By Pierre V.L. Dupuch
November 17, 2011
Some time ago I wrote objecting to the FNM, namely the Deputy Prime Minister, giving out citizenship to Haitians, which appeared to be an effort to get votes for the upcoming election. I also pointed out that we had accused the Pindling Government of doing the same thing. This was wrong for the Pindling Government and, if true, it is wrong for the Ingraham Government.
A person, forgetting that I also referred to the Pindling Government, took extreme exception to my suggestion that it appeared that the Ingraham Government was doing the same thing. He said that Brent Symonette had given the “facts” which put a lie to what I was suggesting.
I made the charge of the FNM’s apparent padding of votes on similar information used to make the same charge against the PLP. Back then this very person thought I was a hero, filled with unusual guts, for taking on the Pindling Government as I did. Today, he hails me as a devil with some personal agenda. I must admit, I do have an agenda. And that agenda is the same as it was fifty years ago and that is the good of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people. I am all Bahamian…all two hundred pounds of me!
I have reason to question the citizenship figures that Brent has made public. But let us, for one minute, accept Brent’s figures that, I believe, indicated some five thousand citizenship had been given out by the FNM.
I was virtually born into politics, being the 7th Dupuch and 4th generation to serve in the House of Assembly. I have been in active politics in this country for almost fifty years and of those fifty I spent twenty five years in the House of Assembly. I say that to say this. I was horrified to see the “leaked” copy of the proposed new boundaries that were published by the local press.
This is the worst case of gerrymandering I’ve ever witnessed. It makes any gerrymandering done by the Pindling Government look like schoolboys in short pants.
When Pindling did it, we in the FNM, the media and the country leaders were all over him like white on rice. Today, we don’t hear a word from those who called Pindling a conniving crook for gerrymandering seats.
But let’s put all this aside for now. With seats being gerrymandered, as proposed by the FNM government, people will not be given the time to meet and talk to their candidates; it will not enable the opposition to name their candidates in a timely manner, nor will it enable candidates to properly check those registered in the district.
I repeat, it will not give candidates time to properly check those registered in the district! Now back to Immigration and the seemingly bogus figures. Take ten “shaky” districts and put five hundred of these newly created Bahamians in each of them and the seat is suddenly no longer shaky; it belongs to the Government…that gave them the citizenship!
Need I say more? Is this what you as red blooded Bahamians want? Is this what we’ve fought for all these years? Where are the leaders; where is the media? Where are my friends who have gone quiet? Were we talking about guts?
In answer to my original article, Brent Symonette replied: “I have a job to do and that is to regularize and do my work at Immigration so persons who have been waiting for years for something they are constitutionally entitled to apply for can get a fair hearing…” So said Mr. Symonette, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister.
This says a mouthful. Minister of Foreign Affairs? That’s passports, right? Does he remember that there had been a passport racket at the Passport Office some time ago? Or has he cleaned that up? To whose satisfaction?
He says that he is taking care of the disadvantaged people who have been waiting for what is theirs. Mr. Symonette seems to forget that the FNM has been in power for the past twenty years, bar five? Is he admitting incompetency?
To expose both sides of the coin, I spoke to a woman who was married to a Bahamian who had waited over twenty years to get her papers, but when she got there to collect them, the room was packed with people becoming “Bahamians.” She and the Immigration Officers were the only ones in the room who spoke English. Its a game, and Brent knows it.
If the system is such a mess, would you not think that the status of Permanent Residence would suffice for at least those who have not yet mastered English? If the applicants can’t speak English, surely this should tell the authorities that there is possibly something wrong with the citizenship application documents in the first place!
In order to mix up the pot and confuse the issue, Mr. Symonette talks about Spousal Permits and existing Permanent Residents. These are not the people we’re taking about…and Mr. Symonette knows it. A Spousal Permit refers to foreign women married to Bahamian men. Mr. Symonette knows that the Constitution provides that such a person has the right to be a Bahamian citizen. If they really were serious they could pass a law permitting a foreign man married to a Bahamian woman to become a citizen, although it is not in the Constitution.
Permanent Residence gives a person all the rights of a Bahamian except the right to vote. Why not give this status to those now being given citizenship?
Brent says he’s only doing his job. Well let me tell him something. Before he was born a number of judges and others were brought before the Nuremberg courts sentenced with causing six-million Jews to be exterminated in Germany during the Second World War. Their defense was “we were only doing our job.” They ended up at the end of a hangman’s noose. Some “jobs” you refuse to do, Brent.
I bring this to the people’s attention. Let them decide.
My next article will probably discuss the roads, leadership and planning.
In the meantime, think about the issues and your children’s future. You are a Bahamian first; an FNM, PLP or DNA second.