PLPs now gathering a massive “YES” FEST event to make sure defeat “NO” voters in the upcoming poll!
FNMS WANT A “NO” VOTE DELIVERED ON Jan. 28th
Nassau, Bahamas – Prime Minister Perry Christie could break his “NO HORSE IN THE RACE” stance and call up his massive GOLD RUSH Tsunami to vote “YES” in the Gaming Poll scheduled for Jan. 28th – 13 days from today!
Shocking and breaking details emanating out of the Free National Movement today confirms the Party has joined the “NO” Vote Campaign.
What is indeed shocking and amazing is this: the party, which voted “NO” to the deepening of democracy in the enhancements of referenda legislation, has seen absolutely nothing wrong with a part of the Bahamian economy staying underground.
What is worse is this. Before the May 7th General Elections former Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Alexander Ingraham agreed on the floor of the Parliament that the time to regulate the gaming business in the Bahamas has come. He noted during that sitting that it made no sense to have on the books a law that was “UNENFORCEABLE” by the police.
Mr. Ingraham went on to tell the country that he was ready to regulate the business. He told the Parliament, he met with the gambling fellas, and he met with the church. And after meeting with the church – the idea left Mr. Ingraham’s head.
He could not do it and was left paralyzed on the issue like the paralytic man laying for help at the pool of Bethesda.
Worse than that, then Prime Minister Ingraham drafted the legislation, framed regulations and promised the Bahamian people during the 2012 elections that he would be ready to proceed with regulating the business if elected back into office.
He and his party lost!
Further to that, when reports began to surface on the issue again in July, the former Prime Minister hinted again his agreement with the poll and said, “If you’re going to put the question of gambling to the public of The Bahamas, then the whole question must be put…
“We are singular in our decision in The Bahamas that excludes its citizens from being able to gamble in our casinos. Nobody else in the world does that.”
Some close to Mr. Ingraham know he loves to gamble – so much so – he gambled away the Bahamian people’s money in the millions.
Sources tell us the FNM party will now call up the troops.
But however the ball bounces, if you support “NO” in the Jan. 28th poll, you align yourself with the FNM and if you vote “YES” you have aligned yourself with the PLP!
It is as simple as that!
Below is a Statement of the FNM Position on the Proposed Gambling Referendum
January 16, 2013
The issue of whether to legalize the numbers business, web-shops, and/or to create a National Lottery is a complex matter involving a complicated web of cultural, political, economic and religious considerations. Almost every sector of society is engaged and all appear to be split; whether religious, cultural, or civic. As this debate has evolved it is clear that there are genuine reasons for disagreement over what is the right thing to do for the good of all Bahamians. People of conscience, practical realists, economic realists and nationalists, all found a part of the argument that they could support.
It is for that reason that the Free National Movement determined very early on that it would not seek to make this issue a political one. Our objective from the very beginning was to ensure that the process of enabling Bahamians to choose which course they preferred would best be achieved without the undue influence of party politics. Our position to the government was simple, get the process right, educate and fully inform the people, make the process fair and then we can leave it to the Bahamian people to make the best decision.
Despite the fact that the FNM raised dozens of questions that the PLP Government should have answered to the full satisfaction and confidence of the Bahamian people, the Christie government made no meaningful efforts to answer those questions. Their initial bungled legal opinions, and their half-hearted attempts to clarify issues only raised many more questions. People got the distinct impression that the Prime Minister was simply making things up as he went along. This is conduct unbecoming in a mature Democracy.
Despite the stated position that his government had not taken a position and “had no horse in the race”, everything the Prime Minister and his Ministers did and said suggested the clear opposite. At every step of the way the Christie government has conducted itself as if they were the principal lobbyists and agents for a select group of web shop owners, particularly the ones who financed their general election and by-election campaigns. This incestuous relationship between the government and the top numbers men is deeply troubling to the FNM and we said so every chance we got.
Statements made by the Prime Minister and his Ministers made it appear—consistently—that they were pushing this issue and designing it for the express purpose of paying back their financial backers, with little consideration as to what was truly in the best interest of the people. Because they knew the objective they wanted and needed to achieve, they paid little attention to the legitimate questions being raised about the details of how a legalized and regulated new system would work.
