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A COMIC'S VIEW: A scandal in opposition, business as usual in power

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper.

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper.

By INIGO ‘NAUGHTY’ ZENICAZELAYA

THE more things change, the more they stay the same.

I’m old enough to remember a time - six months ago- when the big talk was all about “the travel visa scandal”. According to very loud proponents in the then opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), the Minnis government had committed the greatest sin under the rising sun since someone thought it was a good idea to put mayonnaise on conch snacks. Yes, the Minnis administration awarded a no-bid contract to Kanoo to manage the visa fees.

In fact, it wasn’t even called a programme by PLP surrogates. The ominous talking point at the time was that it was a “travel visa scheme”. Because, you know, around these parts “programme” sounds full of potential while “scheme” sounds nefarious.

Fast forward to the past few weeks and how quickly the PLP’s position has morphed into a carbon copy of what they blasted Minnis for doing. This newspaper reported on Wednesday that under the Davis administration, the Ministry of Tourism gave a no-bid contract to Colina Insurance Limited to provide insurance services under the Bahamas Travel Health Visa programme.

That’s right; the same ministry, once again mixed up in the same “scheme”.

When questioned on why such a contract was executed under the New Day government, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Chester Cooper’s excuse was that the previous provider, CG Atlantic, was not forthcoming with details about the programme’s performance. Cooper also claimed CG Atlantic was unwilling to extend its services until ministry officials could analyse the agreement.

He also added this: “I will speak to the decision making of my administration and me as a minister and defend my stewardship… I am not going to get into the politics of Kanoo and the Bahamas Travel Health Visa.”

I think this is what Generation Z calls the “Bruh, trust me!” defense.

The Ministry of Tourism is now also offering the caveat that the Promotion of Tourism Act empowers the minister of tourism to enter into contracts “as the minister may deem necessary”.

Huh?

If Davis, Cooper, and Co were aware of this fact, what was all the fuss about a few months ago? Was it wrong then but suddenly right now? Or was it right then and only admitted to now?

Maybe, just maybe, it was wrong then and is still wrong now.

I think most Bahamians find the whole business of no-bid contracts (in emergencies and out) disrespectful and anathema to good governance. If we change our principles based solely on who the offenders are, then the truth is we have no principles at all.

That’s why watching hardcore PLP and FNM supporters wrangle over what this recent travel visa contract revelation means is quite amusing. You haven’t been entertained until you witness the mental gymnastics it takes to vehemently defend a position you rabidly opposed mere weeks ago. Especially when your opponents are ‘pulling receipts’ from your social media timeline and WhatsApp messages because they don’t have to search far to debunk your hypocrisy.

I’ve already documented in this column how the Davis administration has ‘switched their mouths up’ on numerous positions they took before the election only to quickly ‘turn tail’ after elections. So I won’t revisit those today.

I will say this, though; it’s a shame that the face of this latest ‘scheme’ is DPM Chester Cooper. He is genuinely one of the bright stars in this current administration, so I would hate to see him fall into the trap a shrewd politician should try to avoid.

Still, watching Cooper defend a no-bid contract (which Chester Copper of six months ago eloquently made the case against) reminds me of that famous saying from Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’. In the film, District Attorney Harvey Dent made this poignant observation about the caped-crusader Batman: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Comments

moncurcool 1 year, 7 months ago

Cooper doing his gymnastics to try to wiggle out of what he criticized in opposition just shows that he is not that bright star, but just another gutter politician.

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LastManStanding 1 year, 7 months ago

Why are people shocked at this? Just business as usual for the banana republic governments we have grown accustomed to.

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IAmOne 1 year, 7 months ago

Not really shocked. Just disappointed. The default setting when dealing with we politicians.

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