Monthly Archives: September 2006

Barbados Piggies At The Trough Awards – Judging Panel Announced

Barbados Free Press is pleased to announce the members of the Judging Panel for the 2006 Barbados Piggies At The Trough Awards. The judging panel will determine who will receive the first prize of one thousand US dollars – CASH.

As detailed in a previous article (link here) the “Piggy” as the award is affectionately known, is presented annually to the Barbados politician or civil servant who, in the opinion of the judges, best misuses position, political contacts or internal knowledge to benefit self, family or friends.

How Do We Know The Judging Will Be Fair?

In comments posted on the original “Piggys” article, Barbados Labour Party Senator Lynette Eastmond questioned who would make up the judging panel, and how BFP readers would know that the contest was being judged fairly.

Good point, Senator!

So after not much discussion at all, the staff of the Barbados Free Press have decided to expand the Judging Panel to include one member from each of Barbados’ three political parties.

Senator Lynette Eastmond Nominated as BLP “Piggy” Judge

Senator Eastmond has been nominated by the permanent judging panel (Marcus, Cliverton, Robert, Shona and Auntie Moses) to be the BLP member on this year’s panel. Under the “Piggy” rules, any political party or their representative can, of course, decline to serve on the judging panel, in which case that judge’s seat will remain vacant.

The top nominations will be published online in mid-December, and the judging panel will communicate and vote via email with the results being announce on New Year’s Eve.

The DLP and PEP judges have not yet been announced.

Cliverton

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The Nation Newspaper Declares Victory For Ruling Party and Current Barbados Prime Minister In Coming 2008 Elections

Hey… why bother with an election now? 

From the Nation News… 

BLP Surge

by ROXANNE GIBBS, Executive Editor

WITH JUST 18 MONTHS to go before a general election must be held, the popularity of the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) appears to be surging.

In fact, if an election were held today, the BLP would be returned to an unprecedented fourth term with Owen Arthur at the helm.

The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) under its leader, David Thompson, while registering a boost in public confidence, is still suffering from a seemingly entrenched public perception among likely voters that it isn’t ready to lead the country.

These are some of the key findings of a public opinion poll conducted for this newspaper by CADRES (Caribbean Development Research Services) in the 30 constituencies of the island last weekend…

… read the rest here.

But Mia Mottley Might Want To Revise Her Outlook On Becoming Prime Minister…

Yup, with a “popularity” rating of about half of what George W. Bush had at his lowest, Mama Mia had better start wondering about whether she can hold onto her seat, let alone become Prime Minister. 

“But if the DLP should be worried about the poll’s result, so too should Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley, whose standing with the public has plummeted, going from a 22 per cent favourable rating a year ago to 15 per cent this year, perhaps an indication that her shift from Attorney- General to Minister of Economic Affairs which took her out of the spotlight, may be hurting her image….” 

 It is a long way to the election folks, and we all know what Winston Churchill (or was it John F. Kennedy?) said about poles being for dogs, but the biggest revelation to come out of this pole just might be a question…

…Is Mia Mottley electable next time around? 

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BFP Announces 1st Annual Barbados Piggies At The Trough Awards – US$1,000 Cash Prize For Winning Nominator

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First Prize Nominator To Win One Thousand US Dollars – Cash

Barbados Free Press is pleased to announce that the 1st Annual Barbados Piggies At The Trough Awards will take place on December 31, 2006. The “Piggy” as the award is affectionately known, is presented annually to the Barbados politician or civil servant who best exemplifies the “chow down and climb right into the trough” spirit of Bajan corruption. The winner will be the Barbados politician or civil servant who, in the opinion of the judges, best misuses position, political contacts or internal knowledge to benefit self, family or friends. (And yes, extra points will be awarded for creativity or sheer brazeness)

Land Expropriation or Forced Sale Is This Year’s Theme

With so many types of corruption flourishing on Barbados, it was a tough decision to decide which category of unethical behaviour should be the focus of this year’s contest. Robert was all for Nepotism (oh so many targets!) or simple kickbacks for government contracts, but in the end our sponsor’s first choice won out – with Shona and Marcus also giving the vote to “Land Expropriation or Forced Sale”.

