Saturday, October 22, 2011

Face to face, does the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader - Mr. Branville McCartney have the political pedigree to challenge or face-off with Mr. Hubert Ingraham - the governing Free National Movement (FNM) leader? Or will he be manhandled on the ground?

Ingraham lays into McCartney


As elected officials continue to place their partisan egos in front of a unity of purpose and passionate commitment to a well-reasoned vision for the country’s upliftment, one wonders whether Bahamians will focus on the issues and demand more of their elected leaders during the next general election cycle.

As the election draweth nigh, crime can without doubt be identified as enemy No.1. Quite frankly, if crime is not seen as being effectively dealt with the current government would be doomed in its attempts to enhance its political fortunes come election day. Frankly, issues such as unemployment, the economic downturn, poor agrarian productivity, political corruption, inconveniences suffered as a result of road works (in the minds of some), electricity stability and costs, et cetera, must be seen—by the Bahamian people— as being effectively addressed.

He’s ready for a fight

With a general election on the horizon, we’ve seen a Perry Christie renaissance and based upon Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s recent performance in the House of Assembly—as he addressed the race for the Bamboo Town seat—a reinvigorated FNM leader who is back on the electoral warpath. Frankly, the Prime Minister (PM) essentially dressed DNA leader Branville McCartney in a clown suit last week, hitting him with a political sucker punch and challenging him to a showdown in Bamboo Town—which will unquestionably be a political melee featuring three “leaders”, past and present, of splinter/third parties.

By allowing the Bamboo Town seat to remain untouched and in issuing his challenge to Mr McCartney, Mr Ingraham effectively shifted the spotlight/pressure on McCartney to prove his leadership mettle and political strength by, for one, winning his own seat. Of course, beyond a hand gesture suggesting that Mr Ingraham should meet him at the polls, and a few other utterances whilst seated, Mr McCartney was mum and said nothing for the record—having been the source of jovial, laughter-filled moments shared across the aisle by FNM and PLP members.

Indeed, the ground has effectively been loosened under Mr McCartney by two political titans who, in apparent cooperation in sending two former fringe party leaders as their standard bearers to challenge Mr McCartney, seem to think that he’s a latecomer who has become too big for his britches.

This week, as I watched Mr McCartney sit—stone-faced—as he got schooled by a political mastermind, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps PM Ingraham saw a bit of a younger, more politically apt/mature, Hubert Ingraham in him. Moreover, after Mr Ingraham’s blistering commentary, Mr McCartney—who has levelled verbal jabs at Mr Ingraham in the press and in other forums, appeared to cower in his presence, dumbfounded and—on national television— being exposed as a paper tiger in what appears to be an exploitable mismatch. Stand up Mr McCartney!

Face to face, does McCartney have the political pedigree to challenge or face-off with Mr Ingraham? Or will he be manhandled on the ground? Admittedly, Mr McCartney is a superb MP and has a strong foothold in his constituency.

That said, there are also those persons who would ask if the PM—based upon his comments—would prefer that the PLP win Bamboo Town, or even the government, rather than his younger political nemesis. Such questions abound, particularly in an age where progressive nations such as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have seen the emergence of a younger generation of leaders and potential successors—regardless of gender.

Certainly, with three parties vying for the hearts and votes of the Bahamian electorate, the stirring and impending electoral drama is lining up to be a political circus with plenty of suspense. Whilst contentious politics is woven into the fabric of Bahamian society, beyond the partisan bickering and preening egos, the issues and concerns of the Bahamian people must not and should not be ignored or cast into the background.

As election season heats up, certain MPs are beginning the mad dash to their respective constituencies with the hope of being given another chance. The coming months, for some Bahamians, will be the first time they have seen their elected representative in nearly five years. This upcoming general election is a time for Bahamians to vote conscientiously and let the power of their votes resonate throughout the archipelago.

On the judicial system

National Security minister Tommy Turnquest should be given a pat on the back and a congratulatory hoorah for his recent remarks regarding the judicial process in the Bahamas. He spoke the truth and, for amazingly showing that he has the cojones to speak it, he deserves two thumbs up!

Frankly, the Bahamas’ judicial system is an archaic mess that has long been neglected to the point that case backlogs and disorganization has led to various sadistic criminals roaming our streets—time after time on bail—whilst frustrating the police and creating openings for criminals to prey, yet again, on another ill-fated victim.

Quite honestly, crime is ravaging our society, causing law abiding Bahamians to live as prisoners in their own homes as the criminal element wreaks havoc in different corners of our archipelago.

Terribly mismanaged

Indeed, the criminal justice system—over the years—has been grossly mismanaged. In recent times, lawlessness has become the order of the day as criminals realize that with the right attorney—and a complementary molasses-like judicial system—their cases would be delayed and buried in our higgledy-piggedly court system and that they could be granted bail to roam, with little or no restraints, in a matter of hours, days or a few months. How many murders, armed robberies and other serious crimes have persons on bail been suspected of, and charged for, committing this year?

Police statistics compiled from 2001 to September 2007 has revealed a significant increase in the number of persons that have been granted bail. In 2001, five people were on bail for murder, rape and armed robbery; six persons were on bail in 2002; five in 2003; 47 in 2004; 39 in 2005; 107 in 2006 and more than 200 in 2007. Wow, one can only imagine the statistic for 2011!

In order to fix the nation’s defunct judicial system and in turn alleviate the logjam, more judges—natives and foreigners—must be sought after for appointment to the bench and efficiency must be the order of the day among court officers/staff. One can see that a step has already been taken in the right direction with the construction of new court rooms and the current Bills before Parliament addressing crime.

The price of justice in this country is too high, too prolonged and simply Third World! Kudos to you Mr Turnquest for saying what so many jelly-belly politicians were too afraid to say!

Published: October 22nd, 2011

Column: Young Man's View, The Tribune's 'The Big T'

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