Note from the Publisher - The Government prorogued
the House of Assembly with the reading of the Governor General's proclamation
by the Provost Marshal on the steps of the Supreme Court on Tuesday 2 March.
The new session of the Parliament begins on 17 March. While the House
should be divided into sessions, allowing the history of the institution
to be more effectively organized, the prorogation of the House these days
can only be seen as a propaganda exercise by Hubert Ingraham and his worthless
Government. What you will have is the boorish Prime Minister and
his equally crude colleagues putting political words into the mouth of
the Governor General, and making us all stand up in the hot sun outside
the Assembly, talking foolishness about Government in the sunshine.
Permit some thoughts on the need for courage and maintaining alliances, no matter how bleak the future may look. There is a climate of fear, which has permeated all levels of the society that we know as The Bahamas, and if one is not careful they can jeopardize longstanding alliances. One has to maintain silence often, and swallow one's true opinions because friendship, such a rare commodity, is more important in some respects than brutal truth. No matter the disappointments, you continue to soldier on, and very often hold your tongue. The difficulty is that some people seem to believe that there is only one side with a view or a right to a view. One is always concerned about one's friends and how they feel and how their family feels. The question is: does one therefore abdicate one's public responsibility, and further, one's moral conscience because you may have an unscrupulous set of politicians in office that would do anything to maintain power, who may try to hurt you through your friends or family? In another forum, it was made clear the view of this columnist that Hubert Ingraham, Tennyson Wells, the whole lot of them are perfectly capable of doing anything to hold on to power. They have presided over the wholesale selling of this country to anyone and everyone. They have no sense of patriotism. Their primary value is money. It is perfectly possible for them to use friends and family in a vain attempt to ruin someone. But that does not deter this man. The devil take them. But throughout the country, in large ways and small, this wicked Government and largely because of the tactics of rank intimidation by its now Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, our public discourse has disintegrated into a swamp of fear, where people who ought to have courage do not because they fear something will happen to them. Some have disintegrated into an insipid and pusillanimous cynicism about public life in The Bahamas and where we are headed. It is so bad that it is disabling, perhaps that is their way of protest, and God Bless them for it. It is perfectly all right to ruminate from the armchair but unless one is an unreconstructed fatalist, there must be a way to shape one's own destiny and that way is to act. It would seem that unreconstructed fatalism is adverse to a basic Christian value, that a man or woman can shape their own destiny by at the very least looking after his own salvation. Since so many profess Christ in this society, one wonders why the pervasive fear. When a man has his foot on your neck, there is only one thing to do: destroy him before he destroys you. There is nothing to fear.
Frank and Clem Edgecombe were married fifty years ago this week. The couple celebrated their fiftieth anniversary at a special service at Mt. Carey Baptist Church in Fox Hill on Sunday, February 28,1999. Mr. Edgecombe is the former representative for Fox Hill in the House of Assembly, serving from 1977 to 1987, and then as Vice President of the Senate from 1987 to 1992. Mr. Edgecombe served as a PLP. He is a quiet and unassuming man but he has served with quiet distinction. He was also principal of the Sandilands Primary School. He has been a Sunday School Superintendent. Recently he was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature. The community of Fox Hill turned out in full force on Sunday. Among those present at the Church service were Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest and former Prime Minister Sir Lynden O. Pindling.
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION TO JAMAICA
True to the promise of this columnist, the Leader of the Opposition is to visit Bahamian students in Jamaica on a visit to Kingston from 5 March to 8 March. Perry Christie MP for Centerville will visit Jamaica for the official installation of the Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, the Hon. Rex Nettleford on Saturday 6 March. The next day, the Leader will travel to Mandeville to visit the students at the Seventh Day Adventist West Indies College. This will be followed by a reception for Bahamians in Jamaica at the Senior Common Room of the University of the West Indies. Mr. Christie will return to The Bahamas on Monday 8 March. Senator Fred Mitchell, the Opposition's Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Bradley Roberts MP, and Opposition Spokesman on Social Services will accompany him. There will be a full photo spread next week.
MOTHER PRATT OFF TO EXUMA
Cynthia "Mother" Pratt, the Deputy Leader of the PLP is off to Exuma this weekend with a delegation of officers of the Women's Branch of the PLP. Joining her this weekend will be Glenys Hanna-Martin, the President of the Women's Branch of the PLP and Melanie Griffin, the National General Council Member of the PLP for Yamacraw. The women will be touring the area and meeting with PLPs to get an update on the situation in Exuma.
ROBBERIES IN CHURCH
If you had read the various newspaper stories this week, you would have believed that a special form of madness had overtaken The Bahamas. There were three different disturbances reported of church activities. Some choir members were robbed at gunpoint in Faith United Baptist Church on Balliou Hill Road, then at St. Agnes 7 a.m. mass on Balliou Hill Road, a man described as mentally ill by the rector had to be restrained after he ran up the center aisle and knocked the wine out of the hand of the priest shortly before communion. Then Christian Council President Simeon Hall reported that a car of one of his members was stripped of its tires in broad daylight during a Sunday morning service. Senator Obie Wilchcombe likes to say: " Blame Ingraham! " Archdeacon William Thompson, rector of St. Agnes, had a more sanguine response. He simply said it shows that the church still has much more work to do.
TOO MANY CASUAL ACCIDENTS IN NEW PROVIDENCE
There is all this talk about New Providence being too crowded with people. Not so really. Manhattan is a smaller island, yet has three million people on it. The question is really one of how you organize your society. New Providence is simply disorganized. One of the clearest manifestations of that is the road system. The system is so chaotic that you are literally running an obstacle course to get around. You can never get a smooth run to anywhere. The roads are all dug up, there seems to be a car backing out of every nook or cranny, pulling on the road, off the road. The result is that on too many occasions people are stuck with these fender benders. The insurance industry reports that it is losing money on car insurance, largely they say because of the theft of automobiles. But it can't help that every day the accidents on the road seem to be growing. The Government has no policy on transport. Expect the quality of life to get worse, and reversing the traffic on Bay Street to please Sol Kerzner at Sun, despite the best spin of Public Works Minister Tommy Turnquest, has not worked.
NO POLICY ON IMMIGRATION
The Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest ventured into political commentary by making the point that the negative view, which Bahamians have of the Immigration Department, is not justified. The view is very much justified and it was interesting to hear in person the GG admit that there is a negative view. So many people connected with the FNM bury their heads in the sand. One must also be concerned about the Governor General engaging in political commentary. In fact, it is time for the Leader of the Opposition to make a formal complaint to the Prime Minister about the political abuse of the Office of Governor General. The FNM has so gutted the immigration policy that there is no policy. The FNM can not be relied upon by any class of Bahamian workers to protect their interest. The morale at the department is at its lowest ebb. This is Immigration Awareness Month. The idea is to promote the work of the Department. The matter got off to a bad start when it was revealed in Parliament that the Department was collecting money from the people it regulates to promote the month. The PLP is concerned that the Bahamianization policy has been gutted. The people who run industry in The Bahamas have no respect for the laws of The Bahamas on Immigration. We have only to blame Hubert Ingraham for that.
