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PM Davis Joins in Observance of the Anniversary of the Sinking of HMBS Flamingo

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By ERIC ROSE
Bahamas Information Services

#NASSAU, The Bahamas  – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said, on May 10, 2023, that the tragedy of May 10, 1980, reinforced the importance of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), illustrating why the late Sir Lynden Pindling was so adamant to establish such an agency to defend the territorial sovereignty of The Bahamas.

“Forty-three years ago, on the 10th May, 1980, at approximately 5 p.m., marines onboard the deck of Her Majesty’s Bahamian Ship Flamingo were faced with a decision,” Prime Minister Davis recounted, during the RBDF Memorial Service, held on Parliament Square.

“That decision was to stand firmly by the principle of service above self. On that fateful day, the entire crew came under siege as they were executing their duties,” he continued.  “Ultimately, four young men were lost at sea: Able Seaman Fenrick Sturrup, Marine Seaman Austin Smith, Marine Seaman David Tucker, and Marine Seaman Edward Williams.

“In seeking to protect and defend the sovereignty of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, they made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Among those present included Governor-General His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper, and other Cabinet Members; Leader of the Opposition the Hon. Michael Pintard; Chief Justice the Hon. Sir Ian Winder; former Governor-General, the Most Hon. Dame Marguerite Pindling; senior members of Unformed Branches; international guests; clergy; family members and well-wishers.

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that to all RBDF marines, that episode had become “the sacred symbol of pride and duty”.  Each marine, he added, was keenly aware of the value of the ultimate sacrifice, and of the choice to place service to country above self.

“Duty and sacrifice remain principal tenets in recruit training and each entry class since then understands the fundamental importance of the Defence Force and its key role in national development,” Prime Minister Davis stated.

At the heart of that “national tragedy “, Prime Minister noted, were the mothers and fathers, wives, children and loved ones of the marines.

“The tragedy of the HMBS Flamingo cannot be discussed without acknowledging their sacrifice,” he said.  “I know that the unimaginable loss of the marines is as fresh today as it was 43 years ago.”

Prime Minister Davis added that, while some of the parents have passed on,  and many of the children now have families of their own, the loss of the four marines remained “painful and immediate”.

He added: “We may even wonder what our valiant marines might have been doing with their lives today, had that horrible incident not occurred.  This question has no answer, but as the head of our country, I can assure you that we are deeply appreciative of the love and support you gave to these men, and the memories of them that you keep alive.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that, as they all reflected upon the four young marines whose lives were lost, they should also take the opportunity today to honour the survivors of the Flamingo Incident. Not long after the disaster, he said, many of the survivors of the Flamingo ship’s company returned to patrol Bahamian waters.

“Other members were appointed and drafted to different vessels or departments, where they continued their noble efforts in guarding our heritage with formidable success,” he said.  “Although the survivors have since resigned or retired from this prestigious organisation, they continue to uphold the standard of a true marine and provide invaluable service to our country within their given field of expertise.”

Prime Minister Davis stated that, as The Bahamas prepared to celebrate its 50th year of Independence, all must “stand firm on our nation’s deck, and be prepared like those great men onboard HMBS Flamingo, for what is to come”.

“To you, the family members of the victims, and to those families whose loved ones have passed in the line of service, I extend my heartfelt thanks for your unwavering support of our nation’s first line of defence — for the protectors of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.  “I assure you that their sacrifice will forever be cherished within the hearts of the Bahamian people.”

He added: “On behalf of His Excellency, Cornelius A. Smith, Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; the governing party of The Bahamas; the Leader of the Opposition and his party; the grateful people of The Bahamas; and my wife, Ann-Marie, I salute the memory of our fallen four and applaud their heroic efforts. The memories of Fenrick, Austin, David and Edward will never fade.

“May God continue to bless the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, and may He continually bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”

 

PHOTO CAPTION

On May 10, 2023, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis joined Governor-General His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper, and other Cabinet Members; Leader of the Opposition the Hon. Michael Pintard; Chief Justice the Hon. Sir Ian Winder; former Governor-General, the Most Hon. Dame Marguerite Pindling; senior members of Unformed Branches; international guests; clergy; family members and well-wishers at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Memorial Service observing 43 years of the sinking of the HMBS Flamingo, held on Parliament Square, in Nassau, The Bahamas.  (BIS Photos/Eric Rose.  Drone Photography Courtesy of Eric Rose)

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Prime Minister Davis: Cannabis Reform Compendium 2024 ‘a long time coming’

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said on July 15, 2024, that he spoke in support of the compendium of Bills to legalise the use of cannabis for medical and religious purposes, to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of cannabis, and to “regulate the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis and related products within our borders and to promote the health and safety of our people.”

“This has been a long time coming,” Prime Minister Davis said, during his Contribution to the Cannabis Reform Compendium 2024 Debate in the House of Assembly.

