Where Did Nygard Find The Ku Klux Klan?
AT LEAST two of our readers are holding us to our promise to research Peter Nygard’s far-fetched claim that a racist gene is embedded in Lyford Cay neighbour Louis Bacon’s DNA.
Perry Christie and the PLP’s Nygard Problem
It wouldn’t be a PLP term in office without the party’s entanglement with highly controversial, eccentric and flamboyant foreigners seeking to use the country as an outpost for their curious interests, pressing for privileges to which they may not ordinarily be entitled.
Why do so many more of these characters flock to the PLP, like moths to a flame? It has to do with the party’s history, with Sir Lynden Pindling and his coterie of the compromised having fuelled and encouraged such a party culture.
It has also to do with the history of a number of the leaders and political parties which helped to usher in majority rule and independence in various former colonies.
Flushed with adulation and hero worship, and having gained political power and access to enormous economic wealth, many freedom fighters were lured into corruptions of power and money arising from their new circumstances and fortunes.
This happened most recently in South Africa under the African National Congress, now heavily criticized for corruption within its ranks, betraying the example set by Nelson Mandela.
Even the great Ghanaian independence leader Kwame Nkrumah gave in to corruption, as did Sir Lynden and his court, with an excessive lifestyle which demanded considerably more cash than a prime minister’s salary might afford.
Like the days of piracy and wrecking, the PLP have a particular talent for fleecing foreigners. Buyers beware. It is not only Bahamians who are at the mercy of the party’s broken promises. Many foreigners are also left waiting for promises which never materialize despite their generosity to certain coffers.
Back when, there was Mike McLaney beseeching a casino license, which was faithfully promised to him by Sir Lynden were the PLP to win office. Having given the party electoral support which, according to a New York Times story included “cash, aircraft, boats, and a campaign headquarters on Bay Street” McLaney eagerly anticipated a license.
Though having described the PLP as being in his “ass pocket”, relations soured between Sir Lynden and McLaney as the latter’s reputation became better known. Sir Lynden eventually refused to meet with McLaney, who was subsequently labelled as an undesirable by a Commission of Inquiry.
Milked and bilked, McLaney left town broke, without a license. At the inquiry there was a discrepancy in the competing testimonies of the amount McLaney said he donated to the PLP, and the amount Sir Lynden said he received. Sounds familiar? Perhaps the old and the new PLP aren’t so different.
Then there was the fugitive U.S. financier Robert Vesco. Vesco fled the U.S. in 1973 to escape a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation concerning an alleged massive fraud by the financier estimated today at more than $1 billion.
He crisscrossed the region, finding governments that would give him protection from U.S. authorities, even allegedly attempting to purchase Barbuda from Antigua in order to make the former an autonomous country. A 2008 obituary of Vesco in the U.K.’s Guardian observed: “Vesco had cozied up to Nixon’s [U.S. President Richard Nixon] two brothers and employed his nephew Donald. ... As well, he found ways to reach Bahamas Prime Minister Lynden Pindling and Costa Rican president José Figueres via strategic loans, donations or investments.”
The PLP is particularly disposed to strategic loans, donations and purported investments from certain parties, domestic and foreign.
Among the worst were foreign drug lords, who seemingly had near carte blanche from the Pindling-led PLP government during the 1970s and 80s, making The Bahamas a “Nation for Sale”, a ruinous period from which we have still not recovered.
On Prime Minister Perry Christie’s watch there was the likes of Iranian businessman Mohammed Harajchi, who desperately wanted the restoration of a bank license from the PLP, but which was never granted. Harajchi claimed that he gave a substantial sum to the PLP for the 2002 general election.
In response to Harajchi’s claims, Christie made one of those solemn, passionate and supposedly high-principled declarations for which he is famous: “My party is presently conducting an accounting of monies received from Mr. Harajchi but I can state with complete confidence that Mr. Harajchi’s claim that it was $10 million is an absolute lie. It was nowhere near this amount. It was but a fraction of this amount. Details of our accounting will be made public once completed.
