character of all true leaders.
How can we have confidence in the utterances of a manifesto when the frontmen cannot be trusted?
Ultimately, the Bahamian people are responsible; we have set the bar so low in our personal and national lives, that I can only guess that we are getting what we have chosen to tolerate.
- JB

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The Health of a nation

April 22, 2017

Dear editor,
It should be obvious to everyone by now, that in this upcoming election a vote for the Democratic National Alliance or for an independent candidate is essentially a vote for the PLP.
Despite an abysmal five years in office, during which our country has sunk to an all time low, and the average Bahamian has been left more broke, hopeless and miserable than ever before, it is clear that the PLP has somehow managed to energize their base. That means that at least 40% of the voting public will be marking their X for a yellow candidate on May 10.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has paid attention to our history. In all three elections won by the FNM, the PLP was able to get their substantial base out to support them.
Nevertheless, the anti-PLP vote continues to be the larger vote in this country every time, if it can just manage to remain united.
Who knows, maybe in five or 10 years the DNA will be strong enough to win the government. I certainly hope so, but even a blind man can see that, that day has not arrived as yet.
Likewise, any independent candidate lucky enough to be elected will only be taking a seat away from the FNM, because all the traditional PLP constituencies appear to be solidly yellow once again. It's more likely though, that independents and DNAs won't win a single seat, but, rather, will split the anti-PLP vote in traditionally red seats and hand those areas to the PLP on a silver platter.
I have supported the DNA and its leader Branville McCartney since the party's inception. I plan to do so again in the future.
But in this election, I simply cannot play a part in getting this worthless government reelected.
That is why I will be voting red come election day!

- A diehard DNA supporter

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Neglecting Our Heritage

April 22, 2017

Dear Editor,
After reading the article on Nassau's lighthouse in today's Tribune I should like to add to the observations made by Mr. Ronald Lightbourn. Not only is our historic lighthouse in dire straits, but many of our other historical buildings and landmarks have also been, one might say, criminally neglected.
I very recently visited Great Exuma with some Canadian friends, and drove them out to Williams Town to tour the salt pans and the beacon used to guide the ships in days gone by. This historic treasure is also crumbling from neglect, wind and water erosion; the wooden boardwalk leading up to it is cracked and warped with dangerous nails and splinters protruding its entire length. The surrounding area is strewn with paper, cans and bottles, (the amount of litter in Exuma is mind-boggling!) the weather cover of the information pedestal is broken, and the historical information contained therein almost illegible.
The small battery of cannons below Fort Charlotte on West Bay Street is another typical case in point; overgrown by bush and weeds much of the time, with whole sections of the gun carriages broken off and the cannons themselves a sad monument of peeling paint and rust.
It has been said that the level of civility of a people can be measured in part by their care and respect for their historical monuments, antiquities and heritage, so what must the rest of the civilized world think of us?

- Ian Mabon

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A vote for the DNA is a vote for the PLP

April 21, 2017

Dear editor,
It should be obvious to everyone by now, that in this upcoming election a vote for the Democratic National Alliance or for an independent candidate is essentially a vote for the PLP.
Despite an abysmal five years in office, during which our country has sunk to an all time low, and the average Bahamian has been left more broke, hopeless and miserable than ever before, it is clear that the PLP has somehow managed to energize their base. That means that at least 40% of the voting public will be marking their X for a yellow candidate on May 10.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has paid attention to our history. In all three elections won by the FNM, the PLP was able to get their substantial base out to support them.
Nevertheless, the anti-PLP vote continues to be the larger vote in this country every time, if it can just manage to remain united.
Who knows, maybe in five or 10 years the DNA will be strong enough to win the government. I certainly hope so, but even a blind man can see that, that day has not arrived as yet.
Likewise, any independent candidate lucky enough to be elected will only be taking a seat away from the FNM, because all the traditional PLP constituencies appear to be solidly yellow once again. It's more likely though, that independents and DNAs won't win a single seat, but, rather, will split the anti-PLP vote in traditionally red seats and hand those areas to the PLP on a silver platter.
I have supported the DNA and its leader Branville McCartney since the party's inception. I plan to do so again in the future.
But in this election, I simply cannot play a part in getting this worthless government reelected.
That is why I will be voting red come election day!

