Former Prime Ministers Perry Christie and Hubert Ingraham.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Prime Ministers Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie have declined the government’s national honour awards, according to three sources familiar with their action.
The men were to receive the Order of the Nation award which is bestowed upon all people who have served as governor general or prime minister. The honour would have entitled them to be called “most honourable”.
However, they informed Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling of their rejection of the award in separate letters sent to Government House within the last week, The Tribune was told.
They both declined to elaborate on the matter when asked about it by this newspaper in the past two days.
Mr Christie on Wednesday said: “I made a decision but I haven’t heard from Her Excellency so I don’t want to say anything formally until I have heard from her.”
Sources told The Tribune Mr Christie in particular looked forward to accepting the honour, having served as the prime minister when the National Honours Act was enacted in 2016.
However, he is said to have declined receiving the award from the Minnis administration, a reflection of his concern about a declining civility in politics and the criminal prosecution of several Progressive Liberal Party members since the 2017 general election.
The rejection of the award by the former leaders is a blow to the prestige of the national honour system. It comes weeks after it was mired in controversy when Prime Minister Dr Minnis chose to bestow the Order of National Hero award on former United Bahamian Party leader and Premier Sir Roland Symonette. Critics said Sir Roland was not fit for the award because he led a “racist regime” in the United Bahamian Party-era.
Yesterday, The Tribune asked Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis for his reaction to the news. He said: “The awards are about uplifting Bahamian people and society. Anyone who holds the post of prime minister, there is a recognition of that achievement with this award. This award system represents perhaps the last umbilical cord that has to be cut from our past and any rejection of it doesn’t speak well to the development of the system.”
People throughout civil society have been pining for the awards system for years.
This is the first year that people have been selected for the honours.
In total, 38 Bahamians have been named to receive a national honour, which includes Order of National Hero; Order of the Nation; Order of the Bahamas; Order of Excellence; Order of Distinction and Order of Merit.