Oswald Brown WRITES
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s decision to stop national broadcasts of ZNS 3 televised daily news from Freeport, Grand Bahama, makes absolutely no sense. The reason can’t possibly be the cost factor stated by General Manager Edwin Lightbourn, who claimed in an interview that it costs some seventy-two thousand dollars annually for the televised transmission. When one considers that this figure is less than the annual salary of a minister in Mr. Ingraham’s over-bloated cabinet, then Mr. Lightbourn’s explanation for pulling the plug on the national broadcast of Grand Bahama news is embarrassingly absurd.
Make no mistake about it; this was Mr. Ingraham’s decision. Although Tommy Turnquest is the Minister with responsibility for broadcasting and Michael Moss is chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation, I suspect that neither one of them agreed with the decision, especially Mr. Moss, who has resided in Grand Bahama for many years; however, Mr. Ingraham uses fear like a carpenter uses a hammer to keep his cabinet ministers and those in decision-making positions in the government in check.
What is so mind-boggling, though, is that Mr. Ingraham has chosen to insult Grand Bahamians in this manner at a time when a general election is officially slightly more than two years away; actually, there is speculation that he intends to call an election for later this year. Clearly, being the astute politician that he is, he should have realized that even some staunch Free National Movement (FNM) supporters would be opposed to such a stupid decision, as indeed is the case. What’s more, I believe all of the FNM Grand Bahama members of parliament, except Marco City MP Zhivargo Laing, have not publicly voiced their opposition to this decision because they fear being interred in the political graveyard that Mr. Ingraham has established for those who oppose him.
Laing, of course, believes that he is Mr. Ingraham’s choice to replace him as leader of the FNM and would jump out of an plane travelling at forty thousand feet without a parachute to please him, so it is understandable why he has chosen to betray the people of Marco City by not voicing their opposition to this decision. The other four, on the other hand, have definitely remained silent out of fear.
It is no secret in political circles in Grand Bahama that Mr. Ingraham would like to nominate former Senator Kay Smith, most recently the Bahamas’ counsel general in Atlanta, and Michael Pintard as FNM candidates in the next election. There was speculation that he had planned to dump Eight Mile Rock MP Vernae Grant and run Smith in that seat, but FNM stalwarts in Eight Mile Rock blocked his efforts to do so. Therefore, with Laing being absolutely assured of a nomination, this means that either Ken Russell in High Rock, Neko Grant in Lucaya or Kwasi Thompson in Pineridge may have to bow out in favour of Smith and Pintard. It seems that Neko Grant and Russell most likely are the two Mr. Ingraham has targeted for retirement. Smith, of course, can always run for the West End constituency, but incumbent PLP Obie Wilchcombe is rock-solid there and besides she is reportedly not well liked in that community. But the truth of the matter is that Ingraham simply does not care whether the Bahamian people agree or disagree with the decisions he makes; what he says goes and that’s it. There is a school of thought that Mr. Ingraham was trying to induce Neko Grant and Russell to publicly speak out against the ZNS decision so that he could have a reason to dump them, but neither one apparently took the bait.
Another theory that is being bandied about for this woefully irresponsible decision is that it is the latest salvo in Mr. Ingraham’s ongoing feud with Sir Jack Hayward, one of the principal owners of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, who bitterly opposed his attempts to sell the GBPA to the Chinese. Sir Jack is a member of the British aristocracy and he has strong conservative credentials. He has made it clear that he mistrusts communist China and is suspicious of its motives for investing so heavily in The Bahamas and other areas of the Caribbean. It is worth noting that his point of view is also shared by the United States, although the Americans have been very diplomatic in camouflaging their concerns.
When his plans to encourage Sir Jack to sell the GBPA to the Chinese were derailed, Ingraham responded by arbitrarily refusing to renew the work permit of Hannes Babak, chairman of the GBPA, a decision that many in Grand Bahama now are convinced is one of the main reason Grand Bahama’s economy continues to be so stagnant. Babak had several projects he was working on to encourage investors to come to Grand Bahama, but none of them came to fruition after he was forced to leave the GBPA.
Being the vengeful and vindictive politician that he is, Ingraham has now decided to try and return Grand Bahama to being just another “Out Island” by stopping the national television news from being broadcast from the island. Keep in mind that Freeport is not only the Bahamas’ second major city, but its potential for growth and development at one time had many Bahamians speculating that it would at some point in the future become the most important city in The Bahamas. It is a well laid out city and is recognized as the industrial capital of The Bahamas. With its superb infrastructure, it has the capacity to easily accommodate an estimated one million residents, and in the past when its economy was booming it absorbed the masses of unemployed that came from Nassau and the rest of The Bahamas.
But Hubert Ingraham, for some insane reason, has decided to halt the national broadcast of news from the country’s second major city. In a nutshell, this is one of the worst decisions Mr. Ingraham has made as Prime Minister of this country. He is all powerful, however, and in the next election the voters in this country must show him and the group of “yes, yes” men who make up his government that the progress made in Grand Bahama over the years should not be stifled because of his attempts to replace some of his representatives or his feud with Sir Jack. In a nutshell, stopping the national broadcast of news from Grand Bahama is a stupid, stupid decision.
I am sending this to all segments of the media, including the two major dailies; however, I do not expect The Guardian to publish it, given the fact that it is totally controlled by strong supporters of Mr. Ingraham. The Tribune, on the other hand, has demonstrated that its editorial policies are not dictated by Mr. Ingraham, although its editorials, which are the opinions of the person or persons who writes them, often strongly support Mr. Ingraham.
Oswald T. Brown
Freeport, Grand Bahama
January 4, 2011