EDITOR, The Tribune.
The Prime Minister is upping his game and dramatically speeding up his decision-making on the pressing affairs of state. Exhibit A in this regard is the “lightning speed” with which he has named an Ambassador to China.
A mere 1,275 days since taking office in 2012 and about 550 days before his term ends, the Prime Minister has cleared his scheduled long enough to appoint an Ambassador to the second largest economy in the world, the country that has made the largest single foreign investment in the Bahamas. Ever.
China is our friend. No doubt the Chinese President is personally aware of the goings-on with their flagship hotel project here.
What’s more, the Chinese are perfectionists at the game of diplomacy. They’ve been at it since the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. Emperors and rulers have welcomed foreign Ambassadors to Beijing for a long time. Foreign countries trip over themselves making sure that not too many suns rise over a vacant Ambassador’s chair at their Embassies within any of the five Ring Roads that guard Beijing’s ancient city.
But alas, Mr Christie had many other priorities that prevented him from honouring our friend China by sooner appointing a personal emissary to take greetings to the Chinese President. After all, he had deliberated long and hard on the design of his Emperor’s robes for Junkanoo.
That he has now named the esteemed Actuary Andy Paul Gomez as his Ambassador is reason to sing the Hallelujah chorus, followed quickly by a wail of “How long, O Lord”.
Ambassador Gomez is a man of integrity who will represent us vigorously and ably in China. But for how long? Before he gets his boots under the desk, it will be election time in Nassau and, quite possibly, a new Prime Minister with her or his own foreign policy to prosecute.
As he is not a so-called “career” ambassador, but rather a “political” one, Ambassador Gomez will be expected immediately to tender his resignation upon the election of a new government. A new Prime Minister may – or may not – ask him to stay on.
There is much for the new Ambassador to wade into very quickly, and his skills as an accountant will be called on to help cypher through the Himalayan heap of financial paperwork that has become Baha Mar. Reducing cold hard numbers to warm and fuzzy diplomatic speak is something he can handle with aplomb.
If only we can say that about Christie’s other diplomatic selections. We have what our street savvy youth refer to as a “trailer load” of Ambassadors with Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary powers, Ambassadors at large with limited powers, Ambassadors resident and non-resident, High Commissioners, Consuls General, mere Consuls, Honorary Consuls, Foreign Service Officers and officers who serve foreign service officers.
Are we getting a solid return for our investment? Doubtful. Diplomacy ain’t cheap but no doubt the money it takes to keep Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell comfortably reclined in a first class seat jetting around the world would probably run a lesser Ministry like Financial Services for a full budget year.
While technically the Prime Minister must ratify the appointment of Ambassadors and High Commissioners, it is obvious that Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell is the Chess Master orchestrating the moves with the open intent to checkmate King Perry at every turn.
As we learned from WikiLeaks, the Prime Minister told the Americans that he is content to be an absent landlord and give Fred a blank check to do as he pleases in Foreign Affairs. Fred no doubt thinks Foreign Affairs is so esoteric that the vainglorious posers around the cabinet table would never understand it anyway.
Our Chinese friends have a proverb which states that friendship is not just an experience but a responsibility. A word to the Prime Minister and to Mr Mitchell: be more responsible and you’ll have a better experience with our friends.
December 7, 2015.