Roberts: FNM record of politicizing crime brazen, ignoble and unmatched

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PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts

Nassau, Bahamas – The following is a statement by Bradley B. Roberts, National Chairman Progressive Liberal Party:

I note the headline story in today’s Nassau Guardian entitled “Robert wants curfew” where the writer, Travis Cartwright, went out of his way to take another swipe at the PLP for what the print media (Guardian the Tribune) characterized as politicizing crime.

My understanding of the role of the media is to tell the entire story dispassionately and in context so that an informed public can draw a reasonable conclusion.

The local media continues to struggle with this most fundamental tenet of its profession.

I distinctly remember the FNM campaign leading up to the 1992 general election where Janet Bostwick blamed the level of crime on the Pindling’s PLP government. Through her bull horn she said “get rid of the PLP and the country will get rid of crime”.

The media gave her a free pass for politicizing crime ostensibly because they saw nothing wrong with it. Maybe the editorial boards agreed with her. Has fate would have it, crime increased under the FNM.

For my part I constantly reminded Mrs. Bostwick of her act from the floor of the House.

The assassination of former FNM cabinet minister Charles “Chuck” Virgil in 1997 was most unfortunate. What happened in the wake of his death was unforgivable though. It was very clear that former PM Hubert Ingraham, who had full control of the public purse to allocate the requisite resources to the police force, was unable to keep his minister safe. He stubbornly refused to admit to this internal security failure or accept responsibility for this terrible event.

To this day I still find the behavior of the FNM government and editorial angle of the local press to be most inexplicable. Apparently the media did not think the FNM government should have been held responsible or accountable for their actions – or lack of action – in securing the personal safety of a government minister. The media apparently thought that it was somebody else’s fault because there is no record of any media report pointing out the then government was responsible for national security, internal security and public safety.

As if that was not enough, it got worse. In a brazen act that some considered bribery of the Royal Bahamas Police Force in exchange for political support, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham scheduled the lump sum payment to police officers right around the time of the advance polls of the 1997 general election. From a rally platform, the Prime Minister no less directly told police officers that when they cast their votes, they must “remember the money,” referring to the lump sum payment.

In the campaign leading up to the 2007 general elections, then Leader of Opposition Ingraham doubled down, telling supporters at a rally on the eve of the advanced poll that they better believe that for every ten votes being cast by the police force, seven were being cast for the F-N-M.

Again, there was no outrage by the local media, not a peep from them and they essentially gave the FNM another free pass. Apparently the media thought this was acceptable behavior by former Prime Minister.

When the Cynthia “Mother” Pratt was appointed National Security Minister, the FNM took the politicizing of crime to a new low – they introduced the issue of gender to their assortment of criticisms – charging that Mrs. Pratt was incapable of leading an effective fight against crime because of her gender, that is, because she was a woman.

Former National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest and his boss, the former Prime Minister are both on record blaming the PLP government for crime. Turnquest said just blame the PLP and Ingraham told a rally crowd of supporters that crime was “out of control and this PLP government is paralyzed to do anything about it.”

Yes there is enough blame to go around, but the media chooses to tell only one side of the story and in so doing, that institution comes across as carrying a brief for the FNM and advancing a politically biased agenda. This flies in the face of fairness and balance, the hallmark of and foundation on which the Fourth Estate is built. Its credibility is predicated on its ability to consistently tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth without a hidden political agenda.

This credibility issue facing the local press was dealt another severe blow when the editor of the Tribune was at it again inventing tall tales in her editorial about criminals being friends of the PLP government and the enemies of the FNM. Again, this is yet another attempt at rewriting history and a blatant case of pro FNM political bias. Maybe an FNM surrogate wrote that editorial and gave it to her to print as commentary.