Letter to the Editor
In his speech to the Urban League, Thursday July 29, 2010, President of the United States, Barack Obama, demonstrated how in the context of a Nation, economics and social development are inseparable variables. Specifically, he spent a considerable amount of time linking tertiary education to higher income potential and the challenges this has posed to the African American demographic which historically has been outpaced by it’s white counterpart in terms of access to and performance re: college education. The Bahamas with its predominately Black make up and its blatant inequities (although mainly silent) with respect to the distribution of wealth and opportunity is unlikely to have its elected leadership engage in this kind of dialogue for a while yet but what was poignantly relevant about President Obama’s speech for a Bahamas at the cross-roads of development is the central idea that economies do not flourish and bloom in isolation from a people – the two are as interconnected as carbon dioxide and oxygen.
The present stagnation then of the Bahamian economy is in direct correlation with the present stagnation of general Bahamian society. Murder and mayhem, stifled vision, immaturity and conflict among leadership in government, church and society, an out-dated educational curriculum, the arrested development of so many of our citizenry, the dangerously misguided ambition of the privileged and or youthful among us, the dying sense of civility, harmony and humanity on all strata of social interaction is not only the result of historically imbalanced economic practices but has become the source of the further perpetuation of disharmony between a people and their economy. In other words, whatever is lacking to successfully diversify and expand the Bahamian economy exists or persists because it is lacking in either the will, cooperation or imagination of our people and or those who lead us.
Two things became painfully obvious with the announcement of the finalized partnership agreement between the Chinese Government and the Baha-Mar development, in an environment of a harrowing recession which for a while seemed bottomless no less, exacerbated by a general mood of hostility, apathy and hopelessness. One: by and large, the Bahamian media has become a menacing failure in its duties to educate the populace of this developing Country with respect to the proper definition of true leadership qualities and the tenets of good governance.
It is a travesty of epic proportion that the key personalities afforded the opportunity to direct, develop and define the profession of journalism alongside the simultaneous development of a young Independent Nation, allowed personal un-reconciled bitter emotions to dictate the tenor and messaging of the most powerful private media outlets in The Bahamas. The crusade in the name of journalism led against Sir Lynden Pindling and the Progressive Liberal Party and its inheritors has done and continues to do more harm than good to the psycho-social development of our people. Even more frightful, the fact that persons have become quite wealthy and their rag sheets, culturally entrenched, in the process.
The result is, and they must be held accountable, that their tactics have left a great many Bahamians unable to see beyond the carefully crafted stigma of corruption attached to the PLP while without apology they have emerged as the great defenders of the now governing Free National Movement. This gross bias has distorted the concept of truth in information dissemination in such a small Country. A dangerous realization – that truth as advanced by our leading media sources with respect to Bahamian politics is not unbiased and without prejudice but rather for decades, this truth has been in a powerful way, reported through the lens of those motivated by hate and inspired by revenge.
The economic and social victories attained by the Progressive Liberal Party whether in government or opposition by their standards must always then be over- shadowed by negative gossip and sensationalized scandals. No matter the truth of the matter, even in great crisis, by their twisted standards, they are mandated to continuously condition their audience to believe that the policies and practices of the Party of their choosing, namely the FNM are without exception superior and purer than that of the PLP. By all means and any means necessary it must not be told that PLP governments by leaps and bounds, verifiable by facts, have out-performed FNM administrations and consistently have been better stewards of the Bahamian economy. What we have, veiled as journalism is nothing more than profitable and effective public relations for and on behalf of the FNM.
Otherwise, what the public would be bombarded with as it relates to the difficult journey of Baha-Mar are the facts surrounding this startling development. Baha-Mar is one of a number of investment projects attracted by the visionary Christie administration which, due in large part to private media, was voted out after one term of governance. For the record, a summarized account of what Perry Christie sought to leave in place for our Country through his economic policy was a revitalized and more properly planned New Providence/Bahamas, poised as the envy of the region in terms of tourism potential and the most modern and picturesque place to do international business in the Caribbean.
New Providence according to his plan would have seen the development of a shipping hub and neighboring affordable communities on land acquired by a caring PLP Government at its most South-westerly point. This was to be complemented not too far away by a world class mixed used property featuring the very best golf has to offer developed by Tiger Woods and other leading personalities in the golfing world. If one took the journey eastwardly, having already experienced the internationally recognized historical Clifton heritage theme park which under the Christie administration drew the attention not just of the United Nations and noted historians but also the interest of National Geographic magazine, the next stop of wonder and imagination would have been Baha-Mar, the charm and wizardry of which is captured in their online plans.