“For years, Bahamians have called for an administration to have the courage to step up and take this issue on in a decisive and responsible manner,” he added.  “While many other countries, including nations within our region like Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda and Barbados, have taken steps toward decriminalisation and legalisation for medical use, Bahamians were left wondering when it would be our turn to modernise our local approach to cannabis.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that the national dialogue had been ongoing for the better part of a decade.

“Many people thought change was imminent when the Marijuana Commission began its work in October 2018, under the previous administration,” he said.  “These efforts culminated in a preliminary report delivered in January 2020 and a final report delivered in August 2021.”

He added:  “The Commission cited a wide range of in-person discussions and public opinion research, noting that there appeared to be widespread public support for the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes.  There was also healthy support for decriminalisation and an appetite for a strong regulatory and enforcement framework to ensure high standards for this new industry.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the recommendations of the Commission called for legalisation for medical use, decriminalisation for small amounts, legalisation for use as a religious sacrament for members of the Rastafarian community, as well as strict regulations to ensure the quality and safety of the local cannabis product.

“In the PLP’s Blueprint for Change, we committed to developing a comprehensive regulatory framework for growing, harvesting, and exporting cannabis to create opportunities for Bahamians,” he said.

“The approach we developed to legislating and regulating Cannabis was informed by widespread research and consultation,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “It was partially based on the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana’s research and findings, as well as the approaches of other jurisdictions like Jamaica, Barbados, and Canada, where Cannabis has been legalised and regulated.”

He said that his Government’s goal was to ensure that it developed the most fair, balanced, and effective legislative and regulatory mechanisms, which would allow The Bahamas to reap economic and health benefits while promoting law and order and keeping its people safe through the introduction of stringent standards.

Prime Minister Davis added:  “Once we felt that we had an adequate draft, we released the draft bills publicly, and we held a number of stakeholder consultation sessions, led by the Attorney General’s Office, in which we sat down with major stakeholder groups like healthcare providers, leaders of our church community, advocates for legalisation, leaders of the Rastafarian community – some of whom I see here today, as well as those who had concerns about the impact of legalisation and decriminalisation on the proliferation of usage. These varied opinions were taken into account and adjustments were made to achieve the most practical and effective approach that would work best for the Bahamian people.”

He pointed out that his Government also paid close attention to ongoing research on the issue – the most recent of which, he noted, was a survey conducted nationally by Public Domain in 2023, which indicated that 61% of the population supported the legalisation of cannabis for medical usage.

“It was clear that the times had changed, and it was time for our laws to change as well,” Prime Minister Davis stated.

He continued:  “We’ve been hard at work since 2021. We knew this was not a process we could rush. There was a recognised need for carefulness and due diligence, but there was also a need to ensure that this new legislative and regulatory regime could be introduced and implemented within this term.  We could not simply kick the can down the road for our next term the way other administrations did.  No, we could not delay these changes – not when so many people had waited for years for real action to be taken.

“Today, the wait is over.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government was taking action on behalf of all of the people who simply wanted the ability to legally consume medical cannabis to help them with their medical conditions.

“There are people with children suffering from epilepsy who have been praying for this moment,” he said.  “There are people with glaucoma who want the opportunity to potentially alleviate their condition with a cost-effective and natural treatment.”

Prime Minister Davis added that there were people living with auto-immune conditions, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and other ailments who were “waiting not-so-patiently for this day.”

“We are taking action for the many men and women living with criminal records for carrying small amounts of cannabis, and the many others who will be spared criminal records as a result of decriminalization,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis stated that, as a society, his Government realised that the old approach taken against Cannabis in the War on Drugs in the 1980s and 90s did not necessarily reflect the current reality.

“Too many livelihoods have been lost because of a joint,” he said.  “Too many lives have been handicapped and potentials lost.”

He added that when he was saying that, it was not his intent to excuse those who choose to break the law.

“After all, the law is the law; it must be respected and upheld,” Prime Minister Davis stated.  “But we also recognise that the law is not static, it is dynamic. And the interpretation of the law and how it serves the greater good of society can change over time.  I am confident that many lives will be changed for the better as a result of the criminal records that will be expunged.”

“Through these reforms, we are upholding the rule of law, making it clear that if you are seeking to supply others with cannabis illegally or engage in other unlicenced and illegal activities, you will be held accountable,” he added.  “Everyone is welcome to participate within the legal and regulatory framework and only within that framework.

“Of course, as a part of this reform process, we are also taking action to recognise the rights and freedoms of Rastafarians to use Cannabis as a sacrament because it should not be against the law for our brothers and sisters of the Rastafarian faith to practice their religion.”

PHOTO CAPTION

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis speaks, on July 15, 2024, during his Contribution to the Cannabis Reform Compendium 2024 Debate in the House of Assembly.    (BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

 

Release: BIS

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Bahamas Celebrates 51st Independence – ‘United In Love & Service’

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By LINDSAY THOMPSON
Bahamas Information Services



NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Commonwealth of The Bahamas celebrated 51 years as an independent nation on July 10, 2024.