“Ordinarily we would not disclose the source of campaign contributions but as Mr. Harajchi has made this a public issue we are obliged to present the detailed facts concerning his contributions as indeed we will do as soon as possible.”
This promise was made by Christie on August 12, 2004, almost exactly nine years ago. It follows a pattern: A heated denial, a promise of full accountability, followed by absolutely nothing, all of which calls into question the prime minister’s credibility on these issues. We still do not know how much money Mohammed Harajchi gave to the PLP.
And then there was the late Anna Nicole Smith, a B-rated celebrity and Playboy’s 1993 Playmate of the Year, to whom then Immigration Minister Shane Gibson gave special attention, personally handling and expediting her immigration request, going so far as to making a home delivery of a certain document.
Gibson resigned due to the controversy with Christie sitting next to him on television almost holding his hand in one of the more bizarre Cabinet resignation events in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Despite its longstanding deeply entrenched culture of chronic incompetence under Christie, the PLP knows politics. Still, when it comes to certain zany foreigners and money flowing into PLP coffers, the party seems to lose perspective, a mixture of hubris and a bunker mentality.
Late-again, Christie could not or refused to see how rolling scandals like the Anna Nicole affair were to make his the first one-term government in an independent Bahamas.
Fast forward to today. What Christie and the PLP seem to fail to understand is that the Peter Nygard matter is not a singular or stand-alone event in the minds of voters. Instead it is representative of a concern, like the Anna Nicole affair, of a PLP little concerned about questions of propriety and the kinds of perception it is creating.
Even worse is the suspicion by voters of ‘Corruption 2.0’ in the PLP, the sort of rolling scandals and unseemly dalliances with all manner of characters which led to the party’s loss in 2007. The Nygard matter capsulizes and crystallizes a widely held perception about the PLP.
Moreover, the Nygard matter has many more chapters. It is like a volcano that will spew all manner of material. Christie may well come to regret his effusive and gushing accolades to Nygard.
The now infamous YouTube sensation of the controversial businessman supposedly taking The Bahamas back is a watershed moment in Nygard’s relationship to the country.
The video speaks volumes about the hubris, narcissism and self-indulgence of a character who has now earned the disgust of many Bahamians, including many who formerly dismissed him as mostly clownish.
As more is disclosed on the lifestyle, employment practices and other controversies surrounding Peter Nygard, he will prove to be toxic to the PLP, including those who are so foolishly defending him now. The man who helped the party win office may now play a role in its defeat. Clearly, Nygard seems to have little sense of propriety and is unconcerned about certain perceptions. As a private resident that is his right. But those political figures still inclined to afford him a red carpet and a Junkanoo rush-out may be as short-sighted and as self-injected with hubris as is the foreign eccentric who is set to deeply embarrass the Christie administration.
July 25, 2013
Consider this: The stem cell debate
By Philip C. Galanis
“Stem cell science is evolving rapidly and carries the promise of bringing us therapies that will revolutionize medicine.”
– Prime Minister Perry Christie
This week, the debate on the regulation of stem cell research and therapy in The Bahamas began in Parliament. The heated parliamentary debate was eclipsed by a certain mesmerizingly colorful personality, whose insinuation into the debate unfortunately distracted from the essence of the potential benefits and challenges of this controversial science. Therefore this week, we would like to Consider This... should we be concerned with regulating stem cell research and use for medical purposes in The Bahamas?
Stem cells are biological cells found in all multi-cellular organisms that can divide and self-renew in order to produce more stem cells. The importance of stem cells is that they can significantly regenerate or restore degenerating human cells, thereby contributing to the quality and longevity of human life. There are two broad types of stem cells: adult and embryonic stem cells.
In adults, stem cells act as a repair system for the body in order to replenish degenerating adult tissues. There are generally three sources of adult stem cells in humans:
1. Bone marrow – which requires extraction by harvesting, or drilling into bone.
2. Adipose, or fatty, tissue – which requires extraction by liposuction.
3. Blood – which requires extraction with blood being drawn from the donor passed through a machine that extracts the stem cells and returns other portions of the blood to the donor.