TEXACO vs. DOYLE FOX (8)
The Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association (BPRA) held a press conference and revealed that William Allen, the Minister of Finance has an interest in the dock behind the Texaco Harbour Mart that Doyle Fox is now running. Texaco wants to kick Doyle Fox out, and some suspect that its because Bill has this interest in the dock and is making a deal to sell the dock to Sun who also wants to get its hands on the Texaco Star Mart. Tut tuts all around. Nonsense said Bill, a figment of the imagination. Cry Baby Trevor Edgehill claimed that the BPRA was clutching at straws. Sun International said it wasn't so. What this simply means is that they have been frightened off for the moment. No one believes any of these loud denials. In the meantime, the gasoline retailers closed 60 per cent of the stations in New Providence on Wednesday 3 March in can act of solidarity with Doyle Fox. The stations were shut from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. True to form some Bahamians who are always shouting that if you are serious you have to do something, turned coat as soon as it threatened to affect them. Some dealers did not agree to close the stations for the limited time. This is of course a problem throughout the country. No one wants to sacrifice for anything. The dealers should be congratulated for having taken a principled stand. Trevor Edgehill will rue the day he ever fooled with this.
COLINA REVEALS ITS NEW TEAM
Ken Kerr, the financial analyst, has picked up his georgie bundle and left Fidelity Bank and headed to what appear to be freer and greener pastures. Colina Financial Services now have Mr. Kerr, Anthony Ferguson and James Campbell. This is the best aggregation of Bahamian financial talent in one place. Owen Bethel is part of the brain trust as well. Now that the brain power is one place, they have a larger responsibility and that is to give this generation of Black and dispossessed Bahamians a leg up on real wealth, influence and power. The PLP left the country in a better state than when it came to office but personally, the wealth was not transferred in any meaningful way to any significant group of the dispossessed. There were too many personal financial disasters under the PLP. The result is that there are few if any persons of wealth that the party or its former or present leaders can turn to for financial assistance. The PLP simply helped to make their enemies richer and got no thanks for it. The challenge to Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Kerr is to be able to provide real wealth for Bahamians. One hopes that they can support and have the support of a new generation of politicians who will provide them with the platform to expand wealth for all Bahamians. This FNM Government does not believe in wealth creation for Bahamians. They want Bahamians to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. That is not good enough. We'll be looking to these men and some women as well to do it. All the best, fellows. Show from left are: Anthony Ferguson, Kenwood Kerr and James Campbell.
MONEY WILL FIND A WAY LIKE WATER FINDS ITS
Instead of the banks searching around for more productive ways to lend money, they simply and apparently have found a way around the problem. When you walk into the car show room, there is a loan officer waiting to pounce on you. They will offer you one hundred per cent financing. They don't do it the old fashioned way, this time they figure out what your total costs will be including insurance, then they find out how much twenty per cent of that is. They then give you a CIBC credit card with a spending limit equivalent to the twenty per cent. You draw that from your card immediately and then apply it to the car company's invoice, and they grant you the loan for the eighty per cent. Presto! One hundred per cent financing and they even throw in the bank charges. And so the personal vision of CIBC is still to lend us all money for cars. One day, cars will be bumper to bumper in New Providence, then let's see what vision CIBC will have for us.
FIDELITY'S MERCHANT BANK
The only innovation that has come even remotely close to addressing the situation of capital on the commercial level is the merchant bank started by Fidelity, and run by Greg Bethel. Fidelity in fact financed the fast boat known as the Cat that plies between Miami and The Bahamas for $99 per pop; all the luggage you can take. They took equity in the project as part of the financing arrangement. We will be looking to the market to expand the reach of this web site, and no doubt will have to rely on traditional expensive ways of finding money to do so. The more innovation then, the better. That is why CIBC's approach to this car business is particularly reprehensible.
DO WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER?
The Prime Minister believes he can count on the apathy of the Bahamian people when it comes to privatization. In fact, one should not be surprised if right now some supporters of the Union cause are not slinking behind closed doors with Ingraham trying to make separate deals to undercut the Union's position. Fortunately BaTelCo's union is a strong one and will survive that tactic. However, the tactic finds a ready believability in every Bahamian mind. The members of the Bahamas Petroleum retailers Association found out how it works when about one third of the dealers refused to stop even for a few hours to show solidarity with Doyle Fox. They forget the saying: me today, you tomorrow. The BPRA must take a stand to protect its members. Yet it was some of the same persons who will look ultimately to the BPRA for support that allowed the oil companies publicly to advertise that their stations would remain open. It is a problem, but one day it will work out one supposes.
Note from the Publisher
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN JAMAICA - By all accounts the Leader of the Opposition Perry G. Christie and his colleagues: this columnist who is also the Opposition's spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Bradley B. Roberts, Opposition spokesman on Social Services, Housing, as well as Health matters in the House of Assembly, had an excellent and rewarding visit to Jamaica from 5 March to 8 March. There is a full photo spread. The trio visited Jamaica for the installation of Professor Rex Nettleford as Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI). It was also an opportunity to visit our Bahamian students at UWI. Regrettably, we were unable to see the students at the Seventh day Adventist College in Mandeville, Jamaica. They were off on an excursion on that day. Nevertheless, Mr. Christie was pleased with the reception that he got from the students.The visit also invigorated the Opposition forces in The Bahamas, giving a fillip in public relations. All newspapers carried the briefing by the Leader. The matter was carried extensively on radio and television as well. This shows how a proactive Opposition can do wonders.
HUBERT GETTING DESPERATE
Not a week goes by in The Bahamas when there is not a sickout of some kind somewhere.This is remarkable for a Government that claimed to have good relations with workers. There were sickouts at the Rand Hospital in Freeport of all nurses. Senator Marcus Bethel ( PLP ) intervened to assist in settling the problem. Yet another sickout is planned. It appears that the nurses are being victimized as a result of their actions. In Nassau, the line staff at the Attorney General's office stayed home sick from work. The Minister seemed bewildered by the action. He seemed to admit that it was beyond his power to solve the problem. Then the parents at the Beacon School for the mentally and physically challenged in Freeport led a demonstration and are threatening a strike this week if action is not taken by the Ministry of Education to hire suitable teachers for the school.The Prime Minister angered parents at the school by responding to their protest dismissively. He said if they were so interested in the school why didn't they come up with self-help programs. They pay their taxes-Stupid!
HUBERT ON HIS WAY OUT
As the country begins to disintegrate around him, as his colleagues get more used to the idea that he is going, Hubert Ingraham has become a lame duck. This columnist pointed out in our PLP press briefing on 10 March that the declaration of principles on the Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA ) signed onto by our Prime Minister in 1996, showed how easy it was to swing our Prime Minister. He went there and was so thrilled at being next to Bill Clinton, the U.S. president that he would have signed anything Bill put in front of him. Now we are stuck with FTAA, which threatens to wipe out the Bahamian private sector. A Jamaican Minister of the Government and myself have a bet. The bet is that Hubert will stay. This columnist thinks he has to go. If this columnist wins, a case of Red Stripe beer comes to Nassau. If this columnist loses, a case of Kalik beer goes to Kingston. The Jamaican Minister believes that Hubert is pulling a fast one on the Bahamian people; that he is going nowhere. The feeling is that Hubert is simply setting up the situation to ferret out his FNM enemies so he can destroy them, and then claim that he has to stay because the people do not want him to go, and for the sake of his party. In this respect, he will be just like all the other Black leaders before him. Things that make you want to go "hmmm!"