- A diehard DNA supporter

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Copycatting Loretta Butler-Turner's 'Forward Together' campaign slogan

April 21, 2017

Dear Editor,
The PLP's 2016 campaign slogan "Forward Together Bahamians" reminds me of its 2012 "Believe in Bahamians" slogan. The 2012 campaign propaganda helped to etch in the minds of angry Bahamians that the Free National Movement was, derisively speaking, the Foreign National Movement. PLPs were spreading the narrative that then PM Hubert Ingraham was selling out the country to the Chinese. Xenophobic Bahamians bought this untruth wholesale and voted en masse against the FNM. With a few weeks before the May 10 general election, it can be successfully argued that the PLP has been the most pro-foreign government in our nation's history. The Bahamas, like any other developing country, needs foreign direct investment in order to achieve sustainable economic growth. The PLP has bent over backwards to accommodate the Chinese and Canadian Peter Nygard. The PLP's 2012 campaign should have been "Believe in a Canadian. Believe in Chinese. Believe in web shop operatives". Nygard is so important to these people that they steamrolled his pet initiative stem cell legislation through Parliament. Nygard's impunity is so ubiquitous and astounding that he, along with some PLP hangers-on, marched into the PLP stronghold of Bain Town in broad daylight to confront the Rev C.B. Moss, a former PLP senator. If the PLP could treat their own like this, I shudder to think what they would do to an FNM. Adding insult to injury was a video that went viral with the Canadian talking about the PM in the most reviling manner. No one from the PLP thought it was worthwhile to reprimand Nygard. If that was a Bahamian of the lower socio-economic group or an ordinary FNM, he or she would have been hunted down like an animal and incarcerated in Fox Hill Prison. When Baha Mar developer Sarkis Izmirlian publicly disagreed with PM Perry Christie, Fred Mitchell gave him a tongue-lashing along with a threat to have him deported out of The Bahamas. Yet he, along with his Cabinet colleagues, were close-mouthed regarding the vitriolic Nygard video. Whereas Izmirlian's words were mild, Nygard's were downright inimical. But we all know why no one from the Cabinet dared to ruffle the feathers of "Massa Nygard".
As for the web shop operatives, the PLP essentially told the masses to go to hell when it blatantly ignored the gaming referendum results in order to please the numbers people. There is the perception out there that the numbers people financed the PLP 2012 campaign. The move to legalize web shop gaming was allegedly a payback. The PLP is so favorably disposed towards these people, that they even went as far as nominating a candidate that the numbers people are alleged to be backing.
As for the Chinese, the PLP has ignored the cry of the black and white masses by refusing to unseal the Baha Mar court documents regarding the new deal to get the mega resort open, which they allegedly reached with Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd.'s CTF BM Holdings. The Bahamian people eagerly await the release of the Supreme Court documents this month, as has been promised by Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson.
The "Forward Together Bahamians" slogan is really a plagiarism of former FNM MP Loretta Butler-Turner's "Forward Together" 2016 slogan for her failed leadership bid of the FNM. PLP campaign strategists are running out of ideas it seems. No innovation. Why copycat the slogan of a failed, former FNM MP? They cannot come back to the Bahamian people with that "Believe in Bahamians" campaign pitch, because no sensible person will believe it, other than their sycophants. I have noticed that one of their Forward Together television commercials featured new candidates. It appears like a conscious effort to hide senior PLPs, with the aim of trying not to remind Bahamians of all that has gone wrong during this disastrous term, seeing that those senior PLPs have played a pivotal role in screwing up this country.
After what these people have done to this country over the past five years, I hope nobody is stupid enough to believe their myth about putting Bahamians first. Forward Together Numbers Boys. Forward Together Peter Nygard. Forward Together Chinese!

