Citation

Material Information

Title:
Time to right the wrongs why the June 7 constitutional referendum is so important: the four bills explained
Creator:
The Tribune
Place of Publication:
Nassau, Bahamas
Publisher:
The Tribune
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
16 p. : ill. ; 33 cm.
Physical Location:
HBL Archives - Newspaper supplements box

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Constitutional law -- Bahamas
Constitutional reform -- Bahamas -- History
Status of women -- Law and legislation -- Bahamas

Notes

Abstract:
Newspaper supplement explaining the four constitutional referendum bills.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of The Bahamas
Holding Location:
University of The Bahamas
Rights Management:
This item is licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives License. This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the author.

Downloads

This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text

PAGE 1

Why the June 7 Constitutional Referendum is so important .. the four bills explained Wednesday, June 1 2016 Heartbreaking stories of families broken by past inequality and victimisation

PAGE 2

J I o21 The Tribune 1 Time to right the wrongs Time to end the pain of families and generations FOR THE second time in q years Baha mians haYe the chance to put right the current discrimination against Baha mian women and children in a Consti-tutional Referendum when they go to the polls next week. The .June 7 referendum -in which the people haYe a straight or no choice on four Consti tutional Amendment Bills -is all about ghing Bahamian men and women equal status in their o\n1 countrY. In the 21s"t c entury. where a woman is edu cated and competes in the working world. why should she he kept on a lower scale than her male counte1part when it comes to the family home? The law "ill make them equal. This also goes for the man ho has a child out of,nd lock. The law "ill he there if he wants to ghe his nationality to his child. There is no obligation for him to do so hut it should not he denied the Bahamian man who might ant to confer his nationality on his child. It is about equality under the la''" a chance that was passed up in 2002 when the quality of life for the familY was sacrificed on the altar of selfish politics. ,\nd in the run-up to next week' s Yote, much hot air has been expended by politicians, chmchmen and actiYists leading to misinfmnHltion. insctul'ities and fears being exp1essed and obfuscating what is truly at stake. Todav. The Tribune d1aws attention to the harsh and painful Jealities of inequality through the eyes of those who haYc suffered the hearttonsequeiwcs. The families who haYe been torn apart because their rights have not been protected undc1 the law. The scars run deep through the generations. Tribune editori als and reporL'> from 20 and more years ago tell the moYing stmies oft.he Smiths and the Big.t;s from Inagua. the Barry family who had to mm e to Australia and the couragl' of young Catherine Ramsingh-Pierre. who spoke out publicly in 1992 ahout \ictimisation and shocked a nation. Read theh stories and pleas in the following pages and appreciate the import of the Yote week. the safeguarding of future generations of Bahami ans. To hdp J"eadeJs <'Onsider how they will nJte on June 7 Tlw Tl"ihmw al.o;o prtsents a guide to the four amendments. what tlw proposed chang<'S mean and the potential issues in t'ad1. Tlw fu tun lie-; in tlw scales ofjustict: if the gate ... stay dosed, it would simply maintnin the .,tat us quo. See also The Tribune editorial and reports in the main news section today. Wednesday, June 1, 2016 A plea for sanity A letter to the Editor of The Tribune from Cathy RamsinghPierre on May 16, 2016. I FIRST told my story 24 years ago, in the spring of 1992. I remember the murmurs of shock and disbelief in the audience as I spoke As the story spread, I remember the surge of public indignation and anger that swelled against the rank injustice that any child of a Ba hamian should be denied citizenship. I remem ber, too, my surprise when I realised that there were many other families suffering from the same injustice: families of Bah
PAGE 3

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs I 03 "This is about values and fairness" Prime Minister Perry Christie's launch adddress for the YES Bahamas Campaign "Equal Rights for our Sons and Daughters" on April to at the Harry C Moore Library, College of The Bahamas. ' 0 will be asked to vote 'Yes' on four common sense changes to our Constitution so that Bahamian men and women are able to pass citizenship to their families in the same way, and so that it will be impossible for any future Parliament to pass laws discriminating against either men or women. l want to be clear: these bills do not propose radical change Instead, this is about making sure that the supreme law of the land reflects our values and our commitment to fairness. The first proposed Amendment would allow children born abroad to obtain Bahamian citizenship from ei ther their Bahamian father or mother, in those circumstances whele the other parent is not Bahamian. Right now, only Bahamian men are entitled to pass their Bahamian citizenship to their children born abroad in these situations. This amendment says: Bahamian mothers and their children should have the same rights as Bahamian fathers and their children. Amendment two would enable a Bahamian woman who marries a non Bahamian man to secure for him the same ability to apply for Bahamian citizenship following the same steps, and subject to the same considerationscurrently afforded to a Baha mian man married to a non-Bahamian woman I would like to em phasise that the second bill would not make citizen ship automatic for foreign husbands of Bahamian women, just as it is not currently auto matic for foreign wives It merely grants those spouses the same right to apply for citizenship, following the same very long process. There is nothing easy or quick or convenient about becoming a citizen this way the process typically takes more than 10 years, and in volves interviews and inspections to ensure the marriage is legitimate. Immigration officers are given the same investigative powers as police officers as they determine whether a marriage is legitimate. And, as of 2015, it is now a criminal act to participate in a fraudulent marriage, punishable by a fine or jail or both. Thus, amendment two is designed only to help real Bahamian families, and its purpose is to give Bahamian women the same rights as Bahamian men. Amendment three would correct that provision in our Constitution that currently discriminates against men. The change would mean that an unmarried Bahamian man could pass on his Bahamian citizenship t!) a child fathered with a nonBahamian woman, if he is able to prove bJ DNA evidence that he is the father. This right cur rently belongs only to women. We are ready for a Constitution that supports fathers who want to keep their children close. Amendment four would update Article 26 of the Constitution, so that it would become unconstitutional for Parliament to pass any laws that discriminate based on sex, which is defined as "male or female". There have been some questions about the intent and the possible ef fects of this change. The purpose of this amendment is only to ensure that Bahamian men and women are equal underthelaw. I am going to emphasise that in The Bahamas, by law under the Matri monial Causes Act marriage must be between a man and a woman, and this amendment will not change that. In fact the lawyers who drafted the language of the amendment went out of their way to protect traditional marriage by defining "sex" as mean ing or female". The language is clear and the intent of Parliament which any future court is likewise obliged to consider is also crystal clear. And I am advised that there have been no cases in Commonwealth coun tries like ours, with a Westminster style Constitution in which the right to non-discrimination on the basis of sex led to a judicially-created right to same-sex marriage. I repeat: this referendum will not cause same-sex marriage to become legal in The Bahamas Marriage in The Bahamas will be legal only if it is be tween a man and a woman, and male and female are determined at birth. I am so emphatic because it is so important for Bahamians to vote on what is really at stake equal rights for our sons and daughters and not let false rumours or incorrect information hold sway This referendum does not seek to change Bahamian society or our traditional values. Instead it seeks to change the Constitution so that it more clearly reflects those values, and our shared belief in fairness."

