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A Comic's View: First, Nair Put His Foot In His Mouth - Then The Office Of The Prime Minister Put Its Foot To His Behind

By INIGO 'NAUGHTY' ZENICAZELAYA

Well, well, well...what do we have here?

It seems Balan Nair, president of Liberty Latin America (LiLAC), which is the parent company of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) really put his foot in his mouth; then the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) put its foot to his behind.

The dust up started when comments Nair made during an internal staff meeting in Jamaica last week, which were recorded on videos, predictably made their way to social media and have since gone viral.

If you haven’t seen the video, the gist of it is that BTC is one of Liberty Latin America’s lowest performing subsidiaries and its Bahamian workers are apparently a joke (as evidenced by the disparaging laughter throughout the video).

In the video, Nair, pictured, went on to recall a meeting he had recently with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis in which Minnis, who is not a fan of outsourcing call centres for Bahamian companies, insisted he wanted more actual Bahamian workers at BTC.

To hear Balan Nair tell it, Doc was either scared, mealy-mouthed or disbelieving in his own words when he made that request because according to Nair our PM couldn’t look LiLAC executives in the eye when he said it.

And this is where I say, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa...wait one God-blessed minute!’

First of all, there is no fault on Minnis’ part for speaking up for Bahamian workers at BTC or any other foreign or Bahamian owned company in this country, especially since it’s what Bahamians would expect from our PM.

If we look at Nair’s comments without being political or “in our feelings” because he was so dismissive and insulting to Bahamians, there are still several problems with his assessment.

I’ll start with the fact that he seems to have a low opinion of an important subsidiary like BTC due to performance issues, but fails to see where the current leadership team (including himself) may be part of the problem.

Yes, we all are tired of dropped calls and all manner of service disruptions that seem to be happening with increased frequency lately, but who’s fault is that?

Who’s fault is it that calling BTC’s service line is sometimes like calling someone on the moon?

Let’s not forget it wasn’t always this way.

I can remember a time when BTC was able to build up a massive customer base not solely because they were a monopoly, but also because they were very reliable.

Sadly, that was a time before LiLAC was in the picture.

Now that they are, executives like Nair and his cohorts should focus their attention on figuring out how to improve service instead of bashing Bahamian workers because the last time I checked BTC is pulling its employees from a workforce that has made millions and billions of dollars in profits for other “foreign” and local companies that actually know how to train, motivate and manage their people.

After being “licked wit da tamarind switch” by the OPM, Mr. Nair offered up a verbal apology directly to the PM who was clever to make him put his public mea culpa in writing for all the country to see.

The only thing better would have been to make him make it on video.

Nair was dead wrong to publicly pander to his audience in Jamaica by disparaging his own staff in here in The Bahamas.

No ‘context’ can make his words right.

Sure, it might be cheaper or more convenient to outsource parts of BTC’s operations, but let’s not forget the company isn’t just pulling its workers from our community, but also its profits.

I hope the next time the good Doctor has to deal with any of these companies, but particularly BTC, he puts his foot down with respect to the country’s and Bahamian customers’ expectations.

Be sure to look Nair in the eye Doc, and let him know if he’s not about working with Bahamians he can #CYC; carry ya cellular. That really is the bottom line, with no old school “bottle to the head” or antiquated “stop-list” necessary.

How can you call yourself “Brave” if you are scared of challenges?

What also jumped out at me this week, was the aroma of fear, emanating from the opposition PLP.

Apparently as the PLP readies itself for its convention, PLP Party leader Philip “Brave” Davis wants no challenges to his leadership team at the PLP convention next week.

Allegedly, after a closed-door meeting at the Pelican Bay Resort in Grant Bahama in mid-June, he made his desire clear to a room of nearly 200 stalwart councillors, according to an article by Rashad Rolle in The Tribune.

Calling for absolute unity, he said he wants his team of Deputy Leader Chester Cooper, chairman Fred Mitchell and Deputy Chairman Robyn Lynes to remain firmly in place, without challengers.

It’s quite “Brave” to put forth such ultimatums, when you’re not expected to face a leadership challenge yourself, Mr Davis.

So if his seat is safe, who is Davis referring to in his statement?