- The Whistleblower

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On environmental issues

April 21, 2017

Dear Editor,
While everyone is concerned with the political fervor that is now consuming our nation, I wish to change stride and mention something on the environmental front (although it does in some way connect to recent and past politics -- vis a vis the New Providence "landfill" debacle). It is not a new concept, but one that is worth sharing in hopes that more Bahamians will join in and take this small step to help protect our future.
I would like to address the use of plastic bags in our daily lives. There is almost not a day that goes by for most of us when we do not come into contact with a plastic bag to tote something or other. The food store bags are probably the most prevalent and widely used. Many people are now using "green" bags when out grocery shopping. This is to be commended. By the designation of "green" bags, I am referring to a bag usually made of a cloth fiber matrix that can be reused for countless travel and shopping trips, as opposed to the one-time use of plastic throwaways found in so many stores here that often end up wreaking havoc in our garbage dumps and out at sea, causing devastating trauma to countless marine animals, especially fish and sea turtles.
It is quite typical for environmentally conscientious people now-a-days to carry and reuse these "green" bags (mind you, they come in all colors, shapes and sizes) mostly, however, for groceries only -- when going to Super Value, Solomon's or similar food stores. We should all be reminded that these bags can, and should, be used in other retail stores as well. Please bring them for use in shops like Kelly's, Lowe's Pharmacy, CBS, The Sports Centre, Tops Hardware, your favorite shoe store, gardening and pet shops, other local retailers, and even at lunch or dinner for your food take out orders. Imagine the plastic that could be saved if we all did this!
It might be worthwhile for the store owners/managers to enlighten the "bag" boys and girls (those young students that help us to bag and carry our purchases out to our vehicles) about the reasons for using "green" bags and the effects that plastics have on our environment. At the same time, they could be reminded that there is no need to use the plastics if the consumer provides their own recyclable bags. These "bag" boys and girls are helping out the shopper while gaining self-esteem and learning the value of a good work ethic. I respect that. But, I often find myself having to explain why he/she should use the bags that I have provided, as opposed to the never ending double plastic bags that are so often the custom in most, if not all, of our food stores. While I admire the efforts of these young people that help out, by learning and embracing this environmentally conscientious concept they could serve to help advance this cause amongst us all.
Plastics bags are made from non-renewable, fossil-fuel based materials (usually petroleum and natural gas products). Their production impacts the earth's greenhouse effect, contributing to the global climate change that we are witnessing now.
The scientific community says that it takes between 20 - 1,000 years; others in this field say 500 - 1,000 years to degrade our plastic products in the environment, particularly food store bags. Some are of the belief that they NEVER fully decompose, only get broken down into smaller bits that remain on our lands and in our oceans forever. Of course, this is hard to determine definitively since plastic bags have only been in existence for the past 50 years or so. It is said, however, that "currently, there are approximately 46,000-1,000,000 plastic fragments floating within every square mile of the globes oceans". Scary!
There is an easy alternative that could serve to help us, our children, grands and beyond, when such plastic use is so detrimental yet can be so readily replaced with more environmentally friendly products.

World Environment Day (WED), started by the United Nations Environment Programme in 1974, is celebrated on June 5th each year. According to Wikipedia, WED "has been a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging environmental issues from marine pollution and global warming, to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. Its main aim is to take positive environmental action, protect nature and the planet Earth". Lets do our part too! The use of "green" bags is but a small step in the scheme of things, but we have to start somewhere.

By reducing the plastics entering our environment today, we could be spared an indeterminable amount of hazardous pollution, thereby decreasing the endless environmental concerns and health grief imposed upon all of us for today and tomorrow.
The subject of the eternal styrofoam "To Go" boxes that are such an integral part of our way of life is an even scarier issue as far as global environmental and health concerns go. But that is a story for another day.