PAGE 4

041 The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs Wednesday, June 1, 2016 A heartless, cruel government The Tribune. June I. 1992 THIS NATION'S heart went out on Thursday night to a courageous young woman who stood on the FNM con vention platform and told how she and her family had been cruelly victimised by the PLP government because of her mother's politics. She told how her Trinidadian father was forced to leave his family for 12 years because Government would not give him permission to work in the Bahamas to support his family. She told how, through an accident of timing, she was born to her Bahamian mother, Dr Mary Ritchie, while Dr Ritchie was taking her final medical examinations in Trinidad. She told how she was brought to the Bahamas by her parents at four weeks old raised as a Bahamian and now back from universi ty could not make a contribution to her country because according to Government, she was not a Bahamian. "And all because my family is FNM," said 21-year-old Catherine Ramsingh, daughter of Dr Robert Ramsingh of Trinidad and Dr Mary Ritchie Ramsingh, of Long Island, Bahamas Her' s was a heart-wrenching story, a story that can be muJtiplied many times over in the life of Ba hamian women who are married to fine men, who happen to be foreign. Several women have been forced from their homeland. And many of them are bitter. The PLP would be shocked to know the number of young men and women in this country today who cringe at the mention of the word "PLP". To these young people PLP-ism cast an evil shadow upon their childhood As children their tiny bodies were gripped with fear at the thought that at any time their father might be snatched from them. There was reason to fear. And when they saw the intense pain in their parents faces they also had reason to hate. They have grown into adulthood with tharfear and hate for their oppressors hidden deep within them. On Friday morning Tribune writer Athena Damianos, in trying to get more information from Government on the Ramsingh case, discovered -that on May 14-two weeks before Miss Ramsingh told her story to the nation, Government claimed it had approved her application for citizenship. It was Ms Damianos who informed Miss Ramsingh that she was now a citizen of the Bahamas. The Government source told Ms Damianos that the reason that Miss Ramsingh had no knowledge of her citizenship was that it often takes six weeks for Government to commu nicate the information to the applicant. The Ramsingh approval had all the hallmarks of the Horace Wright case. Mr Wright, a dedicated educa-tor of Bahamian children lived in this country from the time he was a babe in arms. He thought he was a Bahamian, only to learn after his retirement that he did not belong and was having to go through so much red tape over such a long period of time to meet the govern ment' s..demands to qualify that he was a broken, unhappy man Eight days after the late Sir Etienne Dupuch wrote about the tragic unfairness of his case and the lack of appreciation for all the good work he had done in the Education Ministry for so many years Mr Wright was dead. On reading the article then Attorney General Paul Adderley wrote to The Tribune explaining the Horace Wright case. He claimed that Mr Wright s permit had been approved on March 1 1976 and that Mr Wright had b een informed of this on March 19, 1976. However, in November-eight months after Mr Adderley claimed that Mr Wright had been informed that he had a permit -Mr Wright was with us, Sir Etienne and ourselves, at the Green Turtle Cay airport when he told us his story. He was extremely dejected. He had been told that he had to make a trip to Jamaica to denounce his claim on that island before Nassau would consider giving him Bahamian citizenship He was in ill health did not feel up to the trip, but was making preparations to go Eight days after that conversation Mr Wright was dead H e did not go to Jamaica to qualify for a Bahamian passport. And, like Ms Ramsingh he had no idea that according to Bahamian officials -he had been granted citizenship Not only granted citizen ship but, according to Mr Adderley government had informed him of that fact. However, Mr Adderely could never explain how Mr Wright's citizenship could have been approved when, according to him Mr Wright had not completed all the requirements that government had demanded for that approval. This Mr Wright had himself confirmed Eight days after his conversation with us he was dead as far as he knew a man without a country.