The Public Is The Nominations Committee

Nominations are open immediately, with anyone able to nominate any current or past Barbados politician or civil servant for the prestigious “Piggy”…

And we don’t care how far back in time that the corruption occurred. Whether the unethical actions happened last week by a BLP supporter, or two decades ago under a DLP government doesn’t matter – we’re looking for real quality here, folks. Only the best, most audacious hog will be this year’s winner!

Nominations Can Be Made Anonymously – Cash Prize Can Be Delivered Anonymously

The person nominating this year’s winner will take home a cash prize of One Thousand US Dollars – which will be delivered in a “dead drop” (read a spy novel if you don’t know about dead drops – or consult the Wikipedia entry here)

Marcus & Robert Meet Contest Sponsor – “Mr. O”

Two days ago, Robert and I met with a man who wants to make Barbados better and who has put his money where his mouth is. Neither of us had never met him before, but we knew who he was (as most any Bajan would) and we questioned him about his motives and his business history.

“Mr. O” is a Bajan, born and bred in Barbados and he has done well for himself and his family. He says he has seen all the good and bad things that Barbados has done and not done in the last few decades.

Under questioning, “Mr. O” admitted that he has probably benefited from the way the system has been even though he has to admit that it is not always fair. This system, the system we inherited from the British, has favored him and his friends while also disadvantaging other “non-connected” residents of Barbados.

He approached us with mixed feelings and, for reasons we can understand, has insisted on secrecy. Why? Because, he says, he knows how the system works. As long as he looks the other way when tax monies are wasted or ‘borrowed’ by public officials never to be repaid, as long as he takes his piece while others around him are taking theirs and says nothing, he will have a nice life.

But, he says, he knows the other side too. Rock the boat, express disapproval, try to do the right thing by speaking out to stop some of the excesses and you immediately become a pariah.

And then it starts: phone calls, visits from ‘concerned friends’, blocking and obstructions of things you need for your business such as imports, permits, and customers who suddenly don’t want to do business with you. Audits happen, monies owed to you are delayed or never paid. And then your life, and the life of your family become tough. So you keep quiet and shrink away from the more serious sins that are being committed.

“Why now” we asked. “Why after living quietly on the so called good side are you suddenly coming out?”

He was ready with an answer: “Because, because it is getting worse; and I worry that if it does not stop the real Barbadians and future generations are going to be harmed. You’ve seen it on other islands, in third world countries, and it can happen here. When there are no controls it just escalates until the have-nots turn on the have’s and chaos reigns. And that is going to happen here and spoil everything if we don’t put a stop to it.

And don’t just blame the politicians. They are part of it, sure, but they are just doing what comes naturally, feeding at the trough. And they get fatter and need more, and more, until they fall in or, worse, the trough is emptied so there is none for anyone. And so it keeps on going till someone puts a stop to it. And that is why I am here.”

And then he put to us an interesting proposal. At first I thought it was a bit off the wall – but after a while we all thought that this will work…

The first annual ‘PIGGIES AT THE TROUGH CONTEST’

The prize is US$1000 cash which he gave me (See how honest I am Mr. O. I could have pocketed your money and what could you have done? But even though that is a lot of money to me I agree with you- we need to get started putting a stop to the piggies that are slowly but thoroughly destroying the fabric of our country.)

The contest requires Barbados Free Press readers to identify cases where lands expropriated by the Barbados government have ended up back in private hands. Here are the rules… You can enter as many times as you want. Just give us as many of the details as you can about each entry.

1. Name of person
2. Location of land
3. Description of land
4. Original owner of land
5. Date of seizure or expropriation of land by government
6. How much did government pay for land?
7. Date of transfer of land to new owner.
8. How much did new owner pay?
9. Picture of land taken within the last year.
10. Put a code word on your submission so we can identify you (see below).

On December 31st, at midnight we will select the winner, who will receive the US$1000 cash prize via dead drop – or if the winner desires, we will donate the cash to the hospital.

Anonymous Entries Accepted

And the unfortunate part about this is is that in order to make this contest work we have to go out of our way to make sure that the entrants are protected so that their identities are never known – even to us. So don’t put your name on the entry, use a code word. You can email it to us or mail it to us (address to be supplied later).

