Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media:
Town Hall Meetings
On Monday, June 20th, in keeping with of its mission to become a more participatory government, the DNA will host the first in a series of Town Hall Meetings to engage the public and get their input and feedback on our national goals and objectives. The first Town Hall meeting will deal with the topic “Crime and the Fear of Crime.”
As the fight to eradicate crime is not a DNA matter but a national one, in addition to the general public, we are inviting other noted stakeholders who have a vested interested in the arresting of crime in our country, particularly the Permanent Secretary at the Office of National Security, the Commissioner of Police, the Commodore of the Defense Force, the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecution, Justices of the Supreme Court and Magistrates, and the Superintendent of the Prisons. We will also be asking the Commissioner of Police to have officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force present at the event.
Early in the week, the Party will announce the rest of the particulars on the meeting, and we are inviting the general public to join us and lend their voice to the shaping of the first Bahamian design, long term vision plan for the nation. We look forward to the public’s attendance.
In keeping with its promise to Grand Bahama and the Bahamian people, The DNA is excited to announce that it is headed to the nation’s second city to begin making preparations for the Party’s launch on the island; tentatively the launch is scheduled for the end of June/first week of July. At that time, the Party will unveil several more of its slate of 41 candidates – three of them representing constituencies on the great island Grand Bahama.
The Democratic National Alliance’s (DNA) have grave concerns, among other things, over the most recent visit by officials of the Communist Party of China on the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of National Security and the Chairman of the Free National Movement Party.
In light of recent discussions in the House of Assembly last week by the Prime Minister’s over his intentions to bring about amendments to the Parliamentary Elections Act, and the Leader of the Opposition reference to the role that campaign financing plays in the integrity of elections (particularly elections in the Bahamas), the DNA is requesting the FNM Party to advise the Bahamian people about any possible financial arrangements or dealings that it has or might have with the Communist Party or any other Chinese connection in its party’s upcoming re-election campaign.
The DNA understands that one of the first and most immediate response from the Free National Movement, by way of the Prime Minister, its Chairman, or Minister of State for Finance – if they see fit or feel a need to be accountable to the Bahamian people at all – will be to deny, deny, deny that China is making any sort of contribution to its party or campaign. They may even go as far as to claim that what is being suggested by the DNA is only a figment of the Party’s imagination and could be, potentially, perceived as a slap in the face to a “goodwill” nation like China, who, they would want us to believe, is primarily looking to help our struggling nation and economy.
We expect the Free National Movement to duck and dodge around this issue – again, if it sees fit or even feel a need to be accountable to the people – but as a matter of trust, the DNA and the Bahamian people hope that the FNM will alley public concerns over this matter by making public, now and during this election campaign season, all contributions and favors coming from foreign/non-Bahamian entities; our present social condition – as it relates to backdoor deals with foreign interests, particularly during election season – has already taught us that, sometimes, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is, and, most times, nothing in life is free – national track stadium included.
• With a national track and field stadium built with Chinese money and labour
• new roads and infrastructural upgrades financed and soon to be manned primarily with Chinese labour
• the Baha Mar project financed by millions of Chinese dollars and soon to be manned by thousands of Chinese workers
• the Freeport Container Port, the Freeport Harbour Company, and the Grand Bahama Airport all under, or partly under, the control of the Chinese Hutchison Whampoa Limited
• large scale agricultural farming soon to be operated and supervised by the Chinese in Andros on acres of sacred Bahamian land
• large scale lobster, crawfish, and other marine fish harvesting to feed the hungry appetites of billions of middle and upper class Chinese living in mainland China and other Chinese territories (NOTE: Chinese Official, “we [China] are still suffering from over-fishing and fish catches have been declining each year. In addition, not only does China has a huge population but many Asian countries have huge populations and they have [a] great demand for marine products” (in connection with this issue the government must insist on a joint venture with Bahamians. In addition all stakeholders in the Bahamas ought to be consulted such as persons in Spanish Wells and other fishermen. The stakeholders must be involved and this venture must be mutually beneficial to both parties. It must not be detrimental to local markets and to the tourist industry and at the end of the day, we in the Bahamas must be in the position to export not only in this region but around the world making this a profitable industry.)