PAGE 5

Wednesday June 1 2016 In 2012, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced the appoint ment of the new Constitutional Commission charged with a comprehensive review of the Constitu tion of The Bahamas by March, 2013 ahead of the 40th year of Indepen dence celebration Chairman Sean McWeeney QC and Chief Counsel Loren Klein led the Commission of 11 other members in the process which inCluded public consultation. What did the Constitutional Commission's Report recommend? The Report of the Constitutional Commission into a Review of The Bahamas Constitution was released in July 2013, with Section 4listing 73 recommendations In the previous section the amendment of the citi zenship provisions to achieve gender neut ra lity a nd full equality between m en and women with respect to the acquisition or transmission of their nation ality is a t the top of the list of priorities for reform The constitutjonal referendum on this item was set for November 6, 2014 and was 'delayed several times before t_he announcement of the June 7 2016 referendum. During this time, the Constitutional Commission held public information sessions on the four pro posed constitutional amendment bills and civic society organisations includ ing Equality Bahamas participated in public discussions on the bills and the pending Why is a referendum necessary to make the changes suggested qy the Constitutional Com:rp.ission? The Bahamas Constitution is su preme law and makes void any other law inconsistent with it. This means no act of legislation can be upheld if it is in contravention with the Con stitution. It serves to establish funda mental principles for governance and can be amended t hrough the process prescribed in Article 54. The process includes reading amendment bills voting on the bills in the Hc; mse of As-The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs I 05 sembly and the Senate each requiring a 75 per vote to move forward and a binding referendum requiring a simple majority 50 per cent plus one vote to be passed Are these gender emality or citizenship b ? s. The four Constitutional Amend ment Bills have been dubbed both gender equality bills and "citizenship bills over the past two years, but the four Bills seek to make changes to Ar ticles 8 10, and 14 to allow Bahamian women and m e n pass on citizenship to their children and spouses in the same way and to add sex to the prohibited grounds of discrimination in Article 26 so that no law may discriminate on the basis of sex. Why are there four separate bills? To make constitutional amend ments there must be a bill for ea ch Article. On the ballot there will be four ques tions one for each bill. Voters can s upp ort none some or all of the bills Any of the bills can pass with a simple majority. Fo r example, it is possible for the first bill to pass whi l e the o ther thr ee do not pass. There is a sepa rate vote for each bill. How can we be sure the results of the referendum will be honoured by the Government of The Bahamas? The June 7 2016 referendum is necessary to comple'te the process for constitutional amendments a simple majority being the only way the changes outlined in the bills will be made. As this referendum is on consti tutional am e ndment s not a legislative issu e like gaming it is binding and the Government is required to act as prescribed by the majority vote. Who is to vote? Those who registered to vote in the 2012 election or registered before May 25, 2016 are eligible to vote in the ref erendum. Advanced polling will take place on May 31, 2016 for those who submitted a Form J or Form Kin ap plication for a Special Voter Certificate by Ma y 20, 2016. Information: Equality Bahamas Tales of woe Paula gove rnment invited her to attend an interview either permanentresidence or citizenship. Born in Nassau, the daughter of Foster and Barbara Weech, Paula Weech married Ivar Unbjem in Norway in 1971. Their two boys and two girls were born in Norway. Wh en the cruise ship called inJhe Bahamas on Mondays for several ho'Urs, Mr Unbjem would race to to visit his children. At one poinj his job -remodelling ships took Unhjenis Monday, June 1,1992 ON l;iEARlNG the story told by Cathe r i n e ... ..... 5 .... at an FNM convention in 1992 of the PLP, behind Immigration's closed had victimised her FNM family, Paula vuu'"''u' of Abaco wept. Mrs Unbjem tol d of the mghtmare lif e she had lived for 20 years because she had married a foreigner. A Bahamian man in the audience that night recalled that his sister-in-law, who had lived in the Bahamas for more than 30 years could not get immigration s tatus. She had married his brother and bad two Bahamian children for him 1\vo years after he had died of cancer, the Between 1972 and 1Q.84, they travelled back and forth from Norway to the I .. tan.as for im migration interviews. fnNorway, Mrs Unhjem became ill. At one point, her weight dropped to 79 pounds. Bahamian born and raised, she never got used to the long Norwegian winters when months of the year are plunged in dark ness and much of the summer is an overcast grey. She was homesick. Wh.en she came home in 1981, Immigration said that her children would only be welcome for three months. Mr Unbjem was forced to take a job on a cruise ship because he could not get permission to work in the Bahamas him away from the family for three months. ln September, 1985, the Unhjems could no longer cope with the ]lfe they were forced to live. Th.ey their home in the Bahamas. They again moved to Norway and # bought a house and a car, Unknown to them, Mr Unbjem's application for permanent residence had b e en granted that June. They did not learn about it until October one month after they bad l eft the Bahamas. Th.ey then sold their house in Norway andreturned to the 13ahamas Eventually two of the Unhjem children got their immigration papers On hearing Ms Ramsingh's story over the radio Mrs Unbjem wept recalling her own heartbreaks.

PAGE 6

061 The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs Why I will vote 'Yes' this time A letter to the Editor of The Tribune from Rogan Smith on May 10, 2016. LET ME declare early on that I have a horse in this gender equality race. In 2002, I was one of those people who voted against the refer endum. What a mistake that was. I had no idea that four sport years later, I would be married to an American man. I was shortsighted. I was frustrated and wanted to punish. What a fool I was. My actions, remain to this day one of my biggest regrets I have now been given a second chance to make things right. I must say that even though I voted against the referendum in 2002, I was always respectful of the other side and felt deep down that I could have still been persuaded to vote 'yes'. I was reasonable I have found, however, that there re ally is no reasoning with the unreason able. Over the past few months, I have listened to the irresponsible, arrogant, misguided, bigoted and just plain dumb responses froin my Bahamian people. I am completely embarrassed. You certainly have a right to vote no". You have a right to abstain from voting, if you so wish I respect that right. You also have a right to your opinion. But, your opinio n must be based on facts and, if you want to be taken seriously it must be rational. Listen to the reasons many peop!e "I have encountered Insecure men who think they have every right to say who a Bahamian woman should marry-and it's not a foreigner." say they are voting no". They just don't make any sense. I would bet the bank that many of them haven't even read the bills. Last week, I let a colleague of mine read the bills -particularly bill nilln ber 4 ana he couldn't believe how straightforward it was. He thought the bill included some line about gay mar riage, which it clearly did not. I have also heard many people threatening to vote because they are angry over Prime Minister Perry Christie's handling of the gambling referendum. Well if you are dissatis. tied with Mr Christie's handling .of that event then there is appropriate recourse feel free to avail yourself to the options in 2017 when you head to the polls. That is the appropriate re sponse. But to enter a no" vote tha t would allow the dist:nfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of Bahamian s to continue, is selfish and just plain wrong. I am a big proponent of personal responsibility. I preach it every day. Each of us has a responsibility to seek to educate ourselves as much as pos sible on any topic, particularly when we're talking about amending a sacred document. There really is no excuse for anyofie to say they have not seen the four constitutional bills that will be put to vote on June 7. The newspapers have done an excellent job of printing them in nearly all of their stories every day. The internet is at our disposal. There have been symposiums, commercials and advertisements every single day. The problem isn't that the information isn't there. The problem is that our people are too lazy to access it. That is their own fault. No one else's. The problem also goes a little deeper. For so many people the Constitu tion is a document shrouded in mys tery. Very few people have ever even seen it and they don't understand its contents A decade ago, I got my own copy after a former media boss chided me for not having one. He questioned how any journalist could be taken seri ously if he/she hadn't even seen the Constitution He was right. So, I got my own and read it. The problem we're encountering now is that we are trying to educate an uneducated citizenry about certain provisions and it is proving quite diffi cult. We all should have been learning about the Constitution in high school or even earlier. What disappoints me most i s that I have encountered insecure men who thin)<: they have every right to say who Wednesday June 1, 2016 a Bahamian woman should marry-and it's not a foreigner. Some insecure women have also told me personally that they don t, and I quote, "want these foreign women taking my man". What planet are they from? Do these folks actually think that their decision to vote "no" is going to prevent Bahamian men and women from loving, dating or being with a foreigner? It won't. By the way, not a single one of us is a "real" Bahamian. The purported indigenous people of The Bahamas, the Arawak Indians died out ):mndreds of years ago. We' re all mixed up foreigners. So, unless you can show proof of your direct-line an cestry to the Arawakan people, please discontinue that argument. None of us knows what the future holds. I certainly didn't in 2002. I know that I won't change the cemented minds of those who are determined to see this referendum fail But, for those of you, who like me in 2002, could have been swayed, I urge you to do the right thing and vote "yes" to all four bills