ALLYSON GIBSON CALLS FOR IMMIGRATION PLAN
The Guardian columnist, attorney and political activist Allyson Gibson called for a national plan on Immigration. Her remarks were made at a symposium to mark Immigration Awareness Month, now being celebrated. She felt that plan ought to deal with issues like work permits and illegal immigration. What seems clear from the remarks is that the FNM has no plan at all for immigration. Bahamians complain bitterly that work permits are being given out too easily; that it is too easy to get permanent residence in The Bahamas and that citizenship of The Bahamas is for sale. The Governor General in a political remark admitted that the view of the Department of Immigration is a negative one in the eyes of Bahamians. There will be no national plan until the pro nationalist side in Bahamian politics becomes the Government again. This is all the more reason why the PLP must get its act together so that it can protect the Bahamian patrimony. Hopefully Mrs. Gibson will then be part of formulating a national plan on Immigration.
IMMIGRATION MONTH LEAVES OUT IMMIGRATION STAFF
The line staff of the Department feels completely left out of the month of celebrations making awareness month. Leader of the Opposition Perry Christie contacted various members of staff. Others contacted this columnist. They believe that the FNM has replaced Immigration officers with experience on the basis that they were PLP, with others with no Immigration experience because they will comply with whatever the FNM says. That is why there is no Immigration policy. The chefs at Sun International are still complaining that Sun is getting away with advertising for positions, having already filled them. The Prime Minster seemed to be setting the scene for giving more permits for food and beverage people, including waiters and waitresses in Freeport. He claimed in a remarkable press conference that these people could not be found to fill the jobs opening up in Freeport. He must think we are the biggest jackasses. Well- it takes one to know one!
BIMINI AIR SERVICE
The Pan Am Air Bridge which took over from Chalk Airlines the daily seaplane service to Bimini has gone into bankruptcy. The result was that Bimini was without any direct service by seaplane for two weeks. No announcement came from The Bahamas Government about the steps being taken to safeguard the access of the people of Bimini to Nassau, without having to take the ferry over to South Bimini. The service has been resumed. The fact is that the airline that services north Bimini always seems to be in trouble. We need the Government to say why it can't have a steady and reliable service to north Bimini.
MAD MAN APOLOGIZES TO ST. AGNES RECTOR
Two weeks ago, a mad man ran up the centre aisle of St. Agnes Anglican Church in Grant's Town in the middle of the 7 a.m. mass and knocked the wine out of the hand of Rector Archdeacon William Thompson. The man has now come to his senses and apologized to the Archdeacon. The Archdeacon expects to retire from St. Agnes later this year. He has been rector at St. Agnes since 1967.
WILCHCOMBE AND MITCHELL OFF TO WASHINGTON
Senators Fred Mitchell and Obie Wilchcombe will be in Washington for an U.S. sponsored conference on defence matters from 14 March to 16 March. They will return to The Bahamas for the state opening of Parliament which takes place on 17 March.
EILEEN CARRON ATTACKS THIS COLUMNIST
In a remarkable defence of Sun International, Paradise Island, the publisher of The Tribune attacked this columnist. She claimed that she had heard this columnist say that there were security guards every five feet at Sun International. She even went on to count how many guards that would mean, to show how inaccurate the statement was. Of course, no one, least of all this columnist, would have expected the learned publisher of The Tribune to take the figure literally. The fact is that the presence of the security at Sun International is overwhelming and obtrusive. It is just like a security guard stands every five feet. It is like an armed camp, not a place to take a vacation. No other property in this country is like that. It is a siege mentality which Mr. Kerzner and his colleagues have. He himself has admitted that the security was too much, but has done nothing about it. Quite frankly, it is a real pain to go to Paradise Island. It is clear: KERZNER DOES NOT WANT BAHAMIANS AT PARADISE ISLAND.
BEC DARKENS OUR LIVES AGAIN
Nicholas Brady, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, who lives in Lyford Cay , once made the point that in order for our economy to survive we need a reliable supply of electricity. It is clear that we do not have that. Upon this columnist's return from a tiring Jamaica trip and looking forward to a relaxing evening, one was confronted with a massive power failure in Nassau on Monday 8 March. The power was off from 7 a.m. Many people depend on power to supply the water. So there was no water in some homes. A call to the BEC emergency line got a busy signal and then no answer. The hot line answered, they said they had no idea why the power was off and no idea when it would be back on. A call to the General Manager twice eventually got some action. Power was restored in the Eastern Road some time after 8 p.m., more than twelve hours later. There were two other power failures later in the week in the same area. In the summer time, the BEC managers said it was because of the heat that we were having daily power failures. Now it's cold: what is the excuse. LIFE IN THE THIRD WORLD!
NASSAU GUARDIAN DEBACLE
Can you imagine that the Nassau Guardian is now advertising for reporters to come and work for them after firing some of their most senior personnel? The Guardian says that it is now going to have a five -day weekly evening paper called the Observer. It is trying to knock Wendal Jones' Bahama Journal out of the box. It just fired 30 people saying that they were overstaffed. No one reads its present Afternoon Guardian. If you go into the Guardian's offices you will see piles of unsold copies of the newspapers strewn all around the place. When the annual general meeting takes place, these people will have hell to pay for their slackness. They must account to their shareholders for wasting money.
PROBLEMS WITH E MAIL AND BaTelCo
Batelco does not endear itself to the Bahamian public. That is why people have sympathy for the workers of Batelco but none for the company itself. It is simply badly run and unable to cope with the pace of change. This week it announced almost five years after it was available in the U.S. that it was offering " Caller ID " and " Call-Back" services. They are offering it in a package called C.L.A.S.S. Their concentration on these so-called new services caused them to forget about their policy of cutting off phones if you do not pay on the date that you are expected to do so. That policy has raised the hackles of consumers. One customer was cut off because she owed 37 dollars, even though she has had a deposit with them of at least 50 dollars since she got her telephone in 1977. What happened to the FNM's promise to pay interest on deposits? The worst problems are with cell service, supplying telephone lines, and e-mail.
BATELNET DOWN TOO MANY TIMES
Last week every night between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., you could not get on to Netscape through Batelco. On Thursday 11 March from 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., you could not get on to Batelnet at all. It is an exercise in frustration. One young computer buff who was to assist us in downloading the new version of Netscape told us that it takes three hours to do so because Batelco refused to allow Cable Bahamas to bring in state of the art equipment. Batelco is not a popular company. But that should not cause us to lose sight of the proper public policy response to the privatization of Batelco. It must not be sold to non-Bahamians. This FNM Government must not give the national wealth of The Bahamas away to non-nationals.