My guess is former West End and Bimini MP, and Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, who has long made it clear he’s ready for another run in front line politics, and who happened to be seated in the audience at the Pelican Bay resort.

The thought of Wilchcombe challenging current PLP chairman Fred Mitchell, must have Davis in a sweat.

So much so he’s resurrected former scandal-ridden PLP MP and Cabinet minister George Smith, to get the message out, far and wide.

Smith recently offered up these comments regarding the upcoming PLP convention.

“The next chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party, will be the person that the leader and his supporters within the party will throw their support behind, the person that the leader is most comfortable working with, whoever that is. I think this because the people assembled at a convention two years waited daylong, late into the night. They came from far and near and they waited around to overwhelmingly vote for Philip Davis to be leader of the party.

The leader won handily, the deputy won handily and considering that the chairmanship race was between two well-known personalities, a 200-vote majority is these days a comfortable majority in party politics in The Bahamas.

Since then Mr Davis has gotten the party out of the doldrums that the party was in and the organisation now is on a very positive path to win the next general election.”

Considering Wilchcombe in the 2017 PLP convention, received 419 votes to Mr Mitchell’s 627 votes for the chairmanship position, the closest vote among all the positions voted on, it’s obvious that a potential challenge by Wilchcombe, has caused some tribalism and tensions amongst certain factions in the party, and is a serious test of Mr Davis’ control of the organisation.

Let’s not forget that Wilchcombe learned the “art of politics” at the feet of the late Sir Lynden Pindling, he connects to the younger voters as well as the older ones, and has more mass appeal on the street level, than Mitchell does.

Wilchcombe is definitely a serious option for chairman of the PLP and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

As a comedian, I can’t let the irony in all of this slide.

Years ago, in this column I urged “Brave” to challenge the leadership of an obviously underperforming, floundering Perry Christie, who wished not to be challenged.

(We all saw how that complacency by Davis and other key members of the PLP ended up costing the party dearly.)

Now a couple of years later, Davis is pulling a page out of Perry’s book, asking for no challengers!

How can you call yourself “Brave” if you are scared of challenges, and you don’t want a fight, all the while attempting to bully party members into voting a certain way?

If this pattern of leadership continues with Mr. Davis, he might as well change that nickname of his from “Brave” to “Perry 2.0” with the same results as the previous PLP leadership.

Comments

ohdrap4 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Who’s fault is it that calling BTC’s service line is sometimes like calling someone on the moon?

Let’s not forget it wasn’t always this way.

I always though you were younger than me , naughty. So you must be older. But I cannot recall it was ever any better. From the days of BATELCO, no one answer the phone at the phone company. they also take three months to answer emails. then you have to drag yourself to their office an bring lunch, because the wait is much like that of a government clinic.

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Clamshell 3 months, 3 weeks ago

On Eleuthera, the worst utility was always Water and Sewer, which operates to this day as if it is a secret arm of the Soviet KGB. The woman who was alleged to be in charge was “off the island” every time I went there ... like, where did she live, Los Angeles? And nobody else was willing or able to do anything at all.

Batelco was a close second-to-worst. A 3-month wait for a routine service call for a problem on your line was the norm, as was paying a gratuity (bribe) to get anything done at all. Little wonder they collapsed when suddenly one day they faced ... competition!

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 3 weeks ago

It was the FNM papa who gave BTC away. One would expect you to come to the defense of doc. but the truth is doc has a poor record. demanding apologies do not mean much when one has expressed their true feelings.

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Roberts the comedian. What manner of man goes around signing a OBAN contract Goes internationally and calls his Country the Bahamas Corrupt? Lies about Vat and BAH MAR. people watch him. they know who he is..

The damage is done , the horse has left the gate. You and doc may glory in an apology.

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 3 weeks ago

least you forget Roberts. It was the FNM papa who said when BTC was being sold "No Bahamians need apply" They according to him were not good enough to buy BTC.

Do you really expect others to think more highly of Bahamians than FNM leaders do?