PAGE 7

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 Bill 1 seeks to allow Bahamian women married to non Bahamian men to pass on citizenship to tlieir children born outside The Bahamas. What does the Constitution say now:? Article 8 of the Constitution says : A person born outside The Bahamas after 9th July 1973 shall become a citizen of The Bahamas at the date of his birth if at that date his father is a citizen of The Bahamas otherwise than by virtue of this Article or Article 3(2) of this constitution. What does this mean? With named exceptions a person whose father is a Bahamian citizen will automatically become a Bahamian citizen. The same is not true for a person whose mother is a Bahamian citizen Such a person born to a Bahamian mother and nonBahamian father has to apply for Bahamian citizenship between the ages of 18 and 21. What are the exceptions? If a person s father obtained c i tizenship through Article 3(2) or Article 8 meaning the father was born outside The Bahamas but became a Bahamian citizen because his father was a Bahamian citizen that person is not entitled to Bahamian citizenship under this Article. Who does this Article affect? Article 8 affects Bahamian women marr i ed to nonBahamian men who give birth outside The Bahamas and their families. CQildren with Bahamian mothers and nonBahamian fathers who are not born in The Bahamas are not able to obtain automatic citizenship. They must apply between the ages of 18 and 21, and citizenship is granted at the discretion of the Minister Examples of circumstances resulting in Bahamian women giving birth abroad include studying outside The Bahamas,.working outside The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs I 07 The Bahamas and seeking medical care outside The Bahamas for a variety of reasons including high-risk pregnancies What is the proposed change? The proposed Constitutional Amendment is the addition of "or mother so that Article 8 reads: A person born outside The Bahamas after 9th July 1973 shall become a citizen of The Bahamas at the date of his birth if at that date his father or mother is a citizen of The Bahamas otherwise than by virtue of this Article or Article 3(2) of this constitution ." This change would allow Bahamian women and men married to non Bahamians to pass on Bahamian citizenship to their children, regardless of where their children are born As it stands, the children of Bahamian women roamed to nonBahamians become automatic Bahamian citizens only if they are born in The Bahamas This amendment would not be retroactive so children born before the passing of the Bill would not benefit from it. Those born from 1998 until the passing of the Bill (if there is a 50 per cent + 1 vote on June 7) would be able to apply their applications considered at the discretion of the Minister under the Bahamas Nationality Act. What are the potential issues with this proposed change? This change excludes people who }lave not reached the age of 18 to apply for citizenship so they would not receive automatic Bahamian citizenship with the passing of this Bill They would, however still have the right to make application for Bahamian citizenship. It also does not provide a means for people whose fathers obtained Bahamian citizenship through Article 3(2) or Article 8 because they were born outside The Bahamas to get Bahamian c i tizenship. The Bill! question Do you apJ?rove of The Constitution (Amendment) Bill2014? Under this proposed change to the Constitution a child born outside of The Bahamas would after the coming into operation of this amendment become a Bahamian citizen at birth, if either its mother or father is a citizen of The Bahamas by birth. Yes or No $ . ..................... .... ................. .... . ............ . ........ . . Information: Equality Bahamas I I I l

PAGE 8

081 The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs The Brenda Barry story The Tribune. January 11. 2002 YESTERDAY we were dis cussing the Bill to amend the Constitution to remove all discrimination against Baha mian women and their children This section of the Constitution cannot be changed unless the proposed amend ment receives three quarters of the votes of all members of each House and is submitted to the electorate in a referendum. The would prot e ct Bahamian women who marry non Bahamian men. Like the foreign wives of their Bahamian male count e rparts, their husbands and children could obtain Bahamian status and make the Bahamas their home. We promised to tell you how the Constitution as applied by the PLP government affected the lives of Brenda Barry a Bahamian, and her Australian husband, Dr Graham Barry who as a Belanger qualified for -but was denied -Bahamian status Brenda Major as she then was had spent five years in England as a nurse. During that time she travelled extensively even to the Soviet Union She described her years in England as a wonderful experience". Although, some of her friends had unpleasant racial experiences, she had none. "I lived in nice places and had good friendsfriends that I still have today ," she says. Before leaving for Hong Kong where she had been offered a job, she flew home for Christmas. That was 1964. At a Christmas party that year she met Dr Graham Barry, who, at that time had been a resident doctor here for six years. They found they had much in common travel theatre, music. One evening during that brief trip home Brenda Major accompanied Dr Barry to a Blue Hill Golf Club awards night, where he was to receive a tro phy Sir Etienne Dupuch as guest of honour was making the presentations. He noticed that the beautiful Brenda and the handsome doctor had spent most of the evening dancing. After the presentations he went over to Brenda and whispered: "The way he s look ing at you I don't think you're going back!" Oh, no, Sir Etienne! she protested Before the evening was over, Dr Barry had proposed. This time she said : Oh, yes!" The following year they married. They had three daughters and a happy marriage. Dr Barry was president of the Bahamas Medical Association and the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Associa tion. He brought international junior tennis players to the Bahamas A keen sportsman, he had a wide circle of friends in all sections of Bahamian society By 1967 the government had changed and by 1973 the Bahamas was independent with its own Constitution. It was the year that the Barrys moved to Freeport and Dr Barry bought into a group medical practice there His patients were both FNM and PLP. He had friends in both parties. As a Belanger he was led to believe that his citizenship would be automatic, and so he applied. He was rejected but told he could apply again. He applied a second time. Again he was rejected. This time he was told to apply for residency. He did so. The day before he was to leave for Australia, where his mother had been taken seriously ill, he received another rejection slip. Again the PLP Cabinet Wednesday, June 1, 2016 "Although pleased for his wife, the rejection by the Bahamas ofamanwho hadspent22 years here and become so much a part of this country, quietly gnawed at Pis soul. His country had accepted his wife. Her country had rejected him. He hated to hear her talk of the Bahamas." -/