TO THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE:
IT'S NOT AN FNM OR PLP POLICE FORCE
Upon this columnist's return from Jamaica, a call went out to the Commissioner of Police B.K. Bomany. The Force marked the occasion of 159 years as a Force with a church service last Sunday 7 March. No member of the PLP was there. The Commissioner said he could not remember whether any one had been invited, including the Leader of the Opposition. The invitations are sent from his office. He promised to check. Three days later a letter came in the mail from the Commissioner inviting this columnist to attend the opening of the Elizabeth Estates Police Station in eastern New Providence on Thursday 18 March. Things that make you go " hmmm!"
KINGSLEY MUNROE CONVICTED OF STEALING
The Former Financial Controller of ZNS Kingsley Munroe was convicted this week of seven counts of stealing between February and May 1996. The public was skeptical about the conviction, and saw politics written all over the decision to prosecute the case. Mr. Munroe has been remanded in custody until 26 March when he will be sentenced. It is interesting to see the public reaction to these things. There was consternation about the failure to convict the persons charged with robbing the Treasury on the part of some, there was a victory parade for the acquitted defendants in other quarters. Many people thought that while what Mr. Munroe did was foolish it was not criminal, and could have been settled in another way. However, Mr. Munroe is believed to be a PLP supporter, the last of the lot in the now FNM dominated administration at ZNS, he had to be made an example. Thus he was prosecuted, and may face a stiff jail sentence. His lawyer Philip Brave Davis is going to appeal. Anita Allen is the judge who presided over the case.
THE NO MONEY DOWN PLEA TO CIBC
If the banks have so much money why don't they offer no money down to buy a house in addition to their no money down for cars. There is a housing shortage in The Bahamas, and the banks can help by such a policy to alleviate that shortage. Minister Central Bank Governor where are you?
NEXT WEEK A MAJOR EXPOSE ON THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE
This week we can tell you that the staff is again up in arms because the agriculture official has now apparently married the member of the distaff side that had all the influence on decisions in the Ministry. The wife has been ensconced in an office ousting a consultant who has no proper place to sit. The returns of agriculture continue to plummet, and farmers are in deeper trouble. Also documentation has been provided that raises questions that Minister of Agriculture Earl Deveaux must answer about his brother getting credits from the agricultural supply store of the Ministry despite a spotty payment record and against the advice of the accountant at the Ministry. Staff members also allege that the officials of the Ministry both in Abaco and in Nassau were in part responsible for causing the failure of a million-dollar project in Abaco called Sugar Land Farms. They say relations between the Deputy Director and the Director of Agriculture have worsened since our last expose. In fact the Deputy Director left for Rome on official business and the Director did not know he was gone. You will recall the Director was sent by the Prime Minister to keep an eye on the Minister, but the Deputy is the Minister's favourite - so the staff alleges it. Stay tuned for this major expose next week.
DOYLE FOX VS TEXACO (9)
The Union leaders in their press conference made Doyle Fox one of the issues that the Prime Minister must resolve in seven days. Texaco's born again Christian Manager Trevor Edgehill rejected the overture of Christian Council President Simeon Hall to arbitrate the dispute. The Petroleum dealers welcomed the offer. The Jamaica Gasoline Dealers told Perry Christie, Opposition Leader that they support Doyle Fox. Doyle Fox is asked to get out of Texaco's premises on 8 April. We shall see, but one suspects that hell will freeze over first.
HIGH SPEED CATAMARAN SERVICE TO HARBOUR ISLAND
The owner of the CAT service that offers a five hour 99 dollar round trip to Miami is expanding the service to North Eleuthera and Habour Island come the summer time. Tyrone Sawyer, the owner and Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, Director General of Tourism made the announcement. The service will begin in July and take 177 persons in air-conditioned comfort at 35 knots over the water. Congratulations Tyrone Sawyer.
Note from the Publisher
UNCLE TOM LARGE AND IN CHARGE- Hubert Ingraham has had his propaganda show on the front street of the capital city. The Governor General officially opened the Parliament on Wednesday 17 March. The ceremony was inappropriately held out in the streets, not in the Senate Chamber where it should be held. The Governor General had to mouth partisan political phrases. There were 53 promises of legislation. He also promised to amend the constitution of The Bahamas. He appointed Geoffrey Johnstone, the last Captain of the UBP, to be the head of the Constitutional Commission. This greatly offended PLPs. It is clear to them that we have regressed 30 years. Many of them were saying: UNCLE TOM IS LARGE AND IN CHARGE OF THE COUNTRY... Some people don't know how to behave... A Cat Island woman once told this columnist: "YOU CAN'T PUT A GOAT ON A BOARD FLOOR, ELSE IT WILL PRANCE" Read about how the Prime Minister tried to insult this columnist last week at a party. The translation of that is no matter how you dress some people up, put them in powerful positions, if you are a hog you will always wallow in the mud and be a hog. Our photo shows Mr. Christie and colleagues Bradley Roberts MP and Senator Fred Mitchell sharing a smile with newly installed UWI Vice Chancellor Professor Rex Nettleford.
APOLOGIES OVER PHOTO SPREAD
Last week there were some technical difficulties with the site which resulted in a delay in the photo spread of the trip of the Leader of the Opposition. The spread is now available. Some readers in the United Kingdom reported that two weeks ago they could not access the site on the Sunday change of the site until Monday. Our apologies, but as far as we were aware the site was changed on time on Sunday. Please if there are any problems in the future like that send us an e-mail to alert us to the problem. Please see below our photo of Professor Rex Nettleford's installation, replacing last week's fuzzy rendition. The photo was taken with Bradley Roberts PLP MP, Perry Christie MP, Leader of the Opposition, Professor Nettleford, Vice Chancellor UWI and Senator Mitchell. Photo by Vin McKAY.
PLP HUMAN RIGHTS COMPETITION WINNERS
Photo shows from left: Rev. James Moultrie, Judge; Dr. Pandora Johnson, Chief Judge; Sir Clement T. Maynard, Tyrina Neely, winner Temple Christian Academy; Simone Johnson, St. Anne's School; Senator Mitchell; Erin Dames, second prize St. Anne's School; Jasmine Bonimy, third prize St. Anne's School; an unidentified student; Rev. Antonio Beckford and Perry Christie MP. A little late but we finally have the photo taken by Filepe Major of Fox Hill of the winners of the contest on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The former Foreign Ministers, all PLPs sponsored the contest on 10 December 1998 to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration. Students were asked to identify the right they thought was most important and say how it related to The Bahamas. The first prize was $500; the second $300 and the third $200. There was a consolation prize of $50 awarded by the judges. The contest was sponsored by Senator Fred Mitchell, Spokesman on Foreign Affairs for the PLP; Paul Adderley, Sir Clement T. Maynard and Charles Carter, all former Foreign Ministers of the PLP.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS DEBACLE
The week began with a strange report that two of the country's most seasoned and experienced foreign ministry officials had been either fired or suspended because they had acted outside their authority. They have not been fired or suspended, and they did not act outside their authority. But notwithstanding the truth, all the Bahamian newspapers were filled with the story and the details that could only have been obtained from the highest levels of the political side of the Government. Luther Smith, the Permanent Secretary and George Stewart the Director General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were asked to take leave of absence and then told that when they return to office they are to report to the Cabinet Office. The men have been embarrassed; their reputations have been defamed. The Prime Minister appears to have been the one responsible and yet again shows how he is willing like a bull in a china shop to ruin the reputations of his betters in pursuit of some stupid and half cocked notions which he has in his head. How ever did such a dumb man become the leader of our country? It is sickening how this capricious act on his part has destabilized the public service, and mortified those who thought that he would have ushered in an era of change. Instead we have rank intimidation and lack of due process
THE STORY OF WERNER REY
Werner Rey is the client of Philip 'Brave' Davis, the former MP (PLP) for Cat Island and a partner of the Leader of the Opposition. This is too juicy a story for a person like the Prime Minister with a wicked mind and a vivid imagination. Mr. Rey was extradited from The Bahamas after a long battle, which ended in a Privy Council judgement against him. The terms of the judgement were that the Swiss who asked for his extradition could only charge Mr. Rey with the matters which were on the warrant in the extradition request. The Swiss have since discovered that they cannot successfully maintain those charges and are seeking to amend the charges. Mr. Davis sought the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry's Permanent Secretary Mr. Smith confirming that Mr. Davis' position was correct sent a diplomatic note. The Swiss were confined to the charges on the warrant, said the note. The Attorney General's office disagreed, and this is the sin for which the two men are to be punished; the fact that they did not check with the Attorney General's office before sending the note to the Swiss. It is understood from sources in the Attorney-General's office that up until Monday of last week, there had been no official complaint from the Swiss Government through formal diplomatic channels.