Downtown New Providence was also to experience an upgraded revitalization, again competitive with international trends. And to cap it off the Ritz Carlton brand was to be involved in a mega-project on the privately owned Rose Island. Monte Carlo would have had nothing on Christie’s “new” New Providence, and his plans would have taken unemployment to its very minimum, expanded a healthy middle class, and provided the opportunity for more Bahamians to own more of our economy and greater wealth through spin-off opportunities. This plan was also to be duplicated on Grand Bahama and every major Family Island in this archipelago.
Aided and abetted by private media, as soon as the FNM was re-elected in 2007, the dreams, vision and plans of the Christie administration were hijacked, distorted and/or abandoned by the new FNM government and its spiteful leader. What a mature media would also bombard the public with is the fact that the proposed Baha-Mar development was intentionally bastardized in a horrifically public way by the newly elected yet seasoned Prime Minister in the Halls of Parliament for mysterous reasons. Harrahs, which should have been the main partners in this deal, as opposed to the Chinese Government, were deliberately frightened away -like so many other potential investors, by the one elected by our “media misled” people to govern, just before the onset of the worst ever global financial crisis and subsequent recession this Country has ever faced.
But again these are truths which our mainstream media would prefer to cover up. It must never be known, the extent to which the imagination and planning of Perry Christie and the PLP has secured the soundness of the future of the Bahamian economy, no matter how long it takes his plans to unfold, nor how it would have cushioned us from the recession. Yet even in its present renegotiated form with a partnership which may cut into the full prospects for Bahamian labor, the Baha-Mar project is set to be the “savior” of the struggling Bahamian economy and possibly the factor which may mark its rebound and stabilization. We should really be thanking Rt. Hon. Perry Christie whose vision has reached beyond defeat to rescue us from the emptiness and uncertainty of a Government which to date has been unable to devise a single strategy to lift us out of present despair.
However, we find ourselves in this place as a ‘devalued people with a devalued economy led by a devalued government’ because of the second troubling dilemma which has presented itself since the announcement of the Baha-Mar, Chinese Government partnership: and that is the unsettling level of xenophobia being expressed to distract us from the fact that as a people we have not yet actualized to the place of invention, ingenuity, partnership, entrepreneurship and imagination necessary to move our own economy forward. We are held hostage by the need for foreign investment because for a myriad of reasons we are not yet in a position to invest in the ownership of our own economy.
We rejected the imagination of a misunderstood leader, the plans of whom would have re-created a Bahamas trending more towards what our next generation so badly deserves – job creation, ownership opportunities, stability in social conditions associated with the successful expansion of a developing economy, and with it the level of free or affordable education, health-care and other social benefits which can more readily be offered by Governments not cash strapped for survival. Every pundit you will hear embroiled in an argument of a xenophobic nature over this Baha-Mar/Chinese arrangement does so because it is easier to point to the flaws of the foreigner positioned to invest than to deal with the reasons why we are not yet able to invest ourselves.
And a key component to unlocking the potential of our energies and being mentally inspired and liberated in our renaissance driven imagination is to first have the kind of leaders and leadership who embody these very principles. Responsible journalism in a 37 year old Independent democracy would find it imperative and ‘just the right thing to do’, to explore the failings of FNM administrations and comparatively reveal their short comings in relation to the philosophies, programs, policies, and visionary strategies of the Progressive Liberal Party. Objectivity in reporting in this regard would assist in maturing our voting population so as to arrive at more sensible conclusions.
And this brings us to the point where we began and the relevance of that reminder from President Obama – that economies cannot and will not flourish in isolation from a people. The expanded consciousness of a people determines the expansion and diversification of their economy. President Obama’s message is further, a clarion call for greater responsibility: greater responsibility in education (as was the emphasis in Pres. Obama’s speech) but also greater responsibility in journalism, in the decision making process in casting one’s ballot, in choosing careers which would advance one’s society and aid in diversifying one’s economy, in accepting one’s role in nation building, and in identifying the right kind of leadership characteristics necessary for the sustainable development of today’s Bahamas.
The REAL Truth is that if you want more peaceful communities grounded in the principles of partnership and consultation, you choose a leader whose nature is more reflective of peace and whose style exemplifies partnership and consultation. And if you want to build a Nation with meaningful and lasting employment and ownership opportunities, coupled with 21st century social policies and programs, all under-girded by an ever expanding economy, you choose the leader and his team which has proven through performance that they have the formula to inspire and deliver just that. When we become more responsible as a people in these various capacities, the foreigner, whether Haitian, American, Chinese etc., just might become less of a threat and more of what he is intended to be – a partner and ally, in a destiny directed by a valuable people in harmony with a highly valuable economy under the leadership of a valued government.