PAGE 10

10 I The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs Wednesday, June 1, 2016 She was hurt, but is now at peace PLP LEADER Perry Christie's denial over radio 100 JAMZ that the PLP was a party that victimised non supporters has stirred emotions throughout this coun try and awakened many memories. Men and women who were too afraid to talk to the press before are now willing to tell their stories. Many tell of how they were treated almost as nonpersons during the 25-year administration of the PLP, certainly as persons who no longer had any rights in the country of their birth. The Bahamas was a country that God had snatched from them and, according to one PLP cabinet minister, given exclu sively to the PLP. There are so many stories to tell that it is difficult to know where to draw the line. Hopefully we can com plete this series this week, with a final article to explain why we have given this subject so much prominence. On March 9, 1973, The Tribune's headline read: Told 'He would not be allowed to visit the Bahamas again' Island er, father of nine Bahamian children, forced to leave lnagua. Today, his wife, Inez Smith, a Fer guson from Acklins who was raised at Inagua, tells how 24 years ago, her home was destroyed by the evils of politics. Although she has every reason to hate her persecutors, over the years she has found peace. She and her chil dren will never vote for the PLP, but she will tell you today that she hates no one. "The Lord Jesus is my strength and I am happy," she said last week. "He has given me that peace in my heart to love everybody." Her husband, Wellington, arrived in Inagua from Turks Island as a teenager. He was employed by the Ericksons at the Inagua salt pans and continued with the company when it was acquired by Morton Salt. Inez Ferguson and George Welling ton Smith were married at Inagua in 1956. At Mortons he was employed to inspect the brine in the salt pans. The couple had 10 children, but in 1973 when their trouble began, there were only nine. The 1972 election campaign was in full swing. T Joseph Ford, the PLP's incumbent candidate, sent a message to Mrs Smith that if she did not vote for him, he would send her husband back to Turks Island. ''When I got the:r:e my husband was washed away in tears. When I plit my hand on him, he burst out crying and 1gged his little baby. All of us hugg d and cried because he was leaving us again.'' M Ine z Smith. "I was angry," she recalled, "and so I openly campaigned for Mr Vernon Symonette (FNM), I was never a PLP." Before the FNM, she supported the UBP. Shortly after the elections, govern ment ordered Mr Smith back to the Turks, giving him seven days to get his affairs in order and leave. He was also told that he could never return to lnagua -not even on a visit. "That was a setback," she said simply. Mr Smith was well respected in the community, active in church work and a treasurer of Gospel Chapel. Mr and Mrs Smith flew to Nassau to try to have the order cancelled. Mrs Smith left her husband at Nassau In ternational Airport while she went to the Cabinet Office to seek the advice of her cousin, Cabinet Secretary H C Walkine. She said her cousin was surprised when he learned that the order was against her husband. Many eviction orders had been sent out for all Turks Island families to leave Inagua, and Wellington Smith's name was on the list. While her cousin promised to help, she returned to the airport only to find that her husband was so frightened that he had boarded a Mackey Airlines aircraft and had left the Bahamas for the Turks. "My husband was really hurt. He often said: "This is what your people did to me." He didn't stick around. He left. He had just built me a home," Mrs Smith remembered. About a year later a friend was flying to lnagua for a few hours. Mr Smith decided to fly with him to see his family, and "bring support money and gifts for the children". The Customs officer stopped Mr Smith at the airport. He told him that whatever he had brought for his family he would have to take back to "wherever he came from." He was not allowed to go into Mathew Town to see his family. However, a friend saw what was happening at the airport. He hurried to town, collected Mrs Smith, the two year-old baby and the four children who were on their way to school-the older four were already in class and had to be left behind. The friend took them to the airport. "When I got there he was washed away in tears. When I put my hand on him, he burst out crying and hugged his little baby. All of us hugged and cried because he was leaving us again," said Mrs Smith. The airport incident was published in The Tribune. Shortly afterwards Mrs Smith received a letter from then Prime Minister Pindling, who said her case was being investigated. She said Mr Ford then sent for her -

PAGE 11

W ednesday, June 1 2 016 and accused her of reporting him to the Cabinet. He wanted to know why. Sbe told him she had gone to the Cabinet because he had said that he didn t want to see her or her family. Mrs Smith then received a letter from the Cabinet office which said that her husband would be welcome back home, but he could not work in the Bahamas. To enable the family to have some time together, Morton Salt gave Wel lington Smith a job as an engineer on their salt ship, Cecile Erickson which plied between Inagua and Brunswick Georgia. Every eight days the ship was at lnagua for salt, and Mr Smith joined The Tribune I Time to rig h t the wrongs 11 his family for a few hours whil e the ship was loaded for the return trip to Brunswick Occasionally he was able to overnight. Their tenth and last child was born. But life was never the same for the Smiths "He told me that he had no mind to stay here anymore amongst my people because of what they did to him. Sometimes he didn t want to cqme off the ship, s h e said From a man who was always helping peopl e, he no longer di d a nythi ng in o r fo r t h e co mmunity. The c hildren were al so ups et. If any thing e ve r went wrong at scho o l o r in the community the y were t a un ted about being foreign drifter s." One, b y one they l e ft home. Five daughters h a v e s e ttl e d i n Brunswick whe r e on e gir l is a slirg eon, a nd anoth e r a nurs e. One so n i s in Orl a ndo Onl y t wo s ons remai n w ith their mother i n l gagua. B y Janu ary, 1990 Mrs Smith saw a dramatic cha n ge in her hus b a n d When the ship was i n port, he did not come home, he spent most of his time in the barroom. That year he divorced her remarried imd settled in Georgia The 1992 and 1997 electio n s were the only elections in which she had no threats, beca u se, she said "I had no h u s b and to se n d home" "I am no w 6 4 T h at's beh ind m e a nd I wap.t t o forget it. I h a v e even made my p e ace w ith Mr Ford. I a m fr ie nds with both PLP and FNM. I have nothing against them ," said Inez Sm i th. "But I believe my childr e n are still hurt. They s ay as long as they are in the Bahamas they will support the FNM, as will their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren "As for me, I am at peace It is over 111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111.11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 Bill 3 seeks to allow Bahamian men to pass on citizenship to their children born out of wedlock. What does the Constitution say now? A rticl e 14 of the Constitution s ays : "Any referenc e in this Chapte r to the fat her of a person shall in r e lation to any perso n born o u t o f wed l oc k other than a person legitimated before lOth July 1973, be construed as a reference to the mother of that person. What does this mean? A person born out of wedlock automatically takes on the citizenship of their mother, not their father A Bahamian man may not pass on Baha mian citizenship to his child if he is not married to the mother of that child Who does this Article affect? B a h a mian m en w h o a r e not married to the mothers of their children are not able to pass on Bahamian citizenship to their children What is the proposed change? The passing of Bill 3 would allow Bahamian men to transmit citizenship to their children born out of wedlock What a r e the :potential issues with this proposed change? It has bee n sug gested th an B aha mian men may attempt to pass on citizenship to children who are not bio logically their own. This issue would be avoided as paternity must first be p r oven by DNA evidence The Bill 3 question Do you approve of The Constitution (Amendment) (No.3) :Bill2014? Under this proposed change to the Constitution A Bahamian father of a person born out of wedlock after the coming into operation of this amendment would be able to pass his citizenship to that person subjeCt to legal proof that he is the father Yes or No. Information: Equality Bahamas

