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 Bahamas Commentary

2003-06-21 04:23:41

An Exercise In Futility

No matter how the government might wish to frame its decision to call for the inquiry and no matter which legend is ultimately trotted out to justify this action, most sensible Bahamians believe that they were forced to do so.

When it was announced last weekend that a Commission of Inquiry was being called into existence to examine certain issues purportedly involving the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, a broad cross section of Bahamians reacted in a number of ways, ranging from delight to horror.

There are voices which warn that a dangerous precedent is being set. Their view is that the matter involving the Lorequin should not be re-opened, precisely because it has already been investigated, findings lodged and that should then be the end of the matter.

As we have discovered - much to our chagrin - there is a third perspective which is gleeful at the idea that the current government has apparently been forced to relent, have been 'pressured' to yield by forces and agencies in the United States. These people are, for the most part - closet supporters of any number of campaigns led by outgoing United States Ambassador, J. Richard Blankenship.

What is interesting about the entire matter and the controversy it has unleashed is that few Bahamians have taken the time to look deeply into what is truly an outrage against the Bahamian Nation, its people and its systems of law and governance.

No matter how the government might wish to frame its decision to call for the inquiry and no matter which legend is ultimately trotted out to justify this action, most sensible Bahamians believe that they were forced to do so. Now, since we nor most Bahamians will ever be privy to the manoeuvres and machinations which took place behind the scene concerning this and other matters, we freely admit that our take on this issue is grounded in our commonsense, good judgement and cherished identity as Bahamians.

Believing as we do in the integrity of our systems of law and governance, we cannot - on principle - accept as fact the contention that somehow the entire system was perverted and that there was no proper investigation into the Lorequin incident.

Again, as far are we are concerned, if an investigation takes place and a finding is reached which confesses that a definitive judgement about guilt or innocence could not be reached, that should be the end of the matter. Such an outcome is in and of itself no basis for concluding that there was wrongdoing on the part of the investigators or that there was something corrupt about the system.

Someone less polite than ourselves might exclaim 'For crying out loud' are there never circumstances where guilt cannot be assigned? And, for that matter, are those accused not to be presumed innocent?

There are - even now - a growing cadre of cynical Bahamians who sincerely believe that this entire issue was set up as a scam or sting, designed to test certain security systems. Our view on the matter of the Royal Commission of inquiry is a simple one. It is an expensive exercise in futility. While we understand why it was called and why the Christie government had to capitulate, this exercise is triply insulting to Bahamians.

First, it is an outrage that the Royal Bahamas Defence Force - as an institution - could be so stigmatised by a neighbour who should know better than this. If they had real information about any officers who might have been corrupted, the good thing for them to do would have been for this information to be shared with the police.

Second, it is simply unconscionable for a sovereign state like The Bahamas to be perceived as a play-thing for others.

Third, Bahamians of all political persuasions should take note and take offence at what are truly the most extreme implications of this proposed inquiry. There are muted implications, innuendoes and aspersions against the Pindling regime; Ingraham's government and the current Christie team.

As the record attest, whatever went down in the tragicomic case of the Lorequin took place in the waning days of Sir Lynden's long tenure at the helm of government in The Bahamas.
Again, as the record shows, it was the Hubert Ingraham government which inquired into the matter. Of course, the information that the public has shows that this was one of the issues recently dredged up by Mr. Blankenship.

Like a lot of Bahamians, we were flabbergasted by what seemed an extraordinary attention gap on the part of the United States of America. Why did they wait so long to drop the 'bomb' so to speak on Bahamian authorities? Did it have anything to do with the results of the last general elections? Since these are merely rhetorical questions, we leave them where we found them. Suffice it to say that our confidence in the integrity of our systems of law and governance remain intact. We have no reason to doubt the good sense in the conclusions reached in 1993.

We are confident that Justice Stanley Moore will do this nation and this region proud as he leads this latest inquiry into a matter which has already been adequately investigated. However, none of this prevents us from voicing our dismay and disgust about how The Bahamas has been obliged to yield to superior power. In the ultimate analysis, despite the costs, justice will again be done.

Editorial, The Bahama Journal

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