THE STORY OF THE GUARDIAN'S PUBLISHER
Last year, the Leader of The Opposition Perry Christie, Bradley Roberts, MP for Grants Town and myself visited then publisher of the Nassau Guardian Ken Francis. This followed on the heels of a shift in the policies of the Guardian upon the appointment of Oswald Brown as Managing Editor. Mr. Brown is an FNM hack who was appointed on the advice of Prime Minister Ingraham. Perry Christie told Mr. Francis that he had been informed that Mr. Brown was sent to the Guardian to keep Fred Mitchell off the front page of the Guardian. The situation became worse after the meeting. The PLP today has almost totally been removed from the front page of the Guardian. The column 'Know Your Rights' was withdrawn because Mr. Brown was offended by the attack on his journalistic ethics in a speech by this writer at the PLP Convention this year. The attack was a blistering one. He is a biased an unprincipled journalist, who lied to the agent for this writer when the column was withdrawn. The Bahamian people have a serious problem generally with a press that does not have a firm belief in the right to know and in the presentation of balanced information. The Guardian is at the point where it can't be relied upon for accurate information. It does not appear to see a distinction between what your views are about someone and what the news is. That is the problem when you put dumb people in charge of powerful public instruments. Ossie Brown will have to go from the Guardian before there can be any improvement.
THE OPENING OF THE NEW PARADISE ISLAND BRIDGE
The new Paradise Island bridge is now open to the public. This writer has a map in his possession which shows that the Government built the road to the Paradise Island bridge over the former North Burial Ground. The map dates to 1920 or thereabouts. It is said that there was an African burial ground. Some research needs to be done on the point The graveyard has been abandoned for some time, but the story is being used to promote a larger point and that is the unease which the Bahamian people have about the policies of the Ingraham Government. while in North Carolina last month, Bahamian students voiced the concern that Ingraham is selling out The Bahamas, and that Sol Kerzner has too much say in the society. Ingraham's policies seem dictated by pure economics without respect for sensitivities, culture and traditions of The Bahamas. He has been called an Uncle Tom so many times in the bars and bistros of New Providence that it has become embarrassing.
MORE ON THE BRIDGE
All Members of Parliament and Senators were invited to the opening of the Paradise Island bridge just in front of Church Street. The occasion was full of sound and fury, with the Prime Minister and his whole Cabinet arrayed like peacocks. The problem with them all is that you can dress up in suits but they'll still look like last years cows with nowhere to go. Their remarks are crude and boorish, led by the Prime Minister. After six years as Prime Minister, he still does not understand how inappropriate it is to use national occasions for partisan purposes. His speech was full of pro-FNM invective against his political opponent. He made a slur on the Bahamian people by suggesting that Bahamians are generally prophets of doom and gloom. His Minister of Works, Tommy Turnquest, was huffing and puffing about the bridge being the largest project by the FNM Government. Then he introduced the Director of Works, a Englishman, and asked him to stand for his fine work. One supposes that the Director of Works is an agent of the FNM.
THE OPENING OF SUN INTERNATIONAL
By the time this is read, Sun International will have opened. The international stars like Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jordan are all supposed to be in town for this extravaganza. There is a lot being said about the buildings and bridges and the tunnels and how much money is being spent, but very little is being said about the people who will work at Sun. Generally, after a quick tour of the facility, it appears that the employees are happy. That is the concern of the PLP. That the employees will be happy. We shall continue to monitor this situation. Allan Liebman, the CEO of Sun has not yet answered the letter by this columnist as Opposition Spokesman on Labour. He has not answered the letter and we do not expect him to do so.
A FEW GOOD MEN AND WOMEN
The Leader of The Opposition, Perry Christie, spoke in the Fox Hill Constituency last Wednesday 9th December. He spoke at a rally organised by the Montagu and Fox Hill branches. Present was Melanie Griffin, the party's standard-bearer for the Yamacraw Constituency, Senator Fred Mitchell the party's candidate in the last election for Fox Hill and Godfrey Eneas, a PLP candidate in the last election. Mr. Christie said that the persons wanting to be candidates should come forward and identify themselves because 1999 is the year that candidates will go into the field for the PLP. He predicted that there would not be a third party, and that the PLP would remain united. Melanie Griffin stole the night when she said that the Convention spoke loudly and clearly in November that Perry Christie is the Leader and she accepted the result and would get on with the work of beating the FNM.
