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2005-04-05 15:12:00

''Fire Leslie Miller''

Mr. Turnquest said Minister Miller´s latest actions were only the most recent in a series of actions inappropriate for a Cabinet Minister.

Free National Movement Leader Tommy Turnquest said yesterday that Prime Minister Perry Christie should immediately fire Trade and Industry Minister Leslie Miller for “embarrassing' the government and the country in Cat Cay on Saturday.

Minister Miller got into an ugly row with second homeowners opposing the AES Liquefied Natural Gas project on nearby Ocean Cay.

“I found the events that took place in Cat Cay to be astonishing,' Mr. Turnquest told the Bahama Journal. “We are reviewing that situation. I don't condone anyone speaking to officials in a derogatory or defamatory manner, but I also expect Ministers of the Government to behave in a certain way as well.'

Montagu Member of Parliament Brent Symonette also condemned the Minister's actions in Cat Cay.

During that meeting, the Minister locked horns with Cat Cay Club President Manuel Diaz, who called him an idiot during the spat.

The Minister soon threatened to physically attack Mr. Diaz for his remarks.

Mr. Symonette said he doubts that Prime Minister Perry Christie will scold the Minister for his actions.

“I think it is disturbing that a Minister who specifically goes to a meeting on an island where it is clear that the issue of LNG would be discussed would cause himself to act in such a way,' he said.

Minister Miller had walked out of the meeting when opponents of the LNG project showed a film on the risks and dangers of LNG. He said he did not come to Cat Cay to see a film and felt like a schoolboy because of the way he had been treated.

The Minister then got into a fiery exchange with Mr. Diaz and Tim Riley, the co-producer of the film.

Mr. Symonette feels the Minister's actions were totally unacceptable.

“It is not the first time Mr. Miller's actions have been controversial and unbecoming of a Cabinet Minister and I would call on Mr. Christie to react appropriately,' he said. “However, I fully accept that Mr. Christie's inability to act would result in no decision being made yet again and the country would be forced to accept mediocrity by his inaction.'

Some Progressive Liberal Party insiders also expressed their embarrassment and shock that Minister Miller would go as far as threatening to get into a physical confrontation with the investor, although some of them said the Minister had been provoked.

Mr. Turnquest said Minister Miller's latest actions were only the most recent in a series of actions inappropriate for a Cabinet Minister.

“He should have been fired months ago,' the FNM leader said. “I don't know all of the details of Cat Cay, but I know Minister Miller's actions since May of 2002 have been a total embarrassment to the Bahamian people and because he has not resigned, I think he ought to be fired.'

Minister Miller warned Mr. Riley during the meeting that he was a no-nonsense man who does not play games.

He said he was not willing to sit back and let anyone disrespect him.

His actions had tongues wagging across New Providence and Grand Bahama on Monday, especially after an airing of a part of the row on Radio Love 97 gave listeners a better appreciation of what transpired.

The Minister expects to make a report to Cabinet today on what happened in Cat Cay, although Prime Minister Christie was informed shortly after the meeting what transpired.

The Free National Movement has promised to release a statement on the matter.

Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Raynard Rigby said based on the account of the story he had received, the Minister was merely defending himself.

Candia Dames, The Bahama Journal

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