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EDITORIAL: Which Mr Davis should we listen to?

LET us hear a tale of two opinions on whether The Bahamas should become a republic.

First, there is the view expressed last week. The person in question not only talked about the prospect of a republic, but said they “will have a referendum”. No messing about there – straight to the point.

Furthermore, that same person said they would support the move, saying: “The only challenge with us moving to a republic is that I can’t, as much as I would wish to do it, I cannot do it without your consent.”

Interesting phrase there – as much as I would wish to do it. It certainly shows backing for the idea.

Now how about the opinion expressed in today’s Tribune? Well, this time, the person giving their view said: “I do not think it necessary to begin that conversation while we remain in our period of official mourning. Once we have paid our final respects, there will be time enough in the future for such discussions.”

The nonsense of course is that these two opinions come from the same person, our Prime Minister, Philip “Brave” Davis.

Last week, he puts a referendum on a republic on the agenda. This week, he brushes it off saying it’s not the time, even when he was the only one who put it forward.

Perhaps he remembered that he has invited the new king, King Charles III, to The Bahamas for next year’s 50th anniversary of independence and thought better of how it looked to suggest a referendum on a republic right after the Queen’s passing.

Or perhaps he considered what it might be like to be campaigning to get rid of the monarchy even as the new king and the new Prince of Wales, Prince William, visited the country.

Or perhaps it was never a substantial idea in the first place and nothing more than a reply to a question he had not fully thought through.

Even if the government was committed to holding such a referendum – despite not having mentioned it in its Blueprint for Change ahead of the election – there has been no indication of what a republic would actually look like for The Bahamas.

Given how long legislation over marijuana has been rumbling along through consultation after consultation, the much more complex issue of a constitutional overhaul to create a republic would be a difficult issue to rush, especially given the time it would take to educate voters about what their choice would actually mean for the nation.

It is hard to know what was going through Mr Davis’ head when he started then stopped the debate on a republic. If there was a plan, then it was badly considered, badly executed and swiftly reversed. If there wasn’t a plan – why mention it at all?

Whatever the situation, it doesn’t make the government look good at all.

Protest

In one of the less coherent demonstrations of recent times, protestors gathered outside Parliament yesterday to express their dissatisfaction with laws that don’t exist.

The protest was largely organised by the Coalition of Independents, almost a contradiction in terms itself. You may remember them from the election, when candidate leaflets promised such things as free education, free healthcare, free water, free electricity, free internet and a cheque for $100,000 every year to every Bahamian with a passport. We don’t know why they didn’t offer the moon and the stars free to every Bahamian to go along with that package, but it would have been just as realistic.

Yesterday, they gathered to protest the government’s “intention” to advance drafted citizenship bills. The Office of the Prime Minister responded quickly to clarify that there are no such draft bills, so the protest served as a lot of sound and fury over nothing so far.

The Coalition’s leader, Lincoln Bain, complained that people do not want the government to go against the outcome of the 2016 referendum on equality, and said he will do “whatever is necessary” to stop changes being passed into law.

If we are to progress as a nation, however, it would be useful to debate facts that exist rather than stoke fears over things that do not exist.

There is absolutely a discussion over legal measures to bring parity when it comes to issues of citizenship. Quite why the protest members want to avoid such equality was not made clear – but this is not the way to advance that discussion.

Comments

Alan1 2 months, 2 weeks ago

We do not need a republic for The Bahamas. It will not improve our lives but could well lead us down the path to becoming yet another failed third world republic.. Our current system works well here and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth realms. Why abolish what works? Say NO to a politician 's republic. We have too many problems in our country right now to be wasting valuable time on an issue which is not necessary.

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sheeprunner12 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Our present 1973 Constitution places MOST political power in the hands of a prime minister ........... Our PM acts just like most presidents in Third World countries. He can hire and fire the GG, Senators, Cabinet Ministers, COP, Judges, Ambassadors, etc ...... That is a dictator wrapped in a democratic institution.

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birdiestrachan 2 months, 2 weeks ago

This Republic situation does not make the government look bad, even if it is the desire of the editorial page to make it so ,
what is a Republic ? What changes will be made is it beneficial ? Many Bahamians do not know right now it is just talk just cheap talk,

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hrysippus 2 months, 2 weeks ago

AS i see it there are three disadvantages to becoming a republic and one advantage. The advantage is that cronies and large dollar donors to the prime minister's party will no longer be able to be rewarded with one of these risible knighthoods or damehoods. The disadvantages are; the huge expense of implementing a presidency. losing the Privy Council, the Court of final appeal in the world, and lastly the severing of any moral obligation that England may feel to welcome Bahamian subjects unto The United Kingdom when the rising sea levels inevitably make our country untenable for continued habitation.

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