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Insight: It's A Question Many Are Asking - Were We Duped?

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in the House of Assembly.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in the House of Assembly.

By Malcolm Strachan

ON May 10, 2017, the Bahamian electorate voted for a much desired change. The political culture of our leaders looking after their friends, family and lovers disgusted the majority of Bahamians who voted for Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and the Free National Movement to form the current government. However, after six months it would seem as though most Bahamians are succumbing to a pervasive feeling of voter dissonance.

Some of us are now wondering if we got it wrong. Certainly, the PLP had to go, and surely FNM sycophants would entreat us to be patient with the prime minister’s vision. But it would seem what many feared early on - Minnis being unable to fulfil the bold proclamations made from the campaign trail - appeared to be premonitions for the current situation.

The prime minister led the onslaught against the former government and declared he would lead a government that was for the people. He said his government would create jobs. He touted his government’s ability to be able to stem the crime epidemic. As what may have been one of his bolder promises, he said his government would introduce policies that would implement tax-free zones and remove VAT off bread basket items, among other unrealized initiatives.

However, none of these policies have yet to come to fruition.

Though it is still only six months into a relatively new term in governance, there is a collective grimace from the bad taste left in all of our mouths when we heard the prime minister’s plan to increase salaries of parliamentarians.

His initial announcement was met with outrage from the Bahamian people. The new and raw emotion is slowly turning to disappointment and mounting frustration, as we are all beginning to feel like we were again duped by a lot of disingenuous politicians.

In 2014, while the prime minister was still struggling to hold on to the leadership of his party, he said he would not agree to parliamentarians receiving a raise if he were the nation’s leader. The change in direction has left many of us feeling unsettled, as we have shown we have zero tolerance for politicians speaking from both sides of their mouths.

The prime minister must have underestimated the challenge that laid before him upon embarking high office. Not only does he seem to misunderstand the challenge, but also the responsibility – the same responsibility he referenced in his national address in July of this year, where he referred to politicians as servant leaders. Certainly, he must understand that as a servant leader it would be incumbent upon his government to ensure that policies introduced should be at the behest of the people that made him the prime minister.

After going on a crusade in the weeks and months after the election to paint the picture that the ‘cupboards were bare’ and the economy was on ‘life support’, an announcement that you intend to increase MPs’ salaries by the next Budget Debate portrays a government that must be disconnected from the reality it created with the numerous headlines of fiscal malfeasance on the part of its predecessor.

While the government has recognised the dire state of the economy, and has instituted austerity measures, which have led to lay-offs, a hiring freeze in the public sector, delays in tax cuts, and the like – how is it they expect the Bahamian people to respond to their reported plans to increase MPs’ salaries?

Bahamian people have been suffering a long time, and the last thing we need is a government that is not committed to fulfilling its promises.

While we submit that no time is the right time to increase salaries of MPs, the majority of Bahamians would agree that right now may be the most inopportune time to focus on such a parliamentarian-centric initiative. Each one of the 39 MPs knew what they were committing themselves to. Likewise, all of them made promises to their constituents when they asked for their votes. With the only thing being given to the populace having been the repeated regurgitation of how terrible the former government was, we are no longer amused.

Fair-minded advisors of the prime minister must caution him to walk back on those statements and impress on the Bahamian people his government is committed to doing the things they said they would. They must put an end to the mud-slinging, which is only increasing the temperature of the people and proving them to be a grouping not mature enough to lead the country.

There is still a dwindling hope this government can pull together and lead the country forward, but even that is diminishing by the second.

More and more Bahamians are peering into the soul of this government and asking: “What have you done for me lately?”

With no real plans and emotive, knee-jerk pronouncements becoming more commonplace from this government, they continue to dig themselves into a gaping hole at a very early stage in this term. They ought to be mindful there is one thing about Bahamian people that remains true: once you have spurned us, we may forgive, but we never forget. Moreover, we certainly will ensure you won’t forget as well.

The prime minister needs to make it clear to his ministers they must discontinue the PLP bashing, as it is becoming more politically suicidal.

It would be far more beneficial to listen to the Bahamian people. Their cries are distinct.

We need the economy to flourish and for jobs to be made available. Island Luck’s job fair made it apparent there are still many Bahamians who are unemployed. The government should be actively looking for opportunities wherever they may be within the country to create jobs for Bahamians. The monies the prime minister was able to pull out of his ‘magic hat’ ought to be used to improve the lives of Bahamians – not those he characterised as servant leaders.

In that vein, consider it an act of service; the same service each of them swore on the bible to carry out the day after the election.

The government should also avidly be working to get some of these young men off of the streets and doing something constructive to discourage them from mischief. The correlations between crime and unemployment are widely known.

Perhaps this can net a positive benefit for the government in its fight against crime, and also endear them to the people who desperately want to feel safer in this country.