THE CASE OF GEORGE STEWART
Mr. Stewart is absolutely blameless having given his advice to his P.S.; the P.S. is free to accept that advice or not. Therefore there is no reason to take any disciplinary action against him. The Prime Minister must resile from his position, restore Mr. Stewart to his post. The Prime Minister ought to apologize to Mr. Stewart and his family and pay some compensation for the defamation of Mr. Stewart's character.
THE CASE OF LUTHER SMITH
Whatever Mr. Smith did there is no question of any improper motive or problem of integrity. Mr. Smith received the advice of Mr. Stewart and as Permanent Secretary he could act in his deliberate judgement as head of the Ministry to take the course of action that he did. If he made a mistake, the way these things are corrected is that another diplomatic note is substituted for the first one, withdrawing the original one and replacing it with a new position. You don't summarily seek to dismiss a man with almost thirty years in the service. He too is owed an apology from the Prime Minister. In fact, if our courts were a place one could go to for redress, Mr. Smith could have his day in court. Mr. Smith should be made the Secretary to the Cabinet to make good the Prime Minister's grave and defamatory and just plain stupid action. Of course Janet Bostwick is to blame for this. She did not stand up for her officers, and as usual was asleep at the wheel. Her defence was she did not know about it.
THE LEGAL POSITION ON THE PUBLIC SERVICE
The British tried to leave in place a public service that was independent of partisan politics. The Public Service was not supposed to serve partisan political ends. The Service is supposed to be independent. If you look at the constitution, it makes the Permanent Secretary the officer that runs the Departments and Ministries of the Government. While policy matters are to be decided by the Cabinet and Ministers, the P.S. carries out policy. He does not have to check with a Minister if he in his judgement is acting within the policy. The fact is that the Swiss are bound by the charges on which they obtained the extradition. Mr. Smith made no error in judgement. It is understood that an official of the Public Service Commission may have attended a meeting at the summons of the Prime Minister to decide Mr. Stewart and Mr. Smith's fate. That was improper. It seems entierely improer as well that an officer of the Attorney-General's office reported this matter directly to the Minister of Foreign Affairs without checking with his Minister, the Attorney-General, yet that officer remains in place. You will remember Mr. Ingraham excoriated former Prime Minister Pindling for eviscerating the power of the P.S. Mr. Ingraham said that under his watch the P.S. could make decisions, speak on the record without having to check with the Minister or with him. Now that position has changed, because Luther Smith carried out the policy. Ingraham, the bull in the china shop, the goat on the board floor, has done it again.
WHAT'S REALLY BEHIND THE ATTACK
ON LUTHER SMITH AND GEORGE STEWART
This is simply an attempt by the Prime Minister to eliminate anyone in the public service who he believes has ties to the PLP. The action of the Prime Minister is reprehensible and the Prime Minister should immediately give a comprehensive public statement disassociating himself from attacking public servants on political grounds. There is no doubt about the Prime Minister's behavior in this matter: victimizing, wicked and intimidating. The Prime Minister must remember that when dealing with public officers he is not dealing with politicians. As public servants, they have no regular recourse to the press. It should also be pointed out that as model civil servants neither of the two men have made any public statement about this matter either in the press or in any other setting.
Damien Gomez resigned last week as a Senator for the Progressive Liberal
Party. At a press conference held on Sunday 14 March, the Leader
of the Opposition made the announcement. Mr. Gomez was present.
Also present was the newest PLP Senator Melanie Griffin who was also the
party's candidate in the 1997 election against Yamacraw MP Janet Bostwick.
The story is that Mr. Ingraham hopes to retire Janet Bostwick next year.
There will then be a bye-election in the seat. The Governor General
Sir Orville will retire next year as well. Mrs. Bostwick will go
to the Hill. Mr. Gomez has pledged his continued support for the
PLP under the Leadership of Perry Christie. Welcome Melanie to the
FAILURE AT THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE
The North Andros seat is once again winnable by the PLP. The Minister of Agriculture has presided over the failure of agriculture in The Bahamas. Domestic food production is the lowest that it has ever been in the history of The Bahamas. It is estimated that we import up to 90 per cent of our food, compared to 75 per cent under the PLP. Earl Deveaux has to answer questions about how his brother continues to get supplies from the agricultural supply store. He has to straighten out the state of relations between his Director of Agriculture and the Deputy Director. He also has to answer questions on the failure of the Sugar Land farms in Abaco. Wherever you look there is failure at the Ministry. Further, the Ministry is the subject of an allegation of discrimination. The woman who owns All My Children, who has built up from scratch business which rivals Jagar, Thompson Wholesale, Supervalue and City Markets in the supply of fresh fruits and vegetables suffers, at the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture. We have been informed that the Ministry has refused her permits to bring in bananas, while others get permits. This causes all sorts of problems for her at Customs. The fact is that the FNM Minister of Agriculture like his colleagues in the FNM is anti-Bahamian in his policies. This woman is to be ruined to allow the foreign competitors to survive. The Minister must change the polices of the Ministry, get over his political biases and give people who want to work at the Ministry a chance to contribute. More information on the growing scandal at the Ministry of Agriculture next week.
NURSES IN GRAND BAHAMA
The nurses at the Rand Hospital participated in a sick out at the Rand two weeks ago. They say that the Government does not treat them as professionals, and allows the public to abuse them and does not supply what nurses need to survive. Senator Marcus Bethel helped to negotiate an end to the sick out. Since that time, however, the Government has been trying to identify who organized the sick out so they can take action and victimize the nurses rather than help to fix the situation. The Prime Minister has tried to blame the PLP for the industrial unrest. But there is not one week that goes by when there is not a sick out of some kind in The Bahamas.