Adult stem cells are currently routinely used in medical therapies such as bone marrow transplantation. Stem cells can now be artificially grown through cell culture and transformed into specialized cell types with characteristics consistent with cells of various tissues such as muscles or nerves.
Of all stem cell types, harvesting involves the least risk. Cells are obtained from one’s body, just as a person can “bank” his own blood for elective surgical procedures.
Adult stem cell treatments have been successfully used for many years to treat leukemia and related bone or blood cancers. Additionally, in instances where adult stem cells are obtained from the intended recipient, the risk of rejection is essentially non-existent and the outcome much better for the patient. Consequently, considerable funding has been provided for adult stem cell research.
The use of adult stem cells in research and therapy is not as controversial as the use of embryonic or fetal stem cells because the production of adult stem cells does not require the destruction of an embryo or fetus.
In a developing embryo, stem cells can maintain the regenerative organs, such as blood, skin or intestinal tissues. Embryonic stem cell lines are cultures of cells derived from early stage embryos. Stem cells can also be taken from umbilical cord blood just after birth.
There are currently no approved treatments using embryonic stem cells in the United States. The first human trial was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2009, although human trial was initiated on October 13, 2010 in Atlanta for spinal injury victims. Because of their abilities for unlimited expansion, embryonic stem cells remain theoretically a potential source for regenerative medicine and tissue replacement after injury or disease.
Fetal and amniotic fluid stem cells
The primitive stem cells located in the organs of fetuses are referred to as fetal stem cells. The Roman Catholic Church forbids the use of embryonic stem cells in experimentation and medical application, primarily because the embryo or fetus has to be destroyed in order to access the stem cells for medical research or therapeutic applications. Stem cells are also found in amniotic fluid. Use of stem cells from amniotic fluid overcomes the ethical objections to using human embryos as a source of cells.
The stem cell act
On April 10, 2013, the prime minister introduced “A Bill for an Act to Regulate Stem Cell Research and Therapy in The Bahamas.” In presenting this bill, the prime minister admonished Parliament that “The Bahamas has an opportunity to become a world leader among nations in this field. This legislation is designed to help achieve that goal.” He also noted that the “act would create a strict oversight regime to ensure that no prohibited procedures occur in The Bahamas... and that every person who conducts research or provides treatment using stem cells must secure review by a Scientific Review Committee and an Ethics Committee, which must ensure that a sound scientific basis exists for permitting the proposed research or therapy to proceed.”
The official opposition’s objections
The official opposition has once again flip-flopped on its position regarding stem cell research and therapy. It has proven to be duplicitous and simply opposing for the sake of so doing, particularly since, while it was in office, the FNM government supported and allowed the establishment of stem cell operations in The Bahamas. In addition, prior to the debate, the opposition confirmed its support for this cutting edge medical procedure. In fact, while serving as the minister of health in the Ingraham administration, the current leader of the opposition strongly supported stem cell research in The Bahamas and, at that time, without the benefit of any regulations whatsoever. That the opposition and its leader have now reversed their position for a more regulated regime is the height of hypocrisy.
It is therefore commendable that The Bahamas government has sought to regulate stem cell research and therapy. The government has clearly indicated that it will not support embryonic stem cell research and therapy and will scrupulously regulate medical practitioners working in this field to ensure they do not stray into this prohibited area of stem cell research. This is extremely important because any support of embryonic or fetal stem cell application could greatly contribute to abortions in order to access embryonic or fetal stem cells.
Parenthetically, it is wholly unfortunate that a serious debate on this noble initiative was foiled by one whose fetish for flamboyance was featured in our local dailies for an entire week. But more about that in a future column.
Implications for The Bahamas
There is no mistake that, apart from progressive medical advancements that are likely to ensue from the legalization and regulation of this science, there is a tremendous financial windfall that will accrue for medical practitioners who engage in medical stem cell procedures.