- BT

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All things considered

April 20, 2017

Dear Editor,
Considering all that has been said and done under a PLP administration, we are looking at the possible consolidation of an enslaved state.
Over five years, the government has reigned over worsening economic conditions, and contributed to an unfriendly business environment and growing unemployment.
In response, the government has been hiring Bahamians wholesale, after years of allowing massive foreign employment for eg, construction sites. The rate of Government hiring has increased lately in a somewhat transparent move to improve its chances at the polls. (transparency at last!)
Here we have it: government economic mismanagement followed by government hiring the unemployed in an attempt to make them "their very own."
Unfortunately, as an economic model this does not have long term viability. Unlike colonial plantation economies, the modern state as the major employer does not produce a profit and cannot provide sustainable employment.
Mexico tried this model in the 1980's. Over 50% of the workforce in 1984 was employed by the Mexican Government or state owned companies. This, together with Mexico's excessive borrowing, culminated in the financial crash of 1984. The Mexican peso declined from 23 pesos / US$1.00 to 2,000 pesos /US$1. Inflation soared. The Mexican middle class diminished and poorer classes suffered -- and increased.
Greece is a current example of the results of excessive borrowing and economic fall-out. In the past few years, thousands, including school teachers, have lost their civil service jobs or had their salaries and benefits reduced. Former civil servants or their widows have had their pensions slashed. And they use the remaining portion of that pension to help their now unemployed adult children.
In Greece over 1000 schools have closed, forcing students into overcrowded conditions. Hospitals and clinics are downsized or closed, and over 4,000 doctors have emigrated. But the number of tax offices have increased and taxes have diminished disposable income.
If the Bahamas government becomes a major employer, it needs sponsors in an attempt to avoid a Mexican or Greek type fall-out. And there is no guarantee that attempt will be successful. Sponsors could be numbers men, foreign fashion designers or friendly foreign countries.
Friendly foreign countries have the deepest pockets. Thus our much vaunted national sovereignty, patriotically saved from the Delaware courts, may be genuflecting to a country that holds a place in Amnesty International's list of "The 10 worst attacks on human rights in 2016".
It's another iteration of the golden rule: He who has the gold, rules.
Bahamians can still alter this course of events simply by voting this government out of power, no matter where we are employed.
The future we save will be our own.

- Leandra Esfakis

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Welcome to the 21st century Loftus Roker

April 20, 2017

Dear Editor,
Former PLP cabinet minister Loftus Roker (he who gave us the cheeky moniker "Rokerpure" for brackish drinking water), recently expressed his disdain over the fact that outside observers were coming to invigilate our election next month.
He chided our leaders for having no confidence in Bahamians and wondered if so-called first world countries like the UK and the U.S. (among others) would allow these observers to monitor their elections. His implication was that they would not.
I wish to set him straight about at least two instances: the last election cycles in Britain and the U.S., our next door neighbour. Candidate Donald Trump barked to the world that he was expecting a rigged election and so it came as no surprise that outside observers were welcomed.
The publication U.S. News and World Report published an article last year confirming that indeed the U.S. election was monitored by two separate outside groups and not a whisper was heard from anyone.
Officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have been observing U.S. elections since 2002, and last year, for the first time, a delegation was sent from the Organization of American States (OAS) to witness the presidential election.
The OSCE has an Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights through which it observes elections to assess the extent to which electoral processes respect fundamental freedoms and are characterized by equality, universality, political pluralism, confidence, transparency and accountability.
In their 2015 general elections, Britain accepted the OSCE along with 170 other foreign observers. The British Electoral Commission, which approved their presence there, said that it was to ensure that the vote is carried out in accordance with international standards.
Oversight isn't always about catching fraud. Sometimes it's about improving best practices and, just as important, ensuring an atmosphere of transparency. And if you want enforcement of election laws, who better to do so than outsiders, who supposedly don't have a horse in the race.
We could have done with an OSCE mission here to monitor the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall, whose shenanigans about what some women wore when they registered to vote was surely an infringement of their basic human rights as citizens of The Bahamas.
So, my good friend Loftus Roker should stand corrected, and I wish to advise him to re-boot his thinking to the 21st century.

- The Graduate

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Politics to solve problems politicians to serve people

April 20, 2017

Dear Editor,
It is very important that this election, on May 10 2017, the political parties present to the Bahamian people the best ideas, solutions and visions to address the problems facing The Bahamas and the Bahamian people. It is also very important that the politicians all must remember that they are elected to Parliament to serve and represent the Bahamian people. It is my sincere hope that a better future will be decided by the Bahamian people for themselves, their kids and grandkids. The voice of the people will be heard on May 10 2017. May God bless The Bahamas and the Bahamian people.
- Pedro Smith

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