August 2012 ISSUE 2 |
2 | The Nationalist
The PLPâ€™s First 100 Days By: Renaldo Dorsett
Are We Truly Independent? By: By Kendeno N.P. Knowles
The Departure of Hubert Alexander Ingraham by Keith O. Major II, A.A., LL.B.
Dr. Hubert Minnis Interview
Dr. Andre Rollins Interview
Ben Albury Interview
Law Reform: A National Priority By: Dawn Demeritte
August 2012 ISSUE 2 |
THE PLP’S FIRST
100 Days BY: RENALDO DORSETT
The election of the Progressive Liberal Party on May 7th was the pragmatic result of one of the most vetted political theories among those who study the subject. The Keys System states that “If the nation fares well during the term of the incumbent party, that party wins another team in office; otherwise, the challenging party prevails.” With the Bahamas experiencing an economic crisis and increasing social ills, the most influential aspect of the PLPs victory was the efficient way they sold voters on their ability to alleviate these issues on day one, immediately upon taking office.”The PLP is committed to hitting the ground running with a specific agenda for the first 100 days,” said Prime Minister Perry Christie on the campaign trail, a commitment which was effective on the Bahamian voter, evident in the 29-9 landslide victory at the polls. The framework of the 100 days mandate was originally created in 1933 as a political marketing tool by the first Franklin Roosevelt administration. With the United States mired in the Great Depression, FDR promised a series of social and economic programs prior to the Presidential Elections, and set to be implemented almost immediately as the Republican Party took office. FDR and these components of the “New Deal” became the gold standard by which all new governments would be judged, not only on their campaign prowess, but on their ability to enact change. While many dismissed these immediate pledges as vague and immeasurable, what it should be seen as is a tool for the general public - both the supporters of the incumbent party responsible for electing them into office and the opposition - to hold the new government accountable. 4 | The Nationalist
The 100-day plan was a vital aspect of the PLP’s “Charter for Governance,” a blueprint on how they informed prospective voters on how they would govern if victorious at the polls on May 7th. Amongst some if its key elements included promises to put to a referendum the prospects of a national lottery and gambling in the Bahamas, the approval of the operation of liquefied natural gas and compressed natural gas plants, and launch “Operation Home Restoration” - a 10 point plan to mitigate home foreclosures. According to the PLP it sought to provide “immediate action” to counteract the “pain” and suffering that the party claimed Bahamians were enduring. Amongst the key elements of this “First 100 day” plan, the PLP promises to launch key elements of Project Safe Bahamas and Operation Cease Fire, including the reintroduction of Urban Renewal, to immediately reinvigorate the fight against crime and violence. Also in the PLP’s “First 100 day’s” promise, they promoted the introduction of the Employees Pension Fund Protection Act, which will seek to keep pension funds out of the reach for business owners, and to make directors and officers personally liable for any such breaches. Soon after May 7th, there was a greater fervor regarding the actual date the 100-day pledge began, rather than the tasks at hand themselves. When the deadline of August 15th, was announced, attention shifted to governmental accountability and the public looking for the new version of the PLP to make good on its lists of promises.
COMPLETED TASKS • Launch key elements of Project Safe Bahamas and Operation Cease Fire, including the reintroduction of Urban Renewal, to immediately reinvigorate the fight against crime and violence. • Re-establish the Ministry of Financial Services and Investments. Ryan Pinder selected to serve as Minister • Prioritize a doubling of the nation’s investment in the education and training of Bahamians. From preschools all the way up to retraining for Bahamians already in the workforce, we need new investment and innovative reforms. • Create a Ministry for Grand Bahama, bringing focus to growing that island’s economy. Dr. Michael Darville was selected to serve as Minister
TASKS ADDRESSED, BUT REMAIN IN PROGRESS: • Provide details for a referendum on a National Lottery and gambling in The Bahamas. The details surrounding how the referendum will be carried have yet to be revealed, however, Prime Minister Christie has promised the referendum will take place at some point in 2012 • Institute a mortgage relief plan in conjunction with private sector lenders to help struggling homeowners. The government remains in discussions with the Central Bank and other financial institutions. • Introduce the Employees Pension Fund Protection Act to keep pension funds out of reach for business owners, and to make directors and officers personally liable for breaches. Legislation was tabled in the House of Assembly by Michael Halkitis, July 25th • Renew the nation’s commitment to National Health Insurance, and support the Public Hospitals Authority in the acquisition of much needed new cancer screening technology, ensuring that Bahamian women have access to state-of-theart mammogram machines at both Princess Margaret in New Providence and Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama. Legislation was tabled by Dr Perry Gomez on July 25th • Re-introduce a ceiling on the maximum level of real property taxes payable on a residence. Legislation tabled by Halkitis, July 25th
Set in motion the plan to secure the nation’s borders, with steps to hire new personnel, acquire new technology, and initiate new training programs.
