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According To Me: Pride Interrupted

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Sharon Turner

By SHARON TURNER

I AM a Bahamian whose national pride has been interrupted. It’s been interrupted by a group of persons commonly referred to as the government, who in just 13 short months, has managed to set our country back many years.

I look at what is happening in our country now at the government level and as a Bahamian I am flat out disgusted. Sitting under the rule of corruption, secrecy and disarray creates a weight on the soul and psyche that can become unbearable at times for Bahamians who actually care about the state of their nation.

It’s like the Bible says: “when the unjust rule, the people groan”, and every honest Bahamian can tell you that the groaning in the hearts of many is heavy, with little tangible light in sight for the way forward. Our current leaders don’t inspire us, they mire and tire us.

Now as Independence Day approaches, people are saying a lot of things that sound patriotic. Yes, many are sincere. But many more people won’t say openly how they really feel for fear of ridicule. For my part, I don’t care to try to create a special image to anyone. I speak what’s real and however people see that is how they see it. Patriots speak the truth. Patsies speak what people want to hear.

Good governance, though we take it for granted, matters because as goes the head so goes the country. Our country’s reputation also matters. I’ve travelled the world representing The Bahamas in my previous government capacity. I’ve seen the way leaders in the United Nations, the United States, the Commonwealth of Nations and the Caribbean showed respect and admiration for us. It made me so proud to be Bahamian that I often wanted to cry from such a strong sense of fulfilment.

It’s a sense of pride that is hard to put into words as you sit in rooms with the men and women who lead almost every nation on the planet. To now have leaders whispering among themselves about us because of the reputations of those who now govern us is humiliating to me as a Bahamian. To have investor after investor talk about being shaken down by government officials for monies under the table is humiliating to me.

More and more Bahamians, when in discussions about their country often pause, shake their head and say “boy I don’t know what’s gonna happen or what we are going to do”. This is symptomatic of a nation without leadership – sound, effective, purpose-driven and uncorrupt leadership.

No government is perfect. In fact, perfection is a construct that does not exist in the human condition and therefore need not be debated because it cannot be conceptualised. Governments are not able to be perfect, but they are able to be effective, accountable, transparent and responsible depending on the persons involved.

People say all politicians are corrupt – that is a lie. Many are, but not all. We say that in part because of natural scepticism about people in power, but more of it is simply laziness on our part. We rather say everyone is corrupt and then in our minds, that absolves us of any responsibility to check the facts and the record about the accomplishments and actions in government of those vying for political office.

We are all one Bahamas, they say. That’s a lie. We are more polarised politically and socially now than we care to admit and the government is fermenting that division through a myriad of actions and policies. Forward, Upward, Onward Together is our nation’s motto. But are we truly moving forward, upward and onward together today? No. We are moving back – back to naked corruption, back to secrecy and fear and back to our name being tarnished abroad.

Back to Corruption

Bahamas, you cannot have a government that is spending multiplied millions of your tax dollars and refuses to tell you what is being done with the money. When that is happening, it means your money is being stolen and/or misappropriated.

You cannot have a government table a budget with expenditure figures and projections that Wall Street immediately called out as figures that don’t add up. You cannot have a government borrow over $1 billion in one year, but won’t tell you what it’s for. They say it’s going to “pay bills”, but when you ask them which bills, they refuse to tell you. Why do you think that is?

In the words of the late Charles Maynard, we need to “stop getting emotional about the yellow and red and start to think”. If a government borrows over $1 billion, but government workers are not being paid, pensions are delayed, government bills are not being paid, government infrastructure is not being maintained or constructed – where do you think all that money is actually going?

Not one single significant piece of government infrastructure that was not already under construction or tendered before the general election has been built by the present government thus far. The critical care block at PMH was already paid for. The Nassau roadworks were already paid for. LPIA was already paid for. Monies for infrastructure projects in the Family Islands were already secured.

No new schools have been built. No new airports. No new clinics. No new government complexes. No hurricane relief funds. No new construction to revitalise Over The Hill communities. Family Island clinics don’t have basic medicine. Garbage can’t even be collected regularly. Nassau streets are filthy again. Paid job programmes were cancelled. COB’s and Education’s funding was cut by millions. So what has the over $1 billion gone toward?

Right up to the day of last year’s general election, salaries, pensions and bills were being paid on time. How is it that not long after that election, suddenly there is no longer any money to do these things that were being done for five straight years with no problems?

While in Opposition, if the PLP ever had reason to wonder where and why money was spent and they put those questions in Parliament to the Minister of Finance, they always got an answer to their question. The former Minister of Finance never refused to tell the Bahamian people what their money was being spent on – and ideally how could he – the money belonged to you, not him.