PAGE 12

121 The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs Wednesday, June 1 2016 A family tormented by the PLP The Tribune, April24, 1997. THE FRONT.door flew open. A woman ran into the road and he a ded for the graveyard "Frank it's over! It's over! It' s finished. Frank, it is really finished ," she screamed. She laughed She cried and she screamed some more. For her it was a joyous moment. Neighbours opened their doors and looked out to see what had happened. Mrs Drucilla Higgs, of Mathew Town, Inagua. had gone to her hus band Frank' s graveside to share her good news with him It was March 14 and ZNS had just announced the results of the general election. The FNM had won 34 seats. Mrs Higgs did not wait to hear the PLP' s results. Instead she was off to tell her Frank the good news. In speaking on the role of an Oppo sition leader in a democracy espe cially in the Bahamian context former Opposition leader Norman Solomon had some words of advice and warning for newly-elected Opposition Leader Perry Christie. Mr Christie recently stepped into the political shoes of Sir Lynden Pin dling shQes, badly worn and in need of new soles after 41 years of hard use. "You have much political baggage to carry, Mr Solomon told Mr Christie in his address to a recent parliamentary seminar. He said that if Mr Christie wanted to be effective, he had to so mehow shed as much of this political baggage as possible. Mr Solomon recognised that this might not be possible, but he said that So what you mus t do is encourage those of us who remember the past to forget it, and the only way you ca n do this successfully is to amass a more universally acceptable record from here on out." It is true that the unthinking masses have very short memories but those ''When she arrived at T Joseph Ford's office he told her that if she did not go to the school to vote for him on the 19th he would send her husband home (Turks Island). To make certain that she voted right he would send one of his supporters into the booth with her. She refused. She told him that she knew how to read and write and also how to vote." fortunately for Mr Christie "John Q Public (a fact known well to all politi cians which probably explains why they behave the way they do) has a notoriously short memory ." "Forgetting comes fast out there in the constituencies ," said Mr Solomon. who have been hurt by events are those who will not forget especially the children. Last week we told the story of eight Eleuthera women who were fired on the instructions of their PLP MP, who was also a member of the Pindling A man without acoumry" man Horace Wright jomed the 19614 was supervisor schools. From 1 1964 to 1967 he was Inspector of Schools and Wright was a dedicated tor of Bahamian children who lived in the .. Bahamas as a Bahru;nian He. had been brought here by hi s parents when be was a stnalfboy. :1 from 19 67 to the time: of his :retirement he was Schoo ls Broadcasting Offi.cet and Senior Edu cation Officer of the Ministry of Education. In additjon to his art he taught Bahamian history cabinet. They were fired because they supported the FNM. The PLP plant m anager who carrie d out the former MP's instructions told the wom e n that "if you don t support the government, you cannot live by the governm ent". That was a hard blow for those mothers but the experience so trauma tised their children that today more than 20 years later the one bond that holds them together is the memory of the hurt done to their mothers. No matter where they are when it is election time they phone each other to make certain that everyone is doing his or her best to safeguard their country's democratic freedoms "And whatever we do, it is done for our mother,': said one of them last week in expressing satisfaction at the PLP' s election defeat. Eight were wronged by the PLP, but today their numbers have multiplied with children and grandchildren they now total about 200 each determined to avenge the injustice done to their mothers and grandmothers. How can Mr Christie encourage them to forget the past? How, for ex ample can he encourage Mrs Drucilla Higgs and her remaining nine of 13 children to forget how her Turks Island husband Frank, and their father was He believed he was Bahamian and Bahamians f accepted him as such. After Independence he was informed by the PLP government that he was not a Bahamian. He, therefore had to ap ply for citizenship. Eight days before he d1ed at the age of 61, sat at the airport at Green Turtle Cay November 8, 1976, and unlocked his to Bahamian children. After the late Sir Etienne Dupuch haq written about what Mr Wright had told him and The Tribune's Editor eight days before his death, Paul Adderley, who was then Attorney wrote a letter to The Tribune explain ing the position. government on March 1, 1976, and -Mr Wright had been infor1lled of this on March 19, 1976. Mr Adderley i:lid not explain how Mr Wright's citizenship could have been approved when, according to Mr AdderJPv, Mr Wright bad not complied with all the reyuirements for that approval. heart to the Editor of The Tribune. Horace Wright was close to The Tribune family. An uncle of the Editor was his first art teacher and Horace Wright never ceased to express his gratitude for those early years of training, which l aunched his career. And so there was nothing unusual about him pouring his heart out at the airport. Horace Wright was born in Chicago in 1915 to parents. Dr Wright a dentist, had He said Mr Wright.had renounced his US citizenship on AprilS, 1976, but that there was no record that he had renounced his Jamaican nationality up to the time of his death. Mr Wright, said Mr Adderley, had to make this renunciation before he could obtain his certificate of Bahamian citizenship. This meant that Mr Wright had to make a trip to Jamaica, which he did not physically feel up to. Mr Adderley then said that Mr Wright s ap plication for citizenship had been approved by Nevertheless in November of that same year eight months later -Mr Wright had no knowledge of any approval. All he knew wa s that he was being turned around by a heartless cruel government that had no appreciation f9r his years of service to Bahamian children. To satisfy that government he had to make a trip to Jamaica. He was tired. He was disillusioned. He was heartbroken -he did not feel up to the task. Eight day s later he ;.vas dead .. as far as he knew, a man without a country. -

