The Nassau Guardian Editorial
We congratulate the government on its resounding success to undermine a democratic process. The gaming referendum has descended into a political spectacle besieged by lies and pathetic explanations. How can we place confidence in a government that belittles the intellect of Bahamians?
The Nassau Guardian will not surrender its integrity to the Progressive Liberal Party’s campaign to swindle yes votes from unsuspecting Bahamian voters. We give this government a vote of “no” confidence and encourage our readers to do the same and vote no.
The government repeatedly denies a position on the gaming referendum, yet it continuously retracts statements from party members. Such blatant support by the prime minister and his party reveals not only a flawed process, but a biased one as well.
On Sunday, January 20, PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts said: “The PLP urges all Bahamians to see the broader national picture and vote yes on Referendum Day.”
Roberts went on further to say: “The PLP is now obliged to encourage Bahamians to make this bold and progressive step in the economic interest of the country by voting yes on Referendum Day.”
This was said only for the chairman to retract his party’s position later that day.
“It is well documented that I support a yes vote in the upcoming referendum and I do so proudly,” Roberts said.
“Many in my party agree; some do not.”
For a prime minister who did not want his party to influence votes, many of his party members have been vocal supporters of the yes vote in the referendum. Christie skirts the issue of his position with forward-leaning statements on the anticipation of web shops being made legal.
“People are anticipating that it would be legal. So when we started off and I talked about a limited amount of licenses, it will be interesting to see how many applications there will be in the event of a yes vote because there has been a tremendous increase,” he said.
But Christie meets a potential no vote with apprehension and reiterates the problems and costs of enforcement.
“Whether it’s a no vote, it’s going to be a tremendous cost. The state will have to pay for directing resources to assist in setting up a regime to enforce the no vote and that will require a significant amount of money. And I presume those people who [are] advocating are aware of that,” he said.
Furthermore, Christie laments the impossible nature of stopping Internet-based gaming and cites the possibility that Craig Flowers may continue operations from the Turks and Caicos unimpeded.
“Mr. Flowers, I’m advised, is licensed in the Turks and Caicos Islands to conduct gaming and I presume that he is able to do that and still conduct his Internet gaming from the Turks and Caicos,” he said.
“I don’t want to suggest anything otherwise. What we have to deal with is how does one go about addressing Internet gaming. It’s a very difficult subject – the impossibility of stopping people from what they want to do. Laws haven’t been designed by man that have effectively stopped that kind of illegal or irregular operation.”
Though Christie bemoans the annoyances of a no vote above, such statements pale in comparison with his brazen comments that a no vote would lead to unemployment and higher taxes.
“We are going to have a real situation that we would be confronted by for a no vote, because yes these people will either have to go deeper underground illegally or we will have to find a way to find alternative employment for them,” he said.
The proliferation of illegal gaming operations has allowed for the employment of numerous people. However, for the prime minister to indicate that a Bahamian voter who votes no is responsible for this possibility of unemployment is unacceptable.
It is absolutely astounding that the prime minister can claim no position when he continues to reiterate the problems of a no vote.
Christie as prime minister of The Bahamas is being less than honest with all of his utterances on the referendum other than for his outright preference for a yes vote.
Since the election in May 2012, the PLP and Christie have undermined the democratic process in The Bahamas. We suggest the Bahamian public ignore the PLP’s pro-gambling propaganda and vote no on Monday. Misleading statements inherently breed distrust and this government has made a mockery of the referendum process. The Bahamas needs more than ever a prime minister who upholds his position and leads Bahamians.
January 24, 2013