Fifteen million dollars in the 2012/2013 budget for “PLP campaign promises”, and not a single piece of documentation has been provided to show where that money went. A brand new $20 million allocation was placed in last year’s budget in the Ministry of Finance under an undefined line item with no word on where that money went.

Forty-five million was due to Baha Mar as part of our Heads of Agreement with them, and a reported $20 million of that money has not been paid with no word as to where it went, even though the full $45 million was borrowed for that payment.

The government is “borrowing” but in actuality simply taking $60 million of your social security money from NIB to construct 125 “low-cost” homes, but $60 million divided by 125 is $480,000 per house. No low-cost home costs that much to build obviously, else it would not be a low-cost home when they have to sell it to you. So just where do you think the excess money is going?

As just two examples: when Housing embarked on building homes in the former Mackey Yard, the plan was to build 53 homes at a cost of $3.9 million. That comes out to about $73,600 per house. Less than two years ago in Pride Estates, the homes were selling for between $83,000 and $135,000, which means the government spent less than that to build those houses.

Now the government is trying to make you think they are spending almost a half-million dollars each to build these “low-cost” houses. Come on! And who is the Minister for NIB where the $60 million is being “borrowed” for these houses? Shane Gibson, the same man whose alleged activities while as Housing Minister were under investigation.

Back to Secrecy

I need to inject my personal experience at this point. When I handled government information for the Prime Minister’s office, there wasn’t a piece of information the media wanted on the public’s business that they couldn’t get. In fact, at times when civil servants would not provide them the information, they simply contacted the Prime Minister’s office and in most cases by the end of the day, though often much sooner, they had what they needed.

I worked as primary and chief liaison to the media prior to and in government for seven years. Let them tell you the difference between what they had then, and what they have now. That is why I can only shake my head in disappointment at how the media today takes “no comment” from a government minister and keeps on rolling like it’s all good.

A government minister cannot have “no comment” on matters under his or her portfolio that pertain to the public’s business. It is unacceptable in a democracy. He or she must answer, or suffer a true Fourth Estate or true Opposition’s wrath for not doing so.

In almost every major headline story reported since May 8, 2012, the public through the media was stonewalled by government ministers, who either hit them with the “no comment”; “I wasn’t’ aware”; “I don’t have to tell you that”; “I don’t care what the public thinks”; “I don’t know how much money I authorised to be spent on that” and let’s not forget the number one circus response to all serious questions: “It’s all Ingraham’s fault.”

This is not the behaviour of a democratic government. It is the behaviour of despots. It shows how deep the government’s contempt is for the Bahamian people. It shows that the government considers itself royalty, not servants of the people. Every time they refuse to answer a question put to them, they are telling the public, “I am your god, do not question me.”

As such, the Bahamian people are left groping in the dark about what is really going on in their own country. The previous government wasn’t the second coming of Christ, but it did not treat the media and by extension the public that way, and few know that better than me. Whether the public chose to avail themselves of government information freely provided is another story – but it was provided, as it should be in a democracy.

Back to International Shame

There is no other recorded instance in the 40-year history of an Independent Bahamas where our government presented a candidate for Ambassador to Washington whose appointment was not accepted, and for cause. But it has happened this time. This administration, which at the Cabinet level is an almost carbon copy of its 2002 - 2007 term, has once again embarked on a path of bringing shame to our name overseas.

Do these people swear an oath to ruin The Bahamas’ name upon assuming office? In their last term, every time our name was majorly reported abroad, it was in the context of shame and scandal.

The “no comment” mantra was once again thrown at the press on this issue. Due-diligence is critical when selecting diplomats to represent The Bahamas to the world. Our diplomats are our face to the United States, the United Nations, regional organisations and in other countries where we hold embassies and consulates.

Since the government knows their failed Ambassadorial candidate will not serve in that post, they ought to stop wasting our tax money in Washington, go ahead and give him whatever new patronage job here at home if they desire, and stop bothering with sullying our reputation and the reputation of our embassy in Washington behind trying to keep political appointees happy.

The nation is bigger than any one man or woman and their agendas. What the government is playing with is not a toy, and when these guys are gone from office, it will be you and I who are left to pay for the decisions they make.

Today we are living under a government that is sparking chaos, confusion, embarrassment among our peers, and that is once again leaving the door wide open for naked corruption to prance nakedly in our faces, daring us to try to do something about it.

For these reasons and more, I am currently a Bahamian living the life of pride interrupted.