Stem cell therapy also offers substantial medical tourism potential for The Bahamas. Medical tourists tend to travel in large groups, stay for long periods of time and spend considerable sums in many sectors of the society as they obtain the treatment that they are unable to access in their home countries. It is well known that the FDA tends to move at the pace of a snail wading in molasses to approve cutting-edge medical procedures and pharmaceuticals. As most of our tourists hail from the United States, that country will likely provide a plethora of patients in pursuit of stem cell medical treatments.
It is critically important for the government to focus its attention on redirecting and reframing the debate on this important development in medical science, so that Bahamians will fully appreciate the advantages that will accrue to The Bahamas, to Bahamians and to people from all over the world by the passage of this legislation and the accompanying regulations. It is now time to silence, not muzzle, stem cell detractors from what will undoubtedly positively contribute to the development of our country’s future.
• Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 22, 2013
Renewed call for govt to refuse Nygard’s land application
BY TANEKA THOMPSON
Guardian Senior Reporter
The Coalition to Save Clifton believes that the government does not need an environmental assessment of Clifton Bay and reissued calls for Cabinet to reject an application by Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard for a lease of Crown land in the area.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Perry Christie told reporters that he “intervened” in the conflict between Nygard and his billionaire neighbor Louis Bacon.
Christie also said he engaged an American firm to conduct an environmental assessment of the Clifton area, which is located near Lyford Cay.
“There is no need for a discussion,” said Coalition President Rev. C.B. Moss, when contacted for a reaction yesterday. “We ask the government to not approve that application.
“I would assume that the Government of The Bahamas would already have sufficient scientific information to arrive at a conclusion. And the conclusion was arrived at by the government in 2010.”
The previous administration told Nygard that because the work was unauthorized, he must stop doing additional work, according to Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn, who raised the issue in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
Moss said yesterday, “We are saying to the government, refuse his lease, if the government wants to consider leasing him land on Carmichael Road or anywhere else, that’s a different story.
“Refuse that three acres of land and allow that land to go back to its natural state.”
The prime minister did not say when he intervened or when the environmental assessment was conducted. He also did not name of the American firm or say what its findings were.
“He (Nygard) and Louis Bacon were having problems,” Christie said.
“Those two were having problems, and I intervened with both of them and their problems. The next thing I know, there was a legal action, but I anticipated there would be a legal action, so I engaged an American firm to do a comprehensive environmental assessment.”
Christie told reporters it is up to the court to determine if any environmental damage has occurred at Clifton Bay, but the government has to decide what to do with the land in question.
Lightbourn said yesterday he did not think it was appropriate for Christie to intervene in the Nygard, Bacon dispute.
But he said action needs to be taken on what becomes of the land.
“Some decision needs to be made, but whether you lease it, whether you sell it to him or whether you order him to remove it, government needs to address it,” he said.
“This is not the appropriate time for the government to become directly involved because it would seem that they are taking sides in determining whether there is in fact any environmental damage being caused by virtue of Nygard having extended his property.”
Members of the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay allege that Nygard Cay has doubled in size since Nygard purchased the land.
The billionaire acquired the most western tip of Lyford Cay in 1984.
However, Nygard’s attorneys have argued that additional land formed as a result of the gradual and imperceptible deposit of materials from the ocean onto land.
July 20, 2013
Stem cell investor fights IRS debt
U.S. tax agency claims $3.8 million owed
Guardian Business Editor
The co-founder and key financial backer of a stem cell treatment facility in Grand Bahama is in the midst of a court battle to have $3.8 million in debt to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) discharged due to alleged inability to pay.
As Parliament yesterday debated the Stem Cell Bill, which would put in place the legal framework to govern stem cell research and treatment in this country, it emerged that Matthew Feshbach, CEO of the Okyanos Heart Institute, declared bankruptcy in the Florida courts in June 2011.
