Campaign finance laws and political attacks

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March 05, 2012

Attacking the integrity of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is at the heart of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's 2012 election campaign. He has said the money the PLP is using to fund its campaign comes from unsavory sources.
"You can't fight crime and a culture of criminality if you turn a blind eye to a culture of corruption in your party. You can't fight crime if you taking money from sources who made that money illegally," said Ingraham at the Free National Movement's Fort Charlotte constituency office opening last week.
That statement was one of many similarly directed charges Ingraham has made against the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). He has repeatedly said that the PLP has unclean hands and should not be trusted.
The PLP is not happy with these comments and it has denied that the party is using 'dirty money' to fund its campaign.
There are no campaign finance laws in The Bahamas. Bahamians do not know who funds political campaigns. PLP and FNM governments have decided not to enact laws to regulate the financing of our political system.
Therefore, neither of the political parties should complain when accusations are hurled about the sources of funding to political parties. The parties during one of their terms in office - the PLP for 30 years and the FNM for 15 years - brought forward campaign financing laws to bring transparency to the process. None did.
Any party wanting to counter accusations against illicit money funding its campaign could now disclose in the absence of a law to do so. All that would be required is for the party to inform its donors - and to come to an understanding with them - and it could make the names of all who give money to the organization public.
This will not happen, of course. But as long as we keep a hidden party financing system, anyone could make any wild accusation against a candidate or a party and voters would have no means of determining if the allegations are true or not.

The visit of Prince Harry
Those who have gone to see Prince Harry during his visit here to The Bahamas seemed excited to glimpse the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. Prince Harry is visiting the Caribbean in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the reign of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II.
The British monarchy is our monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of The Bahamas. We wonder, though, how relevant to Bahamians the connection still is to the monarchy.
The issue of breaking away formally from the Queen being our head of state is something rarely debated in public discourse in The Bahamas these days. In Jamaica, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has said it is time for her country to abandon the British monarch as Jamaica's official head of state and instead move to a republican form of government. Jamaica declared its independence from Britain in 1962.
While the issue of transitioning away from the British monarch is not a hot topic here, a more relevant issue for Bahamians is the role of the Privy Council as our final court of appeal. Some think, especially regarding criminal matters, that the Privy Council is out of touch with the conditions of the modern Bahamas.
At some point, The Bahamas will need to stand on its own as a fully independent country. That means that while we should keep connections with our brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth, the Bahamian state would need to be fully Bahamianized.
When should this time come? Well, it is up to the people.

Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian

News date : 03/05/2012    Category : Nassau Guardian Stories

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