BLOG: http://www.thereal242.com

EMAIL: blogs@thereal242.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/AccordingToMeSDT

Comments

Honestman 5 years, 5 months ago

First class assessment of where the Bahamas is today. Four more years of governmental mismanagement to go and these years are going to prove ever so costly to this country. Hardly a week goes by without some new scandalous exposure. What I cannot get my head round is why so many intelligent Bahamians voted for the PLP. We're you guys smoking something on Election Day? We are on an early path to a society like Zimbabwe where corruption is endemic and freedom of speech and accountability are but distant memories.

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herecomestheboom 5 years, 5 months ago

I didn't waste my time reading this article. I will not waste my time on the PLP. I will say that hubert ingraham is a lying bastard and it would take all day to list his mistakes. To only be proud of your country when your party is in power is not pride in country at all, its pride in your party.

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superUser 5 years, 5 months ago

Exactly, the "article" above was simply the view of a clueless FNM minion. But even the brainwashed minions have the right to their opinions, right or wrong. 5 years of the wutless FNM and this country was set back decades, not just years. Praise the lord those clowns were ousted from power. Unfortunately now we have to deal with the PLP jokers, sigh.

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TalRussell 5 years, 5 months ago

Anyone reading Comrade Sister "Sha-run's" column soon discovers who is the red shirts master and which is the red shirts servant.

Her column's leave of absence which hasn't appeared since more than a month ago was but wishful thinking on many of a readers part, that "Sha'run", like Hub Caps, had seen her column's fate to be as short-lived, by the second floor authority of The Tribune's Madame Publisher.

I wish i could say welcome back to Shirley and Deveaux Streets, red shirts servant. Sorry, but a white liar you cannot make me be.

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dahasamo 5 years, 5 months ago

I missed Miss Turner's insight and wonder why it is that politics causes persons who write in reasonably clear language can totally miss the point of her column -- is it asking too much for persons who are in charge of making monumental decisions about the country's future to have to respond to legitimate questions and to explain how conclusions are reached.

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TalRussell 5 years, 5 months ago

Since when did Political Mudslinging rise to the level of insight? Whatever happened to objectivity from all who comment politically?

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vlmarshall 5 years, 5 months ago

It doesn't matter who writes it or what is written, as long as its not praising the current government TalRussell will have a problem with it. If his/her objections could contain something other than "red-shirt" this or "red-shirt" that, it might actually seem to be legitimate. I am really tired of the pro-political (and most often meaningless) rants. If your going to post something give me something with substance to read please!

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superUser 5 years, 5 months ago

The article is 100% political - the writer is a known FNM cronie who writes these biased far fetched stories for the Tribune, and her own "blog". If you were truly tired of the "pro-political (and most often meaningless) rants", then you would not even read the Tribune articles to begin with.

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 5 months ago

@superuser ,you have claimed to have resided in ten countries and to not using a cell phone ..either one of these statements being factual is highly unlikely and the chance of both of them being factual is about the same chance as me tucking myself into bed on the moon tonight ..

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superUser 5 years, 5 months ago

You claim to be a "Boat Captain" who "interacts" with tourists - Perhaps you actually mean you get them drunk and sell them drugs - that sounds more likely to be "factual", considering your lower intelligence.

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 5 months ago

Now on another topic you claim to have built your own computer ,my my i heard bar room boasting before and your up there ,,Not a King of the bar room boast ,but maybe a prince ..Lets see in two days you have claimed to have resided in ten countries , not to ever use a cell phone ,,and to building your own computer . Surely there is no way in ten weeks of sundays all three of these can be true :However it is mildly amusing to see you throw common sense and your dignity to the wind....

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superUser 5 years, 5 months ago

The average 10 year old can build a computer, I don't see why it is that impossible for you, an adult - especially since you have the Internet at your fingertips with your brain retarding "cell phone". It is "amusing" that you find something which is so simple, to be such a tremendous feat of imagination. Another prime example of why traitors such as yourself simply hire foreign companies - you do not believe Bahamians are capable of even the most simple things, unless it involves getting Tourist drunk or wiping their backsides.

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vlmarshall 5 years, 5 months ago

@superuser...I am well aware as to who she is and what she did for the previous government. She clearly states that at every opportunity that she is given. Regardless of what her political alliance is, she has not stated any thing that is untrue. She does compare both administrations based on her own experience which you have to admit are completely different styles. I have read her blog, and seen her social media postings and though they strongly hint of political discord she is doing a job very similar to and official opposition! Perhaps you should legitimately defend the party of your choice using truths and relevant comparisons based on your personal experience. Until such time like i stated about TalRussell, give me a reply worth reading, please. We have very intelligent Bahamians who can see through the nonsense that is regurgitated daily by persons such as your self and sometime the contributing writer herself. Lets get away from being political and start being Bahamian!

