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Leslie Miller is an intimidating presence

Published: Oct 07, 2013

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Dear Editor,

I believe it was shortly after the 2012 general election when a former Free National Movement (FNM) parliamentarian told a radio talk show host that former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was a man among equals in his first administration during the early 1990s.  The ex-parliamentarian seemed to have an issue with Ingraham’s style of leadership, which many of his detractors have labeled as dictatorial.  At least Ingraham kept his boys in check.

On the other hand, the ex-parliamentarian had glowing remarks for Prime Minister Perry Christie, who many pundits have called an easy-going person who has given his underlings plenty of latitude.  This easy-going disposition of Christie might explain why he sat quietly in the House of Assembly while Tall Pines Member of Parliament Leslie Miller, during his contribution in August, accused a man of involvement regarding the death of his son.

To his credit, Christie did say that what Miller did was wrong, but this was a day after the stunning allegation was made, and not in Parliament.  The prime minister should have rose on a point of order and demanded that Miller withdraw his disturbing comments.  But he didn’t.  Thankfully, House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major expunged the controversial comment months later.  I understand that at the time Major offered apologies to the man who was accused and expressed his disappointment in what Miller had said; the latter was not present in the House of Assembly.  Like Christie, Major sat idly by as Miller made the accusation.  We must bear in mind that it was Major who named and suspended FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis for making allegations about Christie and Peter Nygard, even though Minnis’ comments were expunged.  If there is ever a case in which one can quantify an offense, this has to be it.

Minnis accuses a member of the House of a cozy relationship with a wealthy expatriate and he is suspended.  Another member accuses a Bahamian citizen of involvement in a killing and he gets a light tap on the wrist.  Mind you, Major, at the time the allegation was made, defended Miller.  What has caused the House speaker to make a 180-degree turn regarding his views on this matter?  Since assuming his post as House speaker in May 2012, Major has committed at least three boo-boos.  Firstly, he didn’t allow Ingraham to make his farewell address at the beginning of House proceedings in late July 2012; secondly, he erred in naming and suspending Minnis, even though the FNM leader’s comments were expunged, and thirdly, he erred in allowing Miller to make a his allegation during House proceedings.  The more I listen to Major, the more I am convinced that he is way out of his depth in his role as speaker.

Interestingly, when Major made the apology in the House, Miller was conspicuously absent.  I am of the view that had the Tall Pines MP been present at that sitting in Parliament, Major would not have apologized.  I am convinced that both he and Christie are intimidated by Miller.  That is why both of them were mum when Miller made the accusation.  Neither of them dared to challenge the Tall Pines MP.  They could have attempted to do so, but they didn’t.  Had Ingraham been in Christie’s shoes, he would have stopped Miller right in his tracks.  Herein lies the glaring difference between Christie and Ingraham.  With the latter, you knew who was in charge; with the former, however, you wonder who is in charge.

American evangelist Billy Graham mentioned in his book “Approaching Hoofbeats” a bloody scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s film “Apocalypse Now”, in which a messenger wanders into the front lines, looks at the chaos, and asks, ‘’Who’s in charge here?’’  According to Graham, no one answered the question.  Some 18 months into the current tenure of this regime, thousands of Bahamians are probably now wondering the same thing when it comes to this administration.  In the case with Christie, if being among his equals means to stand idly by as his underlings do their own thing, then this is an approach that he must discard forthwith.  Ingraham’s dictatorial style of governing, as per the aforementioned former FNM parliamentarian, doesn’t seem so bad after all.

— Kevin Evans

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