Minnis out of touch with fundamental principles of governance
By Bradley B. Roberts
Progressive Liberal Party
With those ill-advised comments attributed to Senator Carl Bethel during a Guardian/NB-12 interview on 4th September, the number of positions currently held by the Free National Movement on resolving Baha Mar number at least three. Senator Bethel said that the government should not have gotten involved in the Baha Mar in the first place because it was a commercial transaction between private parties.
Initially, the FNM said that they wanted to work with the government in resolving Baha Mar; later, Butler-Turner said that Prime Minister Christie should show leadership and go to China for the three-party negotiations; Dr. Minnis then said that he favoured negotiations and Bethel later suggested that it was ill-advised for the government to agree to get involved in the first place. He also characterized the appointment of a provisional liquidator as “foolhardy.”
Between June 29 and September 4, the FNM managed to move their position from ‘working with the government in resolving the Baha Mar matter’ to ‘it’s a private matter therefore the government should not have gotten involved in the first place.’ This creates more confusion in the minds of the public and a conundrum for FNM leader Dr. Minnis.
This latest salvo creates a number of problems for Dr. Minnis:
What is the official position of the FNM as there are at least three floating around in the public domain? Is Dr. Minnis in charge of his Parliamentary Caucus and will be publicly repudiate Bethel’s comments and censure him?
How long should these open-ended three-party negotiations continue in light of the national uncertainties these create when there is no resolution and the resulting implications for the country’s economy and sovereignty?
What about continuous asset dissipation Dr. Minnis?
Further, are open-ended negotiations alone Dr. Minnis’ final answer? I don’t know if Minnis noticed but at one point during these “negotiations” he seems so fond of, the developer took legal action in a foreign court which brought the Bahamas Supreme Court into the matter.
Prime Minister Christie for his part clearly had an end game and boldly executed the same, but what is Dr. Minnis’ end game for a Baha Mar resolution?
The consequences of FNM’s position (or positions), whether from Senator Bethel, Dr. Minnis or both are simply these: The Baha Mar matter is litigated in a foreign jurisdiction overseas with no participation of the Bahamas government in the approval petition process in our Supreme Court. All existing contractual obligations including government goodwill become null and void and all Bahamian contractors, services providers and creditors (including the government and all of its agencies) must file through a foreign court to seek justice.
I cannot imagine a duly elected government sitting back idly and impotently, allowing this to happen to its people, but this is the consequence of the FNM’s position. They may hope that the parties can persuade the developer to drop his bankruptcy in favour of a negotiated settlement, but hope alone is a tenuous and sandy foundation on which to place the sovereignty, economic security and international reputation of an entire country, but Minnis’ FNM appears to think this is the best course of action for Bahamians.
In doing so they demonstrate wanton ignorance of very fundamental principles of governance and the role of the government in protecting the sovereignty of the nation it governs.
Senator Carl Bethel is a special case. Here is a seasoned politician and Attorney General no less savaging the judiciary of the Bahamas because he thought such vitriol was what the developer wanted to hear; how else could the FNM explain his tirade. Where does Carl Bethel’s national loyalty lie? Instead of defending this country and its institutions, Bethel is behaving like an unpatriotic and slavish Uncle Tom. The developer agrees with the court’s judgment as a positive step toward a resolution and Bethel is accusing the Bahamas judiciary of “putting a gun” to the developer’s head. This is inexcusable behavior from a Bahamian, much less one who desires to lead this country.
His tirade reminded me of that historic story of the slave who tried to think for and spoke ahead of his master and was cut down to size. I characterize Carl in that manner and make no apologies for doing so. Every Bahamian should savage Carl the way he tried to savage our judiciary.
As for the PLP, we welcome the court ruling and remain optimistic that Baha Mar is one step closer to resolution. We support the government’s singular focus of getting the resort completed and opened in the interest of all Bahamians.