Prime Minister Dr Minnis, who is known and respected as an intelligent man must know these things. He must know, that while we are still disenchanted with the PLP, that by no means extends a free pass to himself, nor his government. We knew what Perry Christie was – as Philip Galanis perfectly characterised him, ‘a man with form and no substance.’ And despite his struggles with the textbook skills needed to be a prime minister, the consensus feeling after the election was one of a renewed sense of hope for Dr Minnis to lead the country from its darkest period.

After five years where despair was the prevailing feeling throughout our country, the Bahamian people were able to find hope again.

Having endured the past five years, we cannot be blamed for our eagerness for things to take a turn in this country. Dr Minnis, given his repeated promises and separations of himself from traditional politicians, should fully understand our expectation for him to be able to deliver.

Don’t disappoint us, Mr Prime Minister. When referencing career politicians, you said it yourself - that you are not like them.

We, the people of this great country, beseech you not to become a politician now. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Else, you too, will be as a passing breeze in the political history books.

Now is the time to be a true servant leader.

Comments

birdiestrachan 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Not I for sure. I could see the train wreak from afar . I was disappointed On May 10. but on May ll, 2016 I was quiet happy. because I knew the peoples time voters would get just what they deserved . They were not paying attention and they did not listen to what was being said. They did not know what were lies and what was truth.

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BahamasForBahamians 2 weeks, 3 days ago

This article is spot on, however, May 10th was not a breath of fresh air.

It was simply a chance to actually breathe. The air is just as polluted with this administration.

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jackbnimble 2 weeks, 3 days ago

This article is well written. I agree Dr Minnis and his Givernmrnt seem to have a knee-jerk reaction to most things. What happened to all those lofty VERY ambitious promises made in the speech from the throne? My Governent will do this and my Government will do that. Have any of them been fulfilled? He needs to go back and listen to it again and FOCUS. Frankly I don’t even remember citizenship issues being mentioned in there. It seems to only have come to the fore because of the Frankie Campbell fiasco.

First they announce we’re going to ensure that the children of Bahamian women married to foreign men get automatic citizenship. Now the Bahamian single men who have children with foreign woman cry out so guess we’re gonna fix that by also giving them automatic citizenship. Now the children of illegals who are born here and have been in the system for years are crying out. How we gonna fix that? The responses to these and similar issues appear to be whimsical, off the cuff and not well thought out. Clearlt they DON’T have a plan and are just winging it - at least this is how it comes across.

The FNM sailed into Governmrnt because of a diastorous term by the PLP who said they ‘believed in Bahamians’ but made it clear they only believed in family friends and lovers. The Bahamian people couldn’t wait to get them out. You don’t want to make that mistake by coming in on a similar slogan that ‘it’s the people’s time’ abd then do the opposite by passing laws and policies to benefit yourselves and the things that concern you.. The PLP did that and look where they are.

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screwedbahamian 2 weeks, 3 days ago

The Prime Minister seem to be giving more priority to his popularity with foreigners, cabinet ministers and any every body except the Bahamian People that voted the previous government out of office and gave the FNM the chance to right the ship to it being better for the Bahamas and the Bahamian people. The people want to see those member of government who stole their money prosecuted and jailed, Transparency and Accountability and measures installed to totally eliminate the corruption in government, enactment of the freedom of information act, measures for elected government officials to be accountable, implementation of term limits, for Prime Ministers and parliamentarians. Since the government has implemented a Press Secretary, it time for THE PEOPLE'S POLL to show the government and Prime Minister the peoples ratiings on the approval of their governance.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 weeks, 3 days ago

I tip my hat to Malcolm Strachan. This is a fair and balanced article intended to be insightful rather than inciting. We can only hope Minnis reads it and reacts appropriately.

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Comrades! Flashback how to have avoided bad May 10, 2017 products. If only red shirts politicians had been 'honestly' labeled?

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OldFort2012 2 weeks, 2 days ago

All people get the government they deserve. We went from a totally shitty government to one that smells ever so slightly less. We should consider ourselves lucky! The Bahamian people did not change between the 9th and 10th of May. We cannot even hope for a better government than this one. Nor will we ever have one. D- in education, D- in government.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 weeks, 1 day ago

You're still having great difficulty in seeing anything but a half empty cup wherever you look. Depression is a serious illness with shortening of life consequences. Take a deep breath and consider getting professional help. You may have a problem that can be easily fixed with the right medication. I've been monitoring your postings and wish I could say you were just a wry cynic....but I don't think that's the case. And "No" I'm not a therapist nor am I on an antidepressant myself for that matter. All the best.

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birdiestrachan 1 week, 4 days ago

The sly fox smiling away. while the PM blunders on.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 4 days ago

Duped????? .......... that was in 2012 (after 2002) ......... We had no choice except to try anything other than the PLP that has seriously delayed this country's chances of reaching those lofty anthem goals that we all dreamed about ......... especially economic independence.

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