THE BEACON SCHOOL IN GRAND BAHAMA
Rhonda Taylor who is the head of the PTA at the Beacon School in Freeport is furious because the Ministry of Education is not taking the school seriously. The school that serves the mentally handicapped needs teachers. There are three Bahamians that are speech therapists in Freeport that can not get jobs at the school. The children are not given proper training or facilities. The Prime Minister is seeking to blame the PLP for organizing the protests of students. The real news is that
Ms. Taylor is the only one of the organizing parents who supported the PLP in the last election.
INGRAHAM PLANS TO ERODE CIVIL RIGHTS The Speech from the Throne says that the Government plans to allow the police to hold suspects for 96 hours. This government has got to be crazy. The Government also plans to amend the constitution by the year 2000. They have appointed the last captain of the UBP, the white supremacist party that ran The Bahamas up to 1967, to be in charge of the constitutional commission. In Jamaica the Government there appointed a constitutional scholar. In Barbados, they appointed a distinguished former Attorney General. Mr. Johnstone has spent his life in a comfortable private, civil practice with little litigation experience and no background of academic writing or polemic. The appointment is not a fitting one for a constitutional commission. The Prime Minister ought to realize that this is not an FNM constitution but that of The Bahamas.
THE PUNCH MAKES HUGE ERROR
Stupid jackass Ivan Johnson wrote on the front page of his gaff-a-minute newspaper that Obie Wilchombe was gravely ill and could not attend the state opening of Parliament on Wednesday 17 march. Senator Wilchombe was present and accounted for. He sat next to this columnist at the opening. He was not ill. One hopes that The Punch is slammed so hard that it will have to go out of business for their outrageous lie. Now maybe the PLP will realize that it must slam The Punch and slam it hard, before someone beats them to The Punch.
WHAT THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE DID NOT SAY
The Governor General did not mention that the Cabinet is considering legislation to get rid of The Punch. Ministers are divided on how strong the legislation will be. The idea is that The Punch and newspapers like it will have to put up a five million-dollar cash bond to secure against any lawsuits.
EILEEN CARRON ATTACKS FRED MITCHELL AGAIN
It must have been 'Attack Fred Mitchell Week' at The Tribune and all because of Sun International owners of Paradise Island. The Tribune's publisher must be careful she does not compromise the objectivity of her newspaper by constantly rising to Sun International's defense. It often appears that The Tribune's publisher is on the payroll of Sun. While that is clearly not true, the extent to which she defends Sun is objectionable. Ms. Carron last week took literally the assertion made by this columnist that there are security guards every five feet at Sun. This week she claimed that this columnist was trying to hide the fact that he claimed that the PLP went looking for Sun. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is the PLP did ask Mr. Kerzner to come and look but the PLP acted responsibly by not allowing the investment because of the sanctions policy. What is also remarkable about Mrs. Carron is that she took the assertion of an unnamed source to represent the PLP's view of Sol Kerzner. You can not hate the PLP so much that you will repeat something, which is an absolute lie in a responsible newspaper. The PLP does not hate Sol Kerzner and did not spread any information that Mr. Kerzner kept Mandela in prison. These are all assertions Mrs. Carron claimed were PLP propaganda. Those are FNM lies about the PLP, now spread by The Tribune.
EILEEN CARRON ON TURKS ISLANDERS
Another remarkable piece was the fact that the Bahamians who were stopped by the Turks Island authorities at the airport in Turks Island because they supported an Opposition candidate in the Turks Islands elections was the fault of the PLP. From the sublime to the ridiculous.
CORRECTION ON FIDELITY STORY
Last week, we received a note from Greg Bethel, head of Fidelity's Merchant bank. He pointed out an error in our story about the bank. The bank hold's equity in Tyrone Sawyer's new service planned to begin in July for fast speed service by catamaran between Nassau and Harbour Island. Sorry about that. It is good that Fidelity is an equity participant in the venture, allowing the project to get off the ground. The Government says that the Development Bank is now to be able to take this approach to lending for small businesses. Are they trying to put Fidelity out of business? Things that make you go" hmmm ".
DOYLE FOX Vs TEXACO (10)
Pickets continue in front of Texaco's headquarters. Ken Perigord and Doyle Fox appeared on Jones and Co radio program. They were ambushed by Mr. Jones who appeared to have appeared to have a set of questions from Texaco's perspective. Well, keep those commercials coming Texaco. He can use the business!
SENATOR MITCHELL AND SENATOR WILCHOMBE
The pair returned from a two-day visit to Washington. While in Washington they met with an enthusiastic group of Bahamians in D.C. headed by Gina Mortimer, now Storr. Her son Ryan is getting his baptism into PLPism like his grandmother Gloria. It was also a pleasure to see Maryann Burrows, sister of Kelly Burrows. Maryann is a former Tribune writer. Her brother is an executive with the Princess Hotels. He is probably smiling as he reads this on the web site. Princess Hotels is still on the market in Freeport. Both Senators are extremely disturbed about the reports of what is happening at the embassy in Washington. Bahamians that night criticized the FNM administration for "dissing" Bahamians who try to use the embassy's facilities. This is troubling but not surprising since Janet Bostwick the Foreign Minister is generally totally and absolutely out to lunch.
DO WE BELIEVE IN THE PLP?
Now is the time for the PLP to find its wings and begin to believe in itself. It is much too cautious, almost afraid of Hubert Ingraham. He is at his most vulnerable, and the only thing to do with a snake when you have your heel on its head is to crush it. Please join us!
Demonstrators overrunning police barricades on Bay Street, demanding to be heard. Observer photo.
THE ARROGANCE OF HUBERT INGRAHAM
This man has said more stupid things over the last week than you can shake a stick at. Trade Union President Zendal Forbes used the example of complaints from his students. He said that if a large number of students are complaining about the way he teaches his class, even though he may disagree he has to pause and listen. Not every one of them is wrong. That is Mr. Ingraham's problem, he is so arrogant that he does not listen. That will be his undoing. He told the country early Friday morning as he moved to adjourn the House of Assembly for 47 days that the Unionists had helped him to make up his mind even more quickly and that he would put a package together, present it to them, but clearly Batelco is going to be sold. This sets the stage for another confrontation on Tuesday 30 March when the Unions plan another demonstration.
WAS BEHIND THE DEMONSTRATIONS
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) headed by Obie Ferguson organized the demonstrations. The Electrical Workers Union, the Batelco Workers, the workers of Water and Sewerage, the Air Traffic Controllers and the Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association joined him. The newspapers estimated the crowd on the march at 3,000. It was a good demonstration. The Prime Minister's gamble is that Bahamians cannot sustain protest. He may gamble wrong this time. The fact is that the Union's members are more radical than the leaders. The leaders are holding them back. Pictured is TUC President Obie Ferguson.
UNREST CAN AFFECT THE ECONOMY - The Prime Minister was boasting about the foreign reserves being up to 400 million dollars for the first time in the country's history. But someone burned up the telephone boxes serving the city so that the business community was knocked out of service on Friday afternoon 26 March. There was also a report that the ATMs in banks were out of service from Thursday afternoon 24 March. Up to the time of this report the machines are still off-line. He'd better try to settle this problem. One union official was quoted after the demonstrations as saying: the people in Lyford Cay and on the Eastern Road had better stock up on candles. Tribune photo shows protesters in conflict with police at the Paradise Island Bridge.