• and God knows what else it has planned for the Bahamas – a nation that can hardly feed itself
The Communist Party of China has more than a vested interest in making sure that the Free National Movement is returned and remains in power.
The ability of a people and nation like ours to have free access to information related to foreign investments in local and national elections are critical to the integrity of the election process, and with no accountability, transparency, or oversight presently in place, foreign governments can secretly throw millions of its disposable and readily available dollars behind the Free National Movement and into its re-election bid, much to the detriment to the Bahamas and future generation of Bahamians.
The DNA wants the Bahamian people and the world to hold this government accountable in its dealings with China as it seeks to secure another term in office. It is important to the best our ability, as a people and as a nation, to remain in control of our own destinies. Without any transparency and accountability by the Free National Movement, particularly as the sitting government, Bahamians risk having these special interest show up one day, only to be drilling in our National parks the next day – killing, among other things, many of our baby turtles and fish, while at the same time, destroying our natural environment.
Additionally, in my contribution to the Budget debate in the House last Wednesday, I pointed out several characteristic flaws of this present government that their “supposed” Budget revealed:
They, after three terms in office under a leader with 25 years experience in political office, still have no broad-based programs to grow the economy at a sufficiently high rate to affect any significant change in our economy;
They still have no concrete, long term financial development plan that will help reduce this 4.2 billion dollar debt that hangs over our, our children, and their children’s head; and on their own
They have no sustainable vision for moving this country forward into any century, 21st or otherwise.
The comment by the Chairman of the FNM to Communist Party officials made these points, among other things, blatantly clear.
“There is much that we in The Bahamas can learn from the wisdom and experience of the Chinese people and government. I am particularly impressed with the success of your planning through your five-year plans and I do believe a greater attention to national planning would certainly be a great benefit to The Bahamas — not just every year a budget, but to have a vision over a longer term.”
Coming from the Chief Executive Officer of the Free National Movement, Mr. Bethel, the statement “I do believe a greater attention to national planning would certainly be a benefit to the Bahamas” is an unambiguous, clearly worded indication that FNM has NO plan or vision for the Bahamas (none longer than a year, as he notes), and that the people’s fears and their desire to get rid of the Free National Movement as the government of the Bahamas is justified.
We too like Mr. Bethel believe that a sitting government should “not just every year [have] a budget, but . . . a vision over a longer term.” But again, after three terms in office, and no plan, the DNA questions whether anything will change with the Free National Movement or if it will be more of the same – hat tricks, smoke and mirror acts, bells and whistles, and other sorts of illusions pulled from its bag of tricks intended to deceive a more knowledgeable generation of people. As such, the DNA and the Bahamian are incensed with the Free National Movement and its Chairman for this shameful admission and we remind the Party of its leaders 1997 statements and say, “You deceive the people you violate your oath of office; you betray the trust placed in you by the people, it will be the bench for you! No exceptions! And It’s non-negotiable!”
On top of that, The DNA questions the suggestiveness in Chairman Bethel words when he says that “the Bahamas can learn from the wisdom and experience of the Chinese people and government,” particularly with China being a communist nation that has a track record of denying to its own people many of the very liberties and freedoms that so many of us try to enjoy in this present, but slowly fading, democratic and liberal Bahamas.
We would like the Chairman to explain how the Chinese vision and model will work in a Christian and democratic Bahamas made up of approximately 350,000 people. The Democratic National Alliance and the Bahamian public await the Chairman’s answer, and we are sure that his answer will be as interesting as his original statement.
For the sake of truth and transparency, the DNA and the Bahamian people would like Chairman Bethel to, also, make public the Chinese five year vision plan – sooner rather than later – so that we can hopefully see what it is that “impressed” the Party’s CEO. In the same vein, we hope that we do not see the Chinese vision plan appear, in one form or another, disguised as the FNM’s new five year vision plan for the Bahamas, particularly since the Chairman has already made us aware that his party does not have one. The DNA and the Bahamian people will hold the governing party accountable from now until Election Day.