Elizabeth by-election is Referendum on Ingraham's leadership

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oswald-brown-copy.jpgOswald Brown WRITES

Voters in the Elizabeth constituency in New Providence have two excellent choices from which to elect their new representative in the by-election that is due to be held on Tuesday, February 16.

Of course, three other candidates – Bahamas Democratic Movement leader Cassius Stuart, Workers Party leader Rodney Moncur and United Christian Love Revolution Movement leader Godfrey “Pro” Pinder – have confirmed that they will contest the seat, but neither one of them has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting their deposit back.

In reality, this is a two-man race between Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) candidate Ryan Pinder and Free National Movement (FNM) candidate Dr. Duane Sands, both of whom are superbly qualified – educationally and otherwise – to represent the residents of the Elizabeth constituency in the House of Assembly.

Dr. Sands is a highly successful cardiologist, whose educational background includes receiving his early education at St. Anne’s primary and high schools, graduating at age 15 and subsequently going on to preparatory school at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut before entering Tufts University, from where he received a BSc degree in chemistry in 1982.

He continued his medical training at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, from where he graduated with a doctorate in medicine in 1986. He began his practice of medicine at Wayne State University Department of Surgery, where he finished his general surgery residency in 1991 and his cardiothoracic fellowship in 1994.

A very impressive educational background, to say the least, so it was to be expected that he would have had the tremendous success he has achieved in his profession.

Ryan Pinder can boast of an equally impressive background in his chosen profession. A certified United States tax attorney, who is licensed to practice law in both the United States and The Bahamas, he attended Queens College and St. Andrews School in Nassau, before attending high school in New York at The Stony Brook School.

He received his tertiary education at the University of Miami, where he earned a Bachelors of Business Ad-ministration in international finance and marketing; a Masters of Business Administration in finance; a Juris Doctor of Law degree; and a LLM in international taxation.

The Elizabeth constituency could not have asked for two better candidates to choose from, and on the surface it would seem as if this will indeed be a very close race, given the fact that Malcolm Adderley, a PLP Member of Parliament who resigned a couple weeks ago, only won the seat by a narrow margin.

But will it be? In a by-election, the governing party generally is considered to be odds-on favourite to win because of all of the governmental resources available to it to influence voters who place a materialistic value on their vote. It is extremely difficult to estimate just how many voters there are in Elizabeth who fit into this category, for unscrupulous politicians generally are extremely good at finding inventive ways to “buy votes.”

There are a lot of indications, however, that the up-coming election in the Elizabeth constituency may turn out to be a referendum on leadership of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, whose political decisions in recent times have generated a great deal of concern among the Bahamian people in general.

His most recent seemingly unilateral decision to release more than 100 Haitian mi-grants who had entered the country illegally and grant them temporary residential status in the wake of the earthquake that devastated Haiti two weeks ago has sparked a hailstorm of criticism from Bahamians on both sides of the political divide.

Every Bahamian unquestionably was horrified by the tremendous loss of life in Haiti and the mind-numbing television broadcasts of dead bodies left unattended in the streets in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.

The international response was certainly heartening, and there is no question that The Bahamas should do all that it possibly can do to help the distressed Haitian people, who have endured so much suffering throughout their more than 200 years as a independent black nation because of political upheavals that stagnated economic growth and stability.

Releasing the Haitian detainees from Carmichael Road Detention Centre, however, was not one of the choices that a leader who was acting in the best interest of The Bahamas should have considered. All of the arguments in support of this decision by Mr. Ingraham are weak, including the suggestion that as a Christian nation, this was the Christian thing for The Bahamas to do.

It is not a xenophobic suggestion to say that these were individuals who came into this country illegally, and they now have “temporary residential status,” which means that they can now legally compete with Bahamians for jobs in a job market that reflects a high double-digit unemployment rate. What if they can’t find jobs, although supporters of this decision by Mr. Ingraham are quick to say that the kinds of jobs they are inclined to do, Bahamians will not do. The truth of the matter is that this is no longer the case in the current job market.

Certainly, compassion for these illegal migrants would have been better reflected in a decision to keep them at the detention centre, where they would have continued to receive, presumably, three meals a day, and not have to hustle to survive on the “outside.” Even in the case of those who were fortunate enough to be reunited with family members already living in The Bahamas, Ingra-ham and his government must have considered the possibility that these “family members” are responsible, to some extent, for exacerbating the ongoing problem that The Bahamas has had for decades in controlling the flood of illegal Haitian migrants who come to this country.

