Categorized | National News

Reconsider Referendum –PM Insulted Bahamians, Pastor

In an unscientific poll conducted by Love 97FM’s daily talk show, Issues of the Day yesterday, the majority of callers said the Christie administration should reconsider the referendum and move to legalise web shop gaming in The Bahamas.

On January 28, voters overwhelmingly rejected the government’s bid to legalise the numbers racket.

Out of 82,803 votes, 50,270 people voted against the referendum and 32,533 voted in favour of regulating the industry.

At the time, the government claimed taxing the industry could add $20 million to the Treasury.

Prime Minister Perry Christie added fuel to the fire when he admitted recently that he regrets taking the gambling issue to referendum.

He said he should have regulated the industry rather than allowing Bahamians to vote on the issue.

On Tuesday, more than 80 callers phoned in to the talk show – 59 said the government should move to regulate and tax the web shops and 18 said they would not support a bid to do so.

“For the referendum, only a few people voted,” one caller said. “If 98 per cent had voted no, then they could have gone with no. But only about 40 per cent of the voters voted. If it were held today I would vote yes.”

“We need to build our economic standing right now,” another caller added. “And I think it would be in the best interest of all.”

“The government should respect those voters who voted in that referendum,” another caller said.”

“If it (the referendum) comes up again, I’d vote yes,” a fourth caller added.

Meantime, Pastor Mario Moxey of Bahamas Harvest Church – one of several local pastors who led the “Vote No” campaign to victory – said Prime Minister Christie “insulted” Bahamians with his comments and they should not “be taken lightly.”

“Is the prime minister suggesting that polling the nation and gaining widespread consultation to be a waste of time since the results did not suit his political agenda,” Pastor Moxey said. “Bahamians everywhere must feel insulted, used and abused by the prime minister who has apparently orchestrated an entire referendum under the false pretense of democracy in an attempt to regulate the numbers racket in The Bahamas.”

“The fact that the prime minister showed a blatant disregard for the sacrifices that so many Bahamians made to exercise their democratic right to participate in the referendum and the unknown government, private and church resources used to ensure that the democratic process was executed, is simply unconscionable.”

Pastor Moxey said the prime minister’s comments were insensitive to the men and women who demonstrated the courage to mark their “X” in a referendum with far reaching national implications.

“To give the appearance of exercising democracy while secretly making alternate plans behind closed doors makes our prime minister appear as though he is a charlatan, whose careless comments pose a serious threat to democracy in our great nation,” Pastor Moxey added.

“The prime minister should, at the very least, apologise to the Bahamian people for his recent unfortunate and ill-conceived comments of regret, which flies in the face of the exercise of democracy by my Bahamian brothers and sisters in our country.”

Pastor Moxey said “this is yet another scapegoat he is attempting to create in order to appease criminal entities.”

“There is no greater moral authority than that of the voters who participated in the referendum, and who with an overwhelming majority spoke loud and clear. It is apparent that the governor of the Central Bank attempted to inform the prime minister that criminal enterprises are operating underground banks illegally in the country and therefore, they should be prosecuted. Is the prime minister interpreting the central bank governor as saying that these illegal enterprises should be regulated?”

Pastor Moxey said when criminals are known, rather than giving favours to legitimise their criminal activity, they are usually arrested for breaking the law.

He suggested that Prime Minister Christie is sending mixed signals to a country already overwhelmed by crime and said the prime minister “obviously miscalculated the moral climate of a nation who is sick and tired of the unacceptable level of lawlessness and the attempt by the government to codify this criminality into public law when he assumed that there would have been a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum.”

Pastor Moxey called on the prime minister to “defend justice, champion democracy, keep his word and enforce the law of the land.”

Ianthia Smith

Written by Ianthia Smith

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