THE following statement was issued by PLP chairman Bradley Roberts from his hospital bed in response to yesterday’s speech by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
Mr Roberts is said to be recovering well after a minor operation on his thyroid.
“It is a crying shame that a former Prime Minister would attack the Commissioner of Police, who is not in a position in our system to defend himself against political attacks,” Mr Roberts said.
“Mr Ingraham should know better. Much more is expected of him.
“But we are not surprised. This is the Prime Minister who so politicised the police force that he took away the independence of the Commissioner of Police by subjecting the constitutionally-protected office to a contractual term. This is the same man whose government forcibly retired police officers they suspected were not their political supporters and sent them home without the dignity and respect they deserved in their office.
“This is the same man,” he said, “who did not allow my former cabinet colleague and Deputy Prime Minister, Cynthia ‘Mother’ Pratt and others, the dignity and grace to say farewell in the House of Assembly to her constituents.
He has a nerve.
“Instead of going quietly into the sunset, he is making of himself an embarrassing spectacle.
“Under this current administration the PLP has freed the Commissioner of Police to be the Commissioner of Police, to speak freely and to determine the priorities and actions of the force.
The government intends to go further and will seek by legislation as early as next week to remove the unconstitutional limitation on the Commissioner of Police’s term in office, as we said we would do during the campaign.
“We congratulate the commissioner on the work that he is doing in the force and in fighting crime and the stellar results he is achieving.
On the issue of gambling he said “the
PLP is not any more beholden to gambling interests than the FNM. The PLP is not in fact beholden at all.
“We said in our Charter for Governance that we would put the issue to the people. It was clear, concise and straightforward.
“The government is currently drafting legislation for Parliament to enable the carrying out of that promise. But I remind the public that it was Hubert Ingraham, who as Minister of Finance, caused the studies with the co-operation of the numbers houses to be done to determine the revenue streams, method of operating and possible tax potential of the sector. He did this to facilitate the drafting of legislation to facilitate legalising the sector.
“The FNM gave the sector the expectation that legalisation was coming, but Mr Ingraham got cold feet in the face of opposition by the church leaders.
“He too then promised a referendum to decide the issue.
“In that there is no difference in policy between the PLP and the FNM. So if the PLP is beholden for holding a referendum, then the FNM must accept that they are as well,” he said.
In commenting on BTC he said that “the Prime Minister made a statement that the PLP will fulfil the government’s promise to regain the majority share in BTC. There is no stepping back from that. There is no private understanding on the issue.
“As minister responsible for BTC, he met with the principals of Cable and Wireless and told them of the government’s intention.
Since then, he has received a letter in writing from Cable and Wireless constituting their negotiating team to settle the issue of regaining the majority of the shares.
“The Prime Minister has already secured three well known Bahamian personalities to negotiate from the government’s side. The issue is quite advanced.
“I need say no more save just watch as this government performs.
“Mr Ingraham is simply showing bad form, a bitter and angry individual who has lost touch with the political realities. He must move on and move on quietly and quickly, lest he embarrass himself further,” said Mr Roberts.