Barbados Forward – Manifesto Proposes Amnesty For Corrupt Politicians, Fresh Start, Integrity Legislation And Other Changes

Barbados Forward – What Is It? Who Are They?

On Monday evening Barbados Free Press received the following email and attached ‘manifesto’ from unknown people calling themselves “Barbados Forward”. We are not going to reveal the email address it came from except to say that it appears to originate in Barbados.

We’re not sure if Barbados Forward is the name of a group, or the name of the attached ‘manifesto’. We call the document a ‘manifesto’ because we don’t know what else to call it and the people who sent it to us only call it “Barbados Forward”. The document almost seems to be the blueprint for a political party’s policies, but there is no mention that Barbados Forward is or intends to become a political party. Perhaps the people behind it are already associated with a political party? They don’t say so, but who knows.

So… we’re not sure exactly what we have here, but it is an interesting read.

The Barbados Forward manifesto proposes various changes to our laws and asks that the government and the opposition band together to introduce these changes BEFORE the next election.

One of the proposals is that all politicians and other people guilty of previous corrupt behaviour are to be given amnesty, and be allowed to keep their wealth – and I am not sure I like that at all.

Never mind that though. The writers of Barbados Forward ask that we post the document on Barbados Free Press for all to comment upon – to improve it.

Ok. Fair enough, but we’d like to know more about the people behind Barbados Forward. We are always curious!

Here is the letter that they emailed, and then the ‘manifesto’…

Hello BFP.

We’re Ato, Erle and Grace. Been reading you lately. We like are no sticky wicket and let everyone take a swing at the ball fair and square. We need more voices like that here on the Island. We been drinking our rum crying about the Windies going down talking about rebuilding for next Cricket World Cup. Got it all figured out. Our side need some new ideas and players, for sure.

Then we thought yeah same thing like Barbados and all the bad things happening these days. We need some new ideas and players too before it go down.

What we’re asking is if you’ll run our ideas. We’re calling it BARBADOS FORWARD cause looking back on the way we are now is not happy. Let’s hear from your readers about how to improve it. We’ll come back later with an update. Maybe send it over to the thinking people at UWI law faculty because we figure they study this kind of thing and can make it more legal sounding..

Way we see it Barbados is the story of the frog in a pot of water. Put that frog in boiling water and it will jump right out. But put it in cold water and slowly raise the temperature it won’t notice till it’s cooked.

Here in Barbados the government, administration and friends have been the cooks. We people are the frogs, pretty well cooked but never saw it coming cause it was so gradual. Moral underlie of the country slipped away from us down a road paved with good intentions. Lots of bit promises but bad things doing. A little money ends up in a pocket here, a little favor for a friend there, and careens crazy out of control. Before you know it the cooks be feasting on frogs legs, which happen to be ours. No good, that.

Who’s to blame? We all are, cooks and frogs. Made it happen, allowed it to happen. We say right now is time to turn off the stove and do a fix ‘em up before the whole island is frog soup.

BARBADOS FORWARD

BE IT STATED THAT BARBADOS is in need of updating of its way of doing business.

AND THEREFORE the people of BARBADOS now state that it is the manifest will of the common people that the following laws need to be enacted at the earliest opportunity. We call upon the government and opposition parties to join together to pass these laws in advance of calling an election so that the new parliament will be ready willing and able to begin operating in a new regime.

I. CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Barbados needs clear headed leadership. This cannot happen if elected officials or government employees are looking first to how much they can personally profit from a decision and then secondly to whether it is the right thing to do for Barbados.

The new law will be that no elected official or government employee shall be involved in any transaction where they or their families will receive a financial benefit.

The underlying premise is that each newly elected official will declare all personal and family assets and then do it every year while in office.

II. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAWS

Government to set up and maintain a web site ‘Barbados Information Website’ or BIW. Fill it up with all the information they have that we want to know. A Bajan need only ask if not there and it gets posted or the reason why not will get posted. (An independent person will be appointed to decide if the reason is valid and override it if it is not.).

III. TENDER AND DISCLOSURE OF GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS

All government contracts must be put out for tender with details posted on the BIW at least 30 days prior. When it is signed the name of the contractors who bid as well as who won the bid must be posted along with a copy of the final contract..

The objective of government procurement contracting is to acquire goods and services, including construction services, in a manner that enhances access, competition and fairness and results in best value.

IV. FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Politicians and civil servants are fair game for criticism in pamphlets, web sites and the press. Voters are pretty smart and if they think a politician got the shaft because of this they will not be fooled..

Politicians and civil servants work for the country and should be able to take criticism graciously. If the criticism if wrong never fear because the new freedom of information laws will give them a way to give out the truth.

