By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Democratic National Alliance’s (DNA) leader yesterday accused the Minister of Tourism of “deflecting the main issue” in the row over Carnival’s crime warning e-mails, and said of the demand for an apology: “Hell no.”
Branville McCartney said Obie Wilchcombe’s House of Assembly address, in which he announced he had requested a police investigation into how the DNA leader obtained private e-mails addressed to him, was designed to distract the Bahamian people’s attention.
Emphasising that Mr Wilchcombe’s computer had not been hacked, Mr McCartney told Tribune Business he had “no fear” about any probe by the Royal Bahamas Police Force into the Minister’s complaint or the potential findings.
He added that “if anyone should apologise” it was Mr Wilchcombe and the Government for three years’ “bad governance” that had seen it fail to deliver on numerous 2012 general election promises.
Mr McCartney said the Minister’s statement on the police investigation “basically deflected from the main issue”, which was Carnival’s concern over Nassau’s high crime levels - which impact Bahamians as much as its passengers.
The DNA chief said the key question was whether Mr Wilchcombe and Joy Jibrilu, the Ministry of Tourism’s director-general, received the e-mails from Carnival’s vice-president of commercial port operations, warning that the world’s largest cruise line was considering whether to re-start warnings to its passengers about crime in Nassau.
If they did, Mr McCartney said there had been “a dereliction of duty” in protecting Nassau’s multi-million dollar cruise tourism business, as Carnival had not received a reply to its e-mails for almost four weeks before the DNA leader raised the issue on Tuesday.
Tribune Business revealed the controversy could have stemmed from a communications mix-up, as the address Carnival was using for Mr Wilchcombe spelt his name wrong. It is unclear whether the address for Ms Jibrilu was accurate, as she has not returned Tribune Business calls seeking comment.
Mr McCartney, though, said it was “strange” that Mr Wilchcombe would publicly call for a police investigation, if he was correct in asserting he never received the Carnival e-mails.
The DNA leader said that if this was so, no evidence would be contained on Mr Wilchcombe’s computer or other device used to access e-mails. And “if he received it, he failed to respond”.
Confirming that he will not apologise, as Mr Wilchcombe is demanding: “If there’s an apology to be done, it should be the PLP government for failing the Bahamian people - failing to get crime under control, and the way the country is today.
“Bringing VAT on the backs of the Bahamian people, not improving the education system, not bringing mortgage relief, not lowering electricity bills. If anyone should apologise it’s them for bad governance over the last three years.”
Mr McCartney added of Mr Wilchcombe: “Obviously he’s missed the point and deflected the real issue, but that’s typical PLP style - to shift around the main issue....
“It doesn’t put any fear in me to have something investigated.”
Mr Wilchcombe, in his Wednesday address to the House of Assembly, suggested Mr McCartney may have committed a criminal act.
“How did Mr. McCartney get his hands on private email communications allegedly sent to me?,” the Minister said in a later statement.
“I have no record of the e-mails in question; the e-mails never reached my computer It now appears that the e-mail communications from Carnival Cruise Lines were never sent to my address for whatever reason.
““How can he claim to be concerned about crime yet knowingly use and disseminate allegedly confidential documents obtained under questionable circumstances?”
Mr Wilchcombe accused Mr McCartney of “maligning me as Minister and, by extension, the Government of the Bahamas by spewing untruths into the public domain”.