Reposition The Bahamas Development Bank, so it becomes again a key player in creating jobs and expanding small and medium-sized businesses.
Initiate a plan to lower the cost of electricity in The Bahamas.
Bring together representatives from all sectors to launch a 40th Anniversary of Independence National Congress to begin enactment of Vision 2030
Reduce the maximum level of stamp tax payable on real estate transactions from 12% to 10% for first time home owners.
While the legacy left by a Bahamian government is obviously dependent on what they do over the course of their more than 1800 days spent in office, the first 100 days for this PLP administration is now a point of contention because they made it so by placing it at the forefront on the campaign trail. The public deserves to hold the government accountable for each of its 14 pledges, but more importantly, the plan was meant by the PLP to serve as a representation of its work ethic and set the tone for the type of government it intends to be. With just four tasks completed in three months of governance, that work ethic deserves to be called into question at this point. The most readily accomplished goals were implemented almost immediately such as the Ministry responsible for Grand Bahama, made official when Darville was named to the post on May 11th, while others such as the plan to “lower electricity cost” remained vague and geared for a more long term resolution. Irrespective of your political affiliation, the 100-day pledge format by the PLP is, for lack of a better term, a progressive advancement for Bahamian politics. It is a means for the fourth estate to shape the discussion and for the general public to remain engaged with firsthand knowledge of how their government is protecting their interests. The burden lies on the people to ensure that the PLP follows through with their plans for governance, not just until August 15th, but until 2017 when they exit office. It will be the people that will ultimately determine whether the 100-day pledge was simply another crafty marketing tool to win a general election, or become the turning point in Bahamian politics where politicians are placed under heavier scrutiny and the instant gratification of the people becomes the driving force behind efficiency and transparency in government. It may be too early to tell with this administration thus far, but with less than 1800 days to carve out a legacy within the bedrock of Bahamian politics and validate their selection at the polls, the clock is ticking for the second Christie administration. August 2012 ISSUE 2 |
BY KENDENO N.P. KNOWLES
The Nationalist Contributing Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
When a child is born, he or she spends the next 18 years, and in some cases even longer, dependent on someone or something. That someone could either be a biological parent or a guardian. On the other hand that something could be the system, which most orphans have come to accept as their ultimate fate, at least until some caring person or family comes to their rescue. But no matter where we end up, there comes a time when we must break away from the someone’s or the something’s in order to really find our inner strength and the ability to survive on our own; the independence of which every adult will ultimately have to reach. The same could be said about our country, one that has a rich history and an awesome story behind its eventual independence from its mother land Britain. Sir Lynden Pindling obviously understood this concept when in 1973, the man we now refer to as the father of our nation, ushered in the country’s independence, finally breaking away from the mother land.
6 | The Nationalist
The story, I’m sure many Bahamians are familiar with, but for those that aren’t as well versed with the country’s independence story, the road to finally breaking away was not an easy one. Any of those great men that served in Sir Lynden’s camp and are still living will perhaps tell you the same. And while this 39th year of independence would suggest that the nation’s identity has been secured for a long time, it appears the real struggle in The Bahamas has not been for personal independence, but rather for national independence. This was never more evident until earlier this year when the Privy Council – the highest court in the land – overturned the death sentence of convicted murderer Maxo Tido. The ruling sparked much public debate and fuelled the discussion about whether The Bahamas has secured real independence. Many questioned the decision of the Britain based body made up of five law lords, expressing great outrage.
The Privy Council determined that the murder Tido committed was appalling, but not so bad as to warrant execution. Tido was convicted of the 2002 murder of Donnell Conover, 16, whose skull was crushed and body badly burnt.
Capital punishment is widely supported throughout the Caribbean region and for many who oppose the death penalty; the CCJ was conceived as an attempt to repatriate the right to hang.
On March 22nd, as opposed to the death sentence many thought he deserved, Tido was sentenced to 52 years by a Supreme Court judge.
