ON a radio programme over the weekend, FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis described himself as the “people’s candidate”. He dismissed FNM House Leader Loretta-Butler Turner as the “Queen’s candidate”.
However, Dr Minnis failed to say who was the country’s candidate, which would include all of its people of whatever hue or financial background and long time residents who call this country home. Whenever Dr Minnis describes himself as the “people’s candidate” there is always an exclusionary tone in his voice, reminiscent of the Pindling era of divide the people and rule.
Dr Minnis, who has vowed to expel his dissident MPs if they don’t back off and restore him as FNM Leader in the House, refuses to accept the leadership of Mrs Butler Turner, although the governor general Dame Marguerite Pindling, on behalf of the Queen, has invested her with the instruments of appointment for the position. Dr Minnis wants to be the next prime minister, and is convinced that he has the political skills to defeat the Christie government at the polls in 2017. Few Bahamians have the same confidence in him after more than four years of failing to unite his party under his leadership.
Branville McCartney, DNA leader, has agreed to work with the FNM under Mrs Butler-Turner — he as DNA leader in the Senate; she as official FNM Opposition Leader in the House. Dr Minnis had earlier entered into talks with Mr McCartney for his cooperation rather than opposition in going into the next election.
In the 2012 election, although the FNM won the popular vote, the PLP won the election with the majority of seats. The DNA cost the FNM its victory, because, although it got no seats in the Assembly, DNA votes turned the tied, making it possible for the PLP to pick up the DNA’s lost seats.
The FNM wanted some accord with the third party to prevent history repeating itself in 2017. Dr Minnis entered into negotiations with Mr McCartney. However, Dr Minnis was unwilling to make any concessions for DNA cooperation. Mr McCartney refused to disappear from the three-party race. Mrs Butler Turner, on becoming Opposition leader in the House, then made overtures, offered concessions of sharing, and won. The two parties plan to enter the 2017 election as a separate, but equal team.
Dr Minnis despite this, has vowed to go ahead with his plan to expel his dissident seven. Mr McCartney then gave the good doctor’s memory a gentle nudge. He reminded him that if he did that, the expelled dissidents would still be the majority Opposition in the House, while the FNM would be reduced to a mere third party with the fewest members in the House.
Meanwhile, not to be outdone Prime Minister Perry Christie quickly let it be known that he too was in the election race dangling a golden carrot.
On Monday, the Prime Minister officially announced the sale of Baha Mar to CTF BM Holdings, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong conglomerate, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd. He estimated its opening to be at the beginning of April 2017 – a month before the election – and its completion by the Fall of the same year.
“In the forthcoming months, imminent economic opportunities will be realised in more and more homes throughout The Bahamas,” he promised. “Baha Mar will create an estimated 5,500 to 7,000 jobs for Bahamians,” he announced.
Baha Mar so far has been his political undoing. However, he is now counting on its job creation as his winning card for the election.
But, oh not so fast, said Gowon Bowe, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation chairman. According to Mr Bowe despite Mr Christie’s announcement Chow Tai Fook Enterprises was still working to finalise the sale with China’s EXIM Bank. Also, he said, the Supreme Court would have to approve the sale before any of the documents can be unsealed. These documents were sealed at the request of the Export-Import Bank of China.
The truth behind why Baha Mar failed — an accusing finger pointing to the China State Construction company — has always been a carefully guarded secret. First when EXIM Bank and China State Construction were taken to Delaware’s Bankruptcy court. The EXIM bank fought hard to convince the Delaware judge that the Bahamas should be the trial venue. The Baha Mar case was thrown out when it was made clear that the Delaware judgment would not be recognised in our courts. The deal was sealed when our government announced that it would be a breach of our “sovereignty” for a Delaware judgment to be accepted by our courts. So judicial lips were sealed in the name of “sovereignty”. If only “sovereignty” could have defended its own chastity it might have had an interesting rebuttal.
The case was then transferred to the jurisdiction of the Bahamas. And again all documents were sealed. Again at the request of the EXIM Bank.
Mr Christie said that when negotiations have been completed the agreement will be tabled in the House. It is hoped that by that time Her Majesty’s official Opposition will be ready and able to discover the truth.
In January last year, Mr Christie announced plans to request funding from China to support the national budget, refinance and restructure the country’s debts.
When the Baha Mar agreement is laid on the table of the House, we hope that the Opposition will be in a position to discover just how deeply this country is in the pockets of Beijing and whether it is now Beijing who calls the shots or whether our sovereignty is still in Bahamian hands.
It is now time for the Opposition to get its ridiculous act together and prepare themselves to do the business of the country — no one section of the country, but all of the country.
The time for the messianic dream is over - the future of too many Bahamians is at stake.