Who is the Speaker speaking for?
Speaker’s comments out of order
No rebuttal or dissociation from government officials
Remarks feed into geopolitical issues
PM, Foreign Affairs and National Security Ministers must respond
Best interest of Bahamians must be prioritized
According to media reports, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Halson Moultrie recommended that the People’s Republic of China consider developing the southeast region of The Bahamas.
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) had reserved comments until now with the hope that the Prime Minister and his government would either distance themselves from these ill-advised remarks or clarify why the current administration has taken such a position on behalf of the Bahamian people.
Regrettably, the Prime Minister and his colleagues were too busy celebrating an expansion of government at Mount Fitzwilliam while the nation is in crisis following the passage of Hurricane Dorian. There has been no rebuttal, disclaimer or condemnation of the Speaker's remarks or actions. This is consistent with the posture taken in the past by a scandalous administration when the infamous Speaker lowered the standard of the House by engaging in personal attacks and abusing his office by stifling the work of the Public Accounts Committee.
It is common knowledge that the role of the Speaker is an important one in a parliamentary democracy and his ranking in the Order of Precedence highlights this reality. Additionally, it is widely known that the current Speaker ran as a member of the Free National Movement (FNM) and was elected on their ticket. Hence, pronouncements made by Speaker Moultrie of the government carries much weight and cannot be ignored. In Westminster protocol, an appointed Speaker should ordinarily resign from the Party for which he/she is affiliated with and should refrain from speaking on political matters inclusive of foreign policy matters, personally or otherwise. The only business Mr. Halson Moultrie should be concerned about is presiding over the business of the House of Assembly and of his constituency - Nassau Village, for which we hear very little if anything from him.
News reports also note that the Speaker sought the help of another country to relocate the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services from New Providence to Little Inagua. By his comments, the Speaker inserted himself into geopolitical territory and articulated a position on behalf of the FNM administration in the absence of a clear retraction or disclaimer by the Prime Minister or Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Speaker’s comments were inappropriate and prejudicial to our cordial relationships with both countries.
The DNA is deeply concerned that the Prime Minister has not moved to dissociate himself and the government from an open invitation to another sovereign nation to develop a section of the sovereign Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
The Minister of National Security will do well to advise the Bahamian people whether there are any plans to relocate the Department of Correctional Services from New Providence to Little Inagua and if so, whether he had authorized the Speaker to seek the assistance of China to carry out this relocation. The Minister of Finance should explain the plans to develop Southeast Bahamas as an economic zone in conjunction with the People’s Republic of China.
We welcome both local and foreign direct investments in our nation but maintain that such investments must prioritize the best interest of the Bahamian people. Our political leaders must remember that they should speak for the people and not themselves. It is disappointing that the current administration is lacking in message discipline and a lack of coordination among the various ministries or office holders. Our nation seems to be on autopilot without effective leadership.
We call on the government to shape up and get it together. The Bahamian people demand nothing less.
Arinthia S. Komolafe
Democratic National Alliance