Saturday, September 7, 2013

Philip Galanis on the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) 60th anniversary - (Part - 2)

A response to Philip Galanis On ‘The PLP at 60’, pt. 2


This is the second part of my response to a recent column by Philip Galanis in which he describes the PLP as “The Bahamas’ first and some would argue only nationalist party”, and proceeds to list some “accomplishments” of the PLP.

Efforts at making propaganda fact 

Galanis lifts a list of accomplishments from some PLP election propaganda sheet which even the PLP leadership must not believe and he attributes them to the Perry Christie government between 2002 and 2007.  Only a blind sycophant could give any credence to the list.

Galanis’ rose-tinted glasses do not admit failure by his political party.  He claims that the first Christie government attracted some $17 billion in foreign direct investment, some $2.5 billion of which became tangible or real.  Attracting investment that is not real is a most peculiar concept.  It is more peculiar, in fact, than Galanis’ failure to accept that the five-phased development of Atlantis was approved by the FNM in its first term in office and is an FNM accomplishment.

Galanis claims Baha Mar as a Christie government accomplishment without acknowledging that the agreement signed by Christie’s government (with U.S. partners and financiers) faltered and was rendered void, and that a new agreement (with Chinese partners and financiers) had to be negotiated by the FNM government after 2007.

Galanis claims that the Christie government created 22,000 jobs between 2002 and 2007, about half the number created by the previous FNM government.  He forgot to say that the jobs created during the PLP’s term in office were overwhelmingly created on projects left in train by the FNM – at Atlantis, in Abaco and in Exuma.

Indeed, in Exuma, it was just the ribbon-cutting that was left for the PLP to do at the Four Seasons.  When that operation faltered in 2006 it was left to the FNM returning to office in 2007 to find a new hotel owner and operator in Sandals.  If Galanis can find an anchor project undertaken in Rum Cay or in Eleuthera during Christie’s first term in office he should advise Bahamians where they might find them.

Galanis is silent on Grand Bahama where the FNM attracted Hutchison Whampoa to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the development of the Transshipment Port, in redeveloping the Grand Bahama International Airport, and in the construction of the Our Lucaya Hotel.

Also on the FNM’s watch mega ship care and repair was developed in Grand Bahama, the Pelican Bay resort was constructed and new investment and technology was introduced into the island’s oil storage and transshipment facilities.  Christie’s legacy in Grand Bahama continues to be the closure of the Royal Oasis Hotel following the 2005 hurricane, a resort he was proud to open with the police band in tow, weeks after coming to office for the first time in 2002.

As Galanis seeks to give credit for development in The Bahamas he would do better to glance through the pages of the 40th Anniversary of Independence book assembled by Jones Publications.  The book records, among other things, the infrastructural developments of the past 40 years of independence.  The pictorial representation is incomplete but still if one were to stamp PLP or FNM on the lasting permanent improvements in our infrastructure they would overwhelmingly be stamped FNM.

Nationalists who promote the wellbeing and glory of one’s own fundamental values 

In three non-consecutive terms in office the FNM shaped the infrastructural landscape of our country: the new town centers in South Beach, Carmichael Road and Elizabeth Estates; the new government ministry complexes – education, health, customs headquarters, new courts in New Providence.   Then there are the Judicial Complex, Police Headquarters, and new C. A. Smith government administrative complex in Grand Bahama.

The new taxi call-up system at Prince George Dock and the hair-braiders’ pavilion also at the Prince George Wharf, the National Art Gallery and the Junkanoo Expo are all FNM accomplishments as are the extension and or upgrade of electricity, telephone and water services throughout the Family Islands, new community health clinics on eight Family Islands including Grand Bahama, Bimini, Abaco, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island and San Salvador and another in South Beach, New Providence; new schools, primary and secondary, in New Providence and also in Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Long Island, and expansion of other existing schools around the country.  A new airport terminal building and runway were constructed at San Salvador and the airport at Rock Sound, Eleuthera was acquired, the runway resurfaced and a new terminal building constructed.

A new international sea port, the new airport terminal building in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, the new government administration complex and the new community hospital nearing completion in central Abaco were all FNM accomplishments.  And the FNM dredged and deepened Nassau Harbour (over the objections of the PLP), built the new Nassau straw market, constructed new magistrates courts and acquired and began restoration of a new judicial complex in Nassau; commenced the three-phased redevelopment of LPIA opening the new U.S. Departure terminal and leaving the International Arrival Terminal to be opened weeks following the 2012 general election.