LATE BREAKING NEWS: COB LECTURERS READY TO
Lecturers have been waiting for pay proposals. The College has offered a two percent raise. It looks like a strike this week.
INTERNATIONAL IDENTIFIED AS A TARGET
The union members see Sol Kerzner (right) as the real Prime Minister of The Bahamas. That is why the Paradise Island Bridge was a target. They believe that if it can be shown to Mr. Ingraham that Sun's investment is vulnerable then he will have to change his mind about Batelco. The Government obviously saw that and put a large police presence at the bridge to stop the protesters from going over. On Tuesday of this week, when the official protest takes place we shall see what will happen.
JANET BOSTWICK RUNS RIGHT OUT
Stupidity must run in the FNM leadership like a disease. There was Janet Bostwick telling the country in the House that the demonstrations were orchestrated by the Progressive Liberal Party; wish that it were so. Mind you these are the same people who helped to drive Lynden Pindling from office by defaming him, whipping up the unions into hysteria, threatening to have the United States Government intervene in our internal affairs. Now that the shoe is on the other foot she wants to argue like she is some sanctimonious angel. What she needs to do is start doing her work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and stop getting into big people's business. Some people joked about Janet, that she had finally found her voice again because maybe she was back in love again. Well one supposes that's something in her favour. Mrs. Bostwick should take note that she is no icon in these quarters. She is an incompetent Minister who does not know her head from a hole in the ground. She has no respect for Opposition leaders. She does not have a clue in her head about policy, as far as we are concerned she is simply there for the ride. It appears that her energy has run out, and perhaps its time to retire and leave policies to real people. Thank the Lord, as she would say.
RADIO STATION SPOOFS INGRAHAM Come Out, Come Out Mr. Ingraham! - Listeners to More FM on the day of the demonstration were amused to hear the DJs spoof Hubert Ingraham. In their spoof, Hubert Ingraham was hiding under his desk and talking in the voice of a woman saying: I'm not hiding but I'm just not coming out today, please leave me alone. The DJs reportedly quickly added a note to the Prime Minister asking him please not to take away the radio licence of the station. It was great. It said volumes about what people think of Mr. Ingraham, a useless Uncle Tom, who has sold the country out, and cowers like the physical coward that he is hiding from the demonstrators. Bradley Roberts reminded the nation that it was Mr. Ingraham himself who said before coming to power that, when he had to have police protection to move around in the Bahamas, he would resign. That day has come and gone. Instead of resigning he is digging in his heels, ducking and dodging and insulting people.
THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE ATTACKS THE PLP
The Commissioner of Police was somehow motivated to attack the Progressive Liberal Party because Philip Galanis in his address in the House claimed that he saw police snipers on the rooftops during the demonstration in the square. The Police Commissioner told the Bahama Journal that this was not so, that there were no armed police officers in the square. He then attacked the PLP directly saying that the PLP was trying to get political mileage. The Commissioner has crossed the line. The Leader of the Opposition will contact him directly to protest the political remarks of a neutral officer of the state. Mr. Ingraham and his Machiavellian Minister of Social Services Algernon Allen drafted a resolution using the same words used by the PLP to condemn Henry Bostwick to censure and condemn Philip Galanis. Mr. Bostwick was censured by the House of Assembly when he was Leader of the Opposition because he misled the House about the nature of a payment to the then Deputy Prime Minister Arthur D. Hanna. The FNM's resolution relied on the Commissioner of Police's attack on the PLP in its terms. This suggests that there may have been some political pressure on the Commissioner of Police to issue what was clearly a political statement.
LAUGHING AT THE BAHAMA JOURNAL?
A number of Members of Parliament were gathered in the smoking room talking about how they managed to hornswoggle Wendal Jones' Bahama Journal so called report card on Members of Parliament. The week before the survey some Members openly boasted about how they were able to influence the result by buying dozens of copies of the Journal and filling them out themselves. Presumably they gave themselves an A. There was no surprise in the survey when it turned out that Algernon Allen was at the top of the MPs. Mr. Allen is a close friend of the publisher of the Journal and is believed to be a ghost editorial writer of the Bahama Journal.
IN SUPPORT OF LUTHER SMITH
We have held our fire after the Government's attempt to discredit two senior public servants at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this space last week, we reported how Hubert Ingraham tried to discredit Luther Smith and George Stewart, senior officers in the Ministry, because they wrote a diplomatic note confirming that Swiss citizen Werner Rey could only be charged in Switzerland for the offences for which he had been extradited from The Bahamas. We have now seen the new diplomatic note and that note tells the Swiss that the previous note is withdrawn saying that it was unauthorized by the Government. This is remarkable, that the Bahamian Government would display its own incompetence to the Swiss by admitting that it is possible to send out an unauthorized transmission from The Bahamas Government. How then can any note from the Government be trusted in the future?
SWISS SEE THE PRIME MINISTER
As further evidence of what an Uncle Tom the Prime Minister is, it was learned that the reversal of the diplomatic note and the transfer of the two public servants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs came after two low level Swiss prosecutors were able to get a direct audience with the Prime Minister. Without checking with his officials, the Prime Ministers made a decision on the spot. It is inconceivable that an assistant crown counsel of the Bahamian Attorney General's office would get in to see the President of Switzerland to ask about an extradition case. Mr. Ingraham makes this country look like a banana republic more and more every day. What an absolute embarrassment.
THE STORY OF THE FIVE PERMANENT SECRETARIES
Senior Public Servants were so concerned about the arbitrary actions against Luther Smith and George Stewart that five Permanent Secretaries including the most senior public servant met at a dinner at Buena Vista to demonstrate their support for their colleague. The Prime Minister should remember that the Public Service can make you or break you.
AGRICULTURE MINISTER ATTACKS THIS COLUMNIST
As this columnist attempted to leave the precincts of the Senate on Wednesday 24 March, the Minister of Agriculture Earl Deveaux walked up to the car. The Minister complained that he had been attacked on this web site and in the Senate with regard to the conduct of his office. He was, in a word, upset. The Minister with anguish all over his face said that the allegation that his Ministry extended credit to his brother Levarity Deveaux, even though the staff accountant pointed out that the brother had a spotty payment record was a personal attack on the Minister. Mr. Deveaux said that former PLP Ministers Philip Bethel and Darrell Rolle had both lost their seats in the House of Assembly because of allegations of misconduct by their brothers. No, brother Minister; the allegations are not personal. The allegations are about the conduct of your public office and your public responsibilities. The Minister may wish to reply in this space if he is able to refute the allegations.