Caribbean observers say Jamaica’s casting away of the old colonial arrangement of submitting to the London-based Privy Council as a final court of appeal seems like a fitting gesture for a nation that will celebrate 50 years of independence from Britain this year.
Shortly after the ruling, a group of Bahamian pastors also publicly expressed outrage and great alarm.
In my opinion, it would be great for the Bahamas to adopt the same during this, its 40th year of independence.
“We are alarmed that those five law lords do not believe that this heinous murder falls in the category of those that deserve the death penalty,” the statement read.
“We are not truly independent with the Queen as the head of state. We will not be truly independent until we become a republic state,” says Cranston Knowles, a Bahamian who insists he’s proud of his heritage but can’t say the same about the country’s stifled ability to carry about the death penalty.
Even well before the Privy Council’s ruling, there were talks among many circles, including the legal profession, about adopting the Caribbean based Criminal Court of Justice (CCJ). In fact, Jamaica’s newly elected Prime Minister Portia Simpson, promised during her recent swearing-in ceremony to remove the judicial committee of the Privy Council as Jamaica’s final court of appeal. The Privy Council, she said, would be replaced by the CCJ. The Trinidad-based court is hailed as a “model” for international courts, but has been underused because countries, such as Jamaica and The Bahamas, have not submitted to its jurisdiction. A number of local attorneys have also supported the idea of adopting the CCJ saying the Privy Council is out of touch with what is happening in this region.
And while it remains on the book, other citizens like Michelle Carey, “When the will of the people goes beyond the will of the government, then will we see true independence. Until the people decide they’ve had enough, we will remain in this false state of independence.” Whatever your feelings or thoughts on the matter, the meaning of independence will remain the same – uninfluenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion or conduct. And whether or not The Bahamas will actually be able to experience that true independence will simply count on one thing – the will of the Bahamian people.
August 2012 ISSUE 2 |
“The Delivery Boy”,“Hu-Biggity”,“The Pitbull” or “PAPA”, are all names that are from time to time used or have been used by Bahamians to refer affectionately (and in some cases not so affectionately) to our nation’s second Prime Minister:The Rt. Hon. Hubert Alexander Ingraham.
Mr. Ingraham (along with his former law partner Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie) can be said to have been fixtures on the political landscape of The Bahamas for the last thirty five years. Through the changing scenes of political life, the duo has been able to be elected and re-elected, election after election after election. Their times shared betwixt the green walls of Parliament, at times alternating between the majority and minority isles of The House, represent almost an entire biblical generation of forty years.
against Sir Lynden’s regime (which at the time had become accused of corruption and impropriety), HIS subsequent expulsion from the Progressive Liberal Party, HIS survival as an independent candidate after being tossed in the “political wilderness” and HIS eventual triumph after squaring off (twice) with the “Father of the Nation”, that have all earned HIS title as arguably the most fearless politician the Bahamas has ever had the occasion to witness.
Although the pair have overtime truly developed as “political twins” fraternal of course (looking and behaving nothing alike) we now see that, notwithstanding their simultaneous birth into Parliament and their maturation together, one “sibling” has decided to precede the other and reach for greener pastures -heralding the end of a political era.
During his career as Prime-Minister, in three non-consecutive terms, Mr. Ingraham has been able to steer a host of accomplishments to completion and oversee numerous developments throughout the course of our nation’s history. Although one of Mr. Ingraham’s most touted accomplishments has to be his freeing of the airwaves in 1992, remarkably, Mr. Ingraham counts his ability to leave Parliament with his head held high and his dignity intact as his singular and most proud achievement. While Sir Lynden comfortably holds the title as “Father of the Nation”, now at the time of his departure and by way of his stewardship at the nation’s helm, Mr. Ingraham has demonstrated himself as a front-runner for the label as “Father of the Modern Bahamas”.
TEETHING When one mentions the story of Mr. Ingraham, implicit therein must be a reference to Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling as it was by dethroning Sir Lynden, the former unquestioned and total Leader of The Bahamas that Mr. Ingraham went on to cut his Prime-ministerial teeth. It was HIS boldness in speaking out 8 | The Nationalist
MIDDLE YEARS It must be noted that this departure of Hubert Ingraham is but his second attempt at such. After stepping down as leader of the Free National Movement and Prime Minister in 2002, Mr. Ingraham relegated himself to the position of a backbencher in the House of Parliament. However, shortly thereafter his party re-enlisted him to return to leadership and assist the party in regaining government. History would have it that Mr. Ingraham returned to the party as leader in 2005 and did exactly what he was brought back to do in the subsequent General Election of 2007. In his last and final term, Mr. Ingraham would be faced with the most difficult of tasks in terms of an international recession of epic proportions coupled with its related job losses and unemployment, an unprecedented wave in crime and a seemingly mismanaged (or at the very least, poorly executed) road improvement project. However, his handling of such pressing factors became indicative of the nickname that had been attributed to him towards the latter end of his political career: “PAPA”.