THE HAPLESS BUMBLING FNM
The performance of the FNM in the senate is pathetic. They don't know the rules of procedure, and are often caught sleeping at the wheel, so that some of their own policies get thwarted because of procedural incompetence. It appears that Dame Ivy the Government Leader has lost all interest in politics. Her contribution to the debate on the Judges Pensions Act was ill-prepared, and she left before the session was over. Senator Ronnie Knowles has taken on the arrogance of his friend Hubert Ingraham. What is interesting to see is how these grown men try to emulate Ingraham's every action, every hand gesture, his laughter, his words. No one has an identity of their own. Is it any wonder that the FNM is in trouble?
CASH TRIES TO STAND UP
The award for grandstanding of the week goes to Darren Cash, the FNM senator who launched a blistering attack in the Senate on the FNM's immigration policy. Cash is feeling ignored in his party say the pundits. Apparently, he believes that his talents are being ignored. He is envious of Zhivargo Laing's meteoric rise to the top, even though Laing is an abject failure in his Ministry and amongst youth generally in the country. Cash hopes to be made a martyr by Mr. Ingraham say some pundits, which would then catapult him to the top politically. Others say, he's just looking for Mr. Ingraham's attention.
A PLACE IN THE SUN
A friend invited me for lunch, and having not attended the official opening of Sun's new Royal Towers at Paradise Island, we decided to test the waters at one of the new restaurants. The trip was tortuous. First, the journey over the new bridge is not as smooth as advertised at the opening of the bridge. The Bahamas was once described by this writer as a parody of real life. Case in point: the bridge, which is supposed to have an electronic transponder so that you don't need to buy tokens. No one was using the lane. It was empty. Then the Government announced that you had to have four quarters to put in the bin to pay the toll. No change would be provided. Enter real life Bahamas. They have a man standing up outside the booth passing out four quarters to each person because no one has the four quarters.
FINDING ONE'S WAY AROUND SUN
Once you get past the anxiety of the bridge toll plaza, the next step is finding one's way around the confusing signage. The place is still under construction. Bahamians be warned, you cannot enter the Royal Towers from the street. There is a security type who comes up, stops the car and asks in the most abrupt fashion how he can help. He then informs you that this is not a public place but a private facility, and if you want to enter it you'd have to do so from the old Atlantis entrance. Once we get to the proper entrance, no valet parking is available so we have to hunt around for forty minutes looking for parking. Finally we are in a restaurant down in the hall of the waters in the belly of the new hotel. The food is overpriced for the service one gets. $68 for a lunch of sandwiches for two. That is simply highway robbery. What occurs to you is that this new Sun facility is over promoted, expensive, and has nothing to do with The Bahamas.
MINISTER SNUBBED AT SUN OPENING
Algernon Allen, the Minister for Social Development got the shock of his life at the Sun opening. Sol Kerzer, Sun's owner set up a special enclave for his celebrity buddies like Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones and the Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. Someone forgot to tell the bodyguards that Cabinet Ministers are celebrities. When Algernon allen tried to get in, they told him he had to leave. This shows you the general disrespect which Kerzner has for Bahamians and for their elected officials. We have given 270 million dollars in concessions to this man, and he has no respect for any of us. We repeat the story told to the Senate: Every time the Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition goes to visit Paradise Island, they are dressed appropriately in their business suits. Kerzner dresses in blue jeans and a polo shirt to meet them. When the Duke of Edinburgh came to visit, Kerzer donned his suit. Interesting, and we wonder why.
ARE BAHAMIANS PART OF SUN?
What becomes clear after the huge extravaganza at Sun over the weekend of 12 December, is that Sol Kerzner has planned Bahamians out of Paradise Island as anything other than servants. The sheer scale of the development threatens to overwhelm the Bahamian people, and it certainly has already overwhelmed our political leaders. Mr. Ingraham the Prime Minister can be seen grinning like a Cheshire cat at every stage of the game with Kerzner, confirming what is already on the lips of so many Bahamians that he has sold the country out, or put more properly that he is incapable of negotiating a good deal for us because he is too enamoured of those he perceives as his social betters and people with money. It requires politicians who can hold their heads and not be wowed by all the money, glamour and elegance. That is certainly where Pindling had the edge on this bozo we have as a Prime Minister.