A Calendar of Events planned and managed by the National Independence Secretariat focused on the theme: ‘One People United In Love & Service,’ an excerpt from the National Pledge.

An Ecumenical Service and Cultural Show was held July 9, 2024 at historic Clifford Park, where the Flag Raising segment stirred emotions from spectators – many of whom were at that same spot when the birth of the nation happened in 1973.

The 51st Independence Anniversary celebrations kicked off with a number of leadup events: beginning with ‘National Flag Day’ on June 28, during which Bahamians throughout the country donned the national colours of aquamarine, gold and black and held brief ceremonies marked by singing of the National Anthem, reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, and solemn Flag Raising.

The traditional Independence ‘Beat Retreat’ was held in Rawson Square, downtown Nassau, June 30, where a joint uniformed branch band wowed dignitaries and scores of spectators with their skillful drills and upbeat music.  This year, young people were added to the mix and drew thunderous applause as they sang the songs of local artists.

On July 1, a National Time Capsule Packing Day was coordinated, which involved all Family Islands, and New Providence.  Residents gathered historic items unique to their specific communities and placed them in time capsules.  All capsules will be unsealed in 2049 during the country’s Diamond Jubilee independence celebrations.

The week leading up to Independence was filled with activities aimed at bringing people together right where they live — their communities.  It called for Bahamians to focus on heritage, culture, love and commonalities as opposed to differences.

The main event on Tuesday, July 9, at Clifford Park drew many who donned fashionable clothing in the national colours, waved pompoms, blew whistles, and held flashing lights as they experienced from 7:30 pm to 12:00 midnight aspects of the spiritual and cultural Bahamas.

The Ecumenical Service sermon was delivered by Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander – who called into focus the theme of unity, love and service.  The gospel singing by Bishop Denczil Rolle & Friends added to the worship mood throughout the park and the vicinity of Fort Charlotte.

Following on, the cultural segment showcased folklore dance, performances by artists who evoked crowd excitement, Junkanoo, skits in which young actors dreamed of their future, and interviews with Bahamians who have beaten the odds.

Minutes before midnight, Her Excellency Dame Cynthia Pratt, Governor General, inspected the Honour Guard; members of the clergy gathered around the National Flag as it was being hoisted and offered prayers for various segments of the community; and as the Flag reached the top – the National Anthem was played followed by a burst of fireworks bringing in July 10, 2024 – the 51st Independence Anniversary of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

In those early hours, starting at 1:00 a.m. the celebration continued with ‘The People’s Rush’ Junkanoo extravaganza.

On the afternoon of Independence Day, a ‘Family Fun Day’ was held at Clifford Park, where all manner of activities, games, foods, drinks and entertainment were available for families to enjoy.

That evening, a State Reception at Government House, Mt. Fitzwilliam, was hosted by Governor General Dame Cynthia Pratt in celebration of Bahamas Independence.

PHOTO CAPTION
Photos show the 51st. Anniversary of Bahamas Independence Ecumenical Service and Cultural Show celebrations at Clifford Park, July 9-10, 2024.  (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

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Bahamas Development Bank Hosts Financial Talk with Freeport Primary School  

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Freeport, Grand Bahama, 15 July 2024- The Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) recently hosted a group of enthusiastic sixth graders for a session on financial literacy. Over 40 Freeport Primary School students delved into the importance of being goal oriented and the value of savings.

Through engaging activities and discussions, the sixth graders learned about the importance of planning for the future and how disciplined saving can help them achieve their dreams. Beyond this, BDB team members encouraged the students to be their best as they get ready to leave primary school.

Bahamas Development Bank Credit Operations Manager, Brent Deveaux, expressed enthusiasm about the event, stating, “It is crucial for our young people to understand the value of money management early on. By teaching them the principles of saving and goal setting, we are not only empowering them to make sound financial decisions in the future but also contributing to the overall economic well-being of our community. At the Bahamas Development Bank, we are proud to invest in the financial literacy of our youth as part of our commitment to national development.”

Following the interactive session, BDB presented a donation to Freeport Primary School to assist graduating sixth graders with their transition to junior high school.

This Freeport Primary School initiative was part of a broader effort by BDB to celebrate its 50th anniversary with events that engage and benefit the community. The bank believes that financial education is a key component of building a prosperous and financially responsible society. Bahamas Development Bank team members Brent Deveaux, Rachea Mortimer, Rhavanya Carey, and Octovia Green planned and carried out the activity.

 

Photo Caption: The Bahamas Development Bank recently hosted an interactive session designed to provide Freeport Primary School students with practical knowledge about setting financial goals and the benefits of saving money. Standing in center is Freeport Primary School Principal, Gia Walker.

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