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Leslie Miller: Republic issue is dead talk

PRINCE William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, saying farewell on Saturday.
Photos: Racardo Thomas/Tribune Staff

PRINCE William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, saying farewell on Saturday. Photos: Racardo Thomas/Tribune Staff

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Leslie Miller

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Cabinet minister Leslie Miller says reignited discourse about The Bahamas possibly becoming a republic is “dead talk”, adding that he doubts any significant change toward removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state will happen during his lifetime.

The matter has become a renewed topic of discussion after Barbados shed its ties with the monarchy last November as well as in the lead up to the Royal visit to the Caribbean this month.

Prince William’s comments on Friday night about the future of this nation have added another layer of context to the discussion.

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DURING the visit to Abaco, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, offers Prince William some conch salad.

During a reception held at Baha Mar the Duke of Cambridge said in part: “Next year I know you are looking forward to celebrating 50 years of independence, your golden anniversary, and with Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year I want to say this: we support with pride and respect your decisions about your future. Relationships evolve, friendship endures.”

Mr Miller who was present during the Duke of Cambridge’s remarks expressed doubts that the Davis administration had the political will to make the change.

“That’s really dead talk. In my lifetime it ain’t (going to) happen,” he said following the event.

“The average Bahamian who thinks about a republic are those who can get press, think about Haiti and those other third world countries. Not realising that America is a republic and most of the countries around the world are republics.

“But it’s not going to happen in our country in the next 50 years.”

Asked by The Tribune why he was of this view, Mr Miller said: “Because we don’t have the guts to do it.

“Those at the top would have hollow rhetoric on it, but they are not going to go to the front,” the former Tall Pines MP said. “First of all, if they have a referendum, they (will) get beat because our people are ignorant towards what is a democracy, what is a true democracy.

“The minute you say a president, we don’t want a president. We want a prime minister.”

Despite this, Mr Miller said he would support a push toward The Bahamas becoming a republic, adding “I would love to see it in my lifetime, but it ain’t (going to) happen so I don’t think about it. I’ll be gone by then.”

Responding directly to Prince William’s comments, Mr Miller said it was not the British monarchy’s fault that the country had maintained ties to the Crown despite nearly 50 years of independence.

“We like what we have. Innately, those people who are out there complaining like the Rastafarian faith and the rest of them they’ll be the first ones to take a damn ticket and come here to have a good time. That’s just how they go. They complain about it, but they aint gonna do nothing towards it.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell declined comment when contacted yesterday.

However, he has previously said he is still committed to seeing The Bahamas become a republic. He is also of the view that it will happen eventually.

His comments at the time followed Barbados becoming a republic last year.

“I suspect that there will be a cascading effect since Barbados - arguably the most conservative of CARICOM societies - has done so,” Mr Mitchell said at the time. “The whole question of whether or not a republic is impatient of debate, but the political reality is that unless the younger generation buys into it, it will go nowhere.”

Last week, during the Royals’ stop in Jamaica, that country’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness indicated that the nation was making moves towards becoming a republic.

“We are moving on,” Mr Holness said during a meeting with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. “We intend to… fulfil our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”

Comments

longgone 4 months, 3 weeks ago

There is absolutely no benefit whatsoever in becoming a Republic. The morning after becoming a Republic the cost of eggs will still be too high, a gallon of gas will be out of sight and Road Traffic will still be a pain in the butt. This question of not wanting the Queen to be our "Master" is quite ridiculous. No one is my master and anyone who continues with this nonsense about "slave mentality" should grow up and join the present day.

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LastManStanding 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't agree with the assertion that our nation will collapse economically from shifting to a republican form of government, nothing significant will change other than a President replacing the Queen as head of state (Plus we are in inescapable debt as it stands already. We are going to economically collapse regardless of whether we alter the governing system or not. Can't have 55 years of deficit spending while borrowing to keep the lights on and not pay the toll). What I find baffling is the notion that we should become a republic to separate from our colonial heritage while we all speak the English language and our politicians all line up to have British honours next to their name. There is absolutely no non-emotional argument in favour of becoming a republic, we do not gain a single benefit by doing so. Why do we need to piss away millions of tax dollars on holding a referendum, changing legislation, electing a President, etc. for absolutely no benefit at all?

