I have taken note of the country’s raging debate built on the false message about the completion and opening of the Baha Mar project. The message was sent out from a radio personality on Monday, the 23rd May.
The Bahamas is a democracy and a free society, so public discourse is par for the course. What is of concern however is when racism and jingoism appear to be seeping into the dialogue and public discourse. We should not wander down that path for that is the wrong path.
Since that false message, described as an “absolute lie” by our Prime Minister, was circulated, the response from many in the Bahamian public, largely driven by social media, was to attack the investment because the investors are “Chinese.” Money as we know has no colour, race or ethnicity or nationality.
On social media, the Bahamian national anthem was desecrated by being sung in mock Chinese; the Bahamian flag desecrated by overlaying a Chinese flag; the Prime Minister’s statement on the Budget yesterday turned into mock Chinese; the Bahamian national currency photo shopped and defaced by replacing the Queen with a Chinese national figure; a Buddha photo shopped over the Queen Victoria Statue in Rawson Square, and the inference that Chinese are being endowed with hegemonic powers in The Bahamas.
This type of propaganda is not amusing. It is patently offensive and irresponsible. No nation, but particularly one of majority African ancestry where they have had to fight and continue to fight every day for their human dignity to be recognized, should be engaging in this kind of dog whistling and border line race baiting for the fun of it. It is unbecoming of us as a country.
Peoples of African descent and the Diaspora have suffered this kind of indignity and disrespect for literally centuries. Bahamians need only look at the personal attacks on the heritage of America’s first African American president to understand that this fight for dignity by the African Diaspora continues today.
We can disagree with the policies, the decisions, the results, the investment without going down that unseemly road.
There is no evidence that the People’s Republic of China have any hegemonic political or economic designs on The Bahamas.
We have to be more responsible than that and look at the facts.
The Baha Mar project did not fail because it was a “Chinese” investment.
Our country, both duly elected governments by the Bahamian people, went to the China Export Import Bank and supported a private developer to build Baha Mar. Our leaders, both FNM and PLP, represented that it was in our national interest to do so. It was a transaction done on commercial terms and approved unanimously in the House of Assembly.
The China Export Import Bank has not as far we know reneged on any aspect of the arrangements. The record shows that the developer so managed his investment, resulting in his inability to pay his bills and the property was placed into receivership, not by the cabinet but by and under the supervision of the Bahamas Supreme Court. No amount of Facebook or social media propaganda and rewriting of history can change that.
What is further concerning though is that a front organization on Facebook which appears to be aligned with the failed developer and calling themselves by the patently offensive name “Baha Mar citizens” seems to be fueling this anti-Chinese fervor as a cover for the defaults of the developer.
Our country’s image abroad as a place for investment and in tourism cannot develop the reputation of being racists or jingoists. I therefore sound this word of caution on this and say it has gone far enough and must come to an immediate end.
I appeal to our better nature on this score where the country’s international reputation and vital interests are at stake.
CWCF Flow TCI & CWCF completes upgrades
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Cable & Wireless Charitable Foundation (CWCF), in collaboration with Flow TCI, announced the completion of the first phase of its project to provide increased connectivity and broadband access to schools in the region, including TCI. The foundation recently announced the completion of three schools in the TCI during the Minister of Education’s national address at the Office of the Premier on January 13th.
Joanne Missick, Country Manager, Flow Turks & Caicos, expressed her excitement on the progress made by the CWCF, and released the following statement following the announcement. “ We are pleased to be a valued partner of the Ministry of Education, and a dedicated corporate citizen of the Turks and Caicos, and this announcement serves to reaffirm our commitment to the education sector and to parents and students across the Turks and Caicos Islands. As students and teachers prepare to return to the classroom, physically and virtually, for the new school year, they will benefit from these latest technology upgrades. During the next phase of the project, in 2022, we look forward to connecting even more schools in the TCI.”
During the national address, Flow also highlighted three of its major undertakings executed in the last three years despite the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. This included upgrading schools in the TCI from average speed of 6Mbps of broadband speed to 50Mbps, as part of its existing program to deliver increase digital access and connectivity to public schools at no further cost to the Ministry. Flow also doubled speeds for all home internet customers in the TCI and announced $4m in network upgrades to help to improve connectivity in the sister islands.
