PM: Liberty CEO apologized

PLP leader calls for Balan Nair to be put on stop list.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday that Liberty Latin America CEO Balan Nair called him early yesterday morning and apologized for his recent comments about the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), its employees and the prime minister, which have received widespread public rebuke.

During a communication in the House of Assembly, Minnis suggested Nair’s comments were not intended to insult the Office of the Prime Minister or Bahamians.

He said he advised the Liberty CEO to send an official letter of apology to both the OPM and the Bahamian people.

“The CEO, Balan, called me on my cell and he apologized if the Office of the Prime Minister was insulted,” Minnis said.

“That was never his intent.

“He apologized to the Bahamian people if that was the interpretation.

“That was never the intent.

“And I told him, this was a communication early this morning, that I think it would be fair and wise if he would send an official letter of apology both to the Office of the Prime Minister and the people of The Bahamas.”

Hours after that address, Nair issued a public apology in a letter addressed to the prime minister.

He said, “Dear Mr. Prime Minister and the citizens of [The] Bahamas: First and foremost, I would like to apologize for the remarks I made and the unintended consequences that have arisen as a result of my comments.

“The messages I was trying to convey did not come across appropriately, have hurt many feelings and for that, I am sorry.

“I meant no disrespect to the prime minister, his office or the citizens of The Bahamas.

“I look forward to putting this incident behind us and building a better BTC for its employees and for The Bahamas.”

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Phillip Davis yesterday questioned whether Nair should be placed on a stop list for mocking the prime minister.

“The question I have, I’m wondering whether this person, Balan Nair, who mocked the prime minister, who was so derisive in a social media video that was circulated, whether he is in the country, whether he has been put on the stop list?”

He continued, “That’s for us to cuss our prime minister; let me as a Bahamian cuss my prime minster — let me do that. That is not for any foreigner to butt into our business, and so I am very concerned.”

During a recent Liberty Global town hall meeting in Jamaica, Nair said BTC is one of Liberty Latin America’s lowest performing subsidiaries.

He linked the performance of the company directly to its employees.

Nair, who was captured on video which has made the rounds of social media, also said that during a recent meeting with Minnis, the prime minister lobbied for more Bahamians to be employed.

However, he jeered that the prime minister was “not trying to make eye contact” with BTC CEO Garry Sinclair, a Jamaican national.

Nair laughed as he recalled the meeting.

He said, “You can see him (the prime minister) standing there; his crown jewel, BTC, is being run by a Jamaican, who is sitting right across from him and he brought up more than once, ‘we need more Bahamians [at BTC]’.”

Referring to the meeting, which Nair recalled in the video, the prime minister said, “The video is not what has taken place.”

Minnis said he met with BTC and Liberty executives last week after he heard Bahamian workers were going to be dismissed and replaced with foreign workers — something the Bahamian government would not tolerate.

“I informed them that the government will not tolerate the removal of the call center from Nassau to some other entity — Guyana or elsewhere — because I found it very insulting,” Minnis said.

“And the government is very upset with information that we are receiving that senior officials in BTC are being replaced with foreign entities.

“We are concerned and we will not tolerate that and there was some rumor that individuals are being cherry-picked to be dismissed and that is not done in The Bahamas.”

On Tuesday, Parliamentary Secretary in the Office the Prime Minister Pakeiska Parker labeled Nair’s remarks as “unacceptable and extraordinarily inappropriate”.