Hubert Minnis National Address on Gaming Referendum 2013

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Opposition Leader Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis

My fellow Bahamians, the votes are counted and the results are in. The will of the people is now clear: Bahamians will not allow any factional interest groups, be they in government or in the private sector, to attack, demean, or besmirch our democracy and way of life. Bahamians have resoundingly re-affirmed the fact that The Bahamas is NOT a Nation for Sale!

We would like to thank all of those who took the time to vote their conscience with the clear majority producing a vote against the flawed, bungled and botched Referendum process presented to the people. We thank the representatives of the Christian Church, who garnered support and took the principled position to oppose the ‘yes’ campaign which was mounted by those who sought to use the flawed referendum process to legitimize illicit profiteering and financial gain at the expense of the most weak and vulnerable in our society. We express thanks to those who supported our views and assure them, that we will continue to hold high the Light of Truth, for justice, peace and good order in our Bahamas. We assure every Bahamian that we will continue our principled opposition to any conduct or proposed course of conduct by the PLP government which threatens the sovereignty, integrity and good governance of our beloved Bahamas; and any compromise of the integrity, transparency and honesty which the Bahamian People have the right to demand of their elected Representatives.

In the aftermath of the 2002 Referendum Mr. Christie, then Leader of the Opposition made a very telling comment about the “NO” vote, at that time, proclaiming that: “The people, by voting No, were saying that if you try to rush the process, you not only deny sufficient time for public education and discussion, but you also end up with a great many errors and flaws which only serve to complicate matters even further. This is an important lesson for this Government and all future Governments of The Bahamas”.

Unfortunately, that lesson was apparently not learned by Mr. Christie himself.
Despite claiming to not ‘have any horse in the race’ it was clear to every Bahamian that the Christie Administration had staked all its political capital upon a successful result in the Referendum, as shown, at the very least, by the duplicitous wording of the first referendum question; seeking approval to ‘regularize and tax’ when they well knew, and the Bahamian People well knew, that they really sought a popular mandate to legalize illegal gambling operations.

Having staked all its political capital, and having lost their bet, there is a very serious question as to whether this Christie-PLP Administration has any moral authority left to continue in government. The government is now required to stringently and immediately enforce the existing Law, in spite of their previous tacit support of the “Yes” vote. Any inertia and delay in complying with existing Law will continue to send the wrong message to those who might be tempted to break, not only the gambling, but other serious Laws in our country.

We, in the Free National Movement serve notice on the Progressive Liberal Party today, and advise them that we are watching, that the church is watching, that concerned Bahamians are watching and sadly, also, that the world is watching.
We all will continue to watch, as this is not over. The Prime Minister made several statements of concern over the last few weeks and we stand resolute to continue the fight to ensure that the will of the people should prevail. We will not stand idly by and watch this PLP government further divide our beliefs, divide our families and divide us as a people.

We wish to advise the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, that no longer will Bahamians accept mediocrity from their elected officials. No longer will Bahamians accept not being told the truth and accept empty promises with little or no merit. No longer will Bahamians accept a process that was obviously crafted to create confusion and polarity at the polls. No longer will Bahamians be bought or coerced into voting for a cause they fundamentally oppose.

We will not be bullied, we will not be bought – we are proud, intelligent, hardworking people with a voice that will not be silenced – WE ARE THE PEOPLE.
May God continue to guide and bless our beloved Bahamas. Thank you and goodnight.

Jan 29th, 2013