The new library and communications center at COB was realized by the FNM as were the new national stadium, the 20-corridor-plus New Providence roads and utility upgrade project and the new four-lane Airport Gateway Project.  The new adolescent and child care facility at Sandilands Hospital, the new emergency and operating theater wing at Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama; the new Critical Care Block now under construction at Princess Margaret Hospital, and new community hospitals under construction in Exuma are all FNM accomplishments.  The list is unending.

Social conscience in government

Socially the FNM has been responsible for fulfilling the PLP’s unfulfilled promise in virtually every sector of Bahamian life.

Since 1992 the FNM freed the airwaves and licensed private radio broadcasts, made access to cable television possible and introduced live T.V. coverage of meetings of Parliament from gavel to gavel.  The FNM introduced elected local government in its second term in office – a promise first made by the PLP in the 1950s while in opposition and reiterated again in 1968 as government but never brought to fruition.

The FNM privatized BTC and liberalized the communications sector.

The FNM also increased old age pensions, established a resident Court of Appeal and appointed Bahamians as justices in that court for the first time. They established the Industrial Tribunal, introduced minimum wage, introduced sick leave and enhanced maternity leave benefits, established minimum standards and conditions of employment, reduced the work week from 48 to 40 hours, increased the school leaving age from 14 to 16, removed discrimination from our inheritance laws and provided in law that all children, regardless of the marital status of their parents, have two parents. And the FNM created the Eugene Dupuch Law School where Galanis’ wife is proud to serve as principal.

The FNM also established the UWI Medical School faculty in The Bahamas, introduced unemployment benefits, introduced a prescription drug benefit and enacted a Freedom of Information Act. It is only left for the PLP to sign the appointed day notice to bring the act into force.

The FNM appointed the first Bahamian directors of Legal Affairs and of Public Works since independence, appointed the first women to the Bahamas Cabinet since independence, Doris Johnson having been dismissed prior to 1973. The FNM was also responsible for the appointment of the first female chief justice, the first female president of the Court of Appeal, the first female speaker of the House of Assembly, and since independence, the first female president of the Senate. In its second term in office the FNM caused 50 percent of the Senate to be comprised of women.

Galanis seems to believe that the PLP has a legacy in public housing. In reality the Pindling PLP government struggled to complete housing developments under development by the UBP government in Yellow Elder and Big Pond.

It was not until 1982 and the appointment of a young Hubert Ingraham to Cabinet that the PLP undertook new government housing projects – at Elizabeth Estates, Flamingo Gardens, Nassau Village and Palm Tree Estates in New Providence, and housing estates were undertaken in Freeport and in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama and in Cooper’s Town, Abaco. Ingraham was dismissed from Cabinet two years later and the new government housing initiative stalled. It did not resume until after the FNM’s 1992 election victory after which new housing projects were undertaken at Millennium, Jubilee, and Emerald Gardens. The pace was improved under the first Christie-led government but the overall poor standard of construction of that government’s housing program dramatically curtailed its benefits. 

Unfinished agendas 

Yes, Galanis, there is an unfinished agenda for development in our country, but it is the FNM that has such an agenda. It is an agenda of the ‘good’ who, having been too young to be a part of the first revolution and having been forced out of the ruling party, became intent on their watch after 1992 on realizing the new long-awaited second revolution which they sought to achieve through improved social policies, enhanced economic opportunities, broadened Bahamian ownership in the economy and open, transparent and accountable government. 

The agenda of the PLP and in particular of this Christie led-PLP government is an unfinished agenda of obtaining privileges and benefits for a select few. It is an unfinished agenda that suggests that holding up those heroes of the first revolution imperfect – though they be – is sufficient. 

That is why Perry Christie could travel to Washington D.C., and talk about social justice on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech but remain silent on the shameful mismanagement of an investigation into alleged abuse in a Bahamas government detention center at home.

Yes, Galanis, the PLP is in dire need of new causes to champion. They can begin by recognizing the right of the opposition to a voice in Parliament. They can begin by championing open, honest accountability and transparent government.

They can begin by committing themselves to fiscal restraint, abandoning wasteful expenditure on useless or unnecessary expensive foreign travel, and on the granting of government contracts to politically-connected but unqualified contractors.

They can begin to act to create real jobs. They can begin by stopping the politicization of crime. They can begin by acting so as to bring honor to our name internationally.

Finally, in the spirit of championing causes and promoting transparency, Galanis might begin by telling the Bahamian people why he was denied his party’s nomination to return to the House of Assembly and why, following so promising a career start, he elected to leave the engagement of the renowned accounting firm which had trained and groomed him for leadership.

September 07, 2013


Philip Galanis on the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) 60th anniversary - (Part - 1)>>>