When we select a winner we will publish your story and then a way for us to get you the money without being detected by, dare we say it, the piggies who will not be happy that you are interfering with their trough. Or if you don’t want or can’t take the money we will donate it in the name of the BFP to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

So fire up those computers, folks. You might win a thousand bucks US (that’s real money) and you’ll help bring accountability to government in Barbados. (Hey, if the politicians don’t want to bring in conflict of interest and integrity legislation – no matter. We’ll show them that they can’t hide anyway!)

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A Message From Marcus – We’re OK, But I’m Posting From An Internet Cafe

Hi Folks

Robert and I are not yet back home, but we did successfully meet with our mysterious host yesterday – and what a meeting it was.

Our thanks to all our friends who sent advice to be cautious… and especially our little birdie who let us know what’s happening at a certain internet service provider. We hear you five by five and we’ve switched our proxy service…

…Which is why it will be another day before things get back to normal around here.

It seems that “someone” is devoting government resources to discover the origin of Barbados Free Press (Imagine that!), so I’ve slipped into an internet cafe to post this. The new proxy service will be ready tomorrow, and we’ll see you then.

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Something’s Up In Barbados – BFP’s Marcus Heading For Secret Meeting

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UPDATED:  3:30am Saturday 23 Sept 06
Just heard  from Marcus. All OK. Returning tomorrow morning.

… Cliverton

How Secret Can A Meeting Be If It Is Posted On A Blog?

Here at Barbados Free Press, we receive emails a few times a month from different people offering us all sorts of information if we will only meet with them face to face.

Duh…. Do we look that stupid?

Oh you should see some of the tasty information morsels that have been dangled before us in the last six months – but when we say “Just email it” they go away: until they try again using a different name and hotmail address.

But this time, we’re going to the meeting.

This chap has promised us something, and we think that he is sincere – so this week in a series of communications worthy of any good spy novel, we have arranged a method of meeting face to face while protecting our identities.

Robert and I will be gone for two days – leaving Cliverton carry the load alone until Sunday. Clive says he’ll post something if he’s sober, but in the same breath he warned “its another frosh weekend ya know” (Clive is away at school again)

If this trip works out, the next few months around this blog are going to be fun!

See you later…

Marcus & Robert

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Cayman Islands Running Off Ex-Pats – Some Lessons For Barbados

Dear Sir:

I was in two minds about sending in this letter because of a concern about some sort of reprisal but then felt that there are some things that have to be said…

Letter to Cayman Net News from a South African Ex-Pat (link here)

Those of us who are native-born Bajans know of the conflicted thoughts and struggles we have over foreigners coming to live longterm on “our” island. On one hand, we as individuals and as a nation enjoy considerable cashflow from the thousands of ex-pats who live, and sometimes work, on Barbados.

On the other hand, ex-pats sometimes take jobs away from Bajans and drive housing and the cost of living into the stratosphere because they can pay far more for everything than most average working Bajans.

So we are often caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place – restrict foreign residents, but then lose the foreign investment we have come to rely upon.

The ex-pat debate is obviously heating up in the Cayman Islands. Here are some letter excerpts from an ex-pat who fears retaliation for having written to Cayman Net News

Dear Sir:

I was in two minds about sending in this letter because of a concern about some sort of reprisal but then felt that there are some things that have to be said.

For as long as Cayman Net News and Cayman Compass have been on the internet I have been an interested reader of news and views from Cayman without opinion or comment until the rollover issue came to light.

As an outsider I have no right to comment on the Cayman’s internal politics but I am an affected and interested party in that I have a daughter who has been working on Grand Cayman for the past seven years.

She also has money invested on Cayman. I also spent some time on Grand Cayman some years back and have fond memories of a happy and contented place and people and certainly no hint of the mood I am picking up now. It saddens me to see what is going on and I feel compelled to add my views.

Listening to all the arguments from those strictly for the implementation of the policy I would say they are being myopic and not seeing the big picture. I also see an exhibition of conservative paranoia fuelled by the politicians.

The saying goes that ignorance is bliss but ignorance is also a source of fear – fear of the unknown which is what the politicians are playing on in the minds of the more conservative, less enlightened citizens of Cayman.