Sadly, most people think with their emotions instead of looking at an issue logically.

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longgone 4 months, 3 weeks ago

No problems, LastMan, glad to see that we are both on the same page!!

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LastManStanding 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Nevermind, I misread your comment. I thought you were advocating that we would economically collapse immediately after becoming a republic. My mind skipped over the "still" in your post. Apologies.

Yes, nothing will change at all.

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xtreme2x 4 months, 3 weeks ago

are You afraid of moving forward.? Even your cjild will move out of your home when they reach a certain age, because they are tired of mummy and daddy shit.

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LastManStanding 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Let me know when any one of these advocates stops speaking the English language. I might take their gripes a bit more seriously then.

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Alan1 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Why change what works? Our Monarchy system with an impartial Governor-General, freely elected Parliament and impartial courts is sound and our democratic foundation. Investment comes into our country because of the stability of this system. We would become like all the other failed third world republics going down. Just look at the countries who abolished our Monarchy like Zimbabwe and many others. Now they are in a perilous state with mass unemployment, a dictatorial President and human rights abuses. I am very impressed with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They took a great interest in all their activities here and the interaction with Bahamians was fabulous. A dynamic younger couple interested in helping the Commonwealth countries. Let us give them our support. Let us as Bahamians be proud of our history and heritage.

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moncurcool 4 months, 3 weeks ago

"Impartial" Governor General appointed by the political directorate who has no tenure and can be removed at will if the GG party is not in power? Really?

And what power does William have? All he said is dependent on his grandmother and father.

Why hold on to vestiges of the past and be governed by people who are miles away?

When will be stand up and be independent and develop ourselves?

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Baha10 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Whatever the Anti-Colonialists may think, being apart of the Commonwealth and adhering to English Law have ensured that we are considered to be far more than a relatively insignificant population of 400,000 among the larger and more developed Nations of the World.

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GodSpeed 4 months, 3 weeks ago

How about fixing unemployment and violent crime instead of wasting time and energy on foolishness? Becoming a republic won't fix any of the problems in this country.

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tom1912 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The consituational monarch works on the system that the police,army/navy, judiciary,Prison officers, parliament swears an oath of loyalty to the monarch, but "the monarch has no power"! In theory any of those institution has not any direct control over any of the others. Well that's how it works here in the U.K.:)

However we in the U.K. have to pay thru nose via our taxes for the Monarchy,while I'm not a lover of the monarch ( It's too big and too expensive) the cost of a president and all the trimmings that come with that post, to the Bahamas will cost you more than a governor general and certainly more that what you pay for the monarch at present which is "nothing" It must be remembered that your govener general is chosen by the Bahainan's elected representatives however his position by law is loyalty to the Monach not Parliament! :)

I was pleased to note an official and a pastor in ABACO gave praise to the Royal Navy ( Loyal to the Monach) being one of the first to assist after Dorian hit. I wonder if that can be debited against the reparations cost claimed by a certain section of the Bahamian society. :) :) :) :) :)

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bcitizen 4 months, 3 weeks ago

All the reforms that need to happen within our government can be done without changing to a new system. The Senate needs reforming and The Bahamas itself needs to federalize somewhat (more freedom from the grip of central government). These are the big things that need to change in our government. Changing head of state makes no sense other than just emotional gratification. You really want another elected Politian to mess around with? I mean the politicians we have had over the last 50 years sure have done a bang up job.

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bahamianson 4 months, 2 weeks ago

A didtator says, a republic issue is dead. Nothing is dead until it is dead. You can never say never. One man does not have absolute rule. .

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The_Oracle 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The issue is basic adherence to the rule of law. no matter which set. We however have yet to administer our rule of law and regulations properly, or have a political class who follows them either administratively or personally. When we arrive at a decent level of behavior with our existing rules, we can chat. A Prime example is the headlong rush by Ingraham starting in 1992 to pass laws to overcome our inability to observe and obey the existing laws. Problem is we selectively apply the old and new laws. Seems we are the problem, not the system of governance.

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