RETIREMENT – GREEN PASTURES Notably, the now seemingly final departure of the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham from frontline politics not only marks the end of a political career but signals a new political era. This new era is multi-fold as it is manifested in his political party of choice, which has already selected his successor, it is also manifested nationally in the office of Prime Minister and thirdly by way of his parliamentary seat of North Abaco. While the voters on May 7th 2012 too have already selected a successor for Mr. Ingraham as Prime Minister, his constituents will have the last go and be asked to make their pick to fill the shoes of their former representative of the past thirty-five years, sometime after his resignation becomes effective. It remains to be seen whether or not the FNM will rise to the occasion, not only in this instance, but also whenever the next general election is called. This is because Mr. Ingraham currently possesses the singular distinction of being the only FNM leader to have won the reins of government. In closing, whether you are one that reveres or despises the man, it is a true statement that Mr. Ingraham and his signature gravitas contrasted by his off-the-cuff style of oration will be sorely missed from the House’s proceedings. Politicos would often marvel at the fact that when Hubert Ingraham spoke, persons listened and this was as much true inside the House as it was outside. This occurrence or fact cannot be solely attributed to his position as Prime Minister, as his detractors often placed very little weight to such an office. Au contraire this basic expression of respect (in what can become a very disrespectful profession at times) could most likely be affixed to his well-known reputation as one who is knowledgeable and prone to deliver factual information worthy of being trusted. August 2012 ISSUE 2 |
10 | The Nationalist
August 2012 ISSUE 2 |
Dr. Minnis is one of seven children by Rosalie North. Before becoming the medical doctor by trade and politician by choice, he got his start with humble beginnings. Dr. Minnis grew up in a single parent home in the Bain Town and Farm Road communities. He started his education at Our Lady’s Primary then headed to Western Junior and eventually graduated from St. Augustine’s College. As a young boy Dr. Minnis sold newspapers and shined shoes to help support the family and himself. Dr. Minnis recounts that his mother ensured that each of her children worked and that they had a personal investment in items they wanted e.g. bicycle and other items. One of his most lasting childhood memories are those days he attended school barefoot. The Bain Town area was a close-nit community and Dr. Minnis said, as was for many of the other children in the inner city, for him, both the family and community structures were strong. It was a time when neighbours looked out for neighbours. Higher education was also a key concern for the Bain Town boy. He attended the University of Minnesota then medical school in Jamaica and returned home in 1985 where he climbed the ranks becoming the Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Other positions he held included: Deputy Chief of Staff at the Princess Margaret Hospital and President of the Medical Association of The Bahamas. 12 | The Nationalist
But that was just the beginning of his career that would span from medicine to politics and everything in between. A little known fact about the good doctor, is the fact that he once served as the Chairman of Hotel Corporation. He entered front-line politics in 2007. It was a decision that his mother never wanted him to make, according to Dr. Minnis. Coincidentally, family continues to be a major factor in Dr. Minnis’ life. And ironically, The most influential piece of advice he has ever been given came from his youngest son who told him upon entering politics he should “never change, never become corrupt, and never become arrogant because you are there to help the people and not yourself.” 1.) How do you feel about becoming leader of the Free National Movement, and do you think that in some way you are still in the shadows of Hubert Alexander Ingraham? I am elated to become leader of the Free National Movement and I look at things very systematically to ensure that everyone works continuously to try and shift politics. I don’t think I am in the shadows of Mr. Ingraham because I and Mr. Ingraham have two different approaches; I seek to invite bright minds to the party and utilize their services. I consult, listen and give each individual a job to do. Everyone has different skills and I like discussions that involve as many people as possible. I am very futuristic which stems from my training in that I try to anticipate what maybe a problem in the future, so I can address it before it arrives. And if it does become a problem I know how to deal with it.