Now, more than likely, when some degree of normalcy returns to Haiti, The Bahamas will most certainly be the destination of first choice for illegal migrants from that country. Considering this possibility, the solution that Ingraham has suggested for dealing with new illegal migrants may make sense as far as being able to legally keep them detained, but to haul them before the courts to be charged most certainly is an impractical proposition, given the fact that our court system cannot keep up with the current domestic cases it has to deal with; hence the heavy backlog of cases waiting to come to trial.

What Ingraham needs to do is admit that he made a terrible mistake and promise not to in the future make hasty, unilateral decisions of this nature without the necessary consultation. Certainly, what makes this decision all the more disturbing to many Bahamians is that it was reportedly made without the knowledge of Ingraham’s very capable minister with responsibility for immigration, Branville McCartney, who is considered to be one of the most effective ministers in the Ingraham cabinet.

Reportedly, this is not the first time that Ingraham has made immigration decisions without the knowledge of McCartney. Shortly before he left for Copenhagen, Den-mark, last month for the United Nations Summit on Climate Change, Ingraham announced at an airport press conference that the work permit of Hannes Babak, chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, would not be renewed at the end of December. There are reports that McCartney found out about that decision when he heard it on the radio.

This is certainly no way for the leader of a democratic country to be acting. There are those, however, who insist that this is the way Ingraham has conducted Government business all along.

Former Minister of Education Carl Bethel, no matter what he says to the contrary, may have learned this the hard way when he was humiliated and literally fired on national television at the FNM’s convention in November.

There is every reason to believe that he only found out that he was to become chairman of the FNM shortly after Ingraham made that decision, given the fact that the incumbent chairman, Johnley Ferguson, who was seeking re-election, publicly stated the day before the elections were held that he would still be chairman after the convention. Instead, Ferguson seconded the nomination for Bethel to become chairman, and anyone who believes he did so of his own free will should have their head examined.

When voters in Elizabeth reflect on these matters as well as the manner in which Ingraham has been courting communist China – clearly an action that is antagonistic towards The Bahamas’ long-time friend and neighbourly benefactor, the United States – the by-election in that constituency may indeed be a referendum on Ingraham’s leadership, since the voters do have two exceptional candidates from which to choose.

Oswald T. Brown is managing editor of The Freeport News. You can contact him via e-mail at oswald@nasguard.com

16 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Brown has made several asertions in this piece, asking the reader to accept it, wihout any evidence, even anecdotal. If it is his opinion that the election is a Referendum on Ingraham’s leadership he is free to say so, but do not be a weasel about it. Did you interview the members of the Ingraham government to decide if they were polled? Remember there are 2 cabinets, and the PM can overrule any Minister on Policy.

    The premise of the entire piece is also fatally flawed: The requirement to offer as an MP is simply to be age 21 or older, and be a Bahamain Citizen.  Dr. Sands and Mr. Pinder are both lettered individuals, but does that does not make either man highly qualified to represent Elizabeth, unless they are proving health care, and tax advise and legal services, respectively. All in all, this was terrible persuasive writing. I would not submit such drivel in a BJC essay….

  2. Russell Johnson GO RIGHT AHEAD!….. Makes me sick to know that your a Bahamain with such a IGNORANT mentality. Its beyond sickening and im more than tired of it. WHEN ARE YOU going to stop being between the plp legs and learn to be OPEN MINDED!….. CALL the names CALL em’…. first you say im Chet then you say im some other character MAKE UP YA MIND!……. Be real….. Perry gats to go and so does Hubert. BUT MARK MY WORDS I RATHER HUBERT ALEXANDER INGRAHAM any any any ANY day compared to Perry Christie in office.  You could tell a lie if you think Feb 16th im voting for perry Christie….. Im voting for RYAN SANDS! (Unconfirmed endorsement).

  3. Oh Russell please shut the hell up… i am beyond sick if your ever so BIAS behind!…… Who was the Minister of Immigration when the PLP was in power… did they do an outstanding Job as Branville….. NO!…..So shut up and worry about the mistakes YOUR leader had made to be the first PM to get kick out of office in the first term. You want observe body language and speeches…. why dont you observe the speeches Perry is making about his leadership style when he himself at the convention own up to his mistakes. Simple as this Ingraham gats to go…… Perry gats to go.

    • I wit’ you, Bahamasyouth.  Our dilemma is, we have to choose between an ego-crazed dictator who gets things done and a kind-hearted, softy who can’t make decisions.  The next generation of leaders await and are ready to serve.  (Davis vs. Laing 2012!!)

