Oswald Brown Writes
By OSWALD T. BROWN
Sir Jack Hayward, co-owner of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), is a strong-willed British aristocrat who has demonstrated on more than one occasion during his dispute over the past three years with Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham that he is not easily intimidated or bullied.
It now appears, however, that Sir Jack has decided to “play it safe,” fearing that Mr. Ingraham would act on his promise to deal with the GBPA if the Free National Movement (FNM) wins the upcoming general election.
This appears to be the most plausible reason for the announcement last week that Ian Fair has been appointed the new chairman of the GPBA just weeks or so before the next election.
Of course, this is all taking place amidst reports that a group headed by Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette has been approved by Mr. Ingraham to purchase the GBPA.
Be that as it may, considering the fact that the GBPA has been without a chairman for more than two years, the reason for naming a chairman at this particular time has got to be because Sir Jack became concerned about further victimization from Mr. Ingraham if he is returned as Prime Minister.
Sir Jack and the Prime Minister had been at loggerheads since December of 2009 when Mr. Ingraham announced that he would not renew the work permit of Hannes Babak, the then chairman of the GBPA.
As the dispute between these two powerful men persisted, Mr. Ingraham spitefully decided to neglect Grand Bahama and do nothing to help revive the island’s struggling economy, and in fact took certain harsh steps aimed at downgrading Freeport’s importance as the second most populous island in The Bahamas. One such step was the cancellation of ZNS-TV national daily broadcasts out of Freeport for the nonsensical reason that at $70,000 annually they were too costly.
With the kind of firm British resolve that Sir Winston Churchill used to inspire and galvanize the British people during World War II, Sir Jack remained steadfast in not giving in to Mr. Ingraham’s intimidation.
But his “wall of resistance” apparently developed cracks when Mr. Ingraham made his threat to deal with the GBPA after the next election during an address to FNM supporters at a meeting held in Freeport last December to explain why he had fired High Rock Member of Parliament Kenneth Russell as Minister of Housing. In making his threat, Mr. Ingraham referred to the “people at the GBPA” as being “too stubborn,” but in actuality he clearly was referring to Sir Jack.
Obviously, the foundation for Mr. Ingraham’s threat was the fact that certain provisions of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, the covenant that gave birth to Freeport, expires in 2015 and the next government of The Bahamas will have some important decisions to make with regard to the future of Freeport.
So despite all that Mr. Ingraham had done to cripple Grand Bahama’s economy , Sir Jack decided not to take the chance to further incur the wrath of the Prime Minister by not giving in to his demands that Ian Fair be made chairman of the GBPA; make no mistake about it, this was a decision made by Mr. Ingraham.
Quite possibly, Sir Jack took under consideration what Kenneth Russell had to say after he was fired as health minister when he referred to Mr. Ingraham as a “tyrant” and a “dictator.”
But all indications are that Sir Jack and the powers that be at the GBPA will not have to negotiate with Mr. Ingraham in 2015 when those provisions of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement expire because he will no longer be Prime Minister.
Indeed, it is now almost a certainty that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) will win the upcoming election by a convincing margin, some say with as many as 28 of the 38 seats that are being contested.
In Grand Bahama, there is a distinct possibility that the PLP will win all five of the seats. To be sure, there’s absolutely no reason why any voter in Grand Bahama should vote for the FNM, a party that’s responsible for the highest unemployment rate in the island’s history, the decimation of a once strongly entrenched middle class and myriad adversities, hardships, pain and suffering they have had to endure over almost the past five years.
And to make matters worse, all five of the current FNM Members of Parliament remained absolutely silent while Mr. Ingraham totally neglected Grand Bahama. Moreover, after he and Sir Jack had settled their differences earlier this year, Mr. Ingraham had the audacity to boast about not doing anything to help Grand Bahama because of his dislike for Hannes Babak.
These are all things that the majority of the voters in Grand Bahama will not forget when they go to the polls in the next several weeks or so.
Nonetheless, one of the positive aspects of Ian Fair’s appointment as chairman of the GPBA is the fact that Sarah St. George has been named as vice chairman. Sarah is the daughter of the late Edward St. George, who along with Sir Jack were responsible for the remarkable growth and development of Freeport from the time in 1976 when they purchased all the outstanding shares in the GBPA owned by Wallace Groves, the founder of Freeport, and became co-owners of the company that essentially is a government within and government as far as the affairs of Freeport are concerned.
Hopefully, Sarah inherited the good business sense of her father and will demonstrate the same level of compassion and love that he had for Grand Bahama and Grand Bahamians, and these objectives will be forefront in her mind in contributing to any decision made by the GBPA.