MP blasts PM as ‘duplicitous’ over social gatherings, opposition commentary
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine said while the government has discouraged social gatherings among its citizens, Free National Movement politicians have attended “political strategy meetings” with more than the allowed number of attendees.
McAlpine condemned what he called a “double standard” for the Bahamian people and the elites, privileged and politicians.
“You are asking people not to come together socially… and don’t congregate in one area, but I have known of instances where meetings where held at particular politicians houses with a number of people in it,” he said.
“So, if you’re asking us not to have parties, they need to stop attending some themselves, and stop meeting in these houses where you’re having house meetings to discuss political matters and strategies and whether or not you’re going to have an early election or not.
“So, you can’t say one thing and then be doing another.”
He continued: “The Bahamas is too small. You can’t be doing that and think people don’t know. They drive by your house and see the number of cars.”
When contacted, Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Carl Culmer challenged McAlpine to name the politicians he was referring to, saying if the MP was bold enough to make the claim, he should be “bold enough to stand by your statement”.
According to the latest emergency orders, social gatherings at a private residence or facility for up to 10 people are allowed on islands in the second schedule, with the exception of New Providence.
McAlpine also said it was “duplicitous” for the prime minister to urge Bahamians to avoid social gatherings to help further the downward trend of COVID-19 cases, while condemning the absence of the official opposition in Parliament Wednesday following an exposure at the institution.
It was confirmed Tuesday morning that a House of Assembly staffer tested positive for the virus, prompting deep cleaning and sanitization of the House.
The House met on September 9.
The Cabinet Office advised that anyone who came into contact with the infected House staffer for more than 15 minutes without following preventative measures such as wearing a mask and maintaining a physical distance will be required to quarantine.
Yesterday, McAlpine raised questions with the 15-minute rule and whether it was standardized.
At least 16 MPs met on Wednesday for a reduced session, where the prime minister tabled a resolution to extend the emergency orders to October 31.
The official opposition members did not attend, noting in a statement that it would send the wrong message to the Bahamian people and “potentially expose House members to an unnecessary risk”.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis called it unfortunate that Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis did not attend House, asserting that the PLP leader, who has recovered from COVID-19, should be immune and one of the safest people in The Bahamas.
McAlpine said while parliamentarians enjoy certain privileges and can be exempted from certain protocols such as quarantine in some instances, the rules falsely suggest that “MPs can’t catch COVID and we can’t be asymptomatic”.
“It seems as if the government seems to have two sets of rules; one set for the common man and another set for those I guess who practice or sit in the class of elitism or privilege,” the MP said.
“Once we recognized that someone had tested positive, my argument remains that you have asked businesses to close down — businesses have had to close — so the reality is, the House of Assembly, which created these laws or from whence these protocols have been originating, should have taken the responsibility and led by example to make sure we were closed for at least two weeks as everyone else has been doing.”
He added: “It becomes hypocritical and so, if you are prepared to do this for members of Parliament — to take that risk with us, then I guess you should be prepared to take that risk with everybody and allow everybody to do what they have to do in terms of social distancing, sanitizing their hands and allowing the economy to move forward.”
McAlpine did not attend Parliament on September 9.