By STANLEY CARTWRIGHT
2015 was the worst year on record for violent crime in The Bahamas.
Murders, armed robberies, rape, the list goes on and on with no end. To say The Bahamas is at a tipping point would be an understatement.
We need to curb this vicious beast of violent crime before it destroys us all.
Today, Bahamians are living in fear – terrified of becoming victims of crime. The Government appears impotent to stop it, and the police can only offer more saturation patrols. Promises of help and hope have been replaced with gifts of riot gear and tear gas. It appears that leaders are more focused on how to suppress our anger than getting on with their job of doing something about this issue.
How have we allowed the country to fall to such a low?
There was a time in this country when a murder was a rarity which made national news. Now, they are numbered so that the public can keep an account, as we break record, after record, after record.
Our friends and allies to the north issue crime warnings, and instead of taking note, we criticize them. It appears that our Government is either too ashamed to admit that we need help, or we are too embarrassed to ask for it.
So who will come to our aide in times like these?
In the past, you could count on the Loyal Opposition to hold the Government’s feet to the fire and force them to take action. But alas, those days are long gone.
In today’s paper we have the current leader of the Opposition Dr Hubert Minnis quoted as stating that he sees “nothing substantive” in the police’s 2016 crime plan.
Dr Minnis added that we cannot continue to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.
On this point, we agree. We agree that things should change, but the Opposition should be the one to take the lead. The Government has proven that they are out of ideas, and so it is up to Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to fill the void. Instead, we are left with more talk and empty rhetoric.
Where is the FNM’s crime plan?
On radio a few weeks ago, while Dr Minnis was engaged in supplying us with his latest gaffe, he mentioned that the FNM had a plan to fight crime.
But where is it? Has anyone seen it? Is it a 5-year plan? A 100-day plan? I surely hope it’s better than his cockamamie idea for a tax-free zone in the inner-cities. It better be. While his bumbling tax idea would only lead to the gentrification of the inner-city, a disastrous crime plan could result in untold human loss. We truly hope that is not the case.
But this brings us back to the larger issue, of what Bahamians are prepared to accept in 2016 – let alone 2017.
We are a more enlightened body, who want ideas and solutions. Rhetoric and slogans should have no place in this society any longer.
I don’t want to ever hear another politician tell me that “we will give the police the tools they need to get the job done”. What does that actually mean? Are police running around with crayons instead of guns now? Are they placing criminals in the backseats of their red wagons and wheeling them downtown?
Where are the researched based, scientifically informed plans that we should expect? Or am I just expecting a little too much from our Government and/or Opposition?
How is it that Gregory Moss, a lone MP from Grand Bahama can put forward legislation (on his own!) and not once has Minnis tabled a piece of critical legislation that would move this country forward?! An alternative tax plan, crime plan, National Health Insurance scheme – nothing.
How is this acceptable in this day and age?
We deserve better.
If our Government is not up to the job, our Opposition is mandated to step in and make the necessary changes or corrections to keep Bahamians safe. It is their sacred duty and one that we must all remind them that they are being paid to do!
Now, I know the critics will say, “you can’t expect an Opposition to put forward its plans before an election is called”. Why? Yes, think about it, why?
Would they have to worry that the Government would steal their ideas? Let them! Then take credit for them implementing your plans. At least the public would be safe.
If they put forward your plans for a better tax structure, and the Government enacts it, again, let them! When it works, take the credit for it. At least people would be able to pay their bills, and won’t be losing their homes left and right.
If you put forward a progressive health insurance scheme that would actually work and save lives, why delay it?
But alas, who actually benefits from all this inaction? Certainly not the people of the Bahamas! Not the Government either mind you. So it must be the Opposition and its leader.
If they are not forced to explain why they are different and how they will govern more effectively they can simply sit back, point the finger and riddle off a bunch of nonsense and hope to cruise into office.
They must really think we live in LaLa Land. Bahamians are fed up with the status quo of both parties, and tired of the litany of excuses. The rhetoric from our collective leaders is nauseating and obtuse.
This upcoming election cycle will not be an easy ride for either party – let alone one that disrespects its voters by offering no plan of action. For Perry Christie to point the finger and say that at least he isn’t Minnis won’t be enough and vice versa.
We must get away from this idea of doing nothing, and only criticizing for criticizing sake. If you can’t offer any solutions, then get out of the way.
The Bahamas can’t afford to wait. We’ve waited too long and look where it has got us? An incompetent Government, and an impotent Opposition.
Let us hope that swift changes are coming – for all our sakes.