Since this time, Feshbach and his wife have been seeking to have a $3.8 million debt relating to 2001 tax liabilities discharged, alleging that in 2011 their joint assets amounted to just $138,000, according to documents filed in the Middle District of Florida’s Tampa Division of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
A government minister, who declined to go on record, said yesterday that the Christie administration is unaware of Feshbach’s court battle with the IRS.
Okyanos Heart Institute is at present the only stem cell facility to have received government approval to operate in this country and was mentioned by name several times during yesterday’s parliamentary debate.
In an April 4, 2013, filing for a motion for a summary judgment on Feshbach’s desired discharging of the IRS debt, the Feshbachs’ attorneys describe the pair as “honest and unfortunate debtors” who cannot pay their creditors.
In a declaration dated November 12, 2011, Matthew Feshbach stated the “massive tax liability from 2001 arises from ‘phantom income’ triggered by changes in the tax code that affected some of the hedge fund positions I was managing”.
“We are not millionaires,” said Feshbach in the declaration to the court. “In fact, the very generous appraisal of our assets recently obtained by the Chapter 7 trustee in our case showed that all of our assets totaled $138,000.”
In support of his claim that he is unable to pay the IRS, Feshbach stated in court filings that he became “seriously ill with chronic pelvic pain syndrome” in 2008, “curtailing his ability to restart and investment business, interview for employment with an investment firm or otherwise engage in meaningful business opportunities.”
Court documents show a hearing took place on Tuesday relating to the motion for a summary judgment on the question of discharging Feshbach’s IRS liabilities. The outcome of that hearing is at present not clear. The matter was previously set down for trial on August 20, 2013.
Feshbach has stated that he has not sought to evade his debts and engaged in “numerous attempts to work with the IRS prior to seeking bankruptcy.” Court documents filed on his behalf state that he paid the IRS $5.62 million in principal taxes due, interest and penalties since 1999.
The former hedge fund manager has described the Okyanos Heart Institute, set to be based in Freeport, Grand Bahama, as offering “a new option, standard of care and quality of life to patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), utilizing cell therapy technology from the growing field of stem cell therapeutics.”
According to information on the Okyanos Heart Institute website, Feshbach co-founded the facility with Manuel Vianna, who lists Feshbach’s now defunct hedge fund operation – MLF Investments – as a former place of work on his LinkedIn profile.
MLF Investments was liquidated in 2008, according to Reuters news agency, after it “suffered a reversal of fortunes”. Prior to founding MLF Investments, Feshbach, the article notes, had been “one of the most famed short-sellers of the 1980s” gaining “praise and vilification” for his strategy of betting on stock declines.
In a statement to Guardian Business on Tuesday, Okyanos spokesperson Erika Mansur had described how Okyanos Heart Institute intends to undertake a hiring drive should the Stem Cell Research Bill be passed by the government.
Mangrum said that construction of the facility would be completed by “the end of the year.” Late last night the Bill was still being debated in the House of Assembly.
Contacted for comment yesterday Mangrum said she would supply a statement to Guardian Business today on the issue of Feshbach’s court case.
July 18, 2013
‘No personal interest in stem cell bill’
By Taneka Thompson
Guardian Senior Reporter
Canadian fashion designer Peter Nygard yesterday said he has no self-serving interests in the government passing a law to govern stem cell research and therapy in The Bahamas.
Nygard said any advice Prime Minister Perry Christie has sought from him on stem cell research is due to his knowledge of the science and well-placed contacts within the international medical community.
Nygard, who said he uses stem cell therapy to slow the aging process, told reporters that the prime minister should be congratulated for advancing such “historic” legislation.
The Lyford Cay resident said he has given advice to numerous world leaders and helped set up laws in St. Kitts, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Panama.
Nygard said Christie approached him two years ago and asked his advice on possible opportunities for medical tourism in the country.
He said he told Christie that a stem cell research and therapy industry would make The Bahamas a world leader in the science.
“I said this will be a big coup for you if you could do it,” Nygard told reporters at his compound shortly after announcing his financial support of the upcoming Acklins regatta.
