September 8, 2015
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LAST week’s controversial exchanges about the treatment of displaced migrants following the destruction by Hurricane Dorian of the shanty towns in Abaco should have come as no surprise. As everyone knows by now, the potentially explosive issue of Haitian immigration to The Bahamas goes back a long way.
IN the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, The Bahamas has received so much aid, assistance and support from such a wide variety of sources, both at home and from overseas, that it would be invidious to single out any particular ones as being more worthy than others.
YESTERDAY’S press reports about the creation, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, of a new ministry to deal with disasters will no doubt be widely welcomed.
OLD habits as a diplomat die hard, so even in retirement I shy away from commenting in this column on domestic politics. However, in the terrible aftermath of Hurricane Dorian perhaps, for once, such self-restraint can be put aside temporarily in offering a view following the publicity last week about the involvement of two former Prime Ministers in dealing with the crisis.
So much has been written already about the catastrophe of Dorian that it is hard to find further words to describe its deadly effects and the horrors inflicted on people in Abaco and Grand Bahama. The destruction and loss of life is almost beyond belief and the extent of the suffering unimaginable. So it is heartening that the worldwide publicity has produced an extraordinarily positive response from other countries and that an international humanitarian aid operation is now under way.
As a final reflection on our lengthy summer visit to England, I was genuinely puzzled by the degree of negativity, particularly in the media, about Britain and its status in the world. According to some, the nation’s standing and influence as a leading global power has suddenly been severely curtailed or even no longer exists. Such a view is often expressed by those who believe the UK’s departure from the European Union is an act of extreme folly and that it will be unable to prosper on its own.
Another fascinating debate being aired during my wife’s and my extended summer visit to England was about the balance between civil liberties and state intervention in people’s lives.
In last week’s column, I surmised that Britain was in for an autumn of political disruption over Brexit. The nation has been overwhelmed by this thorniest of issues that has provoked deep divisions and the resulting uncertainty and instability could become even worse.
An important international development that ought to be publicised but has received only limited US media coverage is the Hong Kong government’s current controversial plan for extradition to mainland China.
It is said the rise of populism is a dangerous phenomenon in world politics. This has come to the forefront again following the heavy losses suffered by the mainstream political parties in last month’s European Parliament poll.
Keeping alive memories of significant events in its history is a mark of a civilised nation. An important aspect of this is public recognition and remembrance of those who lost their lives in war so that honouring their sacrifice should continue for years afterwards.
Having commented briefly in an earlier column about utilising the potential of the Family Islands, I found the recent exchanges in the House of Assembly about the Immigration Bill’s amendments concerning foreign business visitors especially interesting, not least because of the indication of an easing of immigration restrictions.
In today’s world of instant communication via the internet, news of the horrors of the recent evil and cowardly terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka will have reached far and wide.
Memories of youth seldom fade. I still recall a teacher in my far-off schooldays who seemed more interested in demonstrating his own intellectual prowess than in leading young minds to new ideas and concepts. ‘Liberty or licence’ (see below) was one of his favourite topics for essay-writing, without bothering to explain the difference in advance.
The sudden news of the arrest in London of the co-founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, not surprisingly hit the headlines last week.
Having written in preceding weeks about the thorny issue of Brexit, I turn today to the related subject of parliamentary representative democracy in Britain.
Since Britain’s departure from the European Union is causing political upheaval in a nation divided on the issue, it remains top of the news agenda. So, reluctantly, I am covering Brexit in this column for a third week running. This time, while mentioning the latest developments splashed daily across the British and European media, a brief look at the background that has led to the impasse might be interesting.
While it is essential to vary the content of this column, the massively controversial issue of Brexit is reaching a climax so this is a follow-up to last week’s report on the subject.
For many people in Britain it is mind-boggling that with so little time remaining before the nation is due to leave the European Union on March 29 the terms of its departure have still not secured parliamentary approval.
Press reports of remarks by the Prime Minister in New York last month in praise of the Nassau Accord ought to stimulate renewed interest in the role played by The Bahamas in the eventual ending of apartheid some 25 years ago. This agreement, which called for sanctions against South Africa and demanded it should dismantle apartheid and negotiate with the country’s black majority, was the outcome of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Nassau in 1985 attended by The Queen.
WHILE Britain’s departure from the European Union in March next year is fast approaching, Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is still embroiled in negotiations about the nation’s future economic relationship with the bloc after Brexit – a term now firmly in the modern lexicon.
The decision by Britain to withdraw from the European Union following a referendum in 2016 continues to stimulate endless debate and controversy, not least because of a relatively narrow poll margin of 52 to 48 percent in favour of departure. In a high turnout of some 72 percent, 17.4 million voted to leave.
Since governments are elected under the Westminster system for a five-year period, the Prime Minister is surely right to discourage people from judging him prematurely. Equally, it would be unwise simply to dismiss last month’s opinion poll showing a
New Year crystal-gazing is invariably guesswork and can be hazardous. But, having been asked to provide brief comments on The Bahamas’ prospects for 2018, it was not hard to single out the economy as the issue likely to be of major concern in the coming months.
DURING our lengthy visit to England recently, my wife and I were struck by the extensive coverage in the media of developments related to the European Union.
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LAST month marked the tenth anniversary of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s leadership of the ruling Conservative party. Having emerged unexpectedly to take the helm of his party after only five years as a Member of Parliament, he became prime minister in 2010 at the age of 43, assuming charge of the first coalition government in Britain since the Second World War.
The harrowing images of desperate refugees highlight the immigration crisis facing the European Union. Peter Young looks at the problem and its implications for Britain