By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
“WHERE has the Prime Minister been all this time?” was the question the Free National Movement asked after the nation’s chief scrapped a cabinet meeting initially focused on BTC to address escalating crime.
Shock, surprise and amazement were some of the words FNM Chairman Darren Cash used to describe the reactions to Prime Minister Perry Christie, days after the brutal murders at Freedom Park, Fox Hill, “shifting his cabinet’s agenda from BTC/C&W to discuss the issue of crime”.
“The Free National Movement is compelled to ask the question, ‘Where has the Prime Minister been all this time?’” Mr Cash asked in an interview with The Tribune yesterday.
“In the aftermath of the Fox Hill massacre, the decision by Prime Minister Christie to huddle with his cabinet is not unreasonable; it makes sense and is to be expected. However, what has evoked reactions of shock and bewilderment is the clear indication that it had to take yet another tragic incident, such as the brutal shooting and murders in Fox Hill for the Prime Minister to be shocked into action.”
“We have a News flash for the Prime Minister; the Bahamian people have been here all along, and one would have thought that the Cabinet would have had a reality check like everyone else a long time ago. The Bahamian people would have expected the Cabinet to have huddled around the Deputy Prime Minister, then acting as PM after he and the state were held hostage, robbed and terrorized by gun welding thugs.”
On December 30, 2013, three days after four persons were shot and killed one week ago at Freedom Park while awaiting Junkanoo results, Mr Christie held a cabinet meeting to discuss its crime fighting strategies before making them public to assure Bahamians that the government will not compromise itself in an effort to relentlessly fight the scourge of crime.
Among the initiatives revealed were: the formation of a police division specifically aimed at organised gangs, re-introduction of the 12-hour shift, legislative intervention to impose additional restrictions on a judge’s ability to grant bail in offences involving crimes of violence and the use of firearms and to complete refurbishment of additional criminal courts so that as many as 10 criminal courts will be able to hear criminal cases simultaneously.
The cabinet meeting was initially scheduled to formalise a new deal with Cable and Wireless, the current majority owner of BTC. The Prime Minister said, however, that “nothing is more fundamental” than keeping Bahamians safe.
In response to this, Mr Cash noted that while most unfortunate and tragic, “last week’s drive by shooting in Fox Hill is not the first or the second or the third horrific drive by shooting in New Providence during 2013.”
“The apparent lack of reaction by the Prime Minister to previous deadly drive by gangland shootings and the daylight armed home invasion and robbery of his DPM, acting as PM, suggested an unsettling level of complacency on the part of the Prime Minister and gave Bahamians the sense that he believed that he and his Ministers of National Security had matters well under control.
“The Bahamian people did not share the Prime Minister’s apparent confidence. We still do not. As the Leader of the Opposition, Hubert Minnis, said immediately after the PM’s recent ‘press conference,’ he once again said little to inspire confidence that his government would get this critical issue well in hand,” Mr Cash concluded.