THE PRINCESS DEAL COLLAPSES IN FREEPORT
The Government announced in a tortuously worded statement two weeks ago that the Princess Hotels in Freeport had been sold and that the developer had agreed to a fund to tide the employees over who would be temporarily displaced as a result of the renovations at the hotels. The hotel plant in Freeport is in terrible shape. The Princess properties, once the flagships of the industry in Grand Bahama are in rotten shape. The community was pleased but on edge as it braced for the layoffs of another 400 workers. The Government made it a condition of the purchase that the developer had to wait until Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong-based part owner of the Grand Bahama Development Company, finished its first hotel construction on the Lucaya strip. The deal has now collapsed. The Prime Minister flew off to London to try to salvage the deal. Meanwhile, employees at Princess and in Freeport generally are on edge. This must be part of the "better, better" strategy promised by the FNM when they bought the Government with 140 million of Treasury funds in 1997.
THE FUTURE OF THE PLP
The rumours are fast and furious about the demise of the PLP. It is exaggerated. The support of the people is still there. What the leaders of the PLP have to do is get their act together to galvanize support. We need to find our voice again. With stupid people like Oswald Brown in charge of the major newspapers, and prejudice all around in the media, we need PLP supporters to find their voices and begin to answer back. The country faces a serious problem where changes are taking place rapidly, and the changes threaten to undermine the culture of our country as we know it. That is why a vibrant Opposition is so key. It would be a mistake for anyone to break away and form a third party. The PLP must be reformed. Younger people must come into its ranks and take the power.
THE PRIME MINISTER TRAVELS TO LONDON
With a progress that rivalled the pilgrim's, Hubert Ingraham took off for London. Travelling in his party last week were officials of the Port and a representative from his party whose constituency is in Grand Bahama. The purpose of the trip was twofold. It is difficult to tell from the gobbledygook that was put out from the Bahamas Information Services. First they went to plead with Lonhro, the owners of the Princess Hotels in Freeport, not to close the two Princess Hotels in Freeport. This comes following the news that the deal for the sale of the hotels collapsed. It appears that the broker who put the deal together couldn't find the money to pull it through. Secondly, the Prime Minister and his party went to seal the deal on the expansion of the Hutchison Whampoa project in Freeport. A 282 million dollar loan was floated in US dollars in The Bahamas to support the project, with the Bank of Nova Scotia leading the way. Hutchison told the public that this now shows that they have the money and that the Asian crisis did not affect their investment plans for Freeport. The fact is, however, the community remains skeptical that the new hotel expansion on Lucaya will go ahead notwithstanding this loan. Ingraham returned to The Bahamas and refused to talk to the press, pleading the fact that he was tired. Edward St. George was more forthcoming. He, Chairman of the Port, said that they have someone lined up to by Princess Hotels. One reads that to mean that there is no sale of the Princess imminent and the hotels are in danger of closing. This will seriously worsen the employment picture in Freeport. Three thousand jobs were lost in Grand Bahama between 1995 and 1997.
INGRAHAM AND THE PERKS OF OFFICE
Do you remember when Hubert Ingraham first came to office he used to criticize Lynden Pindling for the supposed excesses of the Office. No that's all gone out the window now that he's gotten used to it. He has at least half a dozen bodyguards around him. He has four cars available to him Before he can reach for his cigarette, there is a policeman there with a light for him to smoke. He makes Bahamasair and other commercial carriers board everyone before he even comes down to the airport. That is why the bet made with this writer and a Jamaican Minister that the power is too sweet for Ingraham to give it up voluntarily is probably one that will cost me a case of the country's Kalik. The deal is if Ingraham goes as he says, then this writer gets a case of Red Stripe. If he doesn't, then a case of Kalik has to go to Jamaica.
THE SAGA OF TENNYSON WELLS
It was remarkable. Tennyson Wells, the Attorney-General, got up in the House of Assembly during a recent debate on Bahamasair that he believed that the airline should be privatized. Up jumped the Prime Minister and reminded the House that he alone speaks for the Government. The Prime Minister said Bahamasair would not be privatized. That it belongs to the Bahamian people. This is remarkable. If Tennyson Wells has said that he was against privatization, the Prime Minister would have gotten up and said he was for it. Ingraham is so desperate to stop Tennyson Wells from getting any mileage in his quest to replace Ingraham as Prime Minister. The Cabinet ought to speak with one voice, particularly since Mr. Ingraham by his statement was changing the FNM's policy on privatization.
