Thursday, 23 November 2017

Thurston Responds to PM's Critical Remarks



Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, in his address at the Bahamas Press Club’s awards banquet, came across as rather presumptuous.

Here is a man with less than zero experience in journalism telling experienced journalists how to practice their profession.

It is akin to me, having absolutely no knowledge of medicine, lecturing him, a gynecologist, on how to perform a caesarean section.

When I was given the mic, I was tempted to remind him that talking fool is a very serious thing.
Members of the press ought rightfully to have felt insulted by the Prime Minister’s remarks.

In effect, he told us we were failures at our profession, especially for not supporting his pet projects, like his attempt to have citizenship bestowed outside the provisions of the Constitution.

To regurgitate the prime minister’s insane attempt at rank intimidation is to yuck up my vexation. You could read it in mainstream.

Suffice to say, the prime minister’s remarks only made what I had to say all the more pertinent.
The press is a pillar of strength for democracy in our Bahamas, I said.

At no other time in our Bahamaland, post Independence is the role of the press more crucial.

With such a runaway victory at the polls by the FNM, and human nature being what it is, it falls on the shoulders of the press to hold the government true to the national cause.

During the glory days of the Pindling administration, the FNM oftentimes reminded that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We must ensure that that does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy for the FNM.

More than just regurgitating press statements, we must go behind the scenes and investigate from top to bottom without fear or favor, leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of the truth.

We cannot leave such vitally important processes to the much-discredited PLP, which has been fated with the important role of the Official Opposition.

The PLP, in its present state, is so utterly discredited, Bahamians do not have sufficient confidence in them for them to properly be seen to be performing the important role of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

This could have been a golden opportunity for the DNA to prove its devotion to the national cause.
Alas, the couple of press statements I read coming from the DNA shows it to be merely reactionary.
They have taken the easy path most trodden – government bashing.

And, since a strong Opposition is cornerstone to a transparent and productive government, the press must see to it that advantage is not taken of the naïve Bahamians who so overwhelmingly put their trust in the FNM.

We must ask the hard questions and demand the right answers. Report with neutrality and impartiality. Let the chips fall where they may. Investigate from top to bottom and back. Take nobody’s word for it.

We must be in a position to determine when the government moves from being a solution to the problems facing the nation, to itself being a part of the problem.

And since the press is the watchdog of the nation’s affairs, Bahamians must co-operate with the press. Report to them everything.

And, my colleagues, I urge you: cultivate sobriety, and most of all be vigilant.

I thank you.

Veteran Bahamian journalist Gladstone Thurston

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