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superUser 5 years, 5 months ago

In every article she writes she states untruths - you are just not willing to see them for that? And where was she for the 5 years the FNM were in power? The last administration was pathetic, this current one - PLP - has been in just for 1 out of 5 years, so no real way to judge this term yet, but they come across as pathetic as well. I have no "party" to defend, I would not vote for either of the 2 clowns - we need new parties or at least new leaders for those parties. Running a country is not about opposition, its about getting things done. Every 5 years all that happens is the tables are turned, and they cuss each other out on TV for another 5 years, and some blind followers mention opposition - opposition to everything will get this country nowhere.

And you call this nonsense - giving YOUR jobs away to FOREIGN COMPANIES with no ties to this country, work that YOU and other Bahamians train for years for, pay taxes for years for, and wait around getting scraps while the foreign companies come in and get paid 100 times what you ever made or WILL ever make in your entire career.

The FNM and PLP destroy local industries, the FNM in particular during their recent 5 years of total and undeniable economical gang banging RIPPED the belly of local industries and fed it to the dogs while they brought in every foreigner they could find that would work for the most absurd sums of money. Skilled and experienced Bahamians of ALL ages were and ARE leaving this country (or not coming back) and that is a shame, because your 2 beloved political parties could not find it in their heart to actually believe in Bahamians - not just talk about it - ACTUALLY believe Bahamians can do the job as well as a foreigner and be worth the SAME, not less. The FNM (and now the PLP) essentially called these smart trained experienced Bahamians of ALL ages - stupid dumb animals - by outsourcing jobs to foreign companies, and it continues today.

If you believe that is okay, then there is no more to say. Vote for either of the 2 clowns - the "wutless" FNM or the "wutless" PLP. You want ME to vote for one of them (again)? When they actually do something worth voting for, then I may consider it. Until then, even a blind "potcake" could run this country better than them. Ask yourself a question, why is it that the FNM and PLP cannot do simple research instead of hiring foreign consultants to answer EVERYTHING for them - are we that dumb that we need to pay other people to tell us what to do? I don't think "we" are, but it sure seems the politicians are.

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 5 months ago

talk about untruths from the person that claims he/she resided in 10 countries ,has never used a cell phone ,and built his own computer ,,pot say hello to the kettle ,,,,,,,,,,,,,@@super you crack me up .,,its neat to watch someone throw common sense and their dignity to the wind ,,

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vlmarshall 5 years, 5 months ago

You have a few points that I can agree with, however, understand that opposition isn't to oppose what is being done, it should be to ensure that what is being done is being done the correct way and in the best interest of the country. Do I feel as though we have competent Bahamians that the Governments should consult yes I do? To me it is ironic that we seek foreign consultation but somehow, when the foreign entities need a shell company they can find "qualified" Bahamians to front them. Bahamians that would have to have specialized experience in lets say....oil exploration.

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 5 months ago

@superuser you make blanket statements that are very emotive , but have little facts to support them ..there is no large amount of skilled Bahamians leaving in droves ,if so where are the figures to support this and how are they getting rights to work and reside elsewhere ...xenophobia is very good at pumping up the locals but the facts don,t support your statements ,of the 9000, odd employees at Atlantis only 74 are foriegn and on work permits ..these are capatalist companies where profit is the bottom line ,why would they add hundreds of thousands of dollars in work permit fees if they could find people here to do it for less expense ,,although xenopohopic rants are quite popular with the undereducated your theories go totally againts a capatalist economy ,,,we have sun sand and relaxed tax structure to sell to bring in FDI ,,thats it ,,try a stroll down reality lane ,,we produce nothing ,and our soil is not condusive to large scale farming ,we also can not compete as a MANUFACTURING hub b/c of high" ineffiencent "labor cost and high energy cost ,,,in reality we got sun ,sand and sea and favorable tax rates for foreign firms ,,nothing more ,nothing less THATS REALITY ,,NOT XENOPHOPIC CONJECTURE

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superUser 5 years, 5 months ago

Another clueless post from our neighborhood "Boat Captain". Nowhere in the definition of "xenophobia" does it mention "Foreign Companies", much less those being brought in to take work from local companies in a small closed country such as the Bahamas, with a shrinking economy and nowhere for the average Bahamian to go due to borders preventing them from entering other countries to work (legally), and not being able to Invest outside of their country (by law) - by the way its also illegal for a Bahamian to have another citizenship, in case you are also ignorant to that fact - its your beloved man god politicians that made or make these laws, blame them and voters such as yourself.