ICT Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Eugene Grant said: “Due to the most recent upgrades from Flow and the Cable and Wireless Charitable Foundation, we were able to enhance the connectivity at three of our schools. This is just in time. January came and the Minister announced that schools will have to resume virtually because of the spike in cases across the country and thanks to the contribution from Flow we were able to extend that connectivity to all our classrooms at the Ianthe Pratt Primary, Charles Hubert James, and Raymond Gardiner. Right now, all of our teachers at these schools can sit and have full contact virtually with their students.”
In attendance at the press conference was Flow Senior Leadership representative, Minister of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Services, Hon. Rachel Taylor, Director in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Edgar Howell, Deputy Director in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Mark Garland, Education Officers, Members of the Executive Government (Cabinet) and officials from the Ministry of Health.
KB Home Center fined $6,000 for Hiring Haitians illegally
By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, January 19, 2022 – “New sheriff in town”, Minister of Immigration Arlington Musgrove in a statement Tuesday doubled down on his public pledge to end illegal migration, and a popular retail store has been convicted with hiring illegal migrants; they’ve paid a fine of $6,000 for the breach.
Tito Forbes heads the Immigration Task Force and said the operation was informed by the Immigration Intelligence Unit. It led to a detailed investigation, he said, the result of which is conviction of “a business here in Providenciales for employing illegal workers. Businesses that employ illegal workers are a huge part of our challenge. Migrants risk their lives trying to get to TCI because they think they can find work and live here illegally”.
Ananda Ltd Trading or KB Home Center was charged and plead guilty to three counts of employing a prohibited person. The company was sentenced at court to a fine of $2,000 – or 30 days imprisonment – on each count.
Minister Musgrove said, the TCI is working hard to combat illegal migration, and businesses offering employment to illegal migrants are only harming the efforts of our country in tackling this issue.
The public is reminded that it is an offence to harbour or assist illegal persons and that persons found guilty engaging in such activities are liable to a fine of US$20,000 or a term of imprisonment of four years, or both in accordance with the Immigration Ordinance 2018 Revised or any law.
Crime Wave just as bad as COVID wave, Residents demanding action
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 19, 2022 – “We need to take action against this crime immediately!” Was the call from one TCI resident over the weekend shared via social media and he is not alone. The consensus is that crime in the country seems out of control.
Residents are sharing their experiences and expressing frustration that no one official is facing the public during what is a doubly hard season; a spike in COVID which had the TCI inching ever so close to 1000 active cases and crime sprees where criminals are hitting multiple spots per night and there is a return of home invasions.
“Six armed men came here and robbed the store. They also robbed the Rooster Black next door and the Laundromat next door,” explained the man, a customer at one of the stores hit by a late afternoon heist on Saturday January 15.
The young man was making the comment to a cell phone camera, expressing his shock at the stream of crimes. That video was later shared and it spread like wildfire on the weekend.
Another resident voiced a friend’s harrowing experience in a social media voice note.
There is an air of fear as violent incidents, robberies and home invasions rise amidst weak communications from the Royal TCI Police Force.
The Force eventually confirmed there were at least five home invasions in the Turks and Caicos between Thursday January 13 and Friday January 14 alone.
So far two suspects have been arrested Lorenzo Caesar, aged 36, and Stevenson Morris, aged 46 have been charged with aggravated burglary in connection with at least one of the robberies on Thursday. A teen, only 17 years old was also held with a firearm and ammunition over the weekend, after reportedly “shooting up at the club”.
Still residents are not convinced of their safety and confidence in the Police is on shaky ground, yet again.
As residents grappled with the report of such a young gun crime perpetrator, there came word of two people being fired upon on Sunday in Five Cays. Both were rushed to hospital. There has been no statement on the alleged ambush from authorities; but it seems both survived the hail of bullets.
In another public opinion, it said most concerning was that more dangerous gun wielding criminals were not being apprehended. The individual noted on social media that cutlass and machete using criminals were the “least of [the TCI’s] concerns when gunmen were on the loose”
It has been nearly a month since Premier Washington Misick promised to address crime in the New Year and two weeks since his National Security Council (NSC) meeting which he promised would be followed by a statement on crime.
In the past month, there have been four murders, at least three shootings and numerous armed burglaries of businesses, homes and individuals.
As the list of incidents grows longer there is no guidance, condemnation for the brutal acts or general updates forthcoming from the NSC, Police, Governor or the elected Government.
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