“I don’t know why anybody would paint that as doing it for me. I think he is doing for [Bahamian] people, for The Bahamas. If I can help and I will then that’s a whole different issue. There is nothing in it for me. This is not a money venture for me at all.
“There’s no promise to me. The promise that I made to him (Christie) is that I will do everything that I can to spur and bring like-minded people like myself to invest in this place to be the leading edge, to be the catalyst [to bring investments] here.”
On Friday, Christie confirmed that Nygard promised to bring experts in stem cell therapy and research to The Bahamas if the government passes legislation to govern the sector.
Christie said that Nygard approached him two years ago, while he was then leader of the opposition, and told him of his problems trying to find reputable stem cell treatment for his sick mother.
That ordeal prompted Nygard to pledge to bring top doctors and researchers in stem cell therapy to the country once there were laws in place, the prime minister said.
Two weeks ago, during the House of Assembly’s debate on a stem cell bill, Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis accused the government of “rushing” the law to appease Nygard.
However, this claim angered several government MPs who denied it.
Minnis said on Sunday the prime minister’s comments validated his concerns on the stem cell legislation.
“I was very shocked,” he told The Nassau Guardian. “What he (Christie) said is open for interpretation.”
Debate on the legislation is expected to resume when the House meets on Wednesday.
July 16, 2013
Cecil, Lynden and Milo
By Philip C. Galanis
“Pressing onward, march together, to a common loftier goal…”
On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, The Bahamas will celebrate 40 years of political independence from Great Britain. This week, as we reflect on the developments in the country over the last 40 years, we would like to Consider This... what would three giants who were intimately involved in the Bahamian march to freedom say about this day? Imagine these three giants, Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, Sir Lynden O. Pindling and Sir Milo B. Butler, looking down from where their spirits are resting and marveling at the progress of these past 40 years. We can imagine the conversation going somewhat like this:
Lynden: I see that the fellas are getting ready to celebrate the 40th anniversary of independence. My, how time has flown!
Milo: It surely has. It seems just like yesterday that we were all fighting for majority rule. Lynden, you and Cecil were very young when I ran for the House of Assembly in July 1938. I believed that the Western seat was safe because it was in a largely black constituency and was traditionally won by non-white candidates. I ran against Harry Oakes, the multimillionaire.
Cecil: Milo, I heard that that was a rough campaign because the white Bay Street oligarchy worked tirelessly to derail you.
Milo: That’s right. They tried every trick in the book to win. First the Royal Bank of Canada, under pressure from the Bay Street Boys, suddenly cut off my credit. Then, on Election Day, Oakes’ representatives distributed money and liquor in a shameless – and successful – attempt to buy votes, right in front of the police who were right there to prevent any disturbances. When it became apparent that I was going to lose, I promised to lodge a protest against the blatant bribery. When the polls closed, a drunken and disorderly mob attacked the police, hurling missiles that injured two officers and two of my supporters were arrested, convicted and jailed for six months.
Lynden: But, Milo, that was a defining moment because the next day you and 40 of your supporters went downtown to the office of the colonial secretary to voice your grievances, causing the colonial secretary to order an investigation of the whole matter. As a result of your petition to the governor calling for a secret ballot, the creation of an Election Court of Appeal and a fairer representation of the black population on all public boards and in the civil service, great changes were to come.
Cecil: Milo, it was your actions that convinced Governor Dundas that the secret ballot was the very least that should be done to defuse the situation. He announced plans to dissolve the House of Assembly and threatened to call a general election in support of the secret ballot. Of course, the members of the House were afraid that the issue of color would be predominant in such an election, so they decided to take a softer approach. In June 1939, they passed an act for a five-year trial period for the secret ballot, but only in New Providence. The Out Islands were where only one third of the voting population resided but they returned two thirds of the members of the House, so Bay Street was very reluctant to tamper with what was, for them, a winning situation. The secret ballot, therefore, did not come to those Out Islands until 1949, 10 years later.
