By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
ST Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman yesterday called Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell a “hypocrite of the highest order” for accusing Bahamians of launching “jingoistic” attacks against Baha Mar’s Chinese investors.
Mr Chipman, in a statement, said Mr Mitchell’s comments last week were “rich and comically hypocritical” when considering that the Fox Hill MP “often injects jingoistic thinking and rhetoric into the public domain”.
The shadow minister of foreign affairs and immigration suggested that Mr Mitchell is in no position to criticise others on “jingoism” when he has “routinely accused others of not being as nationalistic and as patriotic as he supposedly is” on other matters.
Mr Chipman also criticised Mr Mitchell and the government for their handling of the Baha Mar controversy, charging that “had the government not foolishly sought to push the resort into liquidation”, the country “would have been in a better negotiating position with all the stakeholders”.
Mr Chipman was responding to a statement by Mr Mitchell last week, in which the Fox Hill MP lambasted Bahamians for spreading “racism” and extreme patriotism against Baha Mar’s Chinese investors. At the time, Mr Mitchell stressed that the country should not be engaging in “this kind of dog whistling and borderline race baiting for the fun of it”.
Mr Mitchell also said the country’s “image abroad as a place for investment and in tourism cannot develop the reputation of being racists or jingoists”, and as such called on the public’s “better nature on this score where the country’s international reputation and vital interests are at stake”.
In response yesterday, however, Mr Chipman said Mr Mitchell’s statements were “rife with his signature hypocrisy”.
“All of this is rich and comically hypocritical coming from someone who often injects jingoistic thinking and rhetoric into the public domain,” Mr Chipman said. “Following the collapse of Baha Mar because of the incompetence of the PLP and the Christie government, (Mr Mitchell) used jingoistic rhetoric to attack the developer.
“(Mr Mitchell) went so far as to use threatening language about revoking the permanent residency of the developer. These bombastic remarks by the typically belligerent Mitchell could have a chilling affect for foreign investors and touristic development.”
Mr Chipman was referring to Mr Mitchell’s public recrimination of Baha Mar developer Sarkis Izmirlian last year, when he said that an invitation should be extended to the developer “to consider making the appropriate steps to live elsewhere” if he could not conform with the expected conduct of “economic guests”.
At the time, Mr Izmirlian had criticised Prime Minister Perry Christie for the government’s winding up petition against the mega resort.
“(Mr Mitchell) has often appealed to the worst demons of our nature in the pursuit of his unquenchable ambition to remain relevant and to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming prime minister,” Mr Chipman continued. “His jingoism does not seep, it comes in torrents.
“When criticised over human rights and immigration matters, (Mr Mitchell) has routinely accused others of not being as nationalistic and as patriotic as he supposedly is. Such jingoism is par for the course for Mitchell and the PLP, who like to pretend that they are the most patriotic people in The Bahamas.”
Ultimately, Mr Chipman slammed the Christie administration for how it managed the Baha Mar debacle, charging that the PLP’s “incompetence” led to the resort’s “collapse”.
“Had the government not foolishly sought to push the resort into liquidation, which resulted in its going into receivership, the country would have been in a better negotiating position with all the stakeholders,” he said.
“Instead the country is in a worse position economically and in terms of its sovereignty – another hobby horse Mitchell and the PLP like to ride when it suits their purpose. This is ironic that the PLP was supposed to be putting Bahamians first.”