In terms of moving the party forward I recognize that one of our problems as a party in the previous general election was the view that our candidates entered into the field too late. They all should have been working for the entire five years. For instance, you will not renew a three-year contract with a person whom you haven’t seen up until two weeks prior to its culmination, you will not rehire them. We need to connect to the community and the associations. I don’t think I should try and force a candidate into the community because they will rebel; it is like forcing a circle into a square. Moving forward we will work continuously along with myself in these constituencies through walk-a-bouts. You must show the people you are worthy and sincere. Along with drive and determination that will carry on in governance. Communication is also very important. 2.) Following the defeat at the polls in the last general election how do you plan to rebrand the image of the FNM to win the 2017 general election? Firstly, we will have an analyst to review the causes of our defeat. We know that we lost the young and female voters but when you listen to the noise on the ground there are several concerns. Some of the concerns were that the candidates came too late but of course you know with me that will not be an issue. Secondly, they said we had lost the human touch so if candidates are on the ground for five years you will be able to show the human element and concerns for the community. Many said we weren’t church oriented but the party as a whole will visit and attend a church service quarterly. We will worship
as a party not to make any speeches but simply worship. This will show our human element as a party. I am very futuristic and I agree in building leaders for tomorrow and I don’t believe a Prime Minister should serve longer than two terms, so after two terms I am gone. Also I believe in building leaders for tomorrow so we must build young people. Individuals who join the Torchbearers will see a pathway for progression within the party. Our young supporters will be appointed to boards and attain Senator Appointments if we are in government based on recommendations and their age. This approach will also be seen within the Woman’s Association for potential candidates. 3.) Is it your plan to lead the Free National Movement into the 2017 General Election? Yes, I plan to lead the Free National Movement into the 2017 election and win! I intend to pass law for a two-term maximum for Prime Minister and I also plan to address electoral reform. The Free National Movement is a Party of the future and preparing leadership to be passed on. I will brand the party, that is all inclusive with a cadre of new ideas and a party that builds leadership with new ideas. You cannot invite individuals into a party where there is no futuristic growth. If they see you are preparing leaders for tomorrow they will be more attracted to your organization. I will serve as a consultant for future leaders once my time has passed. I plan to attract persons from the private sector as well, who will be more inclinved once they see people in our organization respect their views. You can get excellent advice from the youngest individuals but
don’t ignore them. You must weigh the pros and cons but it is my job to get the best out of you, so you can project the county to another level. In time my ideas will become obsolete so that is where you need continuity. As a physician I felt that I had reached my peak so I decided to step aside and give way to younger Doctors. They will always respect you and call from time to time because I wasn’t pushed out. That is how it should be. 4.) What is your position on legalizing gambling in the Bahamas? I believe in democracy so personally (not the VIEW of the Free National Movement). I believe that an individual has a right to do what they chose but I don’t gamble. The government is coming with a referendum so they must show the people why it should be legalized. It is my job as opposition to show the people what are the faults with doing that. Therefore within a democracy FNM’s can vote democratically how they feel about it. I will look at all the ills and negativity to provide to the people to make their own decision. The FNM will not take a position for them; our position is to provide all the information such as the Church views, social effects and impact on crime. The government cannot present a referendum if they do not state a view on it themselves. The government should not COP out and make a clear stance. The people cannot govern for them and if so they should step down and let the people continue to govern for them. If we were bringing this referendum forward we would have had a view. The people must vote on their conscious because this is a decision that will be with them for a very long time. August 2012 ISSUE 2 |
How do you feel about not being selected to the Cabinet of the present Administration? I have no difficulties with it. I believe that you need a mix of experience, money, really good ideas and the public has to have the expectation that if they give you an opportunity, they can expect that the country will be in safe hands. This is public service; you are there to serve the public and therefore, by definition, the personal actual areas of saying I am a Cabinet Minister with responsibility for XY & Z does not trump what the Prime Minister in his best judgment determines is best for the country at this time. You canâ€™t expect that those who are first time members of Parliament will completely displace those who have served before. There has to be a mix of veteran politicians and new politicians who can therefore bring a balance. Itâ€™s not about what I would like but every cabinet minister serves at the pleasure of the Prime Minister and you must learn to serve at the various levels of government. At the moment I am learning at the level of being on the back bench and I have a lot of persons who are above me that I can learn from and hopefully if I demonstrate the capacity to contribute more then I will be given an opportunity in the future to do more.
