LUXURY real estate broker Mario Carey in considering this country’s heroes has suggested that on Heroes’ Day next year, Sir Sol Kerzner should be nominated.
“He is neither Bahamian by birth nor has he taken centre stage in politics but probably no one has made a greater impact on the national economy and international image than Sir Sol Kerzner, the founder of Atlantis, the One & Only Ocean Club, and creator of Ocean Club Estates,” said Mr Carey.
“Sir Sol Kerzner,” said Mr Carey, “put a modern Paradise Island on the map. I believe it is time that the Bahamian people honoured him for his vision, his belief in The Bahamas and his investment in this country at a time when it was desperately needed.”
It was indeed Sir Sol, with his late son “Butch”, who rescued an economically sinking Bahamas. “It was in the early 1990s,” said Mr Carey, “when Kerzner first looked at the hotel properties on Paradise Island and where others saw cracks in the walls, outdated buildings and signs of despair, he saw potential. Over the next 20 years, he would pour more than $1 billion into renovations and new construction, creating more than 7,500 jobs, becoming the country’s largest private employer and second only to government in total numbers. Kerzner’s investments in training and marketing are unparalleled in the country’s history.”
But even more than that Sir Sol and “Butch” truly loved the Bahamian people. They gave generously to Bahamian causes, constructing a pool for St Anne’s school, among their many other donations. Cynthia “Mother” Pratt can attest to their generosity in her St Cecilia’s constituency. Whenever it was brought to their attention that a worthy Bahamian was in need, their helping hands were extended.
“He opened doors and created opportunities for so many Bahamians and I am one who was fortunate to be among those whose lives are better because of him,” said Mr Carey.
Sol Kerzner was the investor that the late Paul Adderley, The Bahamas’ former attorney general, warned not to sign an agreement with the Ingraham government, because when, he threatened, the PLP returned to government the agreement would be revoked. Despite the threats, Sir Sol signed the agreement. As a result, The Bahamas’ reputation was eventually established as a leader in tourism and thousands of Bahamians benefitted.
Sir Sol never wanted to get sucked into our politics. However, Mr Adderley was soon back on the public platform. This time he was accusing Sir Sol of interfering in our elections, something a foreigner should never be allowed to do, Mr Adderley declared at the time.
It was claimed that Sir Sol had broken the rules. According to Mr Adderley, Sir Sol had given Mr Adderley’s party — the PLP – $50,000 to help it fight the 1997 election. The inference was that it was an intended bribe to secure Sir Sol’s investment should the PLP win the election. The threat of revoking the FNM agreement with Kerzner was still on the table should the PLP become the next government.
What a bombshell! So, if Sir Sol had given the Opposition PLP $50m, can one imagine what he must have given the governing FNM? Mr Adderley teased to loud applause. Sir Sol had committed the cardinal sin — a foreigner interfering in a Bahamian election.
This was enough to raise eyebrows and start Bahamian tongues wagging.
And so the next day, The Tribune telephoned now retired Barrie Farrington, who at that time was senior vice president of administration at Sun International.
Is it true that Sun gave $50,000 to the PLP for the 1997 election? we asked.
Yes, said Mr Farrington.
Because they asked for it?
How much did Sun give to the FNM?
Because they did not ask for it.
As simple as that. One asked and received. The other, not wanting to draw a foreigner into Bahamian politics, did not ask and, therefore, did not receive.
Is it any wonder that many citizens hold tongue-twisting politicians in contempt?
Ambassador Collie meets President Trump
Our newly-appointed Bahamas Ambassador to the US seems to be delighted that he had the dubious honour of shaking the hand of US President Donald Trump. Ambassador Sidney Collie was at the White House on November 29 to present his ambassadorial credentials. While there he also talked with Vice President Mike Pence. And what did they talk about? Well, so far that’s top secret.
“I can’t disclose that,” Mr Collie told The Nassau Guardian. “I have to speak with the Prime Minister first, because I made a bold move both with the president and the vice president,” he said. “I wanted to make bold moves.”
We hope the moves were not so bold that we shall see the US, now harbouring the world’s most recent problem, on our doorstep. The Bahamas has too many misfortunes of its own to even consider contending with a Trump in our midst. Our ambassador said President Trump told him that he loved The Bahamas.
It is true that he knows The Bahamas — he did business here. He once owned the majority of Resorts International, which he sold to Merv Griffin, who in turn sold it in bankruptcy to Sol Kerzner, who turned it into the highly successful Atlantis at Paradise Island.
Trump was also a very close friend and one time business partner of Phil Ruffin, who bought the Carnival Crystal Palace from Carnival Cruise line owner, Ted Arison. This is now a part of the Baha Mar complex.
President Trump might “love” The Bahamas, but we hope that Mr Collie’s “bold move” will not encourage him to cast his eyes in our direction. We have enough problems without having to suffer what the American people are now trying to contend with.
Trump and his frenetic “tweeting” belong in Trumpland, USA – not The Bahamas.