For private citizens it is a bit different. If someone says something or prints something you don’t like you do two things: say it ain’t true and demand an apology. If they won’t then we’ll have a tribunal to decide who was right and their decision is final. No lawyers allowed. Maximum penalty is $5,000 and the tribunal’s finding gets published.

The result, and it will fix a lot of things, will be no more intimidation and harassment and collecting big money just because someone speaks wrongly or hurts your feelings. You have a forum to fight back and obtain redress but not at the expense of shutting down what people need to know.

Note: It is important for everyone to remember that this is a small island and what goes around comes around so people tend to be circumspect and polite in what they publish but if something needs to be said Bajans need to hear it. We have watched BFP reader comments and see lively but polite discussion on all sides of an issue. That is the way it has to be.

V. PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS

If a demonstration, political or not, is peaceful there is no need to get a permit as long as it is only at a few locations such as Independence Square, Parliament Buildings, Prime Minister’s Office, Parks, Church squares, but no more having to get a permit from the police “in case it might tie up traffic”. (We don’t think a demonstration could make it much worse than it already is!)

If the people of Barbados want to deliver a message they can and should get out and let their politicians and press know they are concerned. Errol Barrow’s new statue would certainly be a good audience to applaud his people showing their care about the things that affect their lives.

VI. ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS AND CREATION OF NATIONAL PARKS

Environmental and no-pollution laws to keep our water, air, land clean . Laws that enable government to require clean ups and fine polluters. People harmed by pollution can sue for the damage to their own property..

National Park creation in Barbados is overdue before the best lands and opportunities slip away. We need at least three big parks and many little ones. We see one in the North of at least 200 acres, one in the south of 200 acres, and a smaller one on a coast that will preserve beachfront. (There are several very good candidates for this). All in all this will freeze part of our lands, flora and fauna, for enjoyment and forever.

VII. LAND USE

Land use shall be guided exclusively by the land use plans passed at least every five years by parliament. Special exceptions may be granted only by act of parliament.

All expropriated lands shall be paid for within one year or returned to owner.

All expropriated lands not used within five years of expropriation (for the use for which it was expropriated) shall be returned to owner who may keep amount previously paid.

VIII. AUDITOR GENERAL

That job and its budget will be independent of interference with access to all government records so it can go wherever it needs to track down information. It can also look where government has loaned or granted money. Autonomy is the key.

IX.. CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

The magical tricks (now you see it now you don’t) have to stop. Barbados’ constitution is too important to leave to whims and abrupt changes. No more changes to the constitution except under strict guidelines of 6 months advance notice, public debate and study, supermajority vote (75% in both houses) or by referendum.

X. JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE

We recognize that judges used to be lawyers and maybe politicians. Judges appointed for life. Full disclosure of assets required to know and control conflicts. For five years they cannot sit on a case where a former associate is arguing or a former client is involved. Pay them well and even a BMW every now and then is fine. Give them complete independence, though, by creating a committee of one judge, two laymen, one representative of each political party to set their salaries and pensions. It will be a serious crime for a politician or anyone else to try to influence a judge’s decision. A judge will lose his job and pension found to have allowed to be influenced in making a judicial decision.

XI. WHISTLE BLOWER LAWS

In five years time, when the new laws are operating, we will then need whistle blower laws. Society is too complex and spread around to expect that all dirty deeds will eventually come to the surface unless there is protection for those who report and a modest financial reward for doing so.

XII. TERM LIMITS

Without in any way judging past leaders it is important that new ideas and people are encouraged to step forward as leaders. Therefore no one may remain as a minister of a government portofolio, including prime minister, for more than 8 years. (The Yanks figured this out in the last century. Nothing good happens after a leader is in power for 8 years)

XIII. AMNESTY

We talked a lot about this one and figure it will cause the most ruckus. But we see that the fastest way to fix things up is to forgive and forget. That means existing politicians can look forward and not hold things up because of things done in the past. So all past sinners and saints stop on one day and we start afresh with these new rules. If they don’t like the new rules they can get out now without looking back.

XIV. ELECTORAL INTEGRITY

We figure it is too late to fix this for the next election but right after that a committee of one judge as chairman, an elected representative from each party, and three laypersons to deliver a new law within a year to be passed within two years. It will create limits for contributions, expand disclosure and create public funds to support each person who is running. Once implemented the sanctions for disobeying will be severe e.g. disqualification from public office, jail or fine. Tough yes but protecting the voting process is a fundamentally important matter for democracy.