Milo: But that was just the beginning of the long, hard-fought battle for majority rule. It took the Burma Road Riots, the General Strike and Lynden and me throwing the mace and the hour glass out of the House of Assembly to get Bay Street’s attention. We even had to go to the United Nations to make our case against unfair election practices that kept Bay Street in office for so long.
Cecil: And then our prayers were answered by the people on January 10, 1967 when majority rule was finally realized. And what a glorious day that was! We all celebrated with the people.
Lynden: True, but that was the beginning of so many other challenges. Cecil, it wasn’t long before we started to fight among ourselves. You and the other seven left us and formed the Free PLP and then the FNM. The biggest battle that we fought though was based on our decision to seek political independence.
Milo: And what a battle that was! It nearly destroyed our march to a common loftier goal. I remember in 1968, Roland Symonette said that independence was not in the best interest of the people of the Bahamas Islands. Geoffrey Johnstone, the leader of the UBP, said that there was no enthusiasm for independence anywhere. And, Cecil, in May 1971, you told a large gathering that independence now would only serve to break this country into small groups and that there would be countries like Abaco, which would not want to associate with the rest of The Bahamas simply because there had not been sufficient preparation.
Cecil: That is true. I also said that independence should not be sought then, nor any time before the next two general elections. We believed that independence should be a unifying force among Bahamians, not a dividing force among our people.
Lynden: It’s interesting that the newspapers also opposed independence. In September 1970, a Tribune editorial announced that every political organization in the colony outside of the PLP was opposed to any plan for moving into independence. Then, in January 1971, the Tribune editor also wrote that an independent Bahamas would become a threat to the security of the United States and as such, a menace to the Western Hemisphere and that the whole world would become embroiled in conflicts that might arise from an independent Bahamas.
Milo: Yea, Lynden, they always hated you. And The Guardian also opposed independence and wrote that the assumption of independence seemed nothing less than an act of madness. It maintained that at this particular period, with the government still in a state of immaturity and myopia, with the economy still sick, with a substantial amount of investment capital having fled to safer climates, it was hardly the time to be talking of independence.
Lynden: Even some in the church opposed independence. Rev. Murillo Bonaby, pastor of Christ the King Anglican Church, said that the church was scared stiff of independence. But the voices against independence were drowned out by the results of the September 19, 1972 general election when a vote for the PLP signified a vote for independence. The PLP won 29 of 38 seats – the people were loudly and clearly stating their support for independence. At last, once the people supported independence, we all attended the Constitutional Conference in London in December 1972 with a determination to draft the best constitution for our new nation. I have to say that during my entire Parliamentary career, the single most satisfying event was the lowering of the Union Jack and the hoisting of the Bahamian flag at midnight on July 10, 1973.
Cecil: And I have to agree that the constitution has served us well these past 40 years. Despite our intense disagreements and bitter political battles, we have done well as an independent country. I regret not being there on August 19, 1992 when my party won the election. But Lynden, I was happy to see that your erstwhile son, Hubert (Ingraham), finally had an opportunity to make some important changes we had fought long and hard for over many years.
Lynden: I am also pleased to see how well Perry (Christie) led my party to victory in 2002 and again in 2012. I believe we should all be proud of the legacy we left. I am disappointed, though, that, while we achieved political independence for our people, greater economic independence and empowerment of our people still eludes us. That must be the next major challenge for the fellas we left behind.
Milo: True, but look at what has been accomplished in the last 40 years. We established a national insurance program, a College (soon to be University) of The Bahamas, a Central Bank and a defence force and so many other institutions that serve our people. And look at the vast number of Bahamians we educated in so many professional and skilled occupations. Can’t wait to see what will happen in the next 10 years as we approach the 50th anniversary of independence.
Lynden: I agree. You know, when you look at it, we really did build a firm foundation that, year after year, ensures that the nation we left behind will undoubtedly continue pressing onward, and marching together, to a common loftier goal.
• Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
July 08, 2013