How do you feel about capital punishment and do you think it will impact crime in the Bahamas? Studies have shown that capital punishment does not necessarily result in a decrease in the amount of violent crime in societies where research has been done or to tract the level of crime where capital punishment is a method of punishment. I think that persons, who are critical of our inability to charge persons with murder to meet that fate, have that concept. Capital punishment is on our books but because of our relationship with the Privy Council, and their overall attitude towards Capital Punishment as an inhumane form of punishment, there is certainly a cultural clash there. Obviously the vast majority of people in the Bahamas, although I donâ€™t have the scientific proof to document that, are in favor of capital punishment. Unless we have a system 14 | The Nationalist
that permits persons to be tried in the courts and to have their appeals heard by both the local Appellate Courts and the Privy Council within a five year time frame and be more efficient in that entire process, then it would appear that according to prior rulings of the Privy Council that we cannot expect to have them ruled favorably in such matters. Personally as a politician I have no difficulty with the death penalty. I believe that murder is far too serious a matter and the extent to which we see violent crime occurring in our society; we cannot be soft in dealing with murder. We just have to look at how it is we deal with the failings of the judicial system to ensure there is a greater degree of efficiency.
Placing aside the fact that the Progressive Liberal Party plans on putting forth a Referendum on Gambling, what are your personal views on this topic? Personally I believe that Bahamians should be entitled to do anything in their country that foreigners are able to do. The fact of the matter is that we have many Bahamians on a daily basis that are engaged in gaming. It is in my view, hypocritical for us as a people to act as though it does not currently take place. Either we disapprove of it and we seek to take the necessary measures to end the practice, or we approve of it and see the wisdom in properly regulating the practice. There are a lot of good reasons why you would want to regulate the practice because if it is unregulated there is too much room for abuse. You also have to take into account that gaming in our hotels results in a lot of, or has a lot of implications for our foreign exchange. Any monies made at the local casinos, U.S. currency is what is paid out to the winners. If you have Bahamians now gambling in our casinos and paying in Bahamian currency that money will be changed to U.S. currency and those monies are then sent out of the country. So the foreign reserves of the country will be impacted which has implications for our ability to remain on par with the U.S. dollar and our ability to buy all of those things outside of this country using the same foreign currency, the U.S. dollar.
So we must ask ourselves, if we want gaming to be legalized and what impact will it have on our ability to maintain our parody with the U.S. dollar by encouraging Bahamians to spend money that they’ll, to some degree, going to lose. And also we need to look at the impact that gaming will have on some families in terms of persons who may become addicted and do not have the restraints to be able to control themselves even when they find out that they’re losing a lot more all if not most of what they’re gambling with And the other thing I would say is that if we as a country decide that we don’t want Bahamians to gamble we have to question if we are discriminating against ourselves because our constitution says that there should be no law that discriminates against any group of persons unfairly, yet we still have laws that do just that. I don’t believe that there can be any justification for preventing Bahamians from gambling if we permit persons to come into this country to do that.
If there was one thing you could change about the present state of affairs, what would it be and why? The level of literacy and numeracy in overall academic achievement; I think that in order for us to develop an expanded economy that is going to benefit Bahamians we have to ensure that our Bahamian people are prepared for those jobs that will come with that expanded economy. As it stands right now we don’t possess enough skilled labor, and I think that we have to prepare for an economy that will be more technologically savvy where you are going to have advanced skills in computer literacy, advanced skills in terms of engineering, mathematics and science. In order for a diverse economy, we need to be educated and that will benefit Bahamians in finding jobs locally.
In your maiden speech in the House of Assembly you stated that you didn’t sign your real name at Sir Lynden P i n d l i n g ’s funeral. Why
did you sign the guest book as Roger Smith? I didn’t or wasn’t ashamed, but I didn’t want to be identified as someone who was affiliated with a political party. I was being honest and forthright in acknowledging that I didn’t agree with a number of latter decisions of the Pindling administration. I was trying to make a point that I was one of the persons who didn’t have sufficient information or appreciation for the many contributions of Sir Lynden Pindling and his government to cause the Bahamian people to be at the position we were in during the course of his tenure as prime minister. Partly to blame is the fact that he faced a relentless media assault that characterized him in a negative light. Having gained a greater appreciation as I have matured I am able to appreciate the impact of his time in office and now I am able to put it into proper perspective. Yes I did sign under a pseudonym and I have no need to lie about it, but if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t have done it. Andre Rollins Brief Bio: Born December 20th 1975, Dr. Andre Rollins is an orthodontist by profession. He has attended St. Johns College, Boston University and Tufts University of Dental Medicine, respectively. Political Career: Dr. Rollins along with BJ Moss formed the National Development Party in September of 2008. In the Elizabeth by-election he was the standard bearer, however he lost to the PLP’s Ryan Pinder. After a great deal of consideration, he left the NDP and joined forces with the Progressive Liberal Party. In 2012 he was the PLP’s standard bearer in Fort Charlotte where he defeated Zhivargo Laing and Mark Humes to become the Member of Parliament.