THE AGRICULTURE MINISTRY AND IMPORT PERMITS
The story of import permits is a scandal also waiting to envelop the Ministry. Instead of the Minister getting so thin skinned and attacking this columnist, he ought to deal with his Ministry which is falling apart all around him. ON THE WAY TO THE DEMONSTRATION WITH THE HON. PERRY CHRISTIE, AS WE WERE WALKING TO THE PARADISE ISLAND BRIDGE, THE STAFF AT THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE CAME OUT ONTO THE STREETS AND CHEERED AS WE PASSED BY. SEVERAL CAME UP AND HUGGED THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION. We revealed last week on this site, and in the Senate that the Ministry has been giving Ms. Hudson, the owner of All My Children, greengrocers, a hard time with import permits. This week Senator Melanie Griffin had to intervene on behalf of another vendor with the Ministry. The Minister was out of town. The Director was out of town. The Deputy Director was not helpful. The fact is that notwithstanding the need for an import permit for sweet potatoes; the country is not producing enough sweet potatoes or onions to meet the domestic demand. The Ministry is giving importers too hard a time with these administrative arrangements. The Minister ought to investigate and make sure that these problems are solved. The allegation is that with these administrative arrangements there is a double standard exercised between small importers and the larger importers.
Demonstrators demand the release of one of their leaders. Tribune photo.
THE POLICE AND DEMONSTRATORS
Many observers felt that the near riot conditions that developed on two occasions during the past week had as much to do with the failure first of dumb politicians to deal sensitively with the demands of the protesters. However, on the ground some fault can be found in the way that the matters were policed. New details are coming out of the Defence Force being fully mobilized; that the police had a fire truck on standby for the demonstrators; that the riot squad with live ammunition and tear gas was mobilized at the police barracks on stand by. In fact, many argue that it was the barricades put up by the police in a futile effort to stop the protesters from accessing parliament that caused the problem on Wednesday 24 March.
PEPPER GAS USED?
Two police officers had pepper gas sprayed in their eyes. The Police say it was the protesters who did it. But the protesters say that it was the police who first tried to spray their union leaders with pepper gas. One of the demonstrators knocked the pepper gas out of the hands of the police, and it was at that point that the gas was sprayed on the police.
PROBLEMS WITH COMMAND
It was also not clear who in the police force was in charge of the operation. This columnist was involved in negotiations to obtain the release of the arrested President of the Electrical Workers Union. One officer with a particular negotiating style came to an agreement on the release, another officer came and countermanded the agreement, and threatened to create more disorder in the square. That is why the situation took so long to be resolved on the Wednesday. On the side of the Unionists, the rank and file are more radical than the leaders. The Leaders are struggling to keep matters under control. Ultimately, the politicians had better get their act together or there could be real disorder the next time around. The police at the second incident at the Paradise Island Bridge on Friday 26 March were noticeably more tense than on Wednesday. That suggests that a third time we may not be so lucky in avoiding bloodshed.
PERMISSION TO DEMONSTRATE
The Commissioner of Police has a peculiar view of the question of a permit to demonstrate. The Commissioner should be reminded that the permit to demonstrate is only administrative in character. The constitution of The Bahamas guarantees freedom of association and freedom of movement. The only reason for the permit is to ensure that one group does not clash with another, but it is not within the province of the Commissioner to refuse, and strictly speaking a permit is not necessary for you to march in this country if you wish. The bridge was blocked by the police who thought that the demonstrators were going to block the bridge. There is nothing in law that gives the police the right to stop someone who wishes to walk over that bridge.
HILTON HOTELIER COMMENTS ON LOCAL MATTERS
The developer of the Hilton Hotel that is to soon cause the renaming of the British Colonial Hotel commented on the labour unrest in the country. Ronald Kelly, a Canadian, was reacting to a statement issued by the Vice President of the Hotel Workers Union Pat Bain. Mr. Bain accused Mr. Kelly of misleading the Union, the country and the Prime Minister when he fired all 70 workers of the British Colonial. Mr. Kelly responded by attacking Mr. Bain but more generally warned unionists to cool it or cause investors to be worried about their investment in The Bahamas. Let's put it this way Mr. Kelly, the Government should not fool you that they have the natives under control where it does not look out for the well being of its citizens. This Government is only concerned about people being hewers of wood and drawers of water. The Bahamian people want more. If someone invests here it is unwise to rely on the blandishments of the Government. One must understand what is going on here. Otherwise, it is wise for Mr. Kelly to be quiet.
Mr. Ingraham said in the House of Assembly with Senator Ronald Knowles sitting in the gallery that Dr. Knowles will soon be joining us in this place. That must mean that the predictions of a bye-election are coming true. Sources say that it's Janet Bostwick who is about to go.
A SOPORIFIC PRIME MINISTER
The Prime Minister was under so much pressure this week that his address in the Parliament was filled with comments designed to pull out the violins. It is remarkable that a mere two years after a resounding election victory at the polls, Mr. Ingraham had to stay away from the House of Assembly because the police could not guarantee his safety at the House. He recounted how he was born to a single mother, that he did not know his father until he was 11 years old; that he did not even have an outside toilet in his yard. This is supposed to make us feel sorry for him one supposes. None of that excuses boorish behaviour. You are an adult today, and are fully responsible for your actions. Your lack of a father and an outside toilet have nothing to do with it. But really now, shouldn't the fact that you have come this far say one thing to you? We humbly advise you that you must change course. For the sake of the country, even though what you are doing can only benefit the PLP, you ought to change course. Keep it, and if you don't listen, you will feel.
THE PRIME MINISTER EMBARRASSES US
It is often put down as sour grapes. Some say it is looking through different ethnic lenses - the perspectives on Hubert Ingraham. Perhaps it is some of that. But those who championed Hubert Ingraham prior to 1992 thought that this was a sensitive and caring man who understood his ethnic heritage but at the same time was not a racist as far as white people were concerned. Instead, he has failed on all counts. He has turned into an all-knowing bully, with little sensitivity for the feelings of his people. He is every much the Emperor Jones. There is help available for him, but he has scorned all those who can help him and taken unto his bosom those who would have nothing to do with his ilk (as he likes to say) if he did not have power. So when investors praise him as a wonderful man, the local community see him as an Uncle Tom. When investors say that they are trying to help him out; the local community sees that as an interference in the politics of The Bahamas. It is a shame that things have come to this.
C.I. GIBSON SCHOOL
There is a disturbing report from a teacher at the C.I. Gibson School that requires the investigation of the Minister of Education. D.W. Davis High is to become a junior high. C. I. Gibson is to be a senior high. D.W. Davis is to feed C. I. Gibson. The Ministry was advised against this because the people from Grants Town and Centreville will face gang violence against them in the C.I. Gibson School. This we have been told has already led to a number of students dropping out of school rather than face the prospect of violence at C. I. Gibson. The reported advice was that the D.W. Davis students should be sent to C. R. Walker that is in their neighbourhood. Can the Minister tell us; is this what we have really become?
RODERICK TURNQUEST DIES
The older brother of the Governor General, Roderick Turnquest has died. He died after a stroke suffered earlier. He died on Friday 26 March. Mr. Turnquest was the godfather of this columnist. He once told of the day of the christening at St. Agnes. He said he spent £50 on a new white linen suit for the christening. He said he got plenty girls off that suit. Rest in Peace.
KINGSLEY MUNROE IS SENTENCED
Though the matter will unquestionably be appealed, Justice Anita Allen has sentenced the former Controller of ZNS to five years in prison. It is a sad event.