This was very well said in the editorial in the Cayman Net News on 1st September. “Fueling of civil war” (I hope the good citizens of Cayman are taking note of Cayman Net News editorials – wise words are flowing from the pen of the Editor.)

If some readers thought the article sounded melodramatic they should consider what happened and what could have happened in a country like South Africa when the apartheid regime came to an end.

It may sound strange to compare Cayman and South Africa which are many thousands of miles apart but there are many parallels and perhaps lessons to be learnt. Had Afrikaner conservatism and polarization been allowed to flourish, the peaceful transition into the new South Africa would have been a very different picture despite the efforts of a great man like Nelson Mandela.

At the end of the day what do the Caymanians want? My understanding of human nature is Caymanians want the same as any human being wants anywhere in the world… peace, prosperity and a better life for their children. To the citizens of the Cayman Islands I say please don’t be blinded by rhetoric and see the big picture.

Who are those against the rollover policy in its present form?

They are the enlightened, worldly wise expats and Caymanian people who have also traveled beyond the borders of their comfort zone. Because of their experiences they have a broader view and understanding of the world and bring new ideas to invigorate the environment in which they live and also become part of the global village in which they will prosper and grow. The alternative is to wither and die.

Ironically, I see a parallel in another recent article in Cayman Net News “Genetic disorder fading” 3 September 2006. The article says, I quote “… and with the growing trend of Caymanians marrying expatriates, the chances of having the disease or even being a carrier are gradually disappearing”.

Can you imagine what the people of Cayman would be like if this had not happened. It’s the expat that ultimately will save the Islands from more than just a genetic disorder. Just by the way, are not all those Caymanians who call themselves true Caymanians descendants of once upon a time expats on the island?

Who is this roll over policy going to hurt the most for now?

Obviously those expats who have been here for some considerable time and approaching “their sell by date”. Since they have not left the island beforehand they must be happy with how the Cayman Islands are. They have grown to love Cayman and the lifestyle and are solid, experienced and committed islanders, or shall I say were committed until the reality of the roll over policy started impacting.

Before, whenever my daughter came home on vacation she would speak with pride about her little island which she called home but now it’s spoken of with sadness and disappointment.

Does the fact that many have given a good chunk of their productive lives not show commitment?

Does settling into homes and acquiring pets and possessions not show commitment?

Does putting heart and soul into the restoration of the island after Ivan….doing reef clean ups, getting businesses back on their feet whilst living under the most appalling conditions not show commitment?

Does staying on after Ivan and rebuilding their lives after losing everything without any compensation not show commitment? If they were there just for their own selfish reasons and didn’t feel for the islands, they could have gone home and waited for the Caymanians to sort their problems out, or they could have abandoned Cayman completely by staying home or moving to some other more expat friendly island.

Does putting up with rising cost of living and all the other little inconveniences of life not show commitment?

There is no threat to Caymanian identity and culture from these people.

Expats will move on and build up their lives again but those who are going to hurt the most in the long run are the Caymanians.

And this not only in the tourism sector – it’s in all sectors. Many other islands and even Qatar are aspiring to and vying to become top tax free, offshore financial centers.

Finally, I won’t even comment on the decision regarding the time period an expat must stay away from the island, its tantamount to rearranging the furniture on the Titanic.

I wish the Cayman Islands only the best.

Beefy Mance,
South Africa

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On Power, Authority and Governance In Barbados – And Land Transfers

Lower Burney Housing Project – Barbados

With all the questions flying back and forth about how certain people came to live on certain lands in Lower Burney, we dug way back into the online archives to find this little tidbit. (and yes, we know the word is properly supposed to be “titbit”, but we’re a family blog, doan ya know! – Which is a polite reminder to Cliverton that we had an agreement about certain things being posted and certain things not… OK?)

Have a read of this from the website of BANGO – Barbados Association Of Non-Governmental Organisations. Apparently, an NGO was having some trouble receiving cooperation from the Minister of Housing about a public housing project in Lower Burney.

It looks like they were later able to work out some arrangement because the housing project was eventually given the go-ahead.

Remind me again… do we know anybody who lives in this public housing project?…

Power, Authority and Governance

When Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) put in its proposal to the Minister of Housing in 2002, to partner with Government on the housing project in Lower Burney, it was at first met with some caution.