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I grew up in Nassau and attended Kingsway Academy, I participated in a number of sports such as basketball, soccer and softball. After finishing school I was brought into the family business first at Multi Discount Furniture as a warehouse attendant and then I was given an opportunity to work at Bahamas Bus and Truck as a salesman in January 1996. A few years ago I was promoted to the position of operations manager a post I held for a few years and I just was promoted last year to General Manager. How do feel about the past election and the future of the Democratic National Alliance? Well of course I am little disappointed in the outcome of the last election. It was historic the amount of support we were able to garner in the matter of 11 months. I believe that history will reflect that the Bahamian people made a mistake by not electing us as the government to at least not having several of our candidates to bring a more fair and balance governance to the country. I think it was time for Mr. Ingraham to move on, he had done a lot of good but it was time for the government to change. I donâ€™t think it changed in the way that was necessarily the best, but I am optimistic and supportive of the new government because it is in the best interest of the country and its people that they are able to steer the country in a good direction. I donâ€™t want to be quick to criticize because I am a little disappointed that some of the promises they made, they have already said they wonâ€™t be able to fulfill them. We made an obligation to the Bahamian people to discuss the issues such as crime, immigration, education, jobs in the
16 | The Nationalist
economy and “it takes a village” which spoke on social issues in the country. The other parties got caught up in what they usually do with the rhetoric, rallies, loud music and alcohol. I think that in this day and age the Bahamian people should have taken more time to step back and ask both parties of how they plan to fulfill these promises in a logical way to make it more scientific rather than just flying on emotion and now finding out that a lot of the promises they made are not feasible or possible. In terms of your family relations has there been any divide sense your decision to become a member of the Democratic National Alliance? A lot of people, who may know me, know that I came from a strong F.N.M. background. It is not a big secret; of course initially it was a little uncomfortable sitting around the dinner table when I went to family dinners. I had been offered to run under the FNM as one of their candidates but I didn’t feel they were leading the country properly. I felt disenfranchised as a young man, confused and couldn’t decide who was the lesser of two evils so I had to stand up and make a decision to do what I thought was best for my country and daughter. After a while surprisingly the majority of my family became staunch supporters of the DNA. The more they realized the importance of what I was doing the more support they gave me. At the end they were very proud and I was able to garner financial and emotional support which is very important when you’re going through a campaign. I was fortunate in that aspect that my family was very open minded.
have billions of dollars of resorts that sit on our beaches and if there was an oil spill how would that affect tourism and fishing industry. They all need to be taken into consideration and what type of protection would they offer us if a situation like that arises. I think as a country we haven’t explored other resources such as hydro, wind, solar and methane (trash) energy. We still haven’t invested in educating our people which is number 1 so before we rush into oil we need to know the pros and cons are. What is your stance on the legalization of a National Lottery in the Bahamas? My personal opinion is that there should be a National Lottery; numbers has existed in this country for a very long time. It should be nationalized, state owned and operated. I do not believe that licenses should be issued to these number houses which have been existing for a number of years illegally, because that sends a poor message to our young men and women to say that if you can conduct an illegal business for a number of years, and if you are able to raise enough capital you can lobby against the government to make it legal. If that’s the case why can’t other young men and women start other illegal businesses, gain a large amount of money illegally and then use that money to lobby the government to make it legitimate. The fact is that they are not operating legitimately and we have very plan, clear and simple laws on the books as to the fact that they are committing a criminal offense. I believe that it can be good for the country if it is nationalized, state owned and the money goes toward education, developing and building our youth.