You love to "foam from the mouth" with this word Xenophobia like it actually pertains to this conversation, yet it is just a lame defense which holds no merit. We are not simply talking about foreigners working at a Tourist trap, or foreigners on a whole - we are talking about foreigner COMPANIES coming in here, brought in by fools such as yourself, to do work which there are LOCALS here to do - taking that money right back out of the country again. And you and other Traitors are doing this because you are simply too dumb (or lazy) to do any research and find out that there ARE skilled and experienced locals here to do the work - or which is more likely, you simply believe a foreigner can do a better job than a Bahamian.

Who's to say we can't have a Bahamian Rocket Scientist? Or wait, a Bahamian Computer Builder?? You? The FNM or PLP? Just because YOU and the other clowns never heard of one, does not mean they do not exist. We Bahamians are not just put on earth to be slaves to tourists, or run around a field in circles, or god forbid to become a crooked lawyer .... Bahamians are built as much the same as any other person from any other country, we can and we are EVERYTHING and ANYTHING.

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superUser 5 years, 5 months ago

But this is nothing new, its being going on for decades, but its gotten worse and had more exposure lately due to recent contracts the FNM in particular gave out like they were on a mission, and the PLP have continued the retardation. What’s worse is they do this for industries reserved 100% for Bahamians, by the same laws they make - and yet they (and you) turn around and want others to follow laws and you complain about crime - you are part of the problem, you are the criminal too, in addition to being a Traitor.

As usual, as long as it does not affect you and your drunken tourists, you will brush it to the side and accept that only a Foreign company can do such work - what happens when they start bringing in "Boat Captains" to get your tourists drunk and wipe their backsides, will you still support your beloved FNM, and PLP?

As for skilled Bahamians leaving, you are simply out of touch with the huge sector of smart skilled Bahamians living here or training abroad. Yes they are leaving, YES they ARE not coming back ... there is nothing for most of them to come back to, because you Traitors give the work to FOREIGN COMPANIES. Keep living in your bubble though, one day it will burst and you will see the truth, it is inevitable.

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 5 months ago

AGAIN WITH REFERENCES TO PEOPLES BACKSIDES AND BODY FUNCTIONS , WHY SUCH AN OBSESSION WITH THIS PART OF SOMEONES PRIVATE HYGIENE..THIS IS A CAPATALIST COUNTRY W/ SUN ,SAND AND FAVORABLE TAX RATES TO SELL TO FOREIGNERS FOR FDI . ,W/ A POORLY EDUCATED ,NOT ALL , WORK FORCE ,,THIS IS REALITY IF YOU CHOOSE TO LIVE IN AN ALTERNATE REALITY THAT IS FINE ..YOUR CREDIBLITY W/ ME SUNK WHEN YOU TRY TO MAKE A POINT AND CLAIM TO HAVE RESIDED IN TEN COUNTRIES ,NEVER USING A CELL PHONE ,AND BUILDING YOUR OWN COMPUTER ..CALLING ME NAMES WILL NOT ERASE YOUR STATEMENTS OR MAKE ME THINK THEY ARE FACTUAL ....MY APOLOGIES FOR THE CAPS ,I CAN,T FIND MY GLASSES AND I HAVE VISION ISSUES ,,

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superUser 5 years, 5 months ago

You have an unhealthy obsession with "cell phones" - 1) I did not say I "NEVER" used a Cell phone, I said I "DO NOT" use a Cell phone, and for good reasons. 2) As mentioned there are MANY BAHAMIANS that can build computers, so do not go crying because you only know the uneducated and unskilled Bahamians. 3) As for 10 countries, well its no more far fetched than your 3 countries and illegal (in the Bahamas) citizenship's for at least one of them. 4) I would say you have more than just "Vision Issues", but that itself explains alot. Good day.

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 5 months ago

ALSO@@ superduper ,although there are some highly qualified Bahamaians ,we are mostly producing low skilled labours in a service economy ,also becuase we have been bleesed w/ a good economy b/c Cuba is closed ,,our low skilled work force thinks hard labour is beneath them ..we also produce more low skilled labour than any normal GDP growth can keep up ,,thus the bloated civil service ,,,,,we have been borrowing money since independance trying to aborb our birth rate on the goverment payroll ,,big projects like the roads ,airport only get financed w/ international companies ,,take a walk down reality road ,not some utopian stroll into socialism ,,capatilism is rough ride w/ the spoils to the toughest hardest working ............

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 5 months ago

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