Over the past several weeks the articles I wrote about gerrymandering and questionable citizenships have been brought into question by a few people, who criticized me for not being “constructive” in my articles, and for not giving solutions to the points raised.
Some have gone as far as claiming that the boundaries that I referred to were a figment of somebody’s imagination. In fact, I was referring to a document that the mainstream media claimed had been leaked to them from the Boundaries Commission’s office. The newspaper would not have said that the documents were “leaked” if that was not the case. But since newspapers are ethically bound not to expose their sources, they are conveniently accused by some of having manufactured the story. This is unfortunate.
Then the guessing game starts. Who leaked it? Is that really important? What is important is who wrote the boundaries document? We can rule out the judge on the Boundaries Commission. The poor fellow has been accused of enough. The boundaries that I saw were skewed in favour of the FNM. Do you think the PLP would present a set of boundaries skewed against themselves? You figure it out.
The articles questioning my position were written by Mr. Rick Lowe and Mr. Larry Smith. They both claimed, condescendingly, that they would usually “dismiss my missives out of hand.” I can see them now sitting on their high horses mounted on pedestals of their own creation, conceding to respond to little ol’ me. Gentlemen, I am so grateful; you are so kind!
I must say; however, that most of their comments were made either after having read my articles incorrectly, or with malice. I would like to believe that they misread the articles.
Both claimed that I gave no solutions to the problems other than one. Mr. Lowe said that I had suggested that the government should give only Permanent Residence to foreigners. He quoted one paragraph and forgot to mention the paragraphs before it.
Mr. Lowe knows I have many foreign friends so his comments were made merely to put the cat among the pigeons. I, in fact, said that Permanent Residency Status should be granted to those foreigners whose documents did not come up to the standard required for citizenship.
Did not the recent earthquake in Haiti destroy many documents that at the best of times, I understand, were badly kept? I mentioned in my article an experience that a person had when they went to collect their long awaited citizenship papers and found that the room was packed with people who had also come to collect their citizenship papers. However, only my friend and the Immigration Officers spoke English. Would this not cause a reasonable person to raise their eyebrows about the authenticity of the applicant’s papers?
I said that by gerrymandering boundaries, the voters were not given enough time to get to know the candidate, nor did the candidate have enough time to check the register to be sure that those who the register said were there, were, in fact, there. I may not have spelled the solution out but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what it is. Give them more time is the solution!
The question was about gerrymandering and questionable citizenships. I made the case against government. They said I gave no solutions. But I noticed they also gave no solutions to gerrymandering and questionable citizenships. Am I to understand from their statements that they are in favour of gerrymandering and questionable citizenships?
In his article, Mr. Smith said that the idea of gerrymandering and illegal citizenships being given out was first raised by “an anonymous propaganda website called Bahamas Press, which masquerades as a news site.” Here he goes again, looking down on people as usual. I read the Bahamas Press and I don’t know who owns it. But I do know that, although I sometimes disagree with the language used, their stories are usually on the mark, sometimes days before the mainstream media; and they do a good job. But have heart Bahamas Press whoever you are: I have heard people call Mr. Smith’s articles “Elite propaganda spun trash.” It happens. Get used to it.
Mr. Smith indicates that it is not true that false birth certificates are given out. If he believes this, fine. Sleep on McDuff!
Mr. Lowe says that the FNM Government tried with a Constitutional Amendment to create a review committee for the boundaries, but he claims it was defeated. It may be so. But Mr. Lowe, along with me and others, fought and voted against it. In fact, Mr. Lowe was at my side when this happened. He knows, as well as I do, that the proposed Constitutional Amendment contained some very objectionable sections. We were not allowed to vote item by item; we had to vote for or against the whole thing.
I believed then, as I do now, that good sections such as giving foreign men who marry Bahamian women the same right as foreign women who marry Bahamian men could have been passed by a simple act of Parliament. But it has not been done. Why? Maybe Mr. Lowe can tell us why he suddenly now has a change of heart.
Mr. Smith goes to great lengths to show that I quoted the wrong figures regarding the number of citizenships given out by the FNM Government as opposed to the amount given out by the PLP. Both Mr. Lowe and Mr. Smith seem obsessed with the premise that if the PLP did it, it’s all right for the FNM to do it too. I’m amazed that two intelligent men think like that. I believe that gerrymandering and packing votes is wrong…no matter which Party does it.
I did write that it was said that there were about 5,000 citizenships given out. I was not sure then and was apparently wrong. But the actual figures make no difference, as the numbers were being used to illustrate a point. In other words, if 1,000 votes are made up of illegal immigrants and that 1,000 were properly placed in ten districts, a “shaky” district could become a safe area. The quantity of five hundred could be used and the result would be the same. After all, in the last election I contested, I only won by 27 votes; I seem to recall that Sir Roland won by just one vote in 1967.
Mr. Smith says, “The only point I want to make here is that we should always be suspicious of folks who switch apparently deep allegiances and strongly held positions overnight.” I agree with Mr. Smith. But, in this case, he must be looking in the mirror and talking to himself. The beliefs today about gerrymandering, conflict of interest, double dealing with friends, etc. were held and expressed by me before or just after both he and Mr. Lowe were born.
They were my views before the FNM was formed. I joined the FNM because I felt the leaders then, namely Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield and Sir Kendal Isaacs, shared the same ideals that I did.
My friends, the Leaders of the FNM have changed…not me. The Leaders of the FNM have betrayed the original standards of the FNM…not me. The Leaders of the FNM have betrayed a sacred trust with the people of The Bahamas…not me.
My next article will deal with political parties, gerrymandering, and their effects on democracy. In the meantime…God bless.
By Pierre V.L. Dupuch
December 2, 2011