After several meetings between PCW, the Minister of Social Transformation, the Minister of Housing and his advisors, it was agreed that PCW should be given the opportunity to prove itself at another level of developmental activity.

The partnership between PCW and the Ministry of Housing was officially launched with a ceremony held at the Lower Burney site. It was acclaimed by the Minister as a revolutionary step in Government’s relations with Civil Society.

In May 2003 the Government was returned to office but the portfolio of Minister of Housing changed hands. Now there seems to be a virtual about face to the partnership between PCW and the Ministry of Housing.

There is no doubt that we will hear the reasons for the about turn and unless the Minister can show some kind of incompetence or lack of cooperation on the part of PCW, then any other reason could only be counted as subjective.

As this column has advocated from time to time, Civil Society cannot properly function based on personalities; who is whose friend or enemy for that matter. Civil Society is about identifying and deploying expertise, skills, knowledge, etc., for the common good of the people; for developmental purposes and devoid of personalities.

The motto which PCW has been instilling in its leaders for many years, now forms the closing of nearly every speech which is made by the Minister of Social Transformation, “No obstacle is greater than the cause”.

Among other things it means that personal relationship should not get into the way of the objective at hand. If therefore there is animosity or bitterness between a Coordinator and a donor or benefactor, then another Coordinator takes on the role of liaison between the organisation and the donor or benefactor.

This is not necessarily to pacify the donor or benefactor but to keep the objective in focus. Whatever enmity exists, the personalities will have to work that out by themselves in another arena.

This is a strategy that is utilised by the private sector as well because similarly a shrewd businessman would not let anything or anybody get in the way of sales. Those who get in the way of the prosperity of the company will either go or the company will go; although a person with skills or expertise may be differently utilised by the company.

When it comes to social justice and governance, the politicians’ responsibility to the electors is similar to the responsibility of parents who have two or more children. If they want to run a peaceful household, they should not to things like make one child do all the chores and the others relax or dispense justice based on favouritism.

The most crucial factors in dispensing justice are fairness, certainty and equality. If you read the Constitution of Barbados you are bound to find these principles enshrined.

You will also find that these form part of the expectations of what is termed “Good Governance”, a responsibility or mandate which is vested in those who form the Government.

So good governance is not simply about keeping law and order but about how Government interfaces with the people; how they govern the country and the extent to which the people have confidence that justice is being fairly dispensed. Good Governance is about bringing quality to democratic practices.

It is unthinkable that this Government has been spearheading the implementation of the CSME and yet some of its rank and file are not demonstrating the spirit of development that we are expected to achieve.

There is no need for a Government Minister to get involved in overturning a decision which had the approval of the former Minister and more than likely the approval of Cabinet too.

This is now a matter between the Establishment and the organisation and unless the Establishment reports to the Minister that the organisation with which Government is seeking to partner is not cooperating or is falling short of its responsibility then the Minister has no grounds to intervene or intercept without calling into question the transparency of such actions.

As we move to seek greater cooperation between Civil Society and Government, matters like these will be held up to scrutiny because they smack of bad faith. They have implications because if you can do it to one then you can do it to all.

We have to move to a new level of governance. We have to develop what could be called “good democratic practices”. We have to understand that elections are about deciding who is best suited to be vested with the authority of Government.

Further the people of Barbados must not be left to feel that politicians, rather than using the authority vested in them to achieve good governance are instead using that authority against any of the people of this country.

The people of Barbados are becoming more and more sophisticated. We are learning fast about what is required to compete in a global environment. Many young people are entering this competitive environment and getting first hand experience about what is required to survive globalisation and are quickly putting it into practice.

Our people are also keeping a keen eye on how Government is operating because they know that they can be either empowered or disempowered by their Government’s decisions.

It is no political secret that the extent to which power or authority can be wielded is defined by the extent to which the people are tolerable to overuse or abuse. Sooner than later ordinary people will seek to influence government in order to survive the global onslaught. Participation is the key.

Therefore opportunities for participation should not be snatched from communities and government going back on its word should not be taken lightly. Since PCW has done everything to comply with Government’s demands to take on this partnership, it is only fitting that they are allowed to fulfill their commitments.

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