(published draft version 1)

36 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption

36 responses to “Barbados Forward – Manifesto Proposes Amnesty For Corrupt Politicians, Fresh Start, Integrity Legislation And Other Changes

  1. Don’t hold your breath on any party [including Barbados Forward] delivering on Integrety legislation. Even developed countries have a hard time with this “dream law”. Judges etc. would have to be included and there is your non starter. The island is just not ready yet!

  2. concerned

    XIII. AMNESTY

    Broad amnesty will open the door to further stealing which will quickly put our country into a worse position.

    The idea of forgiving and forgetting is interesting but we need to know how much we plan to forgive and forget as some have been digging deeper than others. We need to see how much we have been losing, how and why.

  3. concerned

    cs33ca
    Why you say “The island is just not ready yet!” ?

    There is no time like the present to start something positive.We have to start somewhere.

  4. Amnesty International?

    Amnesty for corrupt Politicians…he says…
    JUST what we need right now….duuhh

    Heads up! we’ve had unspoken Amnesty For Politicians, since this country went ‘independent’ 40 years ago!!

    We need change, not the same ole same ole.

    Ne-e-ext?!

  5. Concerned:

    The critical mass is just not there yet. 260,000 people is just a medium size town.

  6. National Ego

    What?!
    You’re calling Barbados a medium-sized TOWN?
    Bite your lip, Sir!

    Don’t you know that Barbados is an (undiscovered-as-yet) Continent?

    – and Bridgetown is a Megalopolis, second only to New Yawk, which we soooo love!

  7. Dear Barbados Forward,

    I like the frog-in-the-pot analogy. As for the rest of the manifesto, which I haven’t had a chance to study in-depth:

    “VII. LAND USE…”

    What is your stance on foreign ownership of land? What about allocating more land for present (and future) public housing needs? What about using some of the land for agriculture, you know, to give that industry a swift kick in the you-know-what?

    “XIII. AMNESTY…”

    No. Sorry, I can’t agree with that. It looks, to me, like you are dangling a carrot stick in front of the politicians.

    Forgive and forget works for some things, like if you forgot to return a phone call, or if you missed a birthday (not a wedding anniversary though, goodness no! I hear some spouses will kill over that one.)

    But I simply couldn’t just wake up one morning and say to the politicians that everthing is cool, don’t sweat it. Not even before I started reading BFP, when I never studied these things and certainly not after I’ve been reading BFP and learning about what is really happening in Bim.

  8. reality check

    good start but I don’t necessarily like the amnesty when we don’t know how deep the tiefing is.

    Are there Barbadians from either party or independents with integrity who will step forward to back this movement?

  9. Free the press!!!!

    Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy.

    The government of Barbados should retain CBC, and no TV Licenses should be granted. This would mean that the media could not control………… The media.

    Witness in Advocate yesterday, from page, “Prime Minister, do this and you’ll be sorry”” BLP trying to use TV license to influence the media to help BLP? Very probable.

    Witness, DLP wants to pledge TV license to unknown, as already stated.

    Both parties seem to be unaware that by so-doing, we would lose our freedom- given away to eventual monopolism.

    Witness, Chairman of CBC conflicted by chairmanship of other companies, and I do not like the look of it.

    ‘Keep CBC in government hands!!
    Balance the private media!!

    Look out Barbados. Don’t believe apparent media-painted pictures, which are in reality illusions.

    This is what we see, hear and read these days re local news. Very dangerous.

    Knowledge = Illusion
    Lies = Reality
    Freedom = Slavery.

    Barbados grant no TV license to others. We will lose our freedom if you do!!

  10. Free the press!!!!

    It was page 1 of the Advocate on Tuesday 10 April.

  11. Free the press!!!!

    Sorry again, aaargh- Tuesday 3 April is actually really the right date.

  12. Yardbroom

    Amensty ? with the return of “all” stolen funds, the exchange being for a shorter prison sentence. It is the poor and needy who have been deprived most.

    It has been less money available to spend on the hospital, it is inappropriate contracts being awarded, to companies who can give a good kickback, regardless of if value for money is being given. It is honest people having to stay silent, for fear of being victimised, or threatened.

    It is encouraging a culture which can permeate all society, with the excuse everybody is doing it . It has to be stopped, for a new order to commence.

  13. anon

    The manifesto appears to be written by an amateur.

  14. Yardbroom

    anon
    That is what I thought, but just maybe it could have been a ruse to test the water.

  15. akabozik

    It looks like it was written by an amateur, but the concepts are good. The lawyers can put it into legalese, but can we agree on the concepts?

    It looks like ordinary citizens put it together and that is good! No lawyers yet.

  16. akabozik

    I like all of it except the amnesty part. EVerything else makes good sense to me.

