By NICOLE BURROWS
AT the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) rally in Exuma, Prime Minister Perry Christie told the people: “We have some of the highest net worth individuals, meaning some of the richest people in the world living in Exuma and in the cays of Exuma.
“Our job is to take advantage of the presence of all these people in Exuma and to do more with them and you have a candidate who will become a big part of the next government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
The assumption here is that the PLP candidate endorsed in Exuma, Chester Cooper, is the link between government and rich people in Exuma.
The further implication is that Mr Cooper is rich and therefore knows how to negotiate with rich people, particularly those high net worth foreigners who live on Great Exuma or in the Exuma Cays.
Chester Cooper is, by financial measure, a very successful Bahamian businessman.
At the same time that he praised Mr Cooper, Mr Christie also said something for which he has been severely ridiculed: “Listen, it going so good now, God can’t stop me now.”
While Bahamians have berated Mr Christie for this statement, I don’t believe the way they have interpreted his statement is equivalent to what Mr Christie meant to say. This statement was about the microphone cutting out, presumably with the emphasis on the word “can’t,” not “God,” as in “God, ya can’t stop me now, man.”
In fairness to Mr Christie - apparently, I’ve listened too closely to him all this time that I actually understand his drivel... I’m going to need an intervention after this election - his expression was taken out of context. But I’m not his speechwriter and he thinks he’s the world’s greatest orator, so maybe that will teach him to cut back on the trite and unnecessary talk whenever he finds a microphone in front of him.
That “God” comment shook up a lot of people who can’t interpret language and are not fair in their judgments. But far more disconcerting and deserving of ridicule than the “God” comment was the comment Mr Christie made about rich people in Exuma and our Bahamian leaders’ continued plans to sponge off of them.
All these comments indicate to me is that a PLP government still has and will always have the same old foolish plan of sucking wealth out of rich people living in The Bahamas: tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI); bribing and taking bribes; doing nothing solid or long-term to improve Bahamians’ intellectual or professional capacities, only potentially offering them more access to more rich people to sponge off of in Exuma and elsewhere.
At the same Exuma rally, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis emphasised the PLP’s regard for rich people’s money when he got on the mic and ranted “Chester Cooper, Chester Cooper, boy we are so proud that you’re the candidate for the Exumas and Ragged Island...”
In other words, “Chester Cooper, boy Chester, bring dat money dis way!”
Chester Cooper better watch out.
Mr Davis also gave another interview in the same week at Baha Mar’s ‘soft opening’, and when asked about Cabinet minister Jerome Fitzgerald’s solicitation of Sarkis Izmirlian for Baha Mar contracts, Mr Davis in turn asked why should Mr Fitzgerald’s story cast a dark cloud over him or Baha Mar, when Bahamians have jobs there now?
Why should it prevent Mr Fitzgerald from being nominated or running again for the Marathon seat in Parliament?
The message Mr Davis is sending with these comments is that alleged corruption doesn’t matter, and in fact it’s okay as long as the right people don’t think it’s corruption.
And it wasn’t really allegedly corrupt anyway, because, as we can all plainly see, there’s no penalty to pay for what transpired.
The prime minister ignored it, Mr Fitzgerald wasn’t fired from Cabinet or made to resign, Mr Fitzgerald did not choose to resign with some modicum of dignity still in tact, and he will still be running, quite arrogantly, in his old Marathon constituency in the next general election.
Mr Davis stops short of telling us “Why do you care about anything else as a Bahamian, as long as you have a job in a resort plantation?”
I really want a government that has the ability and desire to change this scratched tourism/ FDI record.
These men - Mr Christie, Mr Davis, Mr Fitzgerald, etc - have no idea of what The Bahamas could be without corruption or hotel jobs. They have no vision, they have no remorse, and they have no respect for Bahamians who do have vision. As a result, Bahamians should have no votes to give them on May 10.
Maybe half of all Bahamians voting in the 2017 election have votes up for grabs; they could vote in any direction, for any party or person at the last minute. They’re likely not voting on policy presentations by political parties, but they’re voting on their feelings about existing or potential candidates and the parties they may represent.
So once you get past the fact that many Bahamians vote based on who they like and what they can get, the only thing left is what the people look like. And what the people/ parties look like is their outward appearance, with internal composition that represents their intentions. For example, what do you see when you look at the structure of the party... the PLP, the Free National Movement (FNM), the Democratic National Alliance (DNA)? How much diversity is there in the party? How much age diversity is there? How much gender diversity is there? How much ethnic diversity is there?
The degree of diversity in each party gives an idea of how diverse their goals are likely to be and how committed they are to spreading the benefit of their governance evenly amongst Bahamians.
If you want to choose a party based on diversity, here is what each of the three significant parties in the 2017 general election look like and represent.
The PLP and FNM are both running 39 candidates. The DNA is running 35 candidates. A full slate of candidates is 39, to match the 39 (38 old plus 1 new) now vacant seats in Parliament. And, as you will see from the following breakdown of parties, running a full slate of candidates does not determine the direction of the party.
The PLP is running seven women candidates, or 18 per cent of their total candidates.
The FNM is running four women candidates, or 10 per cent of all their candidates.
The DNA is running 13 women candidates, or 37 per cent of their total candidates.
Based simply on these numbers, it is safe to assume that women - and men - in The Bahamas who are concerned about women’s interests and rights should obviously look to the DNA to be the most likely of all large parties to move in the direction of the advancement of women. It is unlikely that any party that runs less than 20 per cent women, or with less than a quarter of their full slate of candidates being female, will be interested or inclined to put women’s needs to the forefront or at the top of any of their agendas.
The PLP is running four or five younger candidates, or up to 13 per cent of their total candidate slate.
The FNM is running 10 to 12 younger candidates, or up to 32 per cent of their total candidates.
The DNA is running 12 to 15 younger candidates, or up to 43 per cent of their total candidates.
Based simply on these numbers, it is safe to assume that younger people in The Bahamas, who want their needs and voices heard loudly and clearly will probably stand a better chance at being in charge of all their future opportunities by placing their votes with the DNA. It is unlikely that in a country of mostly younger people that older politicians will tend to represent the needs of those younger people, certainly nowhere near as efficiently as younger people would represent their own needs. The PLP is chock full of older politicians; barely 10 per cent of their hopeful members of Parliament (MPs) could realistically represent the needs of young people in The Bahamas. About a third of all FNM hopeful MPs could realistically represent young people in the House of Assembly. Almost half of all DNA hopeful MPs could realistically represent young people in The Bahamas.
As for ethnic diversity, neither the PLP, nor the FNM, nor the DNA are running a slate of candidates who can be considered racially diverse. In other words, none of the large political parties are doing too good with respect to diverse ethnic representation, but perhaps that’s just a reflection of the majority of votes being sought in The Bahamas in 2017. It does make you wonder, though, how groups of other ethnicities who reside in The Bahamas as citizens or residents perceive their place and their ability to influence politics in The Bahamas.