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Editorial: There Must Be One Rule For All

When photographs and videos from a wedding in Harbour Island went viral in July, the sense of hurt from people who had followed the rules and cancelled or delayed their weddings was palpable.

One bride told The Tribune in the wake of that wedding that it felt “like an insult, a slap in the face”.

At the time, the Office of the Prime Minister released a statement confirming that the competent authority “granted permission for two pre-planned weddings with more than five in attendance”. Aside from the nonsense use of the phrase “pre-planned”, as if weddings are spontaneous events and not the end result of months and sometimes years of planning, there were questions as to why one wedding would get approval, while other brides and grooms were left not even knowing who to call.

The backlash prompted Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar to apologise, saying the government should have informed people in advance about the option to request a wedding exemption.

“I guess maybe we failed and I apologise for that,” he said.

Which brings us to the wedding that took place on Friday – with a group that featured more than ten guests, notably including a son of Carl Bethel, the Attorney General, and with a groom who works at the Ministry of Health.

No exemption, we are told, was granted by the Office of the Prime Minister for the event to take place with more than ten people in attendance.

A witness said police came and went without bringing the event to a close. However, Police Commissioner Paul Rolle could not be reached for comment.

It is very hard indeed for people to follow the rules already. It becomes even harder for them to do so if they feel it is one rule for them, and another rule for someone else.

Officials should speak to the reasons why this wedding was different from any of the others that have followed the rules all through these lockdowns and curfews.

The Tribune has reported throughout the lockdown on cases where people have been brought before the courts for such offences as selling coconut water or homelessness during the lockdown, or going for water from a pump.

If this wedding took place without permission and in breach of the rules, there should be repercussions – or are those only for those without connections to power?

No tolerance

There’s a phenomenon known as the Streisand Effect, which takes its name from the famous singer and actress Barbra Streisand.

It came about from a time when a photographer took a picture of her mansion as viewed from the coast. Furious and determined to stop anyone else from seeing it, the entertainer sued the photographer, making the world sit up and want to see what this photograph was that was causing such a fuss. In short, she made her situation worse by drawing attention to it.

You might say the legal challenge by a former foreman at Bahamas Power & Light to his dismissal has done the same for the lax attitudes among those meant to be providing power to our country.

The legal papers detail evidence that a group of workers – though workers hardly seems the word given how little work they appear to have done – would “hang out by the sea while drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana during working hours”.

The foreman was accused of allowing workers under his control to “pay him for favours” while “allowing staff to do as they pleased” in return.

In fairness to BPL, much of this took place when PowerSecure was working as BPL’s operating partner – but whoever was in charge, there is no excuse for this kind of behaviour at the best of times, and as anyone who has endured the countless years of power supply problems that have beset The Bahamas will say, these have not been the best of times.

The foreman, Terrance Penn, contested his dismissal, but an investigation reportedly found him guilty of gross misconduct. His legal challenge was dismissed by Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder.

The good thing is that this behaviour was discovered and action taken. But how many other places have such slack behaviour as standard, and corruption embedded so deeply?

There should be no place for this kind of attitude, and no place for this kind of worker. To think we have been sweltering in the dark while others have been lounging by the sea. We would hope they would have a sense of shame – but if they do not, then we must make such people understand there can be no tolerance of this behaviour.

Comments

JokeyJack 2 weeks, 6 days ago

To the guy worried about BPL and power shutoffs, relax, nobody worried about that - it's a festive time now for weddings - people see a bright future with Covid and unemployment and documents for the undocumented and masks, don't forget the masks. Everyone sees a bright future, even if the lights are out. The rush right now is to born more children into this world so they can enjoy it all with us. The Bahamas has the brightest future ahead, even in the darkness of power outages. Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, watch dem lines at the food store now.

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