“THERE’S no doubt that people on the international stage are looking at what’s happening, and looking at how the government is responding to it, and how the developer is responding,” Deputy Prime Minister Brave Davis told The Tribune yesterday in commenting on the Baha Mar dispute.
In his opinion “any right thinking observer – international or nationally – informed of all the facts, would not be concerned about the manner in which the government is handling this matter.”
We don’t know who Mr Davis is referring to or from where he is getting his information, but government’s handling — rather bungling of a very serious situation — has everyone in shock, both here and abroad. Mr Davis would probably have heart failure if he could hear half of the comments reaching our desk.
And now that Sir Baltron Bethel, the Prime Minister’s shadowy adviser who seems to be everywhere that a deal is to be cut, has clumsily let the cat out of the bag by revealing what most of us had guessed all along. All of this confusion, changing of strategies, saying one thing today and another thing tomorrow has boiled down to: Sarkis Izmirlian has to go! “Out damned spot! Out, I say!” - to steal the lines of Lady Macbeth.
Sir Baltron let the cat out of the bag when he sent a memo to Michael Zou, an attorney with a US law firm, on how the Izmirlian ouster would be accomplished. However, he emphasised, it was to be done without giving the impression that the Bahamas government was trying to get Mr Izmirlian removed from his development. Apparently, this little conspiracy was copied by mistake to all of the parties to the Baha Mar dispute. No wonder Baha Mar is demanding its Chinese partners surrender “all communication” between themselves and the Government since the Chapter 11 protection case was filed on June 29.
There’s an old saying in the Bahamas: “God don’t like ugly!” He certainly must he shedding tears of shame over this one.
Despite our Prime Minister’s assurances that government was for Bahamians, we knew who they were buttering up to when we read a report in April that our Deputy Prime Minister was in Panama praising the fine work of China Construction America (CCA) on the opening of its Latin American Regional Headquarters. Mr Davis seemed to forget that here in Nassau, Baha Mar had missed its March opening — an opening that China Construction had personally assured the Prime Minister would take place. An opening that was announced to the world. We heard no squeak from government’s corner when the Bahamas was made to look foolish by not only missing the March date, but also a promised date three months earlier. It was the Chinese company that had stopped work, and missed all promised dates. While the Bahamas was being embarrassed by the construction company not meeting its deadlines, our Deputy Prime Minister was in Panama cutting ribbons and saying how grateful the Bahamas was “for the contribution of CCA in our efforts to improve our economy through foreign direct investment, the creation of jobs, and the provision of training opportunities”. As the financier, investor and builder of the Baha Mar project, said Mr Davis, CCA has helped create thousands of jobs for the Bahamian people and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for local businesses. “Finances, dedication, network capability, and other resources are major assets of CCA; and these assets accomplish the seemingly impossible,” said Mr Davis.
What utter nonsense! What a tissue of untruths! And Mr Davis is confident that no “right thinking observer – international or nationally – informed of all the facts, would not be concerned about the manner in which the government is handling this matter.” Someone around here is delusional and we know it is not us.
According to Labour Minister Shane Gibson – in defending Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell who wants Mr Izmirlian to be given the “order of the boot”– from henceforth all developers seeking to do business in this country should undergo “psychological evaluations.” If this is what they have up their sleeve, we think the country would be better served if Messrs Gibson and Mitchell, with their “Big Bad Brad” in tow, should head the list.
“If I give you permanent residence - I give it to you, you’re a good corporate citizen, and under that (premise) I give it to you,” Mr Gibson told the House yesterday. “Then I, in my determination, decide that you are now acting contrary to the best interest of the country, why can’t I say that I will take it back? Why can’t I say that? What’s the big deal with that?”
Would Mr Gibson ever say that about his very good friend at Nygard Cay– you know, the type of investor who is most useful, especially at election time?
We are certain that above board foreign investors are most impressed.
As for the payment of Baha Mar workers, Mr Davis confirmed that government will continue to pay Bahamian employees during the present dispute, but not the foreign employees. He also let it be known that it is Mr Izmirlian’s money — which government owes him for road work— that will be used to make these payments. Remember this is Mr Izmilian’s money set aside for all Baha Mar employees, but in Mr Davis’ troubled wisdom it is only to be used for some of the employees — foreigners need not apply. They will not be paid even for the work that they have done, before the money supply was cut off by the machinations of the Bahamas government.
Pastor Cedric Moss, in a letter published in The Tribune on Tuesday, was also puzzled by the discrimination. As this was Baha Mar’s money how could government justify discriminating against Baha Mar’s employees, he wanted to know. “Is it because the Bahamian employees can vote, but the non-Bahamian can’t?”
You see, Mr Davis, Bahamians are not as dumb as your government thinks they are. They see that the Emperor is stark naked. And, if he is not ashamed, they are embarrassed for him.
Across the harbour at Ocean Club there is another group of worried employees with children in school, bills to pay, and mortgages to meet, who are uncertain of their employment. In a petition for help they say they are
“working day-to-day in fear” after it was announced that the club would close for 10 weeks for necessary renovations.
They are not sure when it will close, nor are they certain that they will be invited to return to their jobs when it reopens. They don’t know what will be in their paypackets. They fear for their future..
And then they asked the pregnant question: Would government help with their salaries — as it has done with the Baha Mar staff — until they can either find work, or are re-employed by Ocean Club?
We could not answer their question. We suggest that it is now Mr Davis’ turn to step up to the plate.
As we predicted in an earlier article, unless these politicians untangle themselves from politics and their petty insecurities, think as businessmen and do what is best for all residents in this country —both Bahamian and foreign, who are now a part of us — the Baha Mar scandal is going to come crashing down on all of our heads.
On our web site – tribune242— a reader commenting on yesterday’s editorial had this to say: “It would be nice to know how deep Mitchell’s Bahamian pedigree does go. I am told that his father was a gentleman and his sister is quite lovely, so I guess he gets his racial arrogance from his Ma.”
In fairness to a very fine lady, we must correct this assumption. Mrs Mitchell was a senior public servant in the Ministry of Welfare. She was the secretary of the late Eugene Dupuch, QC, Minister of Welfare, who constantly sang her praises. According to him there was nothing like the capable, efficient, charming Mrs Mitchell. Former prime minister Hubert Ingraham, who was later Minister of Welfare, also sings her praises.
So whatever our reader thinks of Mr Mitchell, don’t blame it on his mother. She was a fair-minded, decent lady.
We hold no brief for Mr Mitchell.