    • Bahamasyouth just when i thought you were able to comprehend you come with an asinine argument.Read my post then comment as you have completely missed the points raised.I thought you were holed up in the HQs of the red as you have been missing for over one week.I shall pass by all of the FNM HQs today andf if anyone lives in Lizzy an offer to have common sense will be offered to you.I heard from my sources in the FNM camp that am causing plenty trouble so am going into another gear and will now syart calling names .

  4. Very good article.  I wholeheartedly agree that Mr. Ingraham’s arrogant attitude as leader of government is offensive to a people who are proud of living in such a vibrant democracy.   This became even clearer during his last press conference when he reminded us who was Prime Minister.  I do, however, agree with his decision to release the Haitian detainees from the Detention Centre.  If you think this through, there was really no other humane option.  I am also convinced that had the PLP been the government, they would have made the same decision (in a round-a-bout kind of way).  The argument that this decision compromises national security is not plausible, in my view.  Haitians are  experiencing untold suffering and distressed at this time, and to keep them detained indefinately denies them the opportunity to properly grieve and to console.  This would be unconscionable.  I understand the emotions that many Bahamians feel, but we must let our humanity shine through in times like these.  We are a humane and compassionate people. We need to display this by our words and actions.

    • Papa went about this whole thing the wrong way. Those detainees were released without any explanation to the public as to how they would be monitoring them. I don’t know if they are suppose to be check in at a police station on a weekly basis or what procedure they have in place for them. The Bahamian people had some very legitimate concerns, but Papa responds to those concerns were very poor. For instances some 3,000 prisoners break out of jail in Haiti and given are close our proximity to Haiti, tell me why that should not be a concern? After Papa let the detainees out, people wanted to know what was going to be the procedure for other illegal Haitians that might be on the way, I feel that was another legitimate concern the people had, that Papa was not addressing. Then Jack Thompson came on the news saying one thing and Papa came back saying the next, so people wanted to know why the Director of Immigration and the Prime Minister were contradicting each other. From what I could see the Bahamian people had lone legitimate concern, Papa could have handled this whole situation much better than he did. Papa already stated why he let the detainees out; he thought it would have been inhumane given what was going on in their country. I could relate to that, but I feel he should have tried to relate to why some people would have had a problem with his decision; there are some people who believe in living by the law and feel the law should be carried out no matter what. Those detainees came here illegally and they made a decision to break our laws and now there is an earthquake in their country we should let them out? It is the same situation with prisoners in Her Majesty Prison that goes to jail for rape or murder and their mother dies while they are serving time, are they suppose to be let out to attend the funeral as well?

      • But Papa did address the issue of Haitians leaving Haiti after the quake.  He said that they would not receive temporary status.  They are considering placing them before the courts.  It’s right there in Mr. Brown’s article.  Agree with their approach or not, they have addressed it.

        • Yes, I know he finally addressed it and it’s about time, I was referring to when the question was first put to him right after he released the detainees.

        • The Minister of Immigration has reached a cross road and will have to decide if he wishes to cower under PAPA or be his own man.From seeing his body language McCartney is disturbed.He can no longer even talk tough as persons now know that the dictator PAPA calls the shots.If you are a thin ker the FNM under PAPA is no place for you.PAPA only addressed the protocols after he was attacked on this site.So far two men in the FNM have emerged as ones having testicular fortitude and they atr the diehard PAPAmite Brown and Dennis Dames who is having a serious conscience problem with PAPA.

  5. Albert if you beleive any otherwise u are very stupid. or under some sort of fnm OBEAH FIX! because just recently branville made it very clear that anyone found hiring illegals will be punnished by law. now i dont know what rock you live under, but alot of the haitians runnin around town are illegal. this means alot of them dont work, they are husteling so do u think it makes any sense to now add to that number of UNEMPLOYABLE people on the already chaotic streets of nassau? HUBERT IS ONE OOGLY FOOL. I HATE HIM!!!!

  6. Certainly, compassion for these illegal migrants would have been better reflected in a decision to keep them at the detention centre, where they would have continued to receive, presumably, three meals a day, and not have to hustle to survive on the “outside.”  Is he serious?!!!!

  7. I am happy to see that Oswald Brown is shedding his usual costume as an FNM mice and is now standing up as a professional and A man with a mind of his own. Good article coming from a staunch FNM., Even FNM’s are NOW frustrated with the FNM.

  8. Hardhead Gal now you know BP brings you and 5 million people the best of all worlds.

    Bahamas Press/Editor

  9. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever envision agreeing with Mr. Tunnel Vision.  I beg to differ at this time which is very embarassing…….Mr. Brown makes sense in this excellent piece of proper, non-political, non-selfserving journalism.  Yes, I said it, “journalism.”

Comments are closed.