  17. vortex

    You want to give Lynette Eastmond an Amnesty for using a Rural Development Commission house as her branch office?

    And Joe Edghill for selling a SSA truck engine?

    And Rawle Eastmond for the “contribution” he received for the drive-in land permission?

    And Rommell for the kick-back from the Transport Board insurance contract?

    And Hammie Lah for the UDC infelicities including his own personal use of UDC facilities?

    And Mia for the apartments without adequate parking?

    And Liz for the public bath contract for her husband and the Selma Husbands story?

    And Billie Miller for the polyclinic contracts to her ex-boyfriend owner of Western Construction?

    And Louis Tull for Millar’s money laundering?

    And David Simmons for the “berry a birdie” gave him for the Mangrove dump case when he settled it as Attorney General having worked previously for the litigants?

    And Kerrie Symmonds for the car loan corruption?

    And Rudy Grant for the theft of his uncle’s money?

    And Cynthia Forde for the things she brought into Barbados just after becoming a Parliamentary Secretary without paying duty?

    And Prescod for the government printing contracts his company Prestige Printing received?

    And George Payne for the compny which got the contract to print bus tickets which Johnny Tudor said he was a director of?

    Glyne Clarke for his girlfriends NHC house?

    Owen Arthur for a long, long list of infelicities?

    They are all a bunch of corrupt impostors.

    They can’t get my amnesty.

  18. Pogo

    How about amnesty only if you fess up?
    Good for the soul too confessin your sins then absolution. Maybe pay an amnesty tax too on what gone missin.

  19. vortex

    Owen “fessed” in the Budget reply but he hasn’t yet told us the true magnitude of his “mistake”!

  20. You GO, Vortex!

    Vortex BAD today,boy… but keep going with the long list of infelicities!

    My fave gripe is Rummel M.(?)
    who I feel sure is the one who made the decision to go with traffic lights at all suburban Bridgetown intersections,
    when Roundabouts would have cost us less, and worked far more efficiently.

    Now we are cursed with inefficiently-programmed traffic lights for the next twenty years,
    and Whoever got a nice kickback from facilitating that purchase for traffic light systems that don’t cost four cents each!

    Duz any1 know who made that cursed traffic-light decision on my behalf??

  21. reality check

    free the press

    someone is under the illusion that a state owned press is equal to freedom of the press. Tell that to the people of the Soviet Union and Cuba who for decades were and have been under the thumb of a state controlled media. It was the BBC and The Voice of America that brought a different story to these nations.

    You can make a condition of license that the owners be objective and fair minded with all political commentary. Conversely, government would have to advertise through an independent intermediary with all media outlets .

    As far as Barbados is concerned the more licenses given out the better and the greater opportunity to hear all views. This is true democracy.

  22. Free the press!!!!

    Illusion not. Behold:

    a)Supermarket chains prey on consumers- a monopoly.
    b) Construction and devlopment by the privileged few, including most govt contracts.
    c)Newspaper and radio stations control advertising and reportage of these things.
    d)Politics of inclusion + large monopolies–> monopoly in power and will result in only one political party, ie a monopoly.

    In order to maintain their monoploys, that one party government merges with monopolistic private sector—> derive final media license to lock it up.

    —-> Population is a prisoner within its shores and can do nothing but pay the price, read the lies, absorb the falsities……………….

    And be doomed to a lifetime of poverty, ignorance and misery at the expense of the rulers.

    “All people are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

    Solution: Retain the government control of the TV. At least the electorate can change them once in a while. If government needs a voice, it falls back on the last resort- its tv station.

    Monopolistic corporate entities and media will alway do OK out there amongst the sharks. Give them control of everything, and they will eat us up, as they have no love for the poor and downtrodden, logically by their past behaviour.

    Free the press!
    No TV license for the private sector!!

  23. Free the press!!!!

    Oh, and by the way, I forgot to tell you:

    When the media realises it can’t get a license, it will start to behave itself.

    Oh Lord in high heaven, please help Barbados to hear these words.

  24. Is this Barbados Forward Manifesto meant to be a joke or do the authors of this proposal really believe that the government of Barbados is even remotely interested in making the changes that are suggested. The proposed clauses are very lofty to say the least so why not start the journey the way every journey starts….with just one step. The changes that this Manifesto suggests would take years to implement and that’s with all parties agreeing. So why not start with the most pressing concern being headlined on our call-in programs, newspapers and T.V., which is the need for our government officials to disclose information concerning their personal finances to the Barbadian people. Our citizens would like to know if they can trust their government to carefully administer the way that their money is being spent. If a Bill on this is passed then it will pave the way for many other positive changes to take place over time.