By ignoring legitimate questions, the Christie government made no meaningful attempt to provide information to help people understand the full scope of what the new gambling regime would entail and who would likely qualify to own and obtain web-shop licences. The government promised to produce draft Regulations which would show exactly how the licensing system would be implemented. They have failed to do so. Their strategy appears to be, keep the people in the dark about details, answer as few citizens questions as possible, ignore the Official Opposition, and patronize the religious community and The Bahamas Christian Council.
Within the context of any national debate, one of the most important ingredients is a government that adds light, and clarity and focus to the debate. Those ingredients enhance the process and ensure that the nation benefits from having an informed electorate on referendum day. In the absence of information, clarity, light, fairness, the people are left with confusion, doubt, distrust and a general sense of being manipulated. That is where we are today.
Given the tremendous lack of meaningful information, the government’s incompetence, and legitimate questions about a corrupted process, the Free National Movement has concluded that it will recommend that the Bahamian People Vote NO on question number one. We believe that the question appears to be fixed to enable the Christie government to do whatever it wants if the answer is “yes”. The FNM cannot give credence to a corrupted and fixed process. How can any law abiding government seek to obtain a mandate from the People merely to “regulate and tax” an illegal enterprise? The dishonest question Number One should properly have asked the People for a mandate firstly to legalize these illegal gambling operations, then regulate and tax them.
With respect to Question Number Two, while the Free National Movement in principle supports the establishment of a wholly State-owned national lottery, the absence of information from the Christie Government as to specifically what they are proposing leaves far too many unanswered questions. To date the statements made by the Prime Minister and his Ministers suggest that as with the fixing of the illegal web shop operations, their idea of a national lottery is one where their select group of web shop operators are again given a free hand to design a system that maximizes their returns while reducing the returns to the Bahamian people. Through the “back door” of a “Yes” vote for a National Lottery, the government would be able to “fix-up” their web-shop financial backers even in the event of a “No” vote on the first “Web-shop question”. In plain language, the Free National Movement does not trust the PLP Government to establish and regulate a national lottery with clean hands. Every sweetheart deal that the FNM has exposed since the May 2012 elections serves as a reminder that the Bahamian people cannot feel safe giving the PLP a blank check.
Because the Free National Movement and the Bahamian People have no clear understanding as to how the Christie Government proposes to develop and implement a national lottery, and because of our fears that this will be another sweetheart deal for the select few, we will recommend to the Bahamian People that they vote NO on Question Number two.
Throughout this process we have been asking the Prime Minister, “why the rush? The Free National Movement sees no reason to rush. More specifically, more time is needed so that a responsible Government can obtain the best advice and the best information, on the positive and negative aspects of legalized gambling in all its forms, so that Bahamians can make an informed and educated choice, based upon facts and not upon “say-so” and emotions.
The complex societal practice of “playing numbers” has matured into a sophisticated industry which encompasses telecommunications, banking and internet casino gambling, racing, gaming and lotteries, but which has the real possibility of supporting a number of illicit and undesirable activities potentially including money laundering and loan-sharking. The most important question remains unstudied and unanswered, “What is the true extent of the social repercussions—family, financial and social—of gambling. Days away from referendum day and we still have no idea what Pandora’s Box we have been asked to open by the Christie Government.
The Central Council of the Free National Movement last night voted unanimously to support the recommendation of the Party’s Executive Committee that the Party recommend that the Bahamian People vote “NO” in respect of both questions in the up-coming Referendum. Every officer of the FNM completely understands and respects that position. I have said on numerous occasions, we do not intend to tell people how to vote. Every Bahamian should be guided by their conscience.
We in the FNM believe things must be done in decency and in order. By any objective measure, what we have now is a royal mess. This process has been rushed by the government; it is flawed and it appears to be fixed. The only answer we should give on referendum day is a resounding NO!
Even for those who are inclined to vote in favour of the national lottery question, we urge you to give yourself a second chance. Vote “No”, and send the Christie government back to the drawing board. Make them get this policy right. Dictate to them your commitment to sharing the national wealth. Vote No!
There is far, far too much about these proposals that the Bahamian People do not know. And as the saying goes, “if you don’t know, Vote No!”