What is your position on Oil Drilling in the Bahamas, taking into fact that the PLP is the present government of the Bahamas? It scares me because I was able to expose during my campaign, that the PLP was very much involved with Bahamas Petroleum. Oil is a natural resource of the country which belongs to the Bahamian people and I want to make sure it is managed properly and that Bahamians are able to benefit from it and not just a few select people and a foreign entity. I think oil drilling is something that needs to bring education. A lot people aren’t aware that they are still preceding with their explorations and too many people it has faded. But due to the licenses and permits that the governments have issues to BPC they have an obligation to continue to explore. The topic is very much alive and should be a big point of interest. We need to weigh out the pros and cons of course there are risk involved and we
August 2012 ISSUE 2 |
Isn’t it amazing that we as Bahamians scream for change, but most times we don’t know how this process of change is acquired? What’s even more amazing, is that we as Bahamians scream for change but what we do not realize that most of the change we are expecting comes from amending our Constitution; a document that has not been amended since Independence. Issues which bother us day to day are diminutive compared to the laws that place women as second class citizens and the age requirements that prevent our brightest minds from participating in Parliamentary activities. It is the strict belief of this author that our laws should reflect a growing society that we are said to have become. However, our Constitution reflects a British system that in some instances the British have since abolished. Interesting isn’t it? Under the Preamble of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (which is the section in the Constitution that sets out basic rights that are due to every person in the Bahamas), certain rights are said to be granted to persons regardless of race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed or sex. This is excellent, to a certain extent, as in the article that deals with discrimination in particular (Article 26), “sex” is omitted. This therefore results in the effect that the Constitution does not clearly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sex. In other words, women are not protected by the Constitution in the same way that men are. As significant as women are in today’s society, the fact of the matter is that sadly they remain a subject of discrimination and inequality; however it is not for lack of trying. On February 27th, 2002 the former Prime Minister the Rt. Hon Hubert Ingraham was responsible for the country’s first
referendum. Under this referendum he sought to eliminate the language in the Constitution that afforded privileges to men that were not afforded to women and that prevented women to pass citizenship over to their children that were born with foreign fathers. He, however, was unsuccessful as the majority of voters, women included voted against it. Although people are entitled to their own opinions, the question remains why? The answer is easy, we are complacent unless something personally affects us, yet we wonder why things are the way they are? Ten years later after the first referendum, the Progressive Liberal Party is once again seeking to have another referendum that would eliminate gender discrimination from the Constitution of the Bahamas, if passed. Under the present Constitution any Bahamian woman who marries a foreign man cannot pass citizenship on to their children. Yet, Bahamian men who marry foreign women can. Even worse is a woman that is unmarried but has her child outside the country, can pass her citizenship to her child before a married woman of a foreigner can. It is important to note that the citizenship law is a specially entrenched provision which requires a three-fourths majority in both the House of Assembly and Senate and passage by referendum to pass. This means that even if the House of Assembly and Senate approve it and the people reject it, it still will not pass. So the burden is on us, the Bahamian people, to assist in raising the glass ceiling for women who continue to excel on a daily basis in the Bahamas. Moreover, have you ever wondered why you can drive at 17, but legally you cannot drink until 18? Or even more relevant is why is it that to be
By: Dawn Demeritte
18 | The Nationalist
appointed to the Senate you must be 30 years or older but to serve as a Member of Parliament you must be 21 years or older? Our laws reflect the state of the country 39 years ago but are they really relevant to a more developed and progressive country? Should we really limit the pool of potentially talented senators that we can possibly have because of the mentality that with age comes experience? Currently our youngest Member of Parliament in the House is Dion Smith, but because of laws enacted years ago another bright young mind such as Clay Sweeting cannot be appointed to the Senate. To assume that because someone is young that they do not possess the ability to participate in passing laws is ludicrous. Currently the Senate is made up of rejected politicians pushing each of the party’s agendas; which begs the question of why is the age limit set at 30? If we are going to have the age limit of the Senate at 30, we should at least raise the level of debate that takes place in the Senate. It makes no sense setting an age limit so high, when Senators act as if they are in their young teens. As a result of law reform not being one of the biggest priorities of this country, we have an imbalance. On one hand we have an ever changing society which changes values over time; on the other hand we have a Constitution that reflects an old English society. Surely, we can realize that it is certainly time for a change, when our laws discriminate against women and highlight ancient mentalities that certainly do not represent the current state of affairs in the Bahamas. Will we be the change that we want to see? Or will we continuously chirp on futile matters that cannot mold the Bahamas into the country it should be in the 21st century?
Our next issue will be available on
November 1st, 2012
entitled “National Lottery: Legal or Illegal?”
“We will bring balanced, fair and unbiased Political Literature to the Bahamas”
August 2012 ISSUE 2 |
20 | The Nationalist