    All that said, does anyone on this Blog really believe that the BLP government or even the DLP for that matter would freely implement such a Bill, short of literally having a gun held to their heads. Don’t hold your breath on this one folks!!!

    And another thing, that bit about amnesty for crooked, thieving government officials….I DON’T THINK SO!!!! If they do the crime, they must do the time.

  25. John

    … besides, we’ll have a new jail

  26. Kem

    I honestly think the discussion has taken the bait in that I believe this “manifesto” was an attempt to test waters; flying a kite. These positions for the most part are by no means pragmatic. BFP must attempt to ascertain what are the objectives of this group, as I believe there is more to it than what has been said.

  27. Anonymous

    I would rather they have to admit everything that was done unerhandedly and not receive amnesty…but that will never happen.

    I think amnesty is included because it is the only chance that goverment officials who have participated in these wrong doings would be able to support this legislation.

    It is not ideal but who has the power to do different…Barbadians are sadly without options in this arena.

  28. Yardbroom

    Cat Woman
    I would like to think in my heart you are wrong, but my head tells me you are right, and that is my greatest fear.

    Kem

    I believe you are right, I can hear a tinkering in the background, this was put together to appear as “amateurs” there are a few sleepless nights in the den.

  29. Yardbroom

    Barbados Forward – Manifesto

    An effort was made by use of syntax to disguise the literary ability of the writer but he/she has tried too hard.

    Perhaps I have read too much into the text but in the first paragraph, it is not the West Indies Cricket team, but a reference to the whole World Cup and the inappropriate behaviour of the minister who is under pressure.

    Secondly quote” Maybe send it over to the thinking people at the UWI law faculty” unquote

    This at a stroke would leave the ordinary people who have been taken advantage of, out of the loop, not good enough.

    The writer diminishes things by saying:
    quote” a little money ends up in a pocket here, a little favour for a friend there, and careens – nice word – crazy out of control” unquote

    The writer beguiles us into thinking, you know what I mean ,just a little favour. That it is not. millions, yes millions have been corruptly taken.

    The writer then includes the quote ” who’s to blame? we all are” unquote

    No, we all are not to blame, we elected you to govern the country, not to use the public purse as your personal money chest or to indulge in corrupt practices.

    That particular kite is still spinning, you need more tail or it will end up in the mango tree.
    ( A Bajan will know what I mean)

  30. paul sealy

    Vision of Barbados in 2007 and beyond under BLP rule.
    1.More Guyanese nationals becoming the “new bajan”.
    2.Monopolised vampires ruling the roost with their juck-out eyes prices,laughing all the way to the bank(you never hear these people complain about nothing this government does..nothing).
    3.High crime,murders as jamaican artist Bounty Killer say’s “People Dead”.
    4.Vat rising to 25% and hope the bajan jackass doesn’t notice.
    5.IMF knocking at the door.
    6.Tourists flying past and going to visit Castro.
    7.More millions wasted on uncompletable projects,Greenland dump being the first.
    8.Negotiations with rich foreign locals to help save the country.
    9.Children growing up illiterate accept for the segregated ones.
    10.More ideas via Nicholls,Shorey,Cox to embezle taxpayers money at every chane possible.

    Don’t you just love the odds we are given.

  31. Jerome Hinds

    Would the political parties follow the lead of their Bahamian counterparts and introduce the 2 pieces of legislation addressed in the links below….?

    Or do we have to wait until we are in the throes of an election campaign…?

    Can WE hear from the BLP , DLP & PEP….?

    http://www.thenassauguardian.com/national_local/295455594972824.php

    http://www.thenassauguardian.com/national_local/304985860537347.php

  32. Jerome Hinds

    Would the political parties in Barbados follow the lead of their Bahamian counterparts and introduce the 2 pieces of legislation addressed in the links below….?

    Or do we have to wait until we are in the throes of an election campaign…?

    Can WE hear from the BLP , DLP & PEP….?

    http://www.thenassauguardian.com/national_local/295455594972824.php

    http://www.thenassauguardian.com/national_local/304985860537347.php

  33. Pingback: A Casual Attitude About The Unmitigated Disaster Of Cricket World Cup 2007 - What Are YOU Going To Do About It? « Barbados Free Press

  34. Pingback: » Barbados Elections: Should the DLP offer amnesty to corrupt politicians? Keltruth Corp.: News Blog of Keltruth Corp. - Miami, Florida, USA.

  35. onlyme

    Now that they have had they fill they can lay back lap they legs and relax, send every last one to jail , they can relax there,

  36. onlyme

    Adrian, where are you,