TENNYSON'S QUEST FOR PRIME MINISTER
Tennyson sent out a remarkable Christmas card. He and his wife Stephanie looked very much the Prime Ministerial couple. When speaking to Tennyson about it, he said that that is very much what he is trying to arrange. Clearly a challenge is coming, and some predict fireworks in the FNM.
THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AND THE BAHAMAS
Relations between The Bahamas and the U.S. are good. There is good contact between the U.S. authorities and the Opposition and the Government. The recent events in Washington give cause for serious concern about the stability of the minds who run the U.S. Government. The sheer bloody mindedness of the decision to impeach the President of the U.S. over his dalliance with a young intern, both of whom entered the relationship consensually, seems ridiculous. It says much about the nature and quality and character of the people who are running the Government over there. We are dealing with a strange breed indeed.
THE FUTURE OF BERNARD NOTTAGE
The questions continue to be asked about the future of Bernard Nottage and the PLP. It is clear that Dr. Nottage, the MP for Kennedy, is still smarting from the loss to Perry Christie in the last leadership race. The rumours continue to surface that he is going to form a third party. Dr. Nottage, himself is being coy, except to say that he is "not f....ing with y'all". This is against all studied advice from history, and the fact is that at 55 it means that he is unlikely to win even a single seat in the next Parliament under a third party banner. The question after the second defeat for leadership is what to do. Perhaps he could take a page out of Vivian Blake's book following his loss in the race to succeed Prime Minister Norman Manley as leader of the PNM in Jamaica. Once he lost to Michael Manley, he retired and went to private practice, eventually ending up as Chief Justice in The Bahamas. The other alternative is simply to get with the programme and help bring about the reforms that the PLP so desperately needs, if it is to have a ghost of a chance at winning the next election. The difficulty for Dr. Nottage is that any strategy other than participation will come off to the public as sulking because he lost a leadership race. Further, any third party could only seek to outflank the PLP as more nationalist and as having a voice. At the moment, that is the criticism of the PLP: that it has no voice and it agrees too much with the FNM in selling out the country to foreigners. Curiously that is the same ground being staked out by Tennyson Wells in his fight for the hearts and minds of the FNM after Hubert Ingraham.
PLP IN THE BAHAMAS AND IN BERMUDA
The Progressive Liberal Party PLP in The Bahamas and the Progressive Labour Party PLP in Bermuda are to have closer ties following the dramatic election victory in Bermuda after 35 years of trying by the PLP. This writer flew to Bermuda for the election on the 9th of November. It was like 1967 in Nassau. Majority rule finally came to Bermuda, and the white population is just as skittish as they were in Nassau and predicting doom and gloom The PLP won 26 out of 40 seats. The UBP got 14 seats. The new Government expects to implement a programme of Bermudianization. Sounds familiar. Perry Christie, Leader of the PLP, flew u to Hamilton for the state opening of Parliament on 20 November. The policy of the PLP in The Bahamas is to help to foster closer ties to seek to persuade Bermuda to have more active participation in CARICOM. That is one of the fundamental foreign policy proposals of the PLP here.
MOTHER PRATT ATTACKED BY NOTTAGE ALLY
A curious letter showed up by Paul A. Gomez in the newspaper. It was a savage attack on the political mythology of Cynthia 'Mother' Pratt, the MP for St. Cecilia. Mother Prat is one of the greatest assets of the PLP today. She does not get involved in political controversy. She steers clear of any political attacks, and does straight down-the-line community work. Her relations with the Government and the Press are good without having her reputation compromising her PLPness. For that, Mr. Gomez, an ally of Dr. Nottage, attacked her. There is some speculation that the Nottage camp is disappointed that Mrs. Pratt did not show up to Dr. Nottage's headquarters opening. Mrs. Pratt refused to attend because Dr. Nottage did not invite the leader of the Party, Perry Christie.
The Minister of Youth needs to get in touch with reality, and start putting in place programmes to help young people in the country. Instead he spends his time posing for the cameras giving out cheques. By the way, Mr. Laing ought to tell us what happened to the money that is alleged to have been stolen by his cousin, Adrian Francis whom he caused to be hired at the Ministry. Francis is walking around scot free in The Bahamas and no charges have been preferred.