PAGE 13

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 tormented? Frank Higgs, who died in 1993 at the age of 71, went to lnagua as a teen ager. Those were the days when Thrks Islanders were accepted as Bahamians. He joined the West India Chemical Company, which operated Inagua's salt pans, as a mechanic. The company was owned by the Erickson brothers of New England. Eventually Morton Salt acquired the Inagua salt company. In 1950 he married his wife, Drucil la, a native of Inagua. Mr Higgs was also a minister of the Church of God of Prophecy in Mathew Town. He had nothing to do with politics. His daughter, Isula Higgs Toote, an officer in the Royal Bahamas Police Force for the past 18 years, described her father as a "loving gentleman who r e ally believed in turning theother cheek everyone loved my father. He didn t deserve what happened to him." But everyone knew that his wife a strong-willed, outspoken woman, was a staunch UBP. Anfi if anyone tried to take advantage of her husband she was the one who had to fight his battles, because the Christian gentle man was too busy "turning the other cheek". Mrs Higgs will never forget the elec tion of June 19th. She believes the year was 1978. The PLP candidate that year wasT Joseph Ford. "I can't forget-the words just won't go out of my ears," she said. Ford had sent for her. When she arrivec! at his office he told her that if she did not go to the school to vote for him on the 19th he would send her husband home (Turks Island). To make certain that she voted right he would send one of his supporters into the booth with her. She refused. She told him that she knew how to read and write and also how to vote. She said government could not send her husband out of the Bahamas because he had done nothing wrong. Mr Ford, she said, told her that government did not care if he had done nothing. If it wanted to send him out of the Bahamas, he would send him out. "I went home, wrote a letter to The Tribune and it was published," Mrs The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs I 13 Higgs said. The letter created a stir and a CID officer arrived to interview her. According to Isula Toote her father eventually got his citizenship because Bishop Brice Thompson, who headed his church "the Bishop was a PLP you know" worked something out in Nassau. But not before a message was sent to Mrs Higgs that her husband would only be allowed to live in the Bahamas if slie would write another letter to The Tribune, denouncing her first letter and saying that it was all a tissue of lies. She refused. Before Mr Higgs was made a citizen, he used to go fishing to help support his growing family. One day, waiting for him on the dock as he pulled along side was an Immigration officer with a police officer. Mr Higgs was informed that, as he was not a Bahamian, he could only catch enough fish to feed his family, nothing for sale. If they caught him selling fish they would lock him up, and confiscate his catch and his boat. Mrs Higgs went to see the Inunigra tion officer, who apolog_!.sed, but said he had to follow his instructions. When Mr Higgs' boat neared the dock on the next trip out, sitting in the bow was the defiant Drucilla Higgs. Out she stepped with her husband's catch of fish enough for the family and enough to sell. Not even the vindic tive T Joe Ford was going to stop this Bahamian lady While her husband turned the other cheek, she fought fiercely for her fam ily and their freedoms. Mrs Higgs remembers standing in the road and hearing Mr Ford tell sup porters that he was there to represent only the PLP. "Let the Caucus (Caicos) people go home and eat grass," he told them. The whole Higgs family sons, daughters, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, and cousins "probably more than 200 persons by now" are united in their rejection of the PLP. And tomorrow one of that number wants to have her say. And so we shall continue the Frank Higgs story Read part 2 on page 14 lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllflllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll Bill 4 seeks to add sex to the prohibited grounds of discrimination What does the Constitution say now? Article 26(3) of the Constitution says: "In this Article the eJSpression "discriminatory" means affording dif ferent treatment to different person attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour or creed whereby person of one such de scription are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which person of another such descripti0n are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantag es which are not accorded to persons of another such description." What does this mean? Article 26(3) is linked to 26(1) which assures no law is discriminatory. The former specifies prohibited grounds of discrimination as race, place of origin, political opinion, colour and creed. It is then unconstitutional for a law to discrimination on the basis of race, place of origin political opinion, colour or creed. What are the exceptions? 26(4)(c) lists exceptions laws that make provisions on "adop tion, marriage, divorce burial, devo lution of property on death, or other matters of personal law". For example, while 26(3) says no law may discrimi nate on the basis of creed, burial is excluded which allows for restrictions on who inay be buried at a church or cemetery based on creed. Who does this Article affect? This article is a part of Chapter 3 Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual-and af fects all citizens of The Bahamas. What is the proposed change? Bill 4 seeks to add "sex" to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimina tion. It also offers the definition of sex as male or female This means no law could discriminate against a person based on whether they are male or female if Bill 4 passes. What are the potential issues with this proposed change? Concerns have been raised that this amendment to Article 26 may lead to same-sex marriage by causing the Matrimonial Causes Act which states a marriage is void when "parties are not respectively male and female" in Section 21 to be contravention to the Constitution. This argument is without merit as Article 26(4)(c) ofthe Constitution lists marriage as exempt from 26(3) -the part where the amendment i s to be made. In an earlier version of the amend ment, there was no definition of sex There was confusion about the mean ing of sex concern about differentiat ing it from gender and sexual orienta tion. The definition appeared as part of the proposed amenc4nent following consultation with leaders of religious organisations. With sex defined as "male or female", a new concern has been raised that the amendment invisi blises and puts intersex people at risk. The Bill 4 question Do you approve of The Constitution (Amendment) (No.4) Bill2014? Under this proposed change to the Constitution, it would be unlawful to discriminate based on "sex", which would be defined as "being male or female". Yes or No. Information: Equality Bahamas ( \