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L@pensadora_242 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Mr. Zenicazelaya sir, "Foot to his behind" was indeed an eye catcher that provoked a comment from me. First of all I thank you for your proper assessment of the real problem and that being a lack of respect for the Bahamian workers at large, by yet another foreigner, who was put in place to work along side the Bahamian people in the improvement of our brand. When are we as a people going to put a stop to this bashing of the Bahamian workers by foreign business partners? And what's more disturbing, is the sad fact that many Bahamians are happy to view all matters through the subjective lens of politics rather than through the lens of objectivity and good common sense. Thank you for insisting that we see the bigger picture when it comes to protecting our name, heritage and ethics as a people. It was unethical what Mr. Balan did, I trust that the rebuke by our present leader serves to warn all unsundry, that when it comes to the building of this nation, we will no longer stand by quietly and let foreign business partners belittle us on a world stage anymore. If the foreigner who is selected to "help" us, thinks so very little of us, then he should no longer be granted permission to be with us. The footprint of all who value the name BAHAMIAN, must be implanted not only on his behind, but in the behinds of all others who feel the same way that he does, toward the BAHAMIAN WORKERS. If you're not here to help us improve the brand, by uplifting the people who were hired to make it happen [the workers], then keep it moving point blank period! Enough is enough!

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Chucky 3 months, 3 weeks ago

You idiot. If you want to put a stop to Bahamian bashing, first we need an educated, honest , hardworking and respectable workforce!

Until such time, we will continue to be bashed, and rightfully so. Our society is a complete e disgrace, so get used to taking your lumps, because there ain’t no change in the works yet.

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IAmOne 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Hmmm. The chief idiot seems to be you, who have bought into the age-old trope of the ‘dumb, dishonest, lazy and unworthy’ Bahamian propagated by the very same people who siphon millions into their own pockets with impunity and complicity from the likes of you.

Workers rights are being challenged on all fronts globally, not just here, while corporations continue to eat up the profits while making it difficult for families (and governments) to bridge the gap in affording that ‘good education’ you speak of. And it’s the same cry everywhere.

But carry on smartly, genius. I’m sure it’s everyone else who is dumb and undeserving of decency and respect but not you. /s

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Chucky 3 months, 3 weeks ago

You can’t actually believe what you spew?

Our workforce is not comparable to that found in other nations. They have no education. They had no family unit growing up. They have no role models They have no post secondary education They are lazy They are entitled They are mostly obese They have bad attitudes

Look around Everything in our nation runs at about half the standard of that in a first world nation Say it isn’t so?

Get a grip. Until you fools acknowledge the extent of the problem, there is no hope for improvement

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IAmOne 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Ha! Your invoking the political term ‘first world’ pretty much says it all. Do your homework, and if you’re intellectually honest you will find crippling debt and onerous other problems threatening the very survival of these ‘first world’ countries - with a few exceptions- just as we are now threatened.

No, we are far from perfect, I agree. But until the ‘learned’ crowd of supposedly well educated Bahamians learn to think outside of the narratives being forced upon us then yes, we are lost. But that is not all the fault of the so called ‘lazy dummies’. Many ‘smart’ Bahamians like you are complicit in this mess too!

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Chucky 3 months, 3 weeks ago

If you want improvement, you will first have to take stalk of where we are.

Then and only then can we choose a course of action.

I shouldn’t have done see “first world” as that is a term that can only refer to the more developed nations if miss used.

I believe that we are so determined to espouse pride that we cannot acknowledge much less attempt to address our issues.

But then again, we can’t overlook the fact that “ forces “ exist that prefer maintaining the status quo.

My apologies for my earlier insults and rant. I am extremely disturbed by the star of our nation. I believe we are well into a backslide, while we have never come close to our potential. There is a rude awaking coming if we don’t act.
Lastly, I believe we would be better to over estimate the work required rather than cling to a defence of false and prideful hope.

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IAmOne 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Apology accepted. And you have mine for mirroring the ‘idiot’ statement which was also not appropriate.

Trust me I see all of this country’s shortcomings, but I am unwilling to allow the forces you speak of to go unchallenged with their narratives that do indeed enshrine the status quo.

Yes, many fall short of the high expectations some of us have for the country but I also know a lot of smart, hardworking Bahamians. It up to those who can to continue the good fight. Lift up your head...and pledge to excel.

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