Progressive Liberal Party
15th September 2010
For Immediate Release
STATEMENT BY PLP: The PLP condemns the behavior of Minister Earl Deveaux for recently accepting free rides on a luxury helicopter owned by an investor with an application before the cabinet for approval; one of the free rides was to Abaco to attend a film screening.
The PLP further condemns the minister’s arrogant and dismissive attitude toward the whole matter. When questioned about the free rides and in the face of overwhelming evidence, the Minister flatly denied that he was in a conflict between his personal interest and his public duty, or that he received an unreasonable benefit in the capacity of a Government Minister. The minister also claimed that if presented with similar opportunities in the future, he would do it again.
We remind the minister about the FNM inspired and morally extensive “Standards of conduct for ministers of Government” that was published in the FNM’s 2007 Manifesto:
“Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duty and their private interests”. Further, “Ministers must avoid accepting any gift or hospitality, which might appear to compromise their judgment or place them under improper obligation”.
Clearly Minister Deveaux’s actions and arrogance are not becoming of an elected official and he demonstrated incredibly poor judgment. Public officials must understand that the perception of impropriety in governance is as bad as impropriety and malfeasance. The
Minister’s actions surely fall in this category since he was island hopping on a helicopter owned by a private investor who has an application before Cabinet to dredge 9 acres in the Exuma Land and Sea Park, specifically a 15 feet channel to accommodate his private yacht. This is unprecedented as the Government has never permitted a private land owner to dredge a protected area for private use.
Further, the PLP would like to know how the public interest is protected and served by the government granting permission for the dredging of a protected marine habitat for purely private use and personal convenience.
The PLP is constrained to question whether or not the gift of $1 million to the Bahamas National Trust by Aga Khan, facilitated by Minister Deveaux, was a veiled act of bribery to purchase the silence of the BNT to “look the other way” while Minister Deveaux and his cabinet colleagues approve the destruction of nine acres of a protected marine habitat in the Exumas near Bell Island.
It would be a dereliction of duty for the BNT, the environmental watchdog and protector of the environment, to lose its voice over this application before cabinet, but any indication, appearance, or implication of coercion by the government in this apparent “quid pro quo” arrangement is corruption in its rankest form and a breach of public trust.
Based on the principle of collective responsibility, the leader of the cabinet, the Right Honorable Prime Minister, is culpable and must accept full responsibility for the behavior of his cabinet colleagues.
Finally, the PLP received information that Minister Deveaux publicly stated that he tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister on Monday, 13th September 2010, but the same was not accepted by the Prime Minister. If this is so, the PLP strongly urges the Prime Minister to publicly state his reasons for rejecting the resignation, in light of the FNM inspired “Standards of conduct for ministers of Government.”
The PLP assures the general public that it will pursue this matter more vigorously and in greater detail when Parliament reconvenes.