PAGE 14

r 141 The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs A daughter refuses to forget her father The Tribune, April 25, 1997 IN APRIL 1973 t h e mass ev i c tion of Turks Island families from lnagua was brought to the Senate floor by Senator Arthur Fgulkes an Inaguan by birth, and now Baha mian High Commissioner to London. He told of goverru:i:J.ent's betrayal of and cruelty to a people who were encouraged to consider themselves Ba hamian and who had settled in lnag ua, co nt rib u ted to the island's e c onomy, married B ahamia n w omen a nd ra i se d lar g e B a hami an fa milies. The y w ere n o w told to leave som e w ith onl y se v en days notice. The mass mo v ement of people which upset the economic and social life of Inagua took place between the signing of the constitutional agreement in London and Independence day, July 10 1973. This ethnic cleansing was engineered by the PLP, a party that its leader now wants us to believe would never sanc tion anything that "resulted in harm being inflicted on people". This "people's party was cruel. In those years and throughout its 25-year administration it had no regard for anyone who disagreed with its politics. Not only was it vindictive but even worse its leaders did not recognise the basic tenets of democracy. The PLP as a party was bad enough but some of its politicians let power relieve them of their senses It was they who brought with them their ow.n special brand of inhumanity For example, the former Pindling cabinet minister, Philip Bethel who once said that God had given this country to the PLP, behaved as though God had also ordained him as its caretaker. He ruled Governor s Harbour with an iron hand setting himself up almost as a feudal overlord Inagua had its equivalent in a na tive son, T Joseph Ford, PLP MP for Inagua!Mayaguana. There are few certainly we have heard no one with a drop of Turks Island blood in their veins who say a good word about him. Yesterday we told you in his column ab out the family of Frank Higgs. Mr Higgs, a Turks Islander, settled in Inagua when a teenager As all Thrks Islanders did, he worked for Morton Company He was a mechanic. In "If my mother had not stood up for her rights, I would not have known the Bahamas. I would have been a foreigner to _o." Inagua-born lsula Higgs Toote, daughter of Frank Higgs. 1950 he married Drucilla Archer of Inagua and they had 13 children nine of them still living His wife was a staunch supporter of first the UBP, and then of the FNM She ne v e r voted PLP. Arid that was the family s problem. Frank Higgs was a good, quiet Christi a n man. He was a minister in the Church of God of Prophecy .and a communit y-spirited man. He had nothing to do w ith politics. But he was a Turks Islander and for this he was persecuted in an attempt to cure his wife of her backward political leanings Today two of his children are of ficers in the Royal Bahamas Police Force, a daughter and a son. A lot of people don't understand why I hate the PLP so, said his daugh ter lsula Higgs Toote, a police officer of 18 years, "but I tell them that I had to live under them. I grew up from child hood with them victimising my father and other Thrks Islanders. "My father didn t stand up for him self Whate ver they told him to do he di d i t He rea ll y believ e d in turning the oth er cheek. He t ri e d to c onvjnce my mot her not to b e so vocal." But, it was her mot h er's refusal to back down in the face of tyranny that saved the family. Mrs Toote said that because her mother was a UBP sup porter her father entrusted her then a teenager to deliver his letters to the officials to try to get his immigration status regularised. "My father died on June 23, 1993," said Mrs Toote, who like her mother refuses to allow anyone to trample on her rights, "and he never knew that I was destroyin g those letters. Not one g o t d e li ve r ed. I o p e n ed hi s letters and after rea d ing t hem w as so a nnoyed w i th him begging for whaf was hi s ri ght that I tore t hem up. I just couldn t stand it. He had be e n here so lo ng that he was like a Bahamian and I was not going to let him crawl for what was his ... he did not have to beg for citizenship. Mrs Toote talked of her aunt Isadora Grant her father s sister Mrs Grant and her husband who was then dead were Thrks Islanders. She was a young woman when she settled in Inagua During the purge the PLP ordered her back to Turks Island, a land in which she was a stranger. Everything she had was invested in lnagua. She had a nice home. She had nothing in the Turks When she went back to Turks she had to live in a house that when she la y down could look straight up to the sky and straight out through both sides Sh e had no money ever y thing was in Inagua She had to start all over again ." Mrs Gra nt has s ince returned to Inagua "If my mother had not stood up for her rights, I would not have known the Bahamas I would have been a foreigner too, said the Inagua-bom Mrs Toote. When I applied for the police force, a PLP general asked my mother why I wanted to join the force as I was a UBP. She told him that she didn t know that it was a force just for the PLP But with them everything was for the PLP nothing was for anybody else. "No, no one can tell me anything about the PLP, they did nothing for Inagua. If it were not for Morton Salt we would have had nothing All my life we had electricity, there was the little Wednesday, June 1, 2016 hospital evep our water came from the US on the salt ship not from the PLP government, but from Mortons Mrs Toote said her whole family rejoiced when the PLP were defeated in 1992 and again in 1997. I do not agree with any go v ernm e nt treating people like that I will tolerate it from no government ," she said. All nine of us feel the same w a y about the PLP. My little s iste r w a s small, but she heard us t a lk about how our father was treated and our feeling s rubbed off ori her. Today she feels the same way "We are passing i t on t o the ne x t generation They kne w their gr a ndfa ther and they kno w what we ha v e been through. I tell my children that the y don t have to be FNM but I want them to kno w what the PLP is all about. "All my brothers and sisters are do ing the same I think with their children My brother rode in the FNM vic tory motorcade on March 15 carrying a placard which said: 'Two straight, nothing else' and in the comer he had signed his own name Frank Higgs from lnagua He wanted them to know who he was and how he felt. "And we want them to know that daddy is gone, but daddy is still here." His children and grandchildren will carry his torch. They will not let history repeat itself -

PAGE 15

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 The Tribune I Time to right the wrongs I 15 We must be prepared to compete The !\l.trch II\. 2llU2. IN THIS column last week we discussed Bahamian men's fears that if Ba. hamian women's foreign husbands were given the same rights as the foreign wives of Baha mian men rights derived from the equality of Bahamian men and women those foreigners would displace them in the workplace Why should this fear exist if a Ba hamian man is qualified in his trade or professipn, is honest, reliable and has a good work ethic? It is only those who don't measure up who have anything to fear Arch bishop Lawrence Burke pointed out in a recent radio talk show that it is not the foreigner the Bahamian male has to fear The Bahamian man is already threatened because he is being replaced by Bahamian women left right and centre ". Therefore the fear of foreign competition is no valid reason to argue that a Bahamian woman, who marries a foreigner, should not have the same right as her male counterpart to make the Bahamas her matrimonial home. Nor should her foreign husband be denied the right to find employment to support his family as was the case when the PLP were making the rules. By keeping a foreigner out will not guarantee a job for a Bahamian man who is unemployable This type of man will always be left behind in the mainstream of life What is so unfortu nate is that many of these men believe they should have whatever they want just because they are men. They resent women because better qualified women are pushing them aside. They fear foreigners b e cause they think they might get the job if the foreigner is not allowed in However, instead of harbouring these resentments against others these men should stop and spend a,few min utes getting to know themselves. There should be self-examination to discover why others are moving ahead while they remain stationary Their biggest mistake is to believe they will succeed if the competition is held back These men have to concentrate on improving their skills and their attitude to life and work. It is only when they have sufficiently oiled their motiva tional batteries that they will be able to meet the challenge. Any politician who buys into the reasoning that because one group can't keep up, a more energetic group must be held back or sidelined, does the country a great disservice No coun try can prosper if government poli cies cater to the most inefficient and indolent amongst us Those who have even partial memories should recall the consequences of this during 25 years of the PLP administration when the drawbridge was pulled up to keep out the outside world and Bahamians paddled around in their own backwa ter in a leaking canoe. "Don't worry, be happy!" was the captain's cry And the Bahamas almost collapsed, because an unthinking people left their worries to a captain who had not only lost touch with their needs, but had lost his way. Bahamians must face the fact that we are now part of the world barriers are coming down. When we compete in many areas tourism, for example we are not just competing with each other but rather with the rest of the world. And so all of us will have to hone our skills and be ready to face the challenge, not just from the man next door, but from the man in New York London and Tokyo. And this is what Archbishop Burke meant when he said our emphasis today should be to train our own local people to be the besf they can be ". "We have to develop our own natu ral resources and our local people to take their place in a global society and we should not be afraid of some out sider coming in and taking ou r place if we can do the job well ," he told his radio audience And so our emphasis, said the Archbishop "should be training our own local people to be the best they can be And this is what as a Church for example we are trying to do with our education. We are conl)tantly try ing to improve our education and to get people into this technology age. Not only, he said was this a great challenge to the Church but it was also a great challenge to the country. "To reach out beyond ourselves, to go into waters where you just don t have all of the safety you think you have, where you have to have deeper trust trust in yourself and trust in people around you . Unless you put out there and risk, you are going to stay the very same way you are now He warned Bahamians that they can not stay in the safety to which they are now accustomed. They have to be open and be ready to meet the challenge. "We had better be prepared to compete or we are going to drown, he warned.

PAGE 16

161 The Tribune I